Saturday, 30 June 2012

July 2012/1

World Championships Team Announced
The following have been selected to represent Ireland at WOC 2012 in
Ciara Largey, Rosalind Hussey, Darren Burke, Nicolas Simonin, Ruairi Short, Colm Hill, Hugh Cashell and David Healy.
Congratulations to the athletes on their selection, and thank you to the Selectors for their work. The team can be followed on Facebook , Twitter (Irish_O_Squad), and on the Squad webpage.
Ros and Ruairi also form the Irish team for the World Student Championships at Alicante in Spain in the first week of July.
- Darren Burke Director of High Performance Orienteering

Ireland at EYOC
Results are filtering through from France where the Irish team of Aoife McCavana, Róisín Long, Niamh Corbett, Jonathan Quinn, Eoin McCullough and Jack Millar are taking on Europe's best Junior orienteers.
Jonny scored a magnificent 15th place in M16 in the Sprint race at Meymac on Friday, and on Saturday the best result was Róisín Long's 37th in W16. See results, maps etc here.
Thierry Gueorgiou had his first big victory in EYOC back in 1995 – this was the first time the orienteering world got a real look at this exceptional orienteer.
"As I now look back, my victory in the EYOC 95 was the real start of my orienteering career and therefore always had a special taste, Gueorgiou says. -That’s also why I have much respect for this competition which gives the first big emotions to young orienteers."
Looking at the results it is clear that none of the team will be pleased with their runs, except for the two mentioned above, but there'e still the Relay to run on Sunday. Watch this space for an update ...
(Update 1st July: The W18 girls finished in 18th place with a storming 3rd leg from Niamh Corbett, but finishing a tantalizing 5 seconds earlier would have moved them up two places. The M18's had two solid runs from Jack and Jonny but an unfortunate error in reading a control code on leg 3 caused the team to join the other teams who mispunched -  10 teams disqualified, including our nearest neighbours, Great Britain, and only 19 teams finished.).
The next EYOC will be in Israel in November 2013.

Jukola 2012
Jukola starts: 10.30 pm
A thunderclap, a flash of light and the dam bursts: a river of fire floods out from the field towards the forest: the 64th Jukola relay has started.
The thunderclap was a Finnish Army tank used as a starting pistol for the 1500 teams running into the Nordic twilight. It is 10.30 on a June Saturday night and we are in Vantaa, 10 km from Helsinki Airport. Teams have come together from all over Europe and from further afield to take part in the world's biggest orienteering relay. The organisers expect some fifty thousand people at the event over the weekend – between teams, spectators, families and supporters.
A few Irish runners are involved: Nick Simonin, running for his Swedish club Lidingo, placed 40th , Colm Moran and Conor Short running for their Swedish club OK Tisaren (132nd), Niamh O'Boyle, Julie Cleary running the Venla for London OK, and myself and Ronan Cleary also running for London OK.
Venla starts 2 pm

The orienteering kicked off with the women's 4-leg “Venla” on a baking Saturday afternoon: a small affair of only 1272 teams sent out to make tracks in the forest for the men later (Not really! It's a very serious and hotly contested race). The legs of the Venla range from 5.7 to 8.5 km. The runners were going out in 31 degrees at 2 pm , but later in the day things cooled for better running conditions. (Unfortunately the weather changed for later runners in the Jukola on Sunday morning, with heavy rain and 13C).

Kalevan Rasti finish
This year's Jukola was the biggest ever: 1689 teams of seven. The competition centre was based at a sports centre with a running track, sports pitches, swimming pool and outdoor skating rink. All the facilities were close together: food, assembly, toilets, the field of army tents for the teams. Only the showers and sauna were a bit out of the way.

