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Welcome to the November edition of our club magazine. 
It's been a busy few months for SMOCies with plenty of different types of event to go to, not least SMOC's own event at Priory Country Park which saw a good turnout.
The next few months are equally busy with lots of events to go to including some classic events at nearby clubs.
SMOC Christmas Party
Saturday 5th December    5pm to 8pm
Great Linford Cricket Pavilion   

Come along at 5:00 for Santa's Challenge.  Weather permitting this will be outside so bring suitable footwear and a torch or headtorch.
Christmas fun and games will start at 6:oo with social and food to follow.
Food contributions welcome!  Coffee, tea and soft drinks will be provided.
Free to SMOC members.  Please contact Steve if you are coming.
Dorien runs for Wales at Veterans Home Internationals

In the first international appearance by a SMOC member, Dorien James was selected to run for Wales in the M50 category in the VHI at Llynnoedd Teifi in Ceredigion.

Dorien says of the weekend: "I was very pleased to be selected, but slightly in awe of some of the competitors! England and Scotland usually compete for the trophy, while Wales has a private battle with Ireland for third. Llynnoedd Teifi is exactly my kind of terrain - marshy moorland with lots of contours and no trees - and I knew it having competed at Croeso in 2012."  Read full story ...

Event Report - Priory Country Park
Our event at Priory Country Park appeared to go very well and succeeded in attracting a wide cross section of competitors which was very encouraging.  We had a number of people making the step up from Keyne-O, along with the more experienced club regulars plus visitors either chasing East Anglia League points or just looking for a run in a new area. 
As a country park the terrain was never going to be exceptionally challenging technically although Ian put on courses that offered route choice and caught out more than a few of those not fully concentrating.  
Thankfully the weather held and no-one got wet apart from the competitor who swam one section (strictly forbidden I'm afraid but good for him on owning up).  
It was also a rare luxury having a building for registration and download plus proper toilets! 

The event was also a good learning curve for both Helen and Ian who were respectively organising and planning their first level C event and proved up to the challenges this involved.
Events in November and December
Twywell Volunteer Day
Saturday 21st November
By popular demand we are planning a work party to open up a bit more of Twywell for us and the Wildlife Trust.  As in previous years we will be cutting and clearing an area of scrub.  Details
HH Saturday League St Albans
Saturday 5th December
Open parkland with some woodland and contour details.  Yellow, Orange, Light Green and Blue courses only. See Happy Herts website for details.
WAOC Level C Event at Rowney Warren
Sunday 6th December
Just 20 minutes from Milton Keynes, this pine forest is well-contoured with significant spur and valley structure.  There will be a full range of colour courses from White to Brown.  More details on the WAOC website.
TVOC Level B Event at Bradenham
Sunday 13th December
Typical Chiltern woodland, steep in places, with generally runnable terrain and good path network.  Courses from White to Brown.   Details on the TVOC website.
Click here for full list of orienteering events
RunningNuts are offering SMOC members a 10% discount across all products on  There is free UK delivery on all their products.  They specialise in running and fitness and are authorised distributors for Nike, Asics, Brooks, Saucony, NB and Adidas.  Use the discount code SMOC10
Maps of my life
I recently found this among my bit and pieces, has anyone else got one? Ladies only of course.  It is a Girl Guide Outdoor Pursuits badge from about 1975. As I recall we (and I may be wrong it is a long time ago) had to do 3 things to get it. First draw a map of our back garden. This was fairly easy as our garden had not many features apart from a path, a couple of flower beds, and a washing line. Then we had to follow a trail from the beach through Marriage Woods, over the local links course and back to the beach. The trail was marked by runic symbols on the path and we were told this was orienteering. I now know it was Hashing but hey ho. Finally we had to do an ‘expedition’. As it happened our school did a regular trek on Dartmoor from Haytor to Widecombe so that was soon covered. However I digress. Finding this badge made me think about how maps have featured in my life.
After the guiding episode, in the 6th form at school we were able to do many outdoor activities, I chose sailing. Hence I had to learn to read a nautical map and plot a course. This was intended to enable us to take our dayboat certificates but I suspect none of us, bar one, actually bothered. He now delivers luxury yachts in the Caribbean, maybe I should have paid attention more.
In the upper 6th a group of us discovered the sport of letterboxing. This is very much like geocaching but without the technology. We had a tourist map of the 10 easiest letter boxes on Dartmoor and an OS map so off we went. There were actually a couple of hundred letter boxes on Dartmoor but we restricted ourselves to the easy ones, near tourist attractions, as we had to rely either on which of our parents were willing to ferry us, or see who had a motorbike available to borrow (or a full licence to take a pillion) to get us onto the moor. We soon learnt to read a map and occasionally used a compass. We did however manage to bag about 20 boxes and duly stamp our map. For those not in the know a letter box was basically a biscuit tin or sandwich box with a rubber stamp and a note book ‘hidden’ on, in or near a tor or riverbank. The idea was to find it, make a note in the book to say you had been there and stamp your map or letterbox book to record your visit.
After leaving school I moved to London so the A to Z and the London Underground map was about as far as mapping took me during those years.
In the early 80s I moved to MK and became familiar with the map showing the grid system although I still didn’t drive I had a motorbike and would use this to get around and needed to consult the map to get from central MK to Bletchley. At that time the road signs would have the postcode area marked on them which was actually very useful buut very few would indicate how to get to the M1 or A5. So getting into MK was easy but getting out was often a very trying experience without a map.
Once I learned to drive and started to work in Luton, in my current job, a map book was my bible for finding the many locations in Beds and Herts that I needed to visit. If anyone were to ask how to get from anywhere in Beds to anywhere in Herts I could give them a vast number of routes as I had pretty much learned the AA Road Atlas within a few years.
I then had a spell where my main pastime was walking and I had to learn how to read OS maps all over again. The skills I had learned with the girl guides held me in good stead but of course the scale was now metric and, I admit most of the time I was just following instruction from Country Walking magazine and the OS maps were small excerpts printed alongside the instructions.
When I took up running it was back to the road atlas allowed me to navigate the UK to get anywhere from Newcastle, Northamptonshire and Devon to get to runs on time and have some idea of the best places to stay.
Then in 2003 it was suggested by Dave Sedgley that I explore Orienteering as my knees were giving out but I still wanted to have a sport I could do. This was a totally different kind of map and to this day I still have a problem with the scale sometimes. I have come to think of Orienteering as intelligent running, as the ability to multitask and read a map while running is quite complex. It is a sport I am coming to really enjoy as accuracy can sometimes be more important than speed. OK so forested areas give me problems, (a tree is a tree is a tree!) but I am loving Urban Orienteering
I still enjoy going out for long walks and recently I even went so far as to have a custom OS map printed centred on a the Marston Vale Forest centre  so that I could explore my local area without needing several maps. The Walk 4 Life website is also a useful resource as walks can be planned, mapped and printed out.
So from the discovery of one small badge I have mapped my life with a series of different maps. Who knew how important maps are in our lives?
Wendy K

