SLOW finish 2nd in North Downs Way Relay

Owen Lindsell at the North Downs Way Relay. Photo: Nick Barrable.

For the second year running, SLOW had to settle for second place in the annual North Downs Way relay, finishing around 20 minutes behind a strong team from Guildford Orienteers who retained the trophy.

Caroline at the North Downs Way Relay. Photo: Nick Barrable.

This race is an annual relay, which has been running since the late 1970s, run along the entire 123-mile length of the North Downs Way – starting with the first leg from Dover at 5:30am, comprising 16 legs in total, and finishing in Farnham at around 8:00pm.

This year SLOW found themselves 33 minutes Guildford behind after just 3 legs, which was not helped by Paul Whiston suffering a nasty fall on the 2nd leg which held him up for a significant amount of time (but thanks to Steve Clark from the Canterbury team for helping Paul out). The margin was reduced to just 10 minutes by the end of leg 6, but that was as close as it got, as Guildford gradually pulled away to eventually win by a margin of 22 minutes.

Well done to all the SLOW runners who competed for us, and in particular to the following runners who won their respective legs: Andy Hodgson (leg 5), Paul Couldridge (leg 6), Caroline Court (leg 11), Nick Barrable (leg 13), Mike Farmery (leg 14) and Owen Lindsell (leg 16).

Full results are now available on the NDW Relay website. Assorted members of the victorious Guildford team are pictured below.

Guildford Orienteers team. Photo: Nick Barrable.

SLOW Junior Squad Coaching and Competition


Then come to…

South London Orienteers Junior Squad
Coaching and Competition
12 July 2008 on Wimbledon Common

Suitable for all standards from beginner to advanced
Introductory activities for beginners
Coaching and technical exercises for more experienced orienteers

Meet at: Wimbledon Common (exact venue to be confirmed)


10.30am: meeting time for those with experience
11.15am: meeting time for beginners
12.30pm: end of morning session
12.30-1.00pm: lunch break
1.00pm: short, fun competition
1.45pm: depart

Please email Club Development Officer, Christine Robinson by 4 July to let us know if you wish to attend and whether you are experienced or a beginner, so we can prepare appropriate maps and exercises.

Further details will be emailed nearer the time.

SLOW teams compete in the Jukola and Venla relays in Finland

Start of the Venla relay – Diane Leakey running for SLOW is on the right.

SLOW team.

The Jukola event consists of two relays. The Venla relay for women takes place on Saturday afternoon with 4 legs. The Jukola relay starts at 11pm on Saturday night and has 7 legs. It is the Finnish equivalent of the UK Harvester relays but on another scale in terms of the number of competitors.

This year’s event took place near Tampere, about 2 hours drive north or Helsinki. Some of the team flew out a few days earlier to compete in the Forssa Games which is World Ranking Middle distance race and was a good opportunity to get some practice in the tricky terrain.

The team came together on Saturday morning via various routes from the UK including by ferry. The race arena was located at an aviation and motor sports centre which included a runway, alongside which, were about 300 army tents for teams to sleep.

A few people headed off for a quick run on the training map before the start of the Venla relay. The Venla Relay had 970 teams starting in a mass start. The first 200 teams are seeded and take the first few rows on the grid. A network of wires elevates each competitor’s rolled map above their head.

The event was televised on a Finnish sports TV channel and was displayed on a big screen in the race arena. The top teams carry GPS devices and their positions and routes could be displayed on a map on the big screen. On the first leg in the mass start for SLOW was Diane Leakey. The teams set off creating a cloud of dust and their progress is tracked through the forest.

Team information stands.

Each leg had about 4 radio controls and it was possible to views each team runner’s progress on computer terminals in the assembly area.

The SLOW Venla team had good runs ending in 501st place with a particularly strong last leg from Sarah-Jane Gaffney gaining 122 places!

In the Jukola relay were 1453 teams. Setting off the SLOW team at 11pm was Brooner. Although the sun had set it was not completely dark but head torches were required for the first few legs. From a position in the mass start of 1025, the team made steady progress through the field ending up in 683rd place. Particularly good runs were had by Patrick Saile, Seb Woof and Alan Leakey.

