Map out your race

Thames Valley Orienteering Club is running another Thame Urban Race this year, with the support of Thame Town Council. It takes place on Sunday September 1, with courses for all ages and abilities.

It is a race with a twist – there is no set route to the courses. Each competitor is given a special orienteering map, showing a series of checkpoints around the town. The challenge is to visit all the checkpoints around Thame, using your map to choose your own route between each one.  Each checkpoint is marked by a flag and an electronic timing chip is used to record progress.

Last year’s event featured around 400 participants, including runners, children and families, and this year’s is set to be even larger. Anyone can take part and no experience is necessary. It is a unique opportunity to explore the streets, alleys and parks of Thame in an adventure race for all the family.

The courses will range from short easy ones, between 1 and 3km, around Cuttlebrook Nature Reserve, with longer ones venturing around the alleys and paths of the town centre and the complex Lea Park estate, between 5km and 10km.  The longer courses are also geared up for the more competitive and for runners looking for a new challenge.

Mike Shires, of the orienteering club, said: ‘Most people don’t realise that orienteering is a competitive running sport. However, orienteering really is a sport for all.

‘Our events attract keen runners as well as plenty of families who come along for a jog or walk around a course.  It’s one of the few sports where you can have a go as a family, and we had lots of family groups taking part last year.  At Thame, we’ll also have a special junior course too around Cuttlebrook Nature Reserve, which is safe for young children to have a go.’

Thames Valley Orienteering Club is one of the largest of its kind in the UK, with more than 250 members, and is seeing a growth in interest sparked by the club’s successful local Saturday Series events, run monthly at such venues as Wendover Woods, Waddesdon Manor, Brill Common and Shotover Country Park.

To have a go at Thame, just turn up to Thame Town Hall between 9.30am and 11.30am. There will be plenty of help on hand for newcomers. The cost is £8 for the shorter courses and £16 for longer courses, including a special detailed map of Thame to keep as a souvenir, and hire of a timing chip.  People can also pre-enter online for cheaper rates.  For more details visit the orienteering club’s website at or see the Facebook event page at