On October 11th, members of Edinburgh University Orienteering Club past and present gathered in the Playfair Library to celebrate fifty years of successful map reading at pace.
In 1964 fifty or so students crammed into a meeting room at the Pleasance sports centre to formalise Edinburgh University Orienteering Club. Fifty years later almost triple that amount attended a reunion organised by current members of the club.
A competition on Edinburgh’s Braid Hills in 1962 was the University’s first exposure to the sport of orienteering. In organising the event the then Deputy Director of PE looked to the University’s Hare & Hounds Club for athletes who he knew could run fast and hoped could map read too.
After their first outing on the Braids, athletes from the Hare & Hounds continued to successfully dabble in orienteering. At the 1962 Scottish Orienteering Championships in Dunkeld, science student Brian Jamieson was the first Scot home and repeated his victory in 1963. A year later the club was formalised.
Being much involved with the Orienteering Club broadened my horizons, metaphorically and literally. It introduced me to the skills needed in organising orienteering events and competing took me to parts of Europe I would never have visited otherwise.
Despite facing challenges ranging from complicated bus journeys to out of date OS maps, the founding committee successfully grew club membership and were soon hosting their own events.
The club quickly grew in both size and standard and members Geoff Peck and Peter Simpson represented GB at the 1968 World Orienteering Championships in Sweden.
By the late 1960s EUOC was leading the way both on and off the field. Innovative club members led the way in producing specially designed maps for orienteering whilst others were making GB selection and silverware a habit.
In March 1969 the club won the prestigious Jan Kjellstrom Trophy relay race; and as many as four current and past members Geoff Peck, Brian Jamieson, Douglas Wood and Susan Harvey (née Bone), represented GB at the 1970 World Orienteering Championships in Germany.
On Saturday 11th October 2014 the Jan Kjellstrom Trophy winning relay team were reunited at a gala dinner in the Playfair Library along with almost 150 current and former members of EUOC.
It was a unique opportunity whereby current student athletes found themselves listening to the tales of the early days from the club’s founding members.
As a first year, who had only been a member of EUOC for a matter of weeks, it was fantastic to hear the stories from "legends" of the past and speak with some of the alumni of the club. It made me appreciate the depth of history that surrounds the club and has inspired me for the years of orienteering to come.
In a testament to their sporting commitment, a number of current and past EUOC members took advantage of the reunion being on the same weekend as the Race the Castles event.
With several of the top positions going to both past and present EUOC members, the precedent set by Jamieson, Peck, Sloan and Barrow in the sixties continues to be met.