London Rat Race

Rat Race


Sunday 30th September saw the inaugural London Rat Race storming round the streets and open spaces of London. Rat Races are urban adventure races. They have taken place in Edinburgh, Bristol and Manchester, but in 2007 the Rat Race hit the streets of the capital for the first time.

Rat Race

After a Saturday evening prologue in Central London, dawn on Sunday saw 200 teams of three take to their mountain bikes for a full day with many “challenges” along the way. They only found out at the start that they would be heading south-west into SLOW territory and that two of those challenges were orienteering at Richmond Park and Wimbledon Common, two of London’s best open spaces where many of us in the club have orienteered for years.

The Rat Race directors contacted SLOW over the summer with the proposal, and asking us to prepare the maps and arrange the placing of the controls and provide marshals on the day. Seeing this would get hundreds of new people orienteering in our “back garden” we were only too pleased to join in.

The instructions were to make Richmond Park easy and Wimbledon Common hard. In the Park the Rat Racers entered at Sheen gate and dumped their bikes. They then had to find 8 control points in any order covering at least the straight line distance of 7.2km. Controls included stopping at King Henry’s Mound to see the view of St Paul’s, and a “medieval bike rack” next to the Royal Ballet School (the Park Director said it was a bike rack but it looked more medieval to us).

This section came quite early in the day and all the teams did some of it with most of them getting all controls. They then moved west for two further challenges before returning via Wimbledon Common in the afternoon. By then the day was moving on and although the majority of teams set out to do some of the controls on Wimbledon, many had to miss it to the time pressure, and of those that did start only the best found all the controls as the navigation was considerably tougher than it had been in the Park.

The “transition” (a.k.a. bike dump) was at the Windmill. The 5.8km straight line course had 9 controls, which included an embankment in the 19th century shooting butts, a stream source next to the well on Caesar’s Camp and one requiring wading into Beverley Brook (not the challenge we thought it would be once we discovered they’d been swimming at the previous task!). The fastest teams completed this in 40 minutes, but many of the later teams seemed happy to sit in the afternoon sunshine.

SLOW’s team of marshals in the Park and on the Common had a very busy but ultimately enjoyable day. We were very gratified by all the kind comments from the Rat racers, many of whom wanted to keep their maps. The maps were taken to the post race party, where nearly all of them were snapped up.

So a whole new bunch of Rat Racers have had a taste of orienteering and, who knows, many of them might follow it up by joining in SLOW’s next activities:

Sunday 7th October : coaching day – Coaching day held at the Windmill on Wimbledon Common (again!) – basic technique training – all technique; nothing too physical

Tuesday 9th October : Street-O – Street orienteering in the City. Another chance to belt round London’s streets looking for pub names and the like.

They would all be very welcome if they did.

Rat Race

Coaching Day at Wimbledon Common

SLOW is intending to host a Coaching Day on Sunday 7th October on Wimbledon Common. This will be based at the Windmill Car Park, between 10.00am-12.00pm – map link here

We are organising coaching activities for all juniors and beginner adults. There will be a range of courses on offer and experienced orienteers will be on hand to offer help and advice.

Please let us know if you are interested in attending at

Further details will follow in due course.

SLOW finish 3rd at Peter Palmer Relays

Peter Palmer team


This event is the night/day relay for teams of 6 juniors (M/W 12-18). Usually the first one and a half legs are in the night. There are courses from Yellow up to Green. SLOW have not had a team at this great event for a few years, but this year we managed it. We have been fortunate that some new people have come to live in London.

The event was held at a new area for orienteering – Yardley Chase, Northamptonshire. We travelled up on the Saturday afternoon where football, mini-orienteering & supper were laid on. Everyone went to bed at 11pm, before getting up again for the start at 4:50am.

So there were 34 runners on the start line – it was dark & it was foggy, but the spectators could just about make out who was there. The night orienteering was quite hard, but once daylight arrived on the second legs, the navigation became a lot easier. By the end of the race we ended up 3rd overall, and we had some very good performances.

Well done to Gustav, Michael, Audrius, Ausra, Malin and Ralph. Audrius & Ausra also got certificates for being fastest on their legs.

If all this sounds interesting to you for next year (probably September), then look out for emails & let the team captains know. This must be one of the best events for juniors to come along to!

Thank you to BAOC for putting on a very enjoyable event. The final results can be found here.

More of Audrius’s photos of the event can be found here.

Peter Palmer team


SLOW’s AGM this year will be on Tuesday 27th November. We will follow the last two years’ successful and sociable format – we have a private room at Pizza Express in Putney.
Address – 144 Upper Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 2SW. Map link here

If you want to eat then please arrive between 7.00 and 7.45. The meeting will start at 8.30.

We hope to see a large number of members attending this year.

