Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Happy Christmas

Just a quick "Happy Christmas" from The Irish Orienteer to all the orienteers out there! The recent weather will make for some interesting running conditions at the Christmas competitions on Three Rock Mountain, Co. Dublin on St. Stephen's Day (starts 10.30-12.00) and Currabinny, Co. Cork on Sunday 27th (starts 11.00 - 12.45) and NWOC's score event at Ballykelly, Co. Derry on Monday 28th (registration from 11.15, mass start 12.00).
This time of year usually has some other activities like mountain running (sse the IMRA web site here) or the odd 5 or 10 k race, so make sure you get out and get some fresh air and exercise. Many orienteers do the GOAL mile on Christmas day - see details here. Leinster orienteers might be tempted by the Setanta-organised hike in the Dublin hills on Monday December 28th. Details here, but the orgsanisers need to know numbers in advance.

New Year Resolution time
Now is also the time to kick-start your new training regime in time for some of the great orienteering planned for 2010. Soon the annual TIO preview of major events in the coming year will be published, so you can armchair-plan the year ahead.

Economic decline presents opportunities
The steep decline in the Irish economy in the past year means that many of us don't have the kind of income we have been used to, and many of us don't even have jobs anymore. Applications to third-level colleges will also increase as there will be fewer jobs for school leavers.
All of these factors can be turned to our advantage in some way: there are opportunities for local orienteering where we don't have to travel so much; people out of work may be keen to do some mapping or coaching or other voluntary work; lots of new college students are a fertile ground for sowing the orienteering seed. After I left college I was out of work for a year and I took on the job of Secretary of the Irish Orienteering Association: that was a great chance to do something positive in what was otherwise a very negative situation and it gave me something to get out of bed for in the mornings, so voluntary work does have significant rewards even if they are not financial ones.

Poetry Corner
Andrew Cox sent me this poem by Jean Tubridy-Fox , composed after a recent day's orienteering in the Comeraghs. We have a great sport - take a few seconds to appreciate it.

Mahon Falls
Reflections on Orienteering

Mother, son and dog day,
F52, M14, D1.5;
escape to the Comeraghs,
where new challenges come alive.

Map in hand, clear red line,
fourteen points: ‘Oh this is fine.’
Click the first, confidence soaring
Is it too easy, could it be boring?

Eyes divert to the glorious Falls,
frozen in time as if heaven calls.
Reality check, where’s number two?
‘Compass! You know I haven’t a clue.’

Man  running with easy gait,
jumping streams, avoiding  wet
‘Hi, can you help us to orientate?’
‘Oh you’re looking for 2, this is 8!’

Wind at our backs, oh what bliss!
Just look at that sea, sun-kissed.
An hour to get to our number two,
How do the others know what to do?

Get on a roll, three to eight,
Don’t be distracted, just concentrate.
This is how to navigate –
We’re flying, on the home straight!

But where the hell is number ten?
Contours, boulders, ankles bending.
Lowland marshland, streams wending
Is the search never-ending?

My heart wants this day to last
It’s not just about being fast;
Win or lose, savour the present
Forget the future and the past.

Jean Tubridy-Fox
November, 2009

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

December News

Connacht Championships
November ended with the Connacht Championships on the excellent Finner sand dunes between Ballyshannon and Bundoran in Co. Donegal on Sunday 30th An outstanding run by CorkO's Brian Corbett saw him win the M21 Long race by 35 seconds from CNOC's Colm Hill, in the closest finish of the day, while a surprise result in W21 Long saw Maeve O'Grady (DFO) take the scalps of internationals Ciara Largey (FermO) and Ruth Lynam (CNOC).
A training weekend for  the top Juniors meant that they were all there, with Niamh Corbett emulating her father's win in W16 and also in running up a class (or in Brian's case, three classes!).
Despite the recent severe weather, running conditions on the day were excellent, although running a Championship event in November on open terrain is a risky business - however, at sea level the risks of bad weather are probably minimised. Frank Ryan's courses used more of the complex dune network than some previous events, as he chose to start closer to the most interesting south western section.
Unusually for a sand dune area, Finner has 5 metre contours so that only the bigger features were shown on Padraig Higgins's revised map. Perhaps for the next revision, a larger scale might be clearer, with either 2.5 or 5 metre contours. It is such a good area and the map should do it full justice.
Once again, it is impressive that the small band of Connacht orienteers can run events like this.
And before you all write in, I know that Donegal is in Ulster!
No routegadget of the event is available as yet, but the results are here.

Controlling and Planning Conference
Top British mapper and BOF Major Event Advisor Dave Peel was  the main speaker at last Saturday's Controlling and Planning Conference at the Heritage Hotel, Killenard, Co. Laois. Almost twenty people from clubs across the country attended the event, hosted by IOA Controller of Technical Standards Harold White.
The group discussed the current and proposed standards for colour events, both in terms of tecnnical and physical difficulty, and also looked at the requirements of long, middle distance and sprint orienteering, and at planning for Championships.
The presentations are available on the IOA web site here. (scroll down the page till you find them).
Did you know, for example, that colour events should be planned so that most finishers on any course finish within a specified time band (75 to 120 minites for the brown, 55 to 90 for the Green course and so on) and that there are rules laid down about what kind of legs and control sites are appropriate for each couse? To be honest, maybe not all the planners and controllers know this either, judging by the times of finishers at a range of colour events surveyed by Harold for 2009. The percentage of finishers in the correct time band ranged from 0 to 100%, with events as a whole rangeing from 47.8% to 73.3% finishing on time. Admittedly, the event organisers have no control over who comes on the day, or over what course thay do, and they don't contriol the weather which can affect results, but the planning guidelines should be familiar to both competitors and officials alike.
Improving the standard and the consistency of courses is necessary so that orienteers can progress from one level to the next, or find a level that they are happy with, rather than going orienteering week after week and never knowing what to expect.
Unfortunately I missed the second half of the day, but we may get a report from one of the participants...

Orienteering Today folds
Orienteering Today, a glossy orienteering magazine produced in Norway, has ceased publication and is looking for a new owner. The production standards of the magazine were outstanding, with photos and maps from around the world. O-Today took over from orienteering World (previously published in the Czech Republic).

This leaves CompassSport (this year celebrating its 30th anniversary) as the orienteering magazine of choice. Editor Nick Barrable, currently based in Sweden, works virtually full time on the magazine, which is published in Britain and is available by subscription. The December issue carries details of major events around the world in 2010 - vital information if you are planning an orienteering trip abroad. Subscription and other details here.

JK Entries Open

Entries to the Jan Kjellstrom orienteering festival (the "JK") have opened. The event is one of the biggest in Britain and regularly attracts more than 3000 runners from across Europe. This year's competition is in Devon in the south west, over the Easter weekend. The sprint event on Good Friday (2nd April) is at Bicton Agricultural College near Exeter; Saturday's race is at Cookworthy forest near Okehampton, and the Sunday's individual and Monday's Relays are on the open sand dunes of Braunton Burrows near Barnstaple. And remember ... the 2011 JK is in Northern Ireland!

Enter online here. See the JK web site here.

