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Varsity 2017, France



Date: 25-26th March 2017
Location: Fontainebleau, France
Saturday: Individual race
Sunday: Relays
Travel out on Monday 20th, training will be organised 21st - 24th.

CUOC women's captain doesn't get up early for no reason

On Friday evening a DrongO realised it had cereal but no milk for breakfast, while a Helen realised it had milk but no cereal. There was a clear solution to the problem involving meeting at 8.30am at the athletics track. The Helen decided that a tasty bowl of milk was just fine for breakfast, while the DrongO came out of hibernation to flap round the track a couple of times before nibbling his bowl of dry muesli from the 100m start line.

London City Race 2016


The 9th London City Race was held on 10th September 2016, with accompanying races on Friday evening and Sunday morning. A rather large DrongO group attended.

Friday - Crystal Palace

The Friday evening race was at Crystal Palace Park, a park on a hill which was broken up by fences which gave some route choice, and also an small triple-layer section. In the Men's Open Ben W came first with Matthew V just behind in second. DrongO just missed out on all top three positions as James's duathlon skills didn't pay off (he cycled to avoid missing his start, arriving just in time) and he finished 4th. Then Ben S finished 8th and Roberto, who hadn't orienteered since the Venice race, missed a control out. In the women, the top (and only) DrongO was Fiona Petersen in 21st.

This paragraph is really boring, so you can click on the picture instead of reading if you like. Unfortunately the awesome campsite which we stayed at last year now closes at the end of August, so we downgraded to the floors of James' newly purchased flat and Fiona's parents' house. Ben W and James cycled back to his via a non-optimal route (guessing which way to go isn't always right). Ben S got the train and Sarah G joined having missed the race due to Oxford-London bus delays. Silly place to live really, the three coming from Cambridge got there fine. Our French department Raphaelle (who is in Bristol for 3 months with work) and Cedric (who came over from Paris) joined too. Matthew and honorary DrongO Phil (Matthew's brother) went to stay at Fiona's.

Saturday - London City Race - Rotherhithe

Saturday was the main race in Rotherhithe. With rain forecast it was uncertain as to how slippery things would be, but the rain held off just long enough for most people to run. The planner's pre-race comments were well founded - it probably was the best London City Race ever! Less touristy than usual, but definitely the most interesting with very little dead running. In the Men's Elite James H got on the podium with 3rd place, the winner being 4 minutes ahead and an international Finnish runner. The top DrongO woman on elite was Katrin Harding who finished 12th, while Sarah Gales came 4th on Women's open. We think her excellent fashion sense helped her along the way.

Other top 10s were Ben W and Matthew V in 6th and 9th on Men's Elite, Fiona P and Miranda L in 7th and 8th on Women's open, Cedric F in 9th on Men's Open, and Eric Roller and Matthias Mahr in 8th and 9th on Men's vets.

The Bens and James then took Matthew for his first ever warm down jog, during which it started raining and hopes of having dry running clothes afterwards were lost. This was followed by the traditional (well, it's happened once before) Beast Pizza at the Dicken's Inn. There were 17 people who consumed 5 beasts - recently wed DrongO Andy Prochazkova (Strakova), her parents and husband Pavel joined us as well as Fiona's parents.

After the meal we had nothing to do but the internet informed us that there was a Brazil Day celebration in Trafalgar Square. Raphaelle and Cedric decided that l'art was more interesting so hopped off to the Tate Modern. Before that though, Cedric, having accidentally got into a different carriage to everybody else, decided that instead of waiting for the next station he would change carriage immediately, giving him chance to comically dive back in through the tube doors.

Walking from the tube station to Trafalgar Square, Matthew and Phil decided that they wanted some free newspapers to put in their shoes later to dry them. But they took newspaper-taking to a whole new level, as shown in the photos. They then proceeded to spend the next couple of hours trying to get rid of them, often by putting them in other people's bags.

It was raining at Trafalgar Square and there was a strange woman with a purple veil singing and wiggling around on the stage. There was a lot of very tasty looking Brazilian food too, but everybody was too full after the Beasts. Then we discovered the paralympics section which had a 20m(ish) running track and wheelchair basketball. Ben W and James ran the 20m. Both forgot to start their Garmins for it though. It looked like it was precisely timed because there was a big display, but actually it was just a woman with a stopwatch. Then we had two excellent matches of wheelchair basketball, which was really fun!

Then it was still raining, so we went to a pub for a bit, then went back to our respective staying places.

Sunday - Soho

Sunday was an early start for the race around Soho. The start was just next to Covent Garden - starts were early to avoid the crowds. The race was the easiest navigationally of the weekend but was also quite exciting running around well-known places in central London. There was one tricky part which caught people out (and lost James the win) with the muliple levels of the indoor part of Covent Garden. James continued to improve his position with 2nd place, only 16 seconds off winner Severi, the Finnish international. Ben W and Matthew V were then 4th and 6th. Other top 10s came from Eric Roller (4th on Men's Vet), Sarah G and Fiona P (2nd and 3rd on Women's Open), and 9th from Ann Roller on Women's Vet.

Assembly was in a bar which was part of a university, which was serving some very popular bacon sandwiches. Ben kept finding bits of newspaper in his bag, attached to his bike, and anywhere you can put newspaper really. And they kept reappearing.

The rest of the day was spent watching street performers in Covent Garden, having lunch in a pub during which Phil paused looking at pictures of cute dogs to learn French, and watching the final stage of the Tour of Britain. The DrongO banner made it onto TV! James then kept up his tradition (also second year now...) of running home on Sunday evening.

Looking forward to doing it again next year!

DrongO gets flooded


On 20-21st August, four DrongOs (Ben W, Zuzka S, Matthew V, Fiona P) met in the Lake District, along with two of Ben's friends from work. On Saturday, they walked in pouring rain through paths that had turned into rivers from about 12pm-4pm. When they left, they were parked in a camping field. When they returned, it looked like this. Remarkably all the cars still worked afterwards!

Overnight the DrongOs had a wild time playing articulate on the floor at Matthew's house before going to sleep. It was lucky Matthew and Fiona didn't tell us about everything they did in Scotland or they wouldn't have been able to win the all plays.

On Sunday the four DrongOs went training on whatever this area is called. They did trains exercises using CUOC's reflective drainpipes which were on their way back to Cambridge. The rough open area had quite a bit of bracken on it. Ben and Matthew thought it was excellent fun. Zuzka and Fiona thought the bracken was horrible (especially Zuzka).

Czech 5 Days


The recent Czech 5 days saw a rather large DrongO attendance, although not all as one group. Indeed, some DrongOs managed not to see each other at all during the event. Blanka and Mark Collis, who now live in Prague along with their two kids, were there for the whole time staying in Blanka's mum's huge converted barn. This was conveniently a short drive away from where the races were. Ben and Vicky Stevens also attended the whole week staying at the event campsite, while half-DrongO Andy Strakova was also camping there with her Czech club. Ben Windsor, Dan Safka, and Stan Fort came just for the weekend.

Days 1, 2, and 3

Days 1, 2, and 3 were good. Although apparently days 4 and 5 had the best maps and the best weather.

On Friday evening Ben W arrived into Prague on a slightly late Ryanair plane. He would stay at Dan S's house just outside Prague for the night before driving to the race the next morning. At 00:05 Ben called Dan and Dan was in a club having consumed precisely no alcohol. They were aiming for the last train back at 00:18. At 00:16 Dan arrived at the train having checked exactly how far it was from the club so that he could run and arrive at just the right time. At 00:17 Ben arrived after a short delay in working out where the platforms were. Between 00:18 and 00:52 Dan talked about scooters and how his desk couldn't be too near to other people at work or he would distract them by asking them what they were doing.

Then we drove back to Dan's house, Ben went to sleep and Dan made apple strudel, which was incredibly tasty.

Day 4

Dan had persuaded Stan to come for his first ever orienteering in Czech Republic. Despite being Czech, Stan had only ever been orienteering with CUOC. So we picked him up on the way, and Dan gave Stan a slightly explicit postcard from Mooloolaba. Ben drove some of the way and Stan drove the rest of the way because Dan was too tired after his strudel efforts, and he said he liked navigating (which he did a much better job of than John O).

The orienteering was in a very runnable, gently undulating forest. It wasn't the most technical apart from a few rocky patches, but it was very enjoyable to run through. The assembly area was better than at English events as usual, everybody sitting around and chatting, clothing, food, drink and beer for sale, and music playing in the background. We discovered that there would be an AlcO in the evening and thought that it would be appropriate to join it. Dan also discovered some blueberries on his course so we went back there to pick them to make into a cake at Blanka's house.

The AlcO had 18 teams, and the format was drink a half-litre then run a short course. There was a warm up round. Then a round where the worst two teams were knocked out leaving 16. And so on, leaving 8, then 4. The winners were the winners from the 4. Except in the final round they had to drink at the end as well as the start. This meant that the winners had 6 beers, it was a pretty serious AlcO. RAFO also had two teams which went out fairly quickly, but one of their members joined the Czech commentator to provide some exciting commentary for any foreigners there. The later courses had controls in the middle of the lake too.

The DrongO team consisted of Ben, Stan, and a random Belarusian guy called Alexander. Ben and Stan decided that doing the warm up was enough and didn't really want to turn up drunk at Blanka's. Alexander decided he would just run the first leg of the next round on his own, and came back in first place having swum across the lake on the through-or-round route choice.

After about 3 hours the winners were finally decided, one of whom successfully parted the crowds during his celebration by throwing up.

Then we went to Blanka and Mark's. By this time it was too late to make cake, but Blanka and her mum had been busy so there was very tasty cake there anyway! Dan didn't want to drink out of a cup with the union jack on it, he preferred the "keep calm and carry on" one.

Day 5

In the morning we had breakfast and Dan mixed the blueberries with yoghurt to take with us as a snack. At some point we discovered that Stan Fort is going to Stanford to do a PhD next year, but decided not to have his new email address as stanfort@stanford.edu, which would have been awesome.

The area today was perhaps a little bit more difficult than yesterday, but quite similar overall. It was based at the event campsite. There was a lake right next to it meaning that you could finish the course and go swimming straight away!

Dan and Stan wanted to go cycling afterwards but Ben needed to catch a plane, so they asked random people if anybody had space. Amazingly, somebody was driving directly to the airport and gave Ben a lift all the way there!

Overall results for the people who actually ran all 5 days were: Andy W21A 18/31, Blanka W21A 26/31, Ben S M21E 31/38, Mark C M35A 22/24.

Sprint Scotland - Three Cambridge Graduates Fail At Connect 4


Day 0 (Arriving)

Results | Presentations

A small DrongO group went to Sprint Scotland from 14-17 July. The format was two days of training, two days of racing, all in excellent and hugely varied sprint terrains, with talks by some of GB's best athletes past and present. Graham Gristwood had clearly put huge amounts of effort into making it happen and making it good, and it pulled off very well.

Sarah G drove up on Wednesday morning to laugh at children getting soaked in torrential downpours on a summer camp, and Ben W arrived on a plane in the evening. We camped, and Sarah had to put up her massive tent on her own, but fortunately a man who was cutting the hedge offered to help her.

Day 1, Thursday, Sprint Training

It was warm and sunny for the three training sessions organised today. There was a 10k long training in Dunblane (during which Ben picked raspberries), then a half urban, half forest training in Bridge of Allan (during which we found it is better to run a bit further to do a long gentle climb than a short steep one), then an unusual rough open area with contours next to the village of Braco (during which Sarah refused to wear trousers and had rather tingly legs afterwards). The first session had artificial road blocks to make route choices much more interesting/difficult.

All three were excellent and analysis sheets printed on the backs of the maps provided chances to pick up on what you should practice in the next session. For lunch we had slightly warm macaroni pies from a local bakery and ice cream. We also visited the Andy Murray shrine in a museum (he wasn't there though). We then had time for a game of bananagrams on a drain cover in a park, which Sarah commented would be a good place for ants to orienteer (but actually they would find it difficult due to the repetitive nature of the terrain).

