Welcome to the webpages of the Oxford University Orienteering Club.
Orienteering is a sport which provides different things for different people. For some, it is merely about the opportunity to escape from the city and run in natural environments they'd never otherwise visit. For others, it is about the challenge of finishing a course using fine navigation techniques. Finally, it is also an extremely competitive sport which requires its elites to maintain an extremely high level of physical performance.
At Oxford, orienteering is a Blues sport which provides an opportunity for its members to orienteer for whatever reason they choose. The club supports a range of abilities and always welcomes beginners: roughly half of our members took up the sport at Oxford whilst some had made the GB squad before they arrived! The most effective way for an orienteer to improve is through gaining experience in the forest, which the club facilitates by taking a minibus to an event each weekend.
Trinity term - Summer series
Beautiful forests, friendly people and clear blue skies: OUOC travel to Scandinavia, the perfect setting for a noir crime drama
In 2002, Leeds United were in the Premier League, Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France and Nick Barrablesson organised the Varsity Orienteering match in Hellasgården near Stockholm, Sweden. 12 years is a long time in the sporting world, but some things never change.
The notoriously tricky Swedish terrain had frightened off all but twelve members of OUOC who, by plane, train and bus, made their way to Stockholm in early April. Except for one person, who presumably hired a car from Avis and is still waiting for it.
Four days of training began at the deep end as we joined in with the OK Ravinen technical session, planned by Junior World Champion Gustav Bergmann. Somehow we all made it out of the forest before night fell.
The following day we turned up to the Luffarligan, a series of regular local races. Fortunately the results don’t include the age classes and genders of the Swedish competitors. In the afternoon we returned to yesterday’s training and didn’t get quite so lost.
On Wednesday evening an intrepid few joined in with the SUH3 weekly run. Fortunately Bone Stevensson arrived just in time to make the bus, as he is clearly a drinker with a running problem. It is hard to report on the rest of the evening without descending into a level of innuendo that Sports Fed might not approve of.
The week just kept getting better as Nick took us to Paradise on Thursday. We were clearly improving as only one person was too late back to make the return bus. The evening provided a chance to see some of the sights of Stockholm; all the museums were shut by the time we arrived, but the wide range of transport options afforded by the SL travel card provided more than enough entertainment.
The mood became serious on Friday as our eyes turned towards Saturday’s Varsity Match. After a final training session on the model area, all that was left was to decide the start order. Following an in depth analysis of the possible scenarios arising from every permutation of OUOC and CUOC runners, we settled on exactly the same order as we had started with. Time well spent.
To say that the races did not go particularly well for Oxford would be an understatement. Fortunately the strength of the Men’s team was such that, despite our top three having a bit of a shocker, we took the overall win by 10 minutes, a good run from Captain Carl Boot Countrysson making up our 4th counter. The result extends the Men’s winning streak to a (male) record of 7 consecutive Varsities, and means that next year they could achieve parity in the head-to-head record.
The Women’s race was a different story, as Cambridge won by a margin that made their Boat Race defeat on the River Thames look like a photo finish. Fair play to them, we’ll be back next year though.
Full results and splits can be found on Eventor. Whilst clearly the results were disappointing, the effort put in by every single person, both in training and the races, could not be faulted. In particular it was fantastic to see so many beginners, some of whom had barely picked up a map before, braving the Swedish forest and coming out alive.
There was also a relay race on Sunday.
The Orienteering may have finished but there was still one more competition left. In the early evening four teams gathered outside the OK Ravinen Pavilion, batting line ups decided, and set about their task. Oxford set the early pace, Louthsson and Parkinsonsson sharing a strong opening stand on a fast wicket (2.8%/500ml) before retiring injured. Dark horse Alex Vaisson continued where they left off but following his dismissal the run rate began to slow. Cambridge came back into the contest thanks to a fine innings from Safkasson, whilst the experience of previous Scandinavian tours began to show in the JOK squad. With the pressure mounting and the pitch deteriorating Oxford suffered a middle order collapse. Their openers returned to the stumps in an attempt to stem the tide, but in the end the alumni cruised to victory. Finally, a late flurry of boundaries was unable to prevent Masonsson pushing CUOC over their target with a single on the last ball of the innings, leaving Oxford in 3rd place. DrongO’s final total had to be calculated by the Duckworth-Lewis method after bad light stopped play.
We then all headed under the road for the banquet and presentations. Cambridge kindly offered to carry most of the trophies back to England as they brought them over in the first place and we didn’t have any luggage space left. The food was excellent, and the wine started flowing.
