Brighton city race


Tessa Hill, women's victor in the Brighton City Race

Last week Southdowns Orienteers hosted the second Brighton City Race, a mass start night race around the tricky 'Lanes' area in central Brighton.

Tessa Hill (HOC) and Jonathan Crickmore (SO) were the open winners this year's Brighton City Race, with the Vet classes were won by Christine Robinson (SLOW) and Kenny Leitch (SO).



Tessa enjoyed the race, saying: " Brighton was cool, the course would have suited anyone and I found it interesting enough but it was not impossible for beginners. There was something crazy about running round the streets with a headtorch when everyone else was at christmas parties!" and was impressed by the organisation "The organiser pretty much did a one man show and it was very impressive to get such a website up and the promotion on runners world".

So, onto the organiser Rob Lines, who has provided the following information on the race and how it has developed, and provides a great example which could be replicated around the country:

The first running of the Brighton race was in 2009 and the aim for this year was to double the number of entrants and encourage more non-orienteers. I was inspired by the London City Race in September and talked to Ollie O'Brien about pinching whatever ideas I could. In particular this was around the use of an event website, and the text used to describe the race to the general running community. The website is at and on the front page we posted a video of last year's race made by Alex Lines. This seems like a useful tool to get over a general sense of the event, and a 2010 version has been produced by Alex for next year.

Southdowns has been running  a mid-week club night session for a couple of years and so it was a natural decision to schedule the race for the same timeslot that we normally meet. This year we moved from a Tuesday to a Wednesday night but this was simply to avoid fixture clashes with other events in the South East. Brighton's Christmas lights add to the atmosphere, and  it's probably the case that the colder weather at this time of year lowers the risk of anti-social behaviour. That said, we were very lucky to end up with an evening this year that dodged the snow and ice.

The race was listed on Runner's World and we enabled online entries via their site as this tends to lead to more promotion on their part. In the end we had 20 entries via RW which accounted for a quarter of the start list. Overall we had 34 non-orienteers out of 80, and compared to last year's total of 37 competitors, this was a good turn-out. The race also appeared on local listings site and this attracted a number.

The map was extended for this year and the scale changed from ISSOM 1:4,000 to 1:5,000, printed double-sided on A4.  The format was a mass start with four regular point-point courses. Although there was some concern that this might lead to following, analysis of the splits provides very little evidence of this.

Having attracted a relatively high proportion of non-orienteers, the event probably needed better management during the hour before the race with so many people unsure of the basics. However, feedback afterwards was positive and better support for newcomers is an area that can be fixed for next year. The third Brighton City Race will be at 7.30pm on Wednesday 14 December 2011.


So, a date for the diary next year if you fancy some nightime urban orienteering!

 You can find the official results, photos and the excellent event video (also below)

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