Sunday, 28 December 2008

Computers in Orienteering: December 6th 2008

Orienteering and computers are inextricably linked, from mapping, through course planning, to results processing. A recent IOA seminar dealt with many facets of the issue ...

Marcus Geoghegan
of the Irish Orienteering Association organised a Computers in Orienteering workshop in the Heritage Hotel near Killenard, County Laois. The outcome of the tightly packed, regimentally controlled schedule was a recognition that our knowledge sharing must continue and improve, as well as a pile of suggestions about how we can get the most out of the technology that we use.

Martin Flynn started the day off with a discussion about his program, Ór, presenting and demonstrating the best way to use the program and leading a practical session that stressed:

the keyboard shortcuts and reading the help menu

the need to make sure that SportIdent units are correctly programmed and synchronised

the importance of ticking “rented” for rented SI cards and the competitor archive problems that failure to do this can cause

the competitor statistics that are available during and after the event

how to handle SI card reusability, a key feature of the latest version of Ór

how to upload results and how competitor information (name, club etc) is harvested into the online competitor database

how an orienteer can change his own club and class details

how results are automatically loaded into splitsbrowser and how they can be easily loaded into winsplits online

Future plans for Ór might include the handling of relays & multi-day events and the reading of start controls, but Martin needs a lot of feedback and suggestions about what features we would like to see.


It was stressed that organisers must import a blank map JPEG and the courses file (from OCAD or PurplePen) into Ór before the event so that a RouteGadget is automatically produced when the results are published. Competitors can then draw in their route in Routegadget using a mouse. Those with a GPS watch can also upload their GPS track and they can all replay their routes against each other

Clubs were asked never post results or start-lists on the Orienteering eGroup and to use links to the results pages and club websites instead.

A short discussion about orienteering.ie followed, emphasising the need for all orienteers and clubs to send in fresh information to the TIO blog and eGroup. Martin demonstrated how simple it was for a club to get a personalised club-specific fixture list and club-specific results for inclusion in their club website via an RSS feed.

Fachtna Healy then discussed how CorkO handle online event entries and PayPal on the Shamrock O Ringen website. He demonstrated how a well-built system gives extremely useful up-to-the-minute to information to organisers and planners, such as the entries by class and course, and he showed how the CorkO system automatically produces competitor files that can be loaded into Ór. The workshop unanimously agreed that we need to build on this work to create an Irish Orienteering online event entry system that is available to all clubs.

Fachtna then led an interesting discussion about how to Laser print (as opposed to inkjet) maps from the boot of a car.



Brian Power discussed Sportident hardware and the responsibility of the event controller to ensure that everything is synchronised. SI TimeMaster and checking the time via the LEDs on the rear of the units was demonstrated. Unusual occurrences, such as a competitor punching the finish station twice, were highlighted. The IOA SportIdent northern and southern inventories were listed.


Brian then talked about map printing and his experiences of getting Snap Printing to purchase a stock of Pretex waterproof paper; the discussion also covered people’s experiences of map printing services from Print5 (UK) and Sport Software (Germany).


Aine Joyce then electrified the audience with a presentation on how to get reliable 220v AC power at an event, where we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of car batteries, leisure batteries, cigarette lighters, generators, battery powered printers and 9-cell laptop batteries in a lively debate.


Stuart Scott demonstrated IOLeague both from a competitor’s and a league organiser’s point of view. IOLeague is based on a fair scoring system that uses standard deviations and can be used not just for large leagues like the Munster and Leinster, but also for club and junior leagues. The forum agreed that there is great scope for expanding IOLeague, not least for inter-club leagues and to make it the basis of a National Ranking system.

Tony Doolin demonstrated the sophisticated Orienteering game called Catching Features, with an emphasis on how to convert an OCAD map into a Catching Features map file. For example, OCAD does not have a concept of slope direction, but Catching Features needs to know if a competitor is running uphill or downhill. Catching Features is a very effective 3D orienteering simulation and it even has online events where competitors from around the world compete via the Internet. The forum agreed that it would be great publicity for Irish orienteering to create a model Irish Orienteering Catching Features map and have it available online.

Pat Healy, the OCAD maestro who can sign his name using OCAD Bezier curves, gave a well researched and detailed demonstration of how to use OCAD’s course setting features. He stressed the need to get the scale and map print areas correct and showed how the control descriptions can be overlaid on the map in a variety of sophisticated ways. It was universally agreed that we need to get Pat to run some OCAD master-classes for Irish Orienteering – watch this space in 2009.


Gerard Butler then gave a very smooth demonstration of PurplePen, an alternative to OCAD for course setting, that covered creating a new course, choose the map file, choosing map scale, zooming, control placement, course drawing and control descriptions.

The choice between OCAD and PurplePen is depends on personal preference but one suggestion was to use OCAD for sophisticated events (but be aware that OCAD 9 Demo only supports 5 courses) and use Purple Pen for standard events e.g. interfirm league event.

Marcus Geoghegan then discussed other SportIdent software including Autodownload, OE2003, SIME, Helga, Orienteering Organiser, SiCard Reader and Ór’s ability to auto-send punch information to an online database. In choosing any event software you need to make sure to that the software understands our colour-coded concept where the same class can be on many courses in the same event, something that is unusual internationally.


Marcus then briefly demonstrated two performance analysis programs, QuickRoute and WinSplits Pro. Quickroute is used with GPS tracks to extract a lot of useful information about individual legs and is used by the Swedish international squads as a performance analysis tool. Winsplits Pro, the sister product to Winsplits Online, has literally hundreds of features; Marcus showed how it can be used to replay a race, analyse your performance compared to “superman”, how to see pack formation, the percentage advantage gained from following, and how to analyse your time-loss.

Finn Van Geldern had been scheduled to discuss orienteering video publication but was unfortunately unable to be there.

A huge amount of information was shared at the event and there was agreement on the need to keep up the momentum and develop some of the systems that were discussed, and to make the forum an annual event.

We are indebted to the following presenters without whom this event would not have happened: Fachtna Healy; Brian Power; Aine Joyce; Stuart Scott; Tony Doolin; Pat Healy; Gerard Butler and Marcus Geoghegan; with thanks to Ailbhe Creedon and Fiona O’Riordan for the record of the day’s proceedings and to Pat Healy for his encouragement and support, and to Harold White for the original suggestion to run the workshop. But above all we would like to thank Martin Flynn for his immense contribution to the event and for the hours of preparation that he put into it. All presenters received a complimentary 4GB memory stick and Martin was also given a €75 outdoor sports gift voucher as a small token of our appreciation.

Attendees (31 people from 14 clubs)
3ROC: Ger Butler, Lindie Naughton; Ajax: Martin Flynn, Marcus Geoghegan; BOC: Sharon Lucey, Patrick Murphy; Boru: Ed Niland; CNOC: Bernie O'Boyle, Pat Healy; CorkO: Rob McEvoy, John Scannell, Ailbhe Creedon, Fiona O'Riordan, Brian Flannelly, Fachtna Healy; Fingal: Ian Murphy; GEN: Laurence Quinn, Aine Joyce, David Quinn, Stephen Doorly, Mary Healy; GMITO: Kevin O'Callaghan; LVO: Harold White; Setanta: Roxanne White, Terry Lawless, Brian Power, Tony Doolin; UCCO: Kieran Beausang; UCDO: Stuart Scott; WatO: Andrew Cox, Hugh Dobbs.

Ailbhe Creedon, December 2008

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Home Internationals 2008

Scotland regained the title at the 2008 Senior Home International on the 25th-26th October in Perthshire with the relays at Dalnamein on Saturday and the individual event at Craig a Barns on Sunday, writes team member Kieran Rocks of LVO (on left).
Unfortunately the lack of a full Irish team at this year's event (particularly the attendance of only one M/W20) meant that there was only one competitive Irish relay team fielded, thereby ensuring the wooden spoon position even before the event began (barring a lot of non-finishers among the other national teams).

