• Men of Wight Navigate Army Orienteering Championships

    A team of local orienteers ventured off the Island to take part in the Army (Military League South) Team Orienteering Championship at Sidbury Hill, Salisbury Plain on Wednesday 24th February 2016. The event, known as Team Harris, is intended to establish the best military teams, but also welcomes civilian entries. The teams, consisting of three orienteers, have the option of running either a long or short course.

    Always looking for value for money, the Island team Men of Wight (comprised of Dan Williams, Pete Bartlett and Chris Pritchett) opted for the long course. It consisted of 30 controls; 10 were mandatory, and had to be visited by all team members; the other 20 supplementary controls had to be visited by at least one team member. It is the responsibility of the team captain to distribute the supplementary controls amongst the individual team members.

    mass start harris orienteering

    Minutes before the mass start at Team Harris Championships. © Crown copyright 2016

    Once the event started, and the clock was running, three identical maps were handed out to Captain Dan. In an attempt to save time, the team adopted the risky strategy of planning on- the-move. Whilst Dan analysed the course, and allocated the supplementary controls (according to level of fitness, navigational ability and the amount of beer consumed the night before) Pete and Chris navigated steadily towards the first control. Once the maps were marked-up, the runners took off, individually selecting the best route to the mandatory and their allocated controls.

    Given that the team time is determined by the time of the last runner to finish, and there is a draconian 15 minute time penalty for each control missed, the pressure was on!

    If the plan was perfect and the runners did not make any errors, then all three runners should finish at the same time. Everything was going well for the Island team; Dan and Chris homed in on the final mandatory control point at the same time and Pete was not far away. However, meeting up proved to be fortuitous, it enabled Dan to confirm a nagging doubt that one control had not been allocated. Leading from the front, Captain Dan dashed off to punch the missing control, whilst Pete and Chris headed straight to the finish.

    The Island team finished in a time of 1:00:46, which gave them a creditable 11th place from 26 entries on the long course. They went away content, having learned some valuable lessons. Although, reflecting what might have been, had it not been for that rogue control!

    The ‘Men of Wight’ were not the only Islanders to be seen in action at the Team Harris; Dan Cox (of 11 EOD Regt Royal Logistic Corps) travelled with the Island team to compete for his regiment.

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    The challenging course was planned by Liz Yeadon of Sarum Orienteering Club. Read the Sarum report on Team Harris here. Photos from the event can be viewed at the MOD imagery website. Full results are available here on the British Army Orienteering Club webpage.

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