Extract from the 1989 JK programme:
Jan Kjellström was killed in a road accident in January 1967.  Much of what the pioneers of orienteering in this country knew was taught to them by Jan, and the Jan Kjellström international competition was instituted in his memory that year, by the English Orienteering Association.
Jan was the son of Alvar Kjellström, one of three top Swedish orienteers in the 1930s.  Alvar, with his brother Björn, ran Silva Compasses.  British orienteers first met Jan in France in 1964.  He visited this country in the summer of 1965 and 1966, never sparing his energy and enthusiasm in helping those who were trying to get orienteering established as a sport, teaching them both competitive skills and better methods of organisation.  He also acted as mentor to the British team abroad.
Jan was only a 3rd team member of his club Rotebro IS.  Yet his skill and speed in the forest gave British orienteers a vision of what they themselves could attain.
The early JK weekends were not quite so complicated to stage as the one you are about to enjoy.  The area for the first one was decided one week beforehand, after another area had been rejected on the previous Wednesday.  For the first two years there was no Relay as such, the Jan Kjellström Trophy being given for a team competition based on the senior men’s race.  In 1969 the sport had changed somewhat.  There were now four individual courses instead of just one each for men and women, and redrawn maps had appeared.  Three colours were used, the scale was 1:25,000, and forest rides were omitted with the intention of increasing route choice.  A proper relay was organised but it was remarkable that it took place.  The intended forest (Slaley in Northumberland) was snow-bound and the event was re-planned overnight in another forest, on OS 1:25,000 maps which had been hurriedly driven up from Southampton.
The sport is different now.  But the enthusiasm of orienteers has not changed, and the JK weekend is now the social occasion of the year for British orienteers.
It is a fitting memorial to Jan that his trophy is given in a relay competition, in which club spirit plays so great a part and the ordinary orienteer has a chance to shine.
Arthur Vince

Monday, 23 November 2009

More November News

Maxwells to run Everest Marathon
Lagan Valley Orienteers' Fiona and Bill Maxwell are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary by running the Everest Marathon, the highest marathon in the world, on December 4th. They are running to raise money for the Everest Marathon Fund, which helps projects in Nepal, and for Maggie's, a Scottish-based cancer support charity.
Both Bill and Fiona have had cancer and have chosen Maggie's as one of their charities. (You may have seen a Maggie's centre in London received a RIBA architecture award this year: see here).
Fiona and Bill have both run on the Irish Veteran Home International team and the VHI team made a donation to their cause. Their daughter, Hannah, may also be familiar to you as she was on the Irish Junior team a number of times.
Their target is £2600 which works out at £100 per mile. Best wishes to them both.
To donate, visit the website here.

MOV 2009: Water, Water Everywhere

Sarah Ní Ruairc (FIN) went to the Venice Street-O event on November 15th ...
The annual Meeting Orientamento Venezia/Venice Orienteering Meeting (MOV) or more simply called the Venice Street-O in the vernacular is a well-regarded and highly popular orienteering event.  Navigation, while not difficult, is surprisingly tricky and a high level of concentration is required in what is by any standard highly unusual terrain.  This year’s event took place on Sunday 15th November with a smaller Park-O event on Saturday 14th.
The event as been attended by disparate groups of Irish orienteers over the years who often combine it with a visit to the city itself, some sightseeing and, of course, the consumption of that Italian speciality, gelato (ice cream).
This year, five orienteers from Ireland attended the event: myself, Kieran Rocks (LVO), Sharon Lucey (BOC), Stuart Scott (UCDO) and Brian Flannelly (CorkO).  Stuart and I both attended the event last year and enjoyed it so much that we decided a second bite of the cherry was required.  Kieran an old hand at this event; this was his third MOV.  His maps from previous events came in useful when navigating around the city.  Neither Sharon nor Brian had attended the event before.
The journey to Venice from various locations in Ireland is a complicated tale of trains, cars, planes, 4-hour waits in Gatwick, long emails and butlers and is probably worthy of a novel itself but we won’t dwell on that.  Suffice to say that we were all re-united in Venice by about 7.30pm on Friday 13th.
The Park-O on Saturday 14th is a warm-up/training day and acts as a prelude to the main event.  Its purpose is to give the participants of Sunday’s event an idea of the terrain, the scale, the type of map and the features marked on it.  Only a few hundred orienteers partake in the Park-O as distinct from the 3,600 or so in the main event.  It also provided a distraction ahead of the Republic of Ireland vs. France world cup qualifier held that evening, and watched in the Irish pub conveniently located across the street from our accommodation.
 The event centre for both days was the same as in previous years, with the finish for Sunday’s event located close to it.  However, unlike previous years, the start was located on the far side of Venice (see map).  A special boat was organised to bring competitors from the event centre to the start.
There were four courses available to run in the M/W21 category.  Kieran and Sharon opted to run M21E and W21E respectively.  Brian and Stuart went head-to-head on the M21B course and I decided to promote myself to running W21A, as I had run W21B the previous year. 
The map below gives an idea of the type of terrain and the standard of mapping.  The white colour, contrary to usual standards, does not represent runnable forest but streets and bridges.  The brown colour on some of the streets indicates the areas that are likely to be crowded with tourists, some of whom are likely to be armed with suitcases on wheels - a menace to every orienteer.

Navigating between controls is not as simple as taking a bearing and heading in (hopefully) the right direction.  Orienteers have to start thinking about bridges and crowds and decide things like, “Should I head for the long straight run or cut through a maze of tiny streets with lots of stop-start orienteering and constant checking?” or “Should I run down the street that is likely to be crowded or try the empty (ish) back streets?”  It is very easy to lose your place on the map and find yourself running along a street thinking, “Where is this?”
As can be seen from the image I had a long leg between controls 14 and 15.  Sharon and Kieran both had similar legs, as did the MA and M20 courses.  My first thought on seeing the leg was, “Why didn’t I bring money for a gondola?”  However, the only thing to do on that leg was to mentally divide it in two; the first half of the run between control 14 and the bridge (the Rialto Bridge) and the second between the bridge and control 15.  I tried to choose as many long and straight-ish runs as possible with the least amount of turns and least amount of concentration.  However, the leg still took me over 20 minutes and I managed to get in the way of more than one tourist’s photograph. 
Once I reached control 16 it was a relief to run out to the seafront and over two bridges to the last control.  Some of the busier bridges have ramps laid over the steps to facilitate wheelchair access (I can confirm that the Venice event is not suitable for buggies).  All the orienteers were running on the ramps rather than taking the steps and it was strangely gratifying (not to mention good for the ego) to see a man standing at the foot of the ramps with a sign warning innocent bystanders that athletes would be running on the bridge. 
I was shattered at the end of the race, so much so that I missed television coverage of Ireland vs. Australia.  Although the course length was given as 7.8k I covered almost 12.  I found the course a lot tougher than last year and not just because I chose a higher level.  Kieran and Stuart both agreed that the courses were tougher than previous years, possibly because there was a new planner.
The orienteering community being small and close-knit, we met Farina Freigang and Soeren Riechers at the event, both of whom spent a while orienteering in Ireland last year.  We also met some of the organisers of the Velikden Cup that was held in Bulgaria last Easter. 

The city of Venice had to endure two unusual events that weekend.  The first was a protest by locals over the perceived decline of the city at the hands of the tourist trade.  The second was the sight of brightly-clad people running around the streets clutching maps and with perplexed expressions on their faces as they stopped and started, turned, ran around in circles, down blind alleys, hollered with frustration and then sprinted over a ramp stating how much they enjoyed the event and threatening to return in the future.
The pictures show an aerial photo of Venice, Sarah's course and a GPS plot of her route. Visit the event web site here.

Unsung Heroes

Finally, spare a thought for the unsung heroes of orienteering - the control collectors. When we're all back from our runs, getting into the car to go home after the race; when the weather is closing in; when the darkness is coming: who has to go out into the rain and the wind to wrap up the event? The poor control collectors: many of them will have been there all day, some may have run their course, but they are prepared to do us this one last service, no matter what the conditions.
Last Sunday's splendid Ajax event at Cronybyrne (now called the Vale of Clara Nature Reserve) was a case in point: the organisers had laid on premarked waterproof maps, GPS plotting, tea and biscuits, tents, instant results and great orienteering. Then, right on cue, as the courses are getting to closing time, the deluge starts. So, in case we don't fully appreciate it: Thanks, guys!
Results, Routegadget are here.

