Month: May 2016

Staff Changes at Scottish Orienteering

In recent years, all areas of our work – governance, development, events, education, communications, member services, performance and so on – have been expanding and demanding increasingly specific skills for their delivery. Although we have valuable volunteer contributions in some areas, notably events, performance and coaching, in order to continue to progress in other areas we are reorganising our staff in alignment with our Strategy 2016-2020. The simplest way to illustrate the reorganisation is with this table:

Pre-2016 Staffing2016 Staffing
Professional Officer (Colin Matheson)Chief Operating Officer (Stefanie Lauer)
National Development Officer (Hilary Quick)Events Manager (Colin Matheson)
Development Officer Moray (Mike Rodgers)*Education Manager (Hilary Quick)
Development Officer Highland (Johannes Petersen)*Regional Development Officer North Scotland*
Development Officer Deeside (Sarah Dunn)*Regional Development Officer South Scotland*
Development Officer Tayside (Mel Nicoll)*Administrative Assistant (Sarah Hobbs)
*Contracts run to Autumn 2016*To be appointed over Summer 2016

Key points to note are that as of end May 2016 the post of Professional Officer and National Development Officer will no longer exist. Colin Matheson becomes Events Manager and will focus on all aspects of events and development related to events; Hilary Quick becomes Education Manager and will focus on delivering volunteer and coach education and Teaching Orienteering courses.

Stef LauerStefanie Lauer joins us on 30th May as Chief Operating Officer based at the Scottish National Orienteering Centre in charge of all aspects of governance and planning.

Sarah HobbsSarah Hobbs, also based at the Centre, joined us in February to assist Stefanie but in addition focus on communications and member services. Members will have been receiving emails from Sarah already.

Later in the Summer there will be a transition from four development officers dedicated to northern clubs to two Regional Development Officers providing coverage for the whole of Scotland. These two new officers will pursue some SOA priorities but also be in touch with all clubs in due course to explain and offer their services.

Job descriptions and contact details on the Contacts page

President’s medal 2016

Firstly, a few words about Richard’s athletic achievements. He is rather modest about these achievements, but was obviously a very good orienteer in his heyday. He was M35 SOL Winner, although with typical modesty he puts that down to the fact that Messrs Dean/Tullie/Petrie/Daly & Coombs had all just moved up to M40. He has also completed the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District and won a few mountain marathon prizes. So, hardly insignificant achievements.

Richard has filled a number of very important organisational roles over the 20 years he has been a member of SOA. In that time he has:

Acted as a Grade A Controller, including Assistant Controller at Affric 1999 when the WOC Long Distance Final was held. Regularly had a position of responsibility at S6D Events, including Planner in 2007, Coordinator in 2011 and Controller in 2013
Planned, organised and controlled several SOLs and Relays over the years.

However, I am awarding Richard the President’s Medal this year because of the role he played in the very successful Highland 2015, when he was overall Coordinator of the S6D element. Although he had been the Coordinator before, in 2011, we all know that 2015 was an exceptional year with major challenges presented by the integration of the 6-Days Events with the World Championship races.

One of the stand-out moments for me as far as Richard’s contribution is concerned was at a meeting of the fledgling Highland 2015 Steering Group in 2013. We were struggling with how to move forward an integrated project – a joint venture. It was at this meeting that Richard led us carefully and calmly, using the good old flip chart and marker, to a joint venture approach with designated S6D and WOC responsibilities but an integrated programme and, importantly, an integrated budget. In Richard’s own words:

I drew on my experience (at BP and since then) working with/ facilitating large project teams in industry to make good decisions and turn them into effective plans with clear accountability. This usually involves groups of strong minded individuals who have to be aligned so they don't run off and do their own thing. Over the years I've also spent a lot of time leading technical, strategy and business planning teams so learned a lot about the root causes of poor performance/ delivery – usually through bitter experience!

The other stand-out moment was the near-disaster on Day 6 when very wet fields raised serious problems for parking. Again in Richard’s words:

We had a few logistical challenges. Running a major sporting event in a Highland Glen at the end of an 8km single track with no communications isn’t easy. We would like to thank the volunteers who stepped in to help at the last minute. And we would like to apologise to anyone who was delayed by traffic or had to walk further than expected. Hopefully being able to run in unique world class terrain made it worthwhile.

