CUOC 50th Anniversary
Memories and news from DrongO
I was a member of CUOC for six years from 1973 to 1979. This included being Chairman in 1975/76. I competed in six varsity matches and five BUSF (Universities) Championships.
probably write a book on O experiences at Cambridge but the following will have to do for now:
Ten of us travelling to events in two Mini Minors during my first year.
The infamous naked sprint around Mildenhall forest.
The epic three-legged O pub crawl around Cambridge.
The first Icenian event when it absolutely poured with rain the whole event ! when I was sat in a car for five hours taking manual times at the finish .
Typing results for the Icenian events on Roneo stencils late into the night to ensure that the results were sent out the day after the events.
Learning to map (with Charlie Daniel) at Santon Downham.
Drawing my first five colour O map of Little Ouse Valley (complete with adverts) - back then we used tracing film, a light box, Rotring drawing pens (which I still have) and Letraset.
The event discussions on Sunday evenings at The Eros restaurant.
The CUOC minibus trip to the British Champs in the Northeast in 1978.
The CUOC training camp at Merthyr Mawr in Wales.
I am still living in Boksburg about 20 miles east of Johannesburg in South Africa. I officially retired 5.5 years ago but am busier than ever. This includes helping at and organising orienteering events for Rand Orienteering Club. We organise around 12 events per year of which I usually plan or control 4 or 5. In Feb and Mar I assisted at (and planned the final of) the Gauteng Schools Orienteering league which attracted some 300 mainly high school students from 13 schools.
We are also beginning to plan the 6th Big5 O week (of which I am a Director) which will take place from 29th Dec 2023 to 3rd Jan 2024 (having been postponed for 2 years due to coronavirus). The event attracts around 300 competitors for 5 days of high quality orienteering including two World Ranking events. The next edition will be based around Knysna/Plettenberg bay on South Africa's famed Garden Route which offers plenty of attractions for the tourist as well as being an area of outstanding natural beauty. See www.bigfive-o.co.za
My other activities include Park run, public speaking and a being a sessional lecturer in Industrial Chemistry at the University of the Witwatersrand.
Organising and planning the CUOC come-and-try-it event at Wandlebury Ring on 20th April 1975 was an interesting experience. One control was sited on the side of a wooden shed which burnt down the day before the event. Another control was sited in a pit which turned out to be an old earthwork of major significance and a coachload of archaeologists who turned up to admire it were not impressed. Still it was a sunny day and 75 competitors seemed to enjoy themselves. Among those who turned up and tried it was Anne Braggins, who went on to become BOF Chair and sadly died last year. There was also a Birkinshaw family which I believe included a young Steve Birkinshaw, who went on to break the record for traversing the Wainwright summits.
My day job used to be working as a software engineer developing systems for railway signalling and operations control, but I retired several years ago. I still live in Derby and am a fairly active member of Derwent Valley Orienteers, acting as event controller and serving on the DVO and EMOA committees.
My time in CUOC was right in the early days (1974-77) and I competed in 1975-1977 Varsity Matches. The current logo hails from that time and whilst in CUOC we elevated the sport to half blue status. Sundays usually involved meeting in front of the senate house at 9am, where Paul Armstrong would turn up with a hired minibus, from the remarkably named Willhire Van Rental.
We were a relatively small group, but It's amazing how many of CUOC members from that period are still active competitors, almost 50 years later. (How many sports can say that !). This includes
Myself and my wife Fiona (McEwen) (BOK), Charles Daniel (BOK), Paul Armstrong (DVO), John Hurley (DVO), Martin Green (MDOC), Dave Kingham (TVOC), Mark Thompson (TVOC), Colin Duckworth (TVOC), Ian Bratt (South Africa), Pete Haynes (WAOC), Graham Nilsen (DEE), Jean Payne (Mackenzie) (DEE). Sadly Allyson Foord (Reed) (TVOC) was active up to her untimely death in 2015.
So probably had a quick chat in a car park with most of them over the last couple of years.
Last spoke to Charles Daniel and Mark Thompson yesterday at a Wednesday BAOC event.
Of the stalwarts from that period, I've only really lost contact with Charlie Patrick, Rob Wedgwood, now in Switzerland, and Jane Hastings (Carter), now in Warwickshire.
We lost to a very strong Oxford team in the Varsity Match in the three years I was in CUOC. Again Fiona and I have retained those friendships, particularly with Chris Johnson (BOK) and Dave Roach (Luxembourg).
The Cambridge City Race is now a prominent event. In my old map collection I came across a City Race that was organised by us for training in the mid 1970s. Didn't consider it to be real orienteering at the time, and I never thought it would reach the status it has.
Based in Slimbridge, Gloucestershire. Fiona and I are founders of clean energy company, Progressive Energy, which is at the forefront of seeking to decarbonise through CO2 Capture and Storage and fuel switching to Hydrogen. Major project under development in NW England (HYNET).
Fiona and I still regularly compete in orienteering.
