Orienteering Nationals light up Ilkley Moor

ILKLEY Moor was lit up on Saturday night with over 300 orienteers competing in the National Night Championships. Despite a few centimeters of snow on the ground, there were very few retirements and lots of praise for the courses.

The weather made life difficult, with trails hidden in snow and rocks fading into white. It was very easy to get lost if your map reading wasn’t perfect.

Competitors came from all over the UK for one of the highlights of the year in orienteering. The ages ranged from 16 to 85 years old. Local hits included Judith Powell of Otley (1st W80), Peter Haines of Ilkley (1st M65), Al Powell of Otley (1st M50), Emily Gibbins (1st W18) and Lindsey King (3rd W60).

The National Day event the next morning was nearly flooded. But the pioneering spirit of town planner Rob King and the courage of the competitors overcame the rain and the torrent rushing down Backstone Beck. Times were a bit slower than expected, but, again, there were surprisingly few retirements.

Host club Airienteers orchestrated the complex planning and security arrangements for these events, with help from local groups such as St Margaret’s Church, Ilkley Grammar School, Bradford MDC, Ilkley Town Council, Bingley Moor Partnership and White Wells. Ilkley Town Mayor Mark Stidworthy bravely checked out some control sites and handed out the prizes.

Dino J. Dotson