Sorry for the lack of updates throughout the rest of the year - Daniel and I got quite busy with final year stuff!
Firstly, congratulations and best wishes to all the new exec:
Captain: Sam New
Vice captain: Bronwen Mansel
Treasurer: Peter Jackman
Coaches: Oisin Brennan and Luke Parker
Webmaster: William Phillips
Social sec: Nick Wilson
Kit sec: Beatrice Law
Social media and community: Tamanna Dasanjh and Hannah Goldswain
Please note that the AGM minutes will be up in due course. And finally, good bye from us in terms of the website - I'm sure Will can keep it far more up to date anyway!
Edinburgh Big Weekend - 25th-27th January 2019
As always, Edinburgh Big Weekend is one of the best events in our calendar. This year saw much more forgiving weather, which made the weekend a great opportunity for experienced orienteers to show their improvements, and for newer competitors to test their skills on some difficult courses!
The first event was focussed around Calton Hill, with a timed out road crossing thrown in there for some fun! The late night was cold for the EUOC volunteers marshalling on the course, but was comfortable for the competitors.
Some of the Durham cohort started the weekend strong, opting for the longer course. Andrew showed that he wasn’t really injured by finishing just over 3 minutes behind the winner! Luke Parker also put in a good performance coming just 31st out of 82 finishers. In a tight bunch was Luke Piper, Oisin, then Daniel in 46th, 48th and 50th respectfully.
On the other hand, some decided to enjoy the short course instead. This included a great performance form Bronwen (just under 4 minutes from the winner) and also a decent finish from Beatrice. There wasn’t much good news for the others… Will was confused early on and didn’t scan the first control! Arthur too miss punched on the course. But no performance could have been worse than Nick’s, who showed up and chose to not compete on the Friday, and then he suggested going to MacDonald’s!!! Truly DUOC’s finest athlete!
The urban event on Saturday punished competitors for a few bad mistakes. Not every leg had a tough decision on route choice, but one wrong turn and you lost a few minutes on your opponents. There was added excitement as the second side of the map was zoomed in around a riverside estate with many stairs and alleyways to get lost down! This event left us all discussing optimum route afterwards. The star of the weekend, Parker, gave a great performance finishing just 15th on course 1. He was not far behind one of his personal rivals…some say his control description holder was weighing him down…Andrew again showed he wasn’t injured (or a supervet) by narrowly winning the supervet course 3! Quite an achievement at the ripe age of 22. Most other DUOC members finished in pairs: Piper then Nick came in around 62 minutes, then Daniel followed by Matthew at 69 minutes, and Peter then Oisin finished impressively at about 84 minutes, all on course 1. Beatrice trumped Bronwen on course 2 by just 22 seconds! Arthur and Tamanna completed course 3, only just behind Andrew!
Sunday was better for some, worse for others. The keen Crosscountry/Fell running genre of orienteers in DUOC showed great strength in traversing Arthur’s Seat. Claiming the territory of his namesake, Arthur really upped his game for the Classic event, finishing just 20th out of 53 people on the Brown course. Parker played his experience card to defiantly take 11th on Brown, attributing all his success to his lucky charm, his CDH. Piper then Nick finished just behind Arthur, trying to stay with Parker on the course!!! Matthew showed his strength at running and navigation on this testing terrain, finishing only a few minutes behind these young whippets. Daniel took his rightful place as 2nd (last) on the Brown course, participation being the main objective! Andrew showed he still wasn’t really injured, coming just 5th on Blue! Bronwen showed her skill in this sort of navigation, finishing blue in just 69 minutes, just a little ahead of Beatrice. Oisin decided that his green course wasn’t hard enough, and so ran OFF HIS MAP to add on some extra distance and a lot of extra climb, exploring previously undiscovered parts of Arthur’s seat. Peter narrowly pipped Will on Short Green, finishing 12th and 14th respectively. Tamanna put in a good effort on the tough terrain although found this harder than the urban the previous day.
Many lessons were learned over the weekend. Overall the club put in a strong performance with everyone coming out a better orienteer than before. The older members were certainly not jealous of some of the great freshers, and sadly the club looks like it will be brilliant for may years to come!
It would be a shame if I didn’t mention in some small way the Ceilidh! Firstly, the evening started calmly with a chill pub dinner with NUFOC. Great interclub rapport was built and the whiskey drinking seemed to be a highlight of this experience!! Later at the ceilidh, the DUOC members slowly overcame their shyness and were dancing the night away, haggis fuelled and eager for the raffle!! There were some great prizes from buffs, running tops and juggling balls in the evenings earnings. The best moment of the weekend will always be remembered as the anticipation for the last prize (pink hair dye) to be won by someone stylish enough to pull of that look. We were almost as overjoyed as he was when Matthew ran on stage to claim his prize!!! It was helpfully applied by Bronwen and Peter later that night and some say that you can still smell it off him to this day…
First annual Edinburgh big weekend awards!!!!
The "I wish there was a black course" award goes to Oisin, who managed to run further and gain more elevation than anyone else on Sunday despite only being on green.
The "Liverpool FC under Brendan Rogers" award for nearly acheiving greatness, but for a slip, goes to Peter, one huge mistake in the urban cost him the chance to beat over half of DUOC including veterans Muphy and Foskett in only his first proper event.
The "I wouldn't cut it in the arctic" award goes to Tamanna, who despite wearing 5 or so layers could just not stop shivering.
The "Scot's hand" award goes to Arthur, who gained the earnest respect from a very Scottish bloke over his love of scotch whisky at such a tender age of 20 years.
The "Least weird" Award goes to Luke Parker, because he isn't weird. He isn't weird.
The "Most loyal to DUOC" award goes to Nick, who turned down the chance to go out with his other friends (ooooh) to stick the evening out with the ladssssss.
The "Sorry, I don't know what I'm doing with this dibber thing" award goes to William, who quickly learnt that the start and control 1 were two different places, and that he had to punch both of them.
The "Biggest U-turn" award goes to Daniel, who for 3 and a half years had never seen the point of a control description holder and had even been explaining how pointless they were to anyone who would listen just two hours before he decided that he would in fact buy one.
The "Future BMI of 30+" award goes to Luke Piper, who over the weekend had two states of being: 1) eating 2) complaining about being hungry.
The "Julie Emmerson" award for having friends in Edinburgh goes to Bronwen, who had spent a WHOLE AFTERNOON away from DUOC.
