A weekend of contrasting orienteering events: the informal Wessex Region Summer League on Saturday in blistering sunshine around a sleepily quiet area near Verwood of mixed parkland and urban areas; the Level C Southern England Orienteering Urban League event on Sunday in drab drizzle around a traffic-busy Frimley which included railway crossings and dual carriage-ways. Apart from orienteering, the only other thing they had in common was I managed to smack my head on tree branches on both days!
Wessex Region Summer League
Saturday saw the latest event in the Wessex Region Summer League, this one held at Potterne Park. The Wessex Summer League is an annual series of local events that are run by SOC and our neighbouring clubs of Wimborne, Wessex, and Sarum.
Due to the summer embargo on holding orienteering events where wildlife may be harmed, the Wessex Summer League events are typically held on parkland, urban areas, and sports grounds. This can make for an interesting variation on traditional orienteering, and then is furthered by the courses that are usually on offer.
The courses feature an hour score that counts towards individual ranking on the league table, and then options ranging from a short (40 minute) score to courses that are suitable for the inexperienced, young children, and family groups - typically a yellow course or mini-score. Score events are great fun; where the orienteer has to decide on their own route to collect as many of the highest scoring controls within the time allowed as they are able.
To make it even more challenging, the hour score is usually an 'odds and evens' event, where only the odd-numbered controls or the even-numbered controls must be picked off first, and once the orienteer has switched over to the other set they cannot then change back. What results is an event that is open for all levels of ability, but to clear the course requires a combination of strategy, sound route choice, and fitness.
The events are informal, friendly, and great fun - perfect for inviting non-orienteering friends and family along to see what it's all about.
A list of forthcoming Wessex Region Summer League events and a downloadable leaflet are available via https://summerorienteering.uk.
Southern England Orienteering Urban League
Sunday was the eighth event in the Southern England Orienteering Urban League. SEOUL is a more formal league that features Level C regional events from Cornwall to Norfolk and anywhere in between. The events are always in and around town or city centres, similar to the Wessex Summer League, but tend to feature a little less greenery, and courses that are on offer are of the more traditional sequential control variety.
Although not having the standard colour-coding associated with the courses, they are still organised in terms of age and ability. Courses 1 to 2 see the longest and most challenging courses with the most controls, whilst courses towards 8 are the shortest suitable for inexperienced, very young, or less able.
SEOUL feels a little more competitive than the Wessex Region Summer League, but again gives an excellent way of keeping fitness and orienteering going over the summer months.
Details on upcoming events in this year Southern England Orienteering Urban League can be found at https://seoul.owls-count.net/races/y2019/.