We decided to cook on the trangia in the evening: meatballs and Chinese stir fry vegetables in meatball sauce with pasta. It worked well and we cooked very efficiently because we had to get to the evening talk held in "the lesser Hall" - about orienteering philosophy and process by Kris Jones. As a sports scientist it had a flow chart which ended with Plan-Direction-Picture, the three things summarising how to orienteer well! James H arrived by plane later that evening.

Day 2, Friday, Train. Rain. Rain. Repeat.

Day 2 was based at Stirling boys club, which had the motto "play the game". There were three sessions all in different parts of Stirling, again all very contrasting and with analysis forms on the back!

The first was route choice around the old castle area, with some tricky to spot best options. A slightly drunk person told Sarah which way to go and she listened, ending up in completely the wrong place, good distractions training! The second training was around the newer city centre with a lot of shorter legs making it very difficult to keep your "buffer" full - your buffer is how much you have thought ahead such that if you were to drop the map, you would be able to keep running. The third training was three short sprint intervals around a gridded housing estate, not a difficult area but difficult to do fast!

It rained all day but we dried stuff a bit in front of a fan we found in the boys' club. After the training we had a few hours so we maintained DrongO's reputation by drinking precisely 330ml of cider each and playing articulate in the hall whilst it was still raining. Then it mostly stopped so we ventured up to the castle, but decided we would prefer to have seven ice creams instead of paying the entry fee. However we settled for just one ice cream each considering the weather conditions.

The we went to the modern centre and discovered table tennis, giant connect-4, and giant jenga. We played all three of course, but didn't manage to close the bottom of the connect 4 properly so all the counters fell out half way through the game. We also spent some time doing some proper analysis on our training maps, very helpful! The evening talk was by Murray Strain about "project Bolt" - how he went about trying to be the best sprint orienteer in the world. He flashed up map segments on the screen, simulating a glance at the map whilst running, showing that minimising map reading time is important for fast running. He also told us about how he did very large amounts of map geeking. And in the end, his WOC 2015 performance wasn't what he wanted because he was "safely good" rather than risking it and being right on the edge. We decided that he needs to be more dog.

Day 3, Saturday, Hallgen Races

Day three was two sprint races planned by Kris Jones, one of which was a world ranking event. At the last minute the order of the two areas was swapped. We had a conspiracy theory that it was to stop people map geeking in advance, but it turned out it was because of unexpected long grass being unfair on a WRE. The first race was a sloping, very complex, housing estate with lots of steps. There were many enthusiastic local children cheering people on. James finished 7th, 2 minutes down on winner Jonny Crickmore, with Ben in 11th having run reasonably cleanly but not fast. Sarah was 8th/12, 5 minutes down on the winner.

The second race was flatter and less technical but had an interesting section going into a meadow with grass as tall as Sarah. James had a haggis pasty for lunch which fuelled improvements and let to an impressive 4th place, 50s down on the winner (Crickmore again). Ben finished 12th and Sarah was 6th this time! Kris forgot to put a control out but nobody noticed. Ben missed banana time but it was OK because he wasn't running properly anyway.

Our analysis showed that Sarah can't do number 2 and should eat more raisins mindfully to solve this, but that James and Sarah were only beaten by people who had run for their country. Good work!

We had rather large pizzas in a nice cafe for dinner and a plate of cheese with a few nachos embedded in it.

Then there was the evening talk, by Heather Munro who is a DrongO (unknown by us before!). Heather's career is now as a mind coach and the talk was called "training the mind for optimal performance" and was mainly centred around mindfulness with a couple of practical activities including eating a raisin - it was very insightful. Also the idea of "flow" or "in the zone" where you are so at one with what you are doing that you just do it without really noticing - after hearing this Sarah decided that the reason why she couldn't remember which way she ran was because she was in flow.

We then had the obligatory final night party which went on until at least 10pm in the tent involving drinking beer from shoes. We nearly finished the 96 poppy-seed-filled mini pastries which Ben had made for the trip.

Day 4, Sunday, Grangemouth race

The final race and another world ranking event. The area was mainly a grid and wasn't as technical as Saturday morning, but still a challenge to run perfectly. Kris Jones had finally not seen the course before so was allowed to compete. He won by over a minute. James made some mistakes and finished 14th, a little over 3 minutes down, with Ben going round steadily to finish in 19th. Sarah was 7th, but only 3.5 minutes down on the leader this time!

Then the trip ended, Ben flew to Czech for the start of his three weeks off, Sarah drove back down south and James flew back to London to go to work the next day.

This really was an excellent multiday event, particularly the training part - there are not many chances for seniors not in the GB squad to attend top quality training and this was one of those opportunities. If it happens again next year then we would certainly recommend it!


As there was far too much to think about to analyse everything, we decided to concentrate on a particular part of our trip and analyse it: porridge making. You will see here how Kris Jones has broken down the porridge-making process into four main skills: plan, direction, picture, and route choice (click the image to enlarge). We gave each of these a score on each morning, and concluded that Sprint Scotland really improved our porridge-making skills.

PDPR Comments
Day 1 0000 Plain porridge, no milk or flavours, had to substitute with hot chocolate powder
Day 2 1000 Practised plan - bought milk and banana beforehand
Day 3 1010 Practised picture - imagined the overall porridge taste and included golden syrup flavour
Day 4 1011 Route choice improvement - considered adding meths, carrot, coffee, or crushed biscuits. Chose crushed biscuits which significantly improved enjoyment

Based on this, we still haven't quite got our direction sorted because we still managed to drop banana and oats on ourselves instead of into the pan, and allowed some hot chocolate powder to blow off the spoon in the wind. The next DrongO training will therefore focus on directional aspects of porridge making.

DrongO Fills Top Three Spots in a relay on the Harvester weekend

Harvester and Harris relay results | Sunday relay results

As if one overnight race wasn't enough, the weekend after Jukola five of the seven DrongOs who ran also went to the Harvester, and were joined by two more to make up the team of seven. NGOC had organised the weekend excellently and had even managed to make it into a triple relay weekend with an informal Harris Relay on Saturday afternoon and a small relay event on Sunday.

The area was very fast open land with varying lengths of grass and some areas of complex contours, as well as exquisitely-mapped bushes. Ben W set out on first leg for DrongO but made a four-minute mistake near the start of the course and spent the rest of it chasing down BOK's Adam Potter who had taken the lead. Ben and Adam came in together with a 7 minute lead over third place. Next out was the "freshest DrongO" Zuzka who was caught by FVO's Jason Inman, but held onto third place. Matthew went out next on the long (10k) night leg and was the only one to do it in under an hour, coming back with the lead, very closely persued by FVO and BOK. By this time CUOC's second leg runner had left!

Mark Bown held the lead on leg 4, building up an excellent 7 minute lead for Tom Dobra, who headed out fifth. Tom also held the lead despite losing 20 minutes to NOC's Andy Llewellyn, but he had a sufficient head start to maintain first position. FVO mispunched on Leg 5, but then it was DrongO disaster as Sarah mispunched on leg 6! Both teams mispunched on different controls, but both by going to a nearby control which wasn't the right one. Ben S then flew round the last leg to bring DrongO back as the third finishers, but disqualified. CUOC took about 3.5 hours longer than DrongO but didn't mispunch.

This meant that we couldn't retain the small clubs trophy which Ben W forgot to bring back, but it does mean that we are still eligible to win it next year! It's still a very promising result for DrongO and shows that maybe we can compete for the overall trophy in future years! And with a bunch more CUOC leavers this year we might be able to field both a women's and men's team!

Once everybody had got various degrees of sleep there was time for breakfast burgers, a team photo (Sarah was too small to see over the banner), and then it was off to the Sunday relay for some people. We had mixed DrongO/CUOC teams entered on the Ad Hoc course, with the aim that the teams were of even overall ability. DrongO Don't shoot me came in first as Dave returned without being shot, followed by DrongO dibbers 1.5 minutes later and DrongO serious action (their final handover is in the video, there is commentary too!) finishing 26 seconds after them. So DrongO (and CUOC) got the top three positions, but since there were no prizes for Ad Hoc, we had to make our own podium. Each team also had a runner who came 1st, 2nd, and 3rd on their leg, so evenly balanced!

We're looking forward to next year's Harvester which is probably going to be organised by DrongO in the Lake District, look out for it!



Getting there

Results | Official photos | Ben Stevens photos

On the weekend 18-19 June, a DrongO team of 7 travelled to eastern Finland for the Jukola relay, the first time in history that DrongO has entered a team there. The team wasn't quite 100% DrongO since we stole ex-Bristol's Duncan Birtwistle for first leg.

Jukola is a huge 7-man relay which happens in June in Finland every year. The top teams are pretty much made of international level athletes so there is plenty of competition! There were around 1600 teams there.

We all arrived on Friday morning to lovely Finnish sunshine, and went shopping. Some of us discovered that the 23-cent tasty looking pastry actually had rice-mush on top and not custard. Then we drove 2.5 hours to a training area about 30km from the Russian border.

Mark had ordered some training maps for this area where kites were hung for the time leading up to Jukola. As we arrived it started raining. We all had fun running round the training for about an hour (you had to run or you got eaten by mosquitoes).

Next we drove into Lappeenranta for an all-you-can-eat pizza and lasagne buffet (perfect for orienteers) although we were ordered to leave at exactly 9pm when the shop closed. So we finally arrived at Jukola itself. The first thing we got to was a massive car park which was almost empty, since most people would arrive the following morning. Then there was a massive sign saying 2.7km to assembly. So we walked with all our stuff until we got to a field full of army tents, one of which we had booked to stay in.

Jukola - the race

It turned out that the army tent had no ground sheet, and with almost no wind the mosquitoes loved it. So we all enjoyed a slightly uncomfortable night of having the choice between being too hot inside a sleeping bag or being bitten outside it.

The next day was spent exploring and spectating at the assembly area - although "town" would be a better description. There was an array of marquees full of sports shops, a huge catering marquee, two bridges which runners used during the races and a gravel road leading to the assembly area built specially for the event. The women's Venla relay took place on Saturday afternoon which was exciting to watch, with GB's Hollie Orr being the second ever Brit to be part of the winning team (Halden).

It got windier and wetter as the day went on and once we had done the model event adjacent to the assembly area, many of us went to sleep again in the tent which was now safe from the biting insects. At 11pm it was time for our race to start.

Duncan Birtwistle was off on first leg, and with camera-drone flying overhead, 1600 headlamps blared off into the forest. We had been put in start position 581, and Duncan made up almost 500 places by the first spectator control which we punched in 98th. However he was overtaken by a few teams again and handed over to Ben Windsor in 211th. Ben had a reasonable run but with a lot of small mistakes, but made up a few places into 196th. Matthew Vokes took over for the 14km long night leg, running well against some very good runners and coming back in 215th. Next it was over to Mark Bown, who had run at Jukola several times before, who had a very clean run and brought us up to 184th. Zuzka Strakova was up next who, despite running against a field of men, navigated well and only lost 20 places. James Hoad ran 6th and very much enjoyed one of his cleanest runs, bringing us back up to 188th, albeit with a massive cut on his knee from slipping on some moss-covered rock. Ben Stevens was left on the final tough 16km leg. Ben also ran well but slowed down in the final section because it was so long, but still only lost four places to keep DrongO in a final top-200 position of 192nd! We're pleased with that!

The lashing rain which had continued all night was still going in the morning as we packed up our things. However, it finally gave up at around lunchtime as we walked back to the cars. Unsurprisingly the car park had turned into a mudbath and tractors were painstakingly towing cars out one by one. However, some cars were making it out by themselves so we gave it a go in our tiny hire car. Zuzka and Ben ran behind it and pushed and a couple of others joined in the push up the final slope, and we were free! James's opinion of our "rubbish" hire car was suddenly lifted!

After the race

Ben, Zuzka and James were staying on for two days to go walking whilst everyone else went back to the airport. By the time they arrived at Repovesi national park the sun was shining! Unlucky other car!

The national park was really nice with forest and lakes but still had mosquitoes. It had dedicated campsites where fires were allowed and dry wood was provided free! We made a fire and cooked sausages over it. On Monday we walked all day, but James's cut knee was painful so he took some shortcuts. There was a tower, a suspension bridge, and an exciting hand-powered rope ferry. In the evening he took the plaster off and it was green, and after talking to his doctor-parents we decided to go to the hospital. The hospital was almost deserted but that also meant it was almost deserted of staff, so the wait was as usual. No bad news for James, just cleaning and a new dressing. We then drove back to the airport, arriving at about 4am, and got our sleeping bags out for the night there!