The following orienteers, managed by Fionne Austin, represented Ireland at the event:
W21 - Aislinn Austin, Fionne Austin (both CorkO), Ciara Largey (FermO), Ruth Lynam, Niamh O'Boyle (both CNOC), Faye Pinker (CorkO).
M21 - Niall Bourke, Shane Lynch (both CorkO), Declan McGrellis (LVO), Marcus Pinker (CorkO), Kieran Rocks (LVO).
M20 - Fiach O'Rourke (Fingal).

The relays were held in some fairly wet and windy conditions, although the rain did stop for a period and the forest provided shelter.
Dalnamein is a forest divided by an uncrossable river with open moorland on 3 sides, next to the A9 main road. The courses were based on a bridge over the river with a longer part firstly in the eastern half of the forest and moorland before returning past the start/finish area again for a shorter and faster finishing loop to the west. The only Irish competitive team saw Shane off first, before handing on to Fiach with Marcus running the last leg. Shane had a solid enough run, coming in ahead of two Welsh teams. However, Fiach had a bit of a problem with one of the controls so even though Marcus was able to pick off one of the Welsh teams again, they didn't score any points for their efforts. The other male team (Niall, Kieran and Declan) had a couple of mispunches and controls not registering, but the result was irrelevant anyway.
The female teams had quite solid runs and recorded the 5th (Aislinn, Faye & Niamh) and 8th (Ciara, Fionne & Ruth) best times, although again not being classified.

Overall Scotland had claimed 1st, 2nd and 5th in the men's and 1st, 3rd and 8th in the women's to claim victory.

The weather called for a quick dart back to the cars after running and on to some hot drinks and food in Pitlochry. All of the national teams were housed in Aberfeldy where the lasagne dinner was devoured on the Saturday evening. The O Mountain Marathon crisis/farce was the focus of much attention in the hostel lounge and the pub, but even Shane at his most charming could not persuade the pub landlord to turn on the news - "we'll all leave if you don't turn it on" didn't work ... so we left.

Sunday's individual event was in much dryer but colder conditions on a tough and technical area with every sort of terrain, changes of direction and leg length. Reigning Irish Champion Marcus had a great 3rd place finishing within a minute of the winner due to a steady race, particularly in the 2nd half while others made mistakes, while among the women both Niamh and Ciara claimed top 10 placings on an enjoyable course.

Scotland completed a clean sweep with M21 being won by Ewan McCarthy and W21 by Mhairi MacKenzie.

There was a final team gathering at the Birnam Arts Centre for feeding and drinking before we split up for the journey home with the Irish-bound flying and the exiles having a long trip back down south.

Thanks to Murray Cowan for getting the selection off the ground late in the day and to Fionne for taking on the managerial role. Hopefully next year back on home soil again in Fermanagh we will have a full selection of competitors and be able to do more justice to orienteering in Ireland.

Full results are available here with Routegadget of the individual here.

Read Andy Kitchin's account of the weekend from the Scottish perspective here.

JHI 2008

The Junior Home International took place on September 19-20 at Ainsdale Dunes near Southport in Lancashire. In the closest JHI so far, the final result between Ireland and Wales came down to the last two runners. Unfortunately for us victory went to Wales.
England 128, Scotland 114, Wales 60, Ireland 58
Notable Irish performances were Áine Mc Cann 2nd W16 and Jack Millar 3rd M14.
The Irish juniors displayed pride, courage and determination to show their country in the best possible light. Their attitude should provide optimism for the future of our sport - let's hope they can carry this through to senior level!
With every year that passes the Irish juniors appear to believe in themselves more and more. Without doubt we will soon lose our customary bottom slot.
Thank you and well done to all.
The team was:
W14. Niamh Corbett, Dearbhla Knight, Cliona McCullough, Deirdre Ryan.
W16. Aine McCann, Andrea Stefkova.
W18. Fiona Hill, Hannah Maxwell, Katarina Stefkova.
M14. Jack Millar, Eoin McCullough, Alex Simonin, Mark Stephens.
M16. Cillin Corbett, Sean Knight, Colm Moran, Conor Short.
M18. Niall Ewen, Alan Lane, Padraig Mulry, Kevin O'Boyle.

Greg Mc Cann
JHI Team Manager
Full Results here.

Irish Results here.

More photos here.

Veteran Home International

The VHI was on home ground on 4th-5th October, combined with the Northern Ireland Championships.
The individual race on Saturday at Magilligan brought the runners out into the open dunes into the teeth of gale force winds and rain. Sundays relays at Woodburn, close to Carrickfergus, was a more conventional, if brambly, forest.
Despite wins for Ruth Lynam in W50L and Steven Linton in M40L, the finishing order was Scotland 269, England 267, Wales 224 and Ireland 130.
For a report from Scotland's Martin Dean, see here.
For NIOC results see here.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Solid runs at European Youth Champs



The 7th European Youth Championships (EYOC) were held in Switzerland last weekend. EYOC is becoming a popular and prestigious competition for European 16’s and 18’s, 29 countries attended this year with a total of 370 competitors. Ruth Lynam reports ...

The Irish team members were M18’s Niall Ewen, Alan Lane, Padraig Mulry, Kevin O’Boyle, and M16’s Seán Knight, Colm Moran & Conor Short. For Padraig & the M16’s this was their first International selection event. They were led by Ruth Lynam & Darren Burke.
The 450 or so attendance - runners & leaders, were organised with (mostly) exemplary Swiss efficiency. The food was good & plentiful. The afternoons were sunny but early morning fog kept the temperature down & the running conditions were excellent. The rising mists, autumnal forests, & white crags of the Jura Mountains made a beautiful backdrop for those who had time to look.

On Thursday the team arrived in time to do the model event in delightfully runnable mature forest with very good visibility & lots of paths. The terrain for the Long & Relay on Friday & Saturday was similar, but decidedly more overgrown though still passable. The Long required a mix of skills, using contour detail & vegetation as well as untangling the paths. Kevin O’Boyle in M18 had the best Irish run coming in 59th out of 106 runners, and the M16s on the whole ran steady races, Conor coming in fastest, 67th of 96.

The Relay area was similar but flatter, good fast relay terrain. Sean ran a good first leg to set the M16 team up for 19th place, ahead of the Danes, among others. Niall on the last leg had the best run of the M18s.

There was some Irish interest among the higher placings. Emma Klingenberg, whose mother is from Northern Ireland, had a convincing win in the Long, & anchored the Danish W16s home first in the Relay, and Severi Kymäläinen’s Finnish team were 5th in M18 relay.

The Sprint on Sunday was in Solothurn. Darren & I were not allowed visit the competition zone in the reportedly beautiful baroque city, & the juniors brought back no descriptions, but we did see the dramatic Finish area. The run-in followed what must have been a wide moat below high city walls, & the race featured a dramatic run-past along the ramparts overlooking the Finish area. Kevin put in a very good run here to take 39th place, just 1min 40sec down on M18 winner Kristian Jones of Great Britain.

Sprint & Relay are not Irish strong points as there are so few opportunities to practice, so this was a terrific performance by Kevin. All the Irish juniors put in real effort & showed great enthusiasm, & on the whole ran good controlled races keeping any errors small. With experience they can improve at Relay & Sprint, and learn to race assertively on strange terrain.

Results in brief below. Full results are on the EYOC website http://www.eyoc2008.ch/dyn/eyoc/results/

or better but in German at

http://www.swiss-orienteering.ch/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17&Itemid=33

Some pictures at http://irishjuniorsquad52.fotopic.net/c1595509.html

Ruth Lynam

Results in brief
Long
M16 6.9km 290m. 96 entries
1 Jan Petrzela CZE 41:27, 67 Conor Short IRL 59:07, 75 Sean Knight IRL 60:22, 81 Colm Moran IRL 64:48.

M18 8.5km 375m. 106 entries
1 Matthias Kyburz SWI 53:28, 59 Kevin O’Boyle IRL 69:08, 85 Alan Lane IRL 78:11, 95 Niall Ewen IRL 87:15, 100 Padraig Mulry IRL 102:17.

