CAPRICORN 2013, Aug 31 2013

Mandy Goth & James Logue - CAPRICORN winners 2013, Bill Griffiths - Organiser

Date of event: Sat 31st Aug 13
Type of event: Other
Nearest town: Ramsbottom, Lancs


Full Results (including splits)

Controller's Comments:

My special thanks to Steve for some very helpful map improvements. I think Judith did a brilliant job with her distribution of control sites, and also with the distribution of values. It is well-nigh impossible to be confident of an optimal strategy for any of the time options - and I defy anyone to do better in terms of usage of the usable bits of the area. Personally, I would have scooted up the West of the map and left all the tricky choices until I had an idea of how much time I had to play with - but the vast majority of people seemed to read it differently and went East first.

What constitutes a fair control site is much more tricky for events on OS maps than proper O maps. For example, in a normal event, you can't put a control on a feature that isn't on the map - but I'd say 112 (ruin) was completely fair even though the map there simply shows a blank patch of flat ground. 108 (10m high building) was probably the only fair site in the quarry area. Commiserations to people who lost time finding unforeseen difficulties eg. at 125 (which works perfectly if attacked from the fence corner above, but not so well using paths that aren't mapped); 119 (where the plausible-looking stream fork to the West is only mapped as a slight kink in the contours); 111 (certainly fair if dubious on accessibility - but even so, much improved on the original control site which would have led you through an absolutely huge pile of manure).

As a score event purist I was very concerned that the available area wasn't big enough for the advertised 4-hour option - and it manifestly wasn't big enough for the usual rule that no-one should be able to get them all. However, the positive comments from all the 4-hour runners I talked to afterwards have changed my view, and I see that mantra is not necessarily appropriate for this kind of event. You live and learn.

John Briton MDOC - Controller.


Planner's comments:

I would like to thank John Britton (controller) for his patience and guidance during the planning of this event. As a relative novice at planning this type of event his input has been invaluable.
Also thank you to Steve Wilson for producing such a good quality map and for all his advice regarding basic principles of planning score events. Being a competitor in countless score events over the years doesn’t necessarily qualify you as a planner!

I had considered that planning an event in an area which I considered as familiar as my own front garden would be quite straight forward. I knew all the paths, gulleys, hilltops etc. what could possibly go wrong? Well for a start, recent new planting of woodland with accompanying new fences caused a headache in terms of how to guide competitors around the affected area as opposed to crossing it. Secondly new bog reclamation work in the northern area of the map restricted access further. Finally the initial plan had been a 3 hour event, but together with Bill we took a gamble on adding a 4 hour score, thinking 4 hours would temp competitors to the northern end of the map. In the planning phase we weren’t sure if anyone would collect all the controls. John was insistent from the start that the courses would prove too short. Good call John.

My competition aims were to provide multiple route choices, using varied terrain and on the advice of Steve Wilson, mixing the control values to make it difficult to choose the optimum route. However this then made it tricky to anticipate how competitors would attack some controls. It simply hadn’t occurred to me that anyone would approach 129 from the north and in so doing would attempt to follow the disused railway line, which one competitor found to his cost was almost impassable. In hindsight we should have added a few red crosses on the northern end of the disused railway nearer to control number 106. Sorry.

Providing enough choice for those competitors entering the 2 hour score was yet another challenge, which I attempted to address by providing a few high scoring controls within reach, giving a realistic 210 points for most competitors. In the event the winner collected a creditable 351 points.
Those competitors entering the 3 hour score had a choice of aiming for the far north west of the map or collecting the points around the disused railway to the east. The winner opting for the latter.
The 4 hour score was always going to cause a nail biting wait for the planner and in the event 4 competitors managed to collect all the controls. However the decision as to whether to include a 4 hour option was supported by the positive comments on the day.

Are there things I would do differently? Essentially not really, maybe a couple of minor adjustments, in addition to the addition of the crosses mentioned above perhaps siting the control (125) elsewhere in the quarry to the south east of the map or at least adding the extra path along the fence to the east of the control would have made it easier for some competitors. Also the control on the ruin (112) that wasn’t on the map could have been easily rectified with a last minute map correction.

On the whole the day was positive for all those involved, Bill (organiser), John and myself as planner. Thank you and congratulations to all the competitors who turned up to the event who made the time and effort worthwhile.

Judith Wood PFO - Planner


Organiser’s Comments:

Holcombe Moor is an area that hadn’t been used for long distance orienteering and posed a challenge getting the permissions in place. Fortunately these came together but took much longer than anticipated with the result that the planning was squeezed into a small time frame. I would like to express my thanks to the landowners – The National Trust, United Utilities, and The Ministry of Defence for allowing us access and for the help from Edward Thomas the chair of the commoners.

There were also concerns as to the runnability and whether we could get a good event out of the area. It was a great relief to find that the competitors enjoyed the event and the area.  From the organiser’s viewpoint Judith did a great job planning and making the event a success.

The team of helpers from PFO did a sterling job ensuring that everything went off smoothly.  Thank you all.

