I have been provided with this great article from a few years back that still holds today..as we look forward to the Welsh Championships in 2026!!??
Welsh REAL orienteering championships 2026 - Somewhere in mid Wales
I stand on the start line, nervous but excited, the last of 4 competitors to start in the M65 class in a secret forest location. Orienteering completely changed in 2016 when a competitor had an accident in the start lane of an event, when he stepped forward into the next box and stood on the blank map and slipped, falling backwards and hitting his head. The competitor was in a coma for 3 weeks, but later died. In the ensuing court case the officials were found negligent as they had failed to advise the competitor to be careful when stepping over the tape in order to avoid the blank map , they had also failed to assist him by guiding him by holding his arm until he reached the second box (the organiser was sentenced to 5 years in prison) . It seems that under the law there was no such thing as an accident and any mishap had to be someone else's fault.
90% of orienteer’s now orienteer via computer and local events are mostly from home computers, however, we do have orienteering weekend conventions. For these we all drive to Bristol to a local warehouse with a big screen at one end with the map and course on it, everybody brings there Wii running mats ( Wii has been at the forefront of virtual sport for 20 years as there is no contact sport allowed anymore )all competitors put on their computer helmets with the virtual forest on the visor screen, they have to navigate through this virtual world while map reading from the big screen, before they start they have to determine their speed via blood tests and fat screening, height, weight, age. All this is fed into the master computer and your orienteering speed is produced, so then it is how well you can navigate. This can be very exciting with your rival standing next to you and there is always a great atmosphere in the warehouse.
William Reynolds is virtual British Orienteering Champion and club chairman of Wales South. There are currently 3 clubs in Wales, North, Mid and South. William is looking forward to next year, when he is 30 years old and he can get back to Orienteering ( as now anyone under 30 can only orienteer in the virtual world, it is deemed too much of a risk to let youngsters into a forest with all the hazards a forest can contain).
Earlier this year, we had the Club street Championships in Port Talbot, the club was very disappointed with the turnout of 3 competitors, it could have been the £50 entry fee or the fact that all the other members were helping. 15 members guarding the control sites ( it is Port Talbot ) and 24 members as marshals for road crossing, 2 planners, organiser, first aider, risk officer, controller, start and finish, and the event was only allowed to run for an hour. 1st Peter Seward M95 2nd Richard Barratt M55 3rd Chris Lewis M50 Chris had lodged a complaint (still the same OLD Chris) against Peter Seward stating that he should be disqualified because he used his mobility scooter and an unofficial complaint to anyone who would listen that Richard was still beating him.
About 2 years ago they started orienteering in forests again, but the restrictions and the gear you had to wear changed the sport completely. Kit consisted of a skull cap with censored antenna to ensure that if you neared any overhead hazard you would get a warning . Goggles to protect the eyes and a gum shield. A visor with your map on it, and a built in compass. American style shoulder pads and elbow pads, around your middle a padded vest with a light shirt over the top, gloves to protect the hands. Ice hockey style padded shorts, knee pads and to finish it off foam padded boots. And the best part about it all, no running allowed (possibly because it would be impossible with all that gear on) officials would disqualify you if they saw you running in the forest.
The only positive was the controls, no flags to put out or punching or dobbing. At the control site you placed a rubber mat about the size of a dinner plate on the floor, an image of the control flag would appear above the mat which competitors would see and run to and by stepping on the mat it would record that you have visited the control site.
About a year ago an underground orienteering movement began, started by that Scottish renegade Roger Stein , to get back to basic orienteering, Roger still had the old summer league kit in his garage so the ball was rolling and events were arranged via e-mail with coded messages .We would arrange for someone to put on an event at a secret location with small training flags and pin punches, run the event, collect all controls in and disappear all within 2 hours then back to the urban sprawl. With the buzz of success in these initial races Roger decided to go for a bigger event and resurrected the Welsh Champs.
And there I was on the start line, minus one minute, 10 seconds to go - maybe after 15 years of orienteering I might become Welsh Champion at last, GO. I pick up my map run to the start flag and veer off right into the forest on a compass bearing, powering my way through the undergrowth, brambles tugging at my o suit, feeling a little scratch but not slowing down, after about 100 metres I tripped on a tree root and come crashing down like a sack of spuds, rolled over a couple of times, knees covered in mud and my backside wet from the puddle I am sitting in. and I’m laughing, lying on my back laughing, this is what being outdoors is all about, taking the rough with the smooth, not being wrapped up in cotton wool, with guidelines telling me what I can and cannot do . I stand up and start running again with a big smile on my face, as the sun shines through the trees……….__
May you always run through sunlit forests
By David Seward