Cold Turkey
Cate Matthew

South Ribble Orienteering Club (SROC) member Cate Matthew takes us inside the races and gives us an insight into just what an orienteering race entails! Expect lots of bashing around in trees, jumping over logs and eyeballing of the competition…oh and an alarming choice of legwear!

Every year, Lakeland Orienteering Club (LOC) organises a series of three events between Christmas and New Year, called the Turkey Races. This year, the three events were at Rydal Hall, Bogle Crag and Torver Low Common.

The first race, on boxing day, consisted of a small, compact area and lots of confusing loops. The course was based on a 2-sided map, each side showing an identical display of the area but a different part of the course, each beginning and ending on the same control but taking off in completely different directions in between, the idea being that a runner could start on either side of the map and still run the same route as someone who started on the other side. This made it easier to scramble runners from the start and discourage following: even though you could see dozens of people running across the terrain, it was almost impossible to know which part of the course they were on.

I was immediately taken up the steps in front of Rydal Hall... and into the woodland beyond, where I proceeded to run back and forth, up and down the hillside, until I felt like I had been there for hours

Due to the limited size of the terrain used, the map was at a huge 1:2500 scale, causing many runners to overshoot the first few controls while they adjusted to the scale. The terrain consisted of a combination of runnable woodland, open grassy slopes, and the paved paths and small roads around Rydal Hall, which created a fun switch between urban and forest terrain several times over the course of my run. When I started, I was immediately taken up the steps in front of Rydal Hall, past the main building and into the woodland beyond, where I proceeded to run back and forth, up and down the hillside, until I felt like I had been there for hours.

There wasn’t much room for error in the modestly sized area so I found my running fairly smooth, though I felt a bit slow as I had been nursing a knee injury, and it took more effort than usual to maintain a decent pace. Another runner of a similar speed was a big help to my motivation, we were back and forth for the majority of my course and we only separated when she overtook me on the way to one of the last controls but then went much too far north, while I kept on my line and reached the control without incident. This is one of the most satisfying parts of orienteering: seeing in practice how making good decisions can be immediately rewarding.

I closely beat a personal rival and felt like this was a positive step on the way to the recovery of my injury.

The most memorable moment was when I was running down from a control at the top of the open area and I could see people coming towards it from a different direction, and just thinking ‘oh no, that means I’ll be coming back up here in a bit’. Overall I was pretty pleased with my result: I closely beat a personal rival and felt like this was a positive step on the way to the recovery of my injury.

Race number 2, on the 28th, was at Bogle Crag, using the Grizedale Forest visitor centre car park as a base and an access point to the forest beyond. This area was much larger than the previous, and the orienteers were (mostly) relieved to return back to the familiar 1:10000 scale. The course traversed dense pine forests and more open deciduous woods full of fallen trees from the recent storms, and the ground was very wet, all streams and marshes overflowing with muddy water.

I kept having to pause to climb over tree trunks which rose to my waist height or fight through tightly packed trees which left streaks of mud and moss on my skin and clothing.

Wet feet were, unfortunately, inevitable. The course was a classic, no confusing map-turns or loops from the same control, but this complexity was replaced by another kind: navigational. I found most of the course was manageable, though a lot of the ground wasn’t very runnable, as I kept having to pause to climb over tree trunks which rose to my waist height or fight through tightly packed trees which left streaks of mud and moss on my skin and clothing. There was some tricky route choice too: whether it would be quicker to fight straight through or sprint a longer route round on the forestry tracks which divided the area.

Using judgement gleaned from my own previous experiences in areas like this, I chose to follow paths on this day more than I usually would, though I did wonder why the planner of the course made it so easy to choose the paths when they sometimes ran parallel to the lines between controls. Best to appreciate the favour when it comes, though when I came across the limited amount of terrain which was actually runnable it felt like a reward for fighting through the previous difficulties. I only had one poor control on this course, when I had to dive straight into dense forest, marked dark green on the map, to reach the control, got distracted by another runner, and ended up having a bit of a run round in circles until I finally alit on the control site. Overall, I enjoyed the technical nature of the course and found it both a mental and physical challenge.

When we arrived, it was already tipping it down and I seriously didn’t want to get out of the car.

