Orienteering heads in new direction with events in Oxford

The Oxford Times: Blanka Collis prepares to get navigating at a checkpoint Buy this photo » Blanka Collis prepares to get navigating at a checkpoint

THINK of orienteering and you may have images of pensioners in woolly jumpers and anoraks clutching maps and compasses.

But a county club is hoping to dispel that stereotype with its first programme of activities in Oxford’s parks.

The sport is growing and is often populated by lycra-clad fitness fanatics who dash between markers.

The first Thames Valley Orienteering Club event is at Cutteslowe Park, North Oxford, on Saturday from 10am to 11.30pm.

Participants will be given a course map with control points, which they must visit in order.

The challenge is to choose a route between each marker and their time is then marked with an electronic chip when they find it.

The club has more than 200 members, mostly from the Oxford area with weekly meetings on Sunday mornings.

It organises about 25 annual events from those with 150 competitors to others with 1,000 runners.

Among those set to take part is club member Blanka Collis, 30, who takes daughter Emma, one, to events.

Mrs Collis, of Osberton Road, Summertown, has been a fan since 1996 and even met husband Mark, 36, through the Cambridge University orienteering club.

She said: “It is good way of keeping fit and for me it is also more interesting than just jogging. It is an extra mental challenge. Sometimes people think it’s like treasure hunting. They say: ‘I did that at school once-upon-a-time’ but it’s a running sport for all the family.”

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Club spokesman Mike Shires said: “Orienteering can either be a race, or a casual recreational activity, depending on your own attitude towards the event.

“Orienteering really is a sport for all. Our events attract keen runners as well as plenty of families looking for an adventurous walk in the countryside. Kids love the buzz finding the controls and you can progress around your chosen course at your own pace.”

The events will run from 10am to 11.30am and are £5 for adults and £2 for children and students.

Other events will be held at University Parks, Parks Road, Oxford, on Saturday, January 11, and at Shotover Country Park, Old Road on Saturday, February 15.

s For information visit tvoc.org.uk or email publicity@tvoc.org.uk


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