Sunday, 31 October 2010

Full steam ahead - October 30th

* After some weeks of introductory events after the summer, the competition season gets into full swing this weekend with Munster and Leinster league races on the dunes of Banna, Co. Kerry (where Sir Roger Casement landed from a German submarine in 1916) and at Brockagh, Co. Wicklow, and a Cork Autumn League event at Rostellan, near Whitegate.

* Highlights of November include League events in Leinster on the 7th at Three Rock Wood, near Dundrum, in Munster at Davmore, Co. Waterford and in Ulster at Slievenagore near Newcastle in the Mournes (on Saturday 6th). The same weekend sees the Senior Team travelling to the south of England for the Senior Home International (see more below). November 14th sees a sprint event at Castle Lough Woods, on the shores of Lough Derg, Co. Tipperary, where Bishopstown use the area of a previous Munster Championships.
Schools events feature too, with St Anne's Park in Dublin on the 17th and Farran Forest Park, Co. Cork on the 19th.
Provincial Leagues dominate the weekend of the 20th/21st with Portglenone, Co. Antrim on Saturday 20th, the Vale of Clara, Co. Wicklow, Torc/Muckross in Kerry, Colligan (Co. Waterford) and a County league at Farran, Co. Cork.
The 30th sees Western Eagles staging the Connacht Championships at Portumna, Co. Galway - a flat, forest with good detail and fast running (but plenty of ticks in previous years). Lower-cost entries available until 5th November. See details here.

(Photo: Neil Dobbs (WATO), who features on the JK 2011 entry form)

JK 2011 Preview
The biggest orienteering competition to visit these shores is just around the corner. For years we have been travelling to England, Scotland and Wales at Easter for the Jan Kjellstrom 4-day orienteering festival, the premier British orienteering competition, eatsblished to commemorate the young Swedish orienteer who helped establish the sport in Britain. (Jan was the son of Alvar Kjellstrom, the founder of the Silva compass company). Now it's coming to us: next Easter in Belfast and in Co. Down.
You have no excuse: if you aren't running, you are needed to help (and even if you are running your help will be much appreciated!).
Something like 2000 runners from Britain, Ireland, continental Europe and beyond are expected, and the organisers are laying on a full programme for them.
The festival kicks off with a sprint race on a new map of Stranmillis College and surroundings, in Belfast, on Good Friday; then an individual race in Co. Down on Saturday, followed by another individual race at Slieve Croob - again in Co. Down - on Sunday and a relay on sand dunes at Tyrella, Co.Down on Monday. In addition to these events there will be training opportunities in the days before the JK and in the week between the JK and the Irish Championships in Wicklow.
All the NIOA clubs are involved in the organisation and a large number of volunteers are needed: event co-ordinator Harold White is urging all all Irish O-clubs to help.
Visit the JK2011 web site here for updates. Entries are already open, so get in there!

* Entries open
On-line entries have opened for some major events:
JK2011, Easter in Northern Ireland. See here. Cheapest entries up to January 30th.
Irish Championships, May, in Co. Wicklow. Details here.
World Masters O-Championships, Hungary. Details here. Lowest cost entries up to October 31st.

*   SHI Team
The Irish team to compete at the Senior Home International in Southern England on November 6th and 7th has been selected. Will the Seniors emulate the Juniors and beat Wales, or will the follow the Veterans and be beaten by the Welsh? The team will be:
M21: Darren Burke, Gerard Butler, Seamus O'Boyle, Colm O'Halloran, Marcus Pinker and Ruairi Short.
M20: Niall Ewen, Conor Short, Josh O'Sullivan-Hourihan
W21: Aislinn Austin, Rosalind Hussey, Ruth Lynam, Niamh O'Boyle, Toni O'Donovan and Faye Pinker.
W20: Fiona Hill, Olivia Baxter
The relay event will be held on Saturday in Pamber Forest, while the individual competition will be held as part of the November Classic in New Forest, Southampton. Details here.

