Houghall Woods - 18th June 2017

Britain is in the midst of a record breaking five-day heatwave. An eerie silence has enveloped Durham, North East England. The birds have stopped singing, the roads lie deserted but the sun continues to beat down upon the parched, cracked earth. The oppressive heat has caused railroads to buckle and tarmac to melt. The city grinds to a standstill. Flowers are wilting, Mildert lake is rapidly disappearing and people are frying eggs on the pavement.

Alright I’m getting carried away but you get the idea - it was hot. It was on that day that Northern Navigators held an orienteering event in Houghall Woods. Eight DUOC members braved the heat that morning: Daniel, Andrew, Adam, Cameron, Hannah, Emily, Matthew and myself. One of the first to set off was Andrew wearing a white bin bag. He flew round the course in a time of 52:23 and finished in first place.

Next up was me so once I’d registered for the blue course, plastered myself with sun cream and relearned how to take a bearing, I set off. The first part of the race took us through the woods and it was all going splendidly until the fifth control which proved to be elusive for an astonishing amount of time, twenty-one minutes to be exact. Anyone nearby might’ve noticed a dishevelled purple figure stumbling through the undergrowth looking very confused, sweating profusely, and generally looking like he was having quite an unpleasant time. Anyway, I eventually found it but only after Matthew appeared and pointed me in the right direction. The middle few controls took us over a field of horses, back into the woods and then eventually to East Durham College. I was beginning to enjoy myself because this was familiar terrain – we’d visited a few of the controls in training. I was bounding down hills like a mountain goat, winding along woodland footpaths and leaping over tree trunks and small children.

The last few controls took us onto the Science site, where I met Matthew again. We overtook each other a few times then headed back into the woods where I honestly didn’t follow him for a few controls. At that point, we ran into Adam who had been reduced to a walk due to the heat. All three of us came into the finish at the same time where I promptly collapsed. I was torn to shreds and severely dehydrated, but delighted nonetheless because I was going to make it back in time for brunch. Matthew, Adam and I finished in 55:31 (2nd), 1:11:13 (9th) and 1:13:37 (10th) respectively.

Our newest member Emily ran well and finished in a time of 1:17:03 earning her 14th place. There were also great performances as usual from Cameron, Hannah and Daniel who finished 3rd, 8th and 12th.

I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the next event in October which will hopefully be a bit less life threatening.

Report by Luke Piper


York City Race 2017- Monday 29th May

Last month, EB Orienteers put on a race in and around York city centre, and Durham sent 4 of its finest; Andrew Stemp, Dan Murphy, Hannah Goldswain and myself, Joe Bleasdale. As our first event after a rather stressful exam period, and anticipating many slip-enducing downpours later on in the morning, the mood was one of hope but mild dread at the start line just next to the cobbled promenade of the River Ouse. In contact with the group from the start was also Laura Hindle from Manchester Orienteering, competing in her first race alongside Goldswain, a friend from home.

Surprisingly, despite having been out of practice for over 2 months, Durham’s competitors did not seem to suffer any major setbacks and all finished the race, myself included (my first solo finish since Edinburgh, so a major improvement on favourable terrain). The rain almost completely held off, with the sun even coming out strong towards the end of my time on course, and the beautiful city of castles, cafes and Douglas Adams showed its true colours to all that took part.

The men’s open route wound first along the river bank and briefly into the retail centre, before heading back in the same direction towards the train tracks (controls 1-5), and entering a short, sharp sector around two schools; St Olave’s and St Peter’s, each surrounded by giant playing fields and connected by an intricately-designed iron overpass which was difficult to spot on the map but played a key part in completing the route (controls 6-22). This sector was also highly-reminiscent of the Milthorpe School indoor event on the other side of York that many of us did in November; my first event, and one which I still display proudly on my wall at home. The race then took us back the way we came via the same river bank, before traversing the pedestrianised section of the city centre in by far the longest control (24), and with the finish in sight on this 4.1km course, the race then made full use of the most obscure back alleys of the city (24-28), before coming to an abrupt halt opposite a temporary fairground on Parliament Street (which made the sprint incredibly difficult, forcing us to concentrate on not crashing into sugar-high children).


