Urban orienteering is a perfect way to explore the hidden parts of a city whether it’s your home city or a completely new one. As part of race it can be fast-paced requiring you to think quickly on your feet and navigate whilst running.
Organised by the South Wales Orienteering Club, the Newport Street Race held at Pye Corner railway station and would involve 60 minutes of collecting as many control points as possible.
Based on the heavy rain forecast for the race, the maps were handed out a few minutes earlier than usual so that you decide whether you were going to stick to the roads or take in a few trails. If you were going to head onto the trails you would have the opportunity to change your footwear before heading out. I had no plans to deviate from the roads but switched to ATR shoes just in case.
With 30 control points and a large area to cover it was impossible to get them all in an hour or less so I decided to head out to Bassaleg to collect some of the higher value control points. The risk was that I wasn’t familiar with the back streets of the area so would have to be almost completely reliant on the map.
On the signal at 1900* we all scattered in different directions with me following another running in the direction of Bassaleg. I knew the general direction that I had to head in but wanted to make sure I was on the right track and it wasn’t long before I was taking a wrong turning but luckily a path provided a route to the correct street and I was back in business.
Having only completed one urban orienteering race before it took a little while to get to grips with distances but eventually found the twin control points (telegraph poles) that I was looking for. There were 130 points on offer in the area but despite it taking a fair chunk of time it would probably be worth it.
I felt as though I was doing well thinking on my feet but looking back at the route the other runner took, I could have saved some time but utilising more of the minor paths between streets. And despite the map featuring contour lines, if you still can’t quite get to grips with them then those steep hills come as both a surprise (when heading up) and a relief (when heading down).
Heading back towards the station there were was another high value control point to collect along with a couple of others including one outside Tiny Rebel Brewery. The distance between these control points was far enough to pick up some speed and having run a couple of times in the area I was familiar with the one shortcut that would lead to the Wern Industrial Estate and Tiny Rebel.
At Tiny Rebel Brewery I knew it was 0.9 miles back to the station and with about 9 minutes left I’d have just enough time to make it back to the station and not incur any penalties. When people didn’t start arriving until about 10 minutes after me I then realised that we didn’t start at 1900 but around 10 minutes after. A rookie mistake which meant I missed an opportunity to bag a couple more control points including a high value one on a dead-end street behind the station.
However, much like my first attempt at Urban Orienteering it was fantastic fun and a great way to add variety to your runs. Not only do you get a decent run but you’re also benefitting from mastering a new skill.
* It was more like 1910!