On Tuesday Ben and Zuzka went to explore Helsinki while James went to a swanky airport lounge to wait for our flight in the evening.

Well done to everyone who ran and thank you especially to Mark for organising the trip! We're looking forward to the slightly smaller Harvester relay next weekend!

Science City Races - a DrongO event!


On 7/8 May 2016 DrongO co-hosted the Science City Sprints alongside WAOC. And DrongO's first event in the memory of younger DrongOs turned out to be a huge success, attracting 340 runners from far and wide.

The idea was a new one to sprint orienteering - two sprints, you are allocated a start time for the first one but you run the second one whenever you like, and the results are the sum of your times. The areas were quite different, with the Science Park being less technical and having longer route choices around buildings and hedges, while North Cambridge was an intricate maze of council housing. Ben Stevens joined WAOC's Helen Bickle to organise the event, and Ben Windsor newly mapped and planned on North Cambridge, and WAOC took charge of the Science Park map updates and planning.

The turnout of helpers was also excellent, in fact so many DrongOs were there that we had to turn away some of the CUOC volunteers from helping who we thought we'd need to top up helper numbers! Thank you to everybody who did their bit towards it!

Three GB sprinters also turned up - Chris Smithard winning the Men's open (although he was beaten by the planner in North Cambridge, who perhaps had a slight advantage), and Charlotte Ward and Alice Leake getting top two on the Women's open. Along with Brian Ward they won the team competition of course. It was good to see a Newcomer's team from the OTC coming second, which was what the team competition was originally intended for! DrongO's SquaDRON GOld then made it into third position to win some rather tasty chocolates. Well done to DrongOs Tom Dobra and Katrin Harding who both came third on Men's and Women's open.

Amazingly none of the controls got stolen in North Cambridge (well done gripples) but several runners were frightened by kids jumping out at them from behind cars. Some course 1 runners were also slightly surprised to have a control in an enclosure where a man was hanging out his washing.

In the afternoon there was a picnic on Jesus Green at which the DrongOs outnumbered the CUOCs (impressive!), which was meant to be followed by Picnic and Pimms followed by Paul Pružina's Pilates, but that never happened. There was also too much cake so another picnic had to be organised on Sunday, which was sensibly preceeded by pilates.

There was also a formal at Pembroke in the evening which four DrongOs came along to and had a nice time, even if there weren't very many potatoes.

Well done and thank you to everyone who ran and helped! We're planning to organise the Harvester in the Lake District next year, so watch out for that!

British Long and Relay Champs 2016

Results and photos

On May bank holiday weekend a handful of DrongOs made their way to Brown Clee Hill in Shropshire for the British Long and Relay Championships.

Saturday was the individual long competition. The weather was slightly JK-like with the odd hail shower on an exposed hillside, but they seemed to stop by the time most people were starting. The car park was very impressive, and worth the extra pound of car parking to be able to drive in and out instead of slide. Helen Ockenden, who was CUOC's entire BOC team, finally met The DrongO and believed that he existed.

Most of the British squad had been selected to run at some races in Poland, and so didn't turn up. However, it seemed that Graham Gristwood had narrowly missed selection so had to run at the British champs instead, and won M21E by over 15 minutes. Matthew Vokes started 21 minutes ahead, and only just got caught at the spectator control about 1km from the finish of the 14.6km course, a valiant effort! This put him into 10th place. Other DrongOs Ben Stevens, James Hoad, and Tom Dobra came 13th, 15th and 22nd. Ben Windsor, who had somehow been seeded second, missed out most of the course because of injuries again. Meanwhile Chris Williamson was 3rd on M21S, Quentin Harding won M50L and Rob Campbell retired after pulling something in his leg.

The Women's elite had a slightly disappointing field size of ten, and Katrin Harding finished 6th. Anya Crocker was 7th on W21L and Sarah Gales was 3rd on W21S, while Jenny Peel won W45L.

We then went to check into our Travelodge. As we were checking in there was a continuous high pitched beeping in the background. The woman at the desk said it was because room 1 had pulled the red emergency chord, but when she knocked on the door the occupants hadn't answered, so she just left it. It shortly turned out that the room 1 occupants were our friends from JOK, and that Ian Cumpstey wasn't dead on the floor of the shower, he just tried to turn it on by pulling the emergency chord. What a JOKer.

In the evening we went to the pub which was just opposite. Our original gathering of five people turned into nine when we were joined by two Loughborough Uni people and two JOK people. Nick Barrable took 26 minutes to have a shower and get to the pub after arrival, which was better than his estimate of 40 minutes. He was already late though because he stayed for the prizegiving in the vain hope that one of the top three would be disqualified.

Everybody slept very well, and James didn't even have to poke Tom during the night. In the morning Ben, James, and Matthew returned to the pub for a rather nice cooked breakfast, while Sarah and Tom took up Nick B's offer of rather nice cereal and rather room-temperature milk he had brought.

The relays were in the same area although there were no DrongO teams. Matthew ran Men's Short for WCOC and the team came 2nd. James came through the spectator control in an impressive 3rd place on Men's Premier first leg, but lost a few places with a mistake in the final loop.

Ben then left and went back to Cambridge. Matthew left and went somewhere else. James, Sarah, and Tom stayed in the Travelodge for another night.

That afternoon a trip to nearby Ludlow led to the remaining DrongOs spinning upside down at high speed thanks to a funfair taking over the centre of the old town. Circumnavigating the castle then proved slightly more adventurous than expected - whether the crag should be marked as crossable or uncrossable is debatable.

Finally on Monday the urban race in Tamworth was reached after some slightly circuitous navigation to the event car park (possibly a sign of things to come with the driver's route choice). Sarah was dragged round by a pack of old men to dominate women's open, winning by over 5 minutes, and Tom had a good run to come 2nd on men's open.

Unfortunately a DrongO podium hat-trick was prevented by James having a slight issue reading control descriptions at the last control, though it did mean that it's impossible to tell if Nick Barrable would have been quicker or not.

JK 2016


Day 1 - Sprint

Results | Photos

A DrongO/CUOC group went to the JK on Easter weekend at the end of March. It started on Friday morning with four people from Cambridge meeting at Caroline Louth's house (who had offered us a lift there). Ben arrived with the CUOC guitar and the DrongO banner, and a few spare clothes to go with them. Lindsay arrived with almost nothing. Carrie arrived on time (pretty much). Helen P arrived too.

With Google's help we avoided the accidents on the A1 and ended up driving round the outskirts of Rotherham, which claimed to welcome us as we were a seat-full car. We arrived at Leeds University campus for the Sprint race, day 1 of the JK.

The sprint was on a small but complicated area with a few multilayer parts and a few uncrossable walls to catch people out, and many people had double-sided maps.

In the men's elite, Ben Stevens was top DrongO in 56th place, with Matthew Vokes four places behind after losing a minute by going under a bridge instead of on top of it. Tom Dobra was just beind in 61st. The women's elite saw some rather higher places with Katrin Harding in 19th and Anya Crocker in 23rd.

In the other classes, here are DrongOs who got in the top 10:

Alistair Hindle7thM40
Eric Roller7thM45
Quentin Harding1stM50
Rob Campbell2ndM50
Jenny Peel2ndW45
Mary Ockenden7thW55
Alison Harding8thW55
Sarah Gales6thW Open

After the race Carrie and Helen left us to stay with their families and Matthew V, Tom D and Sarah G joined us to stay in the much-more-fun caravan. A quick tesco shop later (which we thought would fit in a small trolley but didn't quite) and we went back to make veggie chilli, realising Sarah's dream of having it two days in a row since she had ordered it for the pub the following evening. The caravan was near a railway line, and Tom could tell which type of train was going past from listening to it.

Day 2 - Middle

Day 2 of the JK was on Wass, a Yorkshire forest, so natually everybody expected it to be extremely brambly and horrible. But it wasn't! Or at least, the courses managed to avoid the parts of it which were. The assembly field was in a muddy turnip field with some bales of hay dumped which we could use to make our tents into nests. Matthew felt slightly frustrated watching some small children stealing the hay he had put there from outside our tent for their own tent. The DrongO banner did its job at telling people which of the many green pop-up tents was our one, and Ben's failed banana and chocolate cake still tasted good even though it needed eating with a spoon.

Ben W was the first starter on men's elite but wasn't running fast because his toe had been broken. However, he was still coerced into the commentary box when he finished so that he could tell everybody what he thought of the forest. His estimated winning person of GG was correct, but his estimated winning time of 32 minutes was three minutes too slow! Ben Stevens was again the best DrongO in 47th place, with Matthew V 30 seconds behind in 48th. In the women's Katrin Harding was again fastest DrongO woman in 27th place. We hoped nobody from the caravan would take too long or we'd have to get up really early on Sunday.

Top 10s:

Eric Roller10thM45L
Quentin Harding2ndM50L
Kevin Harding2ndM55L
David Hanstock10thM60S
Anya Crocker3rdW21L
Alison Harding5thW55L
(Photo - the Drongo apple crumble from Day 1 with the Drongo enjoying the custard)

After the race lots of people went to do the TrailO! For Tom Dobra it was a world trail orienteering championships selection race, for everybody else it was a chance to try it out, and most people seemed to think it was good, although not a replacement for foot orienteering! After the TrailO Matthew, Phil, Rowan, and Paul went for a drive to see a very long ford where the road basically went along the river. They also came across a white horse and some other monument-type things. Meanwhile Ben, Sarah and Lindsay decided to walk along a nature trail singposted as being 1.5 miles long. After about 3 miles they reached the pub where everyone was meeting for dinner just as the rain which had been forecast for the afternoon but never came finally hit. Matthew drove Sarah back through the torrents to get her car, where they found Tom Dobra still discussing the TrailO course with the planner over an hour later! The pub meal was very tasty and then we returned to the caravan. Rory joined us for the night to share Ben's bed.

Day 3 - Long

Day 3 was the long distance race at Kilnsey, a very fast area of open moorland, hence the men had 20.1km to run and the women had 13.4km. It was an early start with the clock change. It was Easter Sunday but Ben's creme eggs were forgotten in the car (they were demolished at a different time though). The weather was good most of the time, and even quite warm at times, but was interspersed with some very very heavy showers. The third of these was hail, and for those still out on the windy hillside it hurt! This let to several of the top elites retiring from their courses. Paul P of CUOC kept running and had red speckles all over his arms the next day, except for where his control description holder had been. There were buses from the car parking to the assembly area, and they were very efficient with very few queues!

In the women's elite Carrie Beadle (DrongO offer holder) came 13th, with Katrin Harding in 26th. In the men's Mark Bown was top DrongO as an M35, coming 22nd, with it being very close again between Ben S and Matthew V who came 38th and 39th respectively.

Top 10s:

Eric Roller4thM45L
Quentin Harding1stM50L
Kevin Harding6thM55L
Anya Crocker2ndW21L
Elspeth Ingleby9thW21L
Rachael Rothman2ndW35L
Alison Harding4thW55L

After the race we returned to the caravan to make roast dinner! There was quite a lot of chicken but Rowan made impressively light work of it. Carrie joined us for this night so Ben got to share his bed with Matthew this time.

Day 4 - Relay

Greeted by a night and morning of rain, as well as a slightly dubious looking parking field, it cleared up just as we were arriving at Day 4 of the JK, the relays. The DrongO team consisted of Matthew Vokes, Sarah Gales, and Mark Bown. The area was a reasonably nice forest with a section of urban part way round the course which was interesting. The team was 32nd out of 41 overall.

Looks like Matthew managed to pull a mask-worthy face again on his way out of some vegetation, captured well by event photographer Robert Lines.

This left everybody to say goodbye and look forward to Jukola and the Harvester relays, both of which DrongO will be attending!

Varsity 2016

Results | Photos (facebook)

Varsity 2016 was held on 5th March at Sutton Park, organised by our favourite alumni rivals JOK.

