Freezing Forres course is tackled in the dark

Getting ready to navigate the dark at Forres
Getting ready to navigate the dark at Forres

AN ICY FORRES golf course was the venue for around 80 hardy locals who found staying upright in the icy conditions their biggest challenge in an orienteering fundraiser for CLIC Sargent.

The children’s cancer charity teamed up with Moravian Orienteers and the Forres Golf Club to stage the night-time navigation race in memory of Roseisle teenager Matthew Campbell, who had successfully battled cancer for virtually his entire 16-years until two years ago.

Freezing conditions turned several of the tracks and paths on the course into mini-ice rinks, tempting runners to try the alternative but much more tricky cross-country routes.

There were a few slips and slides but local man Jon Hollingdale won the 5.7km course in just under 39 minutes – beating off UK International class opposition from such as Jessica Tullie and Inverness-based Johannes Felter, who finished second and third.

The event was part of the six-race ‘Northern Night Cup’ series that encouraged some of the best orienteers in the north.

The 4.2km medium course was won by Nikki Howard from Rafford, hotly pursued, in a very metaphorical sense, by another fast female in Dagmar Borrowman from Inverness.

Mike Rodgers and Sandy Aird plan the devious course
Mike Rodgers and Sandy Aird plan the devious course

The Muiryshade head green keeper Ross Macleod, a member of Forres Harriers, was hoping that his intimate local knowledge of the golf course and his running ability might signpost the way to a win. That was looking rosy with a five-minute lead as the route left familiar surroundings for the gloom of Muiry Woods.

Imagine then the frustration after 18 minutes of going round in circles in the dark meant an impossible 12-minute deficit that was never going to be made up. If ever there was going to be the perfect illustration of the hare-and-tortoise side to orienteering this was it!

“I don’t care. I enjoyed it” said a philosophical Ross afterwards. “It was good fun”.

Although the expected attendance of around 100 was reduced by the icy conditions, a respectable sum of around £350 was raised for CLIC Sargent with everyone involved vowing to return next year for a repeat performance.

Local orienteering continues this weekend with an “urban” event at Nairn on Sunday using the same map that was used in the World Championships. Registration is at the Nairn Sailing Club from 10am and all are welcome, including children for whom there will be a specially-designed route avoiding traffic.