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.”

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!

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.

Stirling Coaching Weekend, April 2016

Peter Molloy (M14, FVO) writes:  On the 2nd of April, the members of ScotJOS met at the edge of Gallamuir Woods near Stirling to start the incredibly muddy 500m trek to “base camp”. Throughout the afternoon we split up in our age groups and focussed on different techniques, such as bearings, precision in the circle and even control hanging.

A fun night was spent at Kinbuck Community Centre, filled with table tennis, a lot of cake and definitely not enough sleep. But do not fear, true to form a small mapping exercise in the evening was thrown in by the coaches in as well.

After a chilly wakeup call on Sunday morning, the squad set off to Polmaise Woods beside Cambusbarron. After varying exercises looking at different techniques required for different terrain conditions and leg lengths, it all came down to the big moment, the long-awaited ‘pegs means eggs’ team activity. With an area of 500 by 500 metres, getting a description of “look in the pits” was less than precise when there were more than 20 of them to choose from. But sure enough teams eventually found the pegs and set off for the chocolate rabbit (boulder, south side). This was finally discovered and the squad capped off a fun-filled weekend with a chocolate egg each!

Further thanks to Josie Stansfield and Ann Robertson for masterminding the catering, Pat Graham and Dan Gooch for minibus driving, Jane Ackland, Andrea Lines, Kate Hunter, Robin Galloway and Rona Molloy for additional transport and general support.

The ScotJOS cake stall will be making an appearance at SOL 2, Culteucher & Dron on 10th April – please come and support us!

Communications Survey Results

Even the tardiest respondent only took 19 days! I am confident that this level of response gives us a true representation of feelings about our communications at this time and allows us to draw some meaningful conclusions, and in turn implement some useful actions.

Below I’ve listed the questions with their responses and some brief comments from me. At the end I’ve put in what we intend to do to make things better.

How often do you visit the Scottish Orienteering website (or one of its sub-sites, e.g. Scottish Orienteering League sub-site)?

Hourly 0
Daily 20 (6.64%)
Weekly 94 (31.23%)
Monthly 107 (35.55%)
Yearly 34 (11.30%)
Never 14 (4.65%)
Other (please specify) 32 (10.63%)

It seems that over 95% of us visit the Scottish Orienteering website at least some of the time, with the majority of us visiting it weekly or monthly. Surprisingly, though, no one visits it hourly!

SCORE is our quarterly magazine. Do you read SCORE?

From cover to cover 131 (44.71%)
Only interesting articles 83 (28.33%)
Only particular sections 28 (9.56%)
No 51 (17.41%)

Over 80% of us read at least some of SCORE, which clearly demonstrates that it still has a very valuable part to play in our communications. However, I was really more interested in the next question:

Since SCORE is now distributed digitally are you:

More likely to read it than before 34 (11.41%)
Less likely to read it than before 105 (35.23%)
Just as likely to read it as before 108 (36.24%)
Just as likely to read it as before – I still get a paper copy 51 (17.11%)

Over 35% of us are less likely to read SCORE than previously because it is now distributed electronically. Personally, I’m surprised that this number was not higher…

We have a monthly email newsletter that is distributed via club secretaries. Do you read the monthly email newsletter?

Always 89 (30.17%)
Sometimes 142 (48.14%)
Never 64 (21.69%)

Nearly 80% of us read the monthly email newsletter at least sometimes and many of the people who never read it don’t get it! This was, I feel, the most significant finding from the whole survey.

Which social media platforms do you use?

  Hourly Daily Weekly Monthly Yearly Never Total
Facebook 25 (8.65%) 112 (38.75%) 36 (12.46%) 15 (5.19%) 6 (2.08%) 95 (32.87%) 289
Twitter 4 (1.49%) 36 (13.38%) 19 (7.06%) 25 (9.29%) 8 (2.97%) 177 (65.80%) 269
YouTube 2 (0.74%) 20 (7.41%) 60 (22.22%) 81 (30.00%) 23 (8.52%) 84 (31.11%) 270
Instagram 3 (1.15%) 9 (3.44%) 5 (1.91%) 6 (2.29%) 8 (3.05%) 231 (88.17%) 262
Pinterest 0 3 (1.13%) 7 (2.64%) 10 (3.77%) 12 (4.53%) 233 (87.92%) 265
Snapchat 4 (1.52%) 5 (1.90%) 4 (1.52%) 5 (1.90%) 1 (0.38%) 244 (92.78%) 263
Other 0 12 (8.82%) 10 (7.35%) 5 (3.68%) 1 (0.74%) 108 (79.41%) 136

A lot of numbers, so perhaps the “Never” column is most interesting here: YouTube is the most popular social media platform, with Facebook a close second, although Facebook is generally used much more frequently. Social media doesn’t seem to be incredibly widely adopted by orienteers in Scotland…

Which social media platforms do you use to follow Scottish Orienteering?