I was a member of a loosely assembled London OK team consisting of three Finns, two Irish and two English runners. We have had much the same group running at Jukola for several years – I think this was my 7th outing – and there was the usual jockeying for who runs which leg, or maybe who doesn't run which leg!. This year, fitness and injuries played their part in determining who ran what. The first leg, the “river of fire” mass start, is probably the defining leg of the Jukola, where you get swept along in the flood through the night for 12.8 km. The first three legs (12.8, 12.7 and 14.1 km) are largely night legs (at least for the faster teams), then the 7.8, 8.1 and 10.3 km legs in dawn and daylight and the final 15.5 km leg to the finish, making 80 km in total. None of us wanted to do the last leg, but Ronan decided that the buck stopped with him and took it on.
Bear Rock?
Before the Venla started the announcer warned the runners that there was an out of bounds area used by hunters (archers, actually) with life-size elk, boar, bears and wolves as targets: don't be frightened if you see them. He repeated the warning for the Jukola runners: could be unnerving at night. In a departure from the norm (reportedly to improve TV coverage), the mass start maps were not strung on wires above the heads of the runners, but put on the ground at their feet.
Evening. Time to plan. Eat about 6 pm (the food is good, about €8 for a main course with bread and a drink. Take your plate and eat on tables in the open air). Go to the orienteering shops and sports supermarket (they usually have good value in sleeping bags and other bits and pieces). A huge selection of O-gear, shoes, headlamps (from €10 to €800) and anything you can think of. Except bananas: for some reason there was no supermarket this year and you couldn't get a banana, the staple food of the distance athlete, for love or money. And this year the usual betting office, where you could bet on who would win the race, seemed absent too.
8 pm: time for the first leg runners to eat. Join the queue. There's obviously a problem – they have run out of food and they won't have any for another hour! Disbelief. Go to look for a grill selling something: at last, pytt y panna (fried potatoes with bacon – a lifesaver). Later, the food arrives for the restaurant proper and calm is restored.

Jussi ran the first leg, doing the predicted 2 hours 22 mins, then David Rosen took over. He had predicted 2.5 hours but finally came back in 3 hours. His headlight had given up and he had to use his back-up light just to read the map.
Pasi, another Finn, ran the third night leg in 2 hours 33, just 3 minutes longer than his prediction. We were now nearly 8 hours into the race. (I never met Pasi: he lives close to the event so he came from home, ran, and went home again.) At this stage we were running a good bit behind schedule: I had anticipated running the 5th leg at about 06.30 so I set my alarm in the tent for 05.45 (03.45 Irish time). We were able to check how our team was doing on the internet by phone, so I realised I wouldn't have to run until about 8 am so I turned over and tried to sleep. The PA system came to life again around 5 a.m., though, to announce the progress of the winning teams (expected to finish about 06.30) so sleep was impossible.
After a coffee, a doughnut and a bowl of porridge I was ready to run. Through the EMIT card check, scan my race number bar code (“John?” Yes. “Go ahead”). Into the start field. Over to the computer station, put the EMIT card on the card reader to bring up my team's position: I can see how David Saunders is doing at the radio controls so I know when to expect him.
David runs in, punches the finish, gives in his map in and runs around the U-shaped loop, takes my map for me and runs over to the changeover section for teams 1000-1200. “Any advice?” “Enjoy it. Just orienteer!”
I run out with a Finnish runner. He says something to me which I don't understand (My Finnish is limited to essentials like “Airport”, “Porridge” and “Thank you”). He then explains in English that I should check I have the right map. Two of the top Finnish women's teams in Saturday's Venla were disqualified for taking the wrong maps. Conditions are perfect: dry, bright and cool.
The run to the start control was an incredible 1050 metres: across fields, up a hill through the forest (through a swathe of felling just for the event), down and across another field and up the hill to the triangle. It took me 7 minutes. Now the map – 10,000 scale, very clear: lots of hills, a few paths, lots of marsh and bare rock. The first control – a knoll – the key to the course and the most important control. Make sure you get it right. Round the side of the hill, across the marsh (feet wet and muddy already), keep the bare rock on your left: must be around here – there are some people about 10 metres to my right: that's it, control 151. Excellent.
Now, take the small path – keep it simple – across the bare rock to the track, check where the first aid post is, down the spur to the 2.5 metre boulder. OK. Keep going: 3, 4, drinks station, 5 a knoll on the bare rock – visible from 20 metres. 6, 7 OK. - a longish leg to 8 across track – hill – marsh - hill -track. Through the green and up the hill – semi-open forest, a big boulder, a knoll: OK. I hear a cuckoo – much later than in Ireland. 9 along the low ground between the rocky hills, 10 down the steep hill and around the lake (left or right? Left looks slightly shorter and right has some out of bounds: go left). Pass some bemused fishermen, along some slippery wooden planks (should I have worn dobb spike shoes?)
Across the open marsh to 10? Forget it – too deep looking. Everglades. Around the path and across the crags. OK. 11: follow the path for a bit then over the hill – count the spurs. Along the top and drop down to the crag off the round hill with bare rock. OK. 12: across the reentrant and over the hill. Getting close to the end now – keep moving. 13 down the steep hill to the edge of the field, then a marked route for 390 metres. I see crowds of runners coming towards me on the outbound marked route – it's the mass start at 09.15 for the remaining runners. The remaining 7th leg runners had already gone at 09.00. Keep an eye out for our 6th leg runner,Olli, but it's just a blur of hundreds of people running towards me.