The route made very good use of narrow alleyways and various fences and walls which confused several of our competitors. The nearby footbridge accompanying the train tracks was a feature Andrew Stemp seemed to miss, costing him 3 minutes on the first control, but he soon found the rhythm we all know and love, eventually pulling out a consistent run around the schools and a steady sprint on the long controls, earning himself just over 50 minutes and 8th place. One control that everyone, particularly myself and Stemp, were caught out by involved the first control on the school field, placed on the opposite side of a residential brick wall in someone’s driveway. This, as well as my over-optimism in believing I could cross a swarm of nettles to get onto an opposite field without going around a rather long, energy-sapping path, added considerable distance to an otherwise short open race, but was mitigated later on once the narrow alleyways started to become more frequent and less obvious.

Possibly the most consistent racer of the day was Daniel Murphy who, having earnt 20th place from the first control, never really shifted, only slowing up on the slightly longer controls towards the end, and finishing in 18th place after just over an hour, before almost immediately sprinting off to find the nearest Cooplands. However, the strongest overall performance of the day came from Hannah Goldswain who, in a recurring theme, recovered from an over 7-minute control at the start to finish 4th in the women’s open, with a time of just over 40 minutes for 22 controls, again, making up a lot of that time around the schools.

And then, there was myself. Coming from the incredibly urban suburbs of south London, and genuinely excited to enter during my post-exam denial, this was one of my favourite events of the year, down to inventive control locations and the fact that I was never truly clueless, just a bit tired by the end. 79 minutes and all controls completed was the best result I could imagine, even if it did mean annoying a few of the arroga faster competitors by checking on location to see if the control was the right number. Sorry.

Other key attractions of the day included the door to the maths department at St Peter’s school whose handle was shaped like Pi (a truly ingenious idea), our well-deserved beverages and lunch in a city-centre café where our usual route-mulling took place, and afternoon rambling around the city filled with dire puns and beautiful sights (Dan Murphy even took home a candelabra from the market, don’t ask me why). This race was a brilliant reminder of the orienteering bond that we share, but haven’t used for a long time, as well as a reminder that we’re actually quite good at it! Next stop, end-of-year festivities!

Report by Joe Bleasdale


New Exec!

At the AGM we elected(well more agreed but anyway...) a new exec:
Captain: Matthew Foskett
Vice-captain: Andrew Stemp
Treasurer: Luke Piper
Coach: Julie Emmerson
Social secretaries: Sam New and Hannah Goldswain
Kit secretary: Michael Hallett
Webmaster: Daniel Murphy

Thanks to everyone who did roles last year and hello to Daniel who'll be taking over control of this page :-)

18th and 19th March: BUCS 2017 Sheffield

Team Team Team

DUOC went into the British University Orienteering Championships on the 18th and 19th March full of optimism and enthusiasm for the individual event on Saturday and the relay on Sunday. The championships this year was held by Sheffield University, the second biggest university club in the country, so the courses and social were hotly anticipated.

The individual event took place at Wharncliffe, where the terrain was technical, varying between forested and open moorland. Andrew and Michael both had good runs, coming 48th and 50th out of 102, whilst Cameron, Matthew and Sam took places 66-68. The weather varied throughout the course, turning from low cloud and rain to bright sunshine in under 20 minutes. This didn’t stop some of the team from slipping over on their way to the finish and emerging from the forest completely drenched. Julie had the most successful run for the team, coming fourth in the Women’s A class, with Hannah, Mariama and Harriet 32nd, 33rd and 36th respectively. Joe unfortunately had to retire from his course.

Team Team Team Team Team Team

Following the race, the Club ate with the other universities at a buffet before heading to the student’s union for a night out. Daniel and Andrew had some stunning outfits to suit our fancy dress theme of Peter Pan, with the poorest outfit being Luke’s who turned up with just a hat.