2 children both active in orienteering Helen Hanstock (Östersund OK/BOK) and Stuart Hanstock (BOK). Stuart works for Progressive Energy in project management.
Helen is Senior Lecturer in Sports Science at mid Sweden University (MIUN), including research interests in physiology at the Swedish Winter Sports Research Institute.
Helen is a past women's captain for Oxford University Orienteering AND Athletics Club!
We're still up for attending Varsity Matches and went to Penhale, Sutton Park and Fontainebleu over the last 10 years. Sadly there have been a few clashes recently, including a clash with Helen's wedding in Sweden this year! Her husband James Turton (OUOC/SROC/ÖOK) now also is a regular competitor. They also get to compete in Ski-O.
My left knee is letting me down a bit nowadays, due to a lack of cartilage, but I was very pleased to win the middle distance event (M65S) at this year's JK.
I am a UKA Athletics Performance Coach in my spare time (Jumps/Endurance). Coaching U15-U20 at High Jump, Long Jump and Triple Jump at Cheltenham Harriers.
Over the last 10 years have coached the SW Junior Orienteering Squad, particularly specialising on inputs on running fitness, and have recently provided the same support to the newly created Southern Talent Squad. The SWJOS members were delighted this year to have a Czech summer camp added to the programme !
Fiona and I have taken up MTBO as well in the last ten years (less painful on the knee). We have entered MTBO at O Ringen this year for the first time. Keen to see how it is organised at O Ringen as next year, Helen, James, Fiona and I are to be involved in the organisation of the O Ringen MTBO in Östersund, where Helen and James live.
Somehow CUOC acquired the EUOC banner. We went to an event at Sandringham where several CUOC members entered the equivalent of a yellow course as EUOC and proceeded to blast round in record time. The organiser didn’t seem surprised that competitors had come that far for a club event.
I retired from GE two years ago. I am currently a member of the GB TrailO team and will be competing in the European TrailO championships in Finland next month.
Great memories making the first map at Sandringham Autumn 1979, and camping close by at Dersingham. Many creative training sessions at Little Ouse Valley and Mildenhall. Fabulously uplifting win at the National Relays in Pickering 1980.
The punt party June 1978 when my o-date Jean Ramsden fell in assisted by champagne.
Ian Bratt’s home brew in his flat opposite Fitz - a regular end to a long night out.
Hip replacement 2017, knee resurfacing March 2022. Wild swimming is the least painful exercise now. Retired from paid employment 2019 so plenty of time!
In the days before online entry, CUOC entries to events were via sign-up sheets at the weekly CUOC lunch, an important occasion for social interaction and an excuse to consume large quantities of bread, cheese and pickle. I wonder when these were phased out?
Now in Lancaster, enjoying retirement
My main contribution to CUOC came in the form of a green 1969 Hillman Hunter which I kept at Churchill and spent Sundays driving to events (and Surrey was quite a mission in pre-M25 days). Pre-Entries were done via the weekly Thursday CUOC lunch. Our kit was pyjama-style O-suits and CUOC beanies courtesy of the Hardings’ Mum.
I (semi-)retired in 2020 and set up my own consulting company. I am now also mentoring Cambridge entrepreneurs. I live in Hertford, still orienteer with HH and I’m club secretary at the moment. I have 2 daughters and as of February I face a grandson. I’m proud that one of my daughters joined CUOC 9 years ago and is now an active DRONGO (q. v. Miranda Leaf)
I'd never heard of orienteering before University but it seemed a sport that I could get into. Following an introductory event at Santon Downham my first event proper was an M19 course at Burnham Beeches a few weeks later - a real baptism of fire. When the results appeared I couldn't find my name on the list around the time I knew that I had taken. I eventually found it with a W19 next to it and immediately assumed that I must have been entered into, or at least run, the wrong course and had competed against the ladies. I've mispunched many times since then but at least I now know what those dreaded characters mean.
Having gone up to Cambridge in 1981 I never left University and now hold a Professorial post at Sussex. My son developed into a strong orienteer but despite great A-levels had no intention of running for CUOC - the choice was either SHUOC or EUOC. In the end he did an MPhys at one and a PhD at the other. I remain very active in the sport and am still competing with fellow DrongO Quentin Harding - the performance gap between us may have closed since those events in our fresher's year, but not by much.
(actually only started orienteering in 1986 and actually left in 1996). CUOC was by far the friendliest club of the many I joined over the 13 or so years there. The name DrongO came about precisely due to people constantly doing embarrassing things so I hope they still are - the key one that triggered the name being when Jon (I think) forgot room keys when going to the showers in only a towel requiring a porters lodge dash... Because of that the DrongO of the week was awarded the orange DrongO hat (as was included in the logo) each week.
Still not left university (now at QMUL) Knees aren't up to running much any more, but am at moment learning to fence (epee) instead as my son, Daniel, wanted to try it and learning too beats just being a taxi driver every week. Being noticeably taller than the other novices gives me an advantage so at least I don't always get embarrassed by 11yr olds beating me.
