Kings Wood Orienteering Race – Thames Valley Orienteering
What is an orienteering race? An orienteering race doesn’t follow a fixed route like in a regular running race. Instead, you have to visit a series of checkpoints (called “controls”) and register each one with an electronic timing chip.
A detailed orienteering map showing the location of the controls is provided, all you have to do is find them. Flags on the ground mark the checkpoints, they might be along; paths, earth banks, streams or anywhere in the woods/parkland. They might also not be so obvious to find and slightly hidden. The concept is to run between each control in the quickest time possible. You choose how to get to the next one. This could be by taking a direct route, combating whatever terrain comes your way. At the same time, you can choose to stick to the nearby paths. It’s entirely up to you. When you find each control (in order), you go to the finish point and register the final control checkpoint.
Most people know I enjoy the atmosphere and feeling that goes with running races, whether it’s shooting for a personal best, or just running for fun with friends. While getting back into continuous running and gradually increasing my distance, I came across a local event, which looked like fun, something slightly different – Kings Wood Orienteering Race organised by Thames Valley Orienteering Club. There was interest from a running friend, so we decided to give it a go, entered as a pair and ran together.
These runs are great value for money and are open to; all ages and abilities, families, run solo, in a pair, or a group. There are varying course lengths and difficulties to choose from, no experience is necessary. A compass is always a handy piece of kit to have for these runs and helps with navigating your way around. You could purchase compasses or hire them on the day, maps were free which you could keep afterwards.
Cost: (May vary at other locations)
£7 solo adults / £3 solo juniors / £7 groups/pairs (total, not each). The entry fee includes, hire of a timing chip to register at each control point around the course, a print out of your result and splits at the finish, and two waterproof maps of the woods which you could keep as a souvenir.
Kings Wood Orienteering Race Courses
- White = 1.4k– easiest and shortest, ideal for younger children.
- Yellow = 1.9k– slightly less easy but with control points along paths – ideal for families or children.
- Orange = 3.0k– longer with more route choices – ideal for runners, families and confident juniors.
- Light Green = 3.1k– navigation skills needed, more route choices – for improvers or confident newcomers.
- Green= 4.5k– as difficult as they can make it! A range of navigational techniques required to find the control points, an extensive run around the area.
Entry was available on the day or before the event online. Registration opened at 10am to 11.30am. You could start a course at any time up to midday, as long as you completed by 1pm when the event finished.
This made a lovely change to running a race or just going for a run by having to look and find control checkpoints. It may not be something for the serious runner, however, if you enjoy just going for a run and want to try something slightly different, why not give it a go. There were also a few families with children, walking and navigating the shorter courses.
Kings Wood is an undulating picturesque woodland in the northern part of High Wycombe. We opted for the orange course (3.0km) as advised this was the best for a first orienteering run. There was a mixture of terrain, woodland paths, some main, some less used, green spaces, with the added bonus of a few slopes to contend with.
We started off pretty good and found the first few controls easily by following the woodland paths. Later on, we decided to be a bit more adventurous. We tried to find the next controls with a more direct route off the beaten track, some with success, and others less. On a couple of occasions, we ran straight past the hidden controls. We forgot to gauge the distance we were travelling and went way too far. It’s essential to keep an eye out for the control flags. You might even have to search to find them in a dip, behind a bush and so on. If not too careful, you could easily miss them. We ended up running 6km even though the shortest possible route to each control amounted to 3km in total.
All in all, I had great fun exploring, trying to find the control checkpoints. Great to run as a pair or a trio, for just a few pounds. A nice change from my usual running routine. I will definitely look out for the others in the series locally.
I’m going to give the Kings Wood Orienteering Race a score of 3.5 out of 5 on the Runiversity of life™ Runometer™, as it was enjoyable, a break from the norm, good value, local, and I would definitely enter another one. (not comparable to regular races)
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