Nighthawks go Nap

by Steven Scott — 26th February 2019.

Graham Gristwood, King of the Night Graham Gristwood, King of the Night

Forth Valley Orienteers' Graham Gristwood confirmed his status as Britain's greatest night orienteer, as he won an unprecedented sixth consecutive title at the British Night Championships on Royal Deeside.

On a physically-challenging course at Muir of Dinnett, Gristwood established his legend as “King of the Night” by extending his unbeaten run in the event, which stretches back to 2014, coming back in 56.31 ahead of former Great Britain team-mate Hector Haines (running as an unattached athlete) and Edinburgh University's Tam Wilson. Andy Llewellyn was a very creditable 9th (82.44).

This was one of five British titles secured by Forth Valley athletes on the night, surpassing the three won in Wales in 2018. As has been the case so far this season, FVO dominated the men's veteran categories, scooping the three titles between M40 and M50. In his first British Championship at night, Will Hensman won M40 (89.35), meaning he now only needs a British Sprint medal for a full set of major honours.

Roger Goddard was champion in M45, going round in 64.53 for his 2nd British Night title, nine years after the first, but he was pushed hard by defending M40 champion Dave Godfree, who moved up an age class this year, and was 2nd (66.24) this time, with Fraser Purves not far behind in 6th.

After a string of “near things”, Ben Stansfield got on a national podium for the first time in five years as he won M50 in 72.48, with Jon Cross 7th (86.53), while Gary Longhurst improved his personal best in the event from 22nd to 7th, returning in the M60 class in a time of 93.10.

After a long time out of the forest through injury, Janine Inman was back on top of the pile once again, as she claimed the W40 honours in 67.11 for her 3rd night crown. Also in the medals were Beccy Osborn (silver in W45 in 90.03) and Lizzie Stansfield (bronze in W18 in 53.55), while there were first place finishes for Kieran Watts (M20 - 79.27) and Martin Dean (M60 - 54.12) on the non-championship courses.

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