PENDLE Forest Orienteering club (PFO) played host to a weekend of elite action, with more than 650 competitors in action over two days.

A field of 221 entered the UK relay finals at Tockholes, Darwen, on the Saturday before 451 entrants competed at Hameldon Hills, Hapton, the following day.

Sunday’s event saw almost 50 of the country’s top orienteers compete in the UK Cup finals, with some of the UK’s future stars, aged 17 to 20, in action in the Future Champions Cup. PFO also hosted a more regular orienteering event using the same controls for all ages.

On a dramatic day, Rossendale and Pendle Mountain Rescue were called into action as an air ambulance took Megan Harrison, 13, of East Pennine club, to hospital after she sprained her ankle.

Jon Sutcliffe, of PFO, performed well on the toughest black course, finishing the 9.7km course in 116 minutes 48 seconds to come second overll and the first over 45.

Paul Targett finished the brown course in seventh, with team-mates Mark Jesson and Jamie Hoyle coming 32nd and 39th respectively on the blue course.

Sophie Horrocks was the club’s best female finisher, coming 34th overall and the first W20 home.

Judith Wood finished the short blue course in 32nd and Debra Course finished the green course in 68th.

Hannah Hateley was the third W14 home on the light green course, with Alice Mervin seventh on the orange track.

PFO’s Rachel Smith won the yellow course race.

PFO chairman, and the weekend co-ordinator, George Crawford-Smith, said: “About four years ago, we identified Hameldon common as a good place for an orienteering event.

“We approached the British Orienteering Association to see whether they wanted to put it in the UK Cup, which is a series of events with the top orienteers in the country. We were awarded the final.

“We had almost 500 competing through all the events on Sunday and also had the UK relay finals at Tockholes the previous day.

“You can continue orienteering for as long as you stay upright and that is why you get people up to the age of 80 competing. I was speaking to a 65-year-old guy who had only been orienteering two years. He used to be a fell runner but found he wasn’t competitive any more.”