Thursday, 22 November 2012

November 2012/2

Smaller iof
WOC Sprint Relay
At the 2012 IOF General Assembly in Lausanne, Switzerland, a new programme for the World Orienteering Championships was decided on, including the introduction of a new format, the Sprint Relay.  The first Sprint Relay in the World Championships will be in 2014 in Italy, after which it will be a permanent feature on the programme. The sequence of runners will be woman-man-man-woman.
The IOF is aiming at staging the new format on the international level starting from 2013. At The World Games 2013 in Cali, Colombia, the current “Mixed Relay” will be conducted based on the format of the Sprint Relay.
The IOF Council recently decided on the details of this new format for World Orienteering Championships. The description will be included in the IOF Competition Rules for Foot Orienteering, and can be read here.
Need for opportunities to gain experience on national level
In order for this new format to spread and to gain experience with it both in organising and competing, the IOF strongly encourages its member federations to find opportunities for staging Sprint Relay competitions starting from the 2013 season and onwards. This can ideally be both in small scale (club and regional level) and in larger scale (national level).

In the meantime we have the 30th World Championships in Finland  next summer. There are other associated events on there too - read about it here.

Ward Junior Home International

IOA Juniors Officer, Mike Long, summarises the WJHI Weekend: 
With 10 debutants on the team it was always going to be an uphill struggle to retain the Judith Wingham trophy against Wales at this year’s Junior Home International. The 2012 JHI was held in South East England at two forests (Headley Heath and Wisley Common ) not far from Gatwick Airport. After Day 1 (individual) Ireland held a slender 1 point lead over Wales with the best runs coming from Jonathan 5th M16 (but only 57 seconds off the winner) and Jack in 7th place in M18.

Unfortunately the combination of a few mispunches and a very strong performance by the Wales top girls relay team allowed Wales to get in front overall. There were some excellent individual performances in the relay with Róisín 2nd W16 and Jonathan 5th M16 (despite having his shoe removed by another competitor).  Jonathan deservedly was awarded the trophy for best Irish performer.

 In my opinion, although the maps were very good, the orienteering involved a bit too much running along a dense network of forest paths (will the JK2013 be similar?)

Socially the weekend was a great success and hopefully the experience gained by all will bear fruit at next year’s JHI in South Wales.

For full results see here, for routegadget see here and some excellent photos here.

Simon Reeve also travelled with the team to the JHI in the south of England in October ...

It may seem odd to use the sporting cliché that the Irish Junior Squad that headed over to the Ward Junior Home International was a blend of youth and experience, but across all age categories there were young orienteers making their debut alongside their more “seasoned” contemporaries. However, all of them had been weathered and tested over the previous twelve months and squad selection had been a tough process for the selectors. With the recent Squad and Time Trial weekend, the Leinster and also the Northern Ireland Champs; the Squad had opportunity to experience some great technical and physical preparation in the build up to the JHI. An ankle injury at the NIOC the week before ruled out Eoin McCullough from participating (although to his credit, it didn’t stop him from travelling with and supporting the squad). This meant that Niall McCarthy made his squad debut to take Eoins place on the starting list.

Just ahead at Headley Heath.
Saturday, early morning and the Squad stirred from their slumber inside the log cabin as the sun rose over the adjacent hills. A hearty breakfast was soon taken and then there was the allocation of the brand new JHI Ireland Squad tops accompanied with race numbers and start times.
With the event assembly area only a short 20 minute walk from the cabin preparation was relaxed, focused and thorough. By 10:15am the first members of the squad headed east from the cabin and climbed the western slopes of Headley Heath to the assembly area getting a good feel for the terrain and detail of the updated map.

