Press Release

Urban orienteers take to London’s streets

For Immediate Release
LONDON, Monday 24 September 2012.

A cold but sunny London welcomed well over 1000 orienteers and runners to the 5th City of London Race on Saturday, including nearly 300 from overseas. With just under 1200 crossing the finishing line on Victoria Embankment, this year’s race was the second biggest dedicated urban orienteering race in the world, second only to the Venice Street Race. There were plenty of smiles on crossing the finishing line and participants took to Twitter after their run – #cityrace at one point becoming one of London’s top Twitter trending topics.

Competitors started this year’s race running through the courtyards of the beautiful and historic Inner & Middle Temple before taking on the City of London’s streets and alleyways, with the top courses visiting the confusing multi-level walkways in the Barbican Estate and Guildhall. Runners then navigated through Bloomsbury, across Fleet Street and back down to the River Thames to the finish line.

After a strong start, Romualdas Stepelis relinquished the lead on Men’s Elite at the half-way stage, making a crucial navigational mistake in the tiny passages around the Blackfriars area, allowing top international Peter Hodkinson to take and hold a slender lead to the finish.

In the Women’s Elite Race, Mhairi MacKenzie had an excellent start and a strong finish – a one minute mistake in the middle section of the course allowed second place Abi Weeds to take the lead, but Mhairi fought back in style to win by nearly a minute in a strong field.

Men’s Elite Top 3 – 8.8km course (estimated shortest possible route 13.5km)
1. 51:53 Peter Hodkinson (Oxford University OC)
2. 52:19 Romualdas Stupelis (Harlequins OC)
3. 52:56 Dave Schorah (Deeside OC)

Women’s Elite Top 3 – 7.7km course (estimated shortest possible route 12.0km)
1. 51:45 Mhairi MacKenzie (West Cumberland OC)
2. 52:31 Abi Weeds (South London OC)
3. 54:50 Simona Karochova (Kotlarka Praha – Czech Republic)

All race results on http://cityrace.org/

The City of London Race, organised entirely by South London OC volunteers, continues to grow in stature in the international orienteering and London running scene, with tentative plans to take next year’s race east to the gleaming towers of Canary Wharf and the waterways of the Isle of Dogs.

Editor’s notes:
1. Orienteering is a foot sport, requiring navigation at speed through multiple terrain types. Orienteering races typically take place in forests or rough open ground. The sport is governed by the International Orienteering Federation and its National Governing Body in the UK is the British Orienteering Federation. Orienteering’s traditional heartland is Scandinavia and eastern Europe. In the UK, around 5-10000 people are active orienteers.
2. Urban orienteering is a new orienteering discipline, which has gained popularity rapidly in the last 5 years, particularly in the UK where urban terrain is often as exciting and varied as the more traditional forested or moorland areas.
3. The City of London Race was first held in 2008, organised by Oliver O’Brien and “Brooner” Brown. It was based in Broadgate in the east of the City of London and attracted 400 competitors.
4. South London Orienteers (aka SLOW) is London’s largest orienteering club. Its traditional heartland is central, southern and south-western London. As well as the City of London Race, it organises traditional forest-based orienteering events, such as the OK Nuts Trophy Race, and also a popular series of summer races in London Parks, and a winter series of “Street-O” informal street-based events. Its website is http://sloweb.org.uk/
5. This year’s City of London Race covered the western part of the City of London, as well as parts of Westminster, Camden and Islington boroughs. The race assembly was based at King’s College London Students Union. There were 13 courses available, ranging from Children (U12s) to Men’s and Women’s Ultra Vets (60+). The most popular course was Men’s Super Vets, followed by Men’s Open.
6. The City of London Race is Britain’s largest standalone urban orienteering race, and the largest annual non-Championship orienteering race in the UK. The only larger urban races to take place in the UK are as part of orienteering festivals, such as the Welsh 5-Days. Only Venice is larger internationally, the race now in its 35th year and having 3-4000 competitors each year.
7. For further information about the City Race, please contact Oliver O’Brien at london [at] cityrace.org

Photos below: 1 – Tim Smith passes through Middle Temple Lane on the way to the finish line. 2 – A competitor locating a control in the Inner Temple, during the City of London Race.

Photo credit: Ian Buxton (TVOC)
More photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ianbuxton/sets/72157631596968622/