Arguments about map reading could become a thing of the past thanks to the Thames Valley Orienteering Club’s latest ‘try-out’ session in Oxford today.
Families and individuals are being invited to take their sense of adventure along to the cricket pavilion at the University Parks between 10am and 11.30am, when TVOC members will be on hand to offer help and coaching in the challenging outdoor adventure sport of orienteering.
Mike Shires, 38, publicity officer for TVOC, said: “The aim of orienteering is to navigate, in sequence, between control points marked on a unique orienteering map, and decide the best route to complete the course in the quickest time.
“It’s a great sport for runners, joggers and walkers who want to improve their navigation skills, or for anyone who loves the outdoors.”
He added: “TVOC as a club runs about 25 events a year, all of which are suitable for families and newcomers. Starting each autumn, we run a series of Saturday Series events, aimed at attracting newcomers to the sport.
“TVOC also organises several ranking events each year, which attract orienteers from further afield.
“These events always have courses for families, too, and are a great way to compete against the best. They typically attract up to 1,000 orienteers from across the country.”
Orienteering can take place anywhere from remote forest to urban parks and school playgrounds.
Today, TVOC will be setting up some short courses for people who are new to the spor. The courses, which will take about 20 to 40 minutes to complete, will be based around the Parks.
There will also be some longer courses for those who like a challenge which will also take in the adjacent University Science Area.
Alison and Nigel Bunn, both 47 and from Abingdon, have been members of TVOC since their children Fiona and David, 11, were toddlers.
Fiona, 13, is a rising star of the club and in May beat 26 other runners in the under-14 category at the British Orienteering Championships, above Dalegarth in the Lake District.
Mrs Bunn said: “Orienteering is a fabulous sport for families regardless of your ages.
“There are split starts, so one parent can set off while the other runs with the children.
“But it’s not just about running, it’s about initiative and quick-thinking, and it is a lot of fun.”
Thames Valley Orienteering Club (TVOC) was formed in the 1970s and has about 200 members from Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
The club is affiliated to the national governing body, British Orienteering.
Mr Shires added: “We are hoping a lot of curious people will come along to find out more about orienteering.
“All you need is a sense of adventure, a pair of trainers and comfortable sports clothes. Orienteering is truly a sport for all!”
Thames Valley Orienteering Club welcomes new participants. To find out more visit tvoc.org.uk or call 01869 331368.