Devon Orienteering


Haldon Night Orienteering 11th January 2020

First impressions from one competitor!

This was my first experience of night orienteering and one that will stay with me forever. I’m an experienced novice, capable of completing green but frequently make the same mistakes: running too far and consequently over shooting, this I attribute to my ultra-running background and lack of self-discipline whilst orienteering.

I arrived at Haldon in the mist and murk, not entirely sure if the event was on as there are no lights in the carpark and there were few people around. I then spotted the glow of the registration tent in the distance. This was going to be a new challenge a test of my navigation, nerve and a new head torch. The first task was finding my car after registering and forgetting my torch!

Once I started on the orange course, moving onto the track, it took me a while to orientate myself, as I didn’t want to make a mistake and take the wrong path to the first control. It was dark, proper dark, no sign of the Wolf Moon that had glowed bright in the Devon skies the previous night. Confident I started to run, first control easily located. The second control I knew would be more difficult due to the little paths that crossed one another and fizzled out. I missed the control, taking an almost parallel path, I followed the path down, using my knowledge of the area from the training day in October and then approached it from the bottom up.

I was nervous to leave the comfort of the path to control three into the woods, but this is where I really began to gain confidence in my navigation, using the compass and pacing successfully. The relief on finding each control was audible and I spent the whole event talking to myself. At one point between controls five and six I thought I was about to run through a group of fellow competitors only to find that it was a herd of deer, with their huge eyes reflecting back at me which I mistook as head torches. They were big deer, some with even bigger antlers, holding my nerve I ran through them, certainly quickening my pace. Unsure whether I was meant to treat them as cows and giving them a wide berth!

I found that I had to hold my nerve and trust in the compass more so than normal. It was like running with tunnel vision, each time I looked from the map to the ground my eyes having to adjust accordingly. My head torch served me well and the ability to tilt it was really helpful too.

The place that I ironically wasted the most time was the last control, I knew I had pretty much finished having seen the finish control and didn’t really think about the description. This was certainly annoying and proved that less features is definitely more as that’s when I concentrate best.

What have I learnt? When I have to rely on the skills of navigation and pacing alone, taking away sight (daylight) therefore running slower, I navigate to a greater accuracy. That running at night in the dark is liberating and exhilarating, the solitary nature appealing and challenging.  On my return to the tent I was buzzing. Was it a perfect run ‘no’, but it was a perfect introduction to night orienteering.

Lisa Hatchard

Many thanks, Lisa, for this report; it makes for interesting reading. As we have added this to the website, you are entitled to a free run at your next event. Please have a word with the registration team when you attend. 

(NB. The photograph is taken from a previous night event).


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