I was introduced to orienteering at Cambridge and recall pin-punches and cards pinned to your front, plus non-waterproof maps! This weekend I have competed in a maprun event. Orienteering has changed so much but still a sport all ages and levels of fitness can enjoy but I hate furrow hopping. I love my Drongo top. It is much admired down here in Dorset.
I am a GP in Dorset and have 2 adult children, James and Emma.
I wasn't a member of CUOC when I was at Cambridge, I didn't discover Orienteering until I got married and my husband was an active member of NOC.
I live in North Nottinghamshire, my first call 'O' club is NOC. My husband (Robert Parkinson) runs an Orienteering Hub Club in Bassetlaw and during the summer months we run an evening session every fortnight to encourage locals to come along and try the sport. We have a group of people who come along and enjoy an evening of Orienteering, along with refreshments. We are getting back into Orienteering again ourselves after the enforced COVID lockdown and are enjoying catching up with people we haven't seen for a while. I'm at a Memorial Service on April 30th for Ted Norrish - the founder of OD, so should be in the company of Orienteers and past pupils of Henry VIII, Coventry, who were his Cross Country / Athletics pupils
Too many memories. CUOC was a huge part of my life at Cambridge. The best memories are that the club became much more socially active over those years - and we (re)introduced training tours in the Lakes over Easter 87 and 88. The strange orange hat over the O in the drongo logo on the website was a genuine felt hat purchased, I believe, by Phil Slingsby at a jumble sale at Walton village hall near Stafford where we were staying (with OUOC) for BUSF (now BUCS) 87. In the following week in the Lakes it became the "Drongo hat" awarded to the most "deserving" performance of the day.
I'm afraid I am a somewhat lapsed orienteer, but there is always next week/month/year
The vintage double decker bus for the first event of the year, the minibus with bench seats and no windows for other events, the CUOC lunches, running Varsity in football boots..
helping cocoa farmers make a better living, running mountain marathons
In about 1988 CUOC held what was probably the first sprint O in the UK. Steve Nicholson was the organiser and it was held on Rowney Warren. Uni clubs came from all over the UK and Steve even tried to call it the British champs. The highlight for many was the ALCO to finish proceedings followed by an informal formal hall in Emmanuel as you were allowed unlimited guests on a Saturday.
Living in Aberdeen, working in the oil industry. Still orienteer as a M55, mostly in Scotland. Am occasionally seen further afield as I have a son competing as an M18 who needs to attend selection races
CUOC Sprint O, alcho & dinners were legendary.
Winning the Churchill Cup with minimal team, maximum effort by all.
Crazy drives to the Lakes for weekend training in Steve Nicholson's small car. Cramped but great training weekends.
Lining up lots of empty glasses at CUOC dinners with Heather Monro, filling them all with wine & emptying the contents as fast as possible.
Long runs through the tiny strips of woods round Cambridge with clay clogged shoes.
Living in Sheffield, FD for a company manufacturing & designing EV systems. 2 boys, still orienteering. Did first triathlon last year.
Christmas dinner crawls, do they still happen, so many courses so many colleges and kitchens, too much drink to remember the details. Vodka jelly at the sprint-o.
Still orienteering, children refused to come as soon as they were able to stay at home.
Most memorable events were the MicrOs at the athletics ground. Thanks to Matt Vokes for planning those particularly the last one which he did entirely remotely. This meant the whole upstairs room had to be remodelled to match the map.
Trying to construct a three-tiered podium for the winners to stand on out of wobbly bar stools was also quite memorable (and surprisingly injury-free)
Recently chosen to be chairperson of WAOC. Built MapRun.uk website to promote use of MapRun across all areas in the UK by providing central location to search for courses and maps. Nominated for BOF award in 2022 for work on MapRun.uk
The chance to escape Cambridge every Sunday morning to O events all round East Anglia...using up old maps of Thetford Forest where all the vegetation had completely changed...weekly CUOC lunches at Sidney with an incredible spread of food from Sainsburys...many formal halls and infamous annual dinners...typing up results from the Icenian and posting them out to competitors...trying to keep on top of manual double-entry accounts as CUOC junior treasurer...wearing CUOC lycra leggings too often...feeling "frisky"...the scandalous CUOC printed newsletters ("A Load of Old CUOC")
After living, working and orienteering in Germany, Spain, Czech, South Africa and Poland for many years, I've been settled in Leeds for the past 15. Married with two daughters who have just about flown the nest (but I'm still on the rota to set up the string course at AIRE events). Enjoy seeing my CUOC contemporaries like Lucy, Tim and Viv at Yorkshire races. Had the occasion to wear my half blue bowtie at a smart dinner recently, which brought back good memories.