10 JOKers and 7 DrongOs took part in the alumni match. In the men's James Hoad was the fastest Drongo, finishing just over a minute behind JOK's Alan Cherry after having a fast run (and perhaps a bit of drag from some other randomer who turned up unannounced at the start). Seven minutes behind was Ben Stevens, coming third in the men's alumni match. Tom Dobra completed the DrongO men's team 8 minutes behind Ben.

Unfortunately all three DrongO women had opted to run women's B, which meant that DrongO had no women's team! However, this did give DrongO the three top spots on Women's B (out of three) from Sarah Gales, Jean Payne and Fiona Hanstock. JOK's Helen Hanstock just saved JOK from not having a women's team at all by being their only Women's A runner, so JOK won the alumni trophy overall!

In the real Varsity Match, Cambridge women won with Helen Ockenden and Zuzka Strakova getting the top two spots, while the Cambridge men lost with OUOC getting a 1-2-3 and CUOC's Paul Pruzina 13 seconds behind!

After the match we went back for the Varsity meal and accommodation.

Most alumni went home for the night, but along with CUOC, Ben Windsor, Tom Dobra and Sarah Gales attended the social and stayed on OUOC's floors for the night. Some people had the elaborate Varsity dinner in University College Oxford, whilst others had it in Wetherspoons. The boat race was won by OUOC and DrongO's one-person team had no chance.

On Sunday the relays were cancelled for being too far away from Oxford, so there was some training in Shotover.

Thanks to Ian Webb and his JOK helpers for some excellent orienteering on Saturday! Hope to see everybody in Fontainebleau, France, on 25-26th March 2017.

Sarah Gales has a good Sunday

Today Sarah Gales had a good Sunday. She completed the following activities:
  • Bought a Europe to UK travel adapter so she no longer has to fly to Stockholm in order to charge her headlamp
  • Got a lift with Roger Thetford
  • Completed a course with more than 24 controls. That's more than one control for each year of her life, and without even mispunching!
All in all, a great success.

Stockholm Indoor Cup

Day 1 Results | Day 2 Results | Photos on Facebook

On the weekend 5th - 6th February four DrongOs (Ben, Matthew, James and Sarah) travelled to Stockholm for the Stockholm indoor cup (SiC), two indoor races. They were also joined by JOKer Helen Hanstock, as well as Nick and SJ Barrable, who sorted out accommodation.

Ben, James and Helen arrived rather late on Thursday night for an extra day in Stockholm. They expected to be awoken by builders at 7am, but it turned out the builders had done their 40 hour week in 3.5 days and then gone home! On Friday we went to Nick's gym (three of us were going for a "trial") which had every type of gym machine possible and a sauna. James went for a run first. Ben managed not to die of boredom on the cross trainer for part of the session.

This was followed by lunch with all you can eat bread and salad. There was doughnut shaped shortbread and gay flavoured tea (according to our host) afterwards too.

Ben and Nick then went for a Thai massage which included being walked on, and SJ joined them later. The staff couldn't get the hang of the fact that Nick and SJ were not Ben's parents.

In the evening Ben, Helen and SJ made banana bread with all the leftover bananas from SJ's office, as well as spaghetti and sauce. The cake stand in the Barrable apartment was finally used for its correct purpose. Meanwhile James went for a run along the frozen lake

After an evening playing rummy, Matthew and Sarah arrived at midnight and just before 2am.

Breakfast was arranged for a leisurely 10am on Saturday after which everybody went to the first race.

The race itself was in a school on five layers, just like the very tasty cake Matthew had made on the instruction of his secret santa present. Routes were very convoluted and hard to spot for apparently simple legs. There were some nice touches: One room had a control-pick-like section in it with music playing in the background that made you feel like you had walked into a comedy sketch. Another series of the rooms were filled with zig zags of tables, with signs on the walls such as "slalom baby slalom" and "keep going, you can do it!" This room was a possible route choice, but rather a slow one as Matthew and Nick especially found out. The assembly area had excellent spectator value with views up to three layers of balconies which were part of the race.

In the Men's the winning time was 23:42, and James was the first DrongO in 14th, two seconds under the half hour mark. Matthew finished in 40th in 34:25 with Ben 29 seconds after him in 44th. Nick was slalomised, among a couple of other things, putting him three minutes later in 56th.

In the women's the winner took 22:21 and Helen finished 4th, three seconds off third place, with SJ 24 seconds behind in 5th place. Sarah came in 7 minutes later but her splits said she missed 23 and 24, it seems she tried to punch too quickly!

After this there was a long run which was "up to 22km". Matthew and James did about half of it and ran 15km. SJ, Sarah and Helen cut it a bit more to 7km. Ben (with a bad toe) and Nick (with a bad knee) went for a leisurely stroll.

In the evening Nick's parents also joined the crew and we had dinner in Bistro Voltaire, which is where volts were invented. The rest of the evening was spent back in the "party room", a room which can be booked out at the bottom of Nick's block of flats. We played bananagrams and drunk beer (or was it water?) from champagne flutes since they didn't seem to have any more appropriate glasses there.

On Saturday there was a small forest event and the second round of the Stockholm indoor cup happening simultaneously a few kilometres from each other. It would be a shame to go to Sweden without orienteering in an awesome forest, so some of us went. Even though this was a small, slightly rubbish area by Swedish standards, it seemed pretty good to us!

Next we moved onto stage two of SiC. This was in another school. The assembly area was similar, being a hall with a ground floor run through, but only one level of balcony to look up to and spectate at this time. There were four floors and many more stair cases than yesterday, making it much harder to just learn a route and keep reusing it. The one route which was used several times and could be learned was complicated enough that even having done it a few times it was still difficult to remember!

The courses were slightly longer than yesterday and most of them ended with a few controls which looked quite close together but actually took about four minutes and made you run backwards and forwards through the spectator area.

The winning men's time was 28:51 and was the only time under 30 minutes. James was once again the fastest DrongO in 34.18, placing him 17th. Nick then finished 27th, Matthew in 32nd, and Ben's toe took just over 40 minutes to finish 42nd.

In the women's Sarah mispunched on control 24. Yesterday she missed 24 out. It seems that 24 is an unlucky age for her.

Meanwhile Helen had a pretty clean run and did 27:57, four minutes down on the leader but putting her into fourth again, and the consistency putting her second overall. Which meant she got a prize! SJ finished 18th.

After the race there was a small amount of time to look around Stockholm, Sarah just managed to not miss her bus and flight, and Ben and James stocked up on giffLAH to take back to England.

On top of the number of orienteers called Helen, we also found a station called Helenelund, where presumably EVERYONE is called Helen.

Thanks to Nick for his help sorting out various parts of the trip!

177 Controls

Sprint 1 Results | Sprint 2 Results | 177 Controls Results | Photos (Raphaelle's Facebook) | 177 Controls Map

The weekend before Christmas, three DrongOs and a DrongO offer holder went to an event with 177 controls. On Friday evening Ben and Zuzka caught Eurostar to Paris, where they stayed with Raphaelle and Cedric. Staying there was particularly convenient for brushing teeth, since their one-bedroomed flat manages to have two sinks next to each other in the bathroom.

On Saturday there were two sprint races, which Ben and Zuzka went to with Arnaud, who previously joined us in our WOC accommodation this summer, and is potential Varsity 2017 planner. Raphaelle went to some sort of dance/yoga combination thing and Cedric went to buy Christmas presents. The first sprint was the "proper race" while the second one was less formal, and meant as an extra bit of orienteering to make it more worth travelling there. It was in Nemours, partly on grass with a forested section with many many boulders in it. Ben came 4th/78 to his surprise and Zuzka came 17th/36 in the women's. The second sprint was entirely forested - with a lot of short legs around a slope covered in boulders. There were many controls close together, including those not on your course, as Ben found out with his mispunch! Meanwhile Zuzka navigated well and came 8th/33.

On Sunday, sunrise was at 0841 and Ben's start time was 0846. After a very early start we arrived at the race and it was slightly surreal to see people preparing for the race using torches. The Sunday race in part of Fontainebleau was to set a world record for the most controls in an event: 177 controls spread over a 17.7km course. This race was originally Thierry Gueorgiou's idea 10 years ago to have 77 controls for region 77 of France, and the idea stuck. Although this year, for the 10 year anniversary, they went for a record by casually shoving an extra 100 controls in.

The map seemed to be excellent quality (except some of the vegetation) with a lot of rock detail mapped very accurately. Ben, against Raphaelle's prediction, did not mispunch, and finished in 2 hours 54 minutes in 28th/157 finishers. He did come back before Zuzka though, who had an open start time and decided to sleep for a couple of hours in the car before leaving. The 157th finisher took 5 hours 40 minutes and a lot of motivation! Meanwhile, WOC silver medallist Lucas Basset cruised around the course in 2 hours 2 minutes. He said at the end "it's quite easy, you just follow the compass and run".

Zuzka ran the normal 30 control, 10.4km B course and came first out of the women and 13th/84 overall, making her win a jar of posh jam, a t-shirt, and a cap at the prizegiving! Cedric ran the C course and also had a very good run, coming 9th/81. Raphaelle unfortunately wasn't running since her broken foot is still getting better, but it's on the mend! However, this did mean that she could get photos of the rest of us running!

Next year's race will only have 77 controls, but there might well be another trip there, and it will be very similar to the Varsity 2017 terrain!

Williamson is DrongO King of the Night

Southern Night Championships Results | OK Nuts Results

A smattering of DrongOs were found this weekend (21/22 November) at the Southern Night Champs and OK Nuts trophy.

The night champs were rather hard, with many people saying they made more mistakes than they have made for a very very long time. Chris Williamson, however, held it together and finished in 6th place, 10 minutes down on winner Ed Catmur (definitely not from JOK). He was followed immediately in 7th and 8th by James Hoad and Ben Windsor, with Dan Safka in 18th.

Venice City Race

Results | Sarah's Facebook Photos | Raphaelle's Facebook Photos

On 14/15 November a group of 13 DRONGOs headed to Venice for a weekend of amazing urban racing. It wasn't quite 13 DRONGOs though, since one of them was actually from JOK, two were DRONGO parents, one was a DRONGO fiancee, and one was a DRONGO friend who had never orienteered before.

The weekend consisted of two sprints and a night middle distance around the alleys of Venice.

Getting There

Everybody met up safely at our accommodation on Friday evening on the peninsula to the east of Venice, where the organisers recommended we stay and from where they had organised boat transport to the races. We then went for pizza in a nearby restaurant. Ben and Zuzka had already had sandwiches on the plane, so Zuzka decided to stay behind and finish translating a book from Chinese to English, while Ben decided that he could have another dinner and joined in with the pizza. Apart from James claiming that he could be a professional woman, the evening went by in a fairly ordinary way.

The next morning breakfast was provided at the accommodation, which was tea (otherwise known as hot squash) or coffee or hot chocolate, and bread rolls with various spreads. Our local trip member Roberto explained that this was what kids on summer camps were usually given for breakfast. Still, it was quite adequate as orienteering fuel. After a quick visit to the beach to the sea without swimming in it, and a quick play on the slides in the play park, we headed for the first race by ExtraUrbanO.

Race 1 - Ca Savio - Saturday

The race was about 10 minutes away on the bus, but by the time we worked out how to buy tickets it would have taken about the same amount of time to walk there. Still, we then had our tickets sorted for the rest of the weekend. We also found some tasty biscuits referred to by various people as marzipan, almond or amaretto flavoured.

This was the easiest of the three races, around a seaside tourist town which would be buzzing in the heat of the summer but was fairly quiet in November. Top man was James Hoad in joint 13th in 16:13, 104 seconds down on the winner, and top woman was Andy Strakova in 15th, 2.5 minutes down on the winner. Andy, Dan, Lenka, and Pavel, who flew in (or got the bus from Prague in Pavel's case) on the morning, managed to arrive with a few minutes to spare before the start closed.

After the race we caught the bus back to the accommodation, had time for a game of Linkee which Sarah had reliably brought with her, and then went downstairs for the pasta party put on by the race organisers. The pasta party involved unlimited amounts of pasta and tomato sauce, wine (the ideal drink to have between two races), and cheese which was being cut out from a very very large cylinder.