Into the last section: four controls plus the run-in. 14 OK, 15 easy – a bridge in an open field. A mistake going to 16 – should have run around the hill, not over the top, but no matter. 17 down to a boulder through the long grass – a path already made by earlier runners, then down the hill, over the bridge and down the finish chute into the leg 1-3-5 lane. Punch the finish, stop the watch, hand in the map, get a drink. 92 minutes for 8.2 km/345 metres climb. Slow enough, though: team in 1154th place -  I gained 92 places. Happy with that, considering my fitness. No real mistakes. Big opportunities for time loss if you lose contact with the map here. My approach was to go for a run with a map, keep in contact and keep moving. It worked well, although the knees had not recovered from the Wicklow Way relay 3 weeks before.
Back to the tent. Get some food and drink. Then the rain came and the temperature dropped to 13 degrees. Heavier rain. Olli comes in from leg 6, a drowned rat. 1.57 as against a prediction of 2.00. He gained a further 47 places.
Now to wait for Leg 7, Ronan. The condition he imposed for running the final leg was that we be there at the finish for him. A good idea when the weather was sunny, but not so attractive in the cold and wet. So we stood in the rain and waited. Check the radio control times – should be in soon. Runners of all shapes and sizes coming in, looking at the last control, run down to it and – whoosh! - slide down the slippery slope on their backsides. An undignified approach to the last control. Groups of other runners play follow-the-leader: brain dead, they puzzle ov the last controls after visiting the leg 7 one only to realise (a) that it's not theirs and (b) they haven't a clue where they are because they switched off approaching the finish.
Ronan runs in, a marathon time of 3.15 brings us in to 1108th in a time of 16 hours 17 minutes. The PA plays "Rawhide" (except the "Rollin', Rollin; Rollin' ... " sounded like "Ronan, Ronan, Ronan ..." ) The words of the song seemed strangely appropriate, even if he wasn't playing it just for us:

Rollin', rollin', rollin'
Though the streams are swollen
Keep them dogies rollin'
Rain and wind and weather
Hell-bent for leather
Wishin' my gal was by my side.
All the things I'm missin',
Good vittels, love, and kissin',
Are waiting at the end of my ride

The rain struck when he was half way around but he kept moving forward to the end.
At the front end of the competition, Finland's Kalavan Rasti had 8 minutes to spare over Swedish club Malungs OK so Kalevan Rasti will run next year as team number 1. Last year's winners, Halden from Norway, finished 3rd, a further 4 minutes down. Halden took first place in the Venla, race, with Finlands Paimion Rasti second and Denmark's OK Pan third.

