^^^Was sooo good.
Geoff Ellis has written up a piece for the RAFO magazine:
"UBOC (University of Bristol Orienteering Club) took advantage of the Make Sundays Special initiative being run by Bristol Council. In and around the Bristol Old City roads were closed off on Sunday to permit a safer environment for activities. The activities on offer ranged from the sedate, chess and bowls, to the challenging, climbing, as well as a number of food and craft stalls. UBOC saw an opportunity to make use of this area of Bristol (That I last visited (for the event social) when UBOC hosted BUCS, which also included the CS fixture) to host a safer urban sprint that could reach out to orienteers, university freshers, as well as the general public.
UBOC are a small club with limited resource; they only have 10 SI controls. The also had the (much cheaper) SI control cards which take the form of a flat half-sized credit card on a lanyard. These have limited capacity, but are an excellent alternative to the more expensive dibbers, and good for getting people going. They work with the usual SI boxes without any impact on dibbers. Because of the limited SI boxes the planner, Duncan Birtwistle, had made use of old fashioned pin punches as well. Rather than carrying a dibber and control card Duncan had put control boxes on the map; he was most thoughtful here and had bright red bold numbers for where you needed to dib, and water-marked numbers where you needed to punch. This was an excellent solution to a limited resource problem which proved to be competitor friendly as well.
Having recently joined BOK as my open civilian club (I was a member of BOK previously when I was at school with KSODA) I had received a nice email from Duncan in the week letting me know about the event. I have been a little shy on events recently and was keen to get out and do some Sprint-O as well. This event provided an excellent opportunity (especially as I needed to visit Ikea and could tie the 2 together as one trip). I had also run on courses that had been planned by Duncan previously and knew I would get a quality experience. I was not disappointed.
Wow, what a start. I was the 3rd person to start and had seen both previous runners go right out of the start. A look at the map and I chose straight on. PRA shows that the routes were equidistant (although mine might have been 0.5mm (2m) shorter!), but I was able to flow through 1 onto 2 rather than doing an about turn. At speed I missed the side of building for 3 and that cost me a few seconds; I was trying hard to run the diagonals and had not focussed on the circle. 4 was the centre of the butterfly (an SI box) and I knew my exit from 4 before getting there. The pin punching on the map was upsetting me; I was out of practice with pin punching and having them on the map caused me to dis-orientate my map going into the controls. The solution was to know my exits and flow through the pin-punch, re-orientating the map as I approached my beacon from the exit. I started to get into a better flow. Hard running took me too the edge and I hit a cross-roads without a fence and had to have a pause for though before realising I had stopped 12m short and needed to cross the cross-roads. Composure to #18 saw me spot the ginnel on the shortest route, whilst the need to exploit the control descriptions for #19 and #20 saw me on the correct side of an uncrossable wall.
It was an excellent piece of planning that I thought maximised the potential of the area. The style of the Sprint-O was more continental than we are used to; fast legs with simple navigation to get the orienteer going very fast. There was a nice sting in the tail at the ¾ point where you needed to spot the ginnel and exploit the control descriptions to be smooth, successful and fast. Sprint-O has an expected wining time of 12-15 minutes. I hit 14:40 (but reckon I lost 33s due to pin-punching rather than dibbers) with a pretty clean run, so the course was pretty much sport on with length. I had a really worthwhile trip out to a low-key event; well done UBOC.