Relay
M16 6.7km 150m/7.1km 180m/6.7km 150m.
24 teams.
1
Russia 2:01:59, 19 Ireland 2:43:55 - Sean Knight 47:01, Conor Short 56:22, Colm Moran 60:22.

M18 7.9km 230m/8.9km 230m/7.9km 230m. 27 teams
1 Estonia 2:15:17, 23 Ireland 3:13:21 - Kevin O’Boyle 57:39, Alan Lane 79:39, Niall Ewen 56:03.

Sprint
M16 2.4km. 96 entries
1 Christoph Prunsch GER 11:22, 80 Sean Knight 13:42, 83 Conor Short 13:59, 90 Colm Moran 14:49.

M18 2.6km. 106 entries
1 Kristian Jones GBR 12:05, 39 Kevin O’Boyle IRL 13:45, 89 Niall Ewen IRL 15:41, 92 Alan Lane IRL 15:52, Padraig Mulry IRL mp.



(PS The title of this report was chosen by JMcC, not Ruth, and is not an endorsement for Arret, Imodium or any other such product!)

Dublin technical training experiment


It’s time for some technical training.
David Healy is running four technical training sessions on Wednesday evenings at Three Rock Wood, starting on 22nd October. Anyone who is a reasonably competent orienteer can come and will benefit: once the clocks go back next Sunday (26th) it should be good training for Night-O. Note **The later sessions have moved to Saturday mornings**

Wed 22nd October – Three Rock Wood.

Wed 29th October – Three Rock Wood.

Saturday 8thNovember – Three Rock Wood. 10 am

Saturday 15th November – Three Rock Wood. 10 am


Event Format - skills training (there will be different exercises each week)
Start time - 6:00pm Wednesdays, 10 am Saturdays
No signposts
Contact - davidbreadmaker@gmail.com
Grid ref - O 171 240
Car park: The same car park as the league event onSunday 19th October. Find location map here.

This training is free of charge. It is going to be provided by myself to get an idea of who in Dublin wants to train their skills and how often they’d be interested in training. If there is a good turnout I think there could be some more training arranged in the future, Saturday mornings would be a better time. Or is it? It depends on who comes out to this experiment and voices their opinion on what training they’d wish to receive. If you cannot make the Wednesday trainings but are very interested, please show the interest by getting in contact with me through email.
Please note that this is not an introduction to orienteering, beginners will not be catered for. It is for intermediates and advanced. However I would encourage beginners to come along anyway and I could explain some stuff to you. Since the training is free you might as well give it a shot. Please email me if you are at a beginner level so I can be prepared.
I’d like to thank 3ROC for the use of their map for this training experiment. Hopefully I’ll see some enthusiastic orienteers on Wednesday. Get out to the first one as the light is fading very quickly!!

David Healy
Great Eastern Navigators (club trainer)

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Junior European Cup, Belgium, 31st August - 1 September


Six Irish Juniors ran at the Junior European Cup in Belgium at the beginning of the month, accompanied by leaders David Healy and Ruth Lynam. Nick Simonin was out of action due to illness, so the team was: M20 Ruairi Short, Colm Hill, Fiach O'Rourke, and M18 Alan Lane, Kevin O'Boyle, Niall Ewen.
Based in Arlon, on the Luxembourg border, the terrain was generally flat forest with a few steep-sided valleys, intricately mapped vegetation, and myriads of charcoal-burning circles & tree stumps. Apart from a couple of route choice legs among the valleys, the navigation relied largely on compass work, counting off paths, and interpreting vegetation changes near the controls - the straight route was nearly always best.
The competition consisted of Middle Distance on Saturday, Long on Sunday and Relay on Monday. Switzerland, France, Czech Republic & Russia hogged the prizegiving in the individual events. The turnout was poor though - only 12 countries attended, and the standard was very high - the Irish results should be judged by relative times rather than by placings. In general the Irish – and notably the inexperienced M18s Alan, Kevin & Niall - ran well-controlled races, not error-free but keeping time losses small and relocating very well. Fiach fell foul of Emit in the Middle Distance, and Ruairi mispunched in the Long, redeeming himself somewhat with a very good run in the Relay.
The Relay provided the most excitement. The terrain was similar to that of the previous two races, with the addition of a small very technical contour area which caught out lots of the best teams. Austria & Germany surprised everyone including probably themselves by taking 1st & 2nd in the Mens' Relay. From the Irish point of view Colm, Kevin & Niall set up a suspense-filled final leg against Spain. Full results are here.

Ruth Lynam.

Niall Ewen adds ...
The 2008 Junior European Cup was held in the spacious forests surrounding the city of Arlon in southern Belgium. The team consisted of Ruairi Short, Colm Hill and Fiach O’Rourke running M20 and Niall Ewen, Kevin O’Boyle and Alan Lane (M18), all under the watchful eyes of Ruth Lynam and David Healy.

Receiving a telephone call while still in bed at 5:50 on Friday morning announcing the car is waiting outside, and fully believing that I had another hour before I had to go, is always fun but it was decided that some of us were already working on Belgium time.
After a short hop to Brussels Charleroi we drove to Neufchateau about 30 km north of Arlon where it was possible to stay in a sports centre that night and collect training maps.
We woke early on Saturday morning and drove to Arlon and the Middle Distance event.
At this point it should be mentioned that the maps consisted of about 1500 tree stumps marked “x” and an equal number of charcoal burning platforms marked “o”, wide contours, every shade of vegetation and one shoe-stealing fence just before the run in. This required a completely different thought process and approach to routes (mainly straight through everything).
The accommodation was in the grounds of a sports centre in six-bed chalets, food was spot on - mainly pastas and fruit. A free pool sealed the deal and provided a cool place to pass the day post-race.
The long distance was, well, …. long and the temperature was pretty high. That night I woke to see one of the squad members (who will remain unnamed) leaving the chalet and after sleepwalking into the Czech chalet woke to find one of its occupants staring at him, so, dazed and confused, he ran back into what he thought was the Irish chalet, only to awake to the sound of two of the JEC organisers talking, but third time he returned to our chalet.
Day three and we arrived at the relay passing signs for army tanks in the forest. Teams were, Team 1 Fiach, Ruairi, Alan and Team 2 Colm, Kevin and myself. The men’s relay started and slowly started to return through the first spectator control. Fiach passed and began loop two, still no Colm. Fifteen minutes later Colm arrives through the first spectator shouting that he had stood in a wasps’ nest and needed sting cream at the second spectator control. When Colm stood on the nest he had to run in any random direction away from a cloud of angry wasps and map contact was somewhat lost. Colm then flew through the second spectator control saying very politely that he in fact did not require any cream at that point and would continue the race. Kev was tagged and flew through his course. I waited in the start box next to the last Spanish runner. Kev came down the run-in followed by the Spanish second leg. After a mistake in the forest the Spaniard had 20 seconds on me at the first spectator control; by the second spectator control I had 20 on him seconds after dropping him in a technical contour section; at the third last control I made my move and lost the Spaniard and as I punched the control I could hear Colm’s voice echoing through the trees.

Driving back to the airport after the largest chicken dinner ever in the sport centre, we came upon some road works, first there were rows of six inch high nails sticking out of the road, then a series of deep pits. Dave made a joke saying it was like something out of the prince of Persia computer games and was waiting for swinging blades or something. A minute later we passed four huge circular saws sticking out of the road: the car erupted in laughter.