Claravale Event Report by Peter Kernan

Ajax Vale Of Clara event on November 22nd - 3ROC's Ger Butler, Colm Moran lead in the trees. Despite dropping to seventh at control 4, Ger Butler pulled the pack back and raced ahead through the trees to win the Brown by 6 mins from Christian Foley-Fisher of DUO. 
His clubmate Colm Moran needed only two controls on the Blue to take the lead and hold it over 21 controls winning from Setanta's Dave Weston. A strong run by 3ROC's Eoin McCullough saw him take 3rd, seconds behind Dave. Conditions on Sunday were considerably better than Saturday when Marcus Geoghegan, standing in water streaming out of the car park onto the road, reflected on the chances of cancellation.
Months of preparation prevailed and Sunday saw him deliver map, planning and Grade A orienteering to a forest-starved audience.
Complementing his efforts, finishers also got to watch results on screen and drink coffee in the finish tent courtesy of Martin Flynn and Donal Wickham. When the weather turned raw for the last finishers, offers of coffee, met initially with disbelief, hit the right button. It wasn't all plain sailing: Denis Reidys' tale of a tree dropping as he placed control 21, reports of the Yellow course "blowing away", the tent window splitting in the wind, added an edge of uncertainty that was only dispelled when finishers began to flow in well. The Orange course also saw a group of Bootcampers take to the forest as well as CNOC first timer Fergus Foley. Cleared up by 4 pm, the organising club Ajax deemed the event a big success. 

See results here.

Photo by David Healy - Hazel Thompson, Setanta.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Disappointing VHI Performance by Ireland

Fine runs by Ruth Lynam (2nd W55), Ann Savage (5th W50), Bridget Lawlor (6th W35) and Brian Corbett (6th M45) weren't enough to save Ireland from the wooden spoon at last weekend's Veteran Home International in Derbyshire, hosted by Derwent Valley Orienteers (DVO).
The strength in depth of the English and Scottish showed, with both countries clear of the Irish and Welsh in both Saturday's relay and Sunday's individual races.
The competition, for age classes M and W35 to 60, rotates between the four participant countries and this year was England's turn. The relay at Longshaw, near Bakewell, was run on the side of a steep valley covered with largely deciduous forest with open heath on the flatter area above. The relay team composition must be two men and two women and their age-related handicaps must add up to 18, so there are complications in forming teams. An outstanding run by a Welsh team saw them take 32 points as winners in 108.07, with the following six Scottish and English teams finishing in less than 6 minutes. The best Irish time was 149.58, finishing in 19th place. After the relays the scores were England 98, Scotland 82, Wales 72, Ireland 20.
Sunday's Individual at Eyam Moor was on a largely open area, part of which was covered in high heather with vague features, and finished in a complex open area with large knolls and interesting contour detail. The event was combined with a regional event which attracted some hundreds of runners. Several good individual performances were not enough to salvage the Irish team, however, and the score in the individual race was England 144, Scotland 124, Wales 98, Ireland 56.
Luckily the weather was good for running on Sunday - cool, breezy and dry, and on Saturday most runners got around dry, though later starters did get caught in heavy showers.
The overall result was England 240, Scotland 208, Wales 170, Ireland 76.
The teams stayed in the splended Hartington Hall Youth Hostel, a 17th Century manor house with its own bar and restaurant (sadly, closed by the time some of the Irish arrived on Friday evening).
It seems to be an unwritten rule of the VHI that the events are on exposed open terrain in November and that the relays, in particular, are staged in a bone-chillingly cold location! The Juniors (September) and Seniors (October) escape the worst. There was some discussion on the choice of date for future years (next year's event in Wales is in October) and on the inclusion of the M/W65 classes at the expense of the M/W35's, but more details of these changes will be available before next year's event.
Thanks to Tish McCann, who didn't get a run at all, for managing the team.

The question remains, though - what do we need to do to improve? We don't have the same level of competition as in England or Scotland; Welsh orienteers, though few in number, do have ready access to top class terrain and top class competition. if you compare an age class here (say M55) with events in the UK, the numbers are quite different. Take the Munster Championships, for example: MOC 2009 had eight M55's. Last Sunday's DVO event had twenty three M55 Longs, including eight from the VHI compatition and a further eleven M55 Short.

What do we need to do to beat the Welsh? We can do it at Rugby, why not at orienteering?

For the record, the team was:
M35 Declan McGrellis (LVO), Tony Lawlor (CNOC)
W35 Bridget Lawlor (CNOC), Hazel Thompson (SET)
M40 Colm O'Halloran, Igor Stefko (LVO)
W40 Kathryn Walley (FIN), Mary Knight (LVO)
M45 Brian Corbett (CorkO), Dave Weston (SET)
W45 Heather Cairns (LVO), Roxanne White (SET)
M50 Sennen O'Boyle (CNOC), Don Short (CNOC)
W50 Ann Savage (LVO), Bernie O'Boyle (CNOC)
M55 Raymond Finlay (FermO), John McCullough (3ROC)
W55 Ruth Lynam (CNOC), Ger Power (3ROC)
M60 Colin Henderson (LVO), Bill Hopkins (LVO)
W60 Trina Cleary (3ROC), Clare Nuttall (BVOC)

Results and Routegadget (courses & routes) are at the DVO web site here.

(Photos: Raymond Finlay (M55); Hartington Hall YH.)

Sunday, 8 November 2009

November News

Munster Championships
What a novelty - orienteering in a forest! Toureen Wood, location of the Munster Championships on November 1st, is a largely runnable forest near Cahir, Co. Tipperary, on the northern slopes of the Galtees. Recent rain made the going slippy underfoot, but the map was mostly white (indicating runnable forest) with a network of roads and tracks. Starting high and finishing low, Jim O'Donovan's courses made the most of the terrain, giving choices between contouring through the forest or taking longer road routes with more climb. The typical Galtees feature of large gullies running down the hillside broke up the forest into blocks. Two hundred competitors took part in the event, organised by Cork Orienteers. The map, surveyed by Pat Healy, was at 1:10000 scale and was printed on waterproof paper - quickly becoming the norm for bigger events.

CorkO's Darren Burke finished first in the M21L class and Niamh O'Boyle won the W21L class.
See results, splits, routes here. (Photos by Finn van Gelderen and John Shiels. To see more of Finn's MOC photos see here; to see more of John's, see here.).

Veteran Home International
The Irish Veteran Team is travelling to the VHI in Derbyshire next weekend. There are several new faces on the team and ireland can expect some course wins, with Ruth Lyman (W55), Colm O'Halloran (M45), Brian Corbett (M45) and Declan McGrellis (M35) running well at the moment.
The weekend kicks off with the relays at Longshaw on Saturday where six teams of four runners from each of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England will run. Sunday's Individual event at Eyam Moor, near Sheffield, will feature open mountainside with some steep forest, and all eyes will be on the critical Ireland v Wales struggle, while in the secondary competition England and Scotland will battle it out for first place. The Eyam event is combined with a BOF regional Event (which would until recently have been rated a National event) so there should be big numbers and intense competition.

OCAD Course
This Saturday (14th) there's an OCAD course (for drawing O-maps by computer) in Dunboyne.The course was originally to be run on September 26th but was postponed. There are a few places available on the November 14th OCAD course. The venue is Dunboyne Castle, Co. Meath. It is an all day course on Saturday, Nov 14th for all levels of OCAD skills. The course is given by Pat Healy of CNOC.
To secure your place please send a cheque for €25 to the Irish Orienteering Association, Second Floor, 13 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
For those already signed up, also send your cheques to the above address.
Aine Joyce IOA Admin Assistant (

Orienteering In Venice
There are a few Irish orienteers running in the annual Venice street-O race on Sunday 15th: good luck to you all - hopefully we'll get a report on the event afterwards.

NI MTBO Championships
The Northern Ireland Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships has been rescheduled for Saturday November 28th at Craigavon Lakes. The event was to have been at the more demanding Castlewellan Forest but access restrictions forced the change. See details of the event here. See previous courses and routes here.