Headley Heath covers over 500 acres with a wonderful mix of open heathland, woodland and chalk downland and a wide network of tracks and paths which are well used by the public. Headley Heath was acquired by the National Trust in 1946 from the Lord of the Manor, it being common land used by the locals for grazing their animals. By the 1930s the grass had given way to bracken, and disturbance by tanks and bulldozers during World War II coupled with the reduction of rabbits caused the present growth of trees and heather. Currently the spread of trees is being arrested and areas of heather are being extended and much of the area is grazed by highland cattle. The Heath is part of the Mole Gap to Reigate Escarpment SSSI

With the start boxes facing downhill it was always going to be a fast start and conditions were good for a very runnable area. The rain clouds stayed away, the clock passed 11:00 …and then 10 minutes later, the first orienteers were off. Within the hour all of the four nations had all of their competitors out on their respective courses.

With a very visible, long and straight run in to the finish control, all squad members were cheered as they punched for the final time; regained their breath and their composure before commenting on their experience of the course.

There weren’t any podium places this year, but then also there wasn’t any wooden spoons and with a one point advantage over the Welsh, the Irish Squad still had one hand on the Judith Wingham trophy.

Performance of the day was from Jonathan Quinn M16 who finished 5th place, only 57 seconds behind the course winner. Paul Pruzina M16 also scored some valuable points. Jack Millar and Laurence Quinn finished 7th & 8th ahead of their Welsh contemporaries in M18. Whilst Ruairi Long M14 also took some points off Scotland.

  • England were very strong across all of the M14/16/18 categories and invariably had 3 or all 4 runners in the top 6 places.

On the W14 course, Emer Perkins and Eadoain McCavana scored the points, however all four W14s ran well and finished ahead of Wales. With just over 10 minutes separating the top 13 places on the W16 course it was very tough to make up any lost time and to then score points. For the W18s, Niamh Corbett was 8th and Cliona McCullough was just 3 minutes behind.

  • There was more of a balance here between the dominance of the English and Scottish squads. Worryingly for the relays, Wales looked like they may have at least one strong team with a couple of good results on the W16 & W18 courses

Day 1 Results Table:


We’ll be wiser in Wales after Wisley & Ockham Commons
A clear, frosty morning greeted all four nations and a dry clear day was forecast for the relays. Teams had been decided on the previous day’s performance and during the morning the team numbers were handed out alongside words of advice and encouragement.

The area is mixed Surrey heathland with large open areas with low vegetation together with areas of mixed woodland. It is mostly low lying and may be wet in parts, but has a complex path network and much contour detail. The area is bisected by the busy A3 which will need to be crossed twice over a footbridge, but the differing orienteering challenges on each side should make up for that.

The area certainly offered a variety of ground conditions, beginning with a slight incline from the start over loose and deep sand. There was also plenty of route choice available as well as the uncertainty of not knowing when or where your course would be gaffled. By 9:45am all teams were out on the course. There was then the wait and anticipation of who would reach the spectator control first and just how close behind the rest were following.
WJHI 2012 Team
At just over 3 minutes behind the leader Roisin Long ran a great 1st leg for Ireland W2 splitting the two English teams. Another 4 minutes later Caoimhe O’Boyle had run the 6th fastest leg for Ireland W3 and after a further 5 minutes Aoife McCavana finished in 8th for Ireland W1. With 3 teams in the top 8, this made for a great and exciting start for the Irish Squad.
After lap 1 W16, the top 8 teams were:
ENG W2, IRE W2, ENG W4(n/c), ENG W1, SCO W4, IRL W3, WAL W1, IRE W1

There was also fierce competition for the M16s out on their 1st leg of the relay with both Jonathan Quinn and Paul Pruzina running well. (Jonathan may have been even further up the pack had his heel not been accidentally caught by another competitor removing his O-shoe). There was only a second separating Jonathan and Paul as they handed over in 5th and 6th place. This reinforced the strong start and all was well.
After lap 1 M16, the top 8 teams were:

