It was certainly a fair mountain we had to climb from the start of Setanta Orienteers Leinster Championships at the Wicklow Gap. Fair Mountain was the location for the event, on a new Pat Healy map based on Stirling Surveys photogrammetry. In fact, everything was fair except the weather, though it could have been much worse. All hail the Leinster Champions and all hail described the weather at times too.
An exposed upland area to the west of Turlough Hill pumped storage power station, the bleak start and finish area gave no shelter to the runners, though conditions on the courses were not bad. Lots of rock faced the longer courses with a first leg leading diagonally upslope from the start, throwing the runners in the navigational deep end right from the off. This area was really the only part of any complexity and brought many to grief within sight of the start.
After this the courses stayed mostly on the boggy, gullied mountainside with the longest veering towards Conavalla: the area was more runnable and less heathery than neighbouring Glendasan where Setanta ran the Leinsters in 2004. (Have SET run more Leinster Championships than other clubs? Mullaghmeen and Djouce also spring to mind).
David Healy (GEN) had 2 minutes to spare over CNOC's Colm Hill in M21L with CNOC clubmate Seamus O'Boyle another minute down. Niamh O'Boyle (CNOC) took the W21L title just 41 seconds clear of QUBOC's Ciara Largey, with CorkO's Ailbe Creedon third.
The area is a good addition to Wicklow's maps but must be a difficult one to have planned easy courses on. Nearly all open mountain with some patches of young forest, areas like Fair Mountain are challenging and intimidating to orienteers who expect a gentle stroll in the forest with the kids, but it does show that it is a serious sport requiring stamina, fitness, strength and speed as well as map reading skills.
Fair Mountain and Sunday April13th's race at Carlingford Mountain, provided excellent open-mountain preparation for the Irish Championships at Bere Island on the May bank holiday weekend.
Leinster Championships results here
Courses and Route here on Routegadget
Leinster Spring Cup Final
Carlingford, the following Sunday, proved very challenging as usual. Trina Cleary's courses often use small, subtle control sites in areas with lots of larger features, so it wasn't going to be easy. There was serious climb on the longer courses which used the mountain to the full but visibility was good and underfoot conditions excellent so the fitter runners moved away from the pack. Start and finish were in the area used for the Irish Relays in 2006 and the shorter courses stayed on that side of the hill.
David Healy, Declan McGrellis and Seamus O'Boyle took top spots on the Brown courses with Colm Hill dropped to 5th following a problem en route to the first control. Colm Rothery continued his return to form in advance of the Irish Championships, finishing 4th. This was the final event of the Leinster Spring Cup. League results are here.
Carlingford routes are here (very interesting!)
In the Spring Cup (best 4 of 6 races) Gerard Butler (3ROC) held off the challenge of David Healy to win the series by a mere 3 points, Butler with a race in hand dropped his Carlingford result while Healy had only run four races. Another close finish was on the Orange course with CNOC's Caoimhe O'Boyle holding off Donal Kearns (Fingal) to win by 8 points.
Royal County Runs
Fingal are running three events (the Tara Sprint series) to promote orienteering in Meath. Starting on April 19th at Dalgan Park, between Dunshaughlin and Navan, the events continue at Tara (May 10th) and Balrath Wood (off Dublin to Slane road) on May 25th. While aimed mainly at beginners, current orienteers are welcome too.