*   Controllers'Course
Belgian event controller Rogier Vanaken came to Ireland and gave an interesting course for Controllers and prospective controllers at the Kilcoran Lodge Hotel near cahir, Co. Tipperary, on October 16th. He has wide experience as a high-level IOF technical advisor and travels to many countries to help run major international competitions.
About a dozen orienteers from clubs in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Galway attended the lectures and discussions in the hotel and then made their way to Toureen Wood in the Glen of Aherlow for the practical sessions.
Rogier brought the group up to date on new IOF rules, dealing with control placement, electronic timing, organisation and the functions o the controller (ot "technical advisor"). He also covered some of the differing requiremants for sprint, classic and relay planning.
Did you know, for example, that a control should be placed at least 1 metre from the feature, to allow competitors to get in to punch, that the first control in a course should be fairly easy to avoid runners bunching up while they search for it; or that  you can put a control in a pit or depression if it is close to a clear attackpoint (otherwise it has to be on the edge or top)?
He said that the main function of the controller/technical advisor is to help the planner to get the best courses for the competitors.
A course like this is a prerequisite for anyone aiming to be an IOA controller.
You can read the IOA Rules on the IOA web site here, and the IOF Rules at here. The IOA Rules are currently being updated but the basics remain the same.

* Planners' Course
Graham Nilsen from Great Britain (one of the controllers for next year's JK O-festival in Northern Ireland) is giving a course planning course on Saturday December 4th in Dublin. The course will be at Bewley's Hotel at Newlands Cross (between the M50 and the M7/M8 Cork/Limerick road).
Graham has written the book (literally - here is the link) on course planning and the course should be an essential part of every planners' toolkit.
There's a Leinster League event on the Curragh (about 20 minutes from the hotel) the following day.
Details from IOA soon.

Monday, 4 October 2010

October 2010

Welsh Washout
A numerically under-strength team combined with a disappointing performance saw Wales defeat the Irish Veteran Home International team at the VHI last weekend. The orienteers didn't have the excuse of the weather, unlike the golfers, as its main effect was to delay some runners because of flooded roads.
England took the title, followed by Scotland, while the Irish weren't able to emulate the Juniors, scoring only 82  points tio Wales' 170. The team ran gallantly but it was not to be.

Both events were run on the Gower peninsula, a rural area near Swansea, and both races were run on fantastic areas of sand dunes. The individual event on Saturday was at Whitford Burrows, mostly open runnable dunes with some bits of complex coniferous forest. Running conditions were perfect - mild and dry, and the 1:10000 scale map with 2.5 m contours was excellent.
Fine runs by Marcus Pinker (2nd M35), Ruth Lynam (5th W55) and Steven Linton (3rd M40) , Colm Rothery (3rd M50) and Colm O'Halloran (5th M45) weren't enough to save the day, however, as the Irish team was seriously under strength, missing one M40, two W40's and one W35 from the full complement of 24 runners. In the individual race there are no spare runners - every one counts; in the Relay only the top four teams (out of a possible 6) count for each country. So, after Day 1 the score was England 136, Scotland 139, Wales 98, Ireland 64.
After heavy rain on Saturday night, the approach roads were flooded and the start was delayed. The rain cleared about the time of the relay mass start and, again, conditions were good for running. Broughton Burrows (not to be confused with JK2010's Braunton Burrows), mapped at 1:7500 with 2.5 m contours, was again, runnable sand dunes, but with bigger dunes than Saturday. fences running across the dunes broke the area up into smaller parcels.
Disaster struck the Irish camp, however, when A-team 2nd leg runner Colm Rothery missed a control and the team (Marcus Pinker, Ruth Lynam, Colm and Kathryn Walley) were eliminated. A second Irish team were non-competitive when an injured Wilbert Hollinger couldn't run, even though team manger Raymond Finlay stood in. The remaining three Irish teams finished and picked up 18 points against Wales' 72, a tally made possible by Wales brilliant win (anchored by former Shamrock O-Ringen winner Liz Campbell) by only 2 seconds over England.

Back to the maps, though: an earlier version of the Whiteford map had a feature I've never seen before: the dunes were mapped with 2.5 metre contours but the high, rather featureless hills at each end were mapped with 5 m contours, with a big warning arrow on the map to show the change. A Welsh solution to a Welsh problem?

At the end of the day the result showed that there's no substitute for strength in depth, which the English and Scottish have in full measure. It also shows that a sure way to lose a Home International is to start with the handicap of an incomplete team, which is a pity, and a rather last-minute selection of  the team contributed to availability and travel problems.

Anyway, here's to next year in England ...

2010 Veteran Home International (hosted by Swansea Bay Orienteering Club)
VHI Individual - Whiteford Burrows, 2 Oct. 2010
VHI Relay - Broughton Burrows, 3 Oct. 2010
Provisional results (points to be confirmed)
                 Ind. Relay Total
1. England 136 108  244
2. Scotland 129 72   201
3. Wales     98 72    170
4. Ireland    64 18     82

Ireland: M35 Marcus Pinker, Declan McGrellis; M40 Steven Linton, (vacant); M45 Colm O'Halloran, Dave Weston; M50 Colm Rothery, Ronan Cleary; M55 John McCullough, Val Jones; M60 Wilbert Hollinger, Richard McCourt; W35 Violet Linton, (vacant); W40 (Vacant), (vacant); W45 Heather Cairns, Julie Cleary; W50 Kathryn Walley, Nadine Grant; W55 Ruth Lynam, Barbara Foley-Fisher; W60 Teresa Finlay, Aine ní Shúilleabháin.

Full results here.

VHI Trivia: The Junior Home International in 2005 was run on the same two areas and the finishing order was the same; Ruth Lynam may be the only person to attend all three Home Internationals this year: the JHI as Team manager, and the Veteran and Senior events as a team member. (The SHI is in England in November).

Leinster League gets underway.
The first event of the 2010-11 Leinster League series gets underway at Ballymahon, Co. Longford on Sunday October 10th. Setanta have revised the 1983 map of the area, consisting of flat forest (the earlier map also had some fields, parkland and a golf course) and promise the usual range of colour-coded courses from Yellow (short and easy) up to Brown (long and difficult). Details on the Setanta web site here. Read about the area on the Coillte Outdoors site here.
The remaining Leinster League events are at Mall Hill/Brockagh (Laragh, Co. Wicklow) on October 31st, Three Rock Wood (November 7th), Vale of Clara (November 21st), and Curragh East (December 5th). The Spring series will start in February with another event in Longford, run by Fingal.

World Cup in France
Read about the adventures of the Irish squad at the Workld Cup races in France last weekend on the Senior Squad blog here. They've started preparing for next year's World Championships in Aix les Bains and Chambéry in eastern France in August 2011.

Fáilte go WMOC 2011
The World Masters Championships in Hungary next year have taken the unusual step of including an introduction and welcome page on the event website in the language of each national O-Federation. The event is at Pecs (scene of the 1983 World Championships) from June 30 to July 9th. Just click on the Irish flag at the top of the page to get a real céad mile fáilte to the event! Try it here. Bain triall as anseo.
(Family orienteerinhg holiday planners note: JWOC in Poland 1st-9th July; EYOC in the Czech Republic 23rd-26th June).

Controllers Course Reminder
A one-day Controllers course is being held on Saturday 16 October at Kilcoran Lodge, near Cahir, Co. Tipperary on the old Cork road. It is being taken by Rogier Vanaken who took a similar course in 2007. He has competed for Belgium at several World Championship events, and now acts as their senior team Coach. He was appointed as an IOF Event Advisor in 1991 and has acted in that capacity at many IOF events since then.
The course is designed for those who wish to become IOA Certified Event Controllers, and for those who wish to update their controlling skills and knowledge. It will cover all aspects of controlling, and practical exercises will take place in the neighbouring Glengarra Wood. The subsidised cost of the course is €25, that includes the cost of lunch, light breakfast etc. The Lodge is offering an overnight rate of €55 should anyone wish to stay on the Friday or Saturday evenings. CorkO are staging an event in Glengarra Wood on the Sunday.
To book a place, you should send a cheque for €25 to Aine Joyce, Irish Orienteering Association, 2nd Floor, 13 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4, or you can e-mail her at
The course is limited to 20 participants and places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
Just to give forward notice, a Planning Workshop will be held on Saturday 4 December and details will be issued shortly.
Harold White
Controller of Technical Standards