Here we are at the start of possibly the biggest year ever in Irish Orienteering: as well as all the usual highlights, we have a week full of outstanding competitions in April and May with the Jan Kjellstrom and the Irish Championships back to back. Online entries are open for both competitions and cheap entries are still available - don't forget to enter!
As well as some great competitions at home (regional championships, Junior Home International, Shamrock O-Ringen), there's the World Championships in France, the Scottish 6-Day and many other big competitions. Here we preview some of the year's activities.
This feature is being added to day by day, so do drop in from time to time to see what else has been added!
Then, on June 4-5-6 we have Cork Orienteers running another Shamrock O-Ringen on the wonderful Sheep's Head peninsula of West Cork, with Setanta's 24-hour Rogaine in Wicklow on June 25th. Shamrock entries close on May 6th but may be closed earlier if parking etc becomes a problem, so enter early!
After the summer, the Junior Home International is in Fermanagh in September, then the 2011 Munster Championships on October 30th and the Connacht Championships on November 27th - more details of these closer to the time. Two Munster Champs in one year - is this a record?
A great place to start your search is at the World of Orienteering website here. If you prefer things on the printed page, you need to subscvribe to the excellent CompassSport magazine (see here), which publishes event information and an annual review of major events.
Apart from this, there are major events around the country and details are all on the British Orienteering web site here. They include National Events in Norfolk on 19/20 February (incorporating the Midland Championships), the Southern Championships near Henley on March 13th, the Northern Championships near Newcastle on March 27th, British Championships at Sheffield on May 14th/15th, and the Scottish Championships near Comrie on 27th May.
The City of London race (run in streets and parks but longer than a sprint) is on 10th September and is acquiring a reputation as a "must-do" event, rather like the Venice street-O. Details here.
Earlier, we have the Portugese O-Meeting on 3-8 March, this year inland (last year's was close to the coast). Details here. It's around Portalegre on the east side of Portugal but unfortunately it doesn't coincide with the schools mid-term as it's tied to the start of Lent. It's followed by a World Ranking event at Evora, near Lisbon, on March 11-13. Details here. Curiously, there's another WRE in Spain on the same days, near Valencia. See here. Allan Bogle's "Active Canaria" are running training on Grand Canaria there's a 3-Dayon February 11-13: details here.
Further north, the Spring Cup in Denmark marks the end of hibernation for the Scandinavians and is popular with Irish and British runners. The three day competition at Roskilde features a night relay, night sprint, individual and relay races on March 21-23. Details here.
If you'd prefer something a bit warmer, the Mediterranean O-Champs is on at the same time in Sicily with all the events close together. Details here.
One superb orienteering area is around Asiago in Trentino, northern Italy, where the Highlands Open and Italian Middle Distance Championships are on 14/15 May, with a training camp during the week before it. See where John Feehan runs! Details here.
Moving towards the summer,and just after our own Shamrock O-|Ringen, you might be tempted by the Belgian 3-Day on June 11-13 near Charleroi (Ryanair). A week later, the Jukola 7-person overnight relay in Finland, is at Salpa, 15 km from the Russian border and only 2 hours from St Petersburg. They expect 16000 runners and 40000 visitors: a fantastic weekend.
July is peak season for multi-day holiday events, and Kainuu Week in Finland may be worth a look. Its on July 3-8 at Kuhmo, but it's 600 km from Helsinki. More realistic is the Finnish 5-Day Fin-5 from July 11-16, only 50 km west of Helsinki. The O-Ringen (Swedish 5-Day) is at Mohed in Halsingland (250 km north of Stockholm) from July 24-29: is it the biggest sporting event in the world? There is a large choice of classes and competition types: teams, kids, beginners etc, so there's something for everyone, not just the elites. Details here.
Belfield campus in Dublin would be a great location, as there's an existing map and a good range of terrains from buildings to open land and forest. Would it need an ISSOM map or would the existing map be enough?
Sprint-O races are great spectator events and give an intense mental and physical workout where tenths of seconds can make all the difference between podium and odium.
Any takers? There's still three months to go ...