Remembering Dick Denton

It was with great sadness that the club learnt of Dick Denton’s death last month, at the age of 81. A small band of club members was able to attend a Service of Celebration for Dick’s life. Dick was a club stalwart throughout the 1990s, so it seemed fitting to attempt our own small tribute to someone who was very much part of the SMOC family, and whose legacy has been significant and long-lasting.

At the memorial service we learnt a lot about Dick’s life: his distinguished 30 year Army service with the Royal Artillery Regiment (following in his father’s footsteps), achieving the rank of Colonel, and which involved postings of a sensitive nature; his commitment to his children Tim and Adam and the memory of his beloved first wife Patsy; his involvement in campaigning on local issues around his home in Heath and Reach; his interest in researching family history, leading back to Elizabethan forebears; his life-long love of serious walking, usually involving an iron rich recovery programme involving copious amounts of red wine! Tributes by friends and family referred to Dick’s tendency to compartmentalise the various aspects/interests in his life, his huge commitment to those causes, and the fact that he was never short of an opinion or shy of voicing them.

I remember Dick telling me about his habit of dipping in and out of his interests, and his surprise that he remained so involved in orienteering for around 10 years. One of the contributors at the memorial service referred to the size of the footprint that is left behind being a good measure of the quality of a person’s life. I know that I’m not alone in thinking that Dick’s SMOC footprint indicates that his contribution to the development of the club was very significant. Dick himself was the first to admit that he found orienteering itself to be surprisingly difficult, despite the fact that his navigational skills had been honed in the Army. In the article attached to this tribute, Dick suggested that navigating at speed was the issue. He persevered and competed with a sense of determination, but was happy to laugh good naturedly afterwards at his navigational catastrophes, such as running of the map, and using the M6 to relocate, enjoying the camaraderie of the club tent.

It was behind the scenes in SMOC that Dick made a real impact. He held the posts of Secretary between 1991 and 1995, and Treasurer between 1995 and 1998. He brought his formidable organisational skills to a small and relatively new O club, knocking us gently into a more professional shape, doing much of the spade work himself. Dick’s main achievements were:

* Drafting the club constitution.

* Getting the club onto a very healthy financial footing by relentlessly pursuing sponsorship and grant aid with real professionalism, thereby raising the club’s status.

