The competing teams arrived at their accommodation for the weekend at Greenhill YMCA Newcastle on Friday night with some teams arriving quite late.
On Saturday with the first start for the Individual competition scheduled for 11.00am, and with the need to bus competitors from a remote car park, breakfast was taken early on Saturday morning. The competition took place in the Cassy Water Valley near Rostrevor that is predominately a rough open hillside intersected by the Cassy River. The terrain had many associated streams, ditches, marshes and bogs that made it physically difficult for the competitors. It was a bright day with great visibility that provided wonderful views of the local scenery.
The feedback from competitors on the courses was very favourable and they provided a good test of orienteering skills. In the team competition Scotland were narrowly ahead of England with 77 points to 76; and Ireland ahead of Wales by 33 points to 29. Scotland were dominant in the W14, M18, and W18 classes while England were better in the M14 and M16 classes.
The teams returned to Greenhill for the dinner and the prize giving for the Individual competition. The Individual Trophy was presented to the Scottish Team Manager, plaques with the event logo were presented to the first three competitors in each age class, and mementos, cloth badges with the event logo that were funded by the Orienteering Foundation, were presented to all competitors and team officials.
The party then moved to Bryansford GAC club house on the other side of Newcastle for a ceilidh. This was very enthusiastically entered into by all and proved to be a great social occasion.
With some competitors having relatively early return trips by boat and plane on Sunday afternoon, the first start of the Relay race was brought forward to 8.45am that resulted in an even earlier start to breakfast than on the day before. The relay arena was within the grounds of Greenhill YMCA where the nature of relay races provided a great spectator occasion. This was very evident at the start of the races where there was much cheering, singing, and bagpipe accompaniment for the departing competitors. While the rain got progressively worse over the morning, many spectators were able to shelter under the canopy of the YMCA building beside where the last control was placed. Vocal encouragement was added to finishing competitors especially where there were competitive sprints to the finish line.
The Relay race was held in Donard Forest that is mainly a coniferous wood adjoining the YMCA grounds. Due to the recent felling and wind damage in some areas, and dense undergrowth elsewhere, the course planning was not straightforward especially with the need to provide multiple variables of courses. The very detailed planning by the Planner ensured technical courses that were appreciated by all of the competitors. Such was the planning that the first three men’s teams, all from Scotland, finished within 6 seconds of each other despite running different course combinations. In the women’s competition the England 1 team were the clear winners followed by two teams from Scotland.
In the team relay competition Scotland were the winners with 56 points, England had 48, Ireland 26, and Wales with only one women’s team had 12.
The overall points situation confirmed Scotland as the overall winner with 133 points, England 124, Ireland, 59, and Wales 41.
The prize giving followed with prizes presented by Stephanie Pruzina, Chairperson of Lagan Valley Orienteers where Scotland won the Relay trophy, and were awarded the Ward International Trophy for the overall competition. Each of the winning team were presented with an LVO mug. The Irish team were presented with The Judith Wingham Platter in the annual competition with the Welsh. Stephanie thanked the team members and officials for their participation in the weekend’s activities, and wished them a safe journey home.
As well as the competitive aspects of the weekend it provided a great social opportunity for the team members who entered fully into the spirit of the weekend. A wonderful photographic record of the weekend’s activities has been provided by Will Heap who was an official with the English team. The photographs can be seen here.