Bill Griffiths PFO - Organiser.


Competitor's views:

"Thank you to all at PFO for a thoroughly enjoyable event and so well organised.  I honestly wasn't upset at not having to run for 4 hours, I think you pace yourself for the distance and time involved so I had a good hard run."  JL - Capricorn Trophy overall winner.

"Thanks to your team for a really good event in an area that was completely new to me and well worth a visit. I even had the bonus of seeing the steam train as I punched the control on the NCN6 cyclepath.  We have always enjoyed the Capricorn over the years, particularly the classic Back O'Skidda events.  We look forward to your offering next year: but a bit more publicity would be helpful!"  SW.

"I really enjoyed the event - a bit like the Capricorns of old - felt quite nostalgic! - and will keep fingers crossed that your hopes for 2014 will be realised.**
Meanwhile, thank you all again for this year."  RW.

[**PFO note: to use a larger area where the longest course is  4 hours for everyone.  3 and 2 hour courses will, of course, be retained.] 

Lost & Found:  Pair of Sprayway Overtrousers, Black - please contact Bill Griffiths on to arrange return.


Original pre-event information below here:


New SAFETY and ARRIVAL PROCEDURES added 28/8/2013 - see below:

Start your OMM build-up with the CAPRICORN 2013 with a score format competition.

The Capricorn continues PFO's long tradition of providing running and map reading competition over varied and tough open-fell terrain.
The map will be an extract of the OS 1:25000 with overlays of important extra detail.

Important notes from Judith Wood (planner):

The competition area crosses open access land, which is characterised by rough open moorland with tussocks and long grass, with short but steep gullies on the eastern flank. The boundary of the open access land is marked by a wide orange line on the map. The moorland is surrounded by farms and enclosed pastures, which must only be crossed by keeping to paths and using gates and stiles.
In general, the paths marked in both green and black on the map are usable, although there may be sheep tracks which are not marked.
Competitors choosing to visit the eastern boundary will have to cross a minor road. The road crossing will not be manned. Traffic is usually light but vehicles can be travelling at speed, so care will be needed. This part of the map visits national trust woodland, which also has marked paths and a traffic free cycle way (disused railway). This is identified by a series of orange dots on the map and will offer fast running.
There is a complex quarried area to the north of the map which is marked as a “disused quarry”. This area is not accurately represented on the map, being devoid of any contours and has numerous paths and tracks which are not marked.

Out of bounds:
At the request of local landowners several areas have been placed out of bounds. There has been recent planting of new woodland to the north and east of the map, enclosed by numerous new fences which are not crossable. Please respect the wishes of the landowners and keep out of these areas and only cross walls and fences at the crossing points identified.


  • - A whistle must be carried.
  • - The forecast for Saturday is bright and warm (14 deg C) with moderate winds (15mph) from the WNW.  
  • - There is no drinkable water on the moor - take your drink and sustenance.
  • - Wind/waterproof top and trousers.  FRA rules decree that both must be carried, so bring both with you.  The Organiser may relax this rule on the day, however we recommend a minimum of carrying a suitable top.
  • - Competitors may carry mobile phones for safety, but in the spirit of mountain marathon events these should be switched off and GPS features not used, except in the event of an emergency.
  • - DO NOT pick up any objects off the ranges.  Over the years all types of ordnance have been used.  Leave well alone.

Note for non-competitors:  The start and finish is on MOD property, but as you would hope, there will be no live firing on the day of the competition!  You may walk in the area at your own risk.  Spare maps will be made available after the last start time.



events location


Nearest town: Ramsbottom, Lancs
Grid Ref: SD765154
Postcode: BL8 4JA
Latitude: 53.63136
Longitude: -2.35216
Google Map (aerial) - Bing Map (OS)


Planner: Judith Wood PFO
Organiser: Bill Griffiths PFO
Controller: John Britton MDOC
Contact: Bill Griffiths 01706 876984 or

Info for dog owners

No dogs - this is farming country.


There is one rudimentary flush toilet at registration.  There may be a queue.
There is no catering at the finish, though hot and cold drinks will be freely available.

Image Gallery

Click the image for a larger version.

Mandy Goth & James Logue - CAPRICORN winners 2013, Bill Griffiths - Organiser

Mandy Goth & James Logue - CAPRICORN winners 2013

Looking up Holcombe valley to 119 (skyline gully), Judith Wood - Planner

Looking up Holcombe valley to 119 (skyline gully)

Control 108,

Control 108, "Building 10m high" at Musbury Quarry

Looking SW from near 108 towards 121

Looking SW from near 108 towards 121 "Reentrant"

Peel Tower, above Ramsbottom.., Internet

Peel Tower, above Ramsbottom..

The flank of Tor Hill, Internet

The flank of Tor Hill

Forest terrain at Calf Hey., Internet

Forest terrain at Calf Hey.


Please note: when entering our events your name may appear in the results section of this website or in newspaper reports.

Read our privacy policy to see how we look after your personal data.

Posted by Steve Wilson