Once Upon a Time at Lochandinty - Moravians do Northern Night Cup Round 2

As every sane individual knows, there are few things more enjoyable in the depths of winter than floundering around a pitch black forest in the darkest of freezing nights.

And as Mick Curran’s girls keep telling him, every good story should start with “Once upon a time” and should include a hero and villain. Here is the story of Round 2 of the Northern Night Cup, played out on the tundra that is Lochandinty near the barren wastelands of Croy. Thirteen Moravian Cinderellas set off for the party, but who had a ball and who were the ugly sisters?

Lochandinty – its meaning from the ancient Scots tongue loosely translated as “Loch of the polar bear’s fridge” attracted a small gathering of the very hardiest of Moravians.

The baker’s dozen of Moravians among the 50 or so runners did anything but bake in the blackest of sub-zero moonless Highland nights, where all but the most twinkle toed had a big enough challenge to overcome 900 metres of black ice just to get to the start, never mind what came after. But get to the start everyone did, and the race for survival was on.

Just as happened at Mullochard last week, Alan Halliday was left wearing the glass slippers. He got the biggest Moravian points haul after his third place on the medium course. His better half Jane, having obviously upset her fairy godmother somewhere along the way, had rather less celebrating to do. Mrs H is normally to be found well up the results in major events - she’s the 6th highest ranked W55 in Britain don’t you know? But Jane showed her human side, giving mighty encouragement to novices everywhere by taking 17 minutes to find no 2 and retiring in despair!  No such luxury for Mick Curran who enjoyed all one hour and 54 minutes of his adventure, with his 38 minutes for leg 5 just a minor blot on his landscape. “Control after Control was spiked” said Mick afterwards. “Confidence grew then came along control number 5 where my plan of attack did not work, nor did plan B,C or any other letter, and seeing other orienteers suffering the same fate I did feel for them!” OK, so it didn’t quite work for Mick but he wasn’t the only one, by a long way, and at least he got round before the clock struck midnight and his carriage home turned in to a pumpkin. Nobody can take away Mick's glory of being fastest of all 17 runners on the very next leg. Talk about a good recovery! Consistency is a work in progress for our Mick.

Meanwhile, on the Long Course, Mairi Weir was showing how it should be done. Her eventual 6th place wasn’t quite fast enough to get amongst the nocturnal BASOC quintet who occupied the top 5 places. How do they get so unfeasibly good? Practicing every Tuesday night instead of watching East Enders might have something to do with it. It would have been interesting to be a fly on the windscreen on Mairi’s journey home listening to her normally-consisitent dad Dave explaining away his Mick-like disaster at no 5, all 20 minutes and 38 seconds of it.

Stu Thompson was having an altogether better experience than last week as this time his head torch steadfastly refused to catch fire. Unfortunately his brain’s fire-retardant protection system wasn't quite so reliable, giving up right at the end. With the glory of a clear round in not much over the hour in his grasp, our Stu, euphoric at reahing the last one, just punched whichever control he happened to be at (ie not the right one) and sped off to the finish. “It didn’t feel quite right” lamented Stu, “I was too busy following other people.” Lesson learned? We shall see.  Colin Matheson, who in his own words “started, finished and wasn’t last” helpfully explained: “The last control on the long could easily be missed and in fact in the nearby hollow was another control with a similar code (one number out). Just as well I checked!”

Dave Ritchie was a contender for the Ugly Sister award. Having arrived at the event via Aviemore, Carrbridge and finally Dunphail, he discovered he’d come without his head torch. Not good. A dash to Inverness to get one left him with the 'loneliness of the last starter' syndrome on the Medium course, so perhaps not the best of preparation. You’ve got to have a bit of sympathy for that 35-minute mistake at no 11, all alone and without a dance partner, let alone a silver slipper. Our Dave also somehow managed to go walkabout on his way to the finish from the last control, but still claimed the all-important clear round to get some points on the board for his efforts.

So all in all, a somewhat mixed night, but one that will live long in a few memories with plenty of “I learned about night orienteering from that” moments to cherish. In orienteering, however well or badly you do, the important thing is to keep your sense of humour and enjoy yourself. It sounds like most people managed to do exactly that.  “Tremendous fun. Loved every minute.” said John Pullen and that, I think, summed up most people's views.

But we have to leave the final word to Mick. You can read more of his uniquely Mick-like reflections in the thread on our Facebook group. “My Hero award would go to the couple for gritting the path on the way back to download. That helped on the way back and the villain - well no doubts it has to be control 5.”

Thanks to INVOC for a terrific event and a fast results service. Next up is Nairn Dunbar next Wednesday. This will be a family-friendly event with somewhat more forgiving terrain. Don't miss it, it will be really good fun. Get your entry in by the 18th - ENTER HERE


Results with split times

Series Points totals