Team Results

Women’s Team Length (km) Leg Time Leg Position Relay Time Relay Position
1 Diane Leakey 7.1 1:19:55 512 1:19:55 512
2 Vicky Whaley 7.2 1:39:09 661 2:59:04 609
3 Chris Robinson 5.6 1:13:51 638 4:12:55 623
4 Sarah-Jane Gaffney 8.2 1:21:55 262 5:34:51 501


Men’s Team Length (km) Leg Time Leg Position Relay Time Relay Position
1 Andrew Brown 11.5 2:19:03 1165 2:19:03 1165
2 Simon Evans 12.3 2:29:10 976 4:48:13 1076
3 Patrick Saile 13.2 2:00:02 638 4:12:55 832
4 David Roach 7.9 1:43:10 1048 8:31:26 870
5 Alan Leakey 8.0 1:19:11 488 9:50:37 759
6 Andy Robinson 9.9 1:54:09 803 11:44:47 756
7 Seb Woof 13.8 2:14:30 613 13:59:18 683


Team information stands.

SLOW enjoy the Harvester Relays

Harvester 2008. Photo: Ian Buxton

The Harvester Relays are the UK equivalent of the major Nordic/Scandinavian Night & Day Relays. Those events get several hundred teams, while we had to make do with 59 teams this year. But that is still quite a few teams compared to recent years & the event was better for it. Even though there are not as many teams as in Scandinavia, the event still has a unique atmosphere and place in the UK orienteering calendar.

This year’s event was held at Park Wood and Naphill Common in Buckinghamshire, and was held the night after the JOK Chasing Sprint a few miles down the road, which helped to increase participation. Every leg on the relay had a spectator control in the assembly field towards the end of the course (see number 13 on the map extract below), which made for great spectating opportunities – cheering was going on right through the night!

The event has two races, an A class with 7 runners per team which started at 12.30am, and a shorter B class with 5 runners (and generally shorter courses) which started a bit later at 2am. There are also “handicap” trophies awarded within each class, which teams qualify for by having an appropriate combination of age/sex of the runners in the team, as well as a women’s category on the B class. SLOW had teams in the full spread of classes – the A open, A handicap, B open, B handicap, B women and B women’s handicap. Indeed, SLOW had more teams and runners than any other club, with 6 teams and a total of 34 runners! I had some difficult selection decisions to make, with a whole set of objectives. One of which was that everyone should enjoy themselves – I hope we achieved that. Thank you all for taking part & being part of the team spirit over the weekend.

Harvester 2008 Extract.

On the A relay, our Open team generally ran very well with some good individual performances. This would have been enough to put us in the top 10 overall, but unfortunately the team was disqualified for mispunching. It does happen, especially at night when you can be relieved just to find any control! (So always check those codes when running in relays!) However it didn’t affect the team’s attitude & everyone continued to run very strongly and enjoy the race with some good runs. The A handicap team was battling in the middle of the field coming an impressive 13th place overall, and the 4th A handicap team. It included a good performance from Simon Evans running through an injury and finishing 2nd place on his leg, and Alan Leakey bravely agreeing to run the long 9km night leg after a reshuffle.

On the B relay we did achieve a top 10 position overall, with the B handicap team of Jim Mallinson, Mike Murray, Chris Fry, Charlie Turner and Peter Haynes finishing in 9th place overall, 42 minutes behind the winners (and 6th B handicap team, 35 minutes behind the winners – the handicaps were very generous this year). Our women’s handicap team was 21st overall and 6th women’s team, about 45 minutes off the leading women’s handicap victors. Our women’s open team suffered a mispunch, but would have come 23rd. Our open team were 29th – this included a top performance from Richard Catmur (another one of our injured who did amazingly well) coming back in the leading pack, and Vince Roper and his super new headlamp (!) hanging on for leg 2.

If you want to practice night orienteering, then there will be a new series of low-key events in the south-east over the winter – check for details of events later in the year.

Thanks to Thames Valley OC for hosting the event. The full results of the event can be found here.

SLOW’s next venture into night & day relays will be at the Jukola in Tampere, Finland, on 14/15 June, where two teams of SLOW runners are taking part.

