I was at The Outdoors Show yesterday, which is taking place over the next few days at the gigantic ExCeL exhibition centre in East London, at the same time as The Bike Show and The Boat Show (the latter, incidentally, being at least three times as large as the others put together.)
British Orienteering are taking part, they are running a “Maze-O” challenge which involves running a short “butterfly”-style gaffled course – distance 0.1km according to the control descriptions! – in a “maze” made out of crowd barriers. The controls have small flags and the standard “slimline” control boxes. I was given a new SI card (Type 8?) to race with, but was a little surprised to find the controls were slow to punch – taking at least a second and occasionally two seconds to bleep.
Despite this delay I managed to do the course in 1:09. The day’s winner, according to the leaderboard, was Ben Stevens, who ran the course in 1:08. This is probably the closest I’ll ever come to beating a former Varsity Match Champion. It probably helped that I was coincidently wearing running shoes. Pete H, who ran a different gaffle at the same time as me (and inadvertently blocked a couple of controls) managed 1:16 in his work brogues.
It being Thursday evening, and the location of the course being somewhat tucked away behind the Bushcraft stand, meant the Maze-O was rather quiet when we visited. However it should be popular with the weekend crowds as long as they can find it – if you coming to The Outdoors Show don’t miss it! You also get map-on-a-postcard to keep, as pioneered at the Trafalgar Square orienteering “art event”.
If you don’t want to know the course in advance, look away now:
Top marks to British Orienteering for organising the event and producing some excellent, professional looking event banners, flag, branded polo-shirts for the marshals, and the map postcards and associated literature. Thanks also to the club volunteers that are manning the stand over the next few days. One thing missing was details of forthcoming local events, but hopefully the maze event will get a few new people to look up the sport and then come along to some club events such as SLOW’s Street-O series.