Race 2 - Central Venice - Saturday Night

Soon after finishing pasta we caught one of the specially organised boats from the peninsula to central Venice. The race centre was in a fairly modern sports hall hidden inside an old looking building.

The race around Venice was definitely one of the best urban areas anywhere. There were only 14 controls even on Men's elite, so there were lots of long legs with a huge multitude of route choices. Ben realised at this point that it was a night race and he only had a rubbish torch because he had lent his two good ones to CUOC to run in the Southern Night champs. Fortunately the course was well lit! Top DrongO results were Ben Windsor in 9th on Men's elite, Zuzka Strakova in 15th on Women's elite (followed almost immediately, within 30 seconds, by Sarah and Andy), and our non-orienteer George managing to complete M50 in under an hour in his orienteering debut.

The finish was along the Venice waterfront where Raphaelle (with a broken foot from the Scottish 6 days) was sitting at the front of a cafe and cheering. Most people went to join her after finishing for a post-race beer, before we all caught the "secret boat" back to the pensinsula at 11pm. The first boat was meant to go at 11.30, but there was a small and cramped earlier one which meant that we didn't miss the last bus back to our accommodation!

Race 3 - Burano - Sunday Morning

The third and final race in a 24 hour period was on an island a little way from Venice. The houses were painted in many different colours and there were still some interesting little passageways, although nothing would be able to match the central Venice race.

We arrived bright and early to start shortly after 10am so that we could have time to look around Venice during the afternoon. DrongO got 16th on Men's elite from James Hoad and 13th on Women's elite from Sarah Gales.

We then went to a restaurant on the main street for lunch (most people had pizza again, of course) and then most people went straight to Venice, while the Czech subgroup stayed on the island for a bit longer. The afternoon was spent exploring the streets of Venice, and then playing some more Linkee in another restaurant before eating pizza there again, and departing for our flights home!

An excellent weekend of orienteering, looking forwards to the next DrongO weekend which may be to the Stockholm MicrO and some forest training in February!

Overall Results

Overall Results

We didn't quite get any top 10s overall, but here is everybody who was on the trip. Roberto was especially pleased to beat one person!

DRONGO Overall Results:

13 James Hoad
14 Ben Windsor
17 Pavel Prochazka
50 Cedric Faucheux
55 Dan Straka
61 Roberto Zanchi
DNF Adam Bennett

14 Sarah Gales
15 Andy Strakova
17 Zuzka Strakova
35 Lenka Strakova

Northern Champs Weekend


Day 1 Results | Day 2 Results | Event page

There was a mini-trip to the Northern Championships weekend on 19-20 September 2015 with Ben, Ben, James and John. Both days were on open Yorkshire moorland and included areas completely new to orienteering. Both days were also very fast and runnable. On Saturday DrongO got 7th, 19th, 22nd and 24th out of 34 on M21E, and Ben W missed his 5 min/km target by a long way, but it's ok because Graham Gristwood didn't make it either. Mark Bown was also there and finished 33rd, and Quentin Harding finished 2nd on M50L.

We stayed at Ben S's house overnight, and we were glad a certain person wasn't there because he might have got a little bit too excited by the house. Unfortunately we forgot to take any photos of actual orienteering, but we did get one of James excitedly filling up at a BP petrol station, and of some DrongO teddy bears.

Sunday was a little bit more technical but equally fast with a slightly shorter course. Sadly all the good people were off running in the SHI relays so Ben W won the Black course, with Ben S in 4th, and then 6-7-8th from Mark, James and John.

London City Race


Night sprint results | London City Race results | Ultrasprint results | Photos

The London race started on Friday evening in Cambridge, when Ben decided to catch the train just fine, stressing Dan out so much he had to distract himself from the experience by talking for the entire train journey. Ben cycled from the station and left John to enjoy Dan’s stream of consciousness and excitement about every single thing on the tube, such as Oyster cards, people’s faces and even windows. However, a window did save the rest of the contingent later during the train trip from the race to the campsite. The window wasn’t responding to Dan’s comments either, but at least it was pleasant to talk to (by blowing cold air, mostly).

The Friday evening race was a multilevel sprint race around Imperial College. DrongO got both first and second positions from Ben and Matthew. After the race most people got the train to a campsite near Debden, while Ben and Zuzka cycled there, and Sarah, Tom, and James went to stay in houses. Matthew decided that his tent wasn’t big enough for two people so Fiona had to stay at her house 3km away. Dan, who didn’t have a tent, slept in Matthew’s pop-up tent (along with all his gear), while John stretched out on the edge of the forest in his bivvy bag. By the time Ben and Zuzka arrived it was clear that Matthew and Fiona had improved on their erection skills since the Harvester since they had not only put up their own tent, but also Ben and Zuzka’s.

The day started with breakfast at Fiona’s house, which included some very tasty bread. The city race organisers had been very considerate towards the club and given Dan a start time an hour earlier than everybody else, so he had to go on a different train. The race was based near Wapping, and while it didn’t include anything as complicated as last year’s Barbican, it still provided some good challenges and went past the 42 tower, the Gherkin, and the Tower of London. There were two top three results from DrongO: Ben Windsor 3rd on Men’s Elite and Jenny Peel 2nd on W35.

After the race many of us moved on to a pizza restaurant which served the largest pizzas ever – known as ‘beast size’. Once Fiona had got her tongue around pronouncing ‘veggie feast beast’, two pizzas between eight people arrived. Everybody was suitably full after this. At around this point Zuzka, Andy, and their dad Dan turned up and decided to order a third beast. They make pretty good work of it but still needed a little bit of help from the rest of the group to finish it.

We took a slightly non-optimal route via the DLR on the way home in order to look out of the front window of the train and say “wow”. Unfortunately there was already a small kid doing just this on both the trains we got on, but after a couple of stops on the second one, the kid got off. John and Matthew decided to take its place. Fiona and Zuzka were completely oblivious to all the excitement and just stood there chatting away.

Upon arrival at Debden, Ben, Zuzka, and John went shopping for sausages to cook over a campfire. Matthew and Fiona, who didn’t need to go to Sainsbury’s for some sausage, went back to Fiona’s house to sort some things out. The walk from the supermarket back to Fiona’s house took us past Dan’s favourite road (Ladyfields) and Matthew’s favourite road (Bushfields).

After a while we went to the campsite and built a fire. This campsite had developed an excellent method of creating awesome orienteering woodlands: allow fires at your campsite where people camp right on the edge of the forest. We helped to expand the awesome area, although we did have to go a reasonable distance to find some woodland which had not already been awesomised. We cooked sausages and bread over the fire (the bread was from fresh dough which Fiona’s dad had made), and even moved onto toasting bananas and apples. Zuzka discovered the best method of cooking a floppy sausage was to just wait a bit and it will go straight. Frida, Fiona’s sister, also came for the evening and brought a guitar, much to John’s distress.

On Sunday morning Dan was awoken by a combination of inappropriate noises, and a cold shower provided by John shaking his tent. Breakfast was at Fiona’s house again and was even more amazing because it consisted of many many pancakes! Today’s race was the ultrasprint in Waterlow Park. Matthew was in his element and won both the heats in the final. Ben came second in the heats but was then beaten by Chris Smithard in the finals. All the finalists got London souvenirs which were excellent for navigation to Battersea Park.

At this point James announced that he wanted more running and was running the 26km back to his house as part of his Frankfurt marathon training. Everybody else sat around for a bit and then went home.

World Orienteering Championships 2015! An amazing week of racing, spectating, and volunteering in northern Scotland

6 Days results | WOC Results | Official Photos | Facebook photos | Irene's photos

Click photos to enlarge. Click again for even bigger ones.

Fri 31st July (Travelling, WOC Sprint Qualifier)

A group of four DrongOs gathered in Cambridge. Across the country, other DrongOs prepared for their journies to the northern lands too. Carrie from CUOC wasn't coming so the car only left half an hour later than planned, once its inhabitants had helped to consume the apple crumble left over from WAOC's training night on Wednesday. Fiona thought that rhubarb and apples were the same thing. But they're not. The car journey was spent listening to a combination of BBC Scotland's WOC-related-song-request show and Dan talking. Two DrongOs (Gavin and Mary) and a DrongO offer holder (John) kindly let them stay for the night. Dan claimed that their house was the largest he had ever been in in England, and apart from the cracks in the wall, it was totally awesome.

Sat 1st August (WOC Sprint Relay)

Dan woke up naked, then realised that it was just a dream and woke up normally. Then we drove the rest of the way to Scotland, to the WOC sprint relay! Upon arrival it rained very heavily. The DrongOs immediately sought shelter back inside their vehicle along with the umbrella Dan had taken from a May Ball. At this point it turned out that the umbrella smelt of vomit. Dan quickly discarded it. The WOC atmosphere was excellent, as was the organisation. Scotland really had done a good job of it. Some of the DrongOs were helping, which involved regularly clicking refresh on the screens of the TV and arena commentators, since the auto-refresh was broken. BBC Alba, IOF Eventor, and a random Finnish channel were there. Once the excitement was over, we drove to our bunkhouse and met the rest of the DrongOs who had come from places such as the UK, France, Czech Republic, and Denmark. However, the French were the only ones who were hardy enough to make the whole journey from their own country, the others had made the first part of the journey several years ago and stopped for a rest in the south of England. The owner joined us for a wee dram. Everybody chose beds except for two people, who had already picked theirs long ago from 2:30 in the YouTube video. Putting the covers on the bed proved to be quite a task, with many people impersonating ghosts, and Dan being attacked by the French contigent whilst doing so.

Sun 2nd August (Day 1, WOC Sprint Final)

The morning saw the first day of the Scottish 6 days. A scenic drive into the car park involved a 10 mile loop due to one-way road restrictions. Great weather and great terrain, albeit tough running through the marshes in places (most places). Surprisingly nobody came in the top 10 on an elite course. Then it was on to spectate/help at the WOC Sprint Final in Forres. Everything was exciting, especially a Belgian athlete tripping over a fence (ooh!), especially during the replay when a Belgian athlete tripped over a fence (oooooooh!). Dan especially enjoyed watching the Czech female team.

Mon 3rd August (Day 2)

It was a rest day for WOC so just the Scottish 6 days race today. Some people had starts before 10, which meant leaving the bunkhouse at 7 because the area was a bit of a drive. This was fortunate, since the extra hour or so of time was cancelled out by the second scenic drive into the car park of the week, which involved a 2mph average speed drive for the last hour of the journey there. It was another great day of orienteering but with some rather difficult-to-execute legs. The army had impressively built two bridges across the wide river specially for the event. The DrongOs then returned to the bunkhouse, having kidnapped CUOC's John Ockenden for the evening. The French contingent then cooked French food which we ate outside. The quotes page also expanded largely. Most of the Czech contingent had decided to camp with the midges. Unfortunately they didn't take Dan with them. We will see them in two days time, if they are recognisable through the midge bites.

Tue 4th August (WOC Middle)

Tuesday saw the WOC middle distance race at Darnaway and a sprint race in Forres for some spectators. Some DrongOs went to spectate WOC, some went to run the sprint race followed by spectating, and some went for a walk/hike in the constantly changing rain and sun. The DrongOs travelling in Matthew's car arrived very quickly, although their journey there was somewhat slowed down when they got stuck behind a car travelling at only 60mph. The race itself was tense as usual with the Men's medal positions all finishing within 13 seconds of each other, and several top runners including our beloved Thierry making mistakes. Raphaelle held up the reputation of the French by managing to show absolutely zero enthusiasm about a British athlete who had just finished in front of her. Chris enjoyed some remedial solitary vegetable chopping for a while in the afternoon before everybody else came back and joined in. CUOC women's captain Helen Pruzina replaced John as tonight's kidnapee. James's car stopped to buy beer, because the results of the previous beer trip (yesterday) had disappeared more quickly than expected. Unfortunately none of it was drunk that evening, or the next...