(Thanks also to Pete who had the tough job of organising our 34 runners into 6 different competitive teams, as well as handling the logistics of making sure everyone had a working headlamp! Everyone seemed to enjoy the event and it was great to see so many SLOW runners competing – we hope you’ll all be back again for the Harvester next year! – Paul)

Ralph picked for Junior World Championships

Congratulations to Ralph Street who has been picked for the Great Britain team for the 2008 Junior World Championships (“JWOC”), which are being held in the Göteborg area of Sweden between 30 June – 6 July.

This is the first time Ralph has made the JWOC team, and he becomes the first SLOW member to represent Great Britain at JWOC since Ed Catmur competed in 2002.

Further details on the selections can be found on the British Orienteering website. Further information on JWOC can be found on the official JWOC2008 website.

We are sure that everyone in SLOW will wish Ralph good luck for his preparations over the next 6 weeks and for the competition in Sweden.

Ralph at the British Elite Championships. Photo: Mark Cheesman

North Downs Way Relay

This year’s North Downs Way relay takes place on 21st June. It is an annual 123 mile 16-stage trail race starting in Dover at 5am and finishing at Farnham at about 8pm. This report of last year’s race explains what is involved, and details of the legs are on the Guildford Orienteers website here. The format for this year’s race hasn’t been decided yet, but will probably be simpler than last year’s.

Please let me know if you would like to run for SLOW (see contact email below). I am looking for as many as possible of the club’s faster runners to sign up, but anyone who can run at least 10k is welcome to take part. If there is enough interest we will enter two teams, or a partial second team like last year. It isn’t necessary to have your own transport; we can arrange lifts or pick you up from a station near the start of your leg.

We ask that if you are doing a leg you haven’t run before, you recce it before the day if possible – the route is signed but not always very clearly, and runners (usually from other teams) do sometimes get lost.

There will as usual be a pub meal in the evening for those who follow the race to the finish.

Please let me know when you reply if you have any preference for the time of day or the distance you would like to run (most of the legs are between 10 and 15k), and if you’re not a regular orienteer please also give a rough idea of your speed, e.g. approx time for a 10k race.

I will wait for everyone to reply before circulating provisional leg allocations towards the end of next week.


email to:

British Championships

Andy Robinson punches the last control on Saturday at Culbin. Photo: Simon Branford

Many SLOW members made the long trip to Scotland for the British Championships in Culbin Forest, Moray, north-east Scotland on 19-20 April and enjoyed the challenging, technical terrain as well as the lovely sunshine and blue skies – a welcome change from the snowy conditions of the other major championships this year! Culbin provided some of the best orienteering ever experienced in the UK, with many experienced orienteers coming to grief in the tricky, intricate pine-forested sand-dunes.

Ralph Street showed he is recovering well from injury by taking the Bronze medal in the M18 Long class and also had a tremendous run in the Men’s Premier Relay, bringing SLOW back in 7th place on the first leg. The team of Ralph, Patrick Saile and Matthias Mahr finished a highly creditable 12th overall – first Southern team (and indeed first team south of Sheffield). The Women’s Premier team of Abi Weeds, Anne Straube and Carys Morgan also scored valuable UK Relay League points, finishing in 11th.

Ralph’s mother, Sarah Brown, was SLOW’s only other individual medallist, finishing 3rd in W55 Long. Top 10 finishes in Long classes were also achieved by Paul Whiston (9th M35L), Alan Leakey (8th M55L) and Diane Leakey (6th W50L).

Sarah Brown also had a great relay run, bringing the W50s back in first place on first leg, but the team of Sarah, Christine Robinson and Diane Leakey had to settle for Silver medals behind an in-form Lakeland team, which included Jackie Chapman, SLOW member and Treasurer up to a few months ago – thus ending SLOW ‘veteran’ ladies 12-year reign (!) as British champions.

Full results from the weekend can be found on the British Championships website.

Ralph success at British Elite champs

Ralph. Photo: Mark Cheesman

Congratulations to Ralph Street at the British Elite Middle Distance Championships & British Sprint Championships in the Midlands last weekend.

On Saturday, in the middle distance race at Hopwas he was leading M18 (& third best M20). On Sunday, in the sprint race at the University of Warwick he was one of only 20 men to qualify for the A final, where he came 14th and top M18.

Full results are available here.

Ralph. Photo: Mark Cheesman

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