Good times with Matthias, Andy, Nigel & co
Live in London, 2 kids, Founder CEO of a job search engine called Adzuna, still into running and cycling
Some memories in no particular order.... The year Andy Middleditch (SHUOC) fell down two flights of stairs at the post SprintO social and thankfully escaped relatively unscathed as he was so 'relaxed' as he fell due to the amount of alcohol he'd consumed. A very cold CUOC /Drongo trip to the JK in Wales when it snowed. We all slept in a freezing school hall on the gym mats as I recall... and I seem to remember one person (remains nameless) forgot their sleeping bag so had to find someone to share with. An excellent trip to the Czech 5 day complete with our homemade tour tops "Hamr'd '99". I seem to recall a 20 hour coach trip to get there, and Mark Collis packed his tour essentials - a huge tupperware box full of herbs and spices - at the bottom of his rucsac. Varsity match in Sweden, complete with sauna and dipping in frozen lakes.
Living in Lancashire with husband Steve and two children aged 13 and 11. Still orienteering - the kids enjoy it when they get to an event, but don't like to admit it! I work for Atkins as an environmental consultant. Still do a bit of fell running (slowly) when I can fit it in.
I won't be at the dinner this time round, but remember well that my very first Annual Dinner (1996) was celebrating the 25th anniversary of CUOC, half the club's lifetime ago. My "Captain's award" from Loz was a forked stick with a sign saying "rest chin here" inspired by a late night at some point earlier in the year - and I think I still have it somewhere...
Some of my favourite moments in CUOC were the December training tours in Coniston, including beautiful sunny days on the fells, night canoe orienteering on Windermere and some lively evenings including an indoor AlcO around our accommodation to use up some barely drinkable Norseman lager left over from the SprintO.
CUOC was also the reason for my first ever visit to the Czech Republic, not that I had any idea at the time that I might one day live here. We went to a five day event near Ralsko: not the greatest areas in that region but an amazing event campsite in Stráž pod Ralskem, on a beach with incredibly cheap beer a few yards from the tent.
My most embarrassing moment has to be being pulled over by the police for overtaking on double white lines while driving the CUSU minibus back from the Lakes... :-(
Moved to Prague six years ago and now working as a software developer. Happily married to Blanka with two lovely daughters (Emma and Helena) to occupy our time. Still orienteering regularly but not travelling so far as we used to, so we look forward to the Varsity Match coming our way next year!
Swedish VM in my first year was a great introduction into Scandinavian O and good value for money on my part - I certainly got value for money and the prize for the loooongest time on the Women's B course. Also, I made it through my time in Cambridge (and beyond) with two dresses so it is quite possible that I am wearing the same dress in all four annual dinner photos! And I was the first captain of DrongO when DrongO formed an actual constitution and elected a committee. I organised or semi organised 3VMs (Wharncliffe in 2007, Epping in 2009 and Doksy Czechia in 2011). Organised and really enjoyed the 40th anniversary dinner - would be there now, too, if Czech Republic wasn't so far away.
After living in Oxford (2009-15) and running for TVOC (function: string course coordinators), we have been in Czech Republic since 2015, running with Kotlářka Prague club. Mostly HDR taped courses with the children (Emma and Helena, now 10 and 8) but as they are now graduating to running by themselves I am back to running my own course more frequently these days. Married to Mark, also of CUOC and DrongO (and of Pembroke). I am still in the line of science though no longer a researcher but a grant support specialist instead.
Living in Sheffield, teaching in Wakefield, still orienteering with SYO.
Held the same 3 committee positions - Technology Officer, Icenian Planner and Mapping Officer (no mapping expertise, of course) for 3 years. Designed the CUOC website in summer 2007 (and most of the front-end design still remains the same, including the banner image, taken by my Dad - can you guess where?). Planned the first Cambridge City Race in 2009, which had to be postponed from February to October due to snow.
Recently moved to Edinburgh. A fairly active member of DrongO.
I have some great memories of CUOC/OUOC tour to Slovenia orienteering in the karst landscape. Also following in OUOC's lead to arrange the first Cambridge City Race with Ben Stevens as planner - we had to do a last minute postponement due to snow and ice.
I'm currently living on Tyneside and working in the wind industry.
Great memories of: Swedish varsity 2008 - particularly the party, all the training tours in the Lakes, the Cambridge city races, and the roving dinners. Not so great memories of losing the men's varsity by ~ten minutes every year.
Maz and I met at college and we got married 4 years ago, we're now living on the south coast enjoying living near the sea. I'm playing lots of ultimate frisbee (at least for a couple of years until my knees give in). I manage to get to about about three O events a year - normally including the varsity match :).
I loved the varsity trips to Czech and Sweden, including featuring on the front page of The Uppsala Times, and winter training in the Lakes.
I'm living in Singapore studying earthquakes, but soon moving back to Europe because I hate Singapore. Married to someone who wasn't an orienteer before I met him, but is now.