In talking to Richard about this award, I know that he would be the first to acknowledge the support he has had from the many volunteers who came forward to help at Highland 2015. He considers the award to be as much an acknowledgement of their support as it is of his leadership

Richard, I’m delighted to award you the SOA President’s Medal for 2016.

Hollie Orr is putting Scotland on the map

This is the text of the interview with “The National”, a Scottish newspaper, on May 21st 2016. It is replicated here as the original webpage my not be available to all. But they own the copyright of it.

THE strength of orienteering in Britain is a well-kept secret and it is another little-known fact that Scotland has a world-class orienteer as a mainstay of the British team.

Hollie Orr is ranked No 31 in the world and has made a good start to the 2016 season, claiming a top-20 finish at the first World Cup event of the year in Poland last month, which has set her up nicely for the European Championships in the Czech Republic next week.

The 27-year-old says that admits that taking19th place in the World Cup event was a timely confidence boost, and even more encouraging is the room for improvement.

She said: “I didn’t race very well but still finished 19th, which is a positive sign because in previous years, if I’d had that kind of race, I would have been a lot lower down the field.

“That’s a big confidence boost going into the Europeans so I’m looking forward to it.

“I’m as fit as I’ve ever been, which is always a good starting point. So much can happen in this sport, though – there are both physical and technical aspects, so it’s always tricky to set specific targets. I’m aiming to just focus on my own performance and have a good race.”

Orr, who is a mechanical engineer, ’s has made significant strides forward in recent months, after moving to Norway. She is a mechanical engineer and so combines her work with her sport, something she says is much easier to do there than it was in the UK.

“Orienteering is pretty big in Norway. Last year’s World Championships were broadcast live on national television and the percentage of the population who are involved in the sport is much higher than in the UK,” Orr said.

“The main benefit for me is that the club I’m at has a really good set-up. I do a lot more technical work and that’s been really good because in the UK, it can often be tricky to get the technical training and much easier to just focus on the running side of things.”

One of the challenges with orienteering is that so little of a race is within the athlete’s control.

They turn up at an event and will have no idea where they will be racing. They get on a bus and are dropped off at the start line, meaning the potential for meticulous preparation is limited.

Many elite athletes would be a struggle to cope, but for Orr, the unpredictability of orienteering is one of the main attractions.

“There’s only so much preparation you can do because there are a lot of unknowns, but that’s something that really appeals to me,” she says. “It’s different every time, so you need to have an adaptable set of skills and that’s what makes it exciting.

“You could be on sand dunes or in the Highlands of Scotland and I really like that. I think in life you need different challenges to keep it interesting.”

Orr was introduced to orienteering by family friends when she was a child. In her sport, which places as much importance on the mental aspect as it does on the physical, experience counts for a lot. While she admits that it can be a frustrating discipline, it is the potential for improvement that keeps her motivated.

“The big difference between orienteering and running is that with running, you only see marginal gains whereas with orienteering, you can see what you should have done differently and you know what to change the next time,” she said. “When you make a mistake, it’s so apparent. In the heat of the moment, when you’re under pressure and you’ve got so much adrenaline, you can think that the map matches the ground and so you keep going and then all of a sudden, you realise that it doesn’t.

“That’s the biggest challenge when you’re coming up through the sport because it can be easy to go a bit crazy and get completely lost.”

The year ahead looks promising for Orr. Her primary target is the World Championships in August and with the strength in depth of the British team improving all the time, the Scot is excited about the future.

“I feel like I can keep improving,” she says. “I see new challenges all the time and it’s a really exciting time for the sport. There’s a really good group of girls in the British team and so there’s a lot of excitement around the sport, especially the relays where we’re looking to get into the medals.”

Scottish Championships, Relay


Organiser: Richard Oxlade (GRAMP)
Planner:   Ali Robertson (GRAMP)
Controller: Donald Grassie (Moravian)

Note on Control 237 (Course A)

This control, which was used on all variants of the A courses (but not any other course), failed in the forest and did not register any punches.  The Controller has agreed that it should be removed from the courses and from the course results, and all A course runners have been re-instated.  Fortunately, the failure had no material impact on the result of the competition.