The relay was held in Hugset, which could not have been more different to Wharncliffe. There were few hills, but running across much of it was impossible due to the chest-high brambles! The women’s team came 9th, Mariama making the unusual decision to run the second half of the course first. The first men’s team came 14th, Andrew putting in a decent first leg. Unfortunately, Sam had to retire from his run in the second team, so they didn’t finish. The Ad Hoc team came second in their smaller event.

Team Team Team

Overall the team did well, coming 7th in the final standings. It was the fresher’s first taste of BUCS, who will take what they’ve learnt from this weekend into future orienteering events.
Report by Cameron Davies

Results: Individual Relay Overall

25/26th February: Lake District - British Night and Northern Championships

Two races in the lakes were competed at by
eight members of DUOC all aiming high.
The first event was at night
at Great Tower scout campsite.
The next was in the day
around the bigland estate.
Neither were easy with climb aplenty,
bogs and cliffs featured of which there were many.

On Saturday at the British night champs,
most used headtorches whilst others used lamps.
Julie ran well, Andrew okay,
but for Matthew it really was not his day.
A DNF for him is a learning curve,
thankfully though he has not lost his verve.
Michael was ill so didn't start the race,
deciding instead to rest and save his pace.

The northern championships were the sunday morning,
many wide awake, but Andrew was yawning.
Hannah, Mar, Joe and Sam arrived just in time,
ready and raring for all the steep climbs.
Sam hurt his ankle right near the start,
but he soldiered on keeping all his body parts.
Joe started great but then fortune left him,
for he couldn't find a flag, his race was trimmed.
Everyone else finished including Matthew,
but we all had tired legs and very wet shoes.

Overall I think the weekend was great,
but just not too much to celebrate.
The skills we developed will help us in BUCS,
Three weeks and counting, can we win? discuss.

Written by Andrew Stemp




29th January: Shaftoe Crags - North East Orienteering League Level D event

A Sunday morning saw 4 members of DUOC even farther north than Durham, which started off looking promising with a hint of sun and an unusual lack of rain. So, despite the extensive brown course length (which seemed to be longer due to the lack of a black course) morale was high. The area was called Shaftoe Crags, and was mostly a compilation of farmers fields and the odd row of crags. The courses were very runnable, with grassy terrain, even if the damp crags remained treacherous, lending to fast times and manageable navigation. It was very much a runners race, even if some controls were hid in depressions and could only be found if ran right into.

Andrew, Michael and Hannah were chauffeured there by Adam, with the boys running the brown and Hannah on the blue. The brown proved to be physically demanding, with a double sided map and a course that apparently seemed never-ending. Meanwhile, Hannah decided a trip off the map would be a good idea which taught her not to follow…

Everyone ran very well considering the length (and off the map ventures) with a top performance from Michael, who finished 4th on the brown, resulting in a fairly successful day overall.
Written by Hannah Goldswain

Results and splits

22nd/23rd December: Edinburgh - EUOC Big Weekend


The weekend of the 22nd/23rd saw the club take eleven members to Edinburgh to compete two races organised by EUOC. The Urban race saw us navigate through the intricacies of Edinburgh’s streets and alleyways, passing famous attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and Holyrood Palace, on tricky and surprisingly lengthy courses. Notable performances came from Julie Emmerson who came 6th in the open Women’s race and Michael Hallett who placed 23rd in a very competitive open men’s race.

Following Saturday’s race the Club ate out in the city at an Italian restaurant before attending a lively haggis-filled ceilidh alongside fellow competitors: a new and memorable experience for many members!

On Sunday, we competed in the second event on the rugged yet picturesque terrain of Holyrood Park. The courses attempted by members proved to be innovative, including a climbing frame and an embedded micro-course, whilst remaining technically difficult and physically challenging. The top performance in DUOC came from Andrew Stemp who came 29th in the brown course.