The third and final race, on the 30th of December, was held at Torver Low Common near Coniston. The terrain for this event was an undulating stretch of open fell, punctuated by rock features and small tarns. When we arrived, it was already tipping it down and I seriously didn’t want to get out of the car. The ground was tussocky underfoot, which in itself was an obstacle to overcome for the runners, as one misstep could lead to a broken ankle or an orienteer on the ground, and it takes much more energy when running uphill to lift up your feet in order not to trip.

In the absence of other features, the majority of the navigation on this course was done using the contours: even the faintest rise was helpful in keeping a strong line. The tactic on this style of terrain is to run as close to the control line as possible, though in some places a quicker route can spare some directness to avoid height gain. It was absolutely pouring with rain when I started, so I was grateful for my waterproof on the way to the start. My entire body was soaked within moments both from the rain and the gushing water on the ground.

I avoided some of the larger hills as I know I’m a lot slower when I’m ascending steeply than when it’s a bit gentler and I can really power across the terrain without the burning ache in my calves and quads.

The first part of the course headed roughly south-west, into the wind, which helpfully whipped my hair out of my face, though trying to read a map is difficult in strong wind when the corners keep flapping towards you. The hardest part for me was judging the right ratio of running straight and running round hills, but I generally stuck to keeping the more direct line possible, though I avoided some of the larger hills as I know I’m a lot slower when I’m ascending steeply than when it’s a bit gentler and I can really power across the terrain without the burning ache in my calves and quads.

Although the weather could have been much better, it was a good way to end the year on a high.

There were very few paths in the area, unlike at race 2, though the paths which were close to the start and finish proved very useful at the two ends of my course, particularly when I was getting a bit tired towards my last control. Overall, I found it an error-free race (though there is always room for improvement) and, although the weather could have been much better, it was a good way to end the year on a high.

Thanks to Cate and we look forward to more reports from the sharp end of the Orienteering Scene! For more information about orienteering, where to find your nearest club or race, check out British Orienteering.

And for a taste of orienteering, check out the OMM Festival in Grasmere, the first week of every June!

Images from Lakeland Orienteering Club

South Ribble Orienteering Club (SROC) member Cate Matthew takes us inside the races and gives us an insight into just what an orienteering race entails! Expect lots of bashing around in trees, jumping over logs and eyeballing of the competition…oh and an alarming choice of legwear!

Every year, Lakeland Orienteering Club (LOC) organises a series of three events between Christmas and New Year, called the Turkey Races. This year, the three events were at Rydal Hall, Bogle Crag and Torver Low Common.

The first race, on boxing day, consisted of a small, compact area and lots of confusing loops. The course was based on a 2-sided map, each side showing an identical display of the area but a different part of the course, each beginning and ending on the same control but taking off in completely different directions in between, the idea being that a runner could start on either side of the map and still run the same route as someone who started on the other side. This made it easier to scramble runners from the start and discourage following: even though you could see dozens of people running across the terrain, it was almost impossible to know which part of the course they were on.

I was immediately taken up the steps in front of Rydal Hall... and into the woodland beyond, where I proceeded to run back and forth, up and down the hillside, until I felt like I had been there for hours

Due to the limited size of the terrain used, the map was at a huge 1:2500 scale, causing many runners to overshoot the first few controls while they adjusted to the scale. The terrain consisted of a combination of runnable woodland, open grassy slopes, and the paved paths and small roads around Rydal Hall, which created a fun switch between urban and forest terrain several times over the course of my run. When I started, I was immediately taken up the steps in front of Rydal Hall, past the main building and into the woodland beyond, where I proceeded to run back and forth, up and down the hillside, until I felt like I had been there for hours.

There wasn’t much room for error in the modestly sized area so I found my running fairly smooth, though I felt a bit slow as I had been nursing a knee injury, and it took more effort than usual to maintain a decent pace. Another runner of a similar speed was a big help to my motivation, we were back and forth for the majority of my course and we only separated when she overtook me on the way to one of the last controls but then went much too far north, while I kept on my line and reached the control without incident. This is one of the most satisfying parts of orienteering: seeing in practice how making good decisions can be immediately rewarding.

I closely beat a personal rival and felt like this was a positive step on the way to the recovery of my injury.

The most memorable moment was when I was running down from a control at the top of the open area and I could see people coming towards it from a different direction, and just thinking ‘oh no, that means I’ll be coming back up here in a bit’. Overall I was pretty pleased with my result: I closely beat a personal rival and felt like this was a positive step on the way to the recovery of my injury.

