Sunday, 23 May 2010

June Preview

Donegal Three-Day
The area around Lough Eske in Co. Donegal is the venue for three exciting days of orienteering on the June Bank Holiday weekend. Mapped for the 2009 Irish Championships, the open mountain terrain resembles West Cork, with its marshes, crags and contours. The weather at the Irish Championships, particularly at the Relays, didn't showcase the areas as it might have, but hopefully this time Western Eagles OC's efforts will be seen in better conditions.
Details of the events are here.
Tollymore Orienteering Festival
The Northern Irish Championships are being held on Saturday 19th June at Tollymore Forest near Newcastle in Co. Down. Following on from last year's very successful, inaugural ‘Tollymore Festival of Orienteering’, LVO will be hosting a full programme of events on the weekend. Everyone is welcome to join in the weekend's activities.
The programme looks pretty much like this at present, with the facility in place to camp on either or both Friday and Saturday nights.
NI Championships – a full range of courses on offer.  
String course – always a popular event for the young and the not so young. At the recent Slievenagore event, the competitive spirit of the elites could not be contained and multiple runs ensured the course time falling, quickly at first and then with some reluctance.
TempO  - Exercise the brain, even if your legs are tired – pit your wits against the fiendish Mr Gartside in a timed Trail O problem.
Evening barbecue and social event. 
Prizegiving for LVO club champs and for NI Champs
Night orienteering. (10pm start)
Adult training session run by Helen Baxter
Junior Fun Day session run by Izabella Stefko - details here.
TempO – another puzzle to solve.

Entries are open here. Cheapest entries until 14th June. You can book your barbecue and camping along with the race entry, please make sure that you include for all in your party even if all are not entering the race. We don’t want to run out of food.
Everyone is welcome for what should be an excellent weekend of orienteering.
Gordon Stephens, LVO
Incidentally, if you're on for a spot of shopping, Decathlon, the giant sports supermarket chain, are opening in Belfast on June 17th, at the Holywood Exchange retail park, near the city airport and Ikea ... and LVO are running a Micro-O there on Saturday 26th June.

Belfast Parks
Another LVO venture in May is the Belfast Parks O-Week, a series of free races in Belfast's parks starting on Saturday 30th May in Ormeau Park after the Belfast Cliffhanger (see below).
The following events are on Monday 31st (Belmont), Tuesday June 1st (Woodvale Park), Wednesday 2nd (Barnetts Park), Thursday 3rd (Orangefied & Greenville), Friday 4th (Falls Park) and Saturday 5th (Musgrave Park).
The inaugural Belfast ‘Cliffhanger’ sprint race will take place in Ormeau Park in Belfast on Sunday 30th May from 1.00 to 3.00 pm. If you enjoyed the maze racing at Kilbroney Park on May 8th, you will find this even more fun! The event will consist of 2 prologue races with combined times used to determine A and B finals. If enough enter then there may be scope for semi-finals as well. Each course will pass twice through a specially constructed maze as well as through the more complex area of the park. Course lengths will be about 1.5 km, so everyone should get about 4.5 km if they stay for all 3 races. Start times will be deliberately close together and courses will be ‘gaffled’ to remove the temptation to follow other runners.
The event is the opener of the Belfast Parks Orienteering Week which is aimed at families and newcomers. Once the Cliffhanger is finished the maze will be available for all to try their luck and there will be simple courses in the park, so bring non-orienteering family and friends to watch you race and then to have a go themselves.

Summer Evening races
The Curragh-Naas OC (CNOC) Tuesday evening races continue with the Curragh (May 25th), Hill Wood, Monasterevin (June 1st), Curragh East (June 15th) and Hollywood, Co. Wicklow (June 22nd). In Munster, CorkO's Inter Firm league continues on Tuesdays with Currabinny (May 25), Moanbaun Wood, Watergrasshill (note change of venue from Fota) (June 1), Warrenscourt (June 8), Ballyannon (June 15), Tracton (June 22), Lackendarragh (June 29), Corrin Hill (July 6), James's Fort (July 13), Glenbower (July 20) and Ballincollig Regional Park West (July 27). Bishopstown's equivalent Business Houses league finishes up on May 27th at Corrin Hill. Full details in the Fixtures section of the IOA website. Evening mountain races are running at the moment too: Wednesday evenings - details here.

The Jukola 7-person overnight relay takes place in southern Finland on 19th/20th June. Several Irish teams, or at least teams with Irish runners. have taken part in recent years but TIO isn't aware of any this year. If any of you are going to Jukola, (a) good luck and (b) please write about the event for us afterwards! More than 1500 teams have already entered for the relay and more than 1000 for the women's Venla 4-person relay  earlier in the day. Details of the events are here.
You should be able to follow it live on the internet - Jukola start time is probably about 11 pm local time (9 pm in Ireland).

