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Southern Night Championships

Sat 26 Nov

Near: Nether Stowey
Level of event: National

Type of event: Race, Night

Thanks to all who made the event a success!


Results and Splits

Roger Hargreaves

Roger Hargreaves
Credit: Andy Johnson

Controller's comments

The request by the Army to host their inter-corps championships at the same time as the Southern Nights proved welcome although added a number of complications for the event administration and results. However, with additional input from the services in the form of Alan Farrington parallel results were compiled in real time and displayed via the results projected onto an external screen.

The night was clear and cold. Standing at the start the competitors left the start kite and climbed to the first gate, then climbed again.

QO's big night out

QO's big night out
Credit: SW Photograpy Media

There were many non-moving lights in the first 200m of the courses. At times, from the start line, lights were seen that could have been low flying planes or satellites – no, they were head-torches! Intermingled with, and greatly outnumbered by the army, were the civilians whose championship this was.

Pete Shirvington

Pete Shirvington

It became obvious whilst standing at the start that the civilians were more in tune with what was expected from them. Indeed one of the last army starters was heading out on a Blue course never having night orienteered before! Richard Sansbury, the Planner, had created 8 courses, some “duplicated”, to allow for the numbers on each course, although one of the Blue courses was not used on the night. Short Brown, Blue, separate Green courses for men and women, Short Green and two Oranges were the courses on offer. Rams Combe is not flat by any stroke of the imagination and some of the courses were challenged by the steepness and a significant covering of fallen leaves – often very slippery. Although in the Controller's opinion this forest is remarkable by SW standards in being quite runnable with little in the way of brashings and brambles.

Brian Pearson finishes

Brian Pearson finishes
Credit: SW Phtg'y & Media

The only concern came toward 2030 hrs when one team of cadets reported that one of their number – Long Orange course – had been out over 2 hours for about 3.8km. All other competitors accounted for. The S&R plan swung into action; a control was recovered and interrogated – no he hadn’t been there. Volunteers were positioned at that control to “catch” him when he came through. Another few minutes passed while the teams were assembled – the “lost one” appeared out of the dark and had retired. A quick glance over his shoulder showed he’d picked up the wrong map – Green Men. The search might have had a job searching for him with a different course in mind.

Despite the cool of the night competitors came into download looking as if they had been recently in the shower. The majority seemed to have enjoyed the night. The Championship prize-giving took place spot on time with Club President, Mike Crockett, doing the honours. Many of the usual faces took top honours; apologies for not mentioning anyone.

Roger Hargreaves (KERNO)

Richard Sansbury, planner

Richard Sansbury, planner

Planner's comments

When QO first discussed the idea of hosting the Southern Nights, Ramscombe was straight away my favoured venue for three reasons. First, it offers several route options, enabling us to have two separate events from the same venue. Second, the facilities in it are excellent. Third, the steep east facing valley is well sheltered against wintry weather. In the event, the weather was benign, but we certainly made use of the other two.

For the night race I chose to coil the courses around the event base, so that no competitor should have left the main valley, and all courses were within 1km of the event centre at all times. This kept it safe and should have allowed us to deal with an emergency with limited resources. Fortunately all went well and we were not tested. The first part on the north side of the valley was shared with the day event but I am sure the events were different enough to make it fair. One planning difficulty was the shortage of options for crossing from north to south, and crossing a brambly area was inevitable. At least the slower terrain added some variety to courses. The area south of the valley is crossed by lots of paths and would be quite straightforward to navigate in daylight. But I judged it to be a suitable challenge for at night for all abilities, although it must have got quite busy in there at peak time.

At download

At download

For the Sunday race we used the best areas of the valley in the areas known as Rectory Wood and Ashley Combe. We could afford to take longer courses across the road into some of my favourite areas. The silver birch woods and the twisted oak are excellent to run in, and offer a good navigation challenge. Courses could spread out a bit more and it was good to get a long leg of about 1.5km into the brown course - already Routegadget is showing a variety of route choices on this leg in particular.

Looking at the results it appears we underestimated your abilities, and could have made the courses a bit longer. If anyone feels it was all over too quick, I apologise.

