Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Irish Juniors at Spring Cup in Denmark

Spring Cup 2009, Denmark
Relay results

The two Irish junior relay teams aquitted themselves well by taking 14th and 15th places in the 'Motion' relay at the Spring Cup. In the process, they trounched the team leaders team who could only manage 25th! 54 teams competed in this age class.

After their runs, the juniors experienced a thrilling finale to the men's elite relay. A team from IFK Goteborg went out with a 2 minute lead on the last leg, with Swedish team runner Jonas Pilblad on the last leg. They were being hunted down by a chasing pack that included world champion Daniel Hubmann, Jamie Stevenson and the incredible Matthias Merz. Merz had started five minutes down on the lead and in a last gasp attempt, almost took victory from Goteborg. Pilblad held out for an impressive victory by a mere 8 seconds! The next three teams finished within 14 seconds of Merz. This exciting conclusion to the weekend was inspiriation for everyone and the juniors have showed ample talent over the weekend to one day be involved at this top-class level.

Relay results are available here

Classic report and results

The Spring Cup classic event was held on the northern coast of Denmark, on Tisvilde Hegn ost. The area was a mixture of open forest running, technically more difficult 'green' areas and some open sand dunes. The team were out early in the morning ready to face the challenges ahead. There were some solid performances today. Top of the Irish juniors in the H18 elite class was Kevin O'Boyle. Kevin tells us about his performance: 'In general, there were a lot of green areas on the map which I tried to avoid, as keeping direction in them could have been difficult. Instead I opted to cut through the open forest and use tracks. This technique has worked well for me in the past. With only 2 slips in the race, I was very pleased with my time. Overall, the Spring Cup was extremely enjoyable and I'm looking forward to the relays tomorrow, when I will be pitted against a fellow CNOCer. While disappointed with my night-O result, I feel that I put it behind me well and produced a good classic race'.

Mark Stephens also had a great run in the H16 class. Mark 'had a good run except for number 1, and found it slightly long. I went pretty fast at about 90% of my top speed around the course. The terrain was quite lumpy and slow in parts, with moss and sticks, but the green wasn't very slow. The better option at times was to go around the paths. Overall, it was quite fast but the mistake on no. 1 cost me. I'm pleased with my result especially as it's only my first year in H16. It was lots of fun, fast and good.'

Not to be outdone, team leader Ruth overcame an initial horrendous loss of time (5 minutes) to take VICTORY in D55A. Ruth "put the juniors out of my mind and concentrated on my own race. I was a bit disappointed after the night-O, but after an early wobble I got my head together and was very pleased with the win. Not all the juniors were happy with all their runs, but overall the team did very well."

The relays are to be held in the morning on the same area, and pits two junior teams against the team leaders team (as well as 90 other teams).

Irish Junior team results:
D15-16A: 11th Aine McCann
H15-16A: 18th Mark Stephens
H17-18E: 20th Kevin O'Boyle, 30th Sean Knight, 49th Colm Moran, 54th Conor Short
H19-20E: 47th Niall Ewen
H21E: 123rd Colm Hill
D21E: 15th Niamh O'Boyle
D55A: 1st Ruth Lynam
H45A: 24th Greg McCann

Full results available here.

Teams for Spring Cup relay:
Junior team 1: Kevin O'Boyle, Mark Stephens, Sean Knight
Junior team 2: Colm Moran, Aine McCann, Conor Short
Junior team 3: Colm Hill, Ruth Lynam, Niamh O'Boyle

Night sprint event update
The juniors took to the forests of Valby Hegn late last night. The forests are fast and challenging even during the day, and no concession was made for the dark - courses were as technical as possible! Armed with powerful torches, the team took on the challenge admirably. There was a choice between running a night relay event or an individual event, and the Irish team chose the latter. This had the added benefit of being able to watch the start of the night relay. Sean Knight shares his thoughts: "the relay event mass start was overwhelming. In our race, map contact was essential, compared to the British night champs the terrain was much more varied and there wasn't much to relocate off so you had to be really careful. I'm pleased with my result given the level of competition (the M18 runners were in with M20 and M21's)". Sean was the top Irish junior, followed by Conor, Niall and Colm. Kevin had the misfortune of punching the wrong last control - there were two last controls, one for the relay and one for the individual. In the D15-16, Aine finished 5th in an extremely close race. A mere 36 seconds separated 3rd place from 7th place. In Aine's words: "The race was very good and much trickier than at home; it was as fast as during the day. Very pleased that I did so well". Mark put in a consistent performance, with only one major error, in the H15-16 class.