Sport at any level, in any arena has its drama. That drama may unfold in front of 80,000 supporters in a stadium. Or in our sport, the drama can happen somewhere away from the crowds – when you are out on your own, your heart pounding and your mind buzzing. This drama is part of what makes sport so compelling but also sometimes so agonising.
As the 2nd leg progresses, there’s now a mixture of M/W 18s and 14s in the waiting pen/start box. The teams are counted through but it’s difficult at this stage to know who’s run a good or solid leg or who’s made up time and if any mistakes have been made by other teams. Post event, looking at the results table it can be seen which teams were gaining momentum, those that were staying steady or falling behind. The table also shows the unfortunate miss-punches and it’s a combination of these and the surge in momentum from the Wales W1 team that eventually undid our challenge to retain the Judith Wingham Trophy. It was tough, but everyone ran well and ran hard to meet the challenge; the effort was there for all to see. Next year, we’ll be stronger from the experience.

Jonathan Quinn was deservedly awarded the trophy for best Irish performance over the weekend and will move into the M18 category for next year's JHI in South Wales. Those members of the squad moving out of the M/W18 categories are Deirdre Ryan, Eoin McCullough, Mark Stephens, Laurence Quinn and Jack Millar and we wish them every success.

The Irish Junior Squad would like to thank Ruth Lynam, Mike Long, Simon Reeve, Liam O’Brien, Nigel and Jeni Pim and Steve Perkins. Also thanks go to all parents, friends and coaches for their support.

(The "Ward" in the title of the event, comes from a couple named Bertie and Elsie Ward who left a bequest to British orienteering, particularly to support and enhance competitions for juniors - Ed.)

Overall results: see here. The event website, with results, split times, maps etc is here.

(The photo - on the cover of the excellent October issue of CompassSport magazine - shows Laurence Quinn (122) sporting the new Ireland Juniors top, on the run-in at the JHI Relays). For details of CompassSport, see here. Mike Long also appears, running in the London City race in September.

Venice Washout
Exceptionally high tides, high winds and rain played havoc with the Venice street orienteering event on November 11th. One of the most unusual orienteering events in the world, the Venice event attracts thousands of orienteers from many countries to its unique challenge. This year the interest was even higher as the 2014 World Championships will be in this part of Italy and there are rumours that the sprint event will be in Venice.
Reports from the event say that the starts were put back an hour to allow the water levels to drop but that the two top classes were abandoned midway through on orders from the police as the runners, splashing through the streets in knee-deep water, were disrupting the residents and tourists. The city officials had already curtailed the numbers running in the prologue event the day before because of the restricted size of the assembly area.
Elite runners were able to run the course on their own, but the element of competition was gone. On a positive note, though, the comments were that running conditions were much better than in previous years - with fewer tourists and cooler conditions!
Watch a headcam video of the race here.

Odds and Ends and Odds
The IOA major event seminar is on Saturday 1st December at Bewleys Hotel, Newlands Cross, Dublin, Contact to sign up.
Get ready for Night-O: The Dublin by Night series kicks off on Saturday 12th January with an event on Three Rock. This will be followed by four other competitions including Carrickgolligan and the Vartry reservoir at Roundwood. Time to drop those Christmas present hints about decent headlights ... and if you'd like to spread your wings a bit, the Northern Ireland Night Championships are at Florencecourt, Co. Fermanagh on 23rd February. Make sure to get there before the G8!
The 2012 Lynam Lecture, to commemorate mountaineer and orienteer and outdoorsman Joss Lynam, will be given by Dawson Stelfox, leader of the 1993 Irish Everest expedition, at Trinity College, Dublin on 29th November. See details (and online booking) here.
More MTBO? IOA Director of Education Ed Niland is planning to run a short training course in mountain bike orienteering for Cycling Ireland, the governing body for cycling. He has some MTB map boards which he will rent out if you want one for an event, proceeds to go to the Irish Juniors. There may be a series of another few MTBO events in the spring, to follow on from the poorly-supported-but-very-enjoyable ones in the autumn.
Folly me up to Carl-O? I got to thinking about the spread of orienteering maps around Ireland and if there is a proper O-map in every county. In some cases the map may not be current (e.g. Cratloe and Fanore in Clare) but it seems to me that there is a proper orienteering map in every county with the exception of  ... Carlow. Am I right, or have I missed one, or are there other counties which are no-O areas?
Brie-O: remember the preview a few weeks ago of three events near Paris at the end of September? One was a night event at Eurodisney. Have a look at the map:  (Click to enlarge)
Junior Training Weekend
The Junior Squad had a full schedule of three days orienteering during the mid-term break, with sand dune orienteering at Tramore on Friday, relay training at Woodstock, Inistioge, on Saturday and an open competition at Brandon Hill, near Thomastown on Sunday. Here is most of the group who came along: good to see some new faces! Mike Long has more training plans up his sleeve, so don't relax too much ...