The "Most likely to have been bullied in a Scottish school" award goes to Andrew, for having two teenagers point and laugh at him specifically whilst racing around the streets in his massively oversized running vest.
The "Most relevancy of the WOC 2022 embargo" award goes to Beatrice who is the most likely of all of us to compete in the 2022 world championships.
And finally, the best award them all, the "Matthew Foskett award for being an absolute madlad" goes to Matthew, who not only picked up pink hair dye as a prize from the raffle, but was also so very keen to use it. He's now a proud wearer of a pink streak with plenty left for future applications!
Thanks to everyone for making it such an enjoyable weekend!
Universities Orienteering Training Weekend (Oct 2018)
On October 27th 6 DUOC members (Matthew, Andrew, Daniel, Bea, Bronwen and Oisin) assembled at Durham train station at 7:15ish to head to a training weekend in the woods and moorland surrounding Leeds. The first lesson learned came on the train there, courtesy of Matthew, which was to always keep your railcard and ticket together. After disembarking at Leeds we travelled by car and minibus to our first location of the day, Harden Moor. There were several courses on offer for those with varying levels of experience. I found Harden Moor to be quite a challenging landscape for orienteering with many dips, pits, hills and hummocks. It wasn’t long before I lost all sense of direction and had to return to the start. Matthew kindly let me collect the controls with him to help identify where I went wrong.
After some lunch and a short bus ride we arrived at our second location of the day, Ilkley Moor. Ilkley Moor was a steep hill with some woodland, cliffs and lots of bracken. Some longer legs allowed for different route choices to be made and tested decision making skills. A few brave souls attempted the corridor course which went through some head high bracken. One unlucky Loughborough student lost his shoe to a bog never to be seen again. After a day of orienteering we headed to our accommodation for the night, a local scout hall. After a slight navigational error in determining which hall we were meant to be staying in we arrived at our accommodation. Before the night navigation began we were joined by two more DUOC members (Nick and Luke) who were competing in the Manchester relays earlier that day. The night navigation provided a good challenge and led to some arguments over the placement of some of the controls. After running about in the dark many looked forward to returning to the scout hall for a hot meal. To our dismay it had turned out the hob had not been switched on so we would have to wait a little longer for dinner. However it was worth the wait for a hearty serving of veggie chilli. We then settled down for the night in the now surprisingly warm scout hall.
The next day we set off for Otley Chevin forest park. There were several good courses including a very challenging windows course where the entire map is blank except for a small area surrounding each control. This proved difficult for Daniel and me so the aid of the all control map was enlisted. Finally the weekend was topped off with a relay in golden acre park. Each team had three members with different levels of experience and the less technical terrain allowed for some fast running and a competitive race. All and all it was an enjoyable and instructive weekend and hopefully there will be more like it in the future.
A very belated update from Matthew...
So, Daniel and I have been slacking(mostly me tbh...). And so the website has been in a state of disarray. I’ve now finished all my Durham coursework forever, so now seems a nice time to get it up to date :-) And keep it that way. Just don’t mention the fact I have a final year project to finish…
The chances are that no-one will ever get to the end but I thought I should provide an Autumn term review:
So, before term started Daniel and I went with Dave (who kindly gave us a lift) to an event in the Military League North at Bishop Auckland Castle. I was actually ok at orienteering for once, but they got my name wrong so I guess it doesn’t count… Then we had Freshers Week and stuff – new people joined so we can’t have been too off putting. That said, initially it was a little quiet; Oisin was the only Fresher to experience all of the training weekend (with Nick joining midway through) at the end of October. Thanks to Bristol and Loughborough for joining us on this, especially the organisers and Andrew for working out getting us all there. It was a really good weekend and we had some real quality orienteering as we lost control kites in the dark on a ‘train’ training exercise in the dark on the Saturday evening.
As term moved on we went to quite a few small local events. These were often tied into dong a parkrun too and included Redcar/Flatts Lane, Newcastle Town Moor, Newcastle Uni at night and Albert Park in Middlesbrough. We normally had about 5 of us to these and again thanks to Dave for giving us lifts to some of these even if he did cause chaos for the registration one Saturday Morning. Also big thanks to all the local clubs who put on these events – we really appreciate them!
Bea organised some great socials: pizza making, visiting cafes in town after training, cocktails and of course a Christmas Meal. Sorry I failed to come to half of these...I need quite a bit of notice if anything is to be on a Tuesday evening. I’ll try better this term (this is a recurring theme, sorry if I am equally poor at attending this term. In my defence I retained second place in the pick up a cereal box competition, what else is there to care about on DUOC socials?).
There were few bigger events last term but Andrew did lead an all star team to Roseberry Topping in Mid November… 4 out of 4 DUOC DNFs must be a new record. People also went to Simonside and showed off some brilliant poses (see the gallery for photos btw) and there was an trip to Blyth Beach.
I’ll finish with training because I thought I’d leave the best until last. Thank you to everyone who has been :-) We altered the sessions to make them more interesting for those who already can orienteer. I’ve no idea if this has worked because it only seems to be freshers who come along! Even so Daniel and I have enjoyed it (well I have and I have assumed Daniel’s opinion for him) and thanks to those on the exec who have taken on a session or too. Highlights for me have been the Vampire-O where we were joined by the Hampshire-Wrights of NN, Daniel’s corridor training even if he harshly put a massive bush in the middle of my bearing and the Newcastle Street-O because it (apart from the missing control) seemed to work ok. Thank you for Daniel for all the work he has done with training this term.
Anyway….I’m looking forward to this term. Edinburgh Big weekend has already been brilliant and I know there’s quite a few other good events on the way :-)
North East Score Champs, Sunday 7th October - NATO
Score events are not my favourite, I find it far easier to set my mind on doing one route as quickly as possible rather than constantly re-evaluating how many controls I can reach in the time limit. So to negate this worry I had simply decided that I would get all the controls. This in many cases is a very naïve way to do a score event, with the real possibility of coming back late having ventured far too far and then losing points. But I had decided and that was that.
A mass start for the men led to a flurry all heading into the woods for the closest control and immediately into chest high undergrowth, I took any route through I could, as a result flattening it all for the DUOC members who foolishly had decided to follow me. A much slower start than I had expected, with very grim running. As if I hadn’t run through the rough stuff enough, I decided for some stupid reason to follow a stream to my next control, rather than a path of similar length. This turned out to be the worst mistake of the day. I first felt a very sharp pain in the back of my calf and thought that I had encountered a very painful stinging nettle, upon glancing down I saw and heard a buzzing of wasps (or bees, I wasn’t checking their anatomy too closely). It quickly dawned on me that I had run through their nest and they were mad. Using my map as protection, I swatted them away the best I could, leading to two further stings. Realising that they were still following me I had to run away fast! After removing a few that had stuck to my socks I was free, I pulled my socks up and I headed on, knowing I had given myself one of the worst starts to the race that I could.
