This year’s Southern Night Championships took place at Penn and Common Woods, just north of Beaconsfield. The event was part of the two day Chilterns Night & Day, being put on by Thames Valley Orienteering Club.
Photo credits: Andy Johnson
There were some 300 entries for the Southern Championships, boosted by a large contingent of army personnel taking part in the Army Inter Corps Championships. After the bitterly cold windy weather over the previous few days, Saturday was calm and much milder. However it turned damp and misty as dusk fell. Headlamps lit up the mist, negating some of the advantage of the brightest lamps.
Organiser for the weekend Alun Jones says: “One of the biggest challenges with a night event is finding enough club members to run the event. Thames Valley Orienteering Club is a large club, but the membership is spread over a large area. With the event at the eastern end of our patch and many of our members based in Oxford and Abingdon, 30+ miles away to the west, we struggled to find enough helpers. However, several members of Berkshire Orienteers, the club immediately adjacent to us, offered to fill some of our gaps; we really appreciated their support.
“And things went pretty much like clockwork over the evening itself. Which was fortunate, because our teams had to be back on duty early the following morning for the second event of the weekend, a level C with nearly 500 competitors.”
Sarah Rollins, Southern Navigators, won the Womens Open class by a country mile. She commented: “I always wonder what on Earth I’m doing on a Saturday night in the dark, especially in some light misty drizzle... and then I get out in the forest and realise why. And yesterday was no different but in particular, apart from having one of those runs you only have once every few years (completely concentrated and no mistakes and felt great), it was made particularly good by the quality of the terrain, map and planning. And having the car park just next to a pub was a particular planning success!”
Men’s Open was much more closely contested. Jegor Kostylev won the class but, being a member of Interlopers, was not eligible to be Southern Champion. Alex Lines of Southdown Orienteers therefore took the honours this year. He said “The course and terrain were pleasantly challenging with nice variation between the woodland and the open areas. Limited visibility caused by the rain mist and denser woods meant accurate bearings were a necessity and allowed decent room for error when attacking one of the many depressions. I found utilising the twisty path network useful for reaching attack points and found the map reliable for doing this. A thoroughly enjoyable and memorable race.”
But perhaps the performance of the evening was Thomas Howell of Southern Navigators. An M16, he was running up at M18, which had the same course as Men’s Open. A stunning run saw him finish two minutes clear of Jegor. Clearly a star of the future.
Neville Baker, Planner noted: “I originally intended to use just Penn Wood but found the NE section too heavily brashed for Night-O, hence the decision to go across to Common Wood for the two longer courses. This meant a double road crossing but did provide an additional change of terrain. Penn itself had some nice variety for all the courses. There was quite a lot of ‘green’ on the map which needed avoiding but was useful in generating route choices. Fences in the area were not to be crossed so planning was compromised a little by the need to use the gates. I would like to thank Bob and Pattie Beresford for their excellent mapping efforts and both Controllers for their light touch. Gary Walford, the Sunday Planner, took on the job of sorting out all the course overprints for the whole weekend, quite a tricky thing with two map scales over the two days.”
Mike Pemberton, controller from Berkshire Orienteers, says: “Competitors seemed to enjoy their courses and were happy to talk through what went wrong for them. The weather was kind to us and most people had a good time.”
Neville, in his capacity as Thames Valley Orienteering Club Chair, also added: “I would like to thank the members of TVOC (plus some from other clubs), and the Controllers, for their sterling work in putting this event on”.
Full results are available here.
Thanks to the Woodland Trust and Penn & Tylers Green Residents Association for permission to run in the woods.
Planner: Neville Baker, Assiated by Gary Walford, both TVOC
Controller: Mike Pemberton, BKO, assisted by David Framption, HH
Organiser: Alun Jones, TVOC
Mapper: Bob & Pattie Beresford, TVOC
British Orienteering would like to thank all the volunteers for their hard work in putting on this event and for providing a great night of orienteering for many to enjoy.