A Tribute to Kate Thomas
Kate Thomas died in August after receiving a diagnosis of cancer only a few weeks earlier.
Kate was a leading light in SLOW and she will be sadly missed by a great number of people.
We have printed in this issue a collection of anecdotes, memories and comments about Kate from SLOW members. What comes through is a picture of a warm-hearted person with an enthusiasm for life, many interests and an engaging personality.
SLOW on the Web: http://www.sloweb.org.uk/
Sadly, the most dominant event of this year in SLOW has not been our results or the ground-breaking events we have put on, but the death of Kate Thomas who had been a keen and active member of the club for many years before I even joined.
Not everyone agreed with Kate all of the time, but her commitment and enthusiasm could not be faulted. The last time we saw her at an event was the South East Relays in May. Our SLOW teams were not hugely successful, but Kate was determined to prove to herself that she was getting better and that she could enjoy the accompanying barbecue. She achieved the latter and certainly proved her determination.
I will leave others to recount tales of Kate’s exploits over the years. I know, however, that she would have loved to have joined nearly 50 other SLOW members in Zermatt in July, as she had the previous year in Latvia and many times before. I also know that the social side of the club was important to her and it is, presumably, for this reason that she has left £2,000 to the club to be spent over the next ten years on an annual tea party. This is so typical of Kate and is an example of why we all have such fond memories of her.
We will miss her.
From The Archives
Scanning through the past issues of SLOWprint, I came across some references and articles that seem to reflect the Kate we knew - enthusiastic, wholehearted, welcoming and a bit crazy. A wonderful piece enthusing about Slovenia, a mention of a 4th place at the British relays 2002 , a note from Kate about how she rounded up 26 Scouts to come orienteering on Wimbledon Common, thanks to Kate from Heather Walton for organising a pancake Street-O with pancakes expertly flipped and finally - my favourite- in a piece on the theme of Famous Lines People Would Never Have Said. Kate’s contribution - ‘I’ve made my mind up, I’m becoming a nun!’
A Whirlwind of Optimism and Enthusiasm
I cannot remember the year I first met Kate, but I can still remember clearly the first time we met. I needed a lift to an orienteering event and somebody had fixed up for someone called Kate to pick me up at the corner of Clapham Common ….. a little black Peugeot 205 and a away we went…… on a whirlwind of optimism and enthusiasm for life. During these trips, I heard about how she was going to start her own company marketing craft products, be a ski bum, landscape design you name it the world was her oyster. Kate’s vivacious energy was electric. On these travels I also heard about her love for Byron but at the same time her uncertainty about whether she wanted to settle down. Then the trauma when it looked as if Byron wouldn’t wait and then the relief for all of us when they both realised they were made for each other. Then the heartbreak when Byron was killed in a tragic accident shortly after their wedding. Kate drew on her enthusiasm for life to get her through those early years to find new challenges and with it new friends across the country and across the generations. She was a woman for all ages.
It is ironic that this years JK was in Ilkley where Kate and Byron got married and where we all gathered not so long afterwards to say goodbye to Byron. As I passed the church I thought of them both that day, and how Kate with her imaginative memorial service would never be forgotten culminating in a fell run up above Ilkley to scatter Byron’s ashes in the wind across the country side that they had enjoyed so much together and had hoped to make their home.
Kate would have loved children of her own but it wasn’t to be, but rather than retreat from those us with children she embraced us, our children remember her with warmth and affection. She always welcomed them and showered them with attention when they were around wanting to know everything they were up to.
Living in Cambridge I didn’t see so much of Kate in recent years but we always picked up at the next orienteering event. I will for some time be looking around for Kate thinking if not here today well perhaps at the next event. It is hard to believe that this now will never come. When I asked my boys what they remember about Kate it was that she was always laughing and that’s how we will remember her enjoying life and living it to the full.
The Oldest Chalet Girl in the Village
Kate was larger than life in lots of respects – the life and soul of the parties after countless SLOW dinners at St Paul’s, the loyal attendee at far flung events, even when in ill-health, the enthusiast at whatever she turned her hand to.
I have a couple of personal memories which typify her talents. The first goes back some 20 years or so when Anne and I spent one Swiss Easter week at Verbier. It turned out that Kate was working for Crystal Holidays (the oldest chalet girl in the village!) and she joined us on her day off. The black run from Mont Fort was my chance to show off I thought … not a bit of it as Kate simply glided with consummate ease down the steep moguls, leaving me floundering in her wake. She was a seriously elegant skier.
We also had great fun when Kate planned a Wimbledon C4 and I stepped into the breach to control when no-one else seemed to be available. She threw herself into it with great energy and understood well how to listen and adapt. The event was a great success as a result.
Yes, the air was often blue if you passed a disorientated Kate in the forest and, yes, she was apt to fire off spiky letters about no toilets at events or officiously protected event closing dates, but these all came with the territory of her ebullient personality – she wore her heart on her sleeve at all times and will be very much missed by all.
I still remember first properly meeting Kate for the first time at a SLOW street-O event only a couple of years ago. As with many orienteers she seemed to know my parents and always said she had a few cringe-worthy stories about me from long ago which she wouldn't tell! In a short time, we became good friends and enjoyed several SLOW holidays together, including 2 great skiing trips and orienteering weeks away in Latvia and Scotland. Kate was always one of the most cheerful upbeat people you could meet, so enthusiastic and full of life, and always lived life to the full.