Many thanks to Roger our controller, and to our organisers Roger, Rosie & Chris. When I first proposed we take this event it was clearly going to be an big ask for our small club, and inevitably this forced others into making epic efforts to make it work. Despite testing our limited resources to near the limit, I believe we pulled it off!

Richard Sansbury

Night nosh

Night nosh
Credit: Andy Johnson

A competitor's comments: John Oakes

Saturday night was the annual Southern Night Championships, this year in the Quantock Hills - usually the trickiest event of the Night League (at least for me!). Having navigated through the narrow country lanes (surely worth some extra points), everything on-site seemed well organised, with only a short walk to the start. The weather was chilly, but dry, and underfoot was not as bad as might have been expected with the recent rain. I struggled with the combination of night and woods early on, losing significant time on several controls, but some competitors managed to get round pretty quickly, and the control positions on my course all seemed reasonable. My run improved in the latter half, but I still finished a long way off the leaders. I'll just have to try again next year! Thanks to Quantock for organising the event.

Judith Austerberry NGOC, Mike Crockett & Geoff Ellis BOK

Judith Austerberry NGOC, Mike Crockett & Geoff Ellis BOK


Mapper: Bill Vigar

Permissions: Bob Lloyd

Signage: Rosie Wych

SI manager: Andy Rimes

Volunteer Organiser: Chris Hasler

Entries Organiser: Andy Rimes

Presentation Organiser: Julia Robertson

Presentations: Mike Crockett

Photography: Andy Johnson email: mlso.results at

Webpage: Mike Kite (WIM)

Show Pre-Event Info

Directions / Parking

The venue will be signed from the Cottage Inn on the A39 (GR ST211392), from the Pines Café at the top of Buncombe Hill (GR ST207329), and from Marsh Mills (GR ST192385), to the South of Nether Stowey.

Parking will be on forest roads and public car parks, avoiding areas that will be available to the general public, although it is thought that for Day 1 our requirement will be mainly outside the time the area is open to Public. The Army have agreed to organize and marshal the parking, using the one-way system round the picnic site on Day 1 and using a forest track and exit from the Forest not used by the public on Day 2. Parking tickets at £2 per day (£3 for both days) will be sold at the entrance to the Forest.
Do NOT use the Pay & Display machines.

Course Information

Class Course Length Climb
Army U-25, Novices and Under 16 Long Orange 4.0 km 110m
M70, M75, W60, W65, W70, W75 Short Green 3.0 km 105m
W16, W18, W45, W50, W55, Army Women, Men Short Green 3.9 km 110m
M16, M45, M50, M5, W20, W21, W35, W40, Army Men Long Blue 5.6 km 140m
M18, M20, M21, M35, M40 Short Brown 6.3 km 240m

Entry Details

Seniors (21+) £12 (£10 for British Orienteering members), Juniors £7 (£5 for BO/QO members)
Late entry supplement £3 senior/£2 junior.
EOD – Long Orange (course 5) only - £5.

Entries for the Southern Night Championships will close at midnight on Sunday, 20th November. Late entries (subject to map availability) by email to the event organisers. All are welcome to participate but only British Orienteering members of SEOA/SCOA/SWOA qualify for the Southern Championships.

Registration & Start Times

Registration 1600 – 1800hr. Starts 1730 – 1930hr. Courses close 2130hr. Entries through Fabian4 with allocated start times.

Terrain Description

Thickly wooded, mixed, forest

Contacts / Officials

Planner: Richard Sansbury (QO)

Organisers: Roger and Judy Craddock, Chris Philip(QO)

Controller: Roger Hargreaves (KERNO)

Mapper: Bill Vigar (QO)

Co-ordinator Weekend: Roger Craddock (QO) 01823 323850

Important Event Information

Safety and Risk: A comprehensive risk assessment will have been carried out by the organiser, but participants take part at their own risk and are responsible for their own safety during the event. All participants must report to download whether they finish their course or not.

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Safeguarding: QO is aware of it's responsibilities in safeguarding and child protection. To comply with The Child Safeguarding Practice Review and Relevant Agency (England) Regulations 2018, we now provide an email address for individuals to report concerns to the Lead Safeguarding Officer. This address is