Overall it was a highly successful weekend with lots of experience gained for newer members preparing us well for BUCS at the end of march.
Written by Sam New


December: Wynard Park - Autumn Short Race Series

Sam, Will and Matthew all competed in this local event


19th November: South Park, Darlington - Autumn Short Race Series


Cameron, Sam, Hannah, Will, Luke, Joe and Lizzy all competed in this local event with an amazing 5 of them in the top ten :-) Well done in particular to those of youfor whom it was the event and also for Cameron who won!


12th and 13th November: Lake District Weekend

Cameron, Andrew, Michael, Daniel and Matthew all competed on both days at the LOC/SROC weekend. The first day was on the sanddunes at Roanhead which required a lot of looking at the cotours! The second day was in the more mountainous terrain at Torver High Common which provided more of a physical challenge although there were still some navigational challenges too. A special shout out to Michael who came 4th on the short brown course - less than 1 minute off the winner!

Results Day 1 Day 2

29th and 30th October: OMM


Mariama competed in the Original Mountain Marathon which is a "2 day test of endurance, teamwork and mountain skills". She completed 47.2km over two days in a combined total of just under 17 hours which included a massive 2790m climb!

Results Day 1 Day 2

29th October: York Indoor Cup


Wern, Joe, Matthew, Daniel and Andrew all competed in the York Indoor Cup. It was a great course which required quick decisions and map reading as well as agility to avoid obstacles(such as doors and other competitors!). The location was a school with the controls spread over 4 levels and involving butterfly loops. Unlike many who took part, all off us correctly punched each control and Andrew finished an impressive 6th with Daniel not far behind in 10th. A special shout out to Joe for getting the fastest sprint finish split and him and Wern for doing their first events :-)

Reults here

8th and 9th October: October Odyssey


Adam Poole and Andrew Stemp competed in both days of October Odyssey run by Newcastle Orienteers with Mariama Dryak and Matthew Foskett joining them on the Saturday. The long distance on the Saturday was tough going with lots of heather and a couple of steep sections but the area was very picturesque nonetheless. Adam had a difficult afternoon on the black course but Matthew, Andrew and Mariama had reasonable success on the short brown coming 4th, 5th and 12th overall for that course. The Sunday course was runnanble woodland with interesting features which proved better for Adam with him coming 8th and Andrew in 6th.

Reults and report here

Taster Session

The taster session starting at the science site and providing an introduction to orienteering was really well attended - 24 people in fact! Hopefully this will mean a good year for DUOC ahead :-)

July/August/September: Summer Orienteering

Michael Halett, Cameron Davies and Adam Poole all took part in some of the Croeso2016 events with Michael finishing first for course 2 on Day 4

Reults and report here

Andrew Stemp and Matthew Foskett took part in the 9th London City Race in Rotherhithe, both in the mens open category.

Reults and report here

Julie Emmerson took part in WOLF in Scotland.

Reults and report here

14th June: New Exec

Congratulations to the exec for 2016-2017 elected at last nights AGM.

Club Captain: Cameron Davies

Vice Captain: Mariama Dryak

Treasurer: Andrew Stemp

Social Sec: Fran Brown and Harriet Lawson

Kit: Michael Hallett

Webmaster: Matthew Foskett

11th - 12th June: British Sprint and Middle Distance Championships

Our 2014-2015 Captain Lucy Butt won her first senior title, coming top of the podium at the British middle distance championships. Mariama Dryak, Andrew Stemp and Matthew Foskett also ran.

Reults and report here

25th - 28th March 2016: JK

7 DUOC members made an appearance at the 2016 JK in Yorkshire.

See the results here

20th - 21st February 2016: BUCS!


A team of 15 DUOC members went down to Bristol to compete in BUCS. There were two great events - the individual at Moseley Green in the Forest of Dean on Saturday and the relay at Coopers Hill in Cranham. Both were great areas, despite the abundance of hills! There were lots of fantastic runs both days and as a result we were 4th in the individual and 5th in the relays to secure 4th place overall.

