|Thursday morning training|
Looking at the web site for the event, the fact that we were to be based in a ski resort should have rung some alarm bells, as should the 10-day weather forecast for temperatures of -3 to +3 with wet snow and the Christmas card images from the webcams.
The trip was to include some training days, then a three-day competition and another training day, all in terrain like the JWOC. The competition and training areas were on the Czech/Polish border at Zlaté Hory, about 6 hours drive east of Prague, in a depressed former gold mining area (Zlaté Hory means "gold mountain"). We did wonder why there were two 3-day events on in the country over Easter but we found that the Czech roads are like the Welsh ones: they are slow and they don't go to where you want.
|Thursday afternoon training|
|Frozen gold mill (Liz Deane)|
|Day 1 - Glucholazy|
Saturday was the first day of competition: across the border in the Polish town of Glucholazy, about 15 minutes from base. The event centre was in the "John Paul II" school and the hilly forest nearby was even more like Mullaghmeen than the training areas had been. The courses were disappointingly easy from the navigational viewpoint but pretty physical and the forest itself was lovely: runnable beech and conifers, something like I imagine the JK competitors were running in. Our contribution to the Polish economy was zero as we didn't have any Polish money. It was Easter Saturday and the town was thronged with people of all ages walking around in their Sunday best, carrying little wicker baskets of Easter eggs and going from church to church. Conditions were cold and sunny and perfect for running, so we thought we were made for the weekend.
That evening at the event centre, a night event in the snow failed to tempt any of the Irish to don their O-gear again.
|Easter Monday at Zlaté Hory|
The snow continued, reducing visibility during the middle distance race, with the runners creating tracks in to all the controls. The 1:5000 scale map with 2.5 metre contours took a bit of getting used to, while sauna-like conditions in the local school hall greeted the finishing runners. Back to base for a welcome lunch (pork with everything) and a rest for the afternoon.
There were runners there from the Czech Republic, Poland, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary and Norway.
On Sunday evening the organisers announced that there would be a major change for Monday because of the weather: instead of the 10 minute ski-lift trip to start at the top of the forest (where there was more than 50 cm of fresh snow) the courses would be replanned in the lower parts of the forest with mass-starts for each class at 5 minute intervals. As the organisers had the maps on computer and a colour laser printer on site, the new maps (the map was named "Snow Calamity" for the event) could be printed overnight and ready to go for the first mass start at 10 a.m. Unfortunately two of the Irish runners were given the wrong maps for the mass start and didn't discover it until they were well out on the course. The leading runners had to carve elephant tracks through deep snow for the following runners so the amount of map-reading needed was minimal after that - maybe this is how our ancestors followed woolly mammoths in the days before orienteering?
Moving on along more snowy roads brought us to Hradec Kralové which will be the event centre for JWOC and the location of the sprint race. Tuesday morning provided an opportunity to run in part of the relay forest, though not in the actual competition area: a fast, flat forest with lots of vegetation changes and a grid of rides and tracks.
The seven-day tour brought us to new countries, new maps and new terrain and brought the senior juniors and junior seniors closer together as a group: these are the people who could still be running with and against each other for the next forty years or more! All in all, a very worthwhile trip and a new O-country or two notched up.
|JWOC Relay Training|
Read about the Hana O-Festival here.
Meanwhile at the JK ...
No reports yet on the JK in southern England but the Sprint results show Róisín Long (AJAX) 5th in W18E; Jean O'Neill (FIN) 4th W65; Oisín Wickham (AJAX) 7th M12; Declan McGrellis (LVO) 8th M40; James Logue 1st M45 and Angus Tyner 9th; Aonghus OCléirigh 9th M50; Frank Martindale 6th M75.
On Day 2, the long race for most classes, Marcus Pinker finished a tight 2nd on the 11.9 km/500m M35L course, 5 seconds off the winner and 7 seconds ahead of 3rd place, with Conor Barry 2nd in M35S. James Logue was in the prizes again, taking 1st in M45L. Aonghus was 5th M50L, NWOC's Noel Bogle was 1st M75S, Fionne Lynch 2nd W21V; Ruth Blair 6th W50S; Ruth Lynam 3rd W55L; Helen Baxter 2nd W55S.
Over days 2 and 3, Marcus Pinker was 3rd M35L, Conor Barry 2nd M35S, James Logue won M45L by over 8 minutes; Noel Bogle was first M75S, Fionne was 1st W21V, WatO's Bríd Casey was 1st W35S, Ruth was 2nd W55L, Helen 3rd W55S.
Scottish club Interlopers took the JK Trophy for the Relay and South Yorkshire took the Women's Trophy.
You can see all the details here.
Remember to enter the Irish Championships on May 4-5-6 (entries close on April 15th) and the Shamrock O-Ringen on June 1-2-3 (entries close on May 10th). Both are selection races for various international teams and should attract top quality fields. Incidentally, Kerry Orienteers are again running a sprint race on the Friday evening of the Shamrock weekend at the wonderful Ross Island near the event centre, Killarney racecourse.
Entries for next weekend's Leinster Championships closed on March 31st. Late news is that LVO's Tyrella event on the sand dunes at Ballykinler, Co. Down, has been rescheduled for Saturday 13th April, the day before the Leinster Championships, also on sand dunes: a good warm-up? Details here, including some specific instructions about access and times.
The Child Protection course planned by IOA for 20th April has been cancelled because there weren't enough people signed up. It's now up to you to find similar courses run by local sports partnerships or others.
EastWest Mapping have some new maps: they recently published second editions of two maps: 1) Dublin & North Wicklow Mountains and 2) Lugnaquilla & Glendalough. These are now available in standard folded format and they also have a small quantity of unfolded, flat sheets. You can purchase in due course from regular stockists or direct from EastWest Mapping.