Results in brief:
Middle Distance
H18 4.3km, 37 competitors: 1 Lucas Basset FRA 24:39, 28 Alan Lane IRL IRL 39:57, 29 Kevin O'Boyle IRL 40:13, 32 Niall Ewen IRL 43:37
H20 4.6km, 29 competitors: 1 Benjamin Lepoutre FRA 28:51, 16 Ruairi Short IRL 37:46, 24 Colm Hill IRL 56:02, Fiach O'Rourke IRL nc
Long Distance
H18 9.9km, 37 competitors: 1 Florian Howald SWI 59:32, 30 Alan Lane IRL 79:42, 32 Kevin O'Boyle IRL 85:14, 36 Niall Ewen IRL 104:19
H20 10.8km, 29 competitors: 1 Thibaut Poupard FRA 65:38, 24 Colm Hill IRL 88:29, 26 Fiach O'Rourke IRL 89:52, Ruairi Short IRL mp
Relay 5.2km, 19 teams + 3 mixed: 1 Austria 31:34, 31:59, 31:39. 16 Ireland 1 Fiach O'Rourke 44:45, Ruairi Short 35:10, Alan Lane 51:30. 17 Ireland 2 Colm Hill 60:13, Kevin O'Boyle 49:05, Niall Ewen 53:55.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

September Snippets


Welcome back after the Irish "summer" break. While things have been quiet on the orienteering front at home, we've had lots of activity on the international front. My invitation to you to write about your O-summer didn't produce much yet, so here's a selection of snippets gathered from here and there to set up the autumn competition season.
(The photo is of LVO's Paddy Higgins sprinting up the run in at one of the the World Cup races during the 5-Days in Sweden)

World Championships, Czech Republic
An Irish team of Andrew Quin (3ROC), Neil Dobbs (WATO), Patrick Higgins (LVO), Ailbhe Creedon (CorkO), Niamh O'Boyle (CNOC) and Ciara Largey (QUBOC) travelled to the World Championshipsin the Czech Republic in July. The LVO pair of Alan Gartside and Wilbert Hollinger also took part in the associated Trail Orienteering World Championships. You can see the results, photos etc here.

World Student Championships, Estonia
An Irish team of five athletes competed at the World University Orienteering Championships (WUOC) in Estonia. The team was Ruairi Short (Trinity College, Dublin), Gerard Butler (Institute of Technology, Tallaght), Niamh O'Boyle (Trinity College, Dublin), Ciara Largey (Queen's University, Belfast), Rosalind Hussey (Edinburgh University). Team Leader: Bernie O'Boyle
The program for the week was Wednesday - Sprint; Thursday - Long; Friday - Middle; Saturday - Relay. You can also check out:http://www.easl.ee/wuoc2008/ for more info.
The Sprint was held on Wednesday morning in a park-like setting. The first third of the course was simple, fast navigation before a more technical area with mixed vegetation, buildings and uncrossable fences.Weather conditions perfect - 22 degrees and dry!

Results
Men 3.1km. climb 70m with 17 controls.
1.Tomas Dlabaja - Czech Republic 13:29:1
2. Vesa Taanila - Finland 13:39:7
3. Scott Fraser - UK 13:42:9
66. Gerard Butler - Ireland 17:08:8
74. Ruairi Short - Ireland 24:53:1
Women 2.7km. Climb 55m with 16 controls.
1. Seline Stalder - Switzerland 14:25:9
2. Dana Brozkova - Czech Republic 14:28:0
3. Esther Gil Brotons - Spain 14:42:4
27. Niamh O' Boyle - Ireland 16:50:2
62. Ciara Largey - Ireland 20:51:4
Mispunch Rosalind Hussey - Ireland

The Long Distance Championships were held at Veskimõisa. The terrain was physically challenging, reflected by the fact that 17 men did not finish the course. All of the Irish team found it tough in the marshes and undergrowth. Michal Smola of the Czech Republic won his third consecutive University title, while Bodil Holmstrom of Finland won the women’s race in style by over 6 minutes.
Long Distance Results:
Men, 13.2 km, 210m climb, 25 controls
1. Michal Smola (Czech Republic) 81:17
2. Fabian Hertner (Switzerland) 83:16
3. Yury Masnyy (Russia) 85:13
69. Ruairi Short (Ireland) 142.12
Did not finish. Gerard Butler (Ireland)
Women, 9.0 km, 140m climb, 19 controls
1. Bodil Holmstrom (Finland) 65:37
2. Una Arama (Latvia) 72:18
3. Heini Wennman (Finland) 72:38
51. Niamh O’Boyle (Ireland) 95:54
57. Ciara Largey (Ireland) 102.39
75. Rosalind Hussey (Ireland) 148.59
While rain threatened initially, the day stayed sunny and dry for therunning of the Middle Distance Championships. The terrain was once again very challenging with lots of marshes and 'green' areas which did not make for easy running. However, the Irish team dealt better with this terrain than on the previous day.
Mens, 6.17km, 80m climb, 13 controls
1. Sander Vaher Estonia 00:33.35
2. Michal Smola Czech Republic 00:35.39
3. Gernot Kerschbaumer Austria 00:36.30
72. Ruairi Short Ireland 00:55.14
88. Gerard Butler Ireland 01:10.31
Womens, 4.91km, 50m climb, 10 controls
1. Bodil Holmström Finland 00:34.29
2. Dana Brozkova Czech Republic 00:34.37
3. Radka Brozkova Czech Republic 00:36.01
57. Niamh O'Boyle Ireland 00:52.50
75. Ciara Largey Ireland 01:09.19
79. Rosalind Hussey Ireland 01:19.37
The Relay championships were held on Saturday, but Ireland did not have enough men or women to field a competitive team. The event was run at Prangli, as was the middle distance. The women's team of Niamh, Ciara and Rosalind combined with Mari Troeng from Sweden to produce 3rd place in the mixed women's race. The men's team of Ruairi and Gerard had a disticntly Scandinavian flavour with the addition of Norwegian and Swedish orienteers on the 3rd and 4th legs. They finished 4th in the mixed men's race. That night, they faced the most gruelling task of all - the after-event closing ceremony and banquet! 5 weary orienteers then then headed for home from Estonia at 6:45am next morning! Bernie O' Boyle

World Masters Championships, Portugal
A smallish Irish contingent travelled to the WMOC in Leiria, Portugal, at the end of June. The event had both a sprint and a long distance race. This competition is for M/W35 and over and qualification races determine whether you finish in the A, B or even C final. Ruth Lynam (see more below) finished 5th in the W50 A final; Julie Cleary 4th in W40 B final. Full details here. WMOC 2009 will be in Sydney, Australia, from October 10-17 2009, in conjunction with the World Masters Games. Details here.

Junior World Championships, Sweden
Colm Hill, Fiach O'Rourke, Nick Simonin and Ruairi Short ran in the World Junior Championships at Gothenburg in Sweden at the end of July, accompanied by coach Greg McCann (assisted by daughter Aine).

Colm wrote at the time
Hey! Weather here in Goteborg is heating up. If only the results were as well....
Sprint was on Monday. The map was a mixture of street and forest. The planner's main idea was to get us to run fast in the streets and make mistakes in the forest.
The winning time was 13:21.1 by Stepan Kodeda, the fastest Irish runner was myself in 17:20.3 (133rd), Fiach followed in 18:18.6 (144th), Nick in 19:18.0 (153rd) and Ruairi arriving in 19:29.0 (156th). Fiach was happy with his result, the rest fell foul to the planners.
The middle distance was held this morning. The forest was physical with some sharp hills. Technical navagation caught many people out. Nick and myself managed to qualify for the B final while Ruairi and Fiach will compete in the C final tomorrow afternoon.

Fiach continued:
Today the middle distance finals took place on the western side of the map just west of yesterday's qualification map. The finish was again in the same area but the courses were more technical. Colm and Nick competed in the B final. Nick took it easy to save himself for the
classic finishing 37th with a time of 37:32. Colm found the weather extremely difficult to battle through with high temperatures and rough terrain. He finished in 46th with a time of 43:01.
Ruairi and myself competed in the C final and both also suffered very badly with later start times and quite warm temperatures. Ruairi came out best of us with a strong run in 6th place with 25:08. I made my first mistake of JWOC, losing up to 2 minutes and finished 28th in 31.36.
After a rest day tomorrow we are all looking forward to the classic distance on
Saturday in "Partille Gunnilse". We are already arguing as to who will get the
early starts, avoiding the midday sun.