More info and full results here

31st July - 8th August 2015: WOC and Scottish 6 Days!

WOClogo WOC2015_Katherine

WOC – A commentator’s perspective

Normally I’m a very prepared person. I like turning up to the Scottish Six Days knowing my start times and sometimes who’s starting near me. I’ve read through all the final details and roughly know which days will be early starts. I’ve got a mental picture of the geographical location of the areas in relation to where I’m staying, and I will undoubtedly have geeked the maps beforehand. But a combination of uni work, friends from uni staying over, and holidays (mostly holidays!) meant that I pretty much just rocked up to Scotland and hoped for the best.

But this wasn’t any ordinary Six Days, for I was down for helping for a couple of days, and I was doing the IOF Livecentre commentary for the World Orienteering Championships (WOC) races too. I knew it was going to be a hectic week, but I hadn’t quite appreciated how much time it would take up! I’m very involved in the student radio at Durham University, and wanted to do something relating to commentary or media when I heard Scotland had got the Champs. But it wasn’t until quite last minute that I found out that I would be working with Hugh Dan MacLennan (a professional shinty commentator) and Clive Allen (my grandpa, but also an experienced orienteering commentator!) on the IOF Livecentre online video coverage. I also found out when I arrived in Scotland that I was the standby ‘expert’ for BBC Alba, should Lorna Eades be unavailable for whatever reason (which didn’t happen)!

Initially, my job was to ‘spot’ athletes, which involved looking for new radio control split times that came up on the screen. We also had a screen that displayed the images we were talking over, which were sometimes difficult to keep up with. Therefore, there was less to say at our first event, the sprint relay, as it was generally pretty obvious who was in the lead and there was less ‘technical’ information to comment on. However, as the races moved into the forest and I became more confident with the setup and procedures, I began to say more and interact with the other presenters. I managed to interview Annika Billstam (the winner of the middle race), as well as Graham Gristwood after he came in second on the second leg of the relay and Cat Taylor after her run at the Long on Glen Affric. Despite being fairly unprepared, I was able to learn on the job, and by the end I think I managed to make some insightful comments about runners.

One of the best things about the job was that it put me at the heart of the action. Our gazebo was right at the finish line, and it was clear to see the range of emotions that runners felt after finishing. It was also perfect to see the run-throughs and I could keep track of the progress of the likes of Ruth Homes and Alice Leake, as I had all the radio information at my fingertips. One of the most exciting times was silently cheering on the men’s relay team who ended up just out of the medals, whilst attempting to maintain neutrality on air! I also got to cheer Ruth and Alice on in the heart of the action.

Therefore, the Scottish Six Days was not really my priority. I managed to hold runs together (even after 5 hours of carparking duty at Glen Strathfarrar), and especially enjoyed the beautiful runnable forests at Darnaway.

Despite feeling unprepared, everything went smoothly (despite many queues in and out of carpark fields)! Overall, I learned loads, worked with some great people, and was able to feel the thrill of watching world-class orienteering. Here’s to more commentary in the future – watch this space!

by Katherine Bett

More about WOC 2015 on the official website .

20th June 2015: Durham City Light Race


This urban evening score event, was one of a worldwide series of events for the UNESCO International Year of Light 2015, and saw a strong DUOC turn out on a warm summer evening. The club took the first three positions with Peter Bray collecting all 30 controls in just over 30 minutes, closely followed by Nicholas Beyls and Adam Poole. Katherine Bett also did a great job, being the only woman to collect all the controls. See the race report and full results. There were also illuminated stick man hoodies which some people opted for wearing. Despite odd looks from people around town, these looked pretty cool as it got dark, see photos here. All in all a dash around Durham in the dark, darting in and out of alleyways and trying to avoid the Saturday night crowds, was an excellent way to end the year! So thankyou to NN for organising a fantastic event. I hope everyone has a great summer, best of luck to those who are graduating and I look forward to seeing everyone else again in October!