Tuesday, 17 April 2012

April 2012/2

GEN, FIN, NWOC and LVO take Trophies at JK
Fingal's Jean O'Neill took joint first place with multiple champion Carol McNeill in the W65 Sprint race at the JK on Good Friday, while the Great Eastern Navigators team of Laurence Quinn, Jonathan Quinn and Aoife McCavana (not Eadaoin as I had said - her time will come!) snatched the prize in the Mixed Ad Hoc class, the biggest class in the Jan Kjellstrom Relay race at Newtyle Hill near Dunkeld in Scotland on Easter Monday, following in the footsteps of the Irish Junior Squad team who won in 2008. Meanwhile, in the more cerebral Trail Orienteering competition, Declan McGrellis (LVO) followed up his runs in the conventional orienteering with a clear win over the two days of the JK Trail-O event.
2400 orienteers from around the world, though mainly from Britain, came together in Scotland for four days of varied orienteering. Starting on Good Friday with an urban sprint race (winning times of sub-15 minutes) at Livingston, near Edinburgh, the competition moved to more conventional areas for Saturday (Dunalastair, near Loch Tummel), Sunday (Craig a Barns, across the road from Birnam Wood near Dunkeld) and Monday (Newtyle, also near Dunkeld).
Livingston, I presume?
Livingston was hardly, as the JK website claimed "probably the finest technical urban orienteering destination in Britain". It was a mixture of 1960's traffic-free housing estates with passageways and parkland and provided perfectly adequate urban sprint terrain, without the 3-dimensional complexity found in London's Barbican or in the NUU at Coleraine. The 1:4000 scale map meant that things came up very quickly and the high number of controls on the course meant that constant concentration was required to shave seconds off here and there. I was not alone in running under a road and crossing a river on a bridge without realising, and searching on the wrong side of the river for my control - a mistake which cost two minutes and caused me to drop 15 places!
W21E Dunalastair
Irish top-10 results were James Logue (ex NWOC) 1st M40, Jean O'Neill (FIN) 1st W65, Eoin McCullough (3ROC) 4th M18E, Frank Martindale (3ROC) 5th M75, Jonathan Quinn (GEN) 6th M16, Zoe Tyner (SET) 6th W10, Róisín Long (AJAX) 6th W16, Ciaran Kearns (FIN) 7th M12, Steven Linton (NWOC) 7th M45, Laurence Quinn 8th M18E, Declan McGrellis (LVO) 9th M40, Clodagh Moran (3ROC) 9th W12, Niamh O'Boyle (CNOC) 9th W21E, Mary O'Connell (3ROC) 9th W50, Colm Moran (3ROC) 10th M20E and Brian Corbett (CorkO) 10th M50. Read the Nopesport account here. Day 1 photos by Wendy Carlyle are here.
Dunalastair, west of Loch Tummel, is a mixture of coniferous forest, mixed semi-open birch forest, heathery bog and marsh - good quality Scottish terrain with scarcely a path to be seen, but limited a bit by fence crossings. Some dubious mapping of vegetation near the start unnerved a number of the runners and reduced their confidence in the map. Conditions were cool and breezy but the showers stayed away for most of the day. Snow on the surrounding hills, particularly Schiehallion (where Astronomer Royal Dr Nevil Maskelyne performed experiments in 1774 to establish the density of the earth and where contours were first used to show points of the same height) didn't interfere with the running. Read the Nopesport account here. See Wendy Carlyle's photos here.
M21E Craig a Barns
Craig a Barns, near Dunkeld, is famous for its orienteering challenge and huge crags. It was used for the first Scottish Championships 50 years ago. The route to the Red start, for the longer courses, involved a 1.8 km walk with 190 metres climb through the crags in the final 300 metres. Lots of contour detail, varied forest, steep hills and hundreds of fallen trees were the hallmarks of the area.
Best Irish overall performances were from James Logue, 1st M40L, Steven Linton, 3rd M45L, Aonghus O'Cléirigh, 3rd M50L, Ruth Lynam (CNOC) 4th W55L, Jean O'Neill, 4th W65L, Frank Martindale, 5th M75L, John Feehan (BVOC) 6th M40L, Conor Short (CNOC) 7th M20E, Harry Millar (LVO) 8th M18L, Áine McCann (LVO) 8th W20E,
Irish Champions Marcus Pinker (CorkO) and Ciara Largey (FermO) were our best M21E and W21E, finishing in 15th and 17th places, respectively. Wilbert Hollinger (LVO) was 1st M60S, Liam Convery (3ROC) 1st M75S, Helen Baxter (LVO) 1st W55S, 3ROC's Máire Convery and Julie Cleary finished 3rd and 4th in W45S, only 48 seconds apart over the two days, while their clubmate Nora Lee was 3rd W50S. Read Nopesport here. See Wendy's photos here.
JK Relays, Newtyle Hill
The JK Relays at Newtyle featured an assembly area on an exposed open hillside beside a small lake with good views of parts of the courses on the semi-open hillside opposite. The courses provided quite a lot of climb but the terrain was mostly runnable except for some heathery open sections with rock detail. Again, crossing points on fences split the area up into distinct parcels and the courses featured a high density of controls. GEN were clear winners in the Mixed Ad Hoc class (the only class where the runners need not be from the same club, and the biggest class in the competition with almost 80 teams. There is one long, one medium and one short leg. It's good to see that at last there are prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Other than this, the best Irish performances were from CNOC, 4th in the Women's Short, LVO 7th in the Men's Short, and CNOC, 12th in the JK Trophy. Read Nopesport here. See photo's here.
How did JK 2012 compare with JK2011 in Northern Ireland?  I'm biased, of course, but - while the Scottish terrain and the event as a whole were excellent, I don't think the organisation was as polished as at JK2011: the A3 sheet serving as a programme was maybe a bit light on information, I saw no evidence of JK T-shirts or merchandise on sale, there was no Wilfs Café (imagine!) ... but these are small criticisms.