A lot of the next controls were easy path running, with the flag not too far off the side of them, this allowed me to get into my groove and I sped through the next section of the course with relative ease. Half way round and at the most northern section of the course I saw that many of the control descriptions were cliffs. Thinking that we were in the middle of Newcastle, I just played them off as ‘East Anglian cliffs’ where each and every rock feature, no matter how small they appear, are mapped. When I found these vertical rock walls in excess of 10m I was very impressed, especially when we had to pass though a narrow gap in between two massive boulders, crazy to think just a couple of minutes later I would be back on the streets of Jesmond.
A bit of scrappy orienteering followed as I was putting more effort into running quickly than taking care, despite this with 10 minutes left, I realised my plan to visit all the controls in the time limit was achievable. Which made missing out one right at the end even more gutting. I hadn’t seen an uncrossable wall on the map heading to the 36th/36 control and upon being greeted by this obstacle I frantically tried to find a solution, but it was clear the mistake I had made was too big and I did not have enough time to run 3 sides of a big rectangle and back to the finish in time. Making the finish with a few seconds to spare meant I was pleased, I rarely ever make score events back on time, but I was left rueing the mistakes I had made earlier on in the course, costing me the time I needed to visit all the controls.
It was enough for me to become Men’s open NE score champion 2018, which will go straight on the CV. Bronwen did fantastically well, managing on the Women’s open to only miss out from victory by arriving at the finish after the winner (a former GB JWOC orienteer no less), with both accumulating the same number of points. Daniel proved that running steady and nailing the navigation is a very effective tactic in orienteering, with another good result. Also well done Arthur on your first race for DUOC!
Thanks for NATO for organising a very well planned and enjoyable score race!
Results Andrew Stemp
British Sprints and Middles 2018, 1st & 2nd September
The Sprint Championships were held at the University of Bath on 1st September and the middle-distance Championships were held at Stockhill Woods on 2nd September. I’m not particularly fond of the sprints and middles because they’re so fast paced that if you make a single mistake, there’s no time to make it up. This year the DUOC members at this national event were Andrew, Beatrice and me (Bronwen). (Michael and Cameron were also there as alumni)
Day 1: The day started off with a warm up walking from our accommodation to the university (who knew Bathwick Hill was so steep?!) and then struggling to find the way to the assembly area (a great start). The assembly area was in the Bath University sports centre (which looked a lot nicer than Maiden castle- there was a pool for a start!!) and there was a good area for looking out over the finish which was in the middle of the running track. Then I headed to the start for the heats. The first part of course was nicely planned although there were a lot of building works going on all over the campus. I was slightly disappointed to discover I only had one point on the technical parade area with two levels, which I had spent hours studying in the 3-page spread in the final details. I went the wrong way after the manned road crossing and then it was a kind of boring dead run to the finish. I was kicking myself for all the small mistakes I had made when I realised I was 4 seconds off being in the B final, but I was the final person starting on the C final (supposedly being the best on the course). Beatrice was running the same heat as me and only 24 seconds behind me so in the C final too and Andrew was 11th on his heat and made it to the B final for his course. After a 3-hour break, after all the elites had finished, it was my start time for the final. I felt determined at the start (even though I wasn’t competing with the best people) and had remembered my bib and to write my course on it, which is more than most people. The course was in mostly the same area as the heat earlier and I had one point on the parade area and a leg across it (still not worth the time spent studying the map extracts). I messed a few points up a bit but felt like I was having a good run, knowing that I was the last start and that I was beating anyone on my course I overtook helped. I sprinted to the finish and looked at my watch, pleased with my time. Then I went to download only to discover I’d punched the wrong 10. I wasn’t that bothered, I mean it’s only the C final, until I looked at the results later and saw my time would’ve won the C final (apart from the non-competitive person who mispunched on their heat). Beatrice had the best performance out of us in the finals coming 2nd in the WOpen C. Andrew managed to pick up the wrong map at the start, realised his mistake, and finished the correct course in 26th.
Day 2: The middle-distance championships. A new dawn, a new day, a chance for me to try to have a decent run (and actually punch the right controls). I had the earliest start time on my course but was surprised to see lots of elephant tracks already in the terrain. The forest itself was very runnable and had a good path network so I was adopting the classic East Anglian block forest strategy of ‘run along the path, into the wood, find the control* and get back to a path’. (*Obviously this is easier said than done since that’s the whole point of orienteering). This seemed to be successful until my leg 9 to 10 when I managed to exit the control 90° in the wrong direction, wondered why there were no other orienteers in the area and finally had to go back to point 9 to relocate. After that the course went relatively smoothly, even though in the piece of rough open just before the finish I was more concerned about tripping over in front of all the spectators than finding the controls. The one advantage of running so early was that I was announced by the commentators as being the leader on my course, which is always nice. When everybody else had finished the course, I ended up being 6th (which sounds decent but there were only 9 on the course so…). Beatrice finished one place above me in 5th. Andrew finished 28th out of 52 on the M21 course but he was probably preoccupied on the course with mental preparation for his big trail-O event later in the day.
White Rose 2018, 24th-27th August - EBOR
Once again a group of us went to the White Rose Weekend run by EBOR Orienteers. This year with many people being away there was just 3 of us: Bronwen, Andrew and me (Matthew). It was all based near Helmsley (like last year) but this time to the west in Duncombe Park. I was the only one to make the Night Race (and only thanks to a kindly provided last minute lift from an EBOR member), but I was glad I did. After various mishaps with my last 2 night events it was good for one to finally go seemlessly (only being beaten by one M12 counts as a success in my books ;-)). It was a score event with a really runnable course and 3 different areas only joined at the start/finish which tested your timing skills as you tried to judge which area to start in and whether you should get one more control and risk potential penalty time for being late.
The next morning all 3 of us were out for the Middle Distance Course. It was an interesting area with lots of remains from WW2 practice fortifications to add a bit of technical difficulty. After Andrew purchasing 'fashionable' orienteering gear, having lunch, and us all attempting the photo-O we had the sprint to do. While it took me quite a bit of running past things to get used to the scale, Andrew excelled (second on Senior Men). The course took us round Hemlmsley Castle including a control down in the dungeons (note to self, look at the map lines to denote a tunnel instead on looking upstairs in future...).