10 Years ago
 Autumn 2002 saw the Editor bemoaning IOA/NIOA's decision not to enter a team in the Senior Home International in Cornwall because of lack of interest among our elite runners. The Northern Ireland Championships were run at Binevenagh in October (same venue as 2012), Orienteering Sport magazine was launched in the Czech republic (it has since folded), the "Irish Orienteer Trophy" for the inter-club knockout competition had gone missing (not sure where it turned up?), the IOA PRO was quoted in Walking World as saying that the best part of orienteering for him was "taking the one-dimensional map and applying it to the three-dimensional ground". The first Wicklow Way Relay in June was won by Setanta Scallywags in 8 hours 47 mins 50 secs. GEN retained the Leinster Inter-Club Trophy; Eoin Rothery added to Joss Lynam's account of the early Irish orienteering events (starting on 1st October 1969 at the Glen of the Downs in Co. Wicklow, but there is evidence of an earlier Army event at Kilsheelan, Co. Tipperary). Justin May wrote about the Irish performance at the World MTBO Championships in France (best were Nina Phillips 30th and Mary O'Connell 44th women and John Casey 53rd man). David Healy reported on the 2002 Swedish O-Ringen clinic (he's currently working in Sweden so he must have liked it). There were Championship event reports on the Connachts (on the eskers of Knockbarron), the Leinsters (at Brockagh & Mall Hill), the JK (in the forest of Dean, postponed a year because of the foot & mouth disease outbreak), the Irish Champs at Kanturk & Scarr in Co. Wicklow, the Shamrock O-Ringen in West Cork  and the British Championships in Northern Ireland where Aislinn Austin won W20E.
The inaugural Irish Trail-O Championships were run by Alan Gartside at Lower Drummans, Magilligan. Alan is still plugging away at Trail-O for us. Joanne Mein (NWOC), Eunice Cinnamon (LVO) and Rory Morrish (LeeO) represented Ireland in the World Ski-O Championships in Bulgaria. Ted de St. Croix wrote on visualisation in orienteering, while Joe Lalor reported on the 2002 Lakes 5-Day and Andrew Quin told us about his first World Cup races in Belgium and Switzerland.
20 years ago
The October 1992 Irish Orienteer featured AJAX's Tara Horan on the cover, winner of the French Championships. The new 1:50000 scale OS maps were starting to appear and final versions of the Wicklow and Slieve Bloom maps were eagerly anticipated. Pat Healy announced that the Comeragh Challenge 2-Day Mountain Marathon would take place in May 1993. A competition at the 1992 Shamrock O-Ringen raised £94 which helped Marcus Pinker travel to the Junior World Championships, the Swedish O-Ringen, a 6-Day in Norway and the Welsh 6-Day. IOA Mapping Officer Brian Corbett was running a scheme to map school grounds. The Veteran Home International was run at Rostrevor, Co. Down, with a BOF National Event. Sadly, the weather caused the National Event to be cancelled but the poor old Vets still had to go out and run. (I can't believe that was 20 years ago! I was the Controller - Ed) . Irish reps at JWOC in Finland were Marcus Pinker, John Feehan, Gavan Doherty, David Ryan, Karen Convery and Emma Glanville. A team of 10 went to the World Student Championships in Scotland. Barry Dalby (now of EastWest Mapping) looked at the pros and cons of OCAD versus conventional drawing. John Walshe and John McCullough attended the Swedish O-Ringen clinic during the summer. Leinster planned 11 league events that autumn/spring and there were 11 clubs Leinster affiliated to IOA, including COMADO (College of Marketing & Design), KSO (Kevin Street Orienteers) and Leinster Schools OA. Clubs were asked to nominate one person with access to a PC to collate the results and pass the disk on to the league coordinator. 