* Getting the inaugural Grand Union Canal Relay (which was run between 1993 and 2000) off the ground. This was a complex event to arrange, involving liaison with dignitaries in London and Birmingham, and a logistical nightmare to anyone without Dick’s exceptional organisational skills.

On a personal note, I found that Dick was an invaluable support when I took on the role of club Chair. I remember his ill-concealed delight when I brought with me a (handwritten) agenda to a committee meeting for the first time. (Dick suffered our pleasantly democratic and ramblingly interminable meetings with a generally good grace.) Rachel Thomas, who followed me as Chair, also remembers Dick fondly as her “trusty lieutenant”.

Dick was missed when he moved on from orienteering to concentrate on supervising Duke of Edinburgh Award groups, although he did put in a brief appearance at SMOC’s 25th anniversary gathering. We have, however, continued to benefit from his hard work. The following article gives a flavour of Dick’s impish sense of humour, and the joy that he took from orienteering, however badly...

Ann Harris

In memory of Dick Denton we reproduce two typed articles that he wrote for the very first edition of SMOC signals almost 25 years ago. His humour lives on and indeed many of his observations at the time may ring true today...
            AND               OF THE FIRST YEAR
At the end of doing twelve months of anything it’s worth taking stock, so after a year in orienteering I did my Debbie Guest – Ann Harris
‘Positive O’ (strengths to be built on:- ambition, weaknesses to be corrected:- two pages !) and I thought I would go on to have a look at some of the high points and low points of the year.
Trying to be positive I cleared the low points first and the lowest of all was finding that face-to-face navigation on a 15,000 map isn’t a doddle. It is a doddle when you walk but it ceases to be so no matter how slowly you run, and I still haven’t worked out why!
Just a few of the lows were
  • Being told by Happy Herts to join SMOC
  • Watching Roger Cole, not all that younger than me, do the impossible by running two legs in the Greensand Relay
  • Being towed to the finish of the Committee O by my two M/W21 team mates (last one home counted). It’s probably not the first time Whippendell Wood has echoed to the cry “stop, stop, it hurts” but never before I’ll wager from an M55!
  • Being asked at the start of the Ash New Year’s Day Hangoover Handicap if I felt well enough to run – when I had unwisely partied until only five hours before.
  • Watching Keith Downing devour the remains of the buffet at the Barn Dance, and realising that there were no grounds on which I would ever be able to compete against him.
The positive high points were
  • Beating Keith in the Club Championship after he suffered brain failure between controls 1 and 2!
  • Joining SMOC (thank you all for making me feel so welcome) and acquiring the smart “Australian colours” O suit
  • Punching the first control at any event
  • Arriving at any control before the go-fast M21 whizz-kid who left the last control like a rocket as I was still adjusting my specs to set the map
  • Listening to the horror stories of the Karrimor and realising that if after any future event I said “if only I had found no. 4 I would have come third” everyone would believe me
  • Attending my first national, where Richard Pownall took me in hand at the start, Richard Harris helped me on way at a bad moment and Kevin Guest very kindly made me feel one of you by pretending to be lost and asking me if I knew our position!
And a final thought at the end of the first year? Well it’s a fascinating, frustrating and great sport and I only wish I had started when I could run and see and when trees were still vertical!
Dick Denton

Editor’s Note: Dick wrote this article before he knew he had won the Handicap Championship
The second article he wrote was on the BOF AGM (April 1991).

I am seriously thinking of sponsoring another trophy for the club. To win it a club member would have to attend the BOF AGM and stay from start to finish. It would be called the Bo-Fagm Trophy and then the winner could say “I’m this year’s BF”!
I had been warned that it would be an Awful Geriatric Muddle but I was still unprepared.
Of the five BOF Limited resolutions, two (on voting rights) were withdrawn as being incompatible and illegal! That proposing alteration to the Council structure was withdrawn because the Development Committee is working (?) on the same subject. That encouraging the Council to do more to advertise orienteering was withdrawn because the Memorandum of Understanding of the Company enjoins them to do just that !
The SOA was allowed to become “Limited” if it so wished.
There were also five proposals affecting BOF (as opposed to BOF Ltd), of which the one suggesting all club-only subs should be paid through BOF took so much flak from the floor that it too was withdrawn! The 1991 levy was approved retrospectively and that for 1992 in advance. Membership fees for 1992 will be as 1991. I think TVOC won their case to have the cost of loos deducted before their levy is calculated, but I was heading for the door at that stage, thre hours after the meeting began !
I missed the election of officers. When I left the search for a new treasurer was going on, and a lot of people were looking fixedly at the floor!
Perhaps an unsuspecting newcomer will turm up at “Try Orienteering” to be next year’s BF!
Dick Denton
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