Andrew then ate a dish designed for sharing all by himself before we attempted a difficult quiz... The next morning was the Long Distance and the Trail-O. Andrew sees this standard of Trail-O as very much below his elite trail-O level so I was very pleased(and slightly surprised given my inability to remember control descriptions...) to find myself tied on points with him even if his superior time left me in 5th and him once again second on the podium. Obviously as Andrew can tell you it was all done wrong though so Bronwen is the real winner here. The Classic event took us through varied woodland with some open patches, and although my later start led to me (as well as the only pair of trail shoes and running leggings I had with me) getting soaked, it was an enjoyable course. Just a shame I didn't punch Control 12 when I saw it...
Pizza in Pickering prepared us for the next day where we had the relay. After last years podium finish in the open we had mugs to win (well I had a mug to win, Andrew had millions already from all podiums and Bronwen had also collected for her impressive efforts on W20L) and despite a no time spared arrival at the start line from Andrew we picked up 1st in the "1 or more Female" category with a time equivalent to 2nd in the Open. It was a good effort all round (although, yes I know Andrew before it gets mentioned again I was only 4/5 on the final extra leg). Thanks to the Aspin family of Clok for the photo of us on the packed podium below:
Overall it was a great weekend once again and I'd really recommend it to anyone who is around next year - thanks to EBOR and everyone else who ran the weekend and also for Andrew who did most of the organising for the DUOC side of things.
BUCS Individual Event:
The (rearranged) British Universities Orienteering Championship Individual race took place on the 29th April at Bradenham Woods and was organised by OUOC with help from TVOC. Despite the event’s proximity to exams and the results no longer acting as selection for the World Universities Championships in Finland this summer the event was still well attended at the higher end of the competition.
Both men and women’s A courses consisted of many quick-decision short legs traversing gentle slopes alongside a few long legs with tricky route-choice decisions between quick paths, staying on the contours, or navigating a short route through often thick undergrowth.
On the Women’s A course Megan Carter Davies from Bristol University secured a comprehensive victory with a time of 463:5 with Fiona Bunn and Katie Reynolds from Cambridge and Bangor coming in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Meanwhile the Men’s A course saw a winning time of 58:27 by Jonny Crickmore representing Heriot Watt University with 2nd and 3rd place going to Jamie Parkinson of Oxford University and Adam Potter of Bristol University
Overall team results from the weekend saw Edinburgh comfortably win with 52 points, Cambridge second with 86, and Loughborough and Oxford join third on 104 points.
Results IndividualRelayOverall Sam New
Edinburgh Big Weekend 2018, 19th-21st January - EUOC
DUOC competed in all 4 events of the Big Weekend this year!!! Here's our long anticipated report on the trials and tribulations of these events.
Fight With The Night - Outdoor Sprint (Slippy!)
On January 19th, thirteen members of DUOC travelled up to a bitterly cold Edinburgh to take part in the annual Edinburgh Big Weekend: an orienteering extravaganza that promised lots of fun and enjoyment but also the possibility of ice and injury and death.
We got off the train and skated our way to the first events of the weekend: a sprint and a much-anticipated indoor event. The indoor event was very exciting and challenging but unfortunately I don’t get to write about it so here’s a report of the much less interesting outdoor sprint event.
The course was 3.9km long and took us round some Edinburgh University buildings, much to the confusion of the resident students who looked rather bemused at the sight of one hundred and fifty people frantically running around jabbing orange flag poles and then promptly falling over.
The best performance of the night was from West Anglia’s very own Andrew Stemp who finished 9th overall and got the fastest sprint of the night. This was undoubtedly a huge victory for DUOC but was overshadowed by the revelation that he had in fact fallen on his arse and bruised his hip, seriously jeopardising his chances of success over the course of the following few days. Next up was Michael who finished in 20th place. After that was Daniel in 37th who also managed to get the fastest time for the 3rd control. Not far behind was me in 40th place, who didn’t fall over once which frankly I think deserves some sort of certificate.
Also there were commendable performances from Matthew, Paul, Beatrice, Eleonora, Jason and Emily who finished 44th, 67th, 80th, 91st, 93rd and 101st respectively. Good efforts from Lydia and Shirley who unfortunately missed out some controls. And finally our multilingual, French horn playing Joe Bleasdale was disqualified for punching a wrong control.
Well done again to everyone who competed and finished in one piece.
Report by Luke
Indoor Event - Maths and Physics Building (Roof was Slippy!!!)
After the Outdoor race, or before for some of us, it was the turn of the Indoor event: the first indoor event in Edinburgh, in the Maths and Physics University building. Eight floors to run into and ten different staircases to climb. Even though indoor orienteering is a brand new type of competition and most of us had never tried it, DUOC members did well in the race. Andrew conquered, finishing in 15th position, which is remarkable considering that most of the orienteers that arrived before him were from EUOC (aka probably people that studied in Edinburgh University and that already knew the building).
Jason had a bonus for this event, having been a student there, so he was quite happy to run past his ex-professor’s studio. Although the corridors were narrow and more than once people bumped into you, or in your hurry you just broke through the doors, acting more like a rugby player, the roof was the biggest challenge for everyone with its icy and slippy floor.
Some fell down, some preferred to skate, but it wasn’t possible to run. And it was nice to see that to go from the last control to the finish there was only to go one floor up, run along the corridor and down J stairs. If it just wasn’t for that blocked fire door that closed the corridor, close to the stairs to the finish. So frustrating to have to go back and climb other stairs to finally reach the J stairs and finish the event. Despite this small inconvenience, everyone was satisfied with the indoor event.
Report by Eleanora
Urban Race - Edinburgh City (Very Slippy!!!)
