THE sport of Orienteering came to Skelmersdale over the weekend of August 21 and 22 when the British Sprint Championships took place.
The residents of Yewdale, Windrows, Eskdale and Tanhouse had front row seats, as runners of all ages navigated their way around those estates.
Using highly detailed maps the orienteers had to find their way through the estates to specific control points marked on the map, the quickest to find all their control points being the winner.
The Saturday race was a Relay event, starting and finishing at the Amphitheatre on Yewdale. Showery weather did not dampen the spirits as more than 100 teams competed to be the British Sprint Relay Orienteering Champions, that honour fell to the team from South Yorkshire Orienteers.
Their team of Kim Baxter, Euan Tryner, Jonathan Crickmore, and Laura Robertson took an unassailable lead on the third and fourth legs to cross the finish line nine minutes ahead of the second placed team from Lakeland Orienteering Club.
The following day saw better weather and more than 550 runners converged on Delph Side Primary School in Eskdale for the British Individual Sprint races, with Heats in the morning and Finals in the afternoon.
The unique setting of new town housing estates made keeping contact with the map essential as there were many twists and turns to negotiate, with many alley options and dead ends to catch out the unwary.
The Elite Men’s race to be crowned British Champion was a close run affair, with just 22 seconds separating first and second places, Jonathan Crickmore from South Yorkshire Orienteers came out on top from Chris Smithard (Forth Valley Orienteers from Scotland) and Nathan Lawson (Coventry based club, Octavian Droobers), who both tied for second place.
The Elite Women’s Champion was Alice Leake of Yorkshire based club, Airienteers, who had a more comfortable 58 second victory over Charlotte Ward (Humberside and Lincolnshire Orienteers) and Laura Robertson (South Yorkshire Orienteers).
The culminating trophy and medal presentation brought an end to a successful foray for the British Orienteering Sprint Championships into a new town urban environment. All this was made possible by a large number of helpers from North West orienteering clubs and the support of West Lancashire Borough Council and Delph Side Community Primary School.
A spokesman for the event said: “Thanks are also due to the residents of the Skelmersdale estates for their welcome and patience shown towards the runners over the weekend.”
For more information about orienteering visit www.britishorienteering.org.uk