What is a Street-O race?
A very informal urban orienteering race, where you are given a special map of the local area, with the aim of running around looking specific locations (“controls”) on the map, generally under street lights. You will also be given a clue sheet, which will ask a question for each control, which you will be able to complete when you find the correct location – e.g. “name of the pub” or the “colour of door at number 20”.
Each control is assigned a point value – generally the ones further away are worth more points. The aim is to score as many points as possible, within the given time limit. The time limit is generally 60 minutes – try to keep within this limit, as you will be penalised points for every second you are late getting back! If you don’t want to run for a full 60 minutes you can always come back earlier.
Where are the events held?
The street events are held at various locations over south and central London, and are usually based either at the organiser’s house or (more often) a local pub or sports centre. The events will usually be the second Tuesday of the month, running from September until May. For the summer we switch over to a summer series of orienteering evening events in parks and woodland, making the most of the light in the evenings – the London Park Race Series.
People usually turn up between 1830 and 1930, and start their run soon after arriving (although some races may have fixed start times – check the details in advance). The organiser will always be there to give you the map and record the start time, and there will be other people around to give you tips and advice before you run.
What does the map look like?
Normally an A4 sheet with streets shown on with black lines – some maps use thicker brown lines for major roads. As with all orienteering maps, there are no street names on the map! Path, contours, rivers, car parking areas and railways are sometimes included, and sometimes significant bridges and buildings. The controls (there are typically up to 30) are normally drawn overprinted in purple. To help distinguish which side of the road you need to be looking at, the control circles may be shown with a dot in the middle. The start and finish is always at the same place and shown by a triangle.
Here is part of an orienteering map that was used for one of the Street-Os in the 2009/10 series – showing the road and path network and part of the River Thames. The controls on the map here have the extra “dot” in the middle showing the exact location of the feature:
What kit do I need?
All you should need is running kit, a pen and a watch. You almost always won’t need a headlamp as the event is always under streetlights. We generally don’t have controls in the middle of dark parks. A compass is not required! For the 2011 series, we are using SI to time you out and back in again (and make things easier for the organiser) so bring your SI card if you have one, or you can borrow one for free.
Will I be safe?
The events are held on well lit streets and avoid dark alleyways. Most people compete individually, although you can choose to run in pairs if you prefer. Our September and April/May Street-Os often are in slightly rougher but technically interesting areas – these can be completed in daylight if you start near the beginning of the start block.
What about the social?
The social side usually starts from around 7:30pm, when people start coming back from their runs. You don’t have to run – you can just come and have a chat, get an idea of what orienteering is all about, or just join us for a drink. Usually food and is available. The evening usually finishes around 10pm.
What is the cost?
The events normally cost £1 for SLOW club members and £2 for others. If someone is providing food and drink there is usually a small charge (you pay for your own food and drink at a pub or sports centre). The costs are towards printing the maps (in colour, on waterproof paper) and towards the British Orienteering Levy we are obliged to pay if more than 65 people turn up.
Who can take part?
Everyone is welcome. The events are particularly suitable for people who have never tried orienteering before, and are an excellent opportunity to meet club members and find out more. Events which are held in pubs may not be suitable for children – check with the organiser beforehand.
Are you interested?
If you would like to take part in these fun events, further details will go up on the website in the week or so before the event. When the details are posted on the website, it would be helpful to let the organiser know that you are coming – this helps to plan for the number of maps and quantity of food and drink needed. Alternatively, we also list the event on Facebook – so “like” South London Orienteers and keep an eye out for events appearing on the page there – you can also RSVP to each event and see who else is coming.