Wed 5th August (Day 3, WOC Relay)

Back to Darnaway for a middle distance race and the WOC relay. Ian Webb was ill so the DrongO helpers had more to set up than usual. The forest was much more runnable than the first two days. Matthew caught Ben up by two minutes, which greatly improved Ben's orienteering from that point onwards. Dan took a lot of pictures of the WOC relay, but somehow failed to take any whilst the men were running. He also got a photo with his idol from 2008, Minna Kauppi. Dan also interviewed her. The question was "I have been watching you since 2008" and the answer was "I was running well back then. I am not happy". Denmark won the women's relay by a long way, while Graham Gristwood stormed team GB into 2nd at the end of second leg, although 3rd leg runner Ralph Street unfortunately dropped to 4th on the final leg. Raphaelle, Cedric, and Katrin got on the big screen for a few seconds, but just stared gormlessly instead of waving or drawing the DrongO logo in the air. James, Ben, and Rory had fun winding up a 500m TV wire at the end of the race. In the evening we had the most awesome meal of the week so far, Danish food cooked by Irene and Jakob (Fiona's parents). The food exceeded expectations not only in quality, but also quantity, so we may not need to cook tomorrow, or for the rest of the week. This was followed by a MicrO planned by Fiona with pin punches. Rory pre-ran the course to get the "master punch card" but Matthew forgot to pull off Rory's stub, so couldn't write down his start/finish times. The rest of the Czech contigent claim that they are planning to return this evening, but there is no sign of them yet, and they probably haven't decided where they are staying tonight yet anyway (it is 10pm). David, who has been doing an expert job at managing the WOC volunteers, had a massive fight today, resulting in him sitting in a different tent. He was late because he was busy texting all the volunteers.

Thursday (Day 4)

No WOC today, and a long race in really runnable terrain on the same area as the WOC relay had been. It was fast and the men's elite course was won in 50 minutes. In the evening the were many games provided by Sarah: jungle speed with an aggressive Cedric, bananagrams, in which Sarah managed to have spicy, hot, and sexy in one crossword, and Articulate.

Friday (Day 5, WOC Long)

On Friday we had to wake up early to help set WOC up, due to the sensible decision taken by the planners to send some runners off very early so they they would be back by dusk. Dan set off first to fight his way through a lot of distracting bilberries, which often took priority over navigation. With only the IOF live feed bothering to provide the world with pictorial updates, the DrongO helpers weren't very busy and Dan joined the live bloggers from JOK(e) by providing pictures of the runners. By the time Dan had figured out how to actually capture the runners whilst in motion, the race was almost over. However, one of his photos is now the main photo heading the WOC webpage. Dan felt almost broken hearted when his idol Minna Kauppi walked through the finish line for a second time. Dan is now accepting suggestions for a new idol. The criteria "female" and "blonde" did not rule out very many of the medal holders. After the flower ceremony, due to the combined effort of CUOC/DRONGO we got a photo with the world champion, Ida Bobach - Fiona asked her in Danish and Sarah managed to make her feel slightly less small. We didn't approach Thierry Georgiou, the other medalist, so he waited in front of our IT tent until we had finished clearing up so that he could get a photo with us. Some Swedish runner also crashed our photo. We later found out that she had also crashed Denmark's attempt at a clean sweep of the women's Golds. The clear up largely consisted of stripping down the WOC banners. One member was particularly keen on it, but judging by his current success, we suspect that the stripping of the barrier will be the only stripping that these banners will be present for for a while. On the way back and Matthew ate half a biscuit. Then he ate the other half too.

Saturday (Day 6)

On Saturday WOC was over and it was the last day of the Scottish 6 days competition, which used the same run in as WOC had done the previous day. There was slightly less WOC strim decorating the run in than the previous day due to DrongO's efficient clear up effort. The forest was not at all as expected today. Despite Georgiou's comment that "it was hard to judge runnability from the map" which we translated as "the forest is horrible", the mixture of forest and open moorland was beautiful and perfectly mapped. Fiona and Rob both hurt their ankles, Dan pretended to hurt his, and Matthew had his catching-up-with-Ben experience from day 3 reversed. Now that the IOF officials had left, the Egyptian returned from the forest in a van. Well done! It started to rain during the prizegiving so it seemed like an appropriate time for the competition to end. Some people dispersed to the west coast, Manchester, Edinburgh, or Glasgow, and the remaining DrongOs had a massive party at the bunkhouse which involved wild activities such as eating, cleaning, getting the beer stock down to three remaining bottles, and discovering that Matthew has a nice toothbrush.

Sunday (Travelling)

Everybody went home and it rained. Katrin got a lift back to near where Fiona's parents live while Fiona got a lift to near where Katrin's parents live. James won the prize for the most degrees covered in a day (5.848 of latitude, 3.286 of longitude, and around 16 of Celsius) while Raphaelle and Cedric won the prize for the least because they were already home.

A great week for everybody, look out for the London, Cambridge, and Venice City Races next!

Tom Dobra at WTOC 2015

Results and maps | Photos and videos

Tom Dobra of DrongO/UBOC recently joined the ranks of more seasonsed orienteers when he was selected to compete for Great Britain in TempO at the World Trail Orienteering Championships in Croatia at the end of June. However, Tom soon discovered that that not everybody at WTOC fitted the TrailO stereotype.

In the qualifier the top 36 got through to the final - John Kewley was the only team GB member to make it - in 33rd place, while Tom came 53rd out of the 83 entries.

However, Tom didn't come back empty handed - since he also managed to win the combined title for the two spectator races in PreO - the discipline for which he wasn't competing for GB.

DrongO wins small club trophy at Harvester (and 4th overall)

Harvester Relay Results | Photos | Milton Keynes Urban Results

Team Trophy On a beautiful Saturday morning four DrongOs, a stolen CUOC, and a hitching Vokeslet sat in two cars on the motorway. Sometimes they were moving, sometimes they were not. But impressively they arrived at the rendezvous point in the New Forest within a few minutes of each other.

The meeting point had been expertly specified by Matthew and Fiona in the way of an OS grid reference so everybody found it easily. Fortunately it was still rather sunny, and after a short discussion about which identical patch of grass was the nicest, the DrongOs had a picnic.

This was followed by a walk, partially around the Hampton Ridge area used for BOC 2009. We walked past the place many times where people thought the start had been, although we never passed the same bit of land twice. Then, in the bottom of a valley, the DrongOs came across something very exciting - a rope swing. Not just a rope swing, but TWO rope swings, and one of them looked quite professionally built!

Rob Swinging Of course, this led to a lot of fun, with Rob, the eldest DrongO among us, possibly being the most excited about it, while the webmaster acted as a webmaster should and didn't swing at all. Matthew got a bit damp when we discovered that we could throw stones into the water under the swing whilst he was swinging. Ben had a go on the second rope swing which was lower over marginally deeper water, and just avoided losing his bottom to the riverbank.

The second stop on the walk involved discovering a siamese tree, and wondering whether it was possible to catapult an ant from the end of a tree branch (it isn't).

By the end of the walk Rob's swing excitement had waned and he wanted a cup of tea. Unfortunately all the teashops were closed, but a riverside pub which also sold tea substituted in nicely.

Siamese Tree We then decided we just had time to squeeze in a visit to the assembly area and put up our tents before our dinner booking at another nearby pub. So we had a tent-erecting race. Unfortunately Matthew, even with Fiona's help, could not erect as fast as Ben could, and Ben won the race by a few seconds. At this point Rob's tent was still on the floor with some of the poles threaded through the wrong places. He had tried to read the instructions for it but it definitely didn't help. Ben helped him complete it, and by the time Rob had finished cursing his daughter for the mess she had left in it after DofE when it was last used, other Ben had also finished his tent.

Matthew and Fiona had gone ahead to ensure our table booking was held, and the other three DrongOs and DrongO-brother Phil arrived about 40 minutes later. Leg 4 runner Mark Bown also joined us at this point. We soon ordered food. Rob's bread arrived after about 10 minutes, and the rest of the food came about an hour and a half later. Fortunately Matthew took the honour for us of telling them we weren't leaving a tip. The food was pretty tasty though.

No time for dessert (we didn't need it anyway because between us we somehow managed to bring 5 cakes), and back to assembly just in time to register and pick up bibs. At this point we discovered that Fiona, who we had taken as a last minute Leg 6 substitute for Natalie (who was ill), was also meant to be running for two other teams. There was a very sporting conversation between the SLOW and DRONGO captains and Fiona was allowed to come and complete our team - thanks SLOW for sacrificing the competitiveness of your 2nd B team! Fiona's other team was non-competitive anyway so this was alright. In return Ben and Matthew agreed to run a second time in Fiona's two empty spots.

The race itself was close. DrongO knew they could do well, but the competition was strong too. At midnight the first leg piled off into the forest. It soon turned out that this forest had been designed to be stereotypically Harvester. Going off the paths was a no-go unless unavoidable due to head-high nettles and bracken in most places. Nevertheless, the courses were well planned and there was not too much fighting to do.

Ben Windsor brought the team back in 2nd, less than 2 minutes down on Nick Barrable's lead for SYO. Rob Campbell held this spacing on 2nd leg, coming in a minute or two behind Jenny Peel. Then Matthew Vokes went out on the long night leg, having a decent run and catching SYO's Dave Peel, finishing just a few seconds in front of him. This left Mark Bown racing head to head against Martin Ward, but Mark had a stormer of a run and came back 51 minutes later with a 12 minute lead! Mark handed over to James Hoad, who was running in slightly darker conditions than expected for a "dawn" leg, but nevertheless kept the lead. Unfortunately FVO had come back into the game, with Roger Goddard overtaking SYO, and closing James down to leave only a four minute lead. We knew that we were likely to lose time on leg 6, and hoped that the other legs were good enough that it wouldn't matter. Poached-from-CUOC's Fiona Petersen had a steady run with no big mistakes, but unfortunately this couldn't match the legs of the M21s she was up against, and she came back in 4th, 5 minutes behind 3rd place. This left Ben Stevens with 11km in which to catch SLOW's Thomas Cochrane to get DrongO on the overall podium. And for a moment, Ben thought he had done that - catching Tom by control 8. But some time losses in the next part of the course brought DrongO home in a final 4th position, 1 minute and 26 seconds off 3rd position.

DrongO has not had a Harvester team for a long time, and to have such an exciting race with the team is really excellent - let's hope there are many more to come! Since all three clubs above us had had a top 3 result in the past 5 years, DrongO won the small clubs trophy! Despite the captain persuading most of the unwilling DrongOs to put their unappetising tops on again for the prizegiving, one of them decided to turn up in fancy dress!

On Sunday, after eating as much of the cake as possible (which wasn't very much of it), some people felt that they still hadn't had enough orienteering and went to the Milton Keynes City Race. James Hoad got yet another Urban win, while Ben Windsor came 3rd and Ben Stevens came 8th on Men's Open. Rob Campbell got 3rd place on Women's Open (which was also the M40+ course).

Thanks to everybody who made the effort to come, it was a long drive for everybody but it was very worth it!

DrongO mispuches. Or does it?


Day 1 - British Sprint Championships

Results | Splitsbrowser | Winsplits | Heats Routegadget | Finals Routegadget

The 2015 sprint champs were held at Aldershot Garrison, an army barracks which competitors were only allowed inside during their run for security reasons. A wide variety of DrongO subspecies were present. The race was in two parts: qualification races in the morning, followed by the finals in the afternoon.

In the elite classes James Hoad and Ben Windsor qualified for the A final in the Men's, with Katrin Harding qualifying for the Women's A final.

James coming towards the end of the sprint final All these other DrongOs also qualified for the A final in their respective classes:

M35 Matthias Mahr, Alex Rothman
M50 Quentin Harding, Ian Buxton
M55 John Embrey, Kevin Harding
M60 Don McKerrow
W35 Rachael Rothman
W45 Jenny Peel
W55 Mary Ockenden

However, there may be many many more who could have been in the A final but were let down by their inability to judge the which controls the new punching system would randomly decide not to work at.

Katrin coming towards the end of the sprint final At some point during the day the Open course runners realised that their results were unexpectedly good. It became apparent that the British Championships was actually the British Championships with all the top runners removed, since it clashed with Tio Mila. And given the choice between a British army barracks and a Swedish forest...

The build up to the afternoon was very exciting. With all the starts delayed by technical problems with the new punching system, there was plenty of time to examine the run in and ponder over which of the three controls was the final one for your course. One of them looked particularly exciting, requiring the ability to smoothly leap over a ditch, punch as you are landing, and continue running for minimal time loss at the control.