Loads of good memories of CUOC! Ridiculously cheap end-of-term training trips to Norway and Poland. Czech Varsity (no rules/pomoc medved). Last minute training trips to Thetford, one of which involved discovering a forest fire and calling the fire brigade. Organising the Icenian in 2011 and showing that CUOC could indeed pull off a good quality event. All the December training tours, including an fantastic photo of Alan Cherry (OUOC) during a beer mile. Many formals, CUOC lunches, and chats with friends I made through the club who are still my main group of friends (and even family!) now :) All the cakes which had CUOC written on them. A lot of fun and stupid MicrOs. Homemaking two CUOC banners, one got lost and one fell apart I think. Harriet after the annual dinner one year coming to retrieve her bag from my room, but ending up throwing up in my sink then falling asleep on my bed, giving me an excellent sleep on the floor! Quotes sheets in general. I'm really glad that so many CUOC people have come and joined in on DrongO stuff in the last decide, they are always fun and happy times!
I finally moved away from Cambridge to London in 2018. I got married to Zuzka Strakova in summer 2019 in the Czech Republic, wearing a DrongO top and DrongO tie under my suit of course! For 2 years we formed part of "DrongO HQ", a London flat with four DrongOs living in it, then moved back out of the big city at the end of 2021 to the Isle of Wight. I work for a tiny company based in London as a software enginner/data scientist, working with sensors/IoT devices. We disposed of our tiny office during the pandemic, which I'm very happy about! Orienteering is definitely still my main hobby, but also cycling and I've started to increasingly like cross-country skiing now that I don't fall over quite as often! We also had a 3 month break from work for a "delayed honeymoon" cycle tour around Europe in spring 2020.
Such happy memories of CUOC days. I loved attending all the events every Sunday (often going in the cars of WAOC members, but sometimes convoluted journeys with trains/hitchhiking)! I enjoyed all the impromptu socials at Ben's house, and going to all the different college formals through the members. I particularly enjoyed the holidays, to Norway, Poland, and Czech Republic to name a few. My lasting memory was when Ben got us to walk to Luton airport at 5am to save £5! Thanks to everyone for making CUOC such a happy part of my Cambridge experience :)
Currently living with my partner in Milton Keynes in our house. I am a (nearly) qualified GP in the area which I enjoy a lot. Weekends are filled with seeing friends and family, and going on holidays when possible.
I’m afraid my CUOC days were ages ago. One of my favourite moments was our own summer event. I don’t remember all the details but I think it mixed some punting, some running and some wheel barrowing for the final sprint. The dynamic duo (namely Matthew Vokes and Ben Windsor) had stricken again. Sadly I don’t think that I’ve ever witnessed a Light blue victory at the Varsity.
I live in Paris with another DrongO, Cédric. It’s actually a great place to tell the world that our son Térence (yes, French spelling, sorry for the hassle..) was born on the 2nd of March this year!
Formals, lots of them! 😉👍🤗 Have we ever eaten any dessert with a spoon...? I doubt it 🤔 And by the way, don't forget to add enough smiley faces in the captain emails 😉😀😉🙂😉😀 And everyone should DEFINITITELY come to all events/trainings, because it will be FUN!!!!!! 🙂😉🙂😉🙂👍🙂😉 CUOC is the best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (oh, and don't forget enough exclamation marks, too, of course!!!!!)
I am impressed that I managed to fill the 50th anniversary form in with the two little orienteers, Toby and Tom, I have constantly by my side (well, in my arms, to be more precise 😂😂) 😀 Toby is very keen to have a DrongO orienteering top ✅✔️✅. We live at Potkavarna now - the perfect place for orienteering training camps in the Czech Republic 🤪😜🤪😜
Almost getting kicked out of Lola’s for some slightly overly competitive mid-night orienteering probably a highlight!
Running around between London and Aberdeen (+a few place in between)
Favourite moment: defying expectations to win Varsity 2014; equally unexpectedly winning in 2022
Notable moments: climbing a lampost to retrieve chocolate spread in the inaugural PancakeO; FIRE at Bromehill; several very wobbly bike trips with a 70l rucksack full to bursting point (and with stuff on the outside) of SI kit to training; many hours at lunch in various kitchens (often Malcolm Street) always thinking I *should* go back and do some work, but socialising is more fun; and many more happy memories that are too numerous to list here
PS, thanks CUOC for finding me a partner (even if it took too long to admit it) ;-)
Moved to the Lakes, got a partner, spent many hours on the A1, moved to London and founded DrongO HQ, became M&F HQ, decided the 1.1 hour commute to Reading was too long and 1 week ago started a new job in Paddington (takes me back to Corpus days when I could roll out of bed and get to lectures on New Museums site 5 mins later)
Trying to find the CUOC stand at Freshers Fair in 1st year, failing, and not taking this as a sign that orienteering wasn't for me. An emphatic Jesus victory in Cuppers. Harriet being hilarious. Rory trying to get orienteers to take warming-up seriously. Fountain swimming after annual dinners. Xmas training tour including Sinterklass, Alc-O and fabulous turkey. Varsity in France, and getting really lost because I followed Anne Edwards who was running the men's course.
Down Under and expecting a baby Dronglet next month. We are moving back to England in the New Year and looking forward to attending more DrongO trips in coming years!
