Pairing Up At The Big Weekend 

The idea of competitive pairs was mooted last year and we were delighted when Edinburgh University readily agreed to trial the concept at their Big Weekend. So why would anyone be interested in running in a competitive pair? It turns out there are lots of reasons!

KFO promoted the idea of competitive pairs fairly heavily to their members. That meant the club had six pairs taking part over the weekend. There were three combinations running: couples running together; a mother-son combo which allowed a junior to do the longer night event on Friday; and coach-learners. Both KFO coaches ran with a member who is progressing up towards TD5. Coach Matthew ran with Oscar on Arthur’s Seat. Oscar has been tackling Light Green, but they did Blue together in Edinburgh. Matthew says:

 “We didn’t run it like a training exercise. We ran together, making decisions after a brief discussion. The hope was that I am a stronger navigator and Oscar is a fast runner to keep the pace up. It was a great experience.” 

In the end the sheer quantity of path junctions probably slowed a discursive pair down. But this is well worth it for an entertaining day out for a coach and a runner. Oscar adds:

 “Running with Matt was great as it gave me the opportunity to see how an experienced orienteer makes decisions to choose the best route for each control, and I also picked up a lot of tips for future events.”

Matthew and Oscar after their run

For Fran Loots TAY and Jan Kersel ECKO there was a different motivation as Fran reports:

“I don’t do urban – it generally hurts my body and Jan doesn’t do night orienteering but when given the chance to go out in a pair to Fight With The Night at the Big Weekend meant both me and Jan gave it a go. We were both nervous on the start line. When I picked up my map the differences between urban and the forest map hit me. It was such a relief to be with Jan who is much more conversant with urban maps and quickly picked up the route to the first control. Whilst I could work out how to get to the second control, understanding where it was in the circle was another challenge, but again Jan could work that out. One set of skills complimenting the other. Jan also remembered crucial details shared on the starting line about scaffolding – which would have stumped me if I had been on my own. I thoroughly enjoyed it too. Neither of us would likely have entered normally but the pairs format had an appeal to us both. Would we do it again? A resounding yes from both of us!”

Jan’s comment on finishing summed it up:

“Well that was fun! I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m really buzzed up from doing that!”

Night Event at Stuart Melville (Picture Credit: EUOC) 

For David and Calum Robertson ESOC, it provided an opportunity to run as Father and Son. As David reports:

“I had to enter as a pair so Calum could run the Fight With the Night Short course. I normally have to shadow him as he is 13. He wanted to do the short course, and not the Junior course because he is leading the Short league and wanted the points. I say running together but in reality I was just trying to keep him in sight for road crossings and concentrating on breathing. Roll on his 16th birthday!”

As an added bonus for Calum he started at the same time as Yannick Michaels on Friday night. He met Yannick at Sprint Scotland in 2019 and was his favourite then.

Last time Calum met Yannick Michaels in 2019- He is up to his shoulders now!

We also spoke to Fiona Bunn and Eilidh Campbell the event organisers about how they found having pairs at the event:

“Paired entries were particularly encouraging for juniors (we had a whole scout group entering in pairs) and those who were newer to orienteering, overall probably increasing participation in groups who would otherwise be put off by being thrown in at the deep end on their own! We also had some juniors entering the urban races in a pair with their parent/guardian to allow them to run up on a harder course, so it catered to a range of different target markets!”

We also asked Fiona and Eilidh if they would encourage organisers to trial pairs at their events: 

“Definitely yes! Once we had worked out the complexities of adding the option to the entry system it seemed to work quite easily on the day, with pairs taking a map each but running with a single SI card.  For larger events/if the option becomes used more widely then there are some issues with what to do about league results/ranking points etc, so this may need to be considered carefully (e.g. we only allowed pairs on the Open courses rather than the age group courses in the City Race to avoid the issue of affecting SOUL league results).”

Thankyou to Fiona and Eilidh for organising a great weekend (Picture Credit: EUOC)

A big thank you to Edinburgh University Orienteering Club for allowing us to trial pairs at their event. We are looking to continue trialling pairs at events. If you’re interested in having pairs at your event please do not hesitate to get in touch.