Greg followed
Today's Classic race was a 10km race for the boys over very physical terrain and once again they had to contend with high temperatures of 28 C. The boys were happy with their runs but found the heat really difficult to deal with.
1st Johan Runesson 1:12:22, 105th Nicolas Simonin 1:39:16, 125th Ruairi Short 1:50:40, 135th Colm Hill 2:04:36, 145th Fiach O´Rourke 2:19:39.
Tomorrow´s Relay Team will consist of Nick leading off and then handing over to Colm and then Ruairi bringing them in. Fiach is not running tomorrow after picking up an injury today.
The last race of this year's JWOC took place in the same area as the classic but with less hills. This provided some very fast running through physically tough terrain. First out for Ireland was Nick who by the first radio control was only a few minutes down on the leaders and in front of the two GB teams. A mistake in the middle of the course cost him a few places but we were well placed in the middle of the field. Second out was Colm who was under pressure to keep his current position, but a mistake in a vague part of the course proved costly and it was left for Ruairi to play catch up. The boys finished 40th out of 55 teams.
Greg Mc Cann, JWOC Manager manager

Swedish 5-Day
More than 30 Irish orienteers made the trip to the Swedish 5-Day "O-Ringen" in Dalarna in July. Billed as "mountain orienteering", some of the areas were pretty like what we have here in parts of Wicklow, but others were more typically Swedish, with natural forest, few paths or tracks and lots of marsh. To run in this event (with 25000 others) is quite an experience. An Irish Junior Tour was included and the Juniors all benefitted from the exposure to top class competition, even if individual performances fluctuated from day to day. At least we all managed to find our starts, unlike France's Thierry Georgiou on Day 5 ... though maybe he was still suffering from his unhappy experience in the finalleg of the World Championships relays when he was stung by a bee he had swallowed and couldn't breathe, allowing the British team to take Gold.

Next year's O-Ringen is around Eksjo from July 18-24, so it will be easier to get to and to get around.

European Junior Cup, Belgium
Seven members of the Junior Squad travelled to Arlon in southeast Belgium to compete in the Junior European Cup (JEC) at the end of August. The team was M20: Nick Simonin, Ruairi Short, Colm Hill, Fiach O'Rourke; andM18s: Niall Ewen, Alan Lane, Kevin O'Boyle. Just over 100 runners took part in the event. Results etc here

Farmleigh
Athletics Ireland held a promotional day for athletics and running sports at Farmleigh, beside Dublin's Phoenix Park, on July 27th. Something close to 1000 people tried the short orienteering course planned by Ger Butler in the grounds: how many can we persduade to stick with it? This could be a viable replacement for the old "National Orienteering Day", particularly if Athletics Ireland run more days like it around the country. Thanks to Athletics Ireland, the OPW and to the Dublin O-Clubs for their support.

Fingal Scatter Series
September sees Fingal continuing their four mass-start events in North County Dublin, starting at Ward River Valley, Swords, then Newbridge House, Donabate on the 7th; Ardgillan, Skerries on the 14th and Malahide Castle on the 21st. The event is the same format as last year with 3 courses available: Long, Medium, and Short. All courses will have a mass-start at 12.00. Controls can be punched in any order. Best 3 of 4 events to count for League prizes on all courses.

Junior Training
Two Junior Training weekends are being held in preparation for the Junior Home International near Liverpool. The first was at the end of August in Fermanagh and Donegal, taking in FermO's Navar South NI Series event (reportedly very tough) followed by a day out at the seaside, racing on the dunes at Finner Camp, near Bundoran.
The second weekend incorporates the now infamous Phoenix Park time trials on September 6th followed by sprint training at Belfield and then a forest session on Sunday 7th.

Home Internationals
Autumn brings the three Home International events and this year the Veteran (M/W35+) competition is in Co. Derry, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Championships at Magilligan the first weekend in October. Magilligan is a fantastic sand dune area which was used for the British Championships a few years ago. The relays are at Woorburn,near Larne,Co. Antrim on the Sunday. For entry details of NIOC 2008 see here.

The Junior event is on more sand dunes, this time at Ainsdale Hills near Formby, outside Liverpool (close to Wayne Rooney's house) on September 20-21, for M/W 14, 16 and 18's. The team is W14. Niamh Corbett, Cliona Mc Cullough W16. Aine Mc Cann, Andrea Stefkova W18. Hannah Maxwell, Katarina Stefkova, Fiona Hill M14. Jack Millar, Mark Stephens, Alex Siminon, Eoin Mc Cullough M16. Conor Short, Sean Knight, Colm Moran, Cillin Corbett M18. Kevin O'Boyle, Alan Lane, Padraig Mulry.

The Seniors (M/W20 & 21) take on the infamous Craig a'Barns near Dunkeld in Scotland on Sunday 26th October. This includes an open event (with a local event nearby on the Saturday which I imagine includes the SHI Relays). Enter at www.oentries.com. A good Bank Holiday weekend trip.

A Good Year for Ruth
Bernie O'Boyle writes "Congratulations to Ruth Lynam (CNOC) on a fantastic set of performances in various international events this summer. Ruth began the summer by competing in the World Masters Orienteering Championships in Pinhal de Leiria, Portugal from June 28th to July 5th. The two qualification races saw her safely into the 'A' final, (5.4km 160m) where she finished 5th in a time of 47:31 - winning time was 44:31.
Next on the agenda was a Junior Squad tour to O-Ringen in Dalarna, Sweden. Ruth, with a little late intervention from husband Don, managed to find the finest accommodation available in Dalarna for the group of 26, - Juniors and some of their parents. For a full week, we rubbed shoulders with the World Cup competitiors and after a few days we didn't even blink when Thierry Georgiou, Daniel Hubmann, Matthias Merz and Anne Margrethe Hausken passed by! I am finally able to put faces to the names which are common currency in conversations among our enthusiastic juniors. Ruth had some great runs here -her best result 7th from a field of over 200 runners.
You could say that she put the icing on the cake when she won W50 at the French 6 Day event in Aveyron. We waited for the on-line results on day6, knowing that Ruth was leading a chasing start with a very slim 34 second advantage. Supporters at the spectator control watched as Ruth came through first, and waited to see how far behind would Pascal Prevost (FRA) and Janet Rosen (UK) be? In the end, Ruth finished just as her two main rivals approached the spectator control - she had transformed her 34 second lead into a decisive 7 minute and 18 second victory. Well done also to Una May (3ROC) 4th and Nuala Callery (AJAX) 10th in W35A and Mary Healy (GEN) who finished 9th in W50.
I want to thank Ruth and Greg McCann for all the work done for the Irish Junior Squad. The 'summer' is drawing to a close and already the calendar is filling up- a training weekend in Fermanagh, time trials in the Phoenix Park, JHI, EYOC, JEC etc.. Our juniors are lucky to have you both."


Monday, 28 July 2008

High drama at the WOC Relay

The Relays provided a gripping end to the World Orienteering Championships. The Women's race started first and heading into the final leg, Switzerland held a clear lead of over two minutes thanks to a great run by Silver Medallist in the Middle Distance Vroni Koenig-Salmi. Lea Mueller (SUI) was being chased down by a pack consisting of Helena Jansson (SWE), Tatiana Ryabkina (RUS) and all three gold medallists from earlier in the week: Anne Margrethe Hausken (NOR), Minna Kauppi (FIN) and Dana Brozkova (CZE). Minna it was who made the difference, stepping up a gear in the long leg with the big climb. She brought home the gold for Finland running almost three minutes faster than the next best time on her leg. Russia were second and Sweden third.

Niamh O'Boyle started strongly for Ireland coming in ahead of Denmark, Portugal and Canada to hand over to Ciara Largey in 23rd. Ciara ran creditably but was passed by the stronger Danish team. Ailbhe Creedon anchored the team with a steady run keeping the team in 24th place, behind Canada but now ahead of the Japanese. Good work, girls!

Worth noting is the incredible 7th place of the Chinese women's team. They have extremely fast runners and the entire team has been training intensively in Czech terrain over the past two months and it paid off.

