Top 10

Okansas is doing a Top 10.

Here’s my Top 10 Areas I ran on in 2006:

10. Hindleap Warren (enjoyable, felt good.)
9. South Ashdown Forest (satisfying battle against the weather.)
8. Hatfield Forest (a breakthrough race for me.)
7. Ilkley Moor – JK Day 1 (moorland but intricate.)
6. Druskininkai – JWOC Spectator Races Day 5 (so fast but so hot!)
5. Leith Hill – Varsity Match (always an interesting area.)
4. Temple Newsam – JK Sprint (fast, scenic.)
3. Trockener Steg – Swiss O Week Day 3 (unique glaciated terrain.)
2. Oxford City Centre – Street Race (home advantage.)
1. Epping Forest North (and not just because I won it!)

Merry Christmas!

East Lothian under Freezing Fog (4722)

Notes Orienteering

First (Real) Orienteering Podcast?

Mat Dickinson has now posted a couple of short podcasts at OS Now, which I guess makes him the world’s first second orienteer podcasting about the sport. Nice one! Now all he needs is a decent jingle at the beginning ๐Ÿ˜‰

[Update – Sero mentions in the comments that Orienteering Orange has been podcasting for a few months now. Most of the episodes are in English, some are in Italian.]


Official: Men are the Better Map Readers

The results for the Micro-O section of the Esher Commons orienteering event finally provide a definitive, unbiased answer to the age old question.

Out of the 91 men completing the MicroO course, 24 (26%) made no mistakes. But out of the 28 women competing, only 2 (7%) had a clean sheet.

The statistics speak for themselves… ๐Ÿ˜‰


Stress and Orienteering

Here is the summary of the previous season.

One of my fellow orienteers in JOK advanced the theory that the stress of work affects my results adversely. Case in point – after a week’s holiday, I got my best results of the season during the Scottish 6 Day. On the other hand, I generally perform badly in races in southern England, i.e. racing at the weekend when working at the week.

I think the truth is more that I’m better suited to the Scottish terrain (or my fellow southern England competitors are worse suited, when travelling up to Scotland.) I started orienteering in Scotland, and orienteered there for five years before moving to England. I’m not very fit and so am generally better on “technical” courses than physical ones. By physical here, I mean long distance and flatness allowing fast running, not physical as in the normal orienteering sense (hills, vegetation.) My best results of the season have been when I went to Scotland (Trossachs and Royal Deeside, running typically 6km races.) My worst results have been the longer, flatter, south England ones (World Cup areas in Surrey, 13km on the classic, pretty flat.)


Nopesport? Nope Yep

[Updated] Aargh, what’s happened to the Nopesport website? Not linking to it here, as it looks like it’s been namejacked in the last few days by a dodgy domain registry peddling ads, or possibly someone forgot to pay domain registry fees? The forums on Nopesport really invigorated discussion within the British and wider orienteering scene, and caused BOF a bit of a scare I think – suddenly the talking – and there was a lot of it – wasn’t going through the national body. Critical (but needed) talking too about the future of the sport and its structure in the UK. Maybe they did a bit of hacking. ๐Ÿ˜‰

[Update: It’s back, at]


Orienteering Events and Sunday mornings

B*ll*cks. Another orienteering event missed. I was out until 4 this morning, I got to sleep at 5, I like my sleep, so getting up at 9 to get a 10am train for the Maidstone event today was never really going to happen. I’ve noticed a pattern since I’ve left university:

Monday to Thursday – work hard, maybe or maybe not go out for a quiet drink or two with colleagues.
Friday evening – so exhausted from the week’s work (and not enough sleep) that I don’t normally go out, which means…
Saturday morning – Up at a decent time, head is clear – but normally no orienteering event.
Saturday evening – Still lots of energy, so go out to houseparty or whatever. It’s the one night a week I am always up for going out on.
Sunday morning – Exhausted from previous night’s party, so normally end up skipping the event and valuing my sleep!
Monday – Back to work…

This cycle is the principal reason why I’m averaging less than one event every two weeks this season so far. If big events were on Saturdays, I would be much more inclined to go. There’s generally a better, faster and more frequent rail service on Saturdays too.

There are small events on some Saturdays. I’m going to start focusing more on these, as there’s a more realistic chance I’ll actually make it to them!