Five recollections of Kate Thomas:
1. Our trip representing Britain (yes, really) at the European Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships at Reims in France in 199x. We were hot members of a hot team. She issued plentiful clear instructions to the rest of us throughout the trip. We were in very good spirits - especially after our visit to an underground champagne storage cave!
2. Kate complaining about something I'd rather not discuss at an event I'd rather not be specific about. Kate was a most expert complainant with strong opinions.
3. "AJ! What do you think about (fill in name of potential suitor)?"
4. "AJ! When are you going to plan this MTBO event at (fill in name of potential area with little prospect of land permission)?"
5. (My favourite) me taking rather longer than was strictly necessary to overtake Kate running in that lovely pair of red lycra tights at various o-events over the years (don't tell Karen!)
Kate was energetic, enthusiastic and fun to be with - I'll miss her.
I remember walking with a group on the Giant’s Causeway being impressed with Kate’s concern for Ralph when he - an energetic 12 year old - was leaping over all the basalt columns getting ever closer to the sea. Whilst Ralph’s mum dozed on a sunny ledge, it was Kate who kept a watchful eye, even having to dodge the spray herself. She had a marvellous knack for getting fully involved.
Teresa and I will miss her and also miss hearing her voice - often the loudest in the room but more often than not saying ‘Hi Everybody!’
The Run on Beamsley Beacon
It was wonderful that Kate and Byron married and were set on a life together and tragic when Byron died in the climbing accident so shortly afterwards. Kate was devastated of course at their future plans coming to nought. Her composure at Byron’s memorial service in Ilkley, the thought she put into it and the run up Beamsley Beacon to scatter his ashes helped us, their friends, to come to terms with his death. Mrs Davies still remembers the lovely reading Kate chose for the service and which she asked David (May) to read. She has the Welsh translation pinned up in her kitchen. We were very touched to meet her again at Kate’s funeral and pleased that she wishes to join Kate’s friends and family on the next visit to Beamsley Beacon, planned for spring, to scatter Kate’s ashes.
British Championships - Northern Ireland
I remember vividly a trip to Ireland with Kate for a British Championship. I was anxious we were rather an uneven threesome namely Kate, me and a 12 year old Ralph especially when Kate quizzed me on the local nightlife and I got slightly hysterical at the thought of the three of us going clubbing. As it turned out, we had great fun together finding plenty to giggle about and madly setting off on a scenic drive without the benefit of a map! We went out for a meal after the individual day when Ralph was pretty unhappy at having come second. Kate was excellent at consoling him and concentrated on looking for the positive.
Half way through the meal I went to phone Paul who was back in England to tell him that Ralph had lost but I was thrilled to have won. Paul however had discovered from the website that I hadn’t won but in fact had been beaten late on by 2 seconds! While I was out of the restaurant, Kathy at another table had also given Kate the news that I had been beaten. I came back to the table devastated and Kate gamely turned all her consoling skills on to me and did a great job. We ended up laughing about how dreadful it might have been going to the prize giving still under the impression I had won!
Memories of Kate
Kate was an excellent friend, always full of energy and on the look out for adventure. She lived life to the full and made the most of every opportunity. Kate had a wide range of interests and spending time with her was always packed with activity going from an historic attraction to an adventurous pursuit, remembered best from our holiday to Slovenia which was a mix of castles, white water rafting, caves, the beach and obviously some orienteering.
She was very friendly, always making an effort to welcome new people to the club, help them feel involved and, if new to the sport, understand the intricacies of orienteering. Kate often proudly remarked that she had helped Heather Munro as a junior find her way in the forest.
Kate was a very good skier and outshone most of the rest of us who went skiing with her, she was a patient coach and kindly assisted me down my first black run. It is nice to think that only in February she was enjoying the mountain air and having a good time out on the slopes. Another favourite hobby was attempting to matchmaker people in SLOW and quite a few conversations on this topic, combined with non-subtle hinting were very amusing.
Kate had a great interest in other cultures and really enjoyed looking after her foreign students studying English at Wimbledon, making a great effort to cook and entertain them ensuring that they had every opportunity to learn and benefit from their stay with her. She was also interested in new technology including great enthusiasm for her new PDA. This defeated her at times and I specially remember when she had a key ring, which would beep when you made a loud noise. As Kate was quite a loud person she kept setting it off, so it had to be abandoned in the end.
Even during Kate’s illness she was brave and positive, interested in what everyone else was up to and chatting about possibly going to Russia orienteering. I’ll always remember her and will be grateful for our friendship, as will both my brother and sister.
Something to Celebrate
Kate has left SLOW a small bequest - namely a sum of money to be spent over the next 10 years so that each summer we can have a truly splendid party. And, thanks Kate, we will.
My thanks to everyone who wrote pieces and to those who spoke to me and have asked me to report their comments.
SLOW's AGM this year will be on Tuesday 21st November. We will follow last
year's successful and sociable format. We have a private room at
144 Upper Richmond Road
If you want to eat then please arrive between 7.00 and 7.45. The meeting
will start at 8.30.
COMPASS SPORT CUP: 15 OCTOBER
As you know, in the spring we qualified for the Compass Sport Cup Final. Now the date for the final is coming up and we should be getting excited!
This is the most important club competition in the UK, and we need as good a turnout as possible to do well. There are 10 clubs in the cup final. It is very convenient for us that the final this year is so close (Newbury).