The team will have approximately a 14-hour turnaround time in which to eat, sleep, eat again and get to the start of the classic distance on Saturday morning.

Irish Junior team results:
D15-16: 5th Aine McCann
H15-16: 28th Mark Stephens
H17-44: 25th Colm Hill, 45th Sean Knight, 58th Conor Short, 61st Niall Ewen, 64th Colm Moran, mp Kevin O'Boyle
D17-44: 8th Niamh O'Boyle
D50A: 4th Ruth Lynam
Full results here.

Monday, 30 March 2009

OCAD Course at Dunboyne

Farina Freigang (Ajax) reports on last weekend's computer mapping course in Leinster.

There is always something to learn with OCAD

Dunboyne Castle, a fine Georgian house, was built as the seat of the Butler family, Lords Dunboyne in the mid-eighteenth century. It's situated just outside Dublin and in 2007 the estate was renovated into a glorious hotel and spa. On Saturday 28 March, it was the venue for the second OCAD course conducted by Pat Healy this spring,and the fruits of the full day course matched up well with the class of its surroundings.

Eleven participants from as far afield as Tipperary and Belfast travelled to the course. The schedule promised an overwhelming amount of material to cover and so various exercises and refreshing tea breaks alternated with one another. Everyone brought their own laptop. After an introduction to mapping, the first task was to venture out on a quick survey of the picturesque grounds. The group took bearings of known line features and cautiously mapped lamps, individual contour lines and shrubberies. Back inside, Pat demonstrated all the features of OCAD and explained how they could be used. Then the participants familiarised themselves with the program and tried drawing their notes from the survey exercise onto a draft of the estate (one Pat had prepared earlier!). One crowning moment was the Bézier Curves exercise, where everyone traced several curves amounting into sketches of complex re-entrants, a vital time-saving skill for any mapmaker. The course concluded with discussing details of course setting and map layouts.

The OCAD course has been enriching on every level and refreshing breaks and a delicious three-course dinner made it a very special event. With this in mind, many thanks to the conductor, Pat Healy, and to the Irish Orienteering Association, Aine Joyce and Mary Healy for their help and support!

DUO compete at Mediterranean Orienteering Championship 2009
By Audrey Martin
With the generous support of Trinity Trust, a group from Dublin University Orienteering Club (DUO) recently travelled to the region of Puglia in Southern Italy to compete at the 2009 Mediterranean Orienteering Championship (MOC).
DUO members of all abilities, from novice to elite, took part in the challenging four-race championship that hosted competitors from around the world. A pre-championship training race around and in Palagianello village gave competitors a taste of what was to come over the following days.
The middle and long distance races were held in technically challenging, forested, sand dunes, beside the Ionian Sea. These areas were both picturesque and rugged but runnable. This made for fantastic orienteering, where accurate map-reading and a fast pace were both essential. The gruelling final legs involved a finishing sprint along the beach.
The sprint race which took place in the old town of Castellaneta, took competitors through narrow, winding streets and alleys, through tunnels and, up and down stairs. Adding to the excitement the race took place at night. This meant frantic, headtorch-wearing orienteers pelting in all directions much to the amusement and bewilderment of the locals. This event was a favourite among competitors and the atmosphere was electric with DUO Captain Niamh O’Boyle placed fourth just 30 seconds behind the winner! Well done to all who competed.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

