Its time to get back to Orienteering!

We are excited to announce the return of SOC orienteering on Thursday 27th August - please put the date in your diary.

  • What - a Level D closed to SOC members only
  • When - 18:00 Thursday 27th August
  • Where - Royal Victoria Country Park
  • How - by following the latest British Orienteering guidelines on orienteering in a COVID-safe manner 

For this first event we will be putting new processes and procedures in place, hence the low-key feel. Please support the event if you are able to so that we can learn all the lessons and move on to larger events in the Autumn.

Hugh Risebrow is planning a Light Green and an Orange and we'll be using EMIT touch-free and online entry and payment. Pete Davis is the organiser. We will be keeping the requirement for helpers to an absolute minimum, in fact what we would really like is one volunteer to act as reserve planner, reserve organiser, controller and start marshal! Quite a job eh? If you are up for it please let Pete know: peter.davis [at]

More details coming soon!

Urban planning competition

There were lots of entries for the Bramshaw armchair planning competition and, whilst we await the results, I thought we should kick off another competition! This time the venue is an urban location: Fleming Park and its surrounds in Eastleigh. There is another major difference this time: the winning entry will be used as a MapRun course. Permissions willing, we'd like to to have this as an evening event mid-August so you don't have long to get your entries in. The submission deadline is midnight on Monday 10th August.

Once again, we're looking for a Green course. See Section 11 of the British Orienteering course planning guidelines that covers urban events for more details on what this entails. As we're actually planning to use the course, this time there are some limitations to keep in mind when planning:

  • The start and finish should be in the vicinity of The Pavilion on the Park.
  • As with all MapRun courses, to avoid punching the finish by mistake, the course should not pass near it until the end.
  • If your course crosses to the west of the motorway, please make sure competitors will use the pedestrian underpass in the middle of the map, not where Leigh Road passes underneath the motorway at the north of the map. The road junction is very busy and, although there are pedestrian lights, they are often slow to change and we don't want competitors to be tempted to cross without waiting.

The OCAD file can be downloaded from the Members' Area. You're welcome to visit the area but Google Maps and Street View should be sufficient! Note that the map needs further work around the new leisure centre and the new Hendy garage. I'll look to get these updated before the course goes live but don't rely on detail in these areas for controls.

Planning Pointers

Entries for the armchair planning competition have now closed and, whilst we await the judging, Kevin Bracher, planner for the 2019 November Classic on Bramshaw, provides some insight into the reality of planning in general, and on Bramshaw in particular.

David has been very kind in allowing us the luxury of putting the Start & Finish wherever we like. When planning an event the Start and Finish are usually governed by where the Car Park is and how to get the competitors to the start and back from the finish safely. You also have to consider not one but all the courses for the event and especially the short junior courses which require linear features for the juniors to follow. The Event Organiser is responsible for the safety of the competitors and consultation between the Organiser and Planner on positioning the Start and finish is an important part of their interaction so that both parties are happy. Controllers are interested in the fairness of the courses and the safety of the competitors.

David has already pointed to the useful websites e.t.c that cover the rules for event planning and the sites that offer great advice. He also suggested looking at courses previously planned on the map area as a useful exercise.

So how do you go about planning good courses?

  1. Read up on the rules for the level of event you are planning.
  2. Get to know how to use the software. Play around with Condes.
  3. Understand the different technical levels required for the courses you are planning and what is acceptable and not acceptable. The beginners' courses are often the most difficult to plan.
  4. Try to set the competitors a fair but challenging course within the guidelines.

For the first three above you can look up all the information you need. The Club also puts on courses to help with all of these aspects. SOC has many experienced planners who are more than happy to answer any questions you may have. SOC also offers mentors for anyone taking on the planners role for the first time.

Number 4 is where the fun really starts. This is where you get to use your flair and creativity. When setting a course it is good to remember that it is all about setting a good leg between controls to challenge the competitor. We do not aim to hide the control at the end of a leg. The control or the feature should be visible if the competitor is in the right place.

When it comes to the TD4 & TD5 courses what does the planner have at his disposal? Keep the competitor thinking by planing a mixture of leg lengths with changes of direction and if possible changes in the type of terrain travelled through. Give the competitor choices, 'run around or over', take the risky direct route or choose a longer but safer approach. Use the terrain to set the challenge and try to vary the techniques that the competitor may need to apply.

When planning the 2019 November Classic There were several false starts and problems that left me with a relatively short period of time to complete the final planning. We ended up having to bus to the competition area after two possible parking sites were ruled out quite late on. This coupled with problems relating to permission for the event resulted in a difficult final few weeks leading up to the event.

The Start/Finish area was the best option with the logistics involved in Bussing. So after having planned with two totally different Start and Finish sites I had to start again for the third time. The main problem was planning workable junior courses and this took a great deal of thought.

The one thing that made it all possible was that we knew we had a great area with varied terrain and some really good technical sections mixed in with some typically vague New Forest areas that would give participants an interesting challenge.

My job was to try and get the best out of the terrain and challenge the competitors!

I used the vague runnable areas to plan some long legs where it was easy for runners to drift off line if they did not concentrate. Then after a long leg, they would arrive at a technically difficult area where there were several short legs that required different orienteering techniques. I also took most technical courses over the west to east south-east ridge and back so there was a physical challenge as well as a technical challenge.

With the amount of rain we had leading up to the event I had to rely on some simple control descriptions on wet features. Marshes could grow depending on the amount of rain so instead of placing a control on the end of a linear marsh or edge of a small marsh I had to place the control along or in the marsh. I also had to plan legs where routes could cross the water courses safely.

Hope you found this interesting and enlightening. Planning can be challenging but is very rewarding, great fun and can benefit your own navigation skills. If you have not taken on the planning of an event or activity yet, why not give it a go! The club will support you and give you as much help as you need.