Returning to the club hut the party really got going. It was refreshing to see all four clubs getting along so well, despite the rivalries, and the number of people still on the dance floor at 3.30am is testament to the fact that we can actually be quite fun sometimes. Some people had a busy Monday ahead though so decided to Finish their night early.
As Pavlov’s dog salivates at the ringing of a bell, Orienteers have been conditioned, by the White Rose and BUCS weekend, to go running at the first sign of a hangover. The group jog served the dual purpose of getting everyone out of the hut so it could be cleaned and filling the gaps in everyone’s memories of the previous night.
The efficiency of the Swedish public transport ensured that the journey home went smoothly, as the grey drizzle of London Gatwick marked the end of yet another season of University Orienteering. Except that is for one weary traveller who found the Norwegian trains too comfortable and slipped into an unintential slumber. Failing to disembark in Oslo, the scene of an important conference that day, he continued a further 35 minutes down the line to Drammen before awaking, presumably to the sound of his ringing phone.
This may have been a long report, but the list of people to be thanked deserves to be even longer. Firstly, to OK Ravinen for letting us use their club hut, areas and maps, for letting us join in with their training and for giving lifts back after Tuesday’s session. Thanks also to all those from JOK, DrongO and Ravinen who helped plan the courses, man the start, hang controls, collect controls, and all the other jobs I’ve surely forgotten. Thank you to David Roach for the Champagne and JOK for the port, although any suggestions on removing the latter from a white shirt would be gratefully received. And of course, thanks to CUOC for ensuring we didn’t go hungry!
Finally, most importantly, thank you to Nick for organising the whole week. Same again in 2026?
BUCS 2014 - On Ilkla Moor baht map
This weekend saw OUOC make the trip to Leeds for the Best Weekend of the Year™, BUCS (or BUSA for those born in the stone age). An initial squad of 15 had dwindled to single figures due to injury, Avis car hire’s incompetence and a malfunctioning alarm clock, but nevertheless it was with quiet confidence that the Oxford convoy made its way up the M1.
Leaving behind a glorious spring day the team arrived on the north side of Ilkley Moor in typically blustery northern conditions. Faced with tough courses, well planned by local Airenteer Alistair Wood, our BUCS fresher’s Aidan Smith and Karin Sorlie led the way taking 6th and 7th place respectively. With good runs from Ben Stevens, on his home turf, and Piotr Czaban, the Men’s team finished in 4th place on the day. The women did equally well thanks to some excellent work in the Summer transfer window; our second Scandinavian import, Aini Vuorinen, finished 23rd, whilst club stalwart and Women’s captain Sophie Louth finished 40th. It was also great to see our other two BUCS debutants, Alex Vai and Oliver Robshaw, acquit themselves well in some challenging terrain.
The social on Saturday evening lived up to all expectations, and for the first time in recent BUCS history the organisers got their priorities straight and provided Beer instead of food. Kudos to LUUOC. Having finally found The Fenton we were able to conduct the traditional Boat Race where Oxford, despite wearing circa 99% of their five pints, was unable to match the Scots.
Sunday morning saw OUOC turn their weary eyes towards the relays. The men’s race has provided a great deal of excitement in recent years, and this weekend’s race was not to disappoint. Sheffield were Oxford’s biggest rivals, but their first leg runner was clearly feeling the effects of going too hard the previous night and came in a few minutes down on the leaders, including our first leg specialist Ben Stevens. Jamie Parkinson set out quickly on 2nd leg and, fresh from spending the previous day playing a girl’s sport, was able to extend the lead in a rare case of actually remembering to read his map. The Hockey player then handed over to Aidan Smith, who had taken on the responsibility of the third leg and started strongly. Realising that Oxford was going to beat Sheffield by an embarrassingly large margin Smith then decided to go walkabout in the rocks around #9. For future reference, it’s on the High Street, just opposite At Thai. This kindly allowed Sheffield to take the lead, which the Oxford man set about regaining. However almost as soon as this had happened ShUOC, aided by a shorter final gaffle, managed to get away again and take the victory by a painfully close 30 seconds. A particularly sweet win for the Men of Steel after losing out in last year's BUCS and British Relays. Sheffield’s second team also somehow snuck up into 2nd place, so it was 3rd place for the Oxford boys.
