Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Easter 2013

JWOC training in March

As usual, Irish orienteers are heading to the UK this week to run in the Jan Kjellstrom Orienteering Festival over the Easter weekend, this year in the south east, based around Reading in Berkshire. The format of the competition has stabilised now into a sprint, typically in an urban area on Friday, a middle distance race for the Elites on Saturday with a classic distance race for the other classes, a classic race on Sunday for everyone and a Relay on Monday.
This year the events are at Reading University, Hambleden (near Henley), Cold Ash (near Newbury),  and Hambleden again. See details of the JK here.

There's a big group of Juniors, led by Mike Long, travelling as the events are selection races for the European Youth Championships in Portugal and the Junior Home International.
The older Juniors and the younger Seniors are travelling to the Czech Republic for a three-day competition and training in preparation for the Junior World Championships there in July, led by Greg McCann. See details of JWOC here.
Weatherwise, it will be a cold trip for both groups, in marked contrast to the 20C+ temperatures this time last year. The JWOC organisers are advising against coming to train at the moment because of the snow, but the Irish group will be running in different areas and the local orienteers are confident that they can find snow-free forests.

Campus Sprint Series finishes
The four-event Campus Sprint series has just finished with a race on the hilly campus of University College, Cork. For those of us likely to get lost, a bid sign close to the start of Saturday';s race announced that we were at University College, Cork, Ireland, in case we were in any doubt as to which country we had been teleported to (see above). Darren Burke was a clear winner with 52 seconds to spare over Colm Moran, while the fastest lady was W18 Niamh Corbett, a scant second clear of fellow Squad member Róisín Long in 18th and 19th places.
The excellent 1:4000 scale map covered the main campus, the student accommodation blocks, the college sports grounds at the Mardyke and the neighbouring Fitzgerald Park. Josh O'Sullivan-Hourihan's courses were tricky, involving checking which level you should be on and whether it was possible to get at a control without having to negotiate "not to be crossed" fences and walls (which are different from "high" or "uncrossable" ones). Had there been marshals on the course to see which flowerbeds were crossed, or which railings were reached through, there would have been some disqualifications. These are vital lessons to learn in advance of more serious sprint races at European or World Championships.
Jonny Quinn (GEN) won the series with 2504 points, despite not having won any of the events, with Kevin O'Boyle second on 2500 and Josh O'Sullivan-Hourihan third on 2497;  Róisín Long (AJAX) was the first lady, closely followed by Aoife McCavana and Niamh O'Boyle. Nearly 150 people took part in the series: see the full results here.
The four events have left a legacy of new sprint standard maps at UCD, DCU, TCD and UCC which hopefully will encourage more sprint orienteering events. A second benefit is the money raised for the Irish Junior Squad to help their equipment, travel and training.
All in all, it was a very worthwhile initiative.

South by South-West
The three events making up UCC and Kerry Orienteers "South by South West" weekend provided great variety, from the sprint at UCC, through a night event in the muddy fields and forests of Knockreer on the edge of Killarney, to the splendid but steep Upper Torc part of Muckross forest overlooking Killarney's lakes.
The Knockreer outing was more of a fun event, with two courses on an area with parkland and forests, electric fences, deer, marsh and mud. It was good to get in some night-O but the map is showing its age.
The next day at Torc it was the orienteers who were showing their age, however, at least in my case: huffing and puffing up (and down) the hills, and struggling with a couple of relatively long road runs. What a great area, though: more like Scotland or Scandinavia than Ireland: runnable natural forest. Darren Burke's longer courses started high and finished low, but still managed to pack in some serious climbs.
Torc waterfall
The weekend included the Irish Student Championships and UCD's Colm Moran was the outright winner on the Brown course, two seconds clear of Swedish visitor Anton Hallor, with TCD's Conor Short in third. In the Women's race Rosalind Hussey (TCD) was the fastest lady.