Some of us decided that it would be our last Jukola: the legs on the course aren't getting any shorter and none of us is getting any younger (don't ask the average age of the team!).
But then, look at the shapes, sizes and ages of the runners coming in. Look at the hundreds of teams behind us.
See the Jukola web site here for results, photos, routegadget etc. If you're not there you can follow it live on the internet. Jukola party, anyone?
Look at next year's Jukola in Jamsa. Two and a half hours drive north of Helsinki. One and a half from Tampere. Will Ryanair still fly there next June? How about Norwegian or SAS? Sandwiched in the middle of the Leaving Cert before Chemistry and Economics? Hmmmm....

Colin Henderson braves the elements
Running Shorts
Ireland finished behind Wales in the Veteran Home International in the Mournes on July 16/17th. It's a foregone conclusion that England and Scotland will be out of reach, but there can be intense competition between the two smallest orienteering nations. Despite the men leading Wales by 39 to 38 overnight, the ladies didn't fare so well and the relays on Sunday were a downward spiral where Wales extended their lead to finish with 149 points to 117. Meanwhile, England extended their overnight lead to beat Scotland by 258 to 220.
Conditions in the Mournes on Saturday were trying, with heavy rain and swollen streams but Sunday's relays at Tollymore were run in better weather. Photos, results and information can be found here.
Traditionally the VHI has been held in October or November, typically on exposed open mountain areas in far from perfect weather. Running the event in June seemed like a good idea, I'm sure, but it did have the side effect of moving November's weather forward 5 months ...

Setanta Rogaine Report
Setanta Orienteers' ran their 15th Rogaine in Wicklow on June 23/24. Not too many orienteers were running this year, but you can see the results here. This year the 24-hour competition started at 2 pm on Saturday and the 6-hour at 8 am on Sunday, so they would both finish together. Stephen and Timothy Martin (Dark Peak Fell Runners, UK) won the 24 hour and Steven Linton (NWOC) won the 6-hour.
The start was near Glashaboy, in the Wicklow Gap area, but many of the controls were much further north, meaning that a return to base for food, rest and shelter wasn't such an attractive option this year.

Gear Up for Autumn
Check out the 3ROC "Get lost in the Park" series of four Tuesday evening events in Dublin's Phoenix Park in August (7th, 14th, 21st, 28th) or Fingal's Scatter series on the first four Sundays in September starting with a new map of DCU/Albert College on September 2nd. Fixtures information is back on the IOA web site.

Summer Summary
If you're orienteering over the summer, why don't you write about your experiences for TIO? The hours are long, the pay is lousy, but we'd all love to read about it! E-mail
July features the World Masters Orienteering Championships in the Harz Mountains in Germany (scene of WOC 85), the Welsh 6-Day Croeso 2012, and the World Student O-Championships at Alicante in Spain. Anyone on to report on these?

Wedding Bells Congratulations to CorkO's Ailbhe Creedon and Rob O'Sullivan who got married in mid-June at Glandore.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

