JK Memories – Day 1 Sprint

Stranmillis University College & Queen’s Elms, Belfast

  • Planner – Igor Stefko, LVO
  • Organiser – Stephen Gilmore, LVO
  • Controller – Mike Richardson, DEE
  • Assistant Organiser – Charles Reid, NWOC
  • Assistant Controller – Richard McCourt, LVO

And Day 1 is ready to go!  Competitors streamed into the grounds of Stranmillis College in Belfast, ready for their Sprint Day.

We are delighted to share memories from Day 1 Officials:

Stephen Gilmore, LVO, Day 1 Organiser writes

It was Harold who spotted the potential of using both Stranmillis University College and Queen’s Elms for the JK Sprint, when flying on approach to Belfast City Airport. It had been anticipated that by the time of the event the two institutions would have merged, but that didn’t happen – and still hasn’t happened 10 years later.

Harold and I agreed that he would be the key liaison on the “Stran” side of the fence, as that would potentially also be used for competitor accommodation, whilst I would be the point of contact with Elms. So I made contact with the Estates Dept at Queen’s to be told it was really a matter for the Sports Dept. The Sports Dept put me in touch with the Accommodation Dept who put me in touch with the Estates Dept!

However once three individuals were identified from each department, Karl, Gwen and Graham proved to be exceptionally supportive. Permission was readily agreed to permit the removal of parts of the fence for the day. However, an area of concern was the potential for damage to the grass in this area, as every competitor would need to tread over the start lanes and adjacent marked route. So it was agreed that we would recompense the Estates Dept to cover the area in protective bark chips and remove these after the event.

After the event I called to request an invoice for this work, only to be told that Queen’s had decided not to charge, because they had considered it an honour to host such a prestigious and well organised international sporting event.

Richard McCourt, LVO, Day 1 Assistant Controller writes

As assistant (local) controller to Mike, Julie and Ronan it was a genuine pleasure to help translate their requirements into reality on the ground.
And likewise to help realise the terrific vision that Stephen had in the whole organisation, and Igor in his planning, was a joy.  We subsequently teamed up for the running of a number of Sprints. I can still picture the finish arena and the leading competitors being interviewed on the top floor balcony.  A real professional touch adding to the atmosphere.

Including the joint winners of the Ladies Elite class who excitingly dead heated despite both of them, briefly but wrongly, visiting a control which was placed deviously just over 16 metres from their correct Number One…I set them out with a tape measure…had they been less than 15 metres apart (as dissimilar controls under Sprint rules) there could have been grounds for objection!

And the civil engineering works at the boundary of the two campuses.  A book could be written.  Suffice to say when we put the last palisade fence panel back into place by torchlight on this interface at a few minutes to midnight (after 5am start) I was not disposed to fasten the bolts any more than finger tight. So if the Department of Education, now after at least 25 years of speculation, ever get around to uniting Queen’s and “Stran” I could open up a symbolic physical link for them in 10 minutes flat!

And…another book…colour defects in some of the course maps which had to be reprinted and sorted at the eleventh hour (11.59 to be precise). The help and cooperation between all our clubs was exemplary. My abiding memory is of crews from FERMO and NWOC quietly and efficiently managing the Start and Finish. Especial thanks to Teresa and Raymond patiently coping with my demands. A super effort from all.

And finally, after Sat morning diversions to help deal with the aftermath of protests (my opinion on some of which is not printable) I turned up (late) for my course at Tyrella and promptly made a 180 error en-route to my first control…didn’t know what day it was let alone where I was.

But it must have been a common feeling experienced by all who were involved when the event was over…utterly exhausted but elated by the corporate success. Thus we fondly remember the supreme team effort.

Ann Savage, LVO, Information Point writes

JK 2011 was a mammoth feat of organisation for NI Orienteering, but the success of the festival was fantastic and its legacy lives on.  A few of my memories include:

  • The Savage family, with others, working together pre-event at Harold’s house filling envelopes with tickets for accommodation, transport and social events
  • A long busy day in a room in Stranmillis College answering queries and no concept that there was a world Sprint Event happening outside
  • A great team of volunteer helpers who made my role as co-ordinator run smoothly
  • Murray Cowan’s perseverance in trying to get me to use the radio link – to no avail – until Harry took over the equipment.
  • And lastly – the amazing quality of the clothing merchandise – I am still wearing a slightly-faded lime green sweatshirt.

Page Links – Coming Soon:

For more information on orienteering in Northern Ireland, a great place to start is with one of our DIY Orienteering courses


Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