Andy Emmerson, controller at Hay Wood, wrote the following in his comments:

“One potentially significant issue did arise however, repetition of which would risk the future use of Hay Wood.  As you will all now know, a block of Hay Wood is used for archery and was therefore placed OOB to all orienteers.  This area was overprinted on the map and spelled out on the map descriptions.  Key parts of the perimeter of the OOB area were also taped and labelled to remind people not to venture inside. 

“I spoke with the chairman of the archery club as he left the wood. He was not happy.  He complained that adult orienteers (no children), in full “O” garb had appeared in full view on a regular basis throughout the morning, apparently oblivious to the swish and thud of flying arrows. This disrupted the archery and meant that these competitors were placing themselves at risk of serious injury.

“I hope that everyone who did transgress did so unwittingly.  If anyone deliberately entered the area, they should think very carefully about what they have done and what the future consequences might be.”

Unless someone got lost, the only course whose direct route lay through the OOB was Blue:

Archery Leg on Blue

(Note that this map as featured on RouteGadget doesn’t show the full OOB markings which were included on the runners’ maps.)

There were 32 competitors on the Blue course, none of whom has yet manually entered their course on Route Gadget. For the archery chairman to say what he did, I’m guessing that maybe five or six of the 32 ran through the OOB.

What happened at Hay Wood suggests to me that some experienced orienteers are often running through OOB areas at events. If that’s the case, perhaps a little bit of OOB policing wouldn’t go amiss, both in the form of stronger warnings at registration and the start, and helpers stationed at strategic points. I suppose that some runners treat the OOB with a lack of respect. At Hay Wood they may have understood that the OOB was an archery area without appreciating that any archery was actually taking place.

What of the planning? 1. Can events take place in woods where dangerous activities are taking place? To be fair, the other courses kept away from the OOB, especially of course the White and Yellow. (But it’s not unknown for inexperienced orienteers to get very lost.) And it’s reasonable to assume that anyone running the Blue knows what they’re doing.

2. If the risks are considered low enough, are the precautions good enough? The taping-off for the event was perfunctory: just a bit on the corners. And I didn’t hear, or see written, that archery was actually taking place concurrently.

3. Was Blue leg 8 a wise decision? Although on balance it’s right to blame the runners, I’m sure that if the archery chairman saw the map above, he’d pin part of the blame on the controller.

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