Orienteering captures campus imagination

On Friday 30 September, orienteers from across Europe arrived at Stirling University for the first round of the European under-21 Orienteering Cup. Forth Valley Orienteering’s membership secretary Jen Leonard gave her thoughts on the event to Brig.

Did you see an orange and white flag round the campus last weekend and wonder what it was? Or did you glimpse a Russian woman absorbed in reading a map round the back of your department building who then sprinted past you on the path round Airthrey Loch?

Stirling University was the location for the first race of the Junior (Under 21) European Orienteering Cup. Europe’s top young orienteers descended on the campus, with teams from as far away as Slovakia, Austria and Italy.

There was local interest too with Peter Meehan (19, second year at Stirling University) representing Ireland and local lad Daniel Stansfield (19, from Dunblane, currently at Edinburgh University) competing for the GB team.

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Stirling student Peter Meehan in action. Photo credit – Crawford Lindsay on Flickr.com

The fast-paced sprint race was held on Friday afternoon across the whole campus, with control markers placed around Airthrey Castle, behind the halls of residence and in the surrounding woodlands.

The student union building was used to keep the teams “quarantined” – since orienteering starts are staggered, it is important to keep the runners yet to start away from the finishers.

Over the weekend, the competition then moved into forests near Aberfoyle, for the tough relay and long races. The top orienteering teams from Scandinavia and Switzerland dominated the individual medals positions, with the powerful Swiss team the overall winners with points scored across all three races for both men and women.

Orienteering is an exciting outdoor sport where the aim is to navigate between control points marked on a map using a compass. You can orienteer at your own pace, depending on whether you want to be competitive like these international teams – or are just looking for a weekend walk with a difference.

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Dunblane’s Daniel Stansfield also competed. Photo credit – Crawford Lindsay on Flickr.com

If you would like to try orienteering, then Come and Try It at local events coming up in the Stirling area over the next couple of months organised by the local club Forth Valley Orienteers (FVO) and all accessible by public transport or bike from the University.

It’s a great way to explore the beautiful Scottish countryside – all you need is a pair of trainers that you don’t mind getting a bit muddy!

Come along anytime between 11am and 12.30pm on Sunday 23rd October in Dunblane or Saturday 19th November to Bridge of Allan. Maps cost £3 for students. Beginners welcome – club coaches are on hand to help you get started.

More information is available at http://www.fvo.org.uk, or on our Facebook page. Alternatively, feel free to contact Peter Meehan or Marie Bak. Both are experienced orienteers currently at Stirling University and will be more than happy to bring you along and introduce you to this great sport.

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