The Men's race was almost unreal. François Gonon (FRA) came back in the lead after the first leg to tag Damien Renard. The pecking order was only really established after the second leg though. Jon Duncan (GBR) taking over from Graham Gristwood came back with a 24 second lead over the French setting up a titanic battle between Jamie Stevenson and Thierry Gueorgiou. Behind them, Valentin Novikov (RUS) and Daniel Hubmann (SUI) were hot on their heels. Sixteen minutes in, Gueorgiou caught Stevenson and managed to get a clear lead. France now seemed unbeatable and about to claim their first Gold in relay. But... "les dieux en avaient décidé autrement", as the French put it. On the way to the 7th control Thierry swallowed a bee which stung him on the inside of the throat. He struggled on for a while but had to bail out. On reaching the finish area he collapsed, barely able to breathe. A helicopter duly arrived to take him to hospital where the word was that he was on the way to recovery.
This freakish accident left the way open for Jamie Stevenson to claim a historic Gold for the British team, despite Novikov's fastest time on the third leg which gave Russia silver. Switzerland took third, Czech Rep 4th and Latvia 5th, relegating the Nordic nations of Finland, Norway and Sweden to 6th, 7th and 8th respectively.

Andrew Quin ran first leg for the Irish. A mistake on the 8th control and some problems with dehydration hurt his race. Patrick Higgins ran better, passing Turkey, but not enough to bring us within striking distance of the teams further ahead. I anchored, and had an uneventful race, leaving us in 32nd place ahead of South Africa with three teams disqualified. For the men's team it was a disappointing end to the week as we are capable of beating several of the teams ahead of us if we run to our potential.

Some photos of the Irish team and result summaries are available at
http://runners.worldofo.com/woc2008pics_IRL.html
Full results including split times at:
http://www.woc2008.cz/en/homepage
More photos are to be found at
http://orienteering.smugmug.com/

Andrew and Patrick went on to Sweden with Andrew running O-ringen and Patrick the World Cup races. Patrick, Ciara and Niamh will be running the World Student Championships in Estonia and I'm going to the 6 days in France. We are all looking forward to a solid year of training and moving up the rankings.

Bring on Hungary 2009!

Neil Dobbs

Friday, 11 July 2008

Write about your Summer!





Despite the weather, there is lots of orienteering going on this summer. First and foremost is the World Championships,now an annual event, in the Czech Republic. The event starts on 12th July and the Irish team is


Andrew Quin (3ROC)
Neil Dobbs (WATO)
Patrick Higgins (LVO)

Ailbhe Creedon (CorkO)
Niamh O'Boyle (CNOC)
Ciara Largey (QUBOC)

Trail-O: Alan Gartside (LVO) and Wilbert Hollinger (LVO).

You can follow their progress each day on line here.

The programme is

Date
Time WOC 2008 Events
Sat 12 July 2008 afternoon

Model Sprint

Model start procedure, punching system, time keeping, refreshments

Sun 13 July 2008 morning
Sprint distance qualification

afternoon

Opening ceremony

Sprint final

Mon 14 July 2008 all day
Model long distance qualification
Tue 15 July 2008 morning
Long distance qualification
Wed 16 July 2008
all day
Model middle distance

afternoon IOF/VIP/media race
Thu 17 July 2008
morning
Middle distance qualification

afternoon Middle distance final
Fri 18 July 2008 all day

IOF Congress

Model long distance final and relay

Sat 19 July 2008 morning

Long distance final

Model relay

Sun 20 July 2008 morning
Relay

afternoon
Closing ceremony

evening
Banquet





































If you are going orienteering,why not write about is for us? There's a Junior Tour to the Swedish 5-Day, there's the World Masters in Portugal, Junior World Champs, the Setanta Rogaine, the Welsh 6-Day, the World University Champs ...

CorkO's Fiona Barrett 3rd in L'Etape du Tour
John Scannell, Chairman of CorkO, writes "On behalf of CorkO I would like to congratulate club member Fiona Barrett on her super performance in the L'Etape du Tour. This is an event with nearly 7,500 cyclists competing on one of the actual stage routes of the Tour De France. This year's stage was the 165km route from Pau to Hautacam with two infamous category one climbs the - the 23km with 7.5% gradient Col du Tourmalet and the 15km with 7.2% gradient Hautacam. With inclement weather conditions, Fiona finished in 3rd place in the ladies category which is indeed a superb performance.

Our congratulation go out to you Fiona!"

Fiona finished the 165 km course in poor weather conditions in a race time of 7 hours 8 minutes 44 seconds, less than 3 minutes off 2nd place. The 16th Mondovelo Etape du Tour was on Sunday 6th July. For details see here.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Irish Teams at Jukola


More Irish teams ran in the Jukola and Venla Relays in Finland last weekend than ever before. Setanta Orienteers and Defence Forces Orienteers had entered teams while Irish runners also represented London and Finnish O-clubs.

The Jukola Relay is an annual 7-person overnight relay run around midsummer in Finland. This year's race, the 60th, was close to Tampere, accessible by Ryanair, and about 1500 teams took part: that'sover 10,000 runners. The Venla Relay is a 4-person relay for women only, run the afternoon before the Jukola (cynics might say that the girls are sent out to flatten the vegetation for the big race).


A largely-Setanta team of Nina Phillips, Mary O'Connell (3ROC), Deirdre O'Neill (FIN) and Hazel Thompson finished 727th in the Venla, while GEN's Mary Healy ran with Jalasjarven, who finished 669th.

In the Jukola, the DFO team os Seamus O'Boyle, Ruairi Short, Colm Hill, Tony Maher, Gretta O'Connor, Fabian Flood and Kevin O'Reilly finished a very credible 724th, with Ruairí's run bringing them in as high as 284th.

The largely-SET team of Timo Haikonen, Dave Weston, Mick Mangan, Brendan O'Connor (AJAX), Jim Mulroney, Stephen McCarthy and Seán Hassett finished 1128th, with almost every runner improving on the placing of the previous one.

London OK, featuring 3ROC's Ronan and Julie Cleary and John McCullough, finished 927th, having risen as high as 563rd after leg 2.

The Jukola started at 11 pm with the heart-stopping blast of an anti-aircraft gun, with 1500 runners charging for the narrow funnel, slowing to a walk up the sandy hill and dispersing in the young trees across the valley. Looking at it on the big screen at the changeover, it looked like a stream of coloured Smarties flooding into the forest, each runner's colourful top lit up by the following head-torch.

Leg 1 was 11.4km and the expected winning time was 72 minutes; leg 2 12.2 km (77 minutes), leg 3 13.2 km (81 mins), leg 4 7.8 km (45 mins), leg 5 7.9km (44 mins), leg 6 9.8 km (57 mins) and leg 7 13.7 km (77 mins).

Heavy rain during the night slowed up some of the runners on the first three legs, so the organisers delayed the mass start for remaining runners by 30 minutes to 09.15 on Sunday morning. This mass-start was even bigger than the first leg one, with long queues to punch the early controls: in fact, you could have to wait a minute or so even to see if there was a control there!


The terrain was coniferous forest with a few tracks, quite rough underfoot, with some extraction lanes. There was quite a lot of climb on the courses, plenty of marsh, some beautiful, fast forest with lichen-covered ground, but some parts of lower visibility.


Finnish club Delta, anchored by Valentin Novikov, won the Jukola Relay with the winning time 8.16.04. The Swedish team OK Linne (Patrick Higgins's (LVO) Swedish club) anchored by Mattias Millinger had been in top positions during the whole race finished second place, 92 seconds down, with Finland's Vehkalahden Veikot a further 7 seconds behind.

The Jukola website reports "The second position was a tight competition between OK Linne and Vehkalahden Veikot until the very end. At the last control the teams were separated by one second in favour of Vehkalahti, but during the final spurt OK Linne's Millinger was stronger and took the second place to Sweden.
Jukola's anchoring leg offered the spectators an extremely exciting play since the final decision hd to be waited for until the last minute. Right in the beginning of the leg the other top teams caught up Lynx who had started in the lead position with a difference of one minute to the other teams. Thereafter, the race was extremely tight. Novikov escaped from the others shortly after the middle of the course and after that he gave no chances for the other teams."