Connacht Championships
Finner, Co. Donegal is the venue for the Connacht Championships on November 29th. Entries are still open but the cheapect entry deadline has passesd. WEGO are accepting e-mail entries. Details here. Entries are possible up to November 20th - maybe even later?

Finner is a good area of open sand dunes, more physical than many sand dune areas: steeper and with long marram grass. The area has been used for previous Connacht Championships and even Interprovincials (remember them?) as well as part of a Junior Squad training weekend in 2008. Make a weekend of it by taking in the NI MTBO Championships on the Saturday.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Compass, whistle, medical cert ...?

If you go down in the woods today, you'd better be prepared - if they're French woods, that is. Legislation passed originally in March 1999 and adopted by the French Orienteering Federation (FFCO) in March 2008 requires that anyone taking part in an orienteering competition in France must have either a competition licence issued by your O-Federation or a medical certificate to prove you're fit and are not taking drugs. It seems to be driven in part by the anti-doping policy of the FFCO.
The letter from FFCO General Secratary Gérard Lecourt to National Federations is here. If this is enforced it will be a major disincentive to foreign orienteers competing in France. The event organisers will keep a copy of the certificate in case of any incidents. French competitors evidently have an annual competition licence which involves a medical examination and a declaration by your doctor that you are fit to undertake an orienteering course - the French medical cert is here. If you'd like to read the full medical regulations (in French) you can see them here. The medical is expected to include ECG's and various other examinations and is aimed at finding out if you have any contra-indications which would suggest that you should not go orienteering. A comprehensive but non-exhaustive list is included in Appendix 1 of the document - the one malady which seems to be absent is hyp-O-chondria.
If this had been published on April 1st I wouldn't have been surprised, but it seems to be for real.

On the other hand, French World Champion Thierry Gueorgiou may be able to help your orienteering technique:

Simplification by Thierry Gueorgiou

Tero's technique (from a Swedish newspaper interview with Thierry Gueorgiou:)

"I have the experience necessary to not be bothered [by contact with spectators, cameras in the forest, etc]. I've also done orienteering training with headphones and a radio to practice my ability to keep concentrated despite external distractions," he says.

How do you describe your strength as an orienteer?
"I trust my ability to correctly simplify the map," he says.
When I give Tero a map and ask him to sketch how he sees the map between two controls, I get back - in a few seconds - a sketch that would be a completely functional simplification of the challenges the leg has.
Of about seventy map symbols, he has picked out five. What looked like a difficult orienteering leg now has the difficulty of a beginner's course. Through this approach, his course becomes easier than his competitor's, I think, and test my idea on the world champion, who laughs, "Yes, that is right; that's the right way to describe my orienteering technique."

 This ability to simplify the map is something Tero practices continually. And he doesn't need to go out in the forest to keep it.

 "You can train anywhere. You're brain doesn't notice the difference between a picture of reality and a mental image," he says. This method requires a lot of concentration. But staying focused for an entire race is, according to Tero, impossible. When competitors try to continually force themselves to have a deep  and long-lasting concentration, the professional from Saint-Etienne looks for  opportunities to rest.

 "Everyone talks about having to be 100% focused from start to finish, but that doesn't work. The key is to know when you  can relax. During my middle distance final in Ukraine there were several parts of the course when I was thinking about things other than orienteering," he  says.

New book from Seán Rothery

3ROC's Seán Rothery has just published another book, this time recounting his life in Africa in the 1950's. Best known for his books on architecture (his "Field Guide to the Buildings of Ireland" (1997) features many buildings which will be familiar to orienteers from their travels around the country), Seán was one of the founders of Irish orienteering and also the father of frequent Irish Champions Eoin and Colm Rothery.
His new book, "Snow on the Equator - an African Memoir" is published by Ashfield Press.

Read what local free paper "Dublin People" said about it here.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

October News

Fingal Orienteers take Leinster Inter-Club trophy competition.
A surprise result saw north county Dublin club Fingal Orienteers snatch the Leinster inter-club trophy from under the noses of CNOC and GEN at Corkagh Park, Clondalkin, on September 20th.
The event format has changed from year to year, ranging from a full-scale event, through score formats to this year's sprint, with equal points being awarded in every age class.
The club scores were
FIN 1383
CNOC 1360
GEN 1047
3ROC 927
AJAX 490
SET 320

The excellent new map by Pat Healy showed the area to be ideal for this type of race: the area had been mapped some years ago but the park has grown and matured in the meantime from the bleak, fairly featureless terrain it once was.
The photo shows David Healy of the organising club, GEN, presenting the trophy to Val Jones of Fingal. (Photo: Finn Van Gelderen).
One side effect of winning the trophy in the past was that the winners had to organise the event the following year. See the individual results here. More details on the GEN site here.

Northern Ireland Mountain Bike O-Championships postponed
It is regretted that due to access problems LVO have been forced to postpone the MTBO Champs which were to be held at Castlewellan forest on 10th October, (not 10th November as stated in an earlier TIO blog - Ed.). It is hoped to re-stage the event near the end of November so keep an eye out for that!!

Munster Champs closing date reminder
The closing date for the Munster Championships at Toureen Wood, Ballydavid, near Cahir in Co. Tipperary on November 1st is Wednesday 14th October. For Dublin orienteers, there's motorway most of the way now, so you should make it in two hours or less ... Enter on-line here.

Teaser: Here's a question for you: Which is the odd one out: Munster Championships, Connacht Championships, Leinster Championships, Northern Ireland Championships? (Answer at the bottom of the page).

Junior Squad Train
The Irish Junior Squad had another intensive training weekend on October 10th/11th, starting with the well-established time trials in Dublin's Phoenix Park. If anyone tells you that the Park is flat, just ask any of the juniors who gave their all running laps of the gruelling circuit in the Furry Glen! This was followed by compass work training at Massey's Estate (beside the Hellfire Club) on Saturday afternoon, and more technical exercises at Knockree Youth Hostel that evening. Sunday's training brought the squad to the open mountainside of Trooperstown Hill and finished in the mixed Scandinavian or Scottish-style forest beside the Avonmore River.
Once again, all due to the efforts of IOA Juniors Officer, Ruth Lynam.
Read more about the Junior Squad here.

Busy weekend in November
The weekend of November 14-15th is a busy one for orienteers: the Veteran Home International takes place in the Peak District of Derbyshire between Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales; there is an OCAD computer-mapping course in Dunboyne, Co. Meath, given by Pat Healy (Details here); some Irish runners are going to the annual street-O event in Venice (read about it here); and local events at Ross Castle (Killarney), Corrin Hill (Fermoy) and the Glen of the Downs (Wicklow).

Teaser: The odd one out is the Munster Championships. It's the only one to have always been run in the area described by its title. We've had the Leinster Champs in Ulster (Monaghan, 2009), the Connacht Champs in Leinster (Offaly) and Ulster (Donegal), and the recent Northern Ireland Championships in Cavan, in the Republic!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Ireland 3rd in Senior Home International

Ireland defeated Wales in the Senior Home International run by Fermanagh Orienteers this weekend. The competition was on the limestone hills on the Cavan/Fermanagh border, in conjunction with the Northern Ireland Championships.

Read all about it on the Senior Squad blog here. See maps, courses and Routegadget here.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Swiss 6 days. Muotathal

This year’s Swiss 6 Days were characterised by a lot of changes, be it the weather or the orienteering plans themselves. Our arrival in Muotathal – South of Zug – coincided with the Swiss National Day and from the campsite we were gratified with major fireworks. The mountains created some spectacular sound effects and the lights from the fireworks made a beautiful show. This festival feeling was soon to subside to be replaced with some unfair weather.

One of the characteristics of orienteering in Switzerland is that you are never really encouraged to take your car - quite the contrary. The Swiss did not disappoint again this year with the use of public transport as well as Duros (military vehicles) to take us to all the events., showing that it can be done without the car!!!