O-maps archive handed over

A reception was held in Trinity College, Dublin, on 25th March, to mark the handing over of about 1000 Irish orienteering maps to the Glucksman Map Library in the College. IOA Chairman and Mapping Officer, Marcus Geoghegan, formally handed the maps to College Librarian Robin Adams (see photo) who accepted them on behalf of the library. The coordinator of the project, which was first proposed 15 years ago, was Brian Hollinshead, with help from provincial mapping enthusiasts Pat Healy (Leinster), Paul Hourihan (Munster), Bill Simpson (Ulster) and Frank Ryan (Connacht), all of whom were present.
In his handover speech, Marcus illustrated the many types of information on an orienteering map which might be of use to non-orienteers in years to come: old boundaries, ruined buildings and changes in vegetation among them. Much of the man-made detail on orienteering maps dates from Famine times when the population was far greater than in is today, so that old walls and field boundaries are captured on our maps but could be ignored by other map makers.
The orienteers present represented a cross section of the O-community but with a good representation from those who were involved in the early days: Joss and Nora Lynam, Seán Rothery, Liam and Hazel Convery, Robert Garrett, Ted and Brendan McGrath were there; so too were elder statesmen like Andrew Bonar Law (or just plain"ABL" as he used to put on his control card, in the days when we used control cards), Brian Power, Mick Kellett, Brendan Doherty and more, with representatives from the Ordnance Survey, TCD and the Dublin Mountains Initiative.
The project involved many orienteers scouring their dusty attics looking for obscure maps, old and new, and could not have been accomplished without the cooperation of many orienteers from all clubs and all parts of the country. Now that the ground work has been done, IOA plans to supply the map library with copies of every new O-map. Map Librarian Paul Ferguson was almost too polite to point out that they are already entitled to a copy of every map printed in any case, but they were grateful for this recent addition to their archive and, particularly, that it had already been catalogued by the time they received the collection.
A display of some of the maps, dating back some 40 years, was also mounted by the Library staff.
The Map Library is open to the public for research purposes and visits on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and Wednesday mornings, but the staff like visitors to contact them in advance to make an appointment. Visit their web site here.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Prophets of Dune

We've just had two magnificent days orienteering on different sand dune areas in Leinster: Ajax's event on the Bull Island in Dublin and CNOC's at Kilmore Quay in Wexford. With such a long coastline, we have many sand dune areas which could be tapped for orienteering: areas like Curracloe in Wexford, Tramore in Waterford, Roscarbery in Cork, Inch, Rossbeigh and Banna in Kerry, Mullaghmore in Sligo, Magilligan and Portstewart in Derry are already mapped.
Unfortunately many of these areas are remote from centres of orienteering so they never get the crowds they might (except on a summer Sunday), but what orienteering! Complex contours, varying runnability, sea breezes, sunshine ... The shapes of these areas (often long and narrow) would have caused problems in the past, but with electronic timing to ensure that runners visit all the controls in sequence, the areas really open up for orienteering.
Some of these areas are sensitive from an environmental standpoint (did you notice the wild asparagus at Kilmore Quay? -Neither did I) and have severe access restrictions and limited availability. This always struck me as strange - you can have traffic jams and thousands of people at the Bull Island on a sunny Sunday but access for a responsible, controlled and organised group for orienteering is restricted.
But we should enjoy these great areas while we can - restrictions may become tighter in years to come. Don't be put off by the squiggly contours - they mean so much more when you practice and can visualise the terrain. The Long Strand in Cork, Tramore and Inch have events coming up between now and the end of May, so make the trip to the seaside.
(The photo shows Colm Hill sporting his stylish new CNOC O-top at Kilmore Quay)

Leinster Champs entries close March 23rd
The closing date for the Leinster Championships at Rossmore, outside Monaghan, is today, March 23rd. This area hasn't been used for years - it was previously used for a Leinster Relay Championships and an Irish Two-Day. The Fingal web site has details and you can enter on line. See here.

