Last week saw the start of the winter Deeside Night Cup orienteering series, which fittingly kicked off on a snowy Wednesday evening (24th Nov) at Balnagowan Forest, just outside Aboyne.
The series runs from November to the end of February with 12 races organised alternate weeks by Mar Orienteering club and Grampian Orienteers. Last year all 8 races after the New Year took place with snow on the ground and competitors had to cope with some very testing physical conditions.
Unfortunately, problems on the roads meant that some Aberdeen competitors didn’t manage to make it out for the first race of this season, but Dan Gooch’s (Maroc) impressive time on the long course (52’ for 5.6km) would have proved difficult for anyone to beat. Doug Guy (Grampian) finished 2nd in 61’ with last year’s overall series winner Finlay Langan (Maroc) making mistakes on the technically challenging course to finish 3rd, off the pace on 68’. The Mini Night Cup race, run over a shorter 2.8km course, was won by Jonquil Nicholl (Maroc) in 49’, just 20” ahead of junior Evelyn Mason (Maroc). Both courses required a high level of technical navigation skills and the knee deep snow meant that the physical challenge of running through the forest in the dark was tough too. That said, when the snow showers stopped there was a full moon in the sky and all enjoyed the thrill of running purposefully through the terrain in the dark.