June 2012/2

Irish 3-Day, Co. Galway
Neil Dobbs, M21L winner
Neil Dobbs (WatO/HVO), home from America, took the M21L class at the Irish Three Day in Galway on the Bank Holiday weekend, with Ruth Lynam (CNOC) taking the W21L title. Three testing open mountain areas south of Oughterard provided the terrain and the weather provided an additional challenge. After a week basking in the sun, the weather gods took their revenge on the Saturday evening and Sunday, with swollen streams, low visibility and uncertainty about what to wear.
The short courses at Sruth an Iolra on Saturday evening needed concentration to relate the map to the terrain, particularly in the boulder department, where the features seemed to me to be shown rather selectively. Some controls were visible from afar, which reduced the challenge, but the event was a good warm up for the classic race on Sunday.
Tired but happy?
Sunday's race, planned by Martin Flynn, on a 1:7500 scale map, was a step up from the day before: navigation from start to finish, with long legs traversing the area, and an excellent area (reminiscent of open Welsh or Fermanagh limestone hillsides with sink holes and rock features) certainly challenged the runners: lots of finishers coming in with a rueful shake of the head, as much as to say "if only I'd been more careful!".
The weather picked up for Monday, back at 1:10000 on an extended version of the Day 1 map, where Neil and Ruth came through to win in the chasing start. Well done to WEGO to run the event: I counted only about 7 officials in all, between mappers, planners, controllers, organisers and helpers.
Paul Smyth & Marcus Geoghegan sprint for the line.
Running these events must have seemed a doddle this year- after all, the area is only maybe 30 km from Galway and not on an island (like Inishbofin) or three hours drive away (like Lough Eske in Donegal, where they ran the event in 2010).  The organisers had three new maps on waterproof paper, they bussed runners from Oughterard to the event as there was no parking at the area, and had prizes for the winners,  all for a lot less than the cost of an IOC entry. Frank Ryan and WEGO are set to run the 2013 Irish Championships near Lough Eske at the beginning of May. It should be good!
Results are here. Routegadget is on the IOA web site here. Photos by Roger Duff are here. (PS Thanks to the good Samaritan who rescued my running shoes from the event car park after I drove away on Saturday evening!)

Senior Selection
Still no news as we go to press (as they used to say) of the World Championships team selection. The selection races were held at the Jubilee 5 events in Scotland which took many Elites away from the 3-Day in Galway. Nick Simonin and Roz Hussey were the fastest two Irish in both the Sprint and the Long races (Nick finishing 2nd overall in the Sprint). And the Long was long: 15.4 km with 650 metres climb for the men, with a winning time of 98 minutes. Ciara Largey and Nick were the best in the Middle Distance.
Controversy surrounded the Sprint race where a zig-zag final few controls and a thick purple line on the map lured some competitors into running from control 22 to 25 and to the finish (see the map section on the Senior Squad blog here). Some competitors finished, then realised, and went back out to get the controls in the right order. This is apparently allowed under BOF rules as long as you haven't downloaded, but it is not allowed under IOF rules.
See all the details, results and routes here.

VHI Selection: W40 needed!
The Irish team for the Veteran Home International team to take on England, Scotland and (especially) Wales on June 16/17 in the Mournes has been announced. This event has traditionally been in October or November on the bleakest, most windswept areas, so maybe it will be a change for the better to have ferns, ticks and midges instead! The events at Tollymore and Meelmore are tied in with LVO's O-Festival and there's a street event on a new map of Newcastle on Friday evening, a barbecue and a lovely meadow to camp in at Tollymore
The team is:
Class                                        M                                             W
35                    Marcus Pinker                                      Denise O’Hagan
40                    Angus Tyner                                         Pauline O’Hara
                        Declan McGrellis                                  Vacant – volunteer needed
45                    Ingus Rektins                                        Heather Cairns
                        Steven Linton                                       Ruth Lynam
50                    Colm O’Halloran                                  Mary O’Connell
                        Aonghus O’Cleirigh                              Bernie O’Boyle
55                    Val Jones                                             Anne Savage
                        Andrew Cox                                        Helen Baxter
60                    Colin Henderson                                   Barbara Foley-Fisher
                        Nigel Foley-Fisher                                Aine Ui Shuilleabhain
65                    Richard McCourt                                 Jean O’Neill

Team Manager:            Helen Baxter

Summer Series ends
The CNOC summer series ends on Tuesday 19th June with the barbecue at Hollywood, Co. Wicklow and a score event beside the village. Details on the IOA web site. However, you can still pick up some summer and autumn events locally: 3ROC are running four Tuesday evening events in Dublin's Phoenix Park in August (7th, 14th, 21st and 28th), and Fingal's now established "Scatter" series is on four Sundays in September.

Down Wicklow Way ...
Apart from being the home of much Leinster orienteering, County Wicklow plays host to a number of other similar activities. Coming up is the 15th Setanta Rogaine on June 23/24, with a 6 hour event starting at 8 am on Sunday and a 24 hour event at 2 pm on Saturday. Both races use the Harvey's Wicklow map. Details here.