Our club's score is based on our best 25 runners on the day. That effectively means we need you to run if there is ANY chance of you ending up being one of those 25! But also with the scoring system introduced last year, almost everyone can contribute to the club's result by beating runners from other clubs and pushing their scores down. So we want everyone to come along and contribute to a great club atmosphere at the event.
Below are the outline details of the event, but the most important thing *RIGHT* *NOW* is to confirm your availability to captain We will need to put in the club entry at the end of September. But our job is so much easier if you tell us AS SOON AS POSSIBLE whether or not you will be coming along. Please let us know if you have your own EMIT card & any start time preference.
Pete & Rachael
Sunday 15th October : Greenham Common, Newbury
Cost: £6 for adults - cheques payable to SLOW & sent to Jackie Chapman (deduct £1 if you have your own EMIT card). The club will pay the entry fees for full-time students and juniors.
Facilities: hopefully Wilf's. Ultrasport. And a local cafe. Spectator control for runners who have finished.
Start Times: 1030-1320.
Courses: Usual Cup colour-coded courses (entry in advance via us). Also non-cup Yellow & White courses for entry-on-the-day only.
YVETTE BAKER TROPHY: 29 OCTOBER
Calling all juniors/parents! The Yvette Baker Trophy junior competition is at Chobham Common, Surrey on 29th October.
This is for *ALL* juniors (from the very youngest up to M/W20) of *ALL* standards from Yellow through to Green. You run a course appropriate to your ability (based on whether you have gold standard) rather than your age, so it is suitable for everyone.
Boys & girls are scored separately on each of the courses (yellow, orange, light green, green) - our top 9 scorers will make up the team score. So everyone has a chance to make an important contribution to the team!
We have previously managed to qualify for the national final with good turnouts. To get there again, we need a full turnout of our juniors in October. So please I'd like EVERY SINGLE ONE of our juniors to be there - the rest of your team will be so glad! (The final is on 10th December at Newbury.)
The club will pay for all the junior entry fees for this event. There are courses for all adults as well.
So please confirm your availability NOW. I would like to hear from EVERY junior/parents where the junior is happy to go round at least a yellow standard course. (It is also possible to go around a yellow course as a junior pair.)
Street-O is shortly to return to the streets of London! SLOW is once again organising a full series of evening street orienteering events, to be held once a month between September and April, on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.
If you haven't tried these events before, come along and have a go - they are fun events, with an informal street orienteering element (in "score event" format - i.e. find as many controls as you can within a set time period). There is always a good social gathering afterwards, with food and drink usually available. Events are hosted either from the organiser's house, or a local sports club or pub.
Full details of the series, information on street events and a provisional schedule of 2006/07 events can now be found on the SLOW website.
This year to add a bit of competition we will be compiling overall results throughout the series, with your best 4 scores counting towards the overall results. (Further details on the scoring system are on the website.) There will be prizes for the leading man and leading woman over the series.
HOT PICKS are recommended events for SLOW members to attend. SLOW can offer transport to events from south west London. To arrange transport, contact Jenny Costigan For the Sunday events we suggest start times from 11.00-12.00. We intend to meet afterwards for a drink and Sunday lunch at a nearby pub and these are listed below if known. Otherwise, see us at the event to find out where we’re going.
CD = Closing date. EOD = entry on the day.
For events with a CD, it is sometimes possible to get a late entry or EOD – check the organising club’s website
Street Orienteering – 2nd Tuesday of each month
SLOW is putting on a Street-O event once a month between September and April. Each evening consists of a night street orienteering event, as well as a social event to meet up with club members.
Dates and Venues here: http://www.sloweb.org.uk/Street0607/Index.htm
15th October Compass Sport Cup Final, Greenham Common, near Newbury.
One of the best team days of the year. Put this date in your diaries. Everyone welcome. Contact the captain to enter.
www.baoc.org.uk Après O:TBC
29th October Yvette Baker Trophy Round and District Event, Chobham Common.
The Yvette Baker trophy is the premier junior inter-club competition. There will also be courses for all ages. EOD but let the captain know if you are a junior and can run for SLOW.
www.guildfordorienteers.co.uk Après O: Cricketers, 1 London Road, Bagshot
4th November Oxford City Race
6 courses using the city centre, parks, meadows and some of the colleges on a 1:5000 map. Contact free EMIT punching. Online entry preferred. CD: 23/10/06. Limited EOD. Starts: 11.30am-1.30pm.
www.ouoc.org.uk Après O: TBC
26th November SLOW OK Nuts Trophy Regional Event, Winterfold.
Fast runnable woodland in the Surrey Hills as used for the World Cup. CD: Unknown. Limited EOD.
www.sloweb.org.uk Après O: The Compass Inn, Gomshall
3rd December Regional Event at Hindleap, Forest Row.
www.saxons-oc.org Après O: Roebuck, Wych Cross
THE FIXTURES BIT
We have a brand new development on the recruiting officials front. Paul has designed a page for the website which has the upcoming races and the officials for them – making it obvious which vacancies need filling. And very nice it looks to or at least will do when it becomes live on the website.
So as I can’t give you the link here this is what’s coming up right through to the end of 2007
OK Nuts. 26th November. Winterfold. Organiser is Teresa. Planner is Matthias. Alan Wallis (SN) is controller. Gavin is SI guru. Jackie is i/c entries but we’re setting it up so that most entries will be online via Ntrees. This is the Inter-Services match again – so we can expect a good turn-out.