All the results and Routegadget are on the JK 2012 web site here.

The 2013 JK will be in the Chiltern Hills, west of London, from 29th March to 1st April, with a sprint (location to be confirmed), individuals at Hambleden and at Cold Ash and Relays at Hambleden.

Individual JK winners
M21E Scott Fraser (INT)
M20E Peter Bray (SN)
M18E Aidan Smith (SYO)
W21E Claire Ward (ESOC)
W20E Charlotte Watson (WCOC)
W18E Lucy Butt (SARUM)

Relay winners

JK Trophy, Interlopers Team Compasspoint 1
Murray Strain/Oleg Chepelin/Scott Fraser
Women’s Trophy, EUOC Ladies 1
Catherine Taylor/Hollie Orr/Rebecca Harding

Juniors Train in Scotland
After the JK many of the Irish Junior Squad stayed on in Scotland for a training camp over the next three days. Thanks to Ruth Lynam, Marcus Pinker, Darren Burke and Steven Linton who were the main people running the training which took in Craigvinean, Dunalastair, Drummond Hill and Faskally and exposed the squad to some top quality areas of a type we don't see in Ireland: technically demanding runnable forest. From my perspective they all learned a lot, even (or maybe, in particular) the younger ones just coming into the Squad. Thanks to all the coaches, particularly Marcus, for taking this on!

Irish 3-Day entry reminder
Cheapest entries for the Western Eagles Irish 3-Day in Co. Galway are up until 27th April. Details are here. The event is on the June Bank Holiday weekend, based at Oughterard, with a short race starting on Saturday afternoon, a classic distance on Sunday and a chasing start on Monday. (In a chasing start the leader goes off first with others starting according to how far behind the leader they are when their first two days' times are added together, so the first across the line on Day 3 is the winner). Enter online here.