  Hourly Daily Weekly Monthly Yearly Never Total
Facebook 3 (1.11%) 19 (7.04%) 46 (17.04%) 34 (12.59%) 3 (1.11%) 165 (61.11%) 270
Twitter 2 (0.78%) 15 (5.86%) 12 (4.69%) 14 (5.47%) 1 (0.39%) 212 (82.81%) 256
YouTube 0 0 2 (0.80%) 2 (0.80%) 11 (4.40%) 235 (94.00%) 250
Instagram 0 1 (0.40%) 0 0 1 (0.40%) 248 (99.20%) 250
Pinterest 0 0 0 0 1 (0.40%) 249 (99.60%) 250
Snapchat 0 0 0 0 1 (0.40%) 249 (99.60%) 250
Other 0 3 (1.72%) 3 (1.72%) 2 (1.15%) 1 (0.57%) 165 (94.83%) 174

Facebook is the most popular platform to follow Scottish Orienteering on, followed by Twitter. This is unsurprising as we currently have virtually no presence on the others (partly because they are not so widely used).

Considering Scottish Orienteering communications as a whole, please rate your satisfaction with them currently:


Very satisfied Satisfied Quite satisfied Not satisfied Not at all satisfied Total
30 (10.20%) 117 (39.80%) 124 (42.18%) 22 (7.48%) 1 (0.34%) 294

This says to me that we are doing fine, but that we could do better.

Considering how you would like Scottish Orienteering to communicate with you in the future, please rate the importance of each area:

  Very important Important Fairly important Not important Not at all important Total
Website 193 (67.72%) 61 (21.40%) 26 (9.12%) 2 (0.70%) 3 (1.05%) 285
Paper SCORE 43 (16.35%) 69 (26.24%) 45 (17.11%) 63 (23.95%) 43 (16.35%) 263
Digital SCORE 37 (13.26%) 91 (32.62%) 81 (29.03%) 52 (18.64%) 18 (6.45%) 279
Email 94 (33.22%) 117 (41.34%) 62 (21.91%) 7 (2.47%) 3 (1.06%) 283
Facebook 25 (9.09%) 61 (22.18%) 42 (15.27%) 52 (18.91%) 95 (34.55%) 275
Twitter 11 (4.15%) 17 (6.42%) 38 (14.34%) 52 (19.62%) 147 (55.47%) 265
YouTube 1 (0.38%) 12 (4.60%) 31 (11.88%) 64 (24.52%) 153 (58.62%) 261
Instagram 0 6 (2.32%) 15 (5.79%) 52 (20.08%) 186 (71.81%) 259
Pinterest 0 1 (0.39%) 10 (3.86%) 51 (19.69%) 197 (76.06%) 259
Snapchat 0 2 (0.77%) 11 (4.23%) 50 (19.23%) 197 (75.77%) 260
Other 2 (1.38%) 0 6 (4.14%) 28 (19.31%) 109 (75.17%) 145

The website is seen to be the most important part of Scottish Orienteering communications. Both formats of SCORE have a key part to play, but we clearly need to do much more with email, with 74% of respondents feeling that this was at least ‘important’.

What topics are you most interested in? (Please select your top 3.)

Results 120 (41.52%)
Fixtures 193 (66.78%)
Event Reports 134 (46.37%)
General News 189 (65.40%)
Elite News 72 (24.91%)
Junior News 78 (26.99%)
Veterans News 44 (15.22%)
Rules 0
Scottish Orienteering League 143 (49.48%)
Scottish Orienteering Urban League 70 (24.22%)
Governance/Administration 38 (13.15%)
Sports Science 0
Coaching 82 (28.37%)
National Centre 36 (12.46%)
Other (please specify) 20 (6.92%)

Fixtures and general news of most interest, no interest at all in rules or sport science!


So, this is all very interesting, but what does it mean? Here are my thoughts:

  • The website should be the hub of our communications and as much information as possible should be available here.
  • Members should be able to read SCORE how they prefer.
  • SCORE should be easier to find on the website so people can go back to it more often.
  • It should be easier to, and more obvious that you can, sign up for a paper copy of SCORE so people can get that if they wish.
  • We need to communicate better via email.
  • People should be able to sign up to email updates easily.
  • We should continue to engage via social media.
  • Twitter is particularly good for in the field updates.
  • We should utilise YouTube more, by creating and posting interesting videos.