I miss our training days out in Thetford: 08:48 train to Brandon, some training where you have to guess which parts of the map are wrong (felled/grown up), chase Ben Windsor through some grot, call the fire brigade, make a snowman, eat a huge piece of cake. We once ventured to Hatfield Forest instead - Matthew Vokes kindly cleared the path of nettles out of Stansted Airport (rail replacement bus station) with a massive stick.
We were regulars at the Harvester. My first year was in Sheffield. Despite having previously run at the British Nights under a Germanised name (Tim Meiser, thanks Ben Windsor), I stuck with a day leg and got stung by a wasp. Day legs are sensible for novices: Fiona Petersen, you don't make friends with me by running leg 2 as your first ever race, leaving me waiting for leg 3 such that I didn't even bother taking my torch. Not to mention the endless mispunches at relays of all types, Ben Windsor.
Wednesday pizza night and Tuesday lunch were also regular fixtures. Lunch often dragged on a few hours, especially when there is important business to discuss such as how to manipulate the BOF ranking list. Later, I made frequent trips to Cambridge as part of my PhD and am pleased to report that pizza night was still going strong. Jogging 4 km back to Caroline Louth's (where I'd often stay) on an overfull stomach where slowing down for each road crossing was beyond unpleasant says mission accomplished.
No CUOC experience is complete without a Varsity abroad and training tours. Nick Barrable planned a proper elite Varsity course on an A5 1:15000 map in Stockholm, at the end of a week of training designed to rattle the confidence of any first timers in Sweden (me). The Lake District is the correct location for training tour (except odd years for some variety - just don't let Ben Windsor book the accommodation (no water and again at his own wedding) or let Dan Safka test out the build quality of a newly refurbished bunkhouse. I remember epic terrain, orienteering in thigh-deep snow and quality MicrOs. Don't forget tour champs must be at Great Tower.
Thank you CUOC! You showed me orienteering and have defined the first 11 years of my adult life.
I've been living and working in Oxford since 2021. Before that, I did a PhD at Bristol plus a few in-between years. Now I do loads of orienteering and sometimes I wish a few more other things like hillwalking.
Running my first Varsity as an ancient against the YoungBluds and not making a complete fool of self - I think it was also on a birthday (47th!) which made it all the more special. I also enjoyed a black tie dinner at Clare's and sure there's a photo of me in the wee small hours smiling whilst a sleeping James Hoad sits in shot too. I may be old(er) but can take the alcohol better :) It was also DrongO who got me to my first night event - the Harvester (although I seem to have lost the memo on wearing the regulation kit for the photo!?!)
Relocated to the North and now a LOC-er...
From Sweden trip 2018 - Matthew, Ben W and James H using the wire from an O-kite to jimmy open a window at 2am so we could break into the hut we were supposed to be sleeping in that night (see photo)
Working at UCL and living in London with my husband Rob, who is slowly being convinced to join DrongO (however he starts work at *xford uni in October so I'm not sure if he's allowed in anymore??)
I mainly attended CUOC in my gap year and it was an excellent way to get to know Cambridge before starting. So many favourite moments, especially the pizza evenings. The most exciting event was the PuntO - a team event in May week where as a team of 6 you had a punt. 5 people in the punt had questions to answer while one runner did a short course and rejoined the group and you took it in turns.
I'm flirting with orienteering again and have enjoyed doing an event here and there. I did a few MTBO events too which are a great way to keep in touch with the map.
Getting lost in the woods, other people getting lost in the woods (especially Lock from Singapore who was particularly talented at getting lost and losing shoes, compasses etc), getting lost in the woods while drunk, getting scary while chopping butternut squashes post getting lost in the woods while drunk (actually I don't remember this but everyone else found it funny/scary), Rory's masterpiece poem for Helen on the Christmas trip 2014 (everyone should remember this). All the trips away and the quote collections from the trips away, I wonder if these are still somewhere?! I hope the sillyness continues...
Much less orienteering and much more climbing, getting lost has been replaced by getting benighted, and sometimes also lost! Adventures with Jess and Andrea still feature :)
"My time in CUOC"... During term time it was probably characterised by attending Wednesday training solely so that I could go to pizza social afterwards, plus the weekly challenge of dodging the Trinity Porters who were determined to discover what creature was leaving a regular trail of mud and pizza boxes in the common room (we won).
Highlights definitely included Scandinavian summer fun, featuring as much SwimO and waffle consumption as possible. Also December Training Tour: freezing days on snowy hillsides followed by evenings doing bunkhouse MicrOs in a maxi dress.