Note on Junior 44- Results

Two teams (119 and 143) finished on the same cumulative team time (1:21:57).  There was an exciting sprint finish between the two last leg runners.  Mairi Weir of Moravian crossed the finish line just ahead of Mairi Eades from Interlopers.  Therefore team 119 (MOR Simply MORvellous) are placed third in the class, and team 143 (INT Team CompassPoint E) are placed fourth.  We apologise that this correct ordering was not made clear at the prizegiving.  Well done to both teams 119 and 143, who were both given prizes.

General Information


Entry fees will be £36 for classes 1-6 and £18  for Junior classes 7-8.

Club captains should email entries to Richard Oxlade at: You will be sent bank details to make an online payment. Entry enquiries should be sent to Richard Oxlade at the same email address

The closing date for pre-entries was Sunday 8th May.  Late entries may be possible, contact the Organiser.  Also, see info below on Ad Hoc relay teams.

In the event of cancellation, the organising team reserves the right to retain all or part of the entry fees to cover any costs associated with the event.

Relay Declaration forms can be submitted at enquiries in the Event Arena up until 5pm on the Saturday. They can also be sent in ahead of time with entries (this will be much appreciated as it will help the entries team).

The EMIT timing system will be used

Collection of Relay team bags (bibs, EMIT brikkes) will be possible from 9.00am on the day of the event. Please note that you will need to supply your own safety pins.

Ad Hoc Relay teams (New) – information for individual competitors who would like to run:

We know that it's difficult for some clubs to put relay teams together and that, having travelled so far north, many orienteers would like to compete on both days.

If you would like to run and haven't been entered in a team please email with your name, class, course preference (A/B/C/D) and contact details (mobile phone number). We will print a few spare course maps and will do our best to put together Ad Hoc teams on the Saturday afternoon at Relay Registration; this will be open from 1500-1700 on Saturday after the Individual race. We will compile Ad Hoc team sheets and recommend that you come to registration on Saturday as soon as possible after 1500 to see what's available.

Costs will be £12 per person for adults and £6 per person for juniors (whatever class). Please pay with cash/ cheque on the day.

Competition Information


The Balmoral map covers an extensive area on the Royal Estate. This is the second occasion that Her Majesty the Queen has allowed us to use the forest for orienteering. The underlying terrain is typical of the Scottish Highlands, but has been managed by the estate for recreational rather than commercial purposes. Consequently, it is very runnable, though hilly, with a sparse path network and plentiful contour and rock detail.

The competition area does include some estate roads and you may encounter a very small amount of traffic during the competition.

The estate will be open to the public during the competition. Please be considerate of the general public, estate staff and other competitors in all areas.


Surveyed by Deeside Orienteering and Leisure Maps based on Lidar data and photogrammetric plot over spring / summer 2014 to ISOM 2000 standard.

The maps will be A4 in size and printed on waterproof paper. Map scale 1:10,000 for all courses.


Course lengths and climb will be:

A Courses –  5.2km (245m climb)
B Courses – 3.9km (185m climb)
C Courses – 3.5km (145m climb)
D Courses – 2.7km (120m climb)
Light Green – 2.9km (125m climb)
Orange – 2.7km (120m climb)
Yellow – 2.1km (60m climb)

Note that all the above course lengths include a 400m run-out, from the changeover point to the start triangle, which is common to all courses.


ClassCourses to be run
1. Men's OpenAAA
2. age-class: 8+ pointABC
3. age-class: 11+ point / Women's OpenBCC
4. age-class: 14+ pointBDC
5. age-class: 17+ pointCDC
6. age-class: 20+ pointDDC
7. Junior: Total BOF age 44-LGOLG
8. Junior: Total BOF age 36-YYO

Please take note of the SOA relevant rules & guidelines for the Scottish Relay Championships when entering teams:

  • Any team shall be competitive in any class, however to be eligible to be Scottish Champions, teams shall comprise three members of the same Scottish club or a neighbouring club “alliance” of neighbouring clubs.  Teams comprising competitors of inappropriate age or gender shall not be eligible to become Scottish Champions.  Other course winners should be acknowledged, but will not be designated Scottish Champions.
  • Competitors may run more than once, however only the team of the first run can be eligible to be Scottish Champion.
  • Teams eligible for Men’s Open, Women’s Open or Junior Competitions are not also eligible for the Age-Class Competition.
  • Courses A, B, C and D are TD5 with an estimated winning time of 35mins for good M21, W21, M60 and W60 respectively; LG, O and Y correspond to the colour coded system.
  • Team captains are encouraged to ensure club members run appropriate length courses, even of this means they are not able to become Scottish Champions.
  • Alliances of neighbouring clubs may enter teams at the competition convenor’s discretion. The spirit of this is to allow as many people as possible to take part, not to encourage the formation of especially strong teams. Any combination team which appears much stronger than their likely competition will not be accepted.
  • Typically, two neighbouring clubs will be allowed to compete as an “alliance” if one or both have insufficient competitors at the event to make a full team. The neighbouring clubs alliance at the Scottish Relays applies to all classes not just the open and may include, e.g. only one or two juniors in a club with many adults. The concept of “neighbouring” will be interpreted flexibly for particularly far-travelled clubs.

Start Information

Junior classes BOF 36- and 44- will start at 10.30am, with call up 15 minutes before, at 10.15am.

All senior classes will start at 10.45am, with call up 15 minutes before, at 10.30am.

Mini-mass start(s) will happen at appropriate times if necessary.

Courses will close at 3.00pm.


Download will be in the event arena next to the finish.

Prize giving

This will take place as soon as possible after the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place runners have finished. If you’re club is a 2015 trophy holder please could you return the trophy to enquires on the Individual Day.

Volunteers’ Weekend 13-15 May

Activities started with a swim in Loch Morlich, and ended with an enjoyable team orienteering challenge on an area of open hillside just below the Cairngorm ski slopes.  In between, folk learnt about various topics including course planning, fundraising, use of social media, Condes, how to identify and nurture talented youngsters, and discussed a wide range of topics.  We also made new friends and revived old friendships, always a joy.

The quiz around topics covered at the weekend was won by Smarty McSmugpants Davie Frame (TAY), with Alan Halliday (MOR) in close second place, while Stuart Anderson (GRAMP) took the honours in the quiz based on articles in recent issues of CompassSport.  In as much as the team score event on Sunday afternoon was a race, it was won by the team of Mehmet, Elaine and Andrew.  Details of control sequences and times for all teams are downloadable below, along with answers to the quizzes and other challenges.  Thanks to CompassPoint and CompassSport for prizes donated.

Session notes and other stuff are below for download.  Grateful thanks to all tutors, facilitators etc., and to enthusiastic participants.  Without all of you, it would be somewhat meaningless!

GB Junior selections, summer 2016

European Youth Orienteering Championships in Poland June 30th – July 3rd

W16 Grace Molloy (FVO)

M16 Jake Chapman (MAROC)

W18 Emma Wilson (CLYDE)

M18 Alex Carcas (INT)

Junior World Orienteering Championships in Switzerland 9th-15th July

Alexander Chepelin (EUOC)

Daniel Stansfield (FVO and EUOC)

Jenny Ricketts (MAROC and EUOC)

Junior European Cup being held in Scotland 30th Sept – 2nd Oct

All of the above are also provisionally selected to represent Great Britain at the Junior European Cup.

SOA Appoints Chief Operating Officer

She is currently working with Speyside Wildlife and Wild Scotland and will start work with us on 30th May. She will be SOA’s senior administrative officer with responsibility for governance and the implementation of our new Strategy.

We also recruited Sarah Hobbs to the position of Administrative Assistant, also based at the National Orienteering Centre. Sarah started work with SOA in February and has already made great progress on various aspects of communications with members and with membership services. Among many other experiences, Sarah has travelled widely, speaks several languages and works with the Cairngorm reindeer herd.

These appointments are part of the move from the staff complement we have had in recent years to implement the new staffing structure explained in the booklet for the 2016 AGM.