Numbers for this event should be good as I suspect that many people who opted to give the Irish Championships a miss this year will travel to Galway instead. On the other hand, there are two attractive events in the UK the same weekend, particularly nine days in Scotland for anyone bitten by the Scottish orienteering bug at the JK, including the World Trail-O Championships on the forested dunes of Tentsmuir. Details of WTOC are here. Details of the Scottish Jubilee Five weekend (11 events in 9 days) are here. These races, including the Scottish Chmpionships, will be used for Irish World Championships team selection.
If the south of England appeals to you more, the four days of the Jubilee O-Festival in Surrey and Sussex might be your thing: details here. This includes a sprint in the University of Surrey, previously used for a JK and World Cup.

European Champs Team Announced
Ivan Millar, Convener of Selectors, has just announced the team for the European Championships in Dalarna, in the middle of Sweden from May 13th to 20th:
Men: Nicolas Simonin (Bishopstown), David Healy (GEN), Hugh Cashell (CNOC), Gerard Butler (3ROC)
Women: Niamh O'Boyle (CNOC), Rosalind Hussey (FermO), Ciara Largey (FermO).
Good luck to the team!
You can follow the team on the EOC website here.

Old Systems Die Hard
Control Cards anyone? Pat Healy is planning on getting old style control cards printed on "Polyart" synthetic paper and on card, for anyone still using punches rather than electronic timing - there is still a place for olf fashioned punches, in areas prone to vandalism, or for small events or training.
If you are interested in getting some printed, contact Pat at healy.pat@gmail.com.

25 Years Ago
 WINNERS IN B CLASSES AT CHAMPIONSHIPS The IOA Executive recommend that those in the first three placings in
M21B/W21B at National and Provincial Championships be ineligible to run in that class at those events the following year. They may compete in B class at all Championships in the one year ... SENIOR HOME INTERNATIONAL 1986: A grant of £12 has been given to each team member ... SUSPENSION REDUCED The Executive consider that the Leinster Technical Officer's suspension of Eoin Rothery from Grade I controlling for two years is too long. This penalty
has now been reduced to one year ... AIDS and ORIENTEERING: ARE WE AT RISK?
"There is a cloud on the horizon. It is only a small cloud at present and it is a long way off. but it will get bigger and it could come our way. It is called AIDS." Should we as orienteers be concerned about this killer disease, asks BRIAN PARKER of Devon OC? ... Swedes fail to Turn Up ... Intervarsities in atrocious weather in Galway: Mens open: UCCO 1st, DUO 2nd. UCDO 3rd; Womens open: DUO (no other teams managed to finish) ... Interprovincial results, held at Union Wood, Sligo on March 1st: Leinster 266 points, Munster 178 points, Ulster 163 points, Connacht 52 points.

(Snippets from The Irish Orienteer No. 28, March-April 1987).

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

April 2012

JK2012 Preview
2400 orienteers head for the 2012 Jan Kjellstrom Orienteering Festival in Scotland over Easter, including 125 from Ireland.  The four-day competition features an urban sprint race in Livingston, a "new town" near Edinburgh this year celebrating its 50th birthday, then two individual races at Dunalastair, near Pitlochry and Craig a Barns near Dunkeld, and a relay at Newtyle, also near Dunkeld. It doesn't seem like a year ago when many of us were involved in JK2011 in Northern Ireland, but it will be good to just go and run.

Jan Kjellstrom was a young Swedish orienteer who helped establish the sport in Britain, son of Alvar Kjellstrom, one of the founders of the Silva compass company. He was killed in a car accident in early 1967 and the JK was established that year in his memory.

Interest has been heightened this year since the announcement that the 2015 World Championships will be in Scotland so many orienteers from around the world are taking the opportunity to race and train in the area. Both the Irish Senior and Junior Squads are staying on after the events for some Scottish terrain training.

Craig a Barns
Craig a Barns is famous as the scene of the first Scottish Championships way back in 1962 and was the first area specially mapped for orienteering in Scotland. It offers big crags, rough runnable forest and typical Scottish terrain. It's just across the valley from Birnam Wood (remember Macbeth?).