A live big-screen display using GPS showed the spectators where runners were going, while the whole thing was live in Finnish TV and radio through the night. On Sunday evening the Jukola had top spot on the TV sports news, displacing golf, soccer and car rallying!

Sweden's Domnarvets GoIF won the Venla relay in a time of 3.17.48.

Next year's Jukola and Venla relays are at Mikkeli, 230km NE of Helsinki and about the same distance from Tampere, on June 13-14. See

http://jukola2009.net/

This year's results, routegadget and photos are
here.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Mission Accomplished



Recently Julie Cleary asked for your help to raise money for Different Strokes, a charity which helps younger people in Britain and Ireland who suffered strokes. She was planning to run 50 km in orienteering competitions during May. Here's how she got on ...

May 9th 2008 was the second anniversary of my brain haemorrhage and subsequent stroke, so I decided to try and raise some money for Different Strokes - a charity which helps younger people here and in Ireland who have had "brain attacks" like mine.

Progress Report 1 - 13 May: 23.33km down, just 26.67km to go and thanks to everyone who has been so generous in supporting me to date. I've had a lot of climb so far (1000m +) and loads of brambles at the BOKtrot, but at least the weather has been reasonably kind!

Progress Report 2 - 19 May: 3 races this weekend, including covering 9.2km between 3.15 and 5am on Sunday (while most of you sensible people were tucked up in bed!) takes the total distance covered to 38.35km - that 50k target is now in sight. Thanks to my LOK team-mates for joining me - and continued thanks to everyone who is donating.

Final report - 27 May: Mission accomplished! I hit the 50km mark at 14.15 on Sunday last (Day 2 of the Tamar Triple). In all, I have covered 50.96km with 1935m of climb - that's about 6350 feet (almost 1 1/2 Ben Nevises) - over the 4 weekends, and I am pleased to say that I was still running when the 50km mark came up - it was downhill and I had to get to the finish line ahead of Ronan!

I checked my diary from 2 years ago where it says "A 0.1 km walk floors me, how can I ever contemplate getting back into the woods?" which makes me appreciate how far I have come. So thanks to all of you who have supported me throughout the 2 years and over the last month, and to Ro who still keeps my spirits up when I flag. And despite my hopes for no brambles, my legs are scratched to pieces....

Julie raised over STG£2200 for Different Strokes. If you would like to add to this, you can still do it here.

Incidentally, Julie will be running this Saturday night on the London OK team at the Jukola sever-person overnight relay at Tampere in Finland. Setanta Orienteers and Defence Forces Orienteers also have teams entered.


Monday, 9 June 2008

Of Hill and Marsh


GEN's David Healy recently spent a week training in Sweden. This is a kind of training diary ...

"I decided to take a week’s training in Stockholm at the beginning of April with the aim of focusing entirely on orienteering technique. This is a report on my time eating hill and sucking marsh

To navigate, simplify routes, go straight, use the marshes and the hills to make your way and when you get close to the control slow down and start reading all the little details that can bring you into the circle and onto the flag. The hard part is getting used to knowing which details to read, which details to block out; and then in practice reading and blocking out the detail itself. That plan will get you quite far in Sweden.

I had already gotten to grips with the demands of Stockholm orienteering when I lived in the city in 2002/03 but after that I got injured and had not orienteered much over the next three years. What my training camp this April was to achieve for me was my re-introduction to the land, the maps and the ability to navigate at a fast tempo – Stockholm is a FAST terrain which demands that you run at speed and taunts you with immensely intricate terrain.

What I hope to gain from this camp is selection on my Stockholm club’s first team in the Tiomila ten man relay in 3 weeks time, held in south Stockholm terrain. For this there are some test races. I ran one such race during this camp on the 2nd day.

Day 1 – Vasteras, 100 km east of Stockholm, this was my Ryanair destination so I decided to take in a local middle distance event – this being a Saturday. The only goal was to go like a snail and make good plans for each leg. This wasn’t a very hard race but it was good to get a course in hand in preparation for tomorrow’s relay race south of Stockholm. I run for a club called Jarla IF OK. As the race today was short I drew down a few training controls after and went straight back out for an hour more. Too often I show up to race in Sweden the day before, and without having any training I go out and run a poor race. This time I wanted a day before to get to grips with the map and the land.

Day 2 – Masenstafettan, translates into “The Masen relay”. This is a small relay, about the size of the JK event. It is good practice for teams to prepare for Tiomila and for coaches to pick teams. This year I want to make my clubs first team and the strategy for me is to show safe, secure results. Accordingly, the goal today was good route planning, strong concentration on the map and not taking risky choices . I’ve been told by some people, and it’s common knowledge in Sweden, that over there you should never cross the line in between the control more than once. Because in this flattish terrain when you start doing that you’re adding distance to the leg. You take a route choice; left, or right, or straight on – you pick one and run it hard. They’re probably all just as quick either way. It’s not about route choice; it’s about seconds lost due to not following the fine details.

In this map sample from the race you can see my route from 6-7 veers off a bit to the right, I wanted to ‘see’ the marshes directly north from 6 and take a direction off them heading towards the massive marsh that sits close to number 7. From there I came up onto the hill (my attack point) and hugged the marsh running SE to NW alongside it – I read a lot of detail into the circle from here and spiked the control.

In this clip of the control 6-7 I use the colour red for highlighting marshes and purple for contour forms like hills. Excuse the sloppy drawing!

This is pretty much the only detail I visualised in my plan. So it goes: hill hill marsh marsh hill and then the attack point which is a hill – while hugging side of hill with the marsh and reading detail to the left I made my way to the hill that sits 10-20 metres east of the control feature (a marsh). This is a prime example of a safe and secure route, however if I’d raced for myself I would have taken a bearing towards the massive marsh and gone straight towards the control picking up the two marshes on the hill rise. (A point to note, can you see the knolls on the left side of 6-7? Imagine if we chose a route that followed all 30 or so of them – it would take forever, it would be giving myself 30 extra controls to find so it’s always useful to simplify as much as you can when possible so that you can run fast in between legs. Save all those minor details for when it’s needed – to spike the control.)

Day 3 – Ava Norra. Racing over, I now descend on Stockholm where I stayed with a friend and trained pure technique without the distractions of races. I aimed to train individual skills on their own with an intent on putting them together later in the camp.

Ava Norra is south of Stockholm and you need a car to get to it, which I had a friend for – this map sample is a little bendy from my scanner. This map was used in the Swedish team test races for world champs 2004. South Stockholm terrain is like mashed potatoes; you stick your fork in around and all over the mash a hundred times. Splash some water over it and you’ve got this amazing intricate marshy mess! Well, how do you navigate in such insane terrain? My first training was control picking at very slow speed with no compass – the aim is to hit controls about 100 meters apart and just read every single detail you can possibly read in between the leg. I use the contours to orientate the map. It’s not easy but totally possible with practice, especially when you keep a running speed on par with a walk! That’s as slow as I’m talking about. I like this training as my very first training in Scandinavian terrain as it connects me fully with the ground and fully with the map. In any sport it helps to practice skills very slowly and then increase the speed. Also, when I did this training back in 2003 I did it for 3 hours doing about 100 controls or more and in the end my concentration was at its max and my UNDERSTANDING of the Swedish nature was finally clear. From that point I knew what determines the smallest marsh, the smallest knoll, the smallest waver in a contour, the smallest stones, all features in all sizes. In understanding these symbols on the map and their relation with the ground I was now able to predict with imagery in my head what the ground ahead of me will look like from reading the map. My training in Ava Norra was quite successful. With a tiny little rare error here and there I did some good slow control picking. There were no flags of course. I almost had to change my slow training plan for a sprint when I met two elk, but they wanted to run away from me so I was alright. But not for long, they ran in the direction of my next few controls. Caution David...