20 Jan 2007. Box Hill Fell race. I’m organising. Dick is on entries again.
3 Feb. Senile. Likely to be on Oxshott Heath. Start/finish at Sandy Lane or Oxshott Sports Club. Officials needed.
March/April. Southern Express. Also on Esher. Probably MicrO map but possibly American Community School. Officials needed.
22 April. Glovers Wood loop races . Land permission looking less likely – so the reserve is a district event on Wimbledon Common. Officials needed
28 May. Surrey Hills Race. Ginny is organizing with Richard on SI
Trail Challenge Summer series. 3 evenings in May, June, July. Mark will organize but we need planners and SI experts.
1 July. Frolic. Not sure where. Wimbledon (ish?) Officials needed
23 Sept. TC half marathon. Mark will organize but we need a planner and an SI expert.
25 Nov. OK Nuts. Ideally on the Devil’s Punchbowl. Possible alternative is a middle distance regional event on Glovers Wood if we haven’t used it in April
We’ve done so much since the last mag that I couldn’t begin to list them and give the officials their deserved praised. But I’ll be doing that soon for the AGM; so see you in the Pizza Express
JUKOLA – JUNE 2006
Jukola (first run in 1949) is the annual Finnish version of our Harvester Night-and-Day Relays. There is also a Saturday-only women's race called Venla. The events are quite large with almost 1400 Jukola teams of 7 people, & 900 Venla teams of 4 women - about 13,000 people, excluding spectators! The first leg mass starts of these events are amazing.
This year my other club JOK arranged 3 Jukola teams & 1 Venla team, including a few runners from Scotland. We all met at Helsinki airport on Friday evening to drive to a school hall where we were staying that night. On Saturday morning we headed to the event. The organisers set up a mini-village with army tents to sleep in, food and beer (!) tents, & orienteering shops. Last year we arrived at the site in the middle of the night, & the view of all the army tents lined up was how you might expect the eve of battle in ancient times. The Saturday morning is excellent for practising or learning Finnish orienteering skills before the competition. Several training areas are laid out with controls for people to have a go.
The Women’s race is on Saturday afternoon (our’s was the only British Venla team). It is exciting to watch with a massive video screen showing updates from the forest. After a little rest, the Jukola race starts at 11pm, not quite totally dark. I was running 2nd lap so did not sleep beforehand as I had 11km of Finnish night orienteering to look forward to. I was in the large waiting pen in good time with 1400 other people as the recommended winning time passed by – this was going to be tough, especially as the commentator announced that 2nd lap was going to be in the ‘full’ night.
My tactics were to try to use other people but still read the map fairly carefully. That plan soon disintegrated on the way to the 1st control over 1km away as I got caught up in a stream of runners. The courses are gaffled (i.e. there are variations) but towards the end of the leg I started thinking that I was in the right group of people & we hit my 1st control dead-on.
On the next long leg, I tried the same tactics, but unfortunately neither of the two controls I visited were mine. It was time to relocate so I headed away from the area & came across a crag with two boulders next to it. It could have been any of several places but I got it right and found the control.
For my final long leg, I decided I was going to choose my route irrespective of other runners. This was very interesting as I followed a route absolutely on my own for about 10 minutes – I couldn’t even see any light from other runners’ headlamps. That was a strange experience given there were 1400 other people in the forest – eventually I got to near the end of the leg, found a few other people, did a small relocation & hit my control – relief! The rest of the run was quite uneventful & I almost met my 3rd lap runner’s request to come back in the daylight, as he headed off with just a small light to read the map. The rest of the team ran well so we had a steady middle-of-the-pack result and lots of ‘wasn’t that fun’.
Jukola is one of those orienteering experiences that people should go to at least once if possible. One good thing about these races is that there are lots of non-elite teams, e.g. Helsinki Taxi Drivers. In 2007, Jukola/Venla is quite difficult to get to, but in 2008, the event will be very near Tampere. If Ryanair are still flying from London, then how about a couple of SLOW teams?
Junior Orienteering, by R & G Street, who under the new government of Parentism wrote this under pain of bedroom tidying.
GS: Apparently the SLOWPRINT readership are keen to read something about junior orienteering. Ha, ha. But sometimes you just have to grin and bear the ideas adults come with (and what they choose to wear or listen to on the radio). Be prepared as my brother and I shall delve deep into the dreaded unknown, please make sure all food is chewed carefully before reading.
GS: I'll just mention the key point to make sure you don't miss it:
<< Boys, we're going orienteering tomorrow >>
<< Will Michael be there, are the Joneses going? >>
GS: Now for the detail. Continuing our series about some of the less popular sorts of orienteering, last month we covered "Moonlit Night Cemetery Orienteering", this month we turn to "Junior Orienteering." So what is it? As with any typical homework these days, our first stop is Google, and second on its list after an out-of-date ("2005 Yearplanner available") Lycos site we get:
Using 1:25.000 scale maps, compasses are not required as field boundaries are shown in detail to aid navigation. Teams will be issued with a list of map references, each of which relates to a cryptic clue. The answer can only be found by visiting the actual spot. The most distant places will be worth more points, but they cannot all be visited in the time allowed. Teams can either work together as one group or split into 2 sections to cover as much ground as possible within the time constraints.
