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Feb 07, 2008

Black Night by Slade

Marcus Geoghegan is nothing if not a perfectionist, so when 60 mins had elapsed with no sign of the front runner, Ger Butler, on the 4 km  Long course, doubts started to creep in.  

"Have I overdone it..some of it is tricky..there's some rough bits..."  he starts muttering.

Standing under an umbrella by the car with a light implanted in his head it was dark and wet.  His concern wasn't helped by the headlamp walking by the car reading a map,.. this isn't a normal route choice   "...WHERE did you get this Manky piece of forest..." spits the headlamp and grumbles off.

It's a strange sight..20 or so cars thrown up on the side of the road by the forest, it's dark wet and misty...no street lights...frightening for townies like us.    Apparently a local had pulled up and roared at the sight of the cars..."What's going on here lads?".     Probably expecting some normal pursuit like badger baiting he turned on his heels quickly when invited to take part in a spot of night orienteering.

The young Shorts, Ruari and Conor clatter up in their spikes to the car, grab control descriptions and go.   Tall and light they're seasoned O-soldiers at this stage, a couple of kilometers on a wet night in February is nothing to them, a mere skirmish.

Finally a finisher... Ger Butler comes in.  Shakes his head at the time and the missed controls, the one on the hide lost him time...it's a story that will be repeated. Marcus's mood improves immensely, going form zero to one finisher is a big step.
After that finishers start rolling in, despite the numerous tracks, and relatively open forest the mist in the forest turns picking up controls in the forest tricky, stories abound of the one that got away.

Ruari Short wins Long in front of Philip Brennan with Mary O'Connell snatching third ahead of  Martin Flynn and Conor Short.
Andrew O'Mullane leads in a small field on the short ahead of a brace of Redmonds and Patrick O'Brien.  Old names on young shoulders.

Finally I'm sent of on my allotted task with Gavan and Tony,  control collecting, the pinnacle of orienteering tasks.   My choice of a LED bike light as I was going out the door proves unwise... at 10:20 I can't find the last control.  Mobile phone calls in Marcus to sweep up the one in the hide.
Back on the road everyone is gone ... as though it never happened.    It's a strange one, night orienteering, you can't get it on Playstation or by pressing the red button.  You have to  go out in the black dark.    There's one left in the Dublin series... worth a try.

Peter Kernan


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