Welcome to the Cambridge University Orienteering Club (CUOC) website.
If you're looking for a list of upcoming training sessions and races - see the calendar. Beginners always welcome.
For more information about the sport and the club see the about section or email the captain with any questions.
Thetford forest has been much maligned by CUOCers over the years. This article will extend that rich heritage. Common descriptions of the forest include "substandard, "sordid", and "soul-destroying". And that's just the PC section of the adjectives listed under "S". Nonetheless, there's sod all else to do, so we went there to get better at the thing that we do. Fortunately, it was a beautiful spring day in East Anglia, sun beaming but not unpleasantly hot, so spirits were high as Luke, Aidan and James set off from the car, which had been parked in the wrong place thanks to the same navigational skills that were about to get savagely exposed.
Luke had planned 4 'short' (this turned out to be a barefaced lie) loops, starting from the furthest possible corner of the forest from where we had parked. This actually wasn't as bad of an idea as it sounds, because it meant we only had to go through the forest one way. Many controls were found, many more were missed, but as is the beauty of flag-free training, several mispunches were left entirely unidentified until the post-training analysis. Most of these disqualifying offences were provided by James, who thought he was orienteering okay, but wasn't. Aidan meanwhile was having a somewhat more competent time of it, although also MP'd at least once, while Luke split the difference in ability, placing him at a solid 4/10.
Everyone spent a lot of time faffing around in the vague, vapid white forest, with a few moments' respite in the vile green (that's the "V" section). So much time was lost to mistakes and mispunches that the map apparently got further and further out of date as the training proceeded, with the initial "oh where's that path gone?" developing into more complex cartographical discrepancies, like "oh where's that entire block of forest gone?" and, by then final loop "oh, why is that formerly runnable forest now the arboreal equivalent of a concrete wall?". The indisputable highlight of the map, however, was saved for near the end. A single holly bush of relatively unremarkable stature, but mapped as a distinctive tree, in a clearing, surrounded by a different colour of forest, with a distinctive vegetation boundary around it. Thetfore is bare of features, but that's a whole new level of excitement. On arrival, Aidan expressed his desire to hire that bush's hypeman, while James asked "is this the right place?", and Luke said nothing, because he hadn't caught up yet.
By the end, much knowledge had been acquired by all, although mostly about Aidan's suboptimal nutritional state. Discovering a rather bored housemate back at the car, we made a hasty retreat to the comfort of Cambridge. Unfortunately, though, not before it was insisted upon that photographic documentation be made of the matching, and frankly unacceptable, new CUOC shirts. Such evidence is, against my better judgement, presented adjacently. We're sorry.
This weekend marked the first orienteering action by current CUOC members (as far as I know) for *checks notes* a very long time.
On Saturday, Nottingham beckoned. Ranking among the top 7 nondescript midlands cities, Nottingham impressed with it's railway station architecture and multi-modal public transport system. Aidan took the tram because he likes that sort of thing, while James had brought his bike all the way from Cambridge in a moment of inspired penny-pinching. In spite of it's infrastructural diversity, Nottingham's cycle paths proved the faster route to the area - Clifton campus. On arrival, we both remarked on the same start list we had been gawping at all week, in much the same manner. Still stacked. Yikes. The race itself was a technical campus sprint - nothing impossible, but plenty of finicky routechoices and chances to throw away tens of seconds. In the end, Aidan came 8th in 15:30, with James 49 seconds and two places back. On the way back, James snuck onto an early train for which he didn't have a bike booking, but managed to evade the watchful eye of any veloskeptic train guards. Aidan, for once, was slower, but as far as I know also made it home uneventfully.
On Sunday, TVOC put on an ewent at Bradenham, site of BUCS individual 2018, where then-captain Fiona Bunn had taken a handy silver in CUOC colours. As it turns out, Fiona is something of a local celebrity in the South Central region, appearing not once, not twice, but (at least) six times on the junior squad poster hung proudly in the assembly area. We are assured that SCJS has some other notable alumni, maybe they're just photo shy?