London Rat Race

SLOW becomes official partner of the London Rat Race 29-30 September!

I am proud to announce that SLOW has just become an official partner of the London Rat Race and that the Half Marathon Trail Challenge at Richmond Park on 23rd September (details here) also becomes an official practice navigation event for the Rat Race.

The London Rat Race is an adventure race being held in London with around 800 individuals taking part. To find out more about the event, please click here.

SLOW will be providing the use of SLOW orienteering maps for some of the navigation exercises and Andy Robinson will be providing planning advice. (The exact locations in use are secret!)

In return, the London Rat Race organisers will:

  • Advertise the club as a partner on their website here
  • Advertise the Half Marathon Richmond Trail Challenge on 23rd September as an official navigation practice event to all of those on their database
  • Allow SLOW to put a flyer advertising the club in the Rat Race’s goodie bag

The race organisers are also interested in having more volunteers to help out and this would also help promote the club. All volunteers receive a goodie bag that includes a Columbia Thunderscout jacket, Rat Race head Buff, stickers, treats, access to event village activities, food vouchers and VIP party tickets. More details on volunteering and how to get in contact are on the Rat Race website here.

UK Relay League – top 6 finishes for SLOW

SLOW have finished in the top 6 overall positions in the final standings of the 2007 UK Relay League, for both the men’s and women’s classes, with the men finishing 5th and the women 6th.

The UK Relay league combines each club’s positions in the M/W21 open class in the four major Relay events of the year – the JK, British Championships, Harvester and Scottish Championships, taking the best 3 scores to count. Although SLOW did not compete in the Scottish Championships, our results in the previous three races were good enough to secure impressive overall positions.

The SLOW men’s team continues to show improvement, having finished 16th in 2004, 14th in 2005, 9th in 2006, and now 5th in 2007. Top 3 next year?!! For the women, this is our fourth consecutive top 10 finish, although not quite matching last year’s 2nd place finish (although that was when we had Heather Monro still competing for us!).

Congratulations to everyone who ran for SLOW in the relay teams at the various events.

The final standings for this year and previous years can be found here.

SLOW finish close 2nd in North Downs Way Relay

This race is an annual relay, which has been running since the late 70s, run along the entire 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.

After 123 miles of rain, mud, sunshine and hills, the SLOW team were just pipped to the post by Guildford Orienteers, by the narrowest of margins – finishing just 40 seconds behind Guildford’s winning time of 16 hours 33 minutes 41 seconds (that’s 0.07% !!).

Guildford were actually ahead of us all day, and the closest we ever reached was the final 40-second margin. After 15 legs the Guildford team had built a lead of over 14 minutes, but on the final leg from Puttenham to Farnham, a very strong run by Paul Nixon (just 8 seconds outside the all-time leg record), and a crippling stitch that held Kath Denton back in the middle of the run, had both teams biting their nails as the minutes ticked away at the finish in Farnham. Luckily for Guildford, Kath managed to pull through the stitch and crossed the line with just 40 seconds to spare.

SLOW had a number of excellent runs during the day, and as well as Paul’s win on the final leg we also had leg wins by Owen Lindsell (leg 3), Simon Evans (leg 4), Ed Catmur (leg 6), Mike Garvin (leg 11), Mark Vyvyan-Robinson (leg 13) and Mike Farmery (leg 14).

SLOW also had a half-team running the 2nd half of the race only – in the 2nd half our teams finished 1st and 4th.

Thanks to everyone for running, and especially to Andy Robinson and Richard & Ginny Catmur for timekeeping, and Sarah Covey-Crump for hosting the early runners on Friday night.

Full results here

North Downs Way Relay page (GO website)

SLOW enjoy the Harvester Night&Day Relays

The winning B team: (L-R) Don McKerrow, Chris Robinson, Chris Fry, Peter Huzan, Jim Mallinson. Photo: Nick Barrable/Chris Fry

Twelve team members travelled down to Cornwall for the annual Harvester Night&Day Relays. The event was held on the top-class open sand dune terrain of Penhale Sands. The night legs in particular were very challenging.

SLOW Aardvarks (A team) had a good performance to finish in 7th place – that puts the Men’s team up to 3rd place in the UK Relay League! SLOW Bobcats (B Team) came 2nd on the B course, to win the B handicap trophy (pictured above).

Left: Ed. Right: Vince. Photos: Nick Barrable/Chris Fry

Pictured above/below are A team runners Vince Roper, Dorte Torpe Hansen and Ed Catmur.

Thank you to the KERNO club for hosting the race. The full results of the event can be found here.

The 2008 event is at Hambleden (Thames Valley) so hopefully we will have lots of teams next year!

Dorte at the start. Photo: Nick Barrable/Chris Fry

London's largest orienteering club. British Orienteering's Club of the Year 2013. CASC accredited.