In the evening I did a second training session which was 1.5 km from where I was staying on Lidingo island. This time I wanted to stretch my legs out and also practice my compass technique. My aim was to go directly towards the control circle and pace the distance. To my surprise I spiked 18 out of 19 controls. For creating the course as you can see in the map sample I blocked out the area in between the controls to assure myself I would only look for the detail in the circle. And so the corridor I drew was very slim when leaving the circle for the next control as I could use this to confirm if I had hit my control or in fact hit a similar feature.

When you take a bearing you don’t want to read all the small detail, just the big thing you’re aiming for. I never take bearings for more than 300/350 metres as the precision will begin to fail from there. Accordingly in the training, legs were 100-300 metres. I haven’t worked on my compass technique since I was maybe 17, so it was quite refreshing. I’ll need to keep training this as my speed in setting the needle and then looking up to the horizon is quite slow. I had to work fast here also as the light was almost fading. I’m going to use compass bearings a whole lot more than I normally do now. Great weather all week. Better than Ireland funnily enough, and no snow!

Someone gave me the map to use (map sample above) and it already had controls. I thought I might run that course or use the map again and I decided to draw my course onto the plastic bag and seal it tight at the end so it wouldn’t move. It worked perfectly. Try this!

Day 4 - something fast was needed as I couldn’t run at slow speeds all week. So just for today I decided to run some orienteering intervals. This is a training that requires 100% maximum concentration on the map. You have a start triangle and draw 3-4 legs with an overall distance of something like 500-1000 metres. In the sample (to the right) I ran the sloppy course, there was in fact a pre set course already on the map so I had to draw over it and make sure I didn’t get distracted.

Again it’s incredibly hard to do this training with no flags, but, I chose features that I knew would be unique enough that I would know I was right when I got there, but also that I needed to find them firstly with good navigation. I did about 3 intervals really well, running 5 mins each one with a 2 minute rest in between. Each interval took longer than I thought. I didn’t miss anything on the first 3 but when I started the fourth I must have taken a wrong direction as I got lost for about 5-10minutes at which point I didn’t want to start increasing my heart rate again back up to interval speed, I decided 15 minutes hard running was satisfactory so I returned to my bag hidden at the start point, put on a warm jumper and walked 2 km back to the train station and embarked on my 80 minute ride home

In the evening I was lent a car, this time from the guy I was staying with, so that I could go to my club training. My club trains technique, like a lot of Swedish clubs, on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Tonight’s training was simply a course with 3 loops, a mass start and as usual flags set in the forest. Trainings are more interesting than this but I figure that since it was the beginning of the season for them they weren’t focusing on their technique training just yet. It was getting dark so I managed two loops. Plus I got tired from this mornings training. I had to tell myself to slow down and take it slow or else two fast trainings will hurt me or at least tire me for the rest of the week. But it’s hard to hold yourself back when you’re running against some hot shot juniors in the club. This was a nice little area I orienteered on, I was planning ahead well and I took some bearings now and then. There was no real goal but to concentrate on the map and not lose focus. I sat back and enjoyed being able to choose good routes, navigate with precision and spike nearly all the controls. That’s a really good feeling. This next map segment is one of the loops I ran. In my routes I would ignore paths and overhead pylons in favour of choosing a more challenging route, it’s good training. But only for training, In a race I’d choose the fastest and simplest route choice – I wonder if I train like this too much will I run a race choosing these tougher routes? That would be a bad mistake to make – I need to pay attention to this closer to some bigger races.

It was a beautiful evening with the sun burning a dark orange and I was flying along over some foreign land. I didn’t miss much time anywhere on the course and I was always comfortably planned ahead. I felt my technique was coming along already; I would make sure I had a good plan and if I didn’t I would continue to scan the leg until I did. Once this plan was in place and memorised in my head I could then do the easy part, follow the route and pay attention to not veering off. When I set goals to focus I meant that I follow my plan and always be looking ahead towards what the next feature or checkpoint will be. Fatigue and loss of concentration on the map are the main demons to ward off – but I have a mental cue that helps me when I feel my focus is slipping. I literally tell myself to focus out loud, and I’ve done it so many times that it’s a built in fully functional component in my brain that I switch on and do it. But it has being practiced in training to make sure that when you say it you do it. You also need to be aware at what point in a race you’re going to lose focus. By analysing my races and looking at where I’ve made mistakes I can tell when I’m losing focus which usually means I refocus myself before I make a mistake.

Day 5 – Paradiset – about 60-70km south of the city. Great name, great terrain. One of the craziest terrains and maps I’ve been on in Stockholm. I ran this at a slow jog. My sole training goal was practicing making a plan ahead to the control after the one I’m on. Reading fast and making the best plan is the hard part. I want to make this plan when I leave a control, or at least as early on in the leg as I can. If I failed to make a plan while coming upon my control I can always take a quick glance at the direction I’ll leave in and when leaving the flag I make a plan while I trot in that direction. Anyway, this training went well. A few bad controls at the beginning but when I got warmed up (and I’m not talking about my legs) I was having a good training session. One big part of my technique this year is to read my description first and then look at the map and visualise the control feature and the detail in the circle before I even look at the leg. Then I look for an attack point that is best suited to the feature and then lastly I choose the route in the form of check points. In the past when choosing attack points I found it difficult but I would go through maps with courses I made up and while sitting down in my front room I would try and analyse which attack point is best – then the more and more I orienteered, the faster I would see the attack point while on the run. This was good, about 90 minutes of this.

Day 6 – Today’s training was a map I was given from a previous club’s training. It had 34 controls in a short distance so I figured I would not concentrate on leg planning, but orienteer by compass bearings today. Unlike the first training where I didn’t read any detail until the circle, in this training I would take a bearing to the control or attack point and read any detail I wanted to read.

A lot of the detail I read on the route would be to confirm my direction was correct, such as reading a distinct cliff face or hill or marsh or unique array of boulders. This was my only training today. I got stuck in rush hour traffic and missed my club’s training in the evening. But still I had good training so far this week and I think at this stage I felt I had no problem with the terrain. So I hit a 7-Eleven, bought some sweets and went back on home. Too many sweets for my own good, it must be noted.

Day 7 – The final day’s training. The morning I went in a car with 3 others and we ran into the forest about 2 km to the start flag. This was a great looking forest. Crunchy green flaky moss on the hills and mini heather. What paradise!

But the marshes this day were the wettest all week. The goal today was to put together all I’ve being training this week and see how I progressed. I ran the loop below at a little below race pace, and again another loop at race pace whereby everything was clicking. It was a good training and I left feeling I’d accomplished a full understanding again of the demands of Stockholm orienteering. I didn’t orienteer much at high speeds, so that’s the next objective with the training campI’ll do 8 days up to Tiomila, but I still think it was money well spent to come to this technical area and start real slow working upwards.

Second training – nothing was left to be done but one last forest to master, the forest I lived on for a year – 15 km long and 8 km wide. I took a bus to the part where it’s most difficult with the aim of a 30 minute training session before I went home and left for the airplane. I created a little course and ran it extremely close to perfection. I saw a few deer and just enjoyed this intense forest that at one stage in my life was the most difficult map to train on but now was something I could orienteer on and feel comfortable in.

No compass again as it was good to practise reading contours. And I wouldn’t use the paths as it would be cheating, just for this training - that is since I paid money to fly here and train technique. So afterwards I left the city and embarked towards my second sleep in a week on the floor in Stansted airport with a sense of real accomplishment. Although I ran fast only 2-3 times I learnt the terrain and maps all over again and it definitely helps to instil some confidence when running races in Finland and Norway this summer for me. The Tiomila is in Stockholm terrain and so the season for me begins with this one. I’ll take 8 days training beforehand to practise increasing the speed and run a relay called Stigtomtakavlen which is the final selection for the Tiomila team."

(Editor's note: David's article came with illustrations of the maps he mentions but I haven't yet managed to import them into this version ...)