On Men's open, James Hoad had an excellent run, catching Aidan Smith by a minute, but not managing to escape him. At download however, it appeared that half the Men's elite class had missed number 9. All were mysteriously reinstated after a while, and splits #9 do appear in the results, although nobody quite understands how. With Dave Schorah having possibly (or possibly not, we will never know) missed out #18 too, this put James into Bronze medal position, a brilliant result! Meanwhile Ben finished 7th and Katrin finished 9th.

DrongO got 6 medals in total! Here they are:

Bronze James Hoad (MOpen), Matthias Mahr (M35)
Silver John Embrey (M55)
Gold Quentin Harding (M50), Rachael Rothman (W35), Jenny Peel (W45)

Day 2 - British Middle Distance Championships

Results | Splitsbrowser | Winsplits | Routegadget

The following day was the Middle Distance Championships, held in a top quality area, previously used to hold a prestigious TVOC summer series event. There were a lot of details on the map and navigation at full running speed was very difficult, and those who slowed down just enough were rewarded.

The downhill run-in exhibited a range of run-in styles, from hobbling with a pained look on ones face, to a gentle jog, to all-out sprinting like you hadn't been trying hard enough during the course.

Ben Stevens was DrongO's best open runner this time, finishing fourth and missing out on the podium by just over a minute. DrongO in fact had quite an impressive turn out with 7 runners on M21 and 3 on W21.

DrongO, rather impressively, managed to fill all top 10 spots in at least one class:

Gold Rachael Rothman (W35), Jenny Peel (W45)
Silver Matthias Mahr (M35)
Bronze Alex Rothman (M35), John Embrey (M55)
4th Ben Stevens (M21)
5th Quentin Harding (M50)
6th Rob Campbell (M45)
7th Ben Windsor (M21)
8th Mary Ockenden (W55)
9th James Hoad (M21)
10th Mark Collis (M35)

Well done to Rachael and Jenny for their double golds!

Two Wins for DrongO at Gloucester City Race

Results | Splits | Routegadget | Splitsbrowser"
Congratulations to two Drongos who both won their courses at Saturday's Gloucester City Race by quite a margin. James Hoad won Men's Open by 1:50, and Jenny Peel won W45, 1:36 ahead of 2nd place.
Watch out for them, and many more Drongos, at next week's British Sprint and British Middle Championships.

JK 2015 - Lake District - 3-6 April

All Results | Combined Day 2/3 Results | JK Routegadget
If any important DrongO results have been missed - please email the captain

DrongO medals:
Gold: Quentin Harding (M50 sprint)
Silver: Jenny Peel (W45L)
Bronze: Ian Elder (M21L)

There were 11 years worth of CUOC captains (at least one of the male or female captains) at the JK, from 2004-2015!

Day 1 - Sprint - Lancaster University Results | Splitsbrowser | Winsplits | CUOC's report
A dry first part to the event - but then rain moved in, ensuring that most runners had a slippery time. In fact, the grass was often more grippy than the tarmac. The terrain didn't have too many dead-ends, but this didn't stop there being plenty of route choice and small (slippery) passages to navigate through in places.

In the Men's Elite the turnout of 11 Czech national team members, as well as many other top foreign runners, ensured plenty of people got shoved down by many places. DrongO's top runner was 48th-placed Matthew Vokes in 18:25, just under 2.5 minutes down on the winning time of 15:57. Ben Windsor followed (much to his disappointment, and Matthew's joy) 12 seconds later, tied for 55th place with Ed Catmur. Ben Stevens then came in 72nd and Tom Dobra in 94th.

Top placed DrongO on Women's Elite was Katrin Harding, who finished 52nd in 19:30, four minutes down on Danish winner Emma Klingenberg. Elspeth Ingleby finished 30 seconds behind in 61st, and Anya Crocker finished 79th, 2 minutes down on Katrin.

Meanwhile on the other courses, Ian Elder, Chris Williamson and David Maliphant came 8th, 11th and 40th on Men's open, Matthias Mahr came 6th on M35, Eric Roller and Rob Campbell came 6th and 9th on M45. Quentin Harding predictably won M50 by a 48 second margin, although Neil Crickmore also ran well to finish 2.5 minutes later in 10th. On the women's courses there was a silver medal for Jenny Peel on W45, and more top results from Hardings: Sue Harding making 5th position on W50, and Alison Harding 3rd on W55. Nicola Robertson came in 20th on Women's open.

Day 2 - Classic (& Elite Middle) - Ulpha Park and Barrow Fell Results | Splitsbrowser | Winsplits | CUOC's report
Three DrongOs carrying a soon-to-be-DrongO Day 2 was a middle race for the elites and a normal-length race for everybody else. Blessed with sunshine and warmth, everybody enjoyed today in the Lakes. The terrain was physically tough and rocky with plenty of fine detail on the map. Despite there being two reasonably sized open parts to the area, the courses stayed mainly in the forest, meaning smooth navigation was generally more important than running fast.

In the Men's Elite, DrongO's top runner was 70th-placed Ben Windsor in 44:32, just over 10 minutes behind the winner, Swiss national Matthias Kyburz. Matthew Vokes followed (much to his disappointment, and Ben's joy) a touch over 2 minutes later, in 84th place. Ben was pleased not to have made the same mistake as Ralph Street. Ben Stevens then came in 92nd.

Top placed DrongO on Women's Elite was Heather Monro (W40!) in an impressive 30th place, beating several of the international runners, and just over nine minutes behind many-times-junior-world-champion Ida Bobach of Denmark. Katrin Harding finished in 61st place, a further 6 minutes behind, followed by Elspeth Ingleby in 74th.

On the other courses, the best position of the day was 3rd from Jenny Peel on W45L, 4 minutes down on the winner. Anya Crocker came 4th on W21L, Sue Harding 15th on W50L, and Alison Harding 8th on W55L. Ian Elder finished 5th on M21L despite being 30 minutes down on the (Swedish) winner. The people who don't train enough, yet still ran further than the elites, came 4th, 12th, and 14th on M21S. Matthias Mahr finished 7th on M35L, while Darrell High came in with a nice 10th place on M45L. Unfortunately he pulled a hamstring in the process, ending his running this JK weekend. He was followed by Eric Roller and Rob Campbell in 16th and 21st. Neil Crickmore and Ian Buxton on M50L finished 38th and 71st. Ian and Barbara Tebbutt on M/W45S came 31st and 29th.

Having been forced to walk through many muddy footbaths on their way round the course, the mud accumlated from these footbaths had to be washed off using even muddier buckets of water with a few drops of washing up liquid splashed in. All this was for a good cause though: the SSSSSSSSSSSSSI remains safe and unspoilt, definitely without any elephant tracks or indeed any other sign that orienteers had been there today.

Day 3 - Classic - Bigland Results | Splitsbrowser | Winsplits | CUOC's report
Sunday saw the long day of the JK, with 15.4km for the Men and 10.2km for the Women in the elite classes. The first question on arrival was whether the elite spectator run-through, which went straight through the middle of the assembly area, and was rather long and steep, was to be traversed in an uphill or downhill direction. To the relief of those running those courses, it was indeed downhill.

Bigland provided some slightly easier navigation than yesterday by having a more widely used open part, but the steep, rocky, forested part was almost as tough as yesterday's Ulpha Park.

A certain French runner seemed completely oblivious to the fact that this area was hillier/more difficult to navigate around than Thetford Forest, and ambled around the Men's elite course in just over 86 minutes. The top (and only) DrongO was a modest 40 minutes behind him - Matthew Vokes in 126 minutes to finish 70th in the combined rankings. Mark Bown (M35) had a good run but was frustratingly 39 seconds behind Matthew, putting him in 73rd place overall. Ben "didn't want to get injured again" so had woosed down to running/walking the short course.

On the Women's elite course, a certain British runner who has apparently decided to pretend to be Swedish, took on a similar mindset to that French guy mentioned above, winning by almost 4 minutes in 68:55. Katrin was 49 minutes longer, finishing 70th to put her 63rd overall, while Elspeth gained five minutes back on Katrin today to finish one place above her overall. Heather unfortunately retired about half way round her course.

Other DrongO results were Ian Elder getting bronze overall on M21L, Chris Williamson 5th overall on M21S, with the other DRONGO-SOC member Anya Crocker matched his position on W21L. Tom Dobra had a good run today, also on M21S, to bring him up to 10th overall, while David Maliphant finished 14th. Matthias Mahr was consistent, coming 7th again today and putting him 7th overall on M35L. Eric Roller just made the top 10 overall on M45L, followed by David Spencer in 16th and Rob Campbell in 19th.

The second DrongO win of the weekend was gained by Jenny Peel on W45L, although this wasn't enough to take overall gold, but did bring her into 2nd position. There was a lot of consistency happening on W21L: Alison Ingleby got a double 7th place over the weekend to come 7th overall, and Nicola Robertson took 15th then 14th, coming 14th overall. Cath Wilson, after coming 10th and 13th on the separate days, came 9th overall on W35L. Sue and Alison Harding finished 15th and 6th on W50L and W55L.

There's no DrongO relay team tomorrow, but good luck to everybody running for their home clubs!

Day 4 - Relay - Graythwaite Results | Course C - Men's Short results | Splitsbrowser | Winsplits | CUOC's report
Another day like yesterday, beginning cold and foggy and turning blue and sunny. The first finisher was in fact from DrongO, as Quentin Harding came down the run-in to much cheering before the first start had event happened. Presumably he got confused, picked up an all controls map, and thought it was a score event. There wasn't a DrongO team, but there were plenty of DrongOs around.

A DrongO in the handover pen Once everybody had got over the fact that the car park was slightly muddy, and starts had been delayed by many different multiples of 15 minutes, the races began. The area was fast, and easier to navigate around than the previous two days, ideal for relay running.

The Swiss dominated the JK Trophy and Women's trophy, followed shortly by the Czechs, although since these teams were the national team rather than being from a single club, they were non-competitive.

A rather muddy Rowan A DrongO was spotted from afar helplessly searching for his companion in the handover pen. Shortly afterwards it began pattering up and down the marsh it was standing in, before hastily speeding off into the forest. It was spotted exactly 35 minutes and 51 seconds later under the finish arch. It is believed that many other DrongOs also appeared at the event in various types of camouflage (mainly trying to look like other clubs, or in one case, blend in with the control kites). It is believed that #Dan was not disguised since, loving being a soon-to-be-DrongO so much, he did not bring any camouflage to the JK.

Another future CUOC (in addition to Helen's brother, Paul) from NOC was also discovered, coated in mud after running first leg, and planning to run third leg for a different relay team. It is rumoured he munched through a lamb leg straight from the bone the evening before.

Varsity 2015 - 28/29 March

Individual: Results | Splits | Team Results | Routegadget | Winsplits | Splitsbrowser
Relay: Results | Leg Results | Splits | Winsplits
Photos: Individual | Relay | Lots more on Google Drive - Add yours here!
Programme: Ask Ben for an electronic copy

Graeme Ambler finishing the individual race On a pleasant Friday evening many Cambridge and Oxford alumni made their way by all methods of transport to the Lake District. Some lived luxuriously close by and so came on Saturday.

With it being DrongO’s turn to organise, the weekend began successfully when all the stakes, kites, and SI kit safely arrived at Cartmel Fell Village Hall from Cambridge in Ben Windsor’s car, along with three other rather squashed-looking orienteers. Or rather, two – Dan Safka got the front seat, and avoided being chucked into the back by behaving rather admirably during the trip. The students, most of whom had already arrived at the hall, then enjoyed their first read of the resurrected Varsity Programme.

Six years of CUOC Captains After sorting the kit out, and definitely not reprogramming any of the SI boxes, Ben and planner Matthew Vokes went on to YHA Hawkeshead where JOK captain Ed Catmur had kindly booked them beds, despite neither of them asking him to do this. Organiser David went back to his conveniently-located home. They were greeted by the cheeky face of Jon Marsden peering through the window, who quickly sat back down in his seat because he assumed the hire car Ben was driving wasn’t somebody he knew because it looked too posh.