Race number 2, on the 28th, was at Bogle Crag, using the Grizedale Forest visitor centre car park as a base and an access point to the forest beyond. This area was much larger than the previous, and the orienteers were (mostly) relieved to return back to the familiar 1:10000 scale. The course traversed dense pine forests and more open deciduous woods full of fallen trees from the recent storms, and the ground was very wet, all streams and marshes overflowing with muddy water.

I kept having to pause to climb over tree trunks which rose to my waist height or fight through tightly packed trees which left streaks of mud and moss on my skin and clothing.

Wet feet were, unfortunately, inevitable. The course was a classic, no confusing map-turns or loops from the same control, but this complexity was replaced by another kind: navigational. I found most of the course was manageable, though a lot of the ground wasn’t very runnable, as I kept having to pause to climb over tree trunks which rose to my waist height or fight through tightly packed trees which left streaks of mud and moss on my skin and clothing. There was some tricky route choice too: whether it would be quicker to fight straight through or sprint a longer route round on the forestry tracks which divided the area.

Using judgement gleaned from my own previous experiences in areas like this, I chose to follow paths on this day more than I usually would, though I did wonder why the planner of the course made it so easy to choose the paths when they sometimes ran parallel to the lines between controls. Best to appreciate the favour when it comes, though when I came across the limited amount of terrain which was actually runnable it felt like a reward for fighting through the previous difficulties. I only had one poor control on this course, when I had to dive straight into dense forest, marked dark green on the map, to reach the control, got distracted by another runner, and ended up having a bit of a run round in circles until I finally alit on the control site. Overall, I enjoyed the technical nature of the course and found it both a mental and physical challenge.

When we arrived, it was already tipping it down and I seriously didn’t want to get out of the car.

The third and final race, on the 30th of December, was held at Torver Low Common near Coniston. The terrain for this event was an undulating stretch of open fell, punctuated by rock features and small tarns. When we arrived, it was already tipping it down and I seriously didn’t want to get out of the car. The ground was tussocky underfoot, which in itself was an obstacle to overcome for the runners, as one misstep could lead to a broken ankle or an orienteer on the ground, and it takes much more energy when running uphill to lift up your feet in order not to trip.

In the absence of other features, the majority of the navigation on this course was done using the contours: even the faintest rise was helpful in keeping a strong line. The tactic on this style of terrain is to run as close to the control line as possible, though in some places a quicker route can spare some directness to avoid height gain. It was absolutely pouring with rain when I started, so I was grateful for my waterproof on the way to the start. My entire body was soaked within moments both from the rain and the gushing water on the ground.

I avoided some of the larger hills as I know I’m a lot slower when I’m ascending steeply than when it’s a bit gentler and I can really power across the terrain without the burning ache in my calves and quads.

The first part of the course headed roughly south-west, into the wind, which helpfully whipped my hair out of my face, though trying to read a map is difficult in strong wind when the corners keep flapping towards you. The hardest part for me was judging the right ratio of running straight and running round hills, but I generally stuck to keeping the more direct line possible, though I avoided some of the larger hills as I know I’m a lot slower when I’m ascending steeply than when it’s a bit gentler and I can really power across the terrain without the burning ache in my calves and quads.

Although the weather could have been much better, it was a good way to end the year on a high.

There were very few paths in the area, unlike at race 2, though the paths which were close to the start and finish proved very useful at the two ends of my course, particularly when I was getting a bit tired towards my last control. Overall, I found it an error-free race (though there is always room for improvement) and, although the weather could have been much better, it was a good way to end the year on a high.

Thanks to Cate and we look forward to more reports from the sharp end of the Orienteering Scene! For more information about orienteering, where to find your nearest club or race, check out British Orienteering.

And for a taste of orienteering, check out the OMM Festival in Grasmere, the first week of every June!

Images from Lakeland Orienteering Club

Cate is a Sixth form student, currently in her final year of A-Levels and has been roaming the hills with her family since before she could walk. She started orienteering at 11 and is a proud member of the North West Junior Squad and GB Orienteering Talent Squad, preferring technical terrain over straight running. She has travelled all over Europe to compete in races, though she most enjoys participating in local events in the South Lakes.
Cate is a Sixth form student, currently in her final year of A-Levels and has been roaming the hills with her family since before she could walk. She started orienteering at 11 and is a proud member of the North West Junior Squad and GB Orienteering Talent Squad, preferring technical terrain over straight running. She has travelled all over Europe to compete in races, though she most enjoys participating in local events in the South Lakes.

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