Day One was a sprint event in Schwyz, a large town about 10 minutes away from Muotathal. We were brought by bus to the centre of the city as the rain was literally pouring down. We were among the over 3,000 participants to find shelter in a sports hall before we were to start our event, where we could leave our bags in a dry place. Paul and I got around fairly quickly and found ourselves finishing in the first half of our respective age groups. These first results were fairly encouraging.

The next two days were Alpine days with day 2 in Schwialpass. This time we travelled in Duros at a time set for each one of us. The trip was a good 25 minutes long. We then had to walk for another hour to the start. The weather forecast was for heavy rain, and once again the Swiss weather did not disappoint as we never got to see the top of the mountains! The heavy and damp terrain made it quite hard to progress rapidly from one control to the next. Even though we could not see much, we could still hear all the local cows and goats, which are equipped with bells, fairly well. This proved to be a plus, as they were providing a nice melodic company during the event!

Day 3 was to be – in the words of the organisers – a “memorable day”. It certainly was characterised with the sun (oh beautiful, what is this yellow thing in the sky?) which we had not seen for a few days, heat and a very long walk. For this event in the Glattalp, we were first taken by bus to the base camp, and we were then to walk 4.4K, and 700m climb before reaching the start/finish of the event. We had been advised to take our camera as the views from above were indeed spectacular. Obviously having to walk up such a distance is not exactly the best way to be ready for the event, but at least every participant got a good warm up. When we reached the top, some heavy mist appeared suddenly, leaving us with hardly any visibility for the start of the event. Orienteering there was certainly the highlight of the week, with gigantic mountains, lakes (which had got even bigger with the heavy rain), snow, etc...

Day 3. Glattalp

We then had a rest day during which the organisers decided to swap the venues for Day 4 and Day 6 because of a landslide which had washed the road away. They could not risk getting all the participants to the event and then have them stranded! So on the Thursday we headed to Chinzig-Seenalp, in the mountains again. The day was glorious and the trip 45 min up the mountains in the Duros was quite chaotic due to the rocky terrain. We were then to walk for 30 min to the start. The sun was shining and we could really appreciate the beauty of the place. It was a typical alpine terrain and once again we were to run among surprised cows! It was a fast terrain still which meant that it was essential to stay with the map at ALL times. The planning of the event was pretty much to get us down, so no real trick there, which made it very inexcusable to make any mistakes, really!!!

Day 5 was a “forest day” in Gibel. The advice there was to wear long legs and sleeves for fear of ticks. The course was short enough and it was essential to plan your route very precisely and accurately as the forest was quite dense in many parts. Gibel was also used for the “Euro Meeting” - these upcoming elite orienteers from Europe were to use the other side of the map of Gibel.

Day 6 finally arrived and more rain was again scheduled, so it was decided that we would get to use Gibel again. Overnight, the organisers had planned courses so that we would all get to finish our 6 days. We even got to use a pen to circle our controls!! It was like being back in the old days. The terrain was quite wet still but again very fast with few paths. So staying close to the map proved very useful.

All in all the week was very memorable, not only because of the places that we got to orienteer into but also because the Swiss organisers did not get defeated by the weather. What is really great about the Swiss O-week is obviously the majestic landscapes. The organisers are proud to take us in the most beautiful parts of the country, even though it means that the participants have to walk up to 2 hours to reach the start.

Furthermore it is really great to be able to orienteer with maps that are so accurate. The smallest boulder would be mapped, thus allowing for improvement in reading the map and navigating more accurately. And finally it is always a bit of a cliché to praise the Swiss precision for logistics regarding the transport, but they certainly managed to get over 3,000 participants from all over the world as far up in the mountains as they could and then they relied on us to carry on by foot without a word of complaint!

Isabelle LEMEE/Paul NOLAN

For results and other details, see here.

For anyone thinking of orienteering in Switzerland, the World Masters O-Championships (for over-35's: not to be confused with the World Championships) is on in the Jura Mountains in Western Switzerland next August. See here for details. There are open events that anyone can run as well.

Mike Long leads Ajax to Lug Relay win

Stone Cross to Lug Relay, September 26th 2009.
There's a sweet dip at Sally Gap crossroads that drops the first leg runner into the changeover, ending the hour and half battle from Ballinascorney over Seefingan and Kippure. Sweeter still for Mike Long knowing that he had left three Setanta teams in his wake and set up the lead. One - nil for Ajax.
Drifting wide in the forest Shane Enright and Donough O'Keeffe had taken Seahan first, but not by enough to stop Mike taking the lead into Corrig and the relentless climb into Seefingan. Pursuing him across in cloud to Kippure Shane got up to him but could not stay on the 2km drop off Kippure across the heather to the road.
Ajax second leg, Peter Kernan's, first glance back on Carrigvore picked out an olive green top...Philip Brennan, Setanta...the steady leg plan got changed to hold the lead. A fall off Carrigvore and a stitch from the pace change over the tops of Gravale and Duff hill were probably good signs ... at least the body was trying. Mullaghcleevaun East, glances in cloud picked up nothing...was he closing or not? Turning to just off south from Mullaghcleevaun, it was simply a push as quick as possible to Stony Top, crawl up it and Tonlegee and a clean drop to the Wicklow Gap. Two - nil.
Greg Byrne accelerated out of Wicklow Gap knowing that Paul Mahon was sitting in the traps waiting to be released behind him. The last, longest leg needed a clean run.
Cutting road corners up Turlough hill, Greg goes direct for Conavalla, hits the 702 spot height NE of it and has to recover across open bog. Not knowing the gap back, doubt sets in, had Paul Mahon overtaken?
A direct charge for Table Track, onto Camenabologue and the northern cliffs of Lug, between clouds, walkers but no runners. Sweep down clear to the bottom of Camara Hill and Fenton's. Three - nil, game over.
Mike Long's efforts over the years coaxing Ajax into the Wicklow Way relay or the Lug Relay had paid off.

None of this adventure would have seen the light of day without a director. Niamh O'Ceallaigh took over the role at short notice, organising the race with a calm, friendly ease that was impressive. Many thanks to her.
- Peter Kernan.

Photos: Gerry Brady, Justin Keatinge IMRA site here. IMRA race report etc here.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Championships Approaching

Four regional Championships are coming up between now and the end of November and closing dates are approaching fast.

Northern Ireland Championships
The Northern ireland Championships on October 3rd/4th have a latest entry date on next Monday, September 28th. Looking at the entry list (see here) shows numbers so far to be small enough.

The event is combined with the Senior Home International, the Ireland v England v Scotland v Wales competition for classes M and W 20 and 21. The areas being used, the Burren on the Cavann/Fermanagh border and neighbouring Crossmurrin, are largely limestone-based open ground with plenty of pits and depressions, but fairly dry underfoot.

Details of the events are on the Fermanagh Orienteers web site. FermO are a small club who have put a big effort into running these events and need our support. Saturday's race is the classic (normal distance) championships and includes the SHI Individual. The area was used for the 1994 Irish Championships where we crossed a fence marking the border between Fermanagh and Cavan on the way to the start - amid jokes like "Have you got your compass? Whistle? Passport?". You can see the map here.

Crosmurrin, featuring the spectacular Marble Arch Caves, was used for the Irish Championships and Trail-O Champs in 2007. This time it will host the SHI Relays and the NIOC Middle Distance event.

Entry for each day is separate and you can enter vis the SportIdent web site here.

Munster Championships
Cork Orienteers are staging the 2009 Munster Championships on Sunday 1st November at Toureen Wood, Bansha, Co. Tipperary, on what CorkO Chairman John Scannell describes as "... perhaps one of the last remaining mature forests on the Northern slopes of the Galtees. To run in this forest will be an experience and will demand both physical fitness and good navigational skills. The area selected has mature coniferous forest with good visibility and is free of brambles except for parts where long grass and stones will impede running. The forest has a good road track network with steep sided ravines and dry gulleys which run down the slopes which are
characteristic of Galtee maps."
The area is new to orienteering and was mapped this year by Brian Corbett and Pat Healy.
On line entries are open now here. Entries close on 14th October.

