Orienteering with the Queen

HM the Queen and Sarah Baird.

”So you’re an orienteer. Isn’t that quite hard work?” So spoke the Queen as I was presented to her dressed in full O-kit, including gaiters, compass and dibber.

I live at Goodenough College, a residential hall for postgrads based near Russell Square. Last November, it was our 75th anniversary, and the Queen, who is our patron and a fairly frequent visitor, was coming as part of the celebrations to unveil a sundial and be introduced to members. My partner Carl and I had started a small orienteering club at the College a few months before, and I had been selected to be part of the ‘sports section’ which would be introduced to the Queen, along with Tae Kwon Do, sailing, horse riding and football, sports that were considered to be able to provide visually stimulating displays.

Hence I found myself writing to various members of SLOW with the rather bizarre question: “I’m meeting the Queen, does anyone have any O gear I could borrow?” The response was swift and generous. I was soon in possession of many maps, including those of Royal Parks, posters advertising orienteering and not only a control stake and flag, but also a SI box and dibber – all set up to flash impressively. (In the event I did not use this function, since I was warned that anything done quickly or unexpectedly, such as flashes and beeps, might cause me to become quickly covered with burly bodyguards!) I am happy to say that as a result our display was by far the most interesting to look at, and in fact I had many College members come up to me to inquire what all the bits and pieces were for.

Eventually, having been well schooled in important points such as which foot to put behind when you curtsey and that Ma’am rhymes with jam, all was ready. A slightly apprehensive silence fell as we were told she had arrived. We waited for her to walk through the lines of spectators in the courtyard, and then suddenly she was at the door, accompanied by bodyguards, pressmen and her lady in waiting. She was introduced to each of us in turn, and had a quick word and a smile for each. The families with young children were first: one little girl looked at her quizzically, then turned to her mother and asked: “Where’s the Queen?” An embarrassed whisper: “This is the Queen”. And in reply: “Then where’s her crown?”

Eventually and inevitably it was my turn. The experience would have been slightly surreal anyway, but was made more so by the fact that I was not wearing exactly what one expects to wear on this occasion! The moment was a very special one, though quickly over. While I am not sure I managed to convince her to take up orienteering herself, I hope I have given her a positive impression of our sport, at least more positive than she might have felt had she remembered the scaring of the horse in Windsor Great Park which led to the disuse of that map.

Thank you so much to everyone in the club who pulled through and helped me by providing equipment for the display. Hopefully it won’t be so long before she meets another orienteer!

Veterans Home International

VHI runners.

Three SLOW members competed in the annual Veterans Home International (VHI) competition which was held in south Wales on 11/12 November. Mike Murray and Diane Leakey (both pictured below) were both competing for England, who won the overall team competition. David May was also competing for Wales. Also running for Scotland were ex-SLOW members Christine MacLeod and Christine Patterson.

The overall results were: England 284, Scotland 244, Wales 220, Ireland 142. The full results can be found on the SWOC website.

Diane Leakey and Mike Murray finish in the VHI.

Yvette Baker Trophy – regional heat

There were some outstanding individual results for SLOW members in the regional heat of the Yvette Baker Trophy, held on Chobham Common on 29 October.

James McMillan won the Green (boys) class while Holly and Alice Clemens took the top two places on the Yellow (girls) class. They were backed up by Chris Wroe, returning from university especially for the occasion, and Charlie McMillan in 3rd and 4th respectively on the Light Green (boys) course, with Greg Street 4th on Orange (boys).

It was good to welcome along some new members, including several University of London students, competing and scoring points for SLOW for the first time.

Unfortunately missing some key members, the team finished fourth just missing out on qualifying for the Final by a few points. Good luck to Southdowns and Guildford for the Final. Let’s make sure we get there next year!

Full results for the event can be found on the Guildford Orienteers website.

Coaching Day – Star Posts

British Orienteering’s Coaching Day on 4 November at Star Posts, Bracknell was bathed in glorious sunshine, though a little nippy in the shade by the end of the afternoon.

