Chairman's Report from the British Night Championships
Judith took part in this year's British Night Championships in Scotland.
British Night Championships, Aberdeen, Muir of Dinnet 23rd February 2019
“Are you here on holiday?” asked the receptionist at the Premier Inn, “no, just here overnight.”
I’d travelled up with my friend Kerstin who is a member of Harlequins Orienteering Club, and her son Alex. Kerstin is from Sweden, where they obviously think nothing of travelling 350 miles for an event! “Shall we do the British Night Champs?” she said last Christmas, “why not?” I replied, “It’s in Aberdeen……” she said. I said I’d think about it, but 2 days later she’d booked the hotel and car hire, entered the event and found flights!
So here I am, in Aberdeen for 1 night only to do the British Night Champs. I’d been preparing by doing a couple of localish night events, Rivington and Ilkley. So with head torch fully charged off we go.
Driving to the event centre I took the opportunity to read the final details, we would be using Emit instead of SI (I’ve never used Emit in competition) and there would be no kites at the controls! Instead there was to be a reflective baton. Things were looking a bit more complicated than I had anticipated and I wasn’t even there yet!
Map changes at the event centre showed a forest track/road which had appeared only the day before, although I looked at it, by the time I’d walked 2.5 km to the start I’d completely forgotten where it went.
On the course, I made serious errors at nearly every checkpoint. Fortunately I forgot to start my Garmin watch at the start so you can’t see the full extent of my incompetence on routegadget.
- Ø Start to Control 1 I followed the path past the OOB checking off the path to my right and the first path to my left, taking the 2nd path. So far so good! Followed the path south for 100m to the bend then took a bearing to the control. Managed not to see the large re-entrant which led to the control instead drifted left and followed the parallel re-entrant. Navigated back to the path to start again. Found it on the second attempt. The reflective batons were far more helpful than I had expected.
- Ø Control 1 to 2 Re-joined the path leading to the road, crossed the road and followed the track for 20-30m. Found the new forest road that I’d forgotten about, but couldn’t find the re-entrant to follow into my control. Over shot by miles and circled back to try again, and found 2 by accident as I tried to relocate.
- Ø Control 2 to 3 Followed the new forest road SW, but I couldn’t be sure how high up the slope it went. I crossed over the spur, but began to descent towards the road. Realising I was too low I turned back uphill and could see the reflector in my torchlight.
- Ø Control 3 to 4 Dropped down to the road and crossed, took a bearing, but struggled to identify any of the contour features I was crossing, with my confidence at an all-time low I stumbled across the junction of the overhead power lines. Navigated slowly on a bearing to 4.
- Ø Control 4 to 5 Took another bearing, but again struggled to tick off the contour features and strayed way off course, finding myself in the marshy area to the south of control 4. Stuck to the southerly stream, which I followed SW then used the knolls at the end of the marsh to navigate to the control. By this stage the benefits of reflective batons had become all too obvious and I was very grateful for them, although I had become temporarily fixed on something that reflected back from my light only to realise it was one of a pair, before it bolted off into the forest.
- Ø Control 5 to 6 I crossed the road near the long spidery re-entrant and found the large boulder cluster. I took another bearing, although I should have realised by now that my compass work is rubbish, aiming for the top of the ride immediately to the SE of the control. I didn’t find the ride, but almost fell over my control.
- Ø Control 6 to 7 By now I was very nervous of trying to use a bearing, but there isn’t much option. I tried really hard to keep a mental check on the contours and I think it worked as I found control 7 without too much difficulty.
- Ø Control 7 to 8 Using the same tactic as he last control, I broke the leg down into 2 sections using the small building as an intermediate attack point. To my surprise I hit it bang on and continued to the next control without incident.
- Ø Control 8 to 9 Crossed the road again and used the contour features in the forest to navigate to control 9
- Ø Control 9 to 10 Clearly using the contours now I had got my eye in was far more successful than using my compass, so I took a rough (very rough) bearing ticked off the features before crossing the marsh onto the open land. Straight onto control 10
- Ø Control 10 to 11 Feeling more confident, crossed the spur, then round the marsh and hit control 11 straight on.
- Ø Control 11 to 12 Should have trusted my compass, but deviated off my route to a small patch of woodland to the SW of my control, where I found a control in the re-entrant, but when I got there obviously it wasn’t mine. Climbed back up to control 12 and onto the finish.
1hour 36minutes to cover 4.4km!
What have I learned?
- Distance isn’t a barrier to the Swedes when they want to enter a Championship
- I don’t like Emit
- I do like reflective batons at night
- Try and take notice of where a new road is going on the map corrections
- My compass work is rubbish (more practice at night needed)