Who would have thought there were orienteering maps of in and around Derry? But on Saturday, I was treated to a fast sprint series around Gransha Estate. And then on Sunday, a technically difficult stint around Magilligan’s sand dune system.
The sprint was staged to select the Irish junior team for the European Sprint Orienteering Championships to be held in Finland later this year. This meant that there was a fair contingent out of young fast runners wanting to make the team. Some had even travelled the six hours from Cork in the south to Derry in the north, from opposite ends of the country just to make the team roster.
Gransha was on fast grassland with buildings and some woodland on a 1:4000 map. Winning times were around the 15 minutes mark, so errors were heavily penalised.
On the other hand, Magilligan was a different animal. Set in complex dune systems with little or no paths, running was slow with long grass and thorny bushes littering your way. Controls were hidden down depressions and re-entrants. Even the British army teams, who were orienteering their own back yard, were having difficult finding the markers.
It was a good weekend of orienteering set organised by North West Orienteering Club and Northern Ireland Orienteering. Even better the fact that it was all less than a 50 minute drive from my own front door.