The main mention has to go to all my amazing friends made through CUOC+beyond, since I now organise (a) my annual leave, (b) my budget and (c) my excitement levels pretty much purely around DrongO trips- so you lot must be pretty great <3. Also officially being the second most boring captain, as described by this epic piece on the website: https://cuoc.org.uk/news/242/
Taking the indirect route choice via anthropology and English teaching, I now like to consider myself an ornithologist. Working in beautiful Northumberland as an assistant ecologist right now, though still itinerant because that's more exciting :-D
Favourite moments: I really enjoyed the 2014 Varsity Match in Stockholm. The week of training before the race was really fun, and I also had a pretty good run. The end of exam term trips to Norway were also excellent (before the airport closed down). Other highlights: Training tours to the Lake District and Wales. Organising the 21km ShortO for my 21st birthday. Hosting CUOC pancake day. Doing an alco around Emma college. Outside MicrO on Matthew's incredibly detailed maps. Organising the Churchill adventure race. Building a reflexbana in Thetford forest. Worst memories: Doing the alco on the Wales training tour. It was on top of the most exposed hill and the weather was terrible. I was too cold to concentrate on finding the controls and ran round trying to keep warm and went back to the start from time to time, to have a pint. Silly things: Going for a swim in a certain fountain after formal. The water was full of green algae and my shirt never came clean again and had to be thrown away.
Moved to Edinburgh to start DrongO HQ Scotland (and a new job). Unfortunately a new location is needed for HQ as the current location has a hole in the wall, a leaky roof and damp wall, an invasion of ants, no shower, a drafty front door, windows that don't close properly, a broken letter box, a broken washing machine blocking the hallway, and an unsocial flatmate. But apart from that it's all good.
Running for the great brown cause (Hunters Bog Trotters)
Shrewd CUOCers occasionally commented that I went to more CUOC formals than training nights while I was a student - the perfect training regime for Natalie's AlcOs! There were many great nights of running laps of Emma accompanied by the taste of Stockholm cocktail, not to mention a formal that ended with people submerged in Trinity fountain! Once I graduated I did however become a regular at training and pizza and now you'll find me carefully planning my annual leave to optimise for DrongO trips!
I have successfully converted my Fiance,Tom, into an orienteer and a fully fledged member of DrongO - Success!
It was really nice to head to Norway with CUOC after my final Cambridge exams, first time visiting Scandinavia and it was lovely. I think that was the first time I planned an orienteering course as well
I'm now part of Happy Herts and am planning/organising local races on a fairly regular basis. Otherwise working in London and trying to do all the Drongo trips
Fiona's first Harvester relays (and first proper orienteering race!), where she set out on the second leg at about 1am and got back around 6am - impressive effort!
Training tour in Gdansk in the snow with an O-training / hike to the accomodation straight from the airport. The traffic lights in Gdansk were also memorable.
Dinner crawls - they were great! I always enjoyed getting stuffed whilst visiting everyone's colleges.
Currently on the Isle of Wight, not sure where I will be next. Working for Amazon as an accountant. Married to Ben Windsor.
My first introduction of CUOC was turning up to the freshers races and someone introducing herself to me with "Hi, I'm your cousin's ex, K*****", this left me slightly unnerved but nearly 9 years later I'm still in the club.
My favourite memories of CUOC are the post training pizza eating and the absurd game of trying to halve the last piece until it is little more than a crumb. I've also really enjoyed the weeklong training trip to Varsity in Fontainebleu in 2017 and the "beach" party after the individual races.
I'm still in Cambridge doing a PhD in metallurgy and reminding the younger CUOCers of traditions from the past.
From CUOC times, not much actual orienteering - Getting a wetsuit for Sinterklaus, and this turning out to be actually useful for crawling through rivers in tunnels on the micro, Jeremy letting me paint his nails, Paul wearing high heels to annual dinner, decorating the ceiling of the youth hostel in groovy bars to make a groovy tree, Rory writing to the bunkhouse to get a specific saucepan lid for Helen
Currently living in Edinburgh, still doing lots of orienteering (for example not attending the 50th dinner to go orienteering in a much nice place than Brandon (Kerry in Ireland))
My earliest memory of CUOC was turning up last minute to the 2015 training tour in Shropshire. It was late in the evening, I was hungry and I didn't really knowing anyone. I was immediately treated to a full roast dinner, a grumpy John Ockenden and many laughs over silly games! This set the tone for the next 4 years pretty well...
Highlights from my CUOC years include: cross-country skiing from a remote bothy in Czech, partying in Fontainebleau, having a very healthy breakfast of Champagne and Mars bars in Brandon Station, pizza, BBQs in Denmark, Saunas in Norway, BreadVodka........ and many more found memories :)
Having left student life for the real world, I made the closest move possible by living in London working as a climate analyst for the Department of Business and Energy (BEIS)
CUOC was great - lots of great memories of fun trips away, cold night O on rubbish areas, and far too much pizza. Producing the quotes list for the journal was always good fun, and every now and then I still go back to read through them all.
Living in Leeds, doing even more orienteering than before and coming to lots of drongo trips.
Too many to narrow down - training tours (particularly 2017) come to mind. The 'beach' party in Fontainebleau during French Varsity. The attempts to split the atom after each Wednesday training. Alch-Os, MicrOs and fashion passion - not a dull moment.
Technically, I have managed to escape Cambridge since I am living beyond the city boundaries. However, I have not made it particularly far...
Really enjoyed the training tour to Hawkshead in my first term where I learnt how much harder orienteering was with alcohol in your system.
