Thursday, 8 May 2008
IOC 2008 Bere Island
Cork Orienteers put yet another nail in the coffin of orienteering as "the forest sport" with an excellent three days of events on a treeless Bere Island at this year's Irish Championships in west Cork. Looking back at past Irish Championships, open areas or predominantly open areas have been used for Irish Championships since the mid 1980's and Bere Island was another good example. Moderately complex contour detail, few tracks, lots of crags and marshes and spectacular cliff scenery were some of the memorable features of the weekend.
In Saturday's classic distance race, Marcus Pinker (CorkO) retained his Irish M21 Elite title while Niamh O'Boyle regained her crown in W21 Elite. See the classic distance results here.
In a departure from the expected plan the organisers opted to stage the Relays on the second day, Sunday, ensuring a good turnout of teams. This, combined with the reduction and simplification of relay classes, made for more competition on the day. Dublin's Great Eastern Navigators took their first ever Open title with David Healy, Tero Mamia and Ondrej Pijak, with the closest finish of the day, relegating Cork O to second, 39 seconds adrift, and CNOC third. Cork O (Ailbhe Creedon, Faye Pinker and Fionne Austin) took the women's trophy with the Lithuanian Medeina team second 3ROC third. See the relay results here.
In Monday's Middle Distance race on the west end of the island, Ondrej Pijak won the Elite course with Marcus Pinker second and Nick Simonin (BOC) third. In the W21E race Niamh O'Boyle again took gold with Ailbhe Creedon (Cork) 2nd and Ruth Lynam (CNOC) third. See the middle distance results here.
The Irish Championships on an open mountain area in May can be risky from the perspective of the weather but, with the exception of some heavy showers on Saturday, the competitors escaped largely unscathed. The classic race used the centre part of the A3 map, the relay and the middle distance races used A4 maps to the east and west of the main competition area. The relay, in particular, had a spectacular start location, with views all over the island for those who chose to look. Brian Corbett's revised maps were printed on waterproof paper rather than using plastic bags, and the innovation worked very well.
Cork O pulled out all the stops to provide a very well organised event; the evenings featured technical sessions in Castletownbere, the IOA Annual General Meeting, and screenings of Finn van Gelderen's new movie on orienteering.
Runners routes for the classic event are on Routegadget here.
Incidentally, another memorable feature of the Irish Championships can be hearing the first cuckoo of the year: last year it was on the course, in Co. Fermanagh; this year it was at the site of the Kilmichael ambush in Co. Cork on the way home - thinking we were going to Béal na mBláth.