Report on Woodlands Historic Park RadiO event

Woodlands – 2m Fox-Or  

Sun, 1 April, 2007

Ian Holland, VK3YQN

An introductory CombO event was held at Woodlands Historic Park (just North of Tullamarine airport) on 1st April in conjunction with the Tukonie Orienteering Club.

I e-mailed an invitation to a few friends to encourage potential newcomers to the sport and was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who said they would come. I therefore planned an event tailored for newcomers, especially families. This was done by setting courses that combined finding some Fox-Or transmitters with finding some of the Orienteering controls that lay between the transmitter sites, thereby giving the kids in particular something exciting and challenging to do every few minutes. The result – a CombO event. I also put out a few treats for the kids at some of the RadiO controls close to the start.

There were 26 Orienteering controls and 6 Fox-Or controls.

4 Orienteering/Fox-Or combination courses were available (but no separate RadiO-only course), covering a range of ability and experience. There were 3 courses based on time:

  • RA: All 6 Fox-Or + any 15 orienteering controls (approx length 10k)
  • RB: Any 5 Fox-Or + any 12 orienteering controls (approx length 7.5k)
  • RC: Any 3 Fox-Or + any 8 orienteering controls (approx length 4.5k) – specifically designed for beginner families

These courses didn’t have a time limit, other than when the Finish closed around 1:30pm.

The course lengths above are approximate and are between 0.5 and 1km higher than the calculated straight line distances to allow for out of bounds areas, fences, etc.

If the 10 km CombO course wasn’t challenging enough, there was also a score-based course (RD). The aim was get as many points as possible within a time limit of 80 minutes (orienteering controls scored between 5 and 15 points (depending on their location) and the 6 Fox-Or controls were each worth 20 points).

Registration opened at 9:30 and staggered starts were planned from 10 to 12 noon, although some experienced entrants were allowed to leave after this time.

The turnout to the event was an impressive 114 competitors (21 of these did the CombO courses), although the number of people attending was somewhat higher than this figure (especially for the CombO courses) as quite a few of the participants were family groups.

Deciding on the number and type of courses was challenging – there needed to be enough of them to span at least from beginner to advanced levels but not too many or there would end up being only one entrant in a course and therefore make scoring that course fairly meaningless. Fortunately with 21 RadiO entrants the choice of 4 courses resulted in at least 2 people doing each course, with most doing the course focussed on beginners (RC) as expected.

The weather on the day was close to perfect – it had been forecast all week as “Fine & 22” but on the morning of the event the forecast had changed to “Early drizzle, clearing in the afternoon, 22”. Fortunately no drizzle was encountered at the event even in the early morning while putting out the controls.

Everyone who attempted the RA, RB and RC courses managed to find all of the required controls and the kids managed to find a few lollies that were left with the 3 closest RadiO controls.

For those that are interested I’ve posted images of the routes I used to determine the course lengths for the RA, RB and RC courses at I don’t guarantee these are the optimal courses and obviously the actual length on foot is somewhat more than the cartography software calculated as straight lines between the controls. This is especially true for the RA course because getting to the R3 control required navigating around an uncrossable fence to a gate.

Here are the summarised results by course (if you are not one of those mentioned but would like to know your time or place, let me know).

RA (2 entrants)
Marta Salek 75:58
Mark Besley 97:15
RB (5 entrants)
Won by Bryan Ackerly in a time of 51:38.
Other competitors times ranged from 71:44 to 114:48
It should be noted that Bryan’s time in this event is doubly impressive in that he had just completed the 10km Run For the Kids event in the morning in a very fast time with a focus on bringing extra sniffers to the Woodlands event as soon as possible, which he managed to do just as the first lot of sniffers ran out (thanks Bryan). Last across the line was Fitzel (Marta’s dog), closely followed by his companion David.
RC (11 entrants)
Won by Diane Shalders in a time of 42:56
Most beginners chose this course and treated it more as a learning/fun exercise rather than as a competitive event. All entrants, despite most never doing any form of orienteering before, managed not only to get around their chosen route without getting lost but also to find all the required controls.
RD (timed event: 80min limit, 2 entrants)
Bruce Paterson, time 80:10, score of 325.
Catherine Sheahan, time 82:10, score of 150
When Bruce arrived at the finish, I was quite astonished at the level of perspiration that was literally pouring off him. He had clearly been running VERY hard for quite a while. It wasn’t until I looked at his control card that I understood why. He had managed to find all of the Fox-Or controls except R4 (the one furthest south) AND all but one of the 26 orienteering controls! According to his stopwatch he had managed to get back within the last minute of the 80 minute limit, but according to the official timer, he was 10 seconds over the limit!


As I hadn’t done orienteering (other than at school – that’s MANY years ago) and this was the first RadiO course I’d set I had a steep learning curve in a number of areas. A very big thank you is due to the following people:

  • My brother John for helping me extensively tour the park to find suitable control locations and deploy & collect the controls on the day;
  • Huge thanks to Bruce Paterson for coping with endless e-mails of questions from me, lending me one of his bikes, going back out to pick up 2 of the controls after doing the hardest course (RD) and for handing out sniffers and training people when John and I were overdue back at the Registration tent (it took a LONG time in the field untangling the pile of control flags and punches – should have checked that box of items more thoroughly before the event);
  • The TK orienteering club, in particular Julie Sunley, Janetta Davis & Lindsay Thomas.

Without these people’s help this RadiO event would not have been anywhere near as successful.

Thanks also to Marta and Adam and all the newcomers I invited who took up the challenge and turned up to try something quite different from the average Sunday outing.

Thanks to everyone who went out of their way to tell me they enjoyed it; that made all the effort very worthwhile.

Ian Holland VK3YQN
Victorian ARDF Group