Connacht Championships
The Connacht Championships are being run by Western Eagles Galway Orienteers on Sunday 29th November. More details will be available later. Keep an eye on the WEGO web site here.

NI MTB-O Championships
If mountain bike orienteering is your personal addiction, don't forget the Northern Ireland MTBO Championships at Castlewellan, Co. Down on Saturday November 10th, run by Ivan Millar. Watch the LVO website for details here.

Coaching Ideas
On a different note, David Healy has proposed an exciting training initiative for Dublin orienteers, adding more technical training every week to supplement the physical training many are already doing. He plans a meeting at the Scarr event this Sunday: details are on the O-Group here.
He also alerts us to lots of ideas from a coaching conference in Austria. It looks great - read it here.

Friday, 18 September 2009

September News

Mountain Meitheal invade Cruagh Wood
Sunday morning, Kevin kneels in Cruagh Wood beating the hell out of an upturned wheelbarrow. "I'll fix this for you Peter.., you didn't know I used to be a panel beater."
He's using the sort of hatchet I last saw a Red Indian laying into some unfortunate cowboy with in a movie. The tomahawk slams in again ..I don't argue.
Despite Kevin's efforts I watch out for an opportunity to get hold of one of the new barrows he's prepared.
Any advantage pushing boulders, hard core and grit for a couple of hours is worth taking.

Mountain Meitheal has plenty of helpful stalwarts like Kevin, every week there's new faces and new old faces you've not seen before.
Volunteers of every brand ... students, climbers, walkers, hill runners, solicitors,.... from Ireland, England, Poland, Venice, Romania, Germany, etc ....
On any given day material arrives , volunteers turn up, tools clatter out, an arm is pointed..over careful..the troop almost without direction fall into lifting, hammering, digging, talking, moving rock, lifting timber, stop for lunch, talk nonsense, start again.
Talk knows no bounds, this mountain, that mountain, football, politics, holidays, state of the nation, sandwiches, the dog who took them,... Angela bemoans the untidiness of crow's nest construction.....

Tiredness stems the chatter of the last hour, closing words disperse the crew home or to the Merry Ploughboy.

Undeniable is what gets done, an astute picking of projects, organisation, is followed by hands on grafting to produce results that even before they're finished passers by remark at and appreciate. They're a crew who do what they talk about doing.

This summer, Cruagh Wood has seen both a boardwalk linking the top track out onto the open mountain and a grit track connecting up Cruagh to Massey's estate constructed. Both are worth taking a trip out to Cruagh for. One day, no doubt, you will see them appear as features on the next orienteering map from 3ROC.
One day you could do well to join them.. you don't need an SI card, compass or map, just need to be pointed in more or less the right direction. Get more details here.

- Peter Kernan

Marcus Pinker injured in bike crash
Irish Champion Marcus Pinker suffered serious injuries following a bike crash near Sheffield last month. He is recovering but it sounds like it may be a while before he's back to racing fitness. Marcus won the Irish Middle Distance and Classic distance championships in Donegal in May, and on Day 3 was on the winning CorkO relay team. We wish Marcus a full recovery. Here's his account of what happened:
It's about time I caught up on what exactly happened last weekend. I was near the end of a two hour cycle which I had thoroughly enjoyed and was cycling pretty well, I had gone down through Eccy Woods and turned left to take the quieter residential road to join Abbeydale Road. This road is slightly downhill and has speed ramps once you get out of the woods. I guess I was doing 30mph or so and obviously had to focus on the ramps so they didn't throw me off. I looked up from one of these and saw a car crossing the road right in front of me. The image of the car is a blur and I think that I tried to get me feet unclipped and put them down (I think I got the left down). I reckon that there was approximately 10m between when I saw the saw the car and when I hit it so there wasn't any time to think about it. I can (again, in a dream like manner) remember heading towards the car but nothing after that. I was told that I was unconscious for about 15 minutes and when I came to the paramedics were around me. I was in pain but too much, but I don't recall leaving the scene or the journey to the hospital at all and didn't wake up until I was in A&E.
According to the police there were no cars parked around the junction and no other traffic around. I usually make a habit of looking for cars on side roads as (especially when on a bike) you never know if someone will pull out on you. However in this situation I think that the speed ramps were taking all my focus. The driver said that he looked both ways before pulling out but obviously didn't see me until it was too late. Unfortunately he was going straight across the junction (I was on the through road) so when he did see me he was side on in the middle of the junction leaving me nowhere to go. I apparently hit the front wing (leaving a big dent) and judging by my injuries, it was with the upper right of my back. I hit the ground next to the car (so did 30mph - 0mph instantly) but my bike carried on over the bonnet (haven't quite worked how that happened yet). My helmet is cracked throughout with a strip missing around the rim (haven't worked how that happened either) but my bike appears to have come out unscathed.
Personal damage wise I think that I have been very lucky, my limbs and head have all escaped injury (aside from a bruise on my left side of my head). Sure as my trunk is quite battered it makes all movement difficult but it could so easily have been a lot worse. I think that I have 18 fractures (7 along the side of my spine and the 7 adjoining ribs, my right shoulder, a vertebra and 2 ribs at the front). Time for some R & R!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

What did you do in the WOC, Daddy?

The World Orienteering Championships, now an annual event, is the competitive pinnacle of our sport. This year the Irish team travelled to Hungary in August to face the challange. Here the team tell us how they fared in the different disciplines.

Well done and thanks to Dave Healy, Shane Lynch, Neil Dobbs, Ciara Largey, Ros Hussey, Colm Hill, Ruairí Short and Nick Simonin.

We also had representatives at the World Trail Orienteering Championships where Alan Gartside, Wilbert Hollinger and Cian O'Reilly formed the team in this intense discipline. Interestingly, Wilbert was a member of the first ever Irish World Championships team in Scotland in 1976 (with Wally Young, Pat Healy, Paget McCormack, Eileen Loughman and Monica (Turley) Nowlan).

The World Orienteering Championships – 2009 Hungary – “My Experience”, from the Irish Orienteering team.

Middle qualification – David Healy

I trained for thirty minutes the day before this race for my first time in Hungarian terrain. My main focus is WOC 2010 but I needed to come to Hungary to get experience for the next years’ races. When the start beep signalled my start time I had fifty meters to the flag to look at the first few legs of my race. However, I didn’t get past planning the first leg. Leg number one was downhill with some contouring. Anytime a planner gives you a first leg with downhill running it’s so obvious that they want you to make a mistake. I made this mental note and held back on the gas a little, thumbing my map and following my plan. After passing some local farmer near my attack point gathering sticks he threw his arms in the direction of my control and said, in Hungarian, something like “they’ve all run in that direction, so go go!”. I came a little high to the flag, about 10 seconds of a mistake. So in my head as I punched I made a point to congratulate myself for a very good start to my WOC 2009 campaign. The rest of the race was uneventful. There was one very dangerous control placed in light green, but I slowed down and hit it well. There was a photographer at a control flag later on, I got distracted and ran out of the circle in the wrong direction to lose 15 seconds in error.

In my two races at WOC (middle qualification and relay) I made three minutes of mistakes in total, this I am happy with and proud of. And secondly I was proud that the Irish relay team did three similar runs (between 7.6 to 7.7 minutes per kilometre). We had no goals for this race, perhaps we had an unspoken goal of doing clean runs. We did alright to achieve the clean run goals, a step in the right direction for improving our relay results and with lots of room for future improvements among myself, Nick and Neil.