SLOW’s twelve members attending ranged from a complete beginner to those with many years of orienteering. Under the guidance of four SLOW coaches, they did a range of nine exercises planned by SLOW’s development officer, including pace counting, attack points, aiming off, traffic lights, simplification and relocation, finished off with a team score event.

The 30 North-West Junior Squad members also benefitted as their coach borrowed our maps and exercises.

If you don’t know what some of these exercises mean, make sure you come along to the next SLOW coaching day!

Compass Sport Cup final

SLOW’s Andy Hodgson wins the Reebok Golden Boot trophy for the fastest run-in.
Photo: Peter Guillaume.

South London seventh in national clubs competition

On Sunday 15th October, 60 runners from South London Orienteers competed in the final of the Compass Sport Cup, the main inter-club competition in the UK. It was great to see so many turn out.

The event location was the historic Greenham Common. The area comprised a very fast flat open central area (an ex-runway) surrounded by more intricate forest & marsh. The fastest runners managed sub-5 minutes/km.

The competition was very hot with all the top clubs from around the country competing. Congratulations to OD (Coventry) for a very good win to retain the trophy.

We had quite a few excellent runs including some unexpected scorers. There were particularly impressive runs from Ralph Street, Abi Weeds and James McMillan. And well done to Andy Hodgson (pictured right) for winning the Reebok Golden Boot for the fastest run-in split of 21 seconds.

The competition starts again next year on 18th March 2007, with the south-east regional round at Burnham Beeches – put the date in your diary now!

Overall team results appear below. Full results are available here.

1 OD 2157
2 SYO 2057
3 BOK 2038
4 AIRE 1903
5 NOC 1840
6 WCH 1812
7 SLOW 1774
8 SO 1724
9 MDOC 1690
10 TVOC 1393

Coaching day – Star Posts, near Bracknell

Everyone is invited to an orienteering coaching day, organised by the British Orienteering Federation (BOF) at Star Posts, near Bracknell in Berkshire, on Saturday 4 November 2006. All SLOW members are encouraged to take part in this unique opportunity to improve your orienteering.

Star Posts is a top quality area, used for British Championships and JK festival in the past. The BOF Coaching Team will be setting a variety of exercises at technical levels 3-5 (i.e. Orange standard through to Brown). SLOW’s club coaches will lead SLOW members in choosing the exercises appropriate to each individual.

Exercises are likely to include: contours only, speed control (traffic lights), aiming off, attack points, compass work etc. If you have any particular techniques or skills you wish to practise, please let me know.

Cost: £5 adults, £2 juniors.

Please let me know asap if you wish to attend the coaching day.

SLOW 30th Anniversary dinner

This year is SLOW’s 30th Anniversary and to celebrate we are organising a club dinner at The Canbury Arms where we have hired an area on Saturday 18th November, 7 for 7.30pm. This is the main social event of the year and it would be great to see as many of you and your partners/older children as possible.

There will be a choice of starters and main course included. Desserts are optional and can be bought separately, as can drinks which will be available from the bar.

The cost is £15. Please e-mail me () if you would like to come and send a cheque payable to SLOW to Jackie Chapman, 25 Wilmer Close, Kingston Upon Thames, KT2 5LX.

The Canbury Arms, 49 Canbury Park Rd is a few hundred metres from Kingston train and bus station. Map Link

Hope to see you there.

Social night and Training

With the end of the summer series of events, we are organising a monthly social on the 4th Tuesday of each month starting on Tuesday 26th September. We have decided to combine this with the option of a training run starting/finishing from the same pub as the social and going into Richmond Park. All are welcome to either or both. The Canbury Arms is a non-smoking pub about 500m from Kingston train and bus station and food is served until 10pm.

Meet at 7.30pm outside The Canbury Arms, 9 Canbury Park Rd, Kingston for the training run or from 8.30pm onwards inside The Canbury Arms. Map Link

Hope to see you there.

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