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Every Monday, Epigram Sport runs a regular feature looking at the more obscure sports played within the university. This week we hear from the club that takes a walk in the country to a whole new level. It’s the University of Bristol Orienteering Club.

Many people seem to think orienteering is an activity undertaken only by scouts or ramblers walking up and down the countryside, learning how to use a map. What a lot of people don’t know is that it’s also a sport. A sport which is fast, technical, challenging and a lot of fun.

The aim is to navigate around a set course using a map as fast as possible. This can be done in almost any setting: forest, moorland or even around the university. If you see someone running around, clutching a map and compass, looking lost, that’s us!

IMG_6491Duncan finishing a race. These kits are what you have to look out for, they’re marked on your map

Competitions happen around the world at the elite level, but there’s always something for the beginners with courses ranging from white (easiest and under two kilometres [km]) to black (over 10km). The courses differ in length, climb and how difficult the checkpoints, known as ‘controls’, are on the map.

Orienteering can take you anywhere. Whether you’re face -in mud, waddling through a stream or struggling up a hillside, you’ll have an adventure.

Matt PondMatt wadding through a pond to get to a control. Not because he had to, but because he could!

Though a lot of people are put off by the running aspect of the sport, it is great exercise and often as a beginner you have to stop and just take a minute to plan your route, or sometimes even figure out where you are. This allows you to get your breath and adds a new dimension to the monotonous long runs which you might be used to.

The great thing for newcomers to the sport is how accessible it is. When you’re just starting out you can go as easy as you like, enjoy the view and the workout. UBOC, the University of Bristol Orienteering Club, welcome and encourage complete novices.

tim-ingie-indvdlTim and Ingie representing Bristol University at BUCS in February 2014

We’re always outside so there’s no need for a pricy sports pass and you’ll get so see all the nooks and crannies that Bristol has to offer, from Leigh Woods to Blaise Castle.

We train once a week on a Wednesday afternoon at various locations around Bristol and have a weekly ‘Pub Run’ in which we run, to a pub. Pretty simple, really! Competitions are mainly on weekends, sometimes close by, such as the Forest of Dean or the New Forest. We also organise weekends away to the bigger events further afield.

IMG_8300Everyone sporting their ‘hot of the press’ race tops designed by our new captain with the university logo

The biggest event of the orienteering year is BUCS, British University and College Sport. This year it is being hosted by the University of Edinburgh. It’s a great opportunity to meet people from other universities who enjoy the same sport as you and get together for an amazing social.

It’s not too late to sign up and it’s FREE to come try it out. Just get in contact via the Facebook Group or email us at: [email protected], and we’ll add you onto the mailing list.

Keep up to date with all the latest news as it happens via our Twitter, and see photos and blog posts on our website.

Come and get lost with us anytime!


Previous Monday sport features: 

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