GS: Um, I'm not sure that's what's expected by readers who know what BOF stands for, so let's see if we have an expert who can help explain about "proper" junior orienteering?
GS: But Ralph will have to do.
RS: "Proper orienteering" - you mean how the dog ate my lunch at a SLOW junior training day?
GS: How about starting with how old you can be for junior orienteering?
RS: Well there are 5 real junior classes, 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18. However, at some events a 6th class gets added called M/W20, this is for people who aren't willing to grow up. There is a special course at some SLOW events called naughty numbers, you can be any age for this.
GS: Please explain further. That was an answer anybody could not possibly have gained any information from.
RS: Okay then. If it's a colour-coded course you run a special colour. You do white or yellow when you're starting or are not so good off paths. You do orange or more when you are ready to pay proper attention to all the map shapes. From then on it gets to the scary realm of green, blue and brown. The hardest step between courses is the yellow to orange "leap of faith" (leap of insanity). Few people voluntarily take this and must be forced to by "loving" parents.
RS: At National events the official age classes are used, these are two year calendar year bands named after the last birthday you have in that class. They are 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18.
GS: Hold on a minute, last event I went to I was running on a weird code, JM4. What is this all about?
RS: That's for regional events. J is junior. M stands for boys and W means girls. The bigger the number the harder it is, but the numbers end at 5 because BOF couldn't count any higher. Sometimes there is another letter after the number, this is its length. JM5L is the hardest and longest and is often course 3, sharing with M45 and M50L. JW5S is ideally a short crawl through a marshy thicket – if you think you've picked up a blank map look closer at any dark green areas.
GS: So there are three sorts of classes depending on the event. But then there are the relays too, M48- anyone? I agree "SLOWdoe Baggins" is a much better name, with the fact that the age categories of the three team members must add up to 48 or less being something in the rules, not the name.
GS It may not have escaped the reader's attention that SLOW has had some good results in major event junior relays recently. Most noteworthy was my own modest effort last year when I was the only member of the family on the relay podium at the JK, after teaming up with the Haynes' boys this is the most noticeable because any team I'm in normally ends up on the bottom. This year you've seen Ralph and the James Gang (McMillan and Haynes) second only to a foreign club in the aforementioned JK relay (you've seen it, not me, I was reading in the tent.)
RS: Schools orienteering is different again to all other types because it is arranged in School years. In the Schools leagues you choose a course and get points depending on which School year you're in. At the mass participation British Schools Championships – the biggest junior orienteering event of the year – competition is in School year classes from year 5 upwards. Now your turn, what about the tale of the lost shoe at last year's trip.
GS: Right. A keen teacher took us up for a weekend in Leeds – yum Ice Cream Factory = unlimited refills. Sleep on a School floor. Training event on Saturday. Competition on Sunday. Unfortunately one of my schoolmates got his shoe caught in a marsh on the Saturday, and lost it. I met him back at the bus. He was a bit fed up. (ed: did he hop to do better?) It was bad luck as it was the only shoes he had with him. He was going to struggle at Temple Newsam wearing his map case as a shoe. Good luck was Huddersfield was a fine place to buy a spare pair. We haven't teased him much really considering – the LOST photo of the remaining shoe on the notice board was quite restrained.
RS: Oh just to complete the story on age groups, at the international Schools' competition I went to, it was two year age bands out of step with the usual British ones e.g. M17. And the redheaded identical twins called Jesper and Jerker were too fast for everyone.
GS: What's the Yvette Baker Trophy?
RS: Like the CompassSport Cup but better, an inter-club competition with heats and a final. The bigger competition has copied the scoring now – run in the right class and a team score is some number across all the classes rather than exactly 3 of this class and 2 of that. We lose to Southdowns in the heat but often get to the final anyway, coming outside the top 3 (usually AIRE, NOC, OD in some order) but in the top 10. We could do with a bigger team. We are currently recruiting so if you would be interested in: a trip with lots of kids your own age, watching a collection of "educational" programmes (Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, South Park, Futurama), playing with loads of other kids your own age and a very short run come along.
GS: And the Peter Palmer Relays?
RS: One of the best events of the year but tricky to get a team and to get to. One has just happened and Michael and me went to make a non-competitive team with Guildford. It is a 6-leg relay starting at about 4am. Legs are red, red, light green, orange, yellow and green. Unfortunately whilst we have night people and technical people we currently struggle to meet the "at least two girls" rule. This has exactly the same benefits as the Yvette Baker Trophy except you get to stay the night with your friends as well.
GS: And lets have a run down of all those other things, SEJS, Tours, JIRCS, GB Squad, JHI?
RS: SEJS – the South-East Orienteering Association junior squad, (proprietor Keith Marsden HH) holds a training day on a Saturday each month, invites are available for all south-east juniors in the 14 groups and above doing OK in the sport. This is a really good thing to aim for as a first step and can really help your orienteering, from this you can be taken to the JIRCS and nominated for a tour.
Tours – Tours are either 1 or 2 weeks in the summer holiday where you go off to exotic locations, Scotland, Norway or Sweden and generally mess about with like-minded kids. They are an awesome experience and can really help your orienteering. The first year where they could take you on a tour, called Lagganlia, is top year 14. This year I went to Halden in Norway, this was great as it was my first orienteering abroad. P.S. NO Parents go on this!
JIRCS – the annual competition between the regional squads. Individuals on Saturday, relays on Sunday. Up to 4 runners in each of M/W/14/16/18 with 2 to count. This year the south-east boys won, and the squad was 3rd in the relays, and 4th overall. This was brilliant.