My tale begins the week before. I knew that I was in good shape and with the disaster that was Ecclesall woods as my last previous event, I was anxious to prove to myself that I could perform as well as I think I should. Every day I checked the weather forecast for Edinburgh, I knew it would be cold and most likely icy, especially on the Friday night sprint, so my plan for the weekend was this: take Friday easy, go slowly around corners and just get back into rhythm again. Naturally I decked it between 10 and 11 on the Friday sprint and bashed my hip rather badly. The last time I had fallen like this it took me 6 weeks before I could run properly again, but I did not want to think about this, I just wanted to run tomorrow. Bandaged up with an icepack (frozen sweetcorn) and medicated gel, I was determined to just troop through the pain. My hip was no better when I woke up on the Saturday morning, and with a fresh covering of snow that had frozen overnight, conditions were not looking good. The news that the courses had been made non-competitive came during breakfast, and rather than relief I greeted it with annoyance for I had waited nearly two months to “redeem” myself and at this point still naively thinking that I would be able to run (I did agree with the decision by the way, but still wasn’t happy). I headed for a short warm up jog (Posted on Strava!) with Emily and Luke from assembly, to “loosen up” my hip, but it was soon evident that this would not be a quick fix. Options cycled through my mind: run a shorter course? But I didn’t want to just beat vets who I should be beating anyway. Not run at all and save yourself for Sunday? I didn’t come all the way to Edinburgh not to compete. Run my course and see how much of it I can do, and bail if necessary? This is what I decided upon, I no longer had ambition to do well, it was simply to do my best.
I arrived at the start three seconds before my call up (perfect timing) with the most clothing I’ve worn for a race before (because I would probably be walking) and most importantly a SIAC that will shave those vital seconds off my time… (My opinions on this form of equipment doping can be left for another time). Normally in the startboxes I would spend the time mentally preparing myself, having spent a few minutes before drilling into my head how I would run the race, for an urban this normally involves telling myself to look at the control description immediately, find the control on the map, plan a route to the control checking for small gates or cut throughs which are vital. But this time I just stood there, enjoyed the view had a look at the DUOC people behind me so I knew who would be overtaking me. There was no quick sprint and snatching of the map from the map box like I would usually do, there was no point today. Leg 1 was long. It was rather long with a gradual uphill. But not just this, it was long with a gradual uphill and the obvious route choice for me was along very long and straight main roads. So all there was to think about was how much my hip was hurting, this was the worst bit of my entire race. Luke caught me and we reached the first control together, knowing where to go, I lead him into the next control but different route choices (mine was better) split us up going to control 3 (he beat me there, but mine was still better). On 3-4 I discovered what would be the hardest thing this race, steps, both going up and down them was not good. Handrails were useful but not too common which was a shame. After descending the large flight of stairs next to the castle, Joe and I reached number 4 together, and climbing back up the stairs we had descended to the control (more stairs) I knew I couldn’t continue the full 15.5km like this. I had noticed on the map an area of dark green just across the road with a small fence to cross. I quickly entered knowing I needed one thing and one thing only, a big stick. I immediately spotted what I wanted, what I needed, it was maybe 4 and a half foot in length, a decent thickness and strength that I knew it wouldn’t break easily, and fairly straight. It was the one. A bit of cosmetic work had to be done first, breaking off a few twigs and that, but I returned over the fence and a new man, a proud owner of a running staff. Whilst not easy, I fared much better, quickly adopting a rhythm of putting the stick down every 4th step, coinciding with my bad leg half of the time.
I soon found it to be heavy, I don’t lift at the gym, but nothing could stop my new-found determination and resolve. I was going to finish the race and return a hero! Acutely aware of the looks I was getting, I now needed to at least look to know where I was going or I would just look a fool, which is made harder when only one hand is holding the map rather than two. Thankfully I had a very steady race, with a couple of very good saves to stop myself from crashing onto the ice once again. I knew that I was ahead of Paul and Joe, and later on I caught Daniel. This was it, long ago was the time when I thought I may come last. I now had competition, what I so wanted to have in this race.
As I entered the finishing straight, 15.5km (9.6 miles) from where I had begun, 13.5K with my friend, my stick and I had become like one we glided through the graveyard and out the other side, stronger for what we had been through, together.
As for the race itself, it was a well planned urban with some good longer route choice legs and a lot of time spent in a technical housing estate which really slowed you down and made you think. My general opinion was that it was missing a monster leg like last year, and we didn’t get to see as much of Edinburgh as we have before, but still great fun. Sam had a great race finishing n/c (fifth) which is probably his best result to date. Paul ran nearly twice as far as he had ever run before, well done Paul. Matthew had 95 minutes and 53 seconds of making sure he was in the right place without having to make sure everyone else was as well. A large mistake to 28 allowed both myself and Paul to beat Daniel, better luck next time. Jason used his local knowledge to finish just 4 minutes after Daniel. Joe ensured we held our (my) self awarded title that DUOC are the best university team in the north east, by finishing ahead of a NUFOC runner. Luke also completed the course, but since we didn’t finish our split analysis that we started in the queue for the club later that evening, I don’t know how he did. On the women’s open, Hannah who was wearing a Turkish top, because she represented England once, finished first out of the DUOC contingent, beating the true local Emily who was embracing her second year of being senior by pinning her control descriptions onto her shirt like the true veterans of the sport, and Bea who according to winsplits made only two mistakes. Finally, on course three, Eleanora, Lydia and Shirley all finished and in that order. Oh and Michael’s knee hurt from falling over the night before so he didn’t make it all the way round, pretty bad form to be honest I think, who would ever think about giving up in an orienteering race?
Report by Vice Social Media Captain - Bruce Stemp (1,300 words!!!!!!!)
Arthur's Seat - Classic (It snowed!!!!)
After the treacherous pavements of yesterday’s urban, that promised more of a Dancing-on-Ice sort of spectacle than a mere orienteer through the streets, the thought of running on Arthur’s Seat was almost enticing. (Apart from the snowy forecast- but who ever believes those?)
After a wonderful cooked breakfast, the DUOC members lodging with Emily didn’t quite make their start times, thus slotting wherever they could, if they could survive the hike across the ice lining the way to the start. Some unconventional travel styles were seen courtesy of Joe Bleasedale proving the bum-shuffle is going to make a comeback this year, I honestly don’t know why everyone else was walking.
The nice downhill start was a rather perverse foreshadowing of the day that would follow. Many traumatic climbs littered the routes, with some rather precariously icy steps being quite a main route choice for many on the Blue and Brown courses- back to the Dancing on Ice. Despite a few slips- you can’t pull it off by pretending the idea was map reading sittin down Luke, the courses were quite enjoyable. That was until the forecasts proved us all wrong, and the blizzard ensued. Luckily, Hannah had gotten her hour of getting lost and aimless wandering out of the way before visibility was lost.
Despite three members retiring from the Blue (too much ceilidh-ing and strongbow) Michael Hallett prevailed, finishing a mighty 10th on the Brown. Could he be the new Julie?
