This week's Know Your Clubmate features our youngest committee member and our highest ranked competitor in the British Orienteering rankings.
Name: Rob Finch
Age Class: M21
What other orienteering clubs do you belong to or have you previously belonged to?
First started with NOC in 2012 while at University, then soon joined SOC second claim. Definitely appreciated the discounted student membership fees then as without them I wouldn't have joined SOC for a few more years.
When did you start orienteering and how?
At University, I was a Geography student and had been a runner since a teenager. In my second year, I was injured from un-sensible running and had this random thought: what actually is orienteering!? I've heard of it, I love running and I love maps so maybe I would like it! Turns out I did like it. Luckily Nottinghamshire OC happened to be putting on training on my university campus so I went along. Then greatly appreciated lifts to my first events, I progressed from orange, light green, green in consecutive events. My 4th event was a SOC summer series on the Common, then a blue, then that summer was shown really technical orienteering at the Welsh 6 Days!
How often do you go orienteering?
I am currently orienteering about once a week, mainly taking part in the Wessex Night League (give them a go, they're good fun and the dark isn't as scary as you think) and events in the New Forest. Occasionally get away for the weekend if the events look good and there's some people to go with (recently the Caddihoe in Dartmoor and Southern Long/Nights Forest of Dean way).
What do you enjoy about orienteering?
I really like how it is always an adventure. You start, have no idea where you will be going, pick up the map and off you go. Then it's down to you to get yourself round the course. Orienteering has taken me to so many random places: the New Forest, indoors at a National library, sand dunes, Scandi forests, abandoned ammunitions stores at night, former Soviet housing estates, university campuses, mountains etc etc!
Plus as above: I do love running, maps and being outdoors!
What is your favourite SOC area and why?
For some reason, I have fond memories of Hasley Hill (only run there once!)
What is your favourite orienteering discipline/distance and why?
Don't think I have a favourite, have enjoyed from sprint to long. Not yet figured out which I am best at or enjoy the most.
Car parking or controlling? What's your favourite orienteering volunteering?
Hanging and collecting controls are good (and extra chance to practice and enjoy the woods to yourself!) Otherwise, helping on the start or download are pretty good.
What is the high point of your orienteering career so far?
Performance-wise, I was very pleased with the British Sprints in 2018 when I finished 7th in the B final (equating to 25th overall). Also really happy with the Lake District Mountain Trial 2019, I've struggled with some fatigue and my fitness levels since last Summer so I was happy to finish 2nd in the medium course (over 4 hours of racing and probably my longest route choice leg yet ~4km).
What other countries have you orienteered in?
I have orienteered in a few countries: Portugal twice including for POM the Portugal O Meeting (think the JK, but more events and more international orienteers), Estonia and Latvia for week holidays. Finland was an incredible experience, I went for a training camp and then ran in the Jukola relay. I was 500th on the last leg (of a 7 person relay team). Jukola is the worlds largest event with >20,000 runners. The scale of the sport out there is amazing, they had a weeknight event with the same numbers as the Classic.
Thanks to Tamsin Moran for organising a lot of them and allowing me to tag along!
What training do you do?
Training consists of orienteering, running and yoga/stretching/occasional strength work. I try to run 3-4 times a week currently, including parkrun and some trail runs. I do a yoga class at work and my own stuff at other times. I used to do more and do structured training with intervals/hills reps etc. I try to pick up spare maps after events and (very) occasionally go out to the Forest to rerun an old course. For those who are keen, you can follow me on Strava or on Attackpoint here https://www.attackpoint.org/log.jsp/user_14482
What one piece of advice would you give other orienteers?
Try to spend some time analysing your own performances. Tools like Routegadget (the splits functions or GPS trace if you use a running watch) are very useful. In general, I try to analyse my mistakes and think what did I do, what happened, what went wrong and how would I do it differently. Then try to learn from it.
What keeps you busy when you're not orienteering?
Firstly, working at the OS takes up a lot of my daylight hours.
I regularly do parkrun most Saturdays (Southampton is my local, Eastleigh favoured as it is off-road) but also a keen parkrun tourist and have done most of the local ones. Try to volunteer for them too.
I enjoy fell running and walking/being in the hills and mountains and generally being outside. I am a member of a local 20-30s walking group so walk with them a bit too (with fellow SOC member Andy Nash).
What book are you currently reading?
Started the "The Old Ways" but not got into it and have one of the Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells on hand planning a Lakes trip with my Dad.
Anything else you'd like to share with your clubmates?
Try and encourage friends and people you think may enjoy orienteering to come along and try it. People may not really know what orienteering is and how good it is, but if you can introduce and help them, that is a great thing. I have had success contacting some friends and inviting them to come along and am currently helping my Dad get into it.