Moravian Mullochards Fight With the Night

After bingeing on carrots for a week, thirteen Moravians put their night vision to the test as they made the most of the last evening of mild weather before Caroline arrived with the next dose of winter storms.

Rejoicing in the name of Mullochard, the area near Carrbridge for round 1 of the Northern Night Cup has rarely been used in recent years. BASOC had subjected it to recent updating by Stirling Surveys, with what their website described as its mix of woodland, mainly birch trees, fast open areas and slower rough open, and a “wee bit” of marsh to provide shocks to the unwary and unobservant. The web site failed to mention dung, and Mick Curran is currently consulting the trade descriptions act – see later!

BASOC, judging by the popularity of their weekly Tuesday-night Dark-O training sessions, seem to prefer orienteering at night to the daytime variant enjoyed by more conventional folk.  They’re good at it! So it was hardly a surprise to see BASOC names occupying the top 5 positions on the Long course. Dave Weir (7th) gamely provided the nearest thing to opposition that Moravian could come up with, although 18 minutes and about 30 years separated him from course winner James Tullie who gained bragging rights over Jess, his GB international other half. The award for tenacity on this course has to go to Stuart Thompson and Fiona Newcombe. Our Nairn man, who is still getting to grips with orienteering in the daylight gamely held on with only two major walkabouts - to finish in a clear round with a time of 72 minutes. Night orienteering is really tough and there’s no shame in a time like that for almost 5Km. (Editor's note - there were a few mitigating circumstances deserving of more explanation that made a story in themselves. See Stuart's story at the end!)

On the 3.6 Km medium course Alan Halliday (Jess Tullie’s dad) showed that finding your way round around in the dark runs in the family. His 4th place, albeit beaten by 2 very good M14s from INVOC got Alan off to a decent start in the league as best senior male. Tenacity award in this course goes to Mick Curran who like Stu came home in around 72 minutes, also with that all-important clear round. Our duo of juniors, Ida Oikkonen and Isobel Howard gave their respective mums a good run out. Under the rules, juniors under 14 have to be accompanied by an adult unless they have proven ability at night orienteering. To her immense credit, Nikki somehow managed to run with both Isobel and Sophie who was the only junior among 5 runners who successfully completed the short course – in 2nd place too. It seems a shame that the NNC rules insist on shadowing yet then make the shadowed runners non-competitive. Both Isobel and Ida are pretty experienced competitors and did it all themselves, yet they don't score NNC points for their runs.

“No mother should run after two children without eating between to ensure their patience is sufficient to last the second run!” said Nikki afterwards. “They both enjoyed it and Isobel discovered why the use of fixed features like fences and pacing are best in the dark. Every run is a learning experience or so I was telling her as she made me walk through a bog for the umpteenth time.”

Mick clearly enjoyed himself. “I under estimated how much mud there would be and on the way to the start found out how much there was! At least the rest of the course was marsh and my shoes got cleaned. There are always a few things I try to take back from orienteering but that amount of cow poop isn't among them.”

“It was very muddy indeed,” confirmed Kaisa “Very boggy and very wet but fun. Ida didn't need any help on the medium course and I didn’t do myself any favours by running around with a very dimly lit torch. The parsnip soup was excellent!”

Commiserations go to David Ritchie who, having pre-entered, failed to find the start, missed out on his parsnip soup and ended up in Aberdeen instead.

Immense credit to BASOC for staging this event based out of an old cow shed, and getting result up on line within 30 minutes of the last finisher downloading. Organiser Lynne walker wrote on their web site “There was a positive vibe around which was due to the food village & computing being in a small sheltered area and this encouraged competitors to stay around discussing their course (and where they would have won if they had not done X, Y Z)."

And so it’s on to round 2 at Croy next week. It’s INVOC’s turn and they’re asking everyone to enter on-line by 9th Dec (Saturday night). And of course the one you really don’t want to miss is our Golf Course special, at Nairn Dunbar on 20th Dec. More on that next week. But before then, here is Stuart's story......

Guilty as (Fully) Charged

My Night by Stuart Thompson

When I signed up for the 1st event (and decided I should try and do the whole series) it was a slight worry that the first event coincided with the eve of my wife's birthday - when was I going to get chance to wrap her present and make her a fabulous cake? What about picking up the kids from their afternoon/evening activities (I would need to escape with the car leaving Mary-Ann stranded). Managed to arrange with the mother-in-law to pick Callum up from his guitar lesson and I was good to go.
In my usual manner, I arrived at the car park and registration a wee bit later than planned, but still in reasonably good time, so quickly changed into my shoes, checked head torch (plus spare), picked up map and headed to start. As described the track to the start deteriorated into a smelly churned up quagmire, so I had mud (and coo poo) over my ankles before even starting. Luckily there was no queue so I didn't have to linger. 
Checkpoints 1 & 2 were found promptly, which lulled me into a false sense of confidence - at which point I completely over shot CP3 ending up close to CP5. Retracing my steps I found CP3 then 4 and back to CP5 easily (as I had already been there, and even in the dark I managed to find it again). On the way to CP6 I caught up with another competitor. On the way to CP7 we took slightly different routes, so crossed the fence about 40m apart. On crossing the fence I heard a shout somewhere to my left, so went to investigate. The poor guy had got in lace caught on some barbed wire and was stuck on the fence unable to free his foot! Quickly I managed to free him and set back off to CP7.
I think it was somewhere between CP8 & 9 that my torch suddenly went out. Perturbed, I switched on my 2nd torch (which was also on my head and continued on). Unfortunately my 2nd torch is a Petzl Tikkina which is a great wee torch for camping and the likes, but not so good for running round a forest. However I did have a spare set of batteries for my main torch so I decided to change them to see if that would help. After a few minutes of fumbling around (the last battery was a bit stuck) I put the new batteries in - but this was to no avail. Oh well, I'd now got the last 5 or 6 CPs to do with the Tikkina. Surprisingly I managed round the rest of the course without too much trouble (ok, there was the missing CP17 and going straight to CP18!!). 
On the way back to the car I decided to work out why my Silva head torch had given up on my half way round. I noticed a bit of play in the wire connected to the battery pack (on a waistbelt) so gave it a waggle to see if this was causing a loose connection. Next thing I know the wire had broken and sparks were flying everywhere from a short circuited battery pack (with fully charged batteries!!) and all I could smell was burning. I managed to eventually fling the battery pack to the ground but not before getting burned - including a big hole in my top (glad I haven't got around around to buying one of those expensive Moravian top yet ;-) ) Luckily as it was dark (and no-one else was around) nobody saw my strange dance/flap in the middle of the road!
I'm not really sure I can blame any of that on my time, although if I'd left that guy hanging from the fence, maybe I might have beaten somebody! 
All in all a great event - can't wait for the next one - need to order a new torch though!
PS On returning home I was told that my mother-in-law had forgotten to pick up Callum from guitar, and another Moravian (Ali W) found a distraught child in Nairn Academy and kindly brought him home!
PPS The Death by Chocolate birthday is in the so hopefully the birthday party is saved!


Event report and results from Mullochard

Route Gadget - have a look at that delectable map and great courses

Great report!

This had me chuckling anyway and wiping away a tear or two!