In other news, I’ve missed the boat for BOC entries, probably WCup spectator races, and possibly camping with JOK for the Scottish 6-day… Must. Get. Organised.


Odd Orienteering Maps: No. 2 in a series

Most number of paths leading from a junction: Binning Wood.
There’s 12, count-em… In fact, you can see in the extract below I chose the wrong exit:

Monster junction in Binning Wood

If you are a glutton for punishment, there’s two other similar junctions in the wood.


Odd Orienteering Maps: No. 1 in a series

Loopiest/most inefficiently designed track: Bagshot Heath.

After a great deal of up-and-down, you get to… almost where you started again. If ever there was an excuse to go off-road in a leg, it’s the leg shown:

Loopy track on Bagshot Heath


My Ten Favourite UK Areas

Me in The Trossachs[This article originally appeared on my main weblog, but has been updated several times since.] I’ve been meaning to make this list for a while, as I’ve now run in around 150 areas around the country, in the last 8 or so years. Here are the top 10 UK areas I’ve run on, and the worst one too… Free to add your own choices as comments.

Right: A photo of me, aged 10, climbing in the Trossachs – long before I did any orienteering there! Below: A detail from the Trossachs map.

In reverse order:

10. Ham Hill, SW England
Fast but interesting with some odd statues and a nice view from the monument at the top of this oddly shaped hill.

9. Epping Forest East, SE England
There are several orienteering maps covering Epping Forest and I’ve enjoyed all of them. Epping Forest East in particular is a great area. I ran here in late Autumn, on a cold but sunny day. The forest is just beautiful, with lovely glades, grand old trees, little vegetation, and lots of open sections. It is also a devilishly technical area. I got severely lost when I was here, in a highly, highly confusing bit. Orienteers don’t like getting lost, but they do like maps that have to make them think. The area is all the more amazing considering it’s inside the M25, so it really isn’t far away at all.

8. Bigland, Lake District
A wonderful mix of steep, technical woodlands, large, detailed moorland, and open grassland making it a very spectator friendly area. Bigland is a big area, appropriately enough, and has a bit of everything. Despite a howling blizzard at one point, I really enjoyed my race there.

7. Holyrood Park, SE Scotland
Sure it’s hardly a very technical area, but it is steep, suprisingly big, the views are superb, and best of all it’s right in the heart of beautiful Edinburgh, right beside the new parliament.

6. Roseisle Forest, North Scotland
Superb running in this fast, coastal forest in Moray. The lack of vegetation on the ground means it’s easy to glide through the trees. The northen end is more intricate, the southern end is exceptionally fast. And there’s a lovely beach, stretching for many miles. Gorgeous.

The Trossachs5. Anagach Wood, North Scotland
This is a small but very attractive area, it’s flat with glacial moraines, and there’s a scattering of ancient pine forest mixed in with the newer trees. It has a very Scandinavian feel to it – the only downside is the large number of cold marshes!

4. Archerfield, SE Scotland
This was my first ever area, so this is a nostalga entry really. I ran a yellow and then light-green course the same day, back in 1995. Sadly, these days much of the estate is off-limits, but I’ve been back to the sand-dune bit recently for a ‘Hagasby’-style relay.

3. Burnham Beeches and Egypt Woods, SE England
Wonderful silver birches and beech woodland, flat but not too flat, dry and fast. I was injured when I was there, so had the time to walk around and apprieciate it.

2. Creag Mhic Chailein, West Scotland
I’ve only run here once, in the British Champs in 1996. I remember a very challenging course, but a lovely contrast between rolling, varied moorland, and broken, ancient Caledonian pine forest, with intricate morainne features.

1. Trossachs, Central Scotland
A beautiful area, both physically and technically amongst the toughest in the UK. Extremely steep and intricate, the map is a work of art to look at. I’ve never actually completed a race here without retiring, despite three attempts, so for that reason it is also one of my worst areas. But it is the number one area I want to return to – it really is worth travelling the length of the country to run here.

And my worst area:
Linn of Tummel, Central Scotland
A lovely place, but I spent an awful 2 hours falling down grassy slopes and then giving up, 50% of the way around the course, only to find about 10 blood-sucking ticks on my legs. Eurgh!