Exam time
Best wishes to all our orienteering students doing Junior Cert, GCSE's, Leaving Cert, A-levels and college exams. Concentrate on the study for now, get the academic stuff out of the way then get stuck in to the orienteering again!

Leinster Champs Routegadget Fixed
The results and routegadget (route plotting program) for the Leinster Championships at Carlingford were hit by some computer problems, but these now seem to be fixed. You can out in your route from a GPS or using a mouse here. The organisers, 3ROC, apologise any inconvenience!

30th Anniversary Hill Race
On 22nd May the Irish Mountain Running Association (formerly "Hill Running") staged a race on Three Rock Mountain outside Dublin to mark the 30th anniversary of the first organise hill race to Fairy Castle back in 1980. Several orienteers (Peter Kernan, Tara Horan, Catherine Lyons, Joe & Caitlín Bent) ran in both the 1980 race and the 2010 "Fairy Chase". Photos, results and reports are here. Almost 120 runners took part.

Setanta Rogaine entries open
Setanta Orienteers have opened online entries for their 13th Rogaine, a two-person score event in Wicklow, on the weekend of June 26-27. The event will have two categories, a 6-hour and a 24-hour. Details of the exact location are a closely guarded secret until just before the event, but you can get information and enter here. The event has been running since 1998 and offers a mountain-marathon type experience without having to carry all your kit for two days.
Rogaining started in Australia in the 1940's - the word reportedly is composed of the names of the three inventors, Rod Phillips, Gail Davis (née Phillips) and Neil Phillips. (It has also been defined as a "rugged outdoor group activity involving navigation and endurance", the initial letters of which also spell "rogaine"). [This activity should not be confused with the hair restorer "Rogaine", also sold as "Regaine"].

New Wicklow Maps by EastWest Mapping 
Two new maps - Wicklow Mountains West and Lugnaquilla & Glendalough are now both available from EastWest Mapping - details here.

The new maps are in the same general style as their Dublin & North Wicklow Mountains Map published in 2009 and printed at 1:30,000 scale on 120 gsm Pretex paper which is water and tear resistant. Retail price is same at €9.95 per sheet. They have a value deal for people who wish to purchase a set of the three maps at €29.00. The maps should be available in Eason's, National Map Centre, Great Outdoors and shops in Wicklow in due course.
Barry Dalby writes "Fieldwork on foot and by bike was undertaken in 2009 (great autumn!!) and 2010 interrupted somewhat by snow & ice etc. I think we've done a pretty good job at capturing the forest, road, track and path detail as well other physical features. Contouring is still at 20 metres - not ideal, adequate in Wicklow for general hillwalking and biking. Hopefully we can improve with more contour detail in the future. As with any map, doubtless we have missed some features and/or new forest tracks have been constructed etc. As always, I appreciate any feedback on detail that appears to be missing or incorrect so that we can chase it up on the ground. Where there is a significant issue, I'll publish free .pdf updates on our website.

One aspect that I have invested a lot of time & effort into is a thorough review of the placenames of the hills and the location of 'heritage' features etc. This has been a substantial task in itself and of course, open to improvement. I have written some of my thoughts on this aspect which you can find here. In general I have deliberately chosen diversity as far as forms of names are concerned to reflect the richness of this aspect of our heritage. I have also placed an emphasis on the names known and used by the good people who live in the Wicklow hills rather than in some cases, those recorded on OSI material.
I trust you enjoy using these maps as much as we have enjoyed making them and I thank you for your support. I also hope that they'll go a little way towards a more complete record of these hills and valleys so close to many of our hearts.
Finally, I might mention that Wicklow Mountains East sheet will be published early next year. I will be also looking in more detail at releasing digital versions in due course as time allows. Thanks."
Barry Dalby
Eastwest Mapping,
ph: 00353 (0)53 9377835
fax: 00353 (0)53 9377835

Quote of the month
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
"Citizenship in a Republic", Theodore Roosevelt; Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Friday, 14 May 2010

Brother & Sister Take Leinster Champs

In a remarkable double, CNOC brother and sister Shea and Niamh O'Boyle took both the men's and ladies titles at last weekend's Leinster Championships at Carlingford. On probably the most challenging/daunting/intimidating orienteering area in Leinster, Niamh had a comfortable 12 minutes to spare over second place Rosalind Hussey (Fermanagh/DUO) with CNOC clubmate Ruth Lynam third.
Due to a glitch in the results system the full results are not to hand at present, but watch this space for an update.