Today's CUOC representation was somewhat less decorated on the international (okay and national... and regional... and local) stage than it had been 3 years earlier. But James and Luke had high hopes for a post-lockdown renaissance of orienteering ability. They were wrong. James was dispossessed of his clean run on the way to the first control, drifting right through some surprisingly unpleasant skog to lose a minute or so. Luke is twice as good at orienteering as James, so he [CENSORED] it up at number two instead. Little joy was to be found for either from then on, each limping home far from gruntled to finish 12th and 7th respectively. A rather quiet drive home followed, punctuated briefly by a further navigational blunder on the M25, leading to a quick visit to Hemel Hempstead (birthplace of Harry Winks, don't you know) before the mournful silence could resume.
The return of orienteering is of course welcome, but CUOC are especially encouraged by the familiar embrace of bang average runs all round, and look forward to continuing in this vein throughout the delayed season.
CUOC News. It's been hard to come by of late. Recent lowlights have included an email from our loyal captains announcing the return of their emails and the eventually successful quest to bestow upon our fine members the gift of BOF registration. There was also a stash delivery of shockingly revealing mesh o-tops, the date of which is now lost to the mists of time. The flatlining of the intrigue meter has reportedly caused concern amongst the inhabitants of Thetford Forest, who's beloved locale is at risk of losing its status as the most boring thing to happen to Cambridgeshire orienteering. But on this auspicious day in late February, amidst the seemingly endless abyss of newslessness, there occurred an ewent of seismic consequence.
Two former captains of this fine society, tragically separated by geography, circumstance, and orienteering ability, were reunited by a chance encounter in cyberspace. James is relatively new to the virtual orienteering domain, but sullies online decorum by carrying himself with the arrogant air of a bone fide cybernavigational legend, as evidenced by his writing of this very post. Such arrogance belies a man who feels compelled to make up for piss poor results in real forests with computerised glory. Paul, meanwhile, is a more experienced catcher of features, although he refuses to accept the legitimacy of the game as a true analogue for 'IRL racing'. (We'll see about that come August, Pruzina). The record hiterto is clear, both on- and off-line. Paul: many, James: none.
What then, I hear you cry, is the purpose of this article. Well, dear reader, it is to impart upon you the tale of a fine Catching Features race, some say the finest there ever was, planned by Tomas Lima on the 32-bit representation of Osso da Baleia, a fine Portuguese area in which the sandy paths are "usually slower". Twas a crisp, albeit fictional, summer's day, the Iberian air pierced only by the distant cries of anguish from those CF men and women foolish enough to incur the traditional 10 second penalty for running headfirst into a tree. I made a rapid start, taking a joint-fastest split of just 15 in-game seconds to reach the first control, applying the time-proven method of 'straight is great (and don't bother with the nav)'. Bergman would be proud. Moments of hesitation to controls 2 and 3 through the speedy skog left me slightly off the pace, but then a series of trickier controls caused our fondly-remembered fluid-dynamicist to err this way, that way, forwards and backwards, ultimately avoiding an aquatic return to his motherland by no more than mere good fortune. Perhaps this luck was in fact induced by his careful selection of an Irish flag to accompany his avatar on the online results lists.
Emerging no fewer than 90 seconds behind James at the halfway mark, the scene was clearly set for an Ackland upset. With his hopes of clawing back the lead disappearing in a puff of dust not unlike the virtual Portuguese sand behind his computer-generated legs, soon-to-be-Dr. Pruzina (presumably) sank to his knees in despair, as he conceded a further series of slower losing splits, the humiliation culminating in a loss on the run in. Losing to a 2:36 man on the sprint finish. Let that sink in. Of course, such despair in the final throes of a race is not unfamiliar to our vanquished former captain, who will no doubt remember this race no more fondly than the JK relays in 2019, in which he suffered a devastating 'Pippa Carcas-ing' in front of a throng of delighted Interlopers, EUOCers, and probably some OUOC folks too.
Where next, then, for Paul, having been sunk in such brutal style? Well, when informed of his demise in a post-race interview, he simply replied 'oh yeah', cutting as dejected a figure as is possible to represent in text form, before slinking off into the recesses of Facebook messenger. 'Active 1 hour ago' - the online equivalent of a hasty return to the car park. CUOC wish him well in turning around his fortunes after this defeat, although we won't be surprised if this catastrophe is the beginning of the end for an illustrious Catching Features career - perhaps a hook on the wall beckons for Paul's pixelated boots.
Older news is available on the news page