Squad (GB Start Squad) – selected juniors are invited on summer tours and you see the custom O-tops at many events: in recent years it has been Lagganlia (top year 14s), Glenmore (first year 16s), Halden (top year 16s), Uppsala (first year 18s.) Eminent SLOW members such as Chris Fry and chairman Don coach on the tours. The start squad is selected juniors attending training camps in the Autumn and Spring half-terms. You also can get free stuff like o-tops, e cards and discounts at Ultrasport, Compass Point and Wilfs.
JHI – Junior Home International, like the JIRCS in format but just England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. One has just happened, in Scotland. England won, but the Scots won the relays overall – they didn't mess up like they did at the JIRCS.
GS: So there we have it. In the main an occasionally solitary experience that involves travel and waiting, being outside, thinking, physical exercise, chocolate and cakes. That impresses adults.
At its worst: a way to be the only person you know wasting your time doing something weird. I'm going to try rowing.
RS: At its best: a fantastic way to get good trips and holidays having fun with people like you.
London City Chase
On Saturday 16th September 2006, London saw the arrival of the City Chase series - billed as "The World's Largest Adventure Series". Thanks to a recent competition on Nopesport, we (Paul Nixon & Pete Huzan) had won a complimentary free entry to the race - not a bad prize considering the entry fee was £100 per team. A couple of other orienteering teams were taking part - Ben Roberts & Clive Parry as "Team Nopesport", and SLOW members Tim Smith & Christine Jones amongst others. The grand prize for the winners of the event was an all-expenses paid trip to Chicago in October to represent the UK in the City Chase "World Championships" - this event would also be televised as part of a reality-style American TV show (featuring all the winners of the various individual City Chase events around the world).
Reading the City Chase website gave us a good idea of what to expect. Teams of 2 compete in the race which was described by the organisers as "a unique urban adventure that requires participants to exhibit teamwork, resourcefulness, determination and the ability to make decisions on the fly as they search for ChasePoints scattered in unknown locations throughout the city. ChasePoints are designed to test teams with a variety of physical, mental, and otherwise adventurous challenges." One of the key points made in the pre-race information was that anything goes regarding getting help whilst competing. It was actively encouraged that you should bring along mobile phones, and call friends to get them to look things up for you on the internet, both to help with working out the locations, and solving any other problems that were required en route. Any form of public transport was allowed to be used during the race - buses, trains, tubes - but no form of private transportation, so cars, taxis, bikes and private jets were out. As it turned out we would probably do more running than anything else - often quicker to get around that way than wait around for public transport.
The event started and finished in the park at Russell Square, in central London. Olympic gold medal winning rower Tim Foster was the special guest invited to start the race - he is a patron of the kids charity Sparks which was being supported by the event.
The first challenge, which had to be completed before you received your "clue sheet" for the main event, was a form of scavenger hunt. Each team had to collect, and present to one of the officials in exchange for your clue sheet: (i) a lock of hair, (ii) a lipstick kiss mark on the cheek, (iii) one team member's head drenched in water, (iv) a live animal. This proved easier than it first sounded and only took a few minutes. Luckily we had brought a pair of scissors (amongst many other random things, in anticipation of strange challenges) which helped for (i). Pete used his immeasurable charm to obtain (ii) from unknown female in the park very quickly. There was a big fountain in the park which I cooled myself off in for (iii). And a quick rummage in a flower bed produced a friendly worm for (iv).
The clue sheet we then received contained clues for 13 locations/challenges. We had to complete 10 of these in any order, and then get back to the finish. It was like an orienteering score event, with a few extra elements, something along the lines of Anneka Rice's "Treasure Hunt".
The main challenge was that the locations of the ChasePoints were not clearly defined - rather we were just given clues to their wherabouts, some more obvious than others. The clues also gave some hints as to what we might have to do when we got there. We quickly worked out that 4 of them were in the Camden/Hampstead area of north London, and decided to head straight off there and work out rest of them en route, with the assistance of our 'internet support team' Tess & Vicky who were ready & waiting.
1. CAMDEN MARKET - PRICE CHECK
The task - find the prices of 4 out of 5 particular items in different stalls/shops listed, which were somewhere in the Market. We utilised the help of many other shopkeepers/passers by to point us in the right direction ( we got many contrasting directions, so proved more difficult than anticipated!).
2. HAMPSTEAD HEATH - LAWN BOWLS
The task was simple - bowl one ball to land within 1 metre of the jack, a distance of around 20m away. We were allowed as many goes as we wanted - Pete managed it on about the 10th throw.
3. WATERLOW PARK - HILL RUNNING
We decided the quickest way to the next location was another run, which again was about 20 minutes uphill. We were pretty knackered when we arrived, and disappointed to find that the first of 2 challenges in this location involved even more hill running! The task - change into Merrell shoes and run 5 times up and down a fairly long slope and some steps - took about 10 minutes.
4. WATERLOW PARK - "ORIENTEERING"
We've all heard of schools & scout groups etc putting on events described as "orienteering" which are anything but. This was about as bad as you'll ever come across, which is very disappointing given the number of people who will have tried it (and would probably never want to try anything called orienteering again). We were given a sheet with compass bearings and paces, with questions to answer when you reached the locations (eg signs on park benches etc). Unfortunately no. 4 (out of 5) proved impossible to find, for us and the 5 or 6 other teams around, which in turn made no. 5 impossible without the starting point for the bearing. We practically gave up and headed back to the finish point - at which point we were thankfully told the missing answers by Clive & Ben (the other Nopesport team), who themselves had been told them by some other team.