A number of runners had travelled the day before to Slievenagore in the Mournes to run the NI Series race there, followed by Igor Stefko's micro-O in Kilbroney, across the Lough from Carlingford. No doubt this was a good preparation for the rigours of Slieve Foye, where there are few linear features, lots of contours, crags and marshes, but very runnable underfoot - picture West Cork at an angle of 45 degrees. Trina Cleary, who always relishes the opportunity of planning here, kept most of the courses in the north-eastern part of the area, with long legs across the hillside interspersed with shorter legs up and down, posing a range of navigational problems which caused many a rueful shake of the head at the finish line. "If only, if only!".
Conditions were perfect for running on the day, though a bit on the chilly side for the officials standing around, in marked contrast to the first event on the area, the May 1993 Irish Championships, when the upper parts of the mountain were covered in thigh-deep snow.
The long walk from the Foy Centre in carlingford to the start/finish area was a good warm-up/down and the centre provided changing, parking, toilets and food. It is probably true to say that the citizens of Carlingford weren't even aware of the dramas unfolding on the steep slopes overlooking the medieval village, but the orienteers certainly went home knowing that they had had a good day out.
Results are available here, routegadget here, photographs here. (There is a problem with the results and routegadget at the moment - JMcC 15th May 2010)
Incidentally, I have been trying to remember if a brother and sister ever won the Leinster Championships before: possibly Justin and Carey May back in the early '80's? Maybe someone will help me out here and let me know!

Ambassador for Sport
Did you know that Dublin is the European Capitol of Sport for 2010? Sports organisations were invited to nominate people as ambassadors of sport for the year and our own Ruth Lynam was nominated as an Ambassador for Sport for Orienteering.. Since being made City of Sport, Dublin City Council have reportedly tried to close down three swimming pools in the city because of lack of funds, though they have received a stay of execution until after the summer.
Ruth is pictured above with the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Emer Costello, and boxer Bernard Dunne. The honour does not, however, entitle Ruth to park on double yellow lines, graze her cattle on St. Stephen's Green or enjoy the freedom of Guinesses brewery.

Northern Ireland Championships Entries Open
A great weekend is planned by LVO at Tollymore near Newcastle, Co. Down, for 19th/20th June, centred around the Northern Ireland Championships. This event has traditionally been in September but is being brought forward this year.
In addition to the Championships on the Saturday, there will be a barbecue followed by a night event on the Saturday night and training and fun events on the Sunday, all at Tollymore and based on the idea of people coming and camping for the weekend. Details of the event and online entry are here. Cheapest entries before 14th June.
The 19th is the night of the Jukola overnight relay in Finland, so maybe there will be a Jukola atmosphere in Tollymore!

Junior International Selections
The Irish Junior Squad is coming on in leaps and bounds - gone are the days when we started reading the results at the bottom to see where the Irish came (this applies to the Seniors too, by the way!). This summer the teams are heading to the Junior World Championships in Denmark; the European Youth Championships in Spain, and the squad are going on a tour to the World Championships in trondheim, Norway, in August.

The Irish team selected for EYOC 2010 in Soria, Spain is:
M18: Cillin Corbett, Colm Moran, Josh O'S-Hourihan
W16: Niamh Corbett, Cliona McCullough
M16: Jack Millar, Laurence Quinn, Alex Simonin, Mark Stephens
The EYOC website is here.
The Irish team at JWOC 2010 in Denmark will be: Niall Ewen, Sean Knight, Conor Short.
The JWOC website is here. Irish interest in JWOC isn't confined to the competitors, however: Ronan and Julie Cleary are the IOF Event Advisors.

Donegal 3-Day Entries Still Open
Entry for the 3-Day competition around Lough Eske near Donegal town on the June Bank Holiday (June 5-6-7) weekend is still open.  The maps were used for the 2009 Irish Championships and the terrain is complex open mountsin with fine views and interesting courses. In April of last year I heard my first cuckoo there, an event often associated with the Irish Championships, but so far I haven't heard one this year at all - maybe the late spring and the lack of trees at IOC combined to thwart the cuckoo-watchers?
Entry is open until May 21st. Online entry here. Details of the event from Western Eagles OC here.

And an Invitation ...
This site is open to you to write articles and comments on Irish orienteering, so don't be afraid to contribute. Send material to


Leinster Champs - Pure Speed, No Technique

(This very personal report was adapted slightly (for a family audience) from Colm Hill's blog:.)
After last Wednesday's attempted to beast it off at the start and drop the entire field at the Prince William's Seat hill race I decided to adopt a different tactic for the Leinster Orienteering Championships being held on the epic mountain of Carlingford. The mountain and I have a short and painful history - Autumn Series Race, DNF, Irish Middle Champs; 3nd, Irish Long Champs; 2nd, Irish Relay; 2nd, Spring Cup Race; Injury.

So with this I returned hoping to adjust many a wrong and many a mistake that have hampered my orienteering success on the mountain. It was an ideal place to try to defend my Leinster Senior Orienteering title.

Starting 12 mins after Seamus (O'Boyle, the eventual winner - Ed) , my tactic was simple: take the first control handy, then get stuck in and start eating the gap, second by second. After spiking the first control  (2nd fastest, 0:19 down on Ger Butler