After a bit of chatting and a partial attempt between the alumni club captains to agree on the alumni match rules, it was bed time! Four ex-CUOC captains (Adam Bennett, Ben, Matthew, and James Hoad) were all in room 11. Matthew left rather early in the morning to hang controls. Everybody else left slightly less early to go and find them, after an excellent breakfast which had materialised thanks to JOK’s Chris Millard stopping at the supermarket on the way up. Over breakfast the captains Ben and Ed managed to decide on the alumni scoring rules.

The planner Control hangers Matthew and Quentin Harding and organiser David were drenched by the time the competitors arrived, but the rain had happily stopped by this point. Rather fittingly, the top two spots in the men’s alumni match were taken by captains Ed and Ben. Unfortunately for the DrongO team, Ed was 5 minutes faster. This was clearly due to the fact that Jon decided to use Ben for weight training whilst he was trying to go to the start. However, Oxford’s Aidan Smith flew round a further 4½ minutes quicker than that! Cedric Faucheux halved his time from Sweden last year down to 94 minutes, and fully intends to halve it again next year, so watch out! It turned out that control 13 of the course really was unlucky, with many people losing several minutes on it.

For the women, JOK’s double Helen got the top two places, with Steph Bryant taking third having not been orienteering for a year because she’d been too busy standing in rivers in Canada. Sue Harding (W50) and Mary Ockenden (W55) took fourth and fifth, beating many many W21s in the process.

Eating mints from one's own face Everybody then returned to their accommodation and most then reconvened in the Village Hall for the evening social. Matthew spent the first part of the evening concentrating very very hard on the results, which weren’t working. His efforts were worth it though, because we got some results! Oxford won the Men, Cambridge won the Women, and JOK won the alumni match. Many others began the evening with the traditional beer boat race. Only coxed fours this year, but it was finally DrongO’s chance to win something, and win they did, by rather a large margin! Harriet Burdett became reliably amusing at this point, although she claims she has “got better”. This was followed by kir royale champagne cocktails then rather a large quantity of buffet food and various drinks. Then there was very very local Cartmel sticky toffee pudding with ice cream served in geometric cubes. Unfortunately Matthew’s prime cutting-ice-cream-into-geometric-cubes helper wasn’t present for some ridiculous reason.

Said helper explains here why the term ‘geometrical’ is required: “The term 'geometrical cubes' is used as a distinction from the colloquial/casual use of the term 'cube', which can have a shocking variety of shapes. DrongO logos appear in random places By merely using the word 'cube', there is a grave risk that the unwary would think that it was acceptable to try to serve colloquial cubes of ice cream using a round ice cream scooper... and that would be degenerative for CUOC.”

The start of the relay There were mints to finish off, which some people enjoyed eating in a rather novel way. The evening ended with CUOC’s Natalie Holroyd washing about 150 glasses by herself, and contrary to the organisers’ expectations, everybody getting their sleeping bags out ready to go to sleep at about midnight. So back to the hostel.

James Hoad coming through the relay spectator control The next morning began exactly the same in room 11, with Matthew leaving to hang controls while everybody else fell back to sleep. An episode of blindness then occurred as Ben and James tried to have breakfast, but unable to find the four food bags labelled “JOK”, all of which were indeed in the kitchen right in front of them, they went to ask the people who were JOK. They couldn’t still be asleep could they? Apparently yes, they could. Jon said there wasn’t much point in hurrying because the students wouldn’t get there on time, but he was later proven wrong.

A baby proving to be a useful relay baton The relays started at exactly 1100 BST as planned with mixed teams between all the clubs in an attempt to make them roughly equal. Although Dan Safka decided that he “felt like doing a bit of running” and did all three legs since there was only 1 person at the relay (mod 3).

Dan then proceeded to win the relay, followed by a coincidentally all-DrongO team of Mark Collis, Blanka Collis and Ben Windsor. Their daughter Helena came in very handy as a relay baton.

The weekend was over very quickly, people said their goodbyes and headed home. Then there were just a few left waiting for Matthew to pack away the SI kit whilst again being very careful to definitely not reprogramme any of it. It seemed to be taking rather a long time so Ben went for a lap of the Great Tower loop, finding that Matthew had materialised at the end of it.

Thanks to everybody who organised and helped. Looking forwards to Varsity 2016, which will be held somewhere on some date by someone from JOK!

Varsity 2015 - Final Details & Start List

Final Details and Start Lists are now available for Varsity 2015. Please contact Matthew if you have any issues, changes or further questions.

Drongo Wins at the Oxford City Race

Photos | OUOC Results Page | Results | Splits | Winsplits | Splitsbrowser | Routegadget

The X5 Wifi on the X5 On the warmest day of 2015 so far, several DrongOs attended the Oxford City Race on Saturday 7th March. Two of them (the Bens) spent the first part of their day enjoying the luxurious X5 bus from Cambridge to Oxford, which for the convenience of its users, had all journey times extended by 30 minutes due to roadworks on the A1. However, this did mean that some unexpected joys were experienced, such as trying to pass another X5 on a narrow road, and being able to use the free Wifi for 30 minutes longer than on a standard journey. Meanwhile, Sarah Gales and James Hoad enjoyed luxurious car journies from Cambridge and London respectively. The Men‘s Open course consisted of 49 controls and 10km optimum route distance, while the Women’s Open had 43 controls, meaning there was no chance to get bored on long road routes, since even during these, you needed to think about the complicated part coming up at the end of them.

Sarah Gales Finishing By the time the Bens arrived, Blanka Collis had already finished her race, finishing 12th or 27 on Women's open, 15 minutes down on the leader. Husband Mark was busy being controller for the race, so didn't run.

Next to finish was James Hoad in a time of 40:16 (after voided legs) which put him into the lead through only minor errors and very fast running. However, the two Bens and Ed Catmur of JOK were still out on the course. Ben Windsor started two minutes ahead of Ed and stayed ahead of him during the course to finish in a little over 43 minutes, with Ed coming in only 30 seconds behind having gained time. However, when the pair went to download, both found that they had missed a (different) control! Ed had a time 5 seconds quicker than James, so it is debated whether the control he ran past would have cost him more than 5 seconds to punch or not.

DrongO, CUOC and JOK having a harmonious meal This left Ben Stevens to come in a bit later in 44:51, having successfully punched all the controls. In the final results, James Hoad won Men’s Open, his first win at a large event. On hearing this on the way home, Sarah Gales says “James Hoad, we love him” and starting listing countries whose national records he was faster than when he ran the London Marathon. In the Women’s Open, Sarah Gales finished in 54:57, putting her one spot ahead of Blanka in 11th place, while Anya Crocker was six minutes faster and finished fourth.

Sarah and Joe gazing in wonder at Oxford's architecture All the tough competition was followed by an enjoyable meal and drink in a pub, where DrongO, CUOC and JOK harmoniously socialised for a couple of hours. Sarah then offered her friend’s services to bring those from Cambridge back, meaning that the return journey was rather quicker for the Bens, and Joe who came from CUOC. Unfortunately for CUOC’s Natalie, and fortunately for the car which only had space for 5 people, she escaped to the comfort of the X5 before she could be offered a lift. Before the trip home, Ben Stevens gave a quick and incredibly enthusiastic tour of some parts of Oxford. Everybody gazed in wonder at The Other Place, as shown in the photograph.

DrongO at Portugal O Meet

DrongO Team Photos | Facebook Photos | Results
Three recently graduated DrongOs (Ben Windsor, Matthew Vokes and James Hoad) and a CUOCer (Fiona Petersen) attended the Portugal O Meet from Saturday 14th - Tuesday 17th February. Following a slightly delayed meet up at Lisbon airport on Friday night, after TAP Portugal were delayed but Ryanair was on time, the DrongOs got into a hire car. After successfully navigating the maze to leave the car park, they had a rather short night in a hotel just outside Lisbon.

The DrongOs rose shortly after 6am, and two hours drive along traffic-free motorways later they collected the CUOCer from outside an Intermarche, where she had kindly bought all their food for the first day or two. The fact that the CUOCer had already been in Portugal for three days demonstrates why it is better to be a student than to have a job.

A family of DrongOs (Katrin, Quentin and Sue Harding) was also there. They arrived earlier and experienced the sprint relay which was Day 0 of the competition on Friday. Their team of three Hardings and a Williams made a decent 13th of 36 teams, although many other teams mispunched, perhaps due to the SportIdent Air touch-free punching system.

Days 1 and 2 were on a fast sand dune area consisting of lots of parallel ridges, but not too much fine contour detail. The elite men had 17.2km, which had a ridiculously fast winning time of 1:23:52, while Matthew finished 21 minutes behind in a respectable 35th of 78. Meanwhile Ben ran M21B to try to avoid getting injured again, and won, but was also injured afterwards so walked on the subsequent days. Katrin, who was coming back from a knee injury, managed 75/98 on Women's Elite, while Quentin finished in an impressive 2nd place on M50.

DrongO Logo In Sand In the afternoon we cooked pasta and sauce using four saucepans, all of which were too small, and then headed out to the night sprint. Quentin improved on the morning's performance by winning his class this time. James had a quick run, finishing in a time worthy of top-30 in elite, only to find that he had mispunched for the first time ever.

Day 2 was a middle distance race on the same terrain as yesterday. Today was James' turn for a good one, finishing 40th on Men's Elite, while Matthew was running slowly because of a slight injury. The M/W50 Hardings both did well, with 7th and 17th respectively.

Official Banquet Sunday afternoon saw a visit to the beach, during which Fiona went swimming, much to the excitement of some Portuguese onlookers. It also inevitably involved drawing massive club logos in the sand. We then returned to our apartment, where we celebrated pancake day in advance. The electricity cut out now and then for no apparent reason, but it was ok because the hob was gas and we had headtorches. Unprecedentedly, four orienteers were defeated by the amount of batter we made, so the remainder got postponed until breakfast the next day.

Days 3 and 4 were held on a more technical sand dune area with a lot more green on the map. However, the vegetation was exquisitely-mapped and so could be used well for navigation if you could read the detail quickly enough. Day 3 was another long day, setting up the total times for a chasing start for the elites on Day 4. This put Matthew in 33rd/48 overall after 3 days, with James in 43rd, and Katrin 65th/74.

Matthew Day 4 Run In On Monday evening was the official banquet, a four-course meal with drinks and wine. It began with them serving us napkins using a spoon and fork in the same way that you would serve vegetables. After soap (that's what the menu said), fish and meat, we were all quite full, but luckily the desert (also what the menu said) wasn't too large!

James Day 4 Run In Day 4 was the final day with a chasing start for the elites. However, all the DrongOs were too far down on the leaders, so were part of the mass starts one hour after the leader set off. Matthew was back on form, finishing 8 minutes down on the winner in 23rd place to put him 33rd overall. James was having a similarly fast run until a parallel error a few controls from the end lost him (and several others) almost half an hour of time. He gained 43rd in the overall rankings. Meanwhile Ben walked M21A and came last, and Fiona had her best run yet to get into the top half of W21A. Katrin was consistent again and got 65/74 overall. Quentin won the final day, putting him into 1st overall, while Sue finished in a decent 26/61 overall on W50.

All that was left was to drive back to Lisbon and fly home. Ben and James left that evening while Matthew and Fiona explored Lisbon for an extra day before flying back. It's been suggested that we attend the Stockholm Indoor Cup (as featured in CompassSport in 2014) next year!

Varsity 2015 - Preliminary Details

Happy new year! Preliminary details for Varsity 2015 are now available:
Dates: 28th-29th March 2015
Individual – Hampsfell
Relay – Great Tower
Accommodation – Cartmel Fell Parish Hall (available both Friday & Saturday night, priority for students over alumni).

Further details are available here. Facebook event: here – please join it!

Contact Matthew Vokes with any questions.

Julia Bleasdale Wins Her First Ever Marathon

Julia Bleasdale (Pembroke, 2000) won the Greensand Marathon on 26 October, which was her first ever marathon. She finished the hilly off-road course in 02:54:50, 3 minutes ahead of Ed Catmur (JOK)! For more details see the links on this page.

Archive News

For older news items, see the archive news page.