30 years ago
Eddie Niland (father of Ed, above) featured on the cover of TIO No.2, at the 1982 Munster Championships. The Leinster Schools O-Association committee featured members from Wesley College, Oatlands College and De La Salle Churchtown. Western Eagles' Frank Ryan reported that over 100 people attended their National Orienteering Day event at Mountbellew, and announced that the first Connacht Championships would be held in March 1983. The team for the Junuior Home International in Scotland included M15 Steven Linton, M13 James Logue, W17 Deirdre Ní Challanáin and Julie Martindale (Cleary). Including reserves, NWOC had 14 on the team, Lee Orienteers 6 (of whom 5 were from the Morrish family). An article by Gabrielle Savard from Calgary University gave us information on hypothermia. gabrielle was one of Canada's only two female paratroopers: her sister was the other one! Dublin University Orienteers announced a plan to run a coach to JK83 in Cumbria the following spring. They were also running an event at Kilmurry, Co.Wicklow, for a CompassSport Cup match between GEN and 3ROC.
According to the Ajax club notes, "The vociferous Ajax Tribe travelled to Scotland and upheld their infamous tradition of Bawdiness, Scabbiness,  Rabidness and, needless to say, their record breaking "O" times" (a report on the 1982 Scottish 6-Day). Ajax also launched a mapping blitz, registering 14 areas for mapping (11 of them new).  Eoin Rothery wrote about drawing an orienteering map ("it's not that difficult") using pens, draughting film, ink, light table etc. How things have changed!
GEN wooly hats could be bought for £4.50. The Leinster 2-Day in November was at Curracloe, Co. Wexford and Cronybyrne, Co. Wicklow, run by 3ROC and AJAX. Limerick's Thomond Orienteers were 5 years old and Plassey Orienteers (remember PLO?) student club was born in 1982. Thomond and Tipperary Orienteers were working on the map for IOC83 at Keeper Hill, Co. Tipperary. CorkO were preparing for the second AGM of the club under the guidance of their Secretary, Seán Cotter. Setanta were preparing for the Leinster Relay Championships at Massey's Estate/Hellfire Wood on November 14th. Danish national Junior Coach Gert Nielsen ran a course at Cappanalea in Kerry (£2.50 for the course, £1.50 to £2 per night for accommodation).
18 events were run for National O-Day in September, with between 6 (at Killary) and 500 (Farran Wood) participants. Aonghus OCléirigh and Pat Flanagan won the AQ and B courses at the Setanta Mountain Marathon at Glendalough. The IOF was working towards having orienteering as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. They also decided that the 5-year age categories from M/W35 up would apply from 1985. The Cork Street-O Championships at Mayfield were won by Donal Burke and Una Morrish.
A Sunday with no orienteering? Too wet to go to the museum? Why not visit the Irish Orienteer Archive from the comfort of your own home here.

  Championship Reports & Event reports: 
I can't get to all the events around the country, so if you'd like to put pen to paper (or whatever the electronic equivalent is) I'd love to get reports from events, particularly Championships or other newsworthy competitions. Just e-mail to

Thanks in advance. John McC.