Following a nice thawing out process in Serenity Café (we ate all their chips), DUOC hit up the streets of Edinburgh! McDonalds and an icy trip up some hill somewhere proved to be the icing on the cake of a wonderful weekend, and the 6 hours spent hanging around flew by like slightly elongated seconds.
Matthew, Daniel, Paul and Michael made their way to Yarm for a fast sprint event around their school grounds on a cold icy day! Michael's performace was far beyond everyone else, winning the open course with a time of 13:51 and so claiming the win for the CLOK Autumn Sprint Series!! Matthew finished in 5th with a time of 16:26, just behind Paul in 4th with 16:20, securing 2nd place in the Autumn Sprint Series! Daniel finished in 6th with a time of 16:30, but beat the others from DUOC in the sprint by a second, in a field of 37 finishers.
Michael, Daniel and Matthew hadn't had exhausted themselves enough so ran the youth course and unofficially finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd respectively.
On the next day, Michael and Paul were joined by Sam for a testing blue urban course in Jesmond that was 6.1 km. DUOC were very well represented by these three muskateers, taking 1st, 3rd and 4th place from a field of 22 finishers! Michael won (of course), with a time of 39:50, Sam 49:26 and Paul 50:19. Sam proved he's not lost his sprinting talents from last year beating Michael on the last leg by 7 s.
Mainly traveling by mini-bus, the passengers were subject to the delights of VP Andrew’s and driver Emily’s karaoke. Fortunately, this scarring experience was avoided by the 3 "senior pros" who enjoyed a scenic train route through various industrial cities of the north followed by a return on the floor of a packed Trans-Pennine Express train.
The event area proved to be trickier than anticipated due to a distinct lack of contours and open land alongside a plethora of interlinking paths and streams. Normally, a wide range of paths would have been a dream for the "Sprint Squad" (note Luke and Myself) bar the fact that in Ecclesall Woods what constitutes a path is still highly disputed by the mappers.
Overall the team performed admirably with best results on each of the courses coming from Michael (13th on Brown), Eleonora (21st on Green) with Bronwen close behind, and the impressive Paul (8th on Blue) who finished only 12 minutes slower than the course winner!
Other notably mentions must go to Andrew and Emily, who ran both some exceptionally quick splits, often placing in the top 3, but who had their times checked by some mis-navigation on other legs. Also, honourable mentions go to Hiroshi and Jason for persisting on the course for an extended length of time and showing true DUOC spirit in the process. It was a tough course for those so young into their orienteering careers, but both should take heart from the fact that the "improvement curve" in our sport is steep especially when exposed to tricky areas. Luke must also take credit for finishing despite a poorly back.
The team’s gratitude goes out to Emily for driving (and parking) the van, to Andrew for his hard work organising the trip bringing both precision and banter, and finally to South Yorkshire Orienteers for putting on such an interesting event; the experience whether positive or negative will put us in good stead for BUCS!
[On another note the whole club must be pleased to hear that I have abandoned all hope of retaining my sprint crown due to two elderly gentlemen blocking my route to the finish. Alas, someone else will know what it feels like to become a DUOC legend this year.]
This event was a test of the DUOC members fitness and quick thinking on a relatively easy navigational course in a city park. Michael held true to form and won the open course with a time of 14:02 and was closely followed by Paul in 3rd at 15:45. Matthew came 6th in the open course and then got more for his money by running the youth course and (unofficially) wining it by 3 minutes! Catherine (accompanied by Daniel), still early in her orienteering career, faired well and beat some regulars in the trickier areas to finish a respectable 18th out of a field of 25 finishers on the open course! Well done to all that competed and up-ed their standings in the CLOK Autumn Sprint Series.
Eight of Durham’s finest orienteers were keen enough for an Autumn sprint event to get up early for a two bus journey to Guisborough, just south of Middlesbrough, and six were cunning enough to not miss the bus.
After a long walk uphill from the bus stop, we were all tired for the start of the event. The course took us through damp moorland, covered in heather apart from quad bike tracks, and open forest with distinct vegetation boundaries. Daniel struggled early on and lost a lot of his time on the first 3 controls (out of 17). An odd route choice from Andrew and slip ups in navigation from Paul and Eleonora on the middle controls (in particular the tricky number 9) gave the rest of us a chance to catch up. Michael and Matthew did well to run consistent legs throughout, maximising their times.
Having enjoyed the downhill and flat legs on the course until control 12, we had the enormous hill to attack that we had confronted when walking to the start. From the top of the hill there was a quick sprint along a mud path for the last few controls. Some people were confused by the 10 m sprint from the last control to the finish, missing dibbing the finish until reminded by the spectators!
Overall DUOC performed very well at this event. First and second place were taken home by Michael and Andrew in times of 21:34 and 23:20 respectively. Great times were also posted by Matthew, Daniel, Paul and Eleonora who finished 5th, 11th, 12th and 27th out of a field of 35 finishers!! Well done to all who took part and many thanks to CLOK who organised the event; we’ll see you at the next sprint event in Stockton-on-Tees on 18th November!!!
Extra report!!! Andrew's Experience at the OMM with his dad
My dad and I competed at the 50th anniversary OMM well prepared after a summer of training on the hills of Cambridgeshire. After cutting down our pack weights to 8kg by getting rid of all unnecessary clothing and surplus cereal bars, and by weighing out the amount of porridge we actually needed, we were ready for two days on the fells. Having checked the mountain weather forecast the day before, we knew that winds up to 60 mph could face us at high altitude, and cloud cover above 500m would make navigation all that more difficult.
Once we picked up our maps, we saw what was set before us on the B course, 20km straight line with over 1600m climb, and 11 controls. We managed to pick routes that avoided the swathes of other starters for the first two controls, not deliberately, but we think our routes were good. The next few controls up to 5 there was one obvious route, which meant we were following a whole train of teams up ahead, something unfamiliar to us as orienteers. Leg 5-6 proved to be the most critical in the entire race, between the summits of Glaramara and Allen Crags, here we first truly experienced the extremity of mountain weather. We navigated to this control with no error, and it showed with a 5th fastest split, by far our best of the weekend. Many teams retired from the whole weekend here, it would have been a horrible place to get lost in the wind, rain and cloud. It was at this point in my mac in a sack and base layer that I was starting to feel very cold and odd, thinking this might be the start of hypothermia, I quickly put on another layer and cracked on up Esk Pike, knowing this was our last significant altitude and that we'd be out of the cloud soon.