5 . ST PANCRAS GARDENS - CRYPTIC CHALLENGE
The challenge here wasn't great, a few cryptic clues leading us around the garden, with the final challenge being to work out the word which appeared the most times on a memorial statue in the gardens. Having decided the answer was "The" (10 times), we were then told by the officials that "The" didn't count (changing the rules as they went along...). After another look we realised the answer they were after was "Blessed" (only 7 times) - correct this time.
6 . JUBILEE CENTRE - CLIMBING WALL
The task here was for one member of the team to climb to the top of the indoor climbing wall, whilst blindfolded - the other member had to shout instructions to guide them, whilst keeping the rope tight. I donned the blindfold, and despite having never climbed before managed to get to the top fairly quickly with some expert instruction from Pete below.
7. JUBILEE BRIDGE - OBSERVATION
Pete had the inspirational idea of using the Thameslink train service which worked brilliantly - got the train from King's Cross Thameslink straight down to Blackfriars and out onto the bridge. The challenge here was a bit simple - we had to run along the bridge to another marshal standing in the middle and go back again where we would be quizzed about his appearance.
8. GABRIEL'S WHARF - CYCLE CHALLENGE
Running along the South Bank on a Saturday afternoon is not recommended, given the thousands of tourists around. We located the marshal at a cycle shop. Challenge -I had to cycle to a location, which Pete would have to describe by phone after I'd cycled away. We lost a couple of minutes as I managed to forget the last part of Pete's instructions and had to call back for redirection.
9. RUSSELL SQUARE - TRIVIA QUIZ
We'd been given the 15 questions to answer at the start of the day and hand in at the assembly point in Russell Square. Tess & Vicky had been busy researching all the answers for us on the internet - most of which were very obscure. It was quite crucial to get them right, as the penalty for any you got wrong was to eat a spoonful of dog food!! Pete conveniently pointed out he was a vegetarian, which would have left it down to me; thankfully we got them all correct though. (Unlike most teams - Clive and Tim both enjoyed a nice spoonful of Pedigree's finest...).
10. BLOOMSBURY SQUARE - CIRCUS SKILLS
The challenge was for one member to walk on stilts whilst the other had to master the diablo. I miserably failed at both, whilst Pete used his clowning skills to make it look easy. My final task was to create a balloon sausage dog - can't say it really looked like one, but it passed the test.
Finally - back to Russell Square as quickly as we could run, to finish in a time of just under 4 hours 15 minutes. There weren't many people around at the time, so we thought we might have done quite well, but even so we were very surprised to learn we had finished in 3rd place. However, the winning team had beaten us by nearly an hour. This initially seemed unbelievable, but having talked to them we realised that the difference was due to us doing numbers 2, 3 and 4 above, which did take quite a lot of time as they were a long way out; the winning team had instead done the 3 other checkpoints we missed out which were all more central. But we had avoided these on the grounds of the tasks that had to be done - we didn't particularly fancy having our heads shaved (the penalty for failing to complete a sudoku puzzle), singing karaoke (although Pete had been practising "Yellow Submarine" beforehand), or selling baseball caps for charity (which sounded like it could take a long time to complete). In hindsight these tasks were probably quite easy, and if we had chosen these 3 instead then we would certainly have been a lot closer to winning.
The majority of teams took between 5-6 hours, so our final result of 3rd out of 75 teams was very pleasing. We found out afterwards that Nick Gracie, in the winning team, is a very experienced Adventure Racer who has twice finished in the top 10 in the world adventure racing championships! - would have been very tough to beat him. The other Nopesport team of Ben & Clive finished 7th, with Tim & CJ in 22nd.
Overall comments - it was something a bit different, with some good fun challenges along the way. There was a really friendly atmosphere, and most of the teams stayed in the bar for many hours afterwards. The "orienteering" exercise was very disappointing however, and somewhat inexcusable given they had been advertising on Nopesport and Brooner had even offered to put on a proper orienteering exercise for them!
Would we do it again? - maybe, but probably only if it was free again! - I don't think it was worth the £100 that was charged (although some proceeds of the event did go to charity). More expenditure probably goes into your average large orienteering event that costs a fraction of the price to enter . What we really needed to do was persuade the other people who competed here that they could get just as much fun by coming orienteering (PROPER orienteering!) for the day. We did try to do a bit of publicity afterwards for SLOW's Trail Challenge race at Richmond Park the following weekend - Pete in particular was refusing to let people go from the pub until they had some details of next week's event and website address in hand. Let's hope this has some success.
Thanks go to the CityChase organisers & volunteers, and to nopesport.com for sorting out the free entry for us. Full results of the event can be found here:
SLOWTrail Challenge Series
"Trail Challenge races are mass-start TRAIL races with a difference. A series of checkpoints define the courses which are run over tracks and trails - the challenge arises from choosing the fastest route between them."
The third, and best yet, season of trail challenge races has just finished with a "half-marathon." It's a great SLOW initiative to share the delightful experience of maps, dibbers and comparing splits with more people. It's gathered quite a fan club of running minded orienteers, joined by runners happy to do a bit of navigating so as to get more interesting runs (or who have a friend to do the navigating for them.) This year there were three summer weekday evening events, with courses of 10km and 6km at each, plus the half-marathon.