Wicklow Way Relay - Runners from CorkO, Ajax, Setanta, Fingal and other orienteering clubs took on athletics clubs and adventure racers in the IMRA Wicklow Way Relay on 26th May. The race, from Marlay Park in Dublin to Shillelagh in south Wicklow, covers 127 km of forest and mountain trails. It was a perfect day for the run, warm, dry and sunny with a pleasant breeze,  and Rathfarnham emerged the clear winners in a time of 7 hours 9 minutes 52 seconds, with a close finish for 2nd and 3rd (8.02.25 and 8.02.57). Full results here. The top orienteering team was "CorkO & Co" in 6th place in 8.31.29.

Wicklow Round - Fermanagh Orienteers' Billy Reed, running with Greg Byrne and Finbar McGurren, completed the Wicklow Round on the June Bank Holiday weekend in 20 hours 56 minutes on his first attempt. This is a truly outstanding achievement, writes Gordon Stephens - the Wicklow Round is the Irish equivalent of the Bob Graham round in the Lake district: 26 peaks, more than 100 km with 6000 metres climb in under 24 hours. See the IMRA web site here for background info.

Mourne Way Marathon
Several LVO members took part in the Mourne Way Marathon on 9th June. A number of members ran the half marathon, full marathon or the ultra marathon ( 2 x marathons) round the Mournes. See here  for details and (maybe even) results.  Greg mcCann, well known in Junior coaching circles, was scheduled to run the ultra marathon ...

Jukola 2012
Several Irish orienteers will be running in Finland's Jukola overnight relay on 16th/17th June. The biggest Jukola ever has attracted 1654 seven-person teams for the Jukola relay and 1245 four-person teams for the Women's Venla Relay which precedes it: that's a staggering 16,500 or so runners! The competition is at Vantaa, outside Helsinki, only 10 km from the airport. Watch it live through the night on the Jukola web site here.

Running Shorts
Belfast will host the next World Police and Fire Games from 1 - 10 August 2013,  attracting 25,000 visitors from over 70 countries.
This will include an estimated 10,000 competitors competing in around 65 sports, plus 15,000 friends and family.  Currently the programme includes cross country running, mountain running, track and field, a stair race (!) and, yes, orienteering!
The Games represent an amazing opportunity to raise Belfast’s profile internationally and leave a lasting legacy for Northern Ireland. It is estimated that it will inject at least £15.5m into the local economy. Details here.

What's in a name (1)? Two events on the same day at different "Curraghs"? The IOA Fixtures List has two events on June 13th, one at Curragh Wood, Midleton, Co. Cork and one at Curragh East, Co. Kildare.This brings to mind the story of the family in the UK navigating to an O-event using grid references but unable to find it. In desperation they checked all their details and found thay had been navigating to the organiser's telephone number!
What's in a name (2) Some of the areas we use for orienteering have beautiful names, particularly in Irish. I was taken with the recent Galway 3-Day areas, but when I was at school "Sruth an Iolra" would have meant "Stream of the Plural", not the "Stream of the Eagle" ...
25 Years ago ... the CISM World Military Orienteering Championships were held in Ireland. Pat Healy and his crew made new maps in Wicklow, or amalgamated and updated existing maps, to make the CISM maps around Glendalough, Cronybyrne and Devil's Glen: these maps then led to the ill-fated 1988 Continental Cup being run here (none of the "Continental" teams took part). In a sign of the times, the CISM Orienteering Championships were on in Denmark this month but no Irish army team took part - presumably due to government cutbacks.
(A story from CISM 1987, possibly apocryphal: A Scandinavian runner falls and injures his arm. The Army ambulance comes to take him for treatment and the paramedics decide the arm should be splinted, but there is no suitable splint available. What to do? The paramedic sees a machete in the ambulance and gets ready to use it. The runner sees this and pales as he says "Surely that is too drastic? It is only fractured...".)

Finally, if you're going to any interesting events over the summer, please write about them for TIO!