Middle qualification –- Shane Lynch

I line-up on the start line alongside the two other hopefuls in heats one and three (I’m in heat two). Clock ticks down. Last few thoughts are same as what I have been saying to myself all morning, plan and stay in contact with the map. Final beep goes, the three of us pick up our maps and set off. I have a short leg to a charcoal burning place (looks like a platform). It’s a straight forward leg; there’s a large re-entrant ahead to the left of the straight line, and the platform is on the spur on the far side. I make my plan, rough compass bearing aiming slightly right and high of the control, look for the large re-entrant on the left as I run, when I reach the far side look down hill to see my control and if it’s not in view, fine, just head down hill along the spur until I hit it, all this planned in the instant after I locate the triangle and the circle for number 1 as I pick up the map.

The three of us run similar lines from the start control, too similar, their first legs as I later find out are long ones but crucially and unfortunately for me both of their controls are lower down the hill, the bearing they take is low of my first. However, it WOC it’s high paced, I’m running alongside Leonid Novikov, I’m influenced and instead of focusing on my own race I veer to the left with them, believing I am running the bearing I chose myself, I pass the re-entrant, I hit the spur, I look down the hill, no control, no worries, I set down the hill, still no control, the others have run on, I hesitate, confused, run around on the spur, no plan, time ticks on, one minute lost, focus gone, frustration comes, I realise I have gone low of the control, on the way back up hill to punch I’m filled with all sorts of emotions, annoyed, frustrated, I see the next starters arrive as I finally reach the first, already two minutes down. I think I must claw back time… you can’t claw back time. Think this and your race is lost and mine was at number 1. I pushed for the rest of the course, but without focus and without plans. I made more mistakes and there was no flow or rhythm. I finished the race almost 15minutes down on the top qualifier, and 8minutes off my perfect race time. This was much too much time lost on the fast open terrain that we competed on. I came 32nd out of 38 in my heat.

Luckily, I had another race in the sprint which went better, I ran cleaner with fewer mistakes and my limiting factor in this race was running speed and not orienteering technique – this is the way it should always be in my opinion. I also got the opportunity to run the Hungaria Cup (supporters event in conjunction with WOC) at the end of the week, I competed against many of the other internationals who were not running WOC races on those days. I ran clean and fast and beat people who were much higher placed in my middle qualification heat – I could put my demons of that race to rest!

I am reminded of Ernie Lawrence who introduced me to orienteering he always said something like “Always make sure you take the first control steady and without mistakes”.

Neil Dobbs – middle qualification

It was great to see four WOC-debutants in the Irish team this year after their strong performances in the Irish Champs last May. With a larger-than-usual men's team, I was selected to run the Middle and Relay.

The Middle Qualifier was not in overly technical terrain, and guaranteed top-notch mapping would make it easier than the training areas. However, with thirty minutes of orienteering ahead of me which would colour my thoughts for the next twelve months, the pressure to perform on the day was scary. One false move or a bit of bad luck and the record book wouldn't be kind. Thankfully, on the day I had a technically very good race. Physically I didn't have zip in the legs, so I was surprised and happy as I lay on the ground hearing Gueorgiou hadn't finished yet - about 5 minutes down, compared to 7 last year. It turned out I was in a nasty heat and would need to knock another 2:30 off my time to have qualified. I guess that's what happens when WOC is in "easy" terrain.

Ciara Largey – middle qualification

First race of the week was the middle qualifier. Not usually my strongest race so the aim was not to think about my speed but focus on navigating cleanly and coming away with a race I could be proud of. My impression from the model event was of endless beech trees, good visibility, lots of point features requiring good compass skills. Potential pitfalls were overshooting controls, vegetation changes (not always obvious) and veering off my compass. But all of this I felt able to handle and with a 9 minute call up there was plenty of time to settle my nerves, forget the crowds and other runners and focus on my own race.

I started well – a downhill leg to a boulder. I set the compass, kept my head up and eyes peeled and spotted it from about 40m. A short contour leg to the next control and I was well into race mode, picking up speed. Next was a long gradual climb then a descent into a large re-entrant to another boulder. I was a little hesitant but needn’t have been – a camera woman lurking in the trees gave it away. I look at the map for the next control, 500m of contouring through denser trees with reduced visibility. I was nervous starting out, this leg could give me difficulty and indeed it did. I followed what I thought was a vegetation change, pace counted and descended, hoping to spike my control. Alas, no such luck and much searching ensued. More time passed and I seemed no closer to locating my control. I was becoming even less sure of where I was, repeatedly relocating and trying again with no success. Starting to panic now... where is it? Eventually I was so distraught I hung on to the next runner to come past who led me out to a control further away that I could relocate from and work backwards. At least I was still on the map... I had no idea how much time had been lost, finally punched my control and put it out of my mind aiming to finish the rest of the course with as few mistakes as possible.

Thankfully that was the end of the green area and I ran well from then on – making a plan for each leg, checking my compass, using the good visibility to my advantage and spotting the relevant features well in advance. Middle distance is a tough technical test in orienteering and the legs were varied, testing contour skills, speed control, compass work and minor route choices. I ran steadily, remembering my pre-race plan and made it to the finish without further mishaps. I knew my blunder at the fourth control would be a costly one but I was unprepared for just how much – almost 20 mins lost! Aghh! Hardly an elite performance... A further punch in the stomach was the knowledge that without this mistake I may have qualified for the final, but instead I was well down the field with an abysmal overall time of 50.58 mins for a 4.1k course. It’s not easy to shrug off a bad performance at a World Championship - seeing my name near the bottom with the Ireland flag next to it, reminding me who I’m representing, really gets to me. Especially when I know I can do much better. However, at least I know that it’s possible. This is the highest level an orienteer can compete at so it’s never going to be easy. Just meeting that challenge is something I’m proud of, but it’s not enough. So it’s back to the drawing board for next year, because I’m not done yet ;-)

Rosalind Hussey -- Long Qualification

The long qualification was quite a spectator-friendly race. They sneakily took us down to begin in the assembly field via 9min of pre-start, about 1km of jogging. Then just 6 controls into the course I was back at the spectator control before disappearing into the forest to take on the second half of the course.
I didn't start this race filled with confidence due to an unsatisfactory performance in the middle distance the day before, so took it super slow and careful on the long leg to #1. The long uphill was killing me after just several minutes! The direct, but careful, approach worked quite well and I spiked the control. Had a welcome downhill to #2 and then on down to the first drink-station. Gulp, gulp. Fought through the light-green (pretty high nettles and thorns, but with tracks that earlier runners had produced making my progress easier) uphill to #3, kept too low contouring around, but realised when I hit a pit just south of my feature and headed directly up to the control.
I kept it clean for the next few controls, but managed to get stuck in dark green for quite a while on route to #5. Silly, unnecessary route choice. Took a bad line to #10, not sure why, but decided it was best to correct this error by going through another, larger, more dense patch of green. Oh those nettles stung. They even got my nose! But I managed to spike the control, hoorah. Lost another few precious seconds running past my control in the "forest of many distinctive trees", but realised quite soon. Other than a messy route trying to avoid dark green to #14 causing a bit more time-loss, it was quite clean to the end.
Was relatively happy with my performance today, but have learned that I need to be much stronger and more aggressive on the hills when it comes to future WOCs. The heat was another major factor during these races. It was important to keep well-hydrated in order to concentrate and keep pushing hard."

Colm Hill – long qualification

For a race that’s going to be memorable I generally have a vivid memory of what time I got up and the breakfast I had before the race. In Miskolc it was early and a dam good breakfast of cereal, yogurt and good strong lethal coffee. The day had started the way I wanted it to. The drive to the event is a blur of Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden as well as some bands that aren’t fit to be named. The pre event arena was a cluster of buildings. Pre start off to one side. Warmed up, camelback on, gels in the back pocket. All set to lock and load. About 20mins before my start the rest of the team enter the pre start arena. I bump into Roar and the usual race banter goes on. It was a shock that we had forgotten to blast out the Def Lep song Action earlier that morning to wake up Neil (he stayed in bed).

