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… have started. Here’s some pictures from this afternoon’s sprint on Finnish TV (plus a couple of bonus maps from earlier). No medal, but a great performance by Tessa Hill to come 5th in the intricate streets of Sotkamo.

sanguinetti tess route tessa 5th tessa wocm3 wsprint

WOC 2013 website



Sprint races are fun, but are they fair? This is the perennial question. (Of course you can ask whether forest races are fair either, but that’s another topic…) In any sprint event (and I include urban events here)  there will be many route-choice legs, and part of the challenge is to assess, asap, which way to go. Often it comes down to a straight choice: left or right? Sometimes you should be able to notice that the difference is negligible, sometimes you’re best to “go with the flow”, and sometimes you have to work out that a combination of uncrossable features or greater climb will make one route a better choice.

On course 2 at Ludlow on Sunday, it was a mistake to go over rather than round to control 15, and it saved time to notice that control 12 was at the top of the ramp. On legs 4 and 5 the difference between routes appears to have been negligible, so it would’ve been a mistake to take too long to decide.

These things appear reasonably clear given time to reflect (although there’s still the problem of traffic), so they’re a reasonable challenge of the orienteer’s ability to think on their feet. But sometimes I feel it’s impossible to make a rational decision unless you knew the area beforehand. Usually this applies to areas where there’s a mixture of terrain. A street is, by and large, a street, but when the map shows a field or open forest, how fast will it actually be? A good example is the third leg from today’s NORT women’s race in Oslo. The southern route is much more direct but there is a longer forest section and a much more concentrated ascent. Tessa Hill (TH) left control 2 just before Ida Bobach (IB), but 2’20” later, as Ida is punching at #3, Tess is still over 20 seconds away fom the control. Is it possible for the runner to look at their map and discern this?

nort1 thill

What a glorious week. The sun shone (for a change) and I enjoyed my 5+ hours running (mostly) around Welsh hilltops. Thanks to Ian, Caroline and Louisa, Catherine had a good time too and ran every day.

Croeso website with results

Maps and routes

People’s photos: day 6   day 1   the area  



From Cannon Hill Park – to Witton Lakes – to Handsworth Park – to Pype Hayes – to Rectory Park – every day the sun shone and the people came. Thanks for coming, and special thanks to Catherine, Andy, John, Ruth, Bob, John and Dave for helping. It went well but we know a few things now that’ll make it even better next time. 🙂

Results (rough version)

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In case you’re wondering about the wisdom of putting on a seemingly random and potentially exhausting series of events, some planning has gone in to the enterprise. First of all, the week chosen is Love Parks Week. Secondly, the Parks Department are putting on tours of Witton Lakes and Rectory Park on Tuesday and Friday. Thirdly, Wednesday is Birmingham’s Be Active day. Fourthly, Cannon Hill Park is the venue for this year’s Community Games. Fifthly, the schools are breaking up and parents and children are looking for things to do. Sixthly, it’s the week before the Scottish. Seventhly, it’s an opportunity to advertise the club nights that are starting in Sutton in September – which is one reason why the events are more on the north side of the city. (The other being it’s where I live!)

In a moment of madness I said I’d devote the first week of the school holidays to a series of informal events in local parks. (Even though BOF isn’t paying me to do it!) Dave Ellis and I have organised it and some kind folk from COBOC and HOC have volunteered to help. The events will take place between approximately 2 pm and 4 pm, and each afternoon there’ll be a 1 km and 3 km course and a short score. We did think about using SI but our experiences at Aston Hall have put us off – if there is SI it’ll be limited to the 1 km course.

Programme (subject to final permissions):

Sun/Mon 24/25 Cannon Hill Park

Tue 26 Witton Lakes

Wed 27 Handsworth Park

Thu 28 Pype Hayes

Fri 29 Rectory Park, Sutton

The events are free and there’ll be prizes (dunno what yet!) for children who attend on more than one day, as well as for the Adult Of The Week. For more info, or if you’d like to help, email


I think this is the final SINS post 🙂

Organising a big event is a pretty thankless task – the only participants who’ll really appreciate your effort are the ones who’ve done a similar organising job elsewhere. And though people say how wonderful it was, nearly all the discussion is about the mistakes. That’s life. You get 2,990 things right, but the 10 things you get wrong stick out like a sore thumb.

I’m here to say it was a fantastic weekend but there are three things I think need looking at. One was specific to the event and the other two are more general. The specific matter was the Start. This is what the map issue looked like on day 3:

Is it any wonder that some people picked up the wrong map?

The general issues are more important. One is also about the Start, and it’s a topic that’s come up often enough before: where the White and Yellow courses should be. When there’s a high, remote Start, I really do think that the White and Yellow courses should have a low, near Start. Some events do do this, but I think it should become standard practice.

The final problem I want to raise is Entries. Once upon a time the courses were numbered and divided up between the age classes. Nowadays they’re coloured, which is leading more and more people to enter major events by colour. This is all very well if people are fully informed about what the correspondence is between the colours and the age classes, but often these days people just go to fabian4 (Other online entry services are available) and enter without checking the event information. Much more than in the past, people (including me) weren’t running the right course for their age class. Somehow fabian4 needs to be improved to inform entrants which age classes correspond to the colours shown on the online entry form.

So, what was good about SINS? Well, apart from the fact that Catherine and I both enjoyed our courses, it was brilliantly organised. The arrangement of campsite and assembly was excellent, and the evening centre was a triumph. I think next time the event areas will have to be more spread out, so there’ll be a bit more travelling, but it won’t matter if we can return each evening to such a good venue.

It was my 7-year-old daughter’s first camping/multi-day experience, and she loved it. Enough said.

The second night in the tent was quite different from the first – the buffeting wind was replaced by the dripping rain, and though C was nice and comfy in the middle of the tent I got a bit cold and damp. Ian suggested, sensibly, that we pack up before the races and drive the few yards down to assembly, and even though we were among the first to get off the campsite the rain had already made it almost impossible.

Ian went off for his run and I wasn’t really expecting Catherine to want to do hers (There were plenty of grown-ups who cried off because of the weather) but her enthusiasm returned when the rain eased off a bit so we did it. 🙂 We even met Ian towards the end – I’d expected him to have finished by then, but it turned out that he’d picked up the wrong map at the start so he’d ended up having a longer run (as well as missing his chance of a medal in his class 😦

Then it was my turn – the last climb of the weekend. The first half of the course was good fun, but I tripped running through the brashings after control 9 and my left shin and right knee took a nasty bang. Shaken up, I didn’t see the clever route option on leg 11 so made my way gingerly down and up the two valleys.

The part of the course from #12 to #18 felt like a totally different area – it was quite a slog but as usual it all felt like it was worth it in the end. 🙂

Race distance tally: Adrian 25.5 km, Catherine 9.5 km

Results   Courses




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