As we tired some errors crept in with our navigation, with time lost at 9 and at our last control 11 where we lost half an hour wandering in the cloud unable to relocate quickly. This was not helped by the map which had writing obscuring the contour lines of the land that we were lost on. We arrived at our overnight camp after over 8 hours and quickly found a dry bit of bog and set up camp, delighting ourselves with our dehydrated foods, and the first instant noodles I've ever had! After a very windy night which caused some over the portaloos to fall over, the morning was clear and fairly still, but very cold when you don’t have many clothes.
We just made our allotted start period for day 2, and were very pleased to see that the course was shorter and involved less climb than we done the day before. I didn't warm up properly until 45 minutes in when we got into the sun. Navigating was a lot easier since we could see exactly where we wanted to head a lot of the time. We think that our routechoices for the whole day were optimum and we executed them well, but it's quite easy when you have so long to look at the map. We reached controls with a similar group of people for most of the day, but it was only on half of the controls that we were following/being followed by others. After a brutal 11th and final control, that involved a very steep climb and descent in sight of the finish, we finished the weekend by running to the finish, some of the only we did all weekend. Cowbells, cheers and a few spectators greeted us at the finish line, my dad was exhausted, I felt like I could do it all again. [Andrew modest as always]
Overall we finished 28/155 starters, and 3/17 in our class, 100 teams retired showing how challenging the conditions were, and that we’re proud to have finished it together.
The sharp breeze throwing itself around the streets of Newcastle wasn’t enough to deter DUOC orienteers taking on Ouseburn. Despite near sub-zero temperatures a hardy group of 16 athletes rocked up to a morrisons car park ready for the urban that would begin most of their orienteering careers.
The day began with some warm-up navigation led by Google maps from the train station to the start on the lookout for kites along the way. Once at our destination having left the warmth of morrisons the race began. The terrain was mostly paths around a park and various streets around a canal in Ouseburn. It was surprisingly hilly but promised for a fast race if the navigation was accurate. (Not to mention the helpful locals directing you to any control they see- when will they realise the most important part is the number on it?)
Not to be thrown by the road crossing or copious amounts of steps involved, the DUOC squad prevailed in their navigation through the flats, looping around the canal. Although a few dogs showed a little too much interest in Sam and Hannah- humans are friends not food- it provided a nice incentive to put in that extra bit of effort.
With many successful races, DUOC stormed the results winning both the A and B courses, with a cracking run from Michael, and a happy fluke from Hannah. Another podium position saw Sam hitting up the silver medal spot with the fastest sprint finish time on the A course. As the first race for many of the newly joined freshers, results were amazing with excellent times for everyone who competed- a special shoutout to Lara who finished fifth at her first event!
It’s looking good for the rest of the season and bigger events later in the year!
October Odyssey, Washington - 7th-8th October 2017
The (October) Odyssey...
Months had passed, seasons had changed and battles had been fought by our heroes since their last foray in the north east. Aroused by rumours emanating from the Northern Navigators, a quest was sought to prove that our heroes still had what it takes. Our heroes thought the first task was already lost by Andrew when his arrival at the chariot was delayed, but alas, he materialised as soon as he heard the rurring of the horses, some would say this was a rare display of perfect timing. The name of chariot “Whey aye 5 0” was lost on our heroes who have no cultural understanding of modern times. Upon arrival at the gates of Washington leisure centre our heroes greeted a heroine who had battled with our elders in times gone past. Our heroes were seven in number; for Matthew, Joe, Katie, Sam, Daniel, Luke and Andrew the quest had now truly started.
Joe was the first to reach a hurdle, a fence that all the other heroes negotiated successfully. Despite this, wisdom and bravery was displayed when he decided he could in fact climb over a half metre tall fence and he was not delayed any further. Andrew was faring well until a confusing curved housing estate where both him and Matthew continued to run but lost all sense of direction. This allowed Luke to lead on the men’s open. This was until a few controls later, Luke forgot to take heed to the infamous proverb passed down from generation to generation “always check your control descriptions when the circle on the map is ambiguous as to its precise location” and he floundered to the north side of an impassable wall, when instead he should have been on the south. Despite these hiccoughs, both Luke and Andrew knew that they were faring well on their quest, so they both independently decided to impair themselves to give the others a chance by ripping their legs apart with brambles when all others were wiser and took the quicker, safer and easier path. But time gained on technical legs by Andrew was enough to stave off the time Luke clawed back on the easier legs and Andrew won the men’s open. On the women’s open Katie was faring well until she made a large error at the same control Luke had, this cost her the lead but fast running saw her regain it later on and she won her course. Sam, who had spent all his summer training for the wrong sport, had a consistent race, narrowly beating Matthew to take 4th on the men’s open. Daniel had the worst fortune of all, a result of his quest is an injured ankle, he will hope to get running on it again soon. Joe brought us all home with a valiant effort and an impressive sprint finish.
Less than a day later, Luke, Sam and Andrew were at it again, seeking more glory in the second race of the weekend, this time at Hamsterley forest. A steep forested valley was the locations our heroes found ourselves in, and after the conversation about what re-entrants and spurs are that is had at every event, we were ready to begin. Only Andrew was able to find control number 2 at the first time of asking, probably because he was the only one who truly knew “the truth of re-entrants”, this meant he gained a lead he would not squander for the whole race. Just under halfway on the course, Sam caught sight of Andrew who was just leaving the loop of controls that Sam was just entering. This was closely followed by a large splash and shout which caused Sam to turn around and see what had occurred. Andrew found the next couple of controls difficult because he couldn’t read his map for it was caked in muddy water, as were his arms, hands, compass, legs, shoes, top, watch and control descriptions. Sam and Luke struggled together in finding a small boulder, but a better ability in contouring and recognising vegetation boundaries would have helped them here, and it would also help when they apply makeup. Andrew later held his map upside down, so ran in the complete wrong direction until he realised. Sam and Luke continued to battle to the finish, but their race was won by who made fewer mistakes, and that was Sam. Luke can take comfort thought because he was incorrectly put on M21S on the results, so he came 1/1 and was quickest to every control on his class. Sam on the other hand was 22 minutes adrift of Andrew but he had beaten him by 1 second on the 140m sprint finish, victories like these are what makes you a sprint champion. It was the general consensus (for Andrew at least) that this was a very nice and fun area to run in. And we thank northern navigators for the lifts we had on Sunday and for hosting good events that had been organised and planned in rushed circumstances.