Into the start box... SI cleared. Slightly nervous but really excited. My legs are bouncing and my head is clear. Each of the 9 boxes was pretty big and most involved a steep climb. With 3mins to go we enter the finish area... The speaker is saying something but it’s lost to me. I see the start gate 30meters in front. This is it. I went through a hell a load of training to forget about the horror of the JWOC long the previous year. Run hard, run clean, finish in bits. The famous beep. Through the gate, map in hand, its game on!

First control is a long leg, guts of 2km. The route out to the right along the track jumps out at me like a sore thumb. As I run I look for other routes, I see one straighter but it appears to have more climb. I go with option A. Running along the track I no longer feel as fresh as I did in the pre start. Still running.... I see a blur out to my left; Matts Haldin is just cruising along, faster than I feel I can sprint. I suddenly feel as if I could have trained a lot more in the past year. I focus on the last part of the leg. Nothing sticks out. I feel like I’m going oxygen dead but I haven’t been running that hard so I ignore it. Down to the first control, and down...and down. Now I know I missed it. Not much to relocate off, except that nice track at the bottom of the hill.... so I drop 13 contours below the control and come back up again. Control 2 was fine, 3 was easy, and then running to 4 I begin to feel really tired. Body in shut down. Knock back a gel, no difference. Suffering up every climb at a slow pace. Other orienteer’s run past me and there is nothing I can do about. Running through spectator I hear that Merz has run it in 58ish. He pasted me at control 4. Objective changes to not coming last. Forget about posting a respectable time, that ended on the way to number one.

You need a WOC to show you where you really stand – everyone brought their A game, at least it seems everyone did, but me. There will be more WOC’s.

Ruairi Short – long qualification

I ran the long qualification on the Monday. I felt good in the lead up, eating right and plenty of food so I was happy. Also relaxed and having fun with all the people there.

On the morning all went well until I realised that the pocket in my trousers wasn’t big enough to hold my compass, gel and gummy bears so I stuffed my compass down my sock, which I regretted later. I came to the start boxes and all was good, they were amazingly steep but I felt good. Then I got to the -3 box and put my descriptions into my hold and it broke! So I was like okay they’re on the map it’ll be ok. Then I look and see I’m still wearing my watch. I gave that to the organisers so all was well. I picked up the map and ran to the start kite where the Norwegian and Estonian I started with stopped dead while I ran up the hill wondering why they hadn’t picked a route choice for our nearly 2k first leg! The Norwegian soon ran past me again...

My race then went fine, I was quite clean with maybe 1min30sec of mistakes at most. The other guys were running super fast past me it was tough to keep motivation but I kept going. I got confused at a few controls when I looked at my control descriptions holder and failed to see descriptions, but it was only funny.

My favourite part of the race was the flat bit after the spectator control where there were tons of single trees marked, I got all the controls really well while running strongly. Overall I found the course really tough and the winning times insanely fast but I’m really glad I went and experienced it!

The other event I ran was the mikrosprint. This was on the rest day before the long distance final and it was about a 400m course on a 1:750 map, very similar to orient-show. It was really fun with the winning time in my heat being 2:34(yes that is minutes!) and I was 2nd one second down! So I qualified for the final knocking out Oyestein Kvaal Osterbo, the Norwegian sprinter! The final was held about an hour later with all the crowd gathered around the control in the centre of the fountain! Standing at the start I could hear the exact time when the first starter jumped in from the raucous cheer! It again was really fun but I didn’t have nearly as good a run.

Nick Simonin – sprint qualification

After the long qualification I was really looking forward to the sprint as it is a totally different kind of race. As sprints go I knew that I am weaker at forest sprints then urban sprints. Was feeling very relaxed in the pre start area but trying to focus on key things to get mentally prepared for the race in the correct way.

Once in the start box I was fully focused on my own race but also feeling the nerves as I knew I had a good chance of qualifying if I got things right. We started in the main arena and heard that there was big time gaps in the results. Meaning it was technical and physical nothing I hadn’t prepared for already. Picked up the map and was straight into it. Saw only one route choice to the 1st control in my eyes. Straight and aiming slightly left of the control. lost 10sec on the way when I got a branch in my eye and couldn’t see for a few seconds. Hit the big re-entrant looked right and there was a control. All I thought was this better be my control or I aim screwed for want of a better word. It was, now I knew I was in business. Short 2nd control, spike. On the long leg to the third I got a chance to look ahead and saw lots of short legs and knew I had to be clean and take it easy. During these legs all I was staying to my self was “focus on technique and forget speed. Punching the 6th control(radio) I was with the Norwegian who started to same time as me. This was the first time I thought I had a shout of qualifying during the race. Reached the 12th control and was basically mistake free.

The 13th was tricky as it was in light green and very detailed area. Saw a control in the same feature but didn’t think it was mine however couldn’t ignore that it was on the same feature. Checked the code and it wasn’t mine ”shit”. Looked at the map for a pit in the area near my control. Found it and saw where I was, 20-30m short and slightly off line. About 10 sec lost. Nothing major. Still calm but because I rushed my self going into the 13th control I didn’t get a lot of time to plan to the 14th and took a straight route. Not even seeing the easier but longer route choice to the left around on the track. Had a plan but couldn’t see my attack point and panicked ran left to hit the track where my control should be and thought I was above it but was actually below it and ran the wrong way down the track. Saw the Italian who started 1 min behind me and realised he was on his was up to the control. Turned and found it. 30sec blown. I knew deep down then I was out but still tried to push and no give up. Ran the last part of the race cleanly and at a high tempo with the Italian. Gave it everything in the run in.

I heard that the Italian was in 4th place so I guessed I was just in the top 15 but knew more guys where to come.

In the end I missed the final by 4sec. I was a bit disappointed but quickly saw the positives. To be so close and making the mistakes I did showed me that I am not that far from making finals at WOC with clean runs. To conclude WOC was a great experience and will stand to me for next year. Would like to thank Ivan for giving me this chance to get much needed experience. Also Kyle for doing a great job keeping us in line. Cheers.

Neil Dobbs -- relay

With the Relay five days after the Middle Qualification, I had plenty of time to recover and let the excitement build and to talk trash with our American and Canadian friends! Dave got us off to a good start with a decent first leg, and after Nick headed out I began warming up in the sunshine. The legs felt great, and all was good! There was a nice patch of shade by the spectator control where we could follow the race while keeping cool.

Seeing Nick come up to the changeover after another strong run, only a couple of minutes down on USA and CAN, had me happy and determined setting off. The Canadian runner strangely underperformed, and he was passed and dropped early on. The fifth control was tricky and a race-changer, with many top runners losing time here. I caught Eddie (USA) here, and drew close to a couple of other teams. After a few controls in a low-visibility area I got ahead of the runners around, and stayed there until the thirteenth control, where a one-minute mistake allowed them catch up. It being a head-to-head race, I didn't push hard on the big uphill to the next until we split up as we had different route gaffles. I floored it from there to the spectator control without seeing anyone.

From there I took it safe and steady as the nerves rose and rose, which until the third last worked fine. The broken ground and vegetation here made it hard to distinguish the mapped knolls, and I lost some time here in the circle. As I scratched my head the Portuguese runner arrived. I spotted and punched first and flaked it off. Happily I had the power left to get the final two controls fast and cleanly and finish a job well done by the team. 22nd out of 37 teams was by far our best result since 2004 (in Sweden), although three meritorious teams (FRA, NOR, CZE) finished behind us due to stopping to help an injured Swede.

Details of the World Championships are here.

Next year's WOC is in Norway and some of the team hopefuls have already been training there. Read about them in the Senior O-Squad blog here, ( ... though on my browser it looks for a password as the site allegedly contains links to drugs, alcohol and tobacco - highly unlikely, if you ask me! JMcC)