Interest will centre on the Elites: Darren Burke, Gerard Butler, Hugh Cashell, Colm Hill, Seamus O'Boyle, Marcus Pinker and Ruairi Short in M21E and Ros Hussey, Susan Lambe, Ciara Largey and Niamh O'Boyle in W21E in the classic races, and those running for JWOC and EYOC selection are M18E's Eoin McCullough, Jack Millar and Laurence Quinn, M20E's Cillín Corbett, Colm Moran, Josh O'Sullivan-Hourihan and Conor Short, W18E's Niamh Corbett and Clíona McCullough, and W20E Áine McCann.

JK2012 is one of two selection races for the Junior World Championships (JWOC) in Slovakia in July and for the European Youth O-Champs in France in June/July, so interest in the juniors' performance will be keen.

The selection races for the Irish 2012 World Championships team will be held in Scotland at the beginning of June, so JK2012 will also be good preparation for these trials. (The World Championships are in Switzerland in July).

Also on the JK agenda is Trail-O and the LVO triumvirate of Alan Gartside, Wilbert Hollinger and Declan McGrellis will be flying the flag there. As the World Trail-O Championships are also in Scotland in June, this will be a useful outing for them. Declan was 3rd and  Alan 5th in the Open class in the British Trail-O Champs on Anglesea on St. Patrick's weekend.

The JK Trophy itself is awarded for the Relay and again, several Irish teams will be running: CNOC, LVO, Ajax, Cork and 3ROC are expected to field strong teams, though they are unlikely to dislodge the top British and international teams.

The forecast for Easter is for cold wintry conditions (10 cm of snow in parts of Scotland) and the added uncertainty of a possible fuel tanker strike should all add extra challenges.

If you like to plan ahead, JK2013 will start on 29th March in the Chiltern Hills, west of London.

Irish Championships Update
We are now into the final phase of preparation for IOC 2012 in Kerry on the first weekend in May. Bishopstown Orienteers have reduced the entry fees and the current Adult rates are €27 per day for the Middle Distance, €30 for the Classic and €80 for a relay team. Not cheap, but not as high as the initially proposed levels, and you're just still in time to enter.
The areas, sand dunes at Castlegregory, Inch and the Maharees on the Dingle Peninsula, will provide very intricate contour-orienteering in very scenic surroundings and I hope that, while the initial negative response to the event caused by the high entry fees may reduce the numbers, it won't diminish the status of the event.

The IOA Annual General Meeting will also be on the IOC weekend.  Details of IOC are here.

Entry reminder
Not going to IOC? Then remember the Irish 3-Day on the June Bank Holiday (2-3-4) weekend, based at Oughterard in Co. Galway: a short race with late afternoon starts on the Saturday. The word is that it's like Inishbofin (fast, open, complex, fun). Cheap entries until April 27th. Details here.

Bobby Smyth
MTBO anyone?
The Leinster Mountain Bike Orienteering series is hanging in the balance, with only Setanta's event at Djouce confirmed for May 13th. Leinster clubs have been invited to run an event to tie in with the SET outing but not much has happened as yet - another reason for re-establishing the three provincial Regional Associations?

April events
In addition to JK 2012, the last two Leinster Spring league events are in April: Three Rock on 15th and Mullaghmeen, Co. Westmeath on 29th. April also sees five different types of league events in Munster. In the North there's a sprint at Castlewellan on the 14th, and evening event at Florencecourt on the 17th, a training event at Portglenone on the 21st and a Colour Series at Slievenagiore on the 28th (pay attention, prospective VHI Team members!). The IOA list is below, but check it against the current one if you plan to travel.
6Livingston Perthshire Jan Kjellström Festival of Orienteering 2012 / Sprint (Pre-entry) SOA
7Dunalastair Perthshire Jan Kjellström Festival of Orienteering 2012 / Individual Day 1 (Pre-entry) SOA
8Craig a Barns Perthshire Jan Kjellström Festival of Orienteering 2012 / Individual Day 2 (Pre-entry) SOA
9Newtyle Perthshire Jan Kjellström Festival of Orienteering 2012 / Relays (Pre-entry) SOA
9Barleycove Sand Hills Cork Cork Spring League / Family Day / No. 4 Bishopstown
15Woodstock Kilkenny Southeast League / No. 10 Waterford
15Ross Castle Kerry Kingdom League / No. 6 Kerry
15Three Rock Wood Dublin Leinster Spring Cup / No. 6 Three Rock
15Hazelwood Sligo Non-league / 'Come-and-try-it' Event / SligO
21Rosskerrig Cork 'Off The Paths' Training Event / (Closed - CorkO) Cork
22Rosskerrig Cork Munster League / No. 5 Cork
26Farran Forest Park Cork Cork Mid-Week League / 'Come-and-try-it' Event / No. 6 Bishopstown
26Farran Forest Park Cork Business Houses League / Family Evening / No. 1 Bishopstown
29Inchydoney Sand Hills Cork Cork Spring League / Family Day / No. 5 Bishopstown
29Mullaghmeen Westmeath Leinster Spring Cup / No. 7 Setanta