The chief movers are Mark Vyvyan-Robinson and Andy Robinson. Mark is series co-ordinator and chief organiser, and Andy is what in another field would be called the brand manager, the person who guides the events to a consistent standard. This includes guiding the planners in how difficult to make things (basically not very by orienteering standards), whilst still making the courses as interesting as possible. The prompt and speedy prizegivings, based round chocolate, beer and wine, with Andy as MC, are well-attended and provide a good climax to each event.
The weekday events were:
Ham Riverside (May) – with Matthias Mahr winning the 10km
Epsom Downs (June) – with Simon Evans third on the 10km
Richmond Park (August) – with Matthias Mahr 3rd (and CompassSport editor Nick Barrable 1st)
The final event was a Sunday morning "half-marathon" based at the Hawker Centre with its changing facilities, bar, food and Ryder Cup golf on the telly. The course took in the riverside into Richmond, a main part criss-crossing in Richmond Park, and then returned to the Hawker via Ham Common. Current British Open Relay Champion Jeremy Edwards (Warrior OC) led to the halfway point but then something went twang and he had to retire. From the web:
Half marathon course21 km (15 Controls) total: 75 starters
1 Jeff Green 21 CHIG 1:24:12
2 Peter Forrester 21 IND 1:26:28
3 Gary Walford 40 TVOC 1:32:55
19 Mike Garvin 21 SLOW 1:58:15
42 Simon Evans 21 SLOW 2:05:42
48 John Greenhalgh 21 SLOW 2:13:20
Courses of 12km, 6km and 2km were also provided. SLOW's leading runners on each were Andy Jones, 2nd on the 12km, Alex Robinson winning the 6km and Greg Street winning the 2km.
From the web:
"An excellent turnout with 146 competitors, 10 more than last year. Hope everyone enjoyed the event. The Trail Challenge series will return next summer, with Tuesday evening races planned for May, June and July (dates to be confirmed). Next year’ Autumn Half Marathon Trail Challenge is provisionally scheduled for 23rd September 2007."
To: Level 2, 3, 4 and 5 Coaches, T/A and Regional Coaching Representatives
From: Derek Allison, Director of Coaching
PLEASE ADVERTISE THIS TO PROSPECTIVE CANDIDATES
BOF Level 3 and 4 Courses 13th – 15th October 2006
Shackleton Lodge, Brathay, Ambleside, Cumbria
There will be both a Level 3 Course and Level 4 Course based at the Shackleton Lodge over the weekend of 13th – 15th October 2006. Following the format of the previous years’ courses, we have co-ordinated another two such courses to enable travel to be combined and an opportunity for coaches and aspirant coaches from different regions to train together. The limited social time will also be enhanced by this combination.
The weekend will comprise practical and theory sessions. Assembly will be after dinner on the Friday evening, although snacks will be available. The course will run from 09.00 - 21.00 Saturday and 09.00 - 15.00 Sunday. There will be no assessment during the weekend although candidates will be given details of potential assessors. The course will not cover any of the First Aid requirements of the awards and a further two-day course covering those aspects will need to be attended prior to assessment.
The course is being heavily subsidised by the Federation’s coaching budget. The all-inclusive fee of full board after Friday's evening meal to lunch on Sunday and all tutoring/materials costs etc., is £75. We will be self catering and everyone will be expected to assist with that. Travel expenses are not however available. Day visitors will be allowed subject to availability at a cost of £50. Clubs and Regional Associations usually pay the candidate’s costs.
Numbers are limited and attendance will be strictly on a first come first served basis. The closing date for applications is the 1st October and final details will be sent out on October 9th.
APPLICATION: BOF Level 3 Coach and Level 4 Coach Courses 13th – 15th October 2006
Shackleton Lodge, Brathay, Ambleside, Cumbria
Please tick required course: Level 3 Coach Course Level 4 Coach Course
NAME BOF NUMBER
EMAIL ADDRESS …………………………………………………………………………………
I enclose a deposit of £10 payable to BOF
Vegetarians catered for please tick if required
Please return by October 1st 2006.
Club Officers 2005–2006
Chair: Don McKerrow
Treasurer: Jackie Chapman
Ladies’ Captain: Rachael Holmes
Webmaster: Paul Nixon
Mapping Officer, SEOA Rep. and Fixtures Secretary: Andy Robinson
Club Kit: Paul Nixon
Men’s Captain: Peter Huzan
Publicity Officer: Mark Vyvyan- Robinson
Social SecretarySimon Evans
Membership Secretary: Jenny Costigan
Beginners’ Rep. and Training Officer: Heather Walton:
Equipment Officer: Chris Fry
Archivist: Sue Lumas
SLOWprintEditor: Sarah Brown
Copy datefor Issue 155 will be January 07. event reports and articles via e-mail to Sarah Brown
New Members: If you are new to SLOW, you might not know about Transport: we can organise lifts to events: ring any of the club’s officers, as listed above, and one of us will sort this out for you.
Apart from events listed on pages 6,7 & 10 as Hot Picks or team events, look for event information starting with the BOF website and then find individual clubs.
(SCOA (0118-946-4354) (Army (01256-883265) (SO (01903-239186)
(SAX (01303-813344) (MV (01372-279295)