Report by Richard Gamble, Sporting Clubs Coordinator, Northern Ireland
After Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis had done their worst, North West Orienteering Club (NWOC) persevered with the Northern Ireland (NI) Score and Night Championships 2020 at Downhill on Saturday 22nd February.
However, the weather was not finished with us and it did it’s best to play havoc on proceedings. Apparently winds of 30mph winds with gusts up to 50mph does not classify as a storm if it wasn’t for the horizontal hail the hardy North West Orienteering Club folk would say it was a good drying day on the Atlantic coast.
As well as the beautiful clifftop fields grazed by cattle and sheep, the courses included areas of steep woodland and open rough. Mussenden Temple, perched dramatically on a 120 ft cliff top, high above the Atlantic Ocean and the ruins of Downhill House, a mansion built in the late 18th century for the 4th Earl of Bristol and Lord Bishop of Derry, offered a very atmospheric backdrop to the event.
The start was in the relative shelter of the ruined Downhill House. Competitors had 45 seconds to look at the map and hatch a plan before daring to head off. To keep their mind off the weather Senior runners had to decide which side of the map to start on. Once decided competitors could change map sides after punching all or as many controls as they wanted but could not then revert back to their first map side.
Well done everyone who competed, I am pleased to report that all brave souls who started did return. However, some maps didn’t (last seen on their way to the Scottish Islands) meaning a bit of map memory skills were needed!
The prizes for the 2020 NI Score Champions were awarded to:
Olivia Baxter (W Open), Daniel Earnshaw (M Open), Teresa Finlay (W Ultra Vet), David Blair (M Ultra Vet), Stephanie Pruzina (W Super Vet), Billy Reed (M Super Vet), Sarah Gamble (W40+), Richard Vasey (M40+), Rebecca Linton (W16-) and Peter Gamble (M16-).
For those who wanted a bit more exercise and excitement, there was more in store as soon the light faded away. Just across the road from the score event the compact, feature-rich Downhill Forest, was the location for the Night Championships.
With a few safety precautions taken and advice given (especially with regard to the usually crossable streams transformed into much deeper and fast-flowing rivers) headlamps were switched on and competitors ready to go.
The NI Night Champs for 2020 are:
Olivia Baxter (W Open) added to her Score win earlier in the day. Jonathan McCloy (M Open) who coming second in the Score exacted revenge on Daniel Earnshaw who this time had to settle for second place. Stephanie Pruzina, Richard Vasey and David Blair all added to their wins in the earlier Score event.
Well done and thank you to all the volunteers of North West Orienteering Club (NWOC) who put on a great days orienteering, enjoyed by all. The weather presented challenges to both the planning and organisation but didn’t get the better of you!