Report by Pat Macleod, British Nights Orienteering Championships Organiser
Sadly the 2021 British Night Champions will only get to keep their trophies for a few months, but after much frustration and Covid induced delay, not even storm Arwen managed to stop us finally staging what proved, I think, to most people, a thoroughly challenging but enjoyable event. I did wonder as I drove up from a snow-free Forest of Dean whether we'd get away with it when I saw snow blanketed Cleeve Hill, but with the help of the Cleeve Common Ranger, the golf club, the Cotswold Way cafe, and of course an army of willing helpers, get away with it we did.
- We had 315 pre-entries, perhaps a little over the average for the British Nights, and 273 runners, so a somewhat higher than average drop-out rate, probably due to the weather; very few Covid related refunds.
- We printed just over 200 food vouchers, not all taken up of course, but suggesting that pre-ordering food, which I thought many would not be keen to do, was in fact quite popular.
- Not so much a numerical statistic, more just an eye-opener, but an eye-watering one. Spatially, 300m and 6 contours separated the area outside the golf club from the start; Meteorologically, one was normal UK autumn, the other arctic temperature, and windchill. The change was halfway up, very sudden, and quite startling.
- Winning times were largely within spec, so the weather clearly didn't interfere with the orienteering; in fact, many commented on how wonderful it was to run at night in the snow, and what was also commented on as an outstanding map.
- The start seemed to work well with its 'virtual' tents but decent lighting. We couldn't get the tents up, so just used the frames to support the lighting.
- Having a warm and snug golf club for post-run analysis, drinks, and prizegiving was a huge benefit, and great credit must go to the club, which changed hands during the gestation period for this event, the bar manager and his wife only starting work on 1 November. The new owners nevertheless honoured in full every arrangement we had made with the previous owners.
- The very early starts were a little chaotic, for which we apologise to those runners affected; the lack of shelter meant that we decided not to put maps and control descriptions out until the last minute, but whilst the map boxes had all been taped down, the CDs, although glued and hung on secure pegs, just started blowing away one by one. Put in bags, the whole bag blew away. So we resorted to handing them out, and some course 1 runners regrettably had to go without until we retrieved the bag from the bushes down gale.
- We had one control fail early in the event, but most people used the backup punch. Some didn't, but in the interests of the event as a whole, we decided to remove that control from the affected courses. Backup punches may be '1980s' technology, as one comment was made, but they always work – can't be said for even the latest technology.
- Despite a request in the final details, and a fair amount of detailed information on the start procedure, most runners neither displayed their bibs over their waterproof nor knew which lane they were supposed to be in. So it took extra work to make sure people got into the right lane for their maps. Many people seem very blasé about final details, even brash in claiming that they never read them. They are there to make life easier for runners and helpers alike, and if everyone did what they were asked, complex processes like a timed start in the Arctic would run much more smoothly.
- We were very lucky with parking. We knew we would struggle, but had a plan B. The problem was that snow largely invalidated plan B, and we had no plan C. We should have had, and it's hugely to the credit of the parking team that we didn't in the end need a plan C.
- Parking for campers and camper vans was part of plan B and barely worked. We apologise to those who paid for camping pitches but weren't able to use them, though I think we did accommodate everyone in the end.
The last comment from the Organiser; the volunteer team was outstanding. We had two ladies, both on the start, neither of them club members, one an occasional orienteer and maprunner, the other newly moved into our patch from Northern Ireland, yet to join us, who along with all the other start team people stood cheerfully steering runners through the process, then stripped down the start and carried it all back down the hill to the van. Never a complaint, always a smile, always a willing hand to do whatever was asked of them. North Gloucestershire Orienteering Club (NGOC) may not be a high-profile club in the orienteering rankings, but we have as good a bunch of volunteers as you could find anywhere, and in the end, all credit for the success of BNOC 2021 belongs to them.
Finally, feedback from runners has been all positive.
"A memorable and well-organised event."
"Thanks for a wonderful event on Saturday night!"
"I am impressed the event still went ahead in those conditions. It was an incredible experience to run around in the snow and the dark. Definitely, one that will be remembered!"
"What a super treat last night was! It was awesome. I was really buzzing at the finish. Job very well done to you and the team."
Photo credits: North Gloucestershire Orienteering Club
British Orienteering would like to thank Pat Macleod, British Nights Orienteering Championships Organiser, and all members of North Gloucestershire Orienteering Club for your hard work and determination in making this night event finally happen. Some very challenging conditions and as one competitor comments "definitely an awesome event to remember".
Congratulations to all British Orienteering Night Champions crowned in their individual age categories.
Preliminary results are available here.
Save the date!
Plans for the British Orienteering Night Championships 2022 are already well underway. The event is to be held on Ilkley Moor and is being hosted by Airienteers (AIRE) on 19 February 2022, it is followed the next day by a National Event and UK Orienteering League (UKOL) on Burley and Ilkley Moor. Entries are due to open very soon.
To find out more details are available here.
Important to please note: Renew your membership in plenty of time to ensure that you take advantage of the early closing date fees for the Major Events taking place in the early part of 2022.