Tollymore Festival Report

That’s the weekend wrapped up for another year.

👏Thank you to everyone who attended the festival and enjoyed quality orienteering along with great craic in the summer sunshine. Huge thanks to all those who generously volunteered to make it such a successful weekend.

Wet Warrenpoint

It all kicked off in the picturesque lough side town on Friday evening. Intricate legs within the housing estates linked by lung busting longer legs with important route choices made for some interesting comparisons between competitors afterwards. As part of the NI Urban League, the results will go towards a final series total. The first male and female finishers on the Long course were Dan Earnshaw and Olivia Baxter. On the Medium course Sean Hassett and Sarah Knight were top of the podium. Fionn Hassett and Aoife Masterson were the first finishers in the Junior Challenge.

Here is a short report from the event organiser, Kieran – Many thanks to all who contributed towards leaving a bunch of satisfied customers on a rainy night in the ‘Point. Moire, Fionne and Stephen spent a serious amount of time on the ground on George’s fine addition to his map catalogue to perfect courses that brought orienteering to the seaside and almost caused a security alert. It appears short shorts and control flags on a wet evening is clearly enough “suspicious activity” to warrant a police call. Thankfully no arrests were made nor controls dealt with as suspicious objects. For orienteers, that alleyway to 11 on the Long enters infamy and will have no doubt popped up in a few nightmares last night. Between them and Ric’s coordinating in the background for the whole weekend, it wouldn’t have come together to happen as smoothly.

But you all chipped in beforehand and on the night with maps, entries, IT set-up and in the hot seats, arranging and moving the chip van/MOO to and fro, running starts and standing by for first aid even while injured. You all deserved a handful of strawberries so I hope you got your fill.

🏕Thankfully the weather front moved on, drying up for the campers at Tollymore Forest Park. This year we were back in the big camping field which we had all to ourselves.

😎Sunny Slieve Martin – We woke the next day to clear skies and the promise of a fine day. Soon we were back down the road, heading to Kilbroney Forest Park and the challenge of the open hillside of Slieve Martin and it’s forested areas. This NI Colour Series event also doubled up as the LVO Club Championships.

Starting and finishing at the upper car park, the White, Yellow and Orange (TD1-3) courses explored the area up and around Cloughmore Stone. Cahal Power and older brother Aran won their respective courses and the M10 and M12 titles.

The higher technical courses headed up the zig-zags, through the forest towards the summit Slieve Martin. The courses started with a few controls in the open hill before taking us into the forest. This is where most competitors really started to understand the challenge of navigating legs at the highest technical level. The planner, George’s, warning to avoid the tussocks of the rough open were worth listening to – the physicality of these areas, really slowed progress. Those who managed to find all the controls in the thicker forest had some relief in the more open areas near the finish. The Brown Course was won by Dan Earnshaw, and the first lady finisher was Moire O’Sullivan who were crowned Club Champions. The Blue course was won by Olivia Baxter and the first male finisher was Stephen Gilmore. Sean Hassett was top of the podium on the Green course; first LVO finishers were Heather Cairns and Wilbert Hollinger. The winner of the Short Green course was Barbara Foley-Fisher with Cecil Armstrong the first male club member home. Paul Graham was the first finisher in the Light Green course. With about a 25% attrition rate (due to competitors retiring or missing controls), it is clear that those with experience of orienteering in this level of terrain had a clear advantage – congratulations to all who managed to finish their courses and well done George on providing a real test for us all. There are always plenty of volunteers needed at a colour event, and we are thankful for all the various roles you fill. Separate starts and finishes for courses allowed quality courses on different areas on the hill for all ages and abilities, however this means there is even more to work out; so, well done Richard Williamson (Controller) and Aileen McCarron (Organiser) on managing the event as a whole, from the planning during the weeks before until the busyness of the day.

If that wasn’t enough Alan had a TempO course ready for us to have a go at in and around the car park at Kilbroney and again in the forest next to our campsite at Tollymore.

Club Champions Moire and Dan.

🍗🍷 (County) Down time – Continuing to enjoy the great weather we returned to the campsite for a good catch up whilst enjoying the BBQ. A few presentations were made to the age class Champions. A Silver Slipper and Golden Boot was also awarded to the quickest competitors on the last leg to the finish – these were won by Moire and Dan. Along with a glass of our choice, conversation continued to flow around the firepits well into the late hours.

🚚Leaving Day – On Sunday morning we awoke to another beautifully sunny day in Tollymore, with activities planned for us on our door step / tent porch front. Steph, Aine and Greg arranged training for the juniors helping them prepare for the JIRC and JHI competitions coming up in the Autumn. For the adults who managed to shake off tired legs and heads from the day/night before, Wilbert planned a fun relay. In groups of three we had a minute to look at a score course and divide the controls up between us before heading off around the lovely parkland and forest.

👍It shouldn’t be underestimated the amount of work that is put into delivering orienteering events and how appreciative we are to all those who volunteer their time and skills. We would love to hear your opinion of our events – click on the link below to complete the online feedback form and your name will be put into a draw for a £20 Decathlon voucher. A quarterly draw is made – well done Carol whose name was drawn on Saturday evening.


Winner of Event Feedback draw Carol with Joe.

Club Chair Moire with Festival Coordinator Ric.

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