Currently living in Edinburgh.
Welsh Training tour 2017 for an all round great trip, oh and the time James Ackland you picked up the wrong shoes from the drying room at Sheffield Varsity
Studying for my PhD at UW Madison in the US.
I always looked forward to Wednesday training and pizza (which covid unfortunately stopped during my captaincy year). Favourite moments were the English Universities Orienteering Cup in Sheffield and three years (and counting!) of running the Mourne Mountain Marathon with Helen Ockenden.
I'm doing a masters' course in Climate Sciences at the University of Bern in Switzerland. The CUOC mascot Helen the Reindeer accidentally joined me in Switzerland for the first semester but has now been returned to Cambridge in time for the 50th dinner.
Photos, in no particular order
Actually, they're sorted by caption
2011 SprintO Party in Jesus Bar[Ben Windsor]
7 CUOC Captains at the 2013 annual dinner[Ben Windsor]
A sunny afternoon training on Coldham's common[Ben Windsor]
After going in the fountain[John Ockenden]
Alan Cherry (OUOC) competing in the beer relay on the 2010 training tour in South Wales [Ben Windsor]
Ben feeds Helen sugar at the annual dinner 2015[John Ockenden]
Ben with a bag around his neck at the 2014 VM[John Ockenden]
Ben, Matthew and James breaking in to the Ravinen club hut, Sweden 2018[Natalie]
Blanka at the VM Relay 2015[John Ockenden]
BUSF 1st team 1977[Ian Bratt]
BUSF 3rd team 1974[Ian Bratt]
BUSF 3rd team 1977 with Keith Tomkins, Mike Giles[Ian Bratt]
Carrie in some lucious terrain, VM relay 2015[John Ockenden]
Cath, Helen, Ros, Claire at the Lakes training week 1997[Cath Wilson]
Controls in silly places, May week event 2011[Sarah Righetti]
CUOC annual dinner at Jesus, probably 2008[Vicky Stevens]
CUOC's late night dip in Trinity fountain[Miranda Leaf]
CUOC 1973-74[Ian Bratt]
CUOC 1977-78[Ian Bratt]
CUOC 1978-79[Ian Bratt]
CUOC at JK 1977[Ian Bratt]
CUOC at Varsity 2010[Ben Windsor]
CUOC at Lola's ft. Ben's CUOC top[Miranda Leaf]
CUOC girls at Lola's[Miranda Leaf]
DrongO at the Harvester[Rob Campbell]
DrongO at the Mourne Mountain Marathon[Heather Corden]
DrongO at Varsity 2022 in the Lake District[Ben Windsor]
Everyone at the Czech Varsity Relays 2011[Ben Windsor]
Hamr'd 99 with Eric, Ann, Viv, Mark and JOKers[Cath Wilson]
Heather going orienteering[Heather Corden]
Helen P on CUOC pancake day[John Ockenden]
Icenian Trophy 1977[Ian Bratt]
Jesus Cuppers victory when I realised I was short[Sarah Righetti]
JK 1977[Ian Bratt]
JK 2015[John Ockenden]
Just a small part of mine and Zuzka's wedding[Ben Windsor]
Lightweight Crew[Rob Campbell]
Lining up for the boat race at Varsity 2008, Sweden[Vicky Stevens]
Mark Collis and a couple of JOKERS in Czech 1999[Cath Wilson]
MarkB, Ruth, Ros on the dance floor around 1999[Cath Wilson]
Meeting the fire brigade at Brandon[Ben Windsor]
Merthy Mawr training 1979[Ian Bratt]
My first attempt at a homemade CUOC banner[Ben Windsor]
Natalie with cake, Norway 2015[John Ockenden]
Nothing to see here (2015)[John Ockenden]
One of many CUOC decorated cakes[Ben Windsor]
Park run, Apr 2022[Ian Bratt]
Race preparation for the British Champs 2011[Ben Windsor]
South Africa O Team, WOC 2005[Ian Bratt]
Speaking at the Professional Speakers of Southern Africa Convention[Ian Bratt]
Swimming near the 2011 Varsity match in Czech Republic with Bear[Ben Windsor]
The Czech 2011 Varsity Team, the kites were upside-down though![Andy Prochazkova]
The second homemade banner attempt[Ben Windsor]
Things that do not go together - orienteering, fashion and stretching, Lakes Tour 2013ish[Sarah Righetti]
Trip to British Champs Jun 1978[Ian Bratt]
Varsity 1st team 1975[Ian Bratt]
Varsity 1st team 1977[Ian Bratt]
Varsity 2nd team 1975[Ian Bratt]
Varsity 2nd team 1977[Ian Bratt]
Varsity Blues[Rob Campbell]
Varsity Shield 1976[Ian Bratt]
Vicky Stevens and Joe Mercer on the front of the Uppsala Times at Varsity in Sweden 2008[Vicky Stevens]
Viv, Helen, Cath, Rachel, Clair, Ros - the 1998 Varsity Match Team[Cath Wilson]