March News
  • Remember that the entries for the Leinster Championships at Cahore, Co. Wexford, close on March 31st. See the event web site here.
  • LVO's attempts at staging a competition on the dunes at Tyrella, Co. Down seem doomed: the event was postponed from October to March 23rd only to be stymied at the last minute due to access problems. Update: the event has been rescheduled for Saturday 13th April - good training for the Leinster Champs on sand dunes in Wexford the next day.
  • Setanta have an event to look forward to coming up: a new map of Mullaghmeen, Co. Westmeath, with a LIDAR basemap will be unveiled for their Leinster Spring Series event on 7th April.
  • Entries are open for the Irish Championships at Oughterard, Co. Galway on May 4-5-6. Details here.
  • Entries are also open for the Shamrock O-Ringen in Kerry on June 1-2-3 near Killarney. Details here.
  • After the South by Southwest O-weekend in Cork and Kerry last weekend, NWOC are staging the "Coastal Warrior" orienteering weekend on April 27/28th. The weekend will consist of sprint races at Gransha in Derry (see an old map here) and middle distance on the dunes at Magilligan (see map here). More information will be on the NI Orienteering web site here.
  • CompassSport Magazine is out: the latest issue (Vol 34, issue 1) of CompassSport has just dropped through the letterbox, with tributes to the young orienteers and outdoor enthusiasts killed in an avalanche in Scotland in January, including Una Finnegan from Co. Derry. On a happier note, there are also articles on the British night champs, ski-orienteering, how to increase club membership, night-O in Devon and Cornwall, equipment reviews, orienteering fitness training,  puzzles, a crossword, orienteering in South America, mountain marathons, and safety in orienteering, plus letters, advertisements for gear and events and so on. Subscribe at www.CompassSport.co.uk.
  • Details of orienteering at the World Police & Fire Games in Northern Ireland in August are available here. The competitions are on August 5, 8 and 9, just after the Scottish 6-Day.
  • New IOA rules for discussion: IOA Controller of Technical Standards Harold White has released a draft version of new rules of orienteering and new arrangements for map registration. Read about it here.
  • Child Protection Course: There are still some places left on the planned IOA Child Protection Course in Dublin on April 20th. IOA needs another six participants to run then course. Remember that IOA will not accept affiliation from any club which doesn't have a qualified Child Protection Officer. Contact Áine Joyce for details.
  • MerOC shuts down: Falling numbers and an aging core of members were reasons for the Liverpool orienteering club Merseyside Orienteers folding at the end of last year. Several of the club's members will be familiar to Irish orienteers, particularly in the south, as the Bolland family would have been regular supporters of the Shamrock O-Ringen in the event's early days: we all looked enviously at their early model Renault Espace and thought it was the ultimate orienteering vehicle. One of the club's maps was Ainsdale nature reserve, a sand dune forest near Formby with a population of red squirrels, which (a) was used for a Junior Home International around 2008 and (b) is beside Wayne Rooney's house. Not many people know that.
  • Good news about chocolate: For anyone who is looking forward to gorging on chocolate at Easter, the National Medicines Information Centre based in Dublin's St. James's Hospital has some good news. According to research findings published in their December 2012 newsletter,"Therapeutics Today", the risk of a stroke among Swedish men was lowest in those who ate more than 51.6 grams of chocolate per week, in comparison to those with a lower consumption. A second study found that chocolate consumption improves cognitive function and that the number of Nobel prizewinners per ten million of population for a country is proportional to the consumption of chocolate, with Switzerland scoring the highest on both. The authors estimate that to increase the number of Nobel prizewinners by 1 in a country, the national consumption of chocolate would need to increase by 400 grams per person per year. The only outlier was Sweden, with 32 Nobel Laureates as against an expected 14 based on chocolate consumption, but this may be attributed to the fact that the Nobel organisation is based in Sweden. Read the full text here.
  • Finally, a question: is orienteering getting too serious?  One of the points made by Thierry Gueorgiou when he visited last Autumn was that for him, orienteering is PLAY; it should be fun. Have we lost that?