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On 8th October 2005, the Welsh Orienteering Short Distance Open Championship was born to the WOA family. Whether it will be a long-lived offspring has yet to be seen, but its initial appearance at Pontypool Park met with a good welcome and one can have reasonable hope that the event will grow to a healthy maturity. Before being christened at Pontypool, the SDOC already suffered some severe identity crises, name changes, and a host of foster parents, and I thought its short history and origins of some interest to share.

SDOC was conceived in an SBOC committee meeting as, yet again, the eternal problem arose of how to attract more competitors to a Welsh O event - this time the St David's Day Welsh Champs event in 2006. In an attempt to create a two-day formula of manageable proportions, the idea of a single course run on a handicap basis was suggested. (As the juniors often have coaching on that weekend, the requirement for junior courses was considered less than usual, and a simpler event format thus more possible.) As a gesture of goodwill and confidence in the idea, (and ever a sucker) I agreed to plan the 2006 event and to offer the idea to WOA in case it found sufficient favour to be wanted as a Welsh Champs event.

To say that "the rest is history" one week after these humble beginnings is perhaps over-dramatising the situation, but the WOA committee approved the idea of a Welsh short distance championship, and SWOC liked the idea sufficiently to ask if they could hold it first at their 2005 event, which they subsequently did. I will admit it took an awful lot of emails to thrash out the final format, name and prizes, but the outcome seems to have found favour and been a success. Well done SWOCcies! - for a good event as well as your tactful and well considered approach to all the difficulties. Your act will be a difficult one to follow.

But follow it we will: SBOC will host SDOC on Pen Rhiw Wen on 4th March 2006, so this time it will not be a park event, but is expected to be a slightly shorter course. The event will share the venue and day with the Future Champions Cup races (as on the following day when the Classic Event will be run). Another weekend of high quality Welsh O beckons and we hope to see you there. 

Advance notice has also been received of SDOC's 2nd birthday to be celebrated in 2007 in North Wales, so the new Welsh baby looks like growing up!

A postscript on the format and naming of the event: In our initial ignorance, names such as "Short" and "Sprint" were used interchangeably, but as we came to realise that "Sprint" has become a loaded "O" word with a well defined format we realised that our non-conformist Welsh offspring needed more flexibility. It thus became the Short Distance Championship, which fortunately was what SWOC had been calling the event all along anyway! Hopefully this name will prove a good one and allow us to form the event best suited to Welsh requirements.

And finally, a word about the trophy, which Roger and I decided to sponsor for the event in the hope that it will contribute to its future success and prestige: Having hunted high and low for something a bit different but with Welsh character and appeal to any age and sex, I was thrilled to find a company in Merthyr Tydfil that was willing to design and make something specially for the event with our personal input. I hope you like the final product. It spent only one short week on our display cabinet, probably for the only time in its life, but I will be doing my best to get it back there again. (Get training, Roger!). Congratulations to Rhodri for achieving this feat this year, and to all future winners.

Hopefully the Glass Dragon will be a prestigious prize that we will all covet and strive to win for many years to come, as the one Welsh trophy that any of us can win and we can all compete against each other for on equal terms. 

Oh, and if the event fails to make the grade, I bags the trophy back. So please don't drop it - it really is glass!

PS: If you'd like to make suggestions about or give feedback on this new event please feel welcome to pass your comments on to me.

Bridget Stein (SBOC)


The format of these Championships will consist of a single course of Green standard open to all-comers.

A technically easy course (Yellow/Orange standard) can also be provided to encourage families to attend the Welsh Champs weekend.

SDOC 2005 Pictures
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