In the women’s relay it was a different story as Edinburgh’s women are actually rather good at running-quickly-whilst-not-getting-lost and, along with Durham and Sheffield, locked out the top 5 places. So it was a battle for 6th place with Cambridge. When the Tabs ran a stupidly fast first leg we were left playing catch up which Aini, Sophie and Karin did admirably well, closing the gap to less than 4 minutes by the end of the race. Nevertheless 7th place was a dramatic improvement on recent years when we haven’t even managed to field a women’s team and, along with the individual results, lifted Oxford to 3rd overall for the weekend behind just Sheffield and Edinburgh.
A fantastic weekend by all accounts, with a great combination of competitive racing and excessive socialising that bodes well for Varsity in early April. Many thanks to Leeds University Union Orienteering Club and Airenteers for organising, we’re already looking forward to next year!
7th Karin Sorlie (Women's A)
23rd Aini Vuorinen (Women's A)
40th Sophie Louth (Women's A)
6th Aidan Smith (Men's A)
10th Oliver Robshaw (Men's B)
15th Ben Stevens (Men's A)
50th Piotr Czaban (Men's A)
51st Carl Bootland (Men's A)
74th Alex Vai (Men's A)
3rd Oxford 'Posh Boys' (Ben Stevens/Jamie Parkinson/Aidan Smith)
7th 'Team Comeback' (Aini Vuorinen/Sophie Louth/Karin Sorlie)
23rd Oxford 'Plebs' (Oliver Robshaw/Carl Bootland/Piotr Czaban)
1st University of Sheffield
2nd University of Edinburgh
3rd Oxford University
4th University of Cambridge
British Relay Champions 2013
We had some great performances this weekend at the British Orienteering Championships, culminating in a fantastic win for the OUOC team of Ben Stevens, Jamie Parkinson and Peter Hodkinson on the Men's Premier Relay. The first time OUOC has won in 34 years.
Ben Stevens ran a strong first leg coming in third on the slightly longer gaffle with a time of 38:51 only 39 seconds behind the leader. Alan Cherry was also running first leg for Interl°pers, the favourites to win, but in an attempt to make up for a small error on the first control he followed a group into a parallel feature and mispunched at the third control - bad luck Alan. This left the field fairly open and OUOC in with a good chance of winning. Jamie put in a great performance on the second leg to come back in the lead 15 seconds in front of the next rival NOC in a time of 39:19. The final leg was ran by Peter, fresh from a dodge-ball tournament the day before, who put in another top run to finish 3 minutes ahead of second place rivals ShUOC, finishing in a time of 33:45 on a slightly shorter gaffle and with the fastest individual time on the men's premier relay.
On the Saturday there were some good performance in the individual championships too. On the M21 Elite course Ben Stevens came 7th in a time of 106:20 and Alan Cherry was only 21 seconds behind in 8th. Ben Crompton also did well coming 15th on the Long Difficult course. Full results from the weekend can be found here
Cuppers 2013 Results
Congratulations to Wadham who retained their title, edging Exeter by 16 seconds in a repeat of last year's close contest. In third place were Wadham's second team, who just beat Somerville by 1 second. Alan Cherry (Exeter) was the fastest round the course in 17:04, whilst Kath Nicholls (New) was the quickest lady in 25:06.
BUCS 2013 Report
23-24 February saw the BUCS orienteering competition near Sheffield, which consists of an individual race and a relay race.
On Saturday, Peter Hodkinson, 3rd year at St Anne's, won the men's individual competition at Burbage Moor. This involved 63 minutes of hard running in light snow through tough heather and marshes and some tricky navigation though boulder fields and clumps of dense woodland to bring him home nearly 2 minutes ahead of 2nd place.
On Sunday, our team of Ben Stevens - Merton, Alan Cherry - Exeter, and Peter Hodkinson - St Anne's, won the men's relay competition at Greno Woods. It was a very close race and despite each runner being out in a wood for about 30 minutes doing slightly different courses, there were only seconds in it at the finish, with Peter just managing to outrun Sheffield's last leg runner on the final hill.
This is the first time in years that anyone other than Edinburgh or Sheffield has won the men's relay or had a men's individual winner. Unfortunately we were unable to field a full women's team (of three), so we only managed to come 5th overall (men's and women's results are combined). Hopefully we can improve on this next year though!
The Oxford City race, organised by OUOC, took place on Saturday, 20th October.
Results and Planner's Comments are now availiable on the City Race page
Please familiarise yourself with the following documents as they contain important safety information:
Club Constitution (Appendix A, Appendix B), AGM minutes 2013, Code of Conduct, Risk Assessment and Varsity Match rules.
Expenses claim form: [PDF] [MS Word document]