Junior Cup Starts
A new competition for Juniors gets underway at the Leinster Championships. The Junior Cup, brainchild of GEN's David Healy, will award points for the regional and national championships and one day of the ShamrockO-Ringen in classes MW14A up to MW20L. There will be 7 rounds of racing of which the best 4 results will count.

Round 1: Leinster Championships, Monaghan 05/04/09
Round 2: IOC middle distance, Donegal 02/05/09
Round 3: IOC long, Donegal 03/05/09
Round 4: Shamrock O-Ringen, Day 2 Kerry 31/05/09
Round 5: NIOC Fermanagh 03/10/09
Round 6: Munster Championships, Tipperary 25/10/09
Round 7: Connacht Championships 29/11/09

Details of prizes will be announced later.
This reinstates the idea of a National League which used to be run by Frank Cunnane under the FIOA banner for all age classes. The scoring system will be the same as the Leinster League uses.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

40 Years of Irish Orienteering this April

William Augustine Mulligan: The (almost forgotten) Father of Irish Orienteering, by Aonghus ÓCléirigh

When and where exactly was Ireland's first orienteering event held? A half page article discovered by Pat Healy in the Clonmel Nationalist newspaper dated 19 April 1969 describes in detail the newly found sport and reports on the first event organised in this country (recorded in print or otherwise) - a competition planned and run for members of the 3rd Motor Squadron (FCA) based in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.
The newspaper reports that on Sunday April 13th 1969 at Harney's Cross near Clonmel, 44 members of the 3rd Motor Squadron took part in the first orienteering event for FCA personnel over a 7-mile cross-country course from Boola Bridge to the Raven's Rock and back through the forest to Harney's Cross. (The current orienteering map of Kilsheelan covers some of the terrain used for that event.) The squadron was divided into district teams for the competition - Clonmel, Rathgormack, Carrick, Kilcash, Fethard, Lismolin and Mullinahone. Competitors ran in pairs; the three winning pairs in the various categories were Corporal Wm Harty and Trooper Wm Byme, Trooper Wm McGee and Trooper Devine, and Sergeant D Fahey and Trooper Dargan. Clonmel took the district team prize. The 'Clerk of the Course' was Corporal Tom Hannon, one of those whose photograph appears in the newspaper article.
Commandant William Augustine (Gus) Mulligan, commanding officer of the 3rd Motor Squadron in Clonmel, had encountered the sport while serving in Cyprus with the United Nations Peacekeeping Force. He was introduced to orienteering by a Capt N Engrist of the Swedish Battalion, and on his return in 1968 he passed on the sport to his unit in December 1968.
In a separate article published in the March 1969 edition of "An Cosantóir" - the Defence Forces in-house publication - Gus Mulligan describes orienteering as 'excellent military training, combining practical use of the map, compass work, physical fitness and intelligence.' He adds that 'the fastest does not always win as one may defeat a faster runner by skilful planning'. There is 'nothing new in orienteering, as it is practised in all armies of the world with the aid of a protractor, map and compass.' He attributes the advent of the SILVA compass (which combined protractor and compass in one unit) as greatly simplifying and demystifying navigation.
The early maps used for military orienteering in Ireland were of scale 6-inches- to-one-mile. Since there were few photocopiers in those days, copies were produced by first tracing the main features of the map on to a foil and then reproducing the traced image using the Gestetner printing apparatus (a mainstay of every Defence Forces Orderly Room of that time).
Where does Gus Mulligan's event fit within the currently accepted history of Irish orienteering? The re-discovered newspaper article places the Kilsheelan event as the first organised orienteering event in this country.

(Aonghus continues “The second orienteering event held here was the competition organised by Michael Lunt in Autumn 1969 in The Devil's Glen. A following event was run in the Glen of the Downs by Paddy O'Leary”. However, Eoin Rothery’s records have the Glen of the Downs event run by Paddy O’Leary on 1st October 1969, Niall Rice’s event at Blessington on 1st November 1969, and Mike Lunt’s Devil’s Glen event on December 26th 1969 - Ed).

Irish orienteers today are indebted to these, and many other pioneers of Irish orienteering - both civilian and military.