British Sprints and Middles, Milton Keynes - 30th Oct - 1st Sept 2017
Freshers' week was upon us, but the opportunity for 2 events so close to home was just too good to miss. So Andrew, Joe, Michael and myself(Matthew) as well as alumni Cameron, Harriet, Adam, Jack and Yasha all spent the weekend running about in Buckinghamshire as I allowed myself to forget about the packing / freshers' leaflet preparing / discussing training and the website (sorry Julie and Daniel for the slow replies!) for a weekend.
The sprints in Milton Keynes started with a bit of car parking – Andrew's home club was helping organise the event and so a few of us had been roped in, there weren't any crashes so I regard that as a success ;-) Apologies to all those drivers who had to do a hill start after I made them stop…
The heats took place in an area of housing that fitted the grid and roundabout stereotype of Milton Keynes perfectly. This made for easier navigation than many sprints, but even so both Andrew and Joe did really well, with Andrew qualifying for the A final (i.e. the one for people who can actually orienteer.). I was in the lowest, C…always good to leave room for improvement in the year ahead ;-) . The finals took place in parkland with a few hills and some woodland providing a little more technicality. It was a nice area but all of the DUOC competitors were feeling a bit worn out and none of us really had a good performance on that course.
We headed to my house and rounded of the day with a quiz and fish and chip supper run by the Church I go to at home. In a team with my parents and brother we were joint first only to be pipped at the post in the pointless style tie breaker – Wimbledon Mens' Champions since 1970 anyone? If only Joe had written down Jaws in the literary round…
Day 2 was the middles in Wendover Woods. It was an area with lots of different vegetation types and the 1 to 10,000 scale meant completely different distances to the day before. We put in an ok showing but none of us really excelled. Well done to Andrew on winning that all important sprint in the M20 though! Guessing he'll be changing his mind on asking for the sprints competition to be altered to last control time now. After a good showing at the White Rose and London City Race and a reasonable effort here let's get going for a great year for DUOC :-)
Report by Matthew Foskett
White Rose Weekend, Helmsley - 25th-28th August 2017
One of our summer events!!! An absolutely amazing long weekend of orienteering. In
dense forests teaming with ticks, anthills and snakes, 5 members of DUOC (Matthew
Foskett, Andrew Stemp, Luke Piper, Michael Hallett and Daniel Murphy) competed in the
White Rose Orienteering Weekend near Helmsley in North Yorkshire.
The first event was on Friday night; a 30 minute score event (10 points for each
control) in pitch black forest, a good head torch was necessary!! For most of us it
was our first score event and so I think we performed rather well! Despite taking
some bad falls, Andrew returned just over 3 minutes late to reduce his score to 230
points after getting 25 out of the 30 controls! Luke, Matthew and Daniel all returned
within the time limit (just!) and scored 210, 170 and 160 points respectively. Kudos
must indeed go to Matthew for putting in a respectable score despite losing power on
his head torch after getting just 2 controls and relying on his phone torch (totally
not cheating!) for the rest!
Day 2 started off with the Middle Distance race, with all five DUOC competitors
tackling the short brown course in the M20L category. Some rough terrain and difficult
navigation in the varied vegetation made for a great challenge. Some of the course used
parts of the score event course from the night before that seemed very different in
daylight. Michael and Andrew both posted impressive times of 30:29 and 32:56, with Matthew,
Luke and Daniel finishing strongly in 41:15, 44:08 and 54:06 respectively.
A more relaxed event took place around lunch time and the fastest runner did indeed prove
the best of us! This was a trailO event that tested your map reading and carefull analysis
of control descriptions rather than speed! TrailO is perfect for any keen map reader even
if you can't run or walk across rough terrain. Competitors walk along a path and at mark
observation points must decide which (if any) of the visible controls match the one described
by the map. Points are awarded for correct answers only. TempO is also included to help
discern participants that achieve the same score. This section involves a timed portion where
(in this case) competitors must decide which of 6 controls the map was indicating with a
max time allowance of 60 seconds and 1 minute added on for incorrect answers. Luke came
4th in the senior category with 10/12 points. Andrew came 7th with 9 points and an impressive
tempO time of 16 seconds. Matthew and Daniel both got 8 points and were separated by their
respective tempO times o 46.5 and 94 seconds (which included a penalty for an incorrect answer).
for a better explanation of trailO and tempO.
The last event on Saturday was the afternoon sprint around Helmsley. Very fast paced orienteering
through the streets past the school, churchyard, historic ruins and circling back to the cricket
ground, there was simply no time for mistakes. All running in the senior men category, Michael
finished fourth with a time of 18:34, only 2:14 behind the winner! Andrew, Matthew, Luke and Daniel
all came in with times of 19:17, 20:19, 20:47 and 21:35 respectively. After a long day of
orienteering we then treated ourselves to a well earned dinner in the Royal Oak pub (and a break
from cooking on the old gas cooker beside the tent).
Sunday saw the Classic Long Distance race, over a treacherous 6.9 km course through dense forest
with only vegetation boundaries for catching features. Michael, Andrew and Matthew returned with
amazing times of 54:50, 67:26 and 82:43 to leave them as the top three in the M20L category for
the Combined Middle and Long results, each bagging a yellow event mug for their efforts. Luke and
Daniel finished in 109:35 and 129:59, glad to have finally found all of the controls!!!
Running under the guise of “Every Day I'm Houghalling” The DUOC team of Luke, Matthew and Andrew
had tremendous success earning third place in the Open Relay event on Monday, including a notably
strong performance from Matthew coming second in the short course 3 of the relay, and then going
on to run the final leg!! Another 3 mugs returning to Durham for their triumph!
The White Rose weekend was an overall success for the club and all the organisation that went
into the event was well appreciated, even for the smaller events like the maze course, quiz and
welly wanging!! To see a full set of results, click here .
Report by Daniel Murphy
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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 Edinburghs 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 Womens race and Michael Hallett who placed 23rd in a very competitive open mens race.
Following Saturdays 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
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!
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!
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!
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 :-)
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.
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.
31st July - 8th August 2015: WOC and Scottish 6 Days!
WOC A commentators perspective
Normally Im a very prepared person. I like turning up to the Scottish Six Days knowing
my start times and sometimes whos starting near me. Ive read through all the final details
and roughly know which days will be early starts. Ive got a mental picture of the geographical
location of the areas in relation to where Im 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 wasnt 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 hadnt quite appreciated how much time it would take up!
Im 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 wasnt 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 didnt 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 mens 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
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. Heres to more commentary in the future watch this space!
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
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!