We have done/will be doing a few key actions to take things forward. Virtually all content will be going onto the website. You will be able to get SCORE however you prefer, and we will make it obvious this is your choice. We will be greatly improving the email newsletter – look out for that soon. We will continue to update Facebook and Twitter, and we will be actively looking to produce more video content – so if you’re interested in that, let me know!

I feel we only need these relatively few, relatively small, changes to make our communications great; I hope you’ll agree, but I would of course be interested in any thoughts you have. Remember too, we all have the ability to take a cool photo or interesting video, so don’t be afraid to get your phone out and communicate!

Ross McLennan SOA Marketing & Communications Director

Clean sweep of trophies for EUOC at BUCS

The University of Bristol hosted this year's British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Orienteering Championships in the Forest of Dean over the weekend 20th/21st February, with over 200 athletes representing 29 Universities in the individual and relay competitions.  

Sasha Chepelin (EUOC) won the Mens’ A race in 58:52 for the 10.5km course with 415m climb, and Charlotte Watson (EUOC) won the Women’s A race in 54:05 for the 7.4km course with a climb of 265m.  EUOC Legends won the Men’s Relay (Stansfield/Barr/Chepelin) and EUOC Legendesses won the Women’s Relay (Reynolds/Zoe Harding/Watson).  This, of course, led to the club winning the overall trophy, with Sheffield 2nd and Oxford 3rd.  Other Scottish universities in the championships were Heriot-Watt (9th), Strathclyde (13th), Glasgow (17th) and Aberdeen (21st).  Full results are on the Bristol Orienteering Club website.

This is not the first time that EUOC has made a clean sweep of trophies at the BUCS Championships, but Head of Performance Orienteering at Edinburgh University, Mark Nixon, said, “It’s been a fantastic weekend with strong performances across the board. Our girls dealt with the pressure of being favourites excellently and dominated the results as expected. Our young guys excelled to get the golds ahead of a very strong Sheffield team. I wouldn’t have predicted us taking home all four golds. It’s an awesome set of results.”

With ScotJOS winning the 2015 Junior Home International, and SEDS winning the 2015 Senior Home International and very strong performances at the World Championships last August from alumni of ScotJOS, EUOC and SEDS, it is clear that at the Junior and Senior performance levels of the sport, orienteering is extremely strong in Scotland.

The individual races to complete the 2015 Scottish Universities Orienteering Championships will take place at SOL1 at Elibank on 6th March.

Support for EUOC athletes through the sportscotland Winning Students scheme is gratefully acknowledged.

ScotJOS: call for volunteers to support the squad

Below are the available roles. As Manager/Lead Coach I will plan the overall programme and co-ordinate all the admin; Marjorie Mason will continue to act as Treasurer.

Brief outline of roles

Licensed coach: coaching qualification (BOF L2,3,4 or UKCC L2,3), current relevant First Aid and CPD Log-book, capable of planning and leading coaching activities in line with annual coaching plan.

Qualified coach: coaching qualification (BOF L2,3,4 or UKCC L1,2,3), capable of coaching the exercises planned.

Athlete mentors: may be ScotJOS ‘graduates’ or anyone with personal experience of the development and improvement in performance necessary to compete at national and international level. May have coaching qualification but not necessary; may also act as…

Control hangers: only requirement is to be able to hang controls accurately (especially if volunteering for Sweden camp)!

For anyone interested in becoming a coach or gaining a higher level of qualification, volunteering to support ScotJOS would be an ideal opportunity to gain experience. There is NO expectation that you will have to be available for every ScotJOS activity. These are voluntary roles though reasonable expenses could be reimbursed. PVG scheme registration is required though not a pre-requisite.

Check the ScotJOS 2016 programme. If you’d like to be involved with the summer camp (9th-19th July, Sweden) please get in touch as soon as possible via email to express an interest, enquire or volunteer!

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Orienteering Techniques by Gareth Bryan-Jones

This edition was fully updated in 2006, and further improved in 2012 and re-printed in 2015.  It is full of excellent colour diagram and maps – a must for orienteers of all standards from beginner to elite. Many of us refer to it time after time, year after year…

Copies are available from:
The National Orienteering Centre, Glenmore Lodge, Aviemore, Inverness-shire PH22 1QZ £6.00 plus £1.25 post & packing, cheques payable to ‘Scottish Orienteering Association’.

It is also available from various volunteer “sales reps” at local events and from Compass Point.