Report by Ric Gamble, Chair of Lagan Valley Orienteers
It was Fermanagh Orienteering Club's turn to host the 2021 Northern Ireland Orienteering Championships, meaning that together with a great western welcome would come the twinkle in the eye of mischief.
With a clearing morning and a dry forecast ahead, 10.30 am on Saturday morning saw the first of the starters line up on the fringe of the boulder-strewn forest on the Cavan Burren. Those of us who were here two years ago when Fermanagh Orienteers hosted the Irish Championships, passed on warnings to the unsuspecting, to keep things slow, to begin with, in the hope to get out of the forest unbroken in body, mind, and spirit and onto the open hillside.
Most managed this, but not all!
When you get out onto the open hill of the Cavan Burren you will see it is an amazing place. If you are not lost on the map and look up, the scenery is beautiful. However, due to the intricacies of the terrain made by the underlying geology, the eye can’t be tempted to stray for too long and does need to stay focused on the map. In fact, some of the geology is not underlying, the landscape has visible patches of limestone pavement; this, along with innumerable pits and crags makes for some careful running and navigation. The planning of Ciara Largey made the most of this, meaning the errors were not only confined to the earlier forest legs. At the finish, I don’t think there was much noise of a clean run.
Twelve excellent courses were planned, with Course 1 being 10.9km with 290m of a climb. You can check them out at NIOC 2021 Cavan Burren 2021-10-16 (routegadget.co.uk). There was great competition enjoyed by the three Northern Ireland clubs along with their friends in the South and a few who made the trip across the Irish Sea. Northern Ireland's biggest club, Lagan Valley Orienteers, had fifteen category winners, with both North West Orienteering Club and Fermanagh Orienteers bringing two titles each home.
As well as thanking Ciara for her excellent planning, huge thanks also must go to Val Jones of FINGAL for controlling – with the NI Champs taking place on the South, this truly was a cross-border effort. The professionalism, as always, of the whole event, was organised by Raymond Finlay with a great deal of help from Teresa and many other fantastic volunteers.
Full results are available here.
Thanks again Fermanagh Orienteers, we always enjoy the fact that the level of challenge meets the level of your welcome!
Above photos: Competitors enjoying the event last weekend.
Photo credits: Juls Hanvey, Sporting Clubs Coordinator (Northern Ireland)