CNOC evenings announced
Curragh-Naas OC have announced their 2012 Summer Series (do they know something about the weather that we don't?) of evening races, always popular with Leinster orienteers. The events are on Tuesday evenings starting on May 15th at  Lumville on the Curragh, then Donadea (May 22nd), Hillwood, Monasterevin (May 29th), Sunnyhill, Curragh (June 12th) and Hollywood, Co. Wicklow (June 19th).

Adventure. Sport. 
When orienteering started here back in the '60's it was closely associated with what were called "adventure sports" like rock climbing, canoeing, mountaineering, hang gliding and scuba diving.  Orienteering was one of the core sports of AFAS, the Association for Adventure Sports, and the national outdoor centre at Tiglin, Co. Wicklow (now a centre for TCI, Teen Challenge Ireland, dealing with young homeless people or ones with addiction problems). The earliest orienteers like Joss Lynam, Seán Rothery or Paddy O'Leary could be found in the forest one weekend and rock climbing in Glendalough the next: a wet weekend was a cue for the canoeists to take a day off work to shoot the rapids on the Avonmore.
With the current popularity of adventure races, there is a new generation of people out there who enjoy this kind of stuff, although maybe it has to be dressed up in flashy clothes and charge a large entry fee for an adventure race.
Navigation is a key part of these races and there's an opportunity there for orienteering to grab some of these keen people. The CNOC events with an "adventure course"; the NIOA running navigation training for adventure racers; the British Orienteering colour event specifications including things like long orange courses for those who want a run but whose navigation isn't up to a very technical course: we should cater more for these and gradually reel them in to the best sport of all!

Course Planning Course
Course planners from around the country attended the IOA Course Planning meeting in Dublin on Saturday 31st March. Graham Nilsen, controller of one of the days of the JK last year, and IOA Technical Officer Harold White gave the presentations and there was a practical session on the Ajax map of the Bull Island, used for a Leinster league event the previous Sunday.
Graham focused on the technical difficulty standards for different courses and ensuring that the participants at events got a course that was right for them: easy for beginners and progressing to more difficult. He also looked at planning for different types of courses (sprint, middle distance and long) and illustrated his talks with examples from his long career as a planner and competitor.
Harold gave a preview of what is being considered for a revision of the IOA Rules relating to Championship events - have we got the winning times in the rules right or should we change them? To what extent to planners abide by the existing guidelines anyway, and how do you cope with changes in conditions (faster or slower running underfoot) between planning the courses and running the event?
We all went away with food for thought and a greater appreciation of what course planning can achieve.
Graham, incidentally, is the author of the British course planning book (read it here) which, though the courses don't exactly coincide with ours, is very relevant and worth reading. Here is a section on planning the technically difficult courses, for example. Here is Appendix B from the British rules dealing with course planning. Graham reckoned that TD3 (technical difficulty 3) courses like Orange and TD4 (Light Green) can be the most difficult to plan, so here is the section referring to Orange and Light Green courses.
This course was due to be held in Dublin in December 2010 but was snowed off.