ChigChat 166 – March 2008


Well the sum is shining and the daffodils are out, but its still pretty cool and good running weather.  The season is in full swing, and looking at the fixtures list there are plenty of events to go to, including a JK on some of the best land in the South East.  Let’s hope for some more enjoyable runs over the next couple of months.

In addition there’s been plenty of activity on the social front, with two socials reported in this edition, an AGM and Dribble O in a couple of weeks’ time, and the Annual Dinner coming on to the horizon.  We are welcoming more members to the Club and delighted to meet them at both O and social events.   In fact our next local event on Epping NW is an opportunity to involve them in running an event and meeting other Club members.

I’ve realised, as the AGM comes up, that I’ve been editing ChigChat for five years now, and I want to say how grateful I am for all the articles, news items and ideas that you have contributed to make my job very easy and the magazine interesting.  It’s also five years since we went to electronic format, which seems only to have caused minor hiccups – firstly when I got over-ambitious on the photos and produced enormous files that clogged up the wires, and secondly for the one or two Chiggies who are not connected.  Their numbers remain small, so I despatch one printed copy a month, and there may be one or two others who have a printed version.  One result has been to save cash for the Club as well as trees.

I have been thinking about a move to another format.  Some of the articles relate to events two or three months ago (you will have noticed that the timing of editions idiosyncratically follows my other commitments) and it seems to me that it would be possible to create an on-line and more quickly updatable version – a News, Views, articles sub set of our website.  I would probably need a bit more training in uploading such stuff, but I’d like to know what you think – it would become a rolling update on what was happening rather than a periodic snapshot.  I am going to ask for some discussion at the AGM, but owing to a prior commitment I’m not going to be there, so any interim views to me via email please (

Chairman’s Letter

What a varied Orienteering weekend! I’ve experienced three of the main strengths of our club: doing our bit for the community and introducing orienteering to newcomers; an enjoyable social cum training event; plus competing in a regional event on good terrain.

Firstly, the opening of Becton Park Permanent Orienteering Course in East London. There were over 100 “competitors” taking part, from experienced orienteers to groups of happy young people, including some doing the event as part of their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme training. Thanks to Ray Weekes for coordinating this day – he is seen above with Club Members and competitors organising the mass start. Note that there are now four Permanent Orienteering Courses on CHIG’s patch (The others are Harlow Town Park, Hainault and Lee Valley Country Park).  Please make use of them, if you can.

Secondly, our Social/ Indoor training event at Ros West’s school in Epping. Josh Jenner certainly set us some interesting exercises. I always enjoy discussing route choices, both within our group and between the other groups. It’s the classic, do I go direct and over the rough open or take the paths and the long way around. The food was good, too!  Well done to Ros and Josh and all who supported the evening.

Lastly to LOKs Regional event on Holmbury Hill. This year the weather was dry as opposed to last year’s downpour, with faster times than last year, on well planned courses. Having Pete Cheetham start 2 minutes after me on the same course, may have been an incentive for a fast time!

As you may have already heard, CHIG has now gained its Clubmark award. The Clubmark logo will now appear on all club publicity, etc. Congratulations to Tim and Colin for making this happen.

On the Social front we have 2 not to be missed events in the next 2 months. Firstly it’s CHIG’s AGM and Dribble O on 14th March at Colin’s home, then the Annual Dinner. The dribble O is a fun series of wine tasting, plus a mystery alternative for those who aren’t so good on their wines.
Thanks to all who organised and attended the New Year Social. A good time was had.

Sadly I will be standing down at the AGM, so may I take this opportunity to thank all who have supported me over the past three years. I wish my successor all the best.

Happy Orienteering,

Ray Curtis.

Club Mark

As Ray says above, CHIG has achieved the ultimate accolade of Club Mark, due to lots of efforts from a variety of Club members, especially Tim and Colin.  What does it mean ?  Well, it’s one of those Quality measures that anyone who works with schools or the public sector is probably familiar with.  It’s a lot about ensuring that we are up to speed with matters of child protection – necessary when we are working with schools and young people.

Other areas of the qualification cover our capability to run the Club efficiently and ethically.  It’s a matter of opinion whether the adoption of job descriptions and written policies (especially when a few weren’t even grammatically expressed) equals an efficiently run Club, but they’re probably a sound baseline.  It gives us a ‘stamp of approval’ particularly in developing links with schools and public bodies, and that can be useful.

What I don’t think it reflects is the commitment, professionalism and general goodwill that is an essential part of our club, nor the personalities of its members, general history and culture that make us unique.  Don’t let’s forget the basics of running the organisation, but do congratulate ourselves on being a great group of people that others want to join !

Chigs around the world

Just to show that the new tops are getting about, here is our Canadian member, Alex Kerr showing off his new top:

Alex was in Texas at the time

If you want to emulate the international cool style, orders for these Coolmax tops are still being taken, £25 for seniors £15 for juniors, same price for long-sleeved or short-sleeved styles. Please send requests to (send no money!).  T shirts and sweaters are also available. You may have seen members already wearing these in royal blue. £17.50 for the sweaters and £9 for T shirts.

Past Events

Club performances are now recorded in our captain’s blog on our website, and John Duffield advised the editor that it’s also possible to pick up the Galoppen results via the SE website.  He reported that quite a lot of CHIGs did well in 2007 – unfortunately the results have disappeared in favour of the first results for 2008.  If anyone has access to the 2007 results please let us know – apart from the question of motivating competitors by publicising their success in the competition, it would be good to know who in the Club did well.

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud

Harold Wyber on competing in a mud caked North East Essex New Year’s spectacle:

England seems to do quite well at producing eccentric, bizarre, and often downright foolhardy sporting events, such as the Gloucester Downhill Cheese Race, Bog-snorkelling, and Conkers, and at the end of December Maldon puts on its own race in this vein. Having its origins in a drunken bet made in 1973, the Mad Maldon Mud Race sees competitors race through the River Blackwater as it nears the sea, run along a stretch of river-bank mud before heading back through the river to the finish, and in its 34 year history it has achieved cult status and international recognition; photos from the race are often featured in national newspapers and visitors travel from around the world to watch (at least according to the event programme).

It was this coverage which led me to consider entering this race, having seen a photo in The Guardian last year, and in November I resolved to discover how to take part.     I managed to interest a friend from my university’s old-boys’ orienteering club too, and so on a grey late December Sunday morning we found ourselves walking from my car towards the start, just below the embankment in Maldon’s Promenade Park. Our shoes were taped to our feet, and, looking over to the river and the course, we hoped we’d used enough.

As we strolled over, I was struck by the sheer number of people trooping across from the town centre to watch the race. Looking back from the start line along the embankment at the assembled crowds, I could well believe the organiser’s claim that this event attracts over 5,000 spectators, hoping to catch a glimpse of people being rather stupid; the sensation of being part of the day’s entertainment is a bit of an odd feeling. After a 5 minute wait on the start line as a few delayed competitors rushed over to complete the 180-strong field, during which time an impromptu mass mud fight ensued amongst us, the starter called out and we were off.

For the first dozen or so metres we dashed towards the river and in the confused mass surging forwards flailing arms reached ahead, often grabbing other competitors ahead and around to provide something to push off. The viscosity of the mud, rapidly coupled with the none-too-warm waste deep river water, soon reduced the general pace of the field to a driving wade. Reaching the shore for the first time, the front of the race was still bunched up with me in the middle, but despite falling to my hands and knee coming out of the river, I managed to get towards the leaders as the field thinned out. The mud was generally half a foot to a foot deep here, and turning at the stake which marked the beginning of the 100m or so stretch along the opposite bank, it became clear that running or even jogging simply wouldn’t be possible.

Being near the front, I was now able to find patches of marginally firmer untrodden mud, and striding out, using my arms as much as possible to compensate for the power-sapping effects of the estuary ooze, I squelched on. My friend, who had been in the lead after the first post, was now falling back, and at the second post, where the course turned 900 back towards the river, I had passed him and was vying for the lead with another competitor. Just ahead as we strode back into the Blackwater, I stumbled, again falling hands first into the river to shouts and gasps from the crowd, but managed to quickly regain my trudge through the water keeping abreast of my nearest rival. Reaching the shore, I avoided looking back and, glancing up towards the finishing funnel I attempted to power ahead, furiously swinging my arms to and fro to cover the final 20 metres without being caught.

Although I hadn’t entered the race with the specific intention of winning – I was only competing because this seemed like a fun, unusual, and eccentric event to participate in – it was still a thrill to cross the finishing line in the lead. After being handed a foil space blanket and asked my name, where I was from, and for a few comments from local journalist, I gave a mini-interview to a BBC Essex reporter – the kind of thing I had become used to after being on University Challenge, but not when standing, drenched, in shorts & t-shirt and still pretty breathless – before walking up the steps to the embankment. I had a fleeting sense of being a local celebrity as I walked along the spectator-lined route to the improved outdoor showers (a number of hoses strung from a metal frame for the general removal of mud from clothes and skin), being recognised and pointed out by a number of the onlookers.

Had I then not realised that I was getting rather cold (my friend, who finished 5th, seemed to be in a somewhat worse state and gave the impression of having early onset hypothermia) I would have liked to of stayed by the front to watch the remaining competitors complete the course. Although we had both chosen to wear light running clothing, many of the participants wore varying degrees of fancy dress and catching a glimpse of some crawling, still on the opposite bank, I felt a lot of respect, and amusement.

I won’t pretend that the Maldon Mud Race involved any great distance, and its hard to describe it as a running event, since in no parts was one able to break into what might be called a run, but it was challenging. Being part of such a well supported, festive, and just plain silly event was a great experience, and one which I would recommend to anyone (at least anyone who likes the thought of wallowing in mud).

Harold Wyber

Madeira Orienteering Federation Championships

Having decided to visit Madeira at the end of January Pete and Charlotte Cheetham duly booked their air travel with Easy Jet and booked a lovely 4 star hotel overlooking the sea for a very reasonable price. Having sorted out flights and accommodation they decided to check whether there was any orienteering during the 4 days in Madeira. As it happened the 3 day Madeira Orienteering Festival was taking place so Day 3 was booked and O kit was packed.
Unfortunately, after parking at Stansted airport it was discovered at check- in that dibbers and compasses had been left in the car park with no time to collect the required items from the car. After arriving in Madeira, picking up the hire car and getting to the hotel, a pleasant evening was spent in a nearby restaurant eating excellent local fish.

The following morning, after a long climb up the mountains to Santo da Serra in the hire car, the event was finally reached. It was 10.00am and the temperature was 20 degrees centigrade and rising. Dibbers were hired and, after some hunting, compasses were also borrowed from kind Portuguese and Swedish competitors.

A bus arrived to collect competitors and after arriving at the start the temperature outside had climbed to a delightful 23 degrees with bright sunshine, a far call from the freezing temperatures back in the UK. The event was held in a forest at around 2500m above sea level (with no time to adjust to high altitude). With so few competitors the age groups were very few. Charlotte ran in the W35 course and Pete ran in the M45 course so an advantage to Pete while Charlotte ran up by 10 years. The map was to a great standard, produced by a Swedish mapping group, although 1:7500 took a bit of getting used to.

The course started off well but the course was technically difficult. With plenty of contours there was a lot of climb. Although the courses were only 2.2km and 3.1km respectively the courses were not fast. The terrain was very rocky with brashings underfoot as well. The land was very dry and dry leaves and paths were also extremely slippery, the paths being like glass to run on.
Pete came 5th at the event and Charlotte came 2nd so a good achievement was made by both of them.

Over the weekend the local club (CMFunchal) annual championships were also taking place so another opportunity arose to run on the Sunday. Arriving in the morning the temperature was not as warm as it had been on Friday falling to a cold 10 degrees centigrade (cold mid-winter temperatures by Madeiran standards). Again, few courses were planned and the hunt for compasses was quicker this time. However, the CMFunchal organizers were extremely friendly allowing us to switch to earlier starts so that we could make it back to the airport in time for the afternoon flight home. This time the courses were even shorter than the ones on the Friday and all downhill so quicker times were expected. It was still very tricky to negotiate the downhill on 1 in 2 /1 in 3 slopes.

Having competed at altitude with an international group of dedicated orienteers it can only be concluded that a delightful time was had by the Cheethams. We can thoroughly recommended that you CHIGGY’s should attend the Madeira Championships next year and experience the friendly nature of the orienteers, great terrain and an opportunity to sample the excellent fresh food which can be found on the island. It is an experience which should not be missed by anyone and with cheap flights and accommodation available at that time of year there is no room for excuses!!!!

On a final note, not only is the orienteering great but there are also plenty of tourist attractions and great walking along the Lavadas. Catch us in the forest and we will tell you about our experience walking along these man made irrigation channels with built in precipices.

Charlotte Cheetham

(This is a slightly less scary levada – Ed)

SE League:

Total after 4 events:-

Position Club Match Points Position Change
1 SO 80
2 HH 64
3 SLOW 52
4 SN 51
5 GO 45 Ý 4
6 BAOC 44 ß 1
=7 SAX 43 ß 1
=7 MV 43 Ý 1
9 CHIG 40 ß 2
10 LOK 29
11 DFOK 27
12 HAVOC 24
13 CROC 14
14 MDDX 12
15 ULOC 5
16 RAFO 2

Social/Training evening Saturday 23rd February 2008

A very successful indoor training session and social event was held at Ivy Chimneys Primary School, Epping on Saturday.  Despite a slow uptake, the final number of participants reached twenty, with a wide range of ages and abilities. We had hoped that hosting the event in Epping rather than Sawbridgeworth cricket club would attract members from the South of our area, and this proved to be the case.  The school venue allowed sufficient space to organize and run a variety of games, with plenty of room for catering.

The games were organized by Josh Jenner, who planned a varied, interesting and sometimes challenging selection, ranging from a map memory game (fiendishly difficult for most of us!); route choice where we compared our routes to those of the rest of the group; guiding our blindfolded partner round a line course.  The most amusing game was guess my control feature, which was attached to our foreheads on a post-it note.  The evening culminated in a compass treasure hunt, following bearings to find letters, which spelt out the word ‘winners’. There was also a quiz, (see below for answers to orienteering terms and contours).

Supper, in the form of fish and chips, arrived promptly from the local takeaway, and selections of cold drinks and snacks were on offer.

This was our first indoor winter training session, and judging by comments received, was enjoyed by all, and definitely to be repeated!

Many thanks to Josh.
Ros West
Social Secretary

Christmas Social

The annual Christmas Social took place at the Pribul’s house in Sawbridgeworth, starting with some highly cryptic (not to mention unfathomable) clues attached to our persons representing a variety of forms of fish.

After food, three groups went off in different directions to answer questions about music (courtesy of Joh Pearce) made even more fiendish by adding combinations of composers and shows; matching famous faces and names and flags of the world; and testing our general knowledge (was it Colin or Sally who set us delving into the depths of our memories – I can’t remember!).  I’m delighted to say that it was your editor’s team who came a close first, but it was less to do with my intellectual prowess than Ray Curtis’ amazing knowledge of flags !  Thanks go to Ros and Sally for the organisation, and the Pribuls for hosting the event.

The ultimate social occasion was Philippa and Kevin’s wedding – here is a photo of them just after they were married!

Sprint O Planning Competition

The entry date for this has been extended to allow for more entrants.  Some of you will know that one of the schools John Pearce has mapped is Mark Hall, Harlow. We also have a ‘Partnership’ agreement with this school as part of our ‘Club Mark’ accreditation and we would jointly like to promote a ‘Sprint O’ on their school map.

This is your opportunity to develop your planning skills by designing the SPRINT COURSE, which would then be staged at a suitable date. If you would like to submit an entry please send an email to Tim at, who will provide you with the map and the technical requirements for the course. In overall terms the course winning time should be approximately 12-15 minutes.

There will be a suitable prize for the winner and also prizes for runners-up.

Tim Pribul


Social Calendar

AGM and ‘Dribble O’
Don’t forget that the AGM and Dribble O will be held on Friday 14th March at Colin Flint’s.  There is an opportunity to familiarise yourself with some of the Club’s business, but it doesn’t take too long – we are keen to get into the annual wine-tasting competition which follows.

Annual Dinner
The date is Friday 2nd May and the venue is as last year, the Cricket Clubhouse, Sawbridgeworth. Details will follow.

Forthcoming Club Events

Our next Club event is the District Event at Epping NW on Sunday 16th March.  This is being organised by Paul Corney, who will be looking for your help.  Helpers get a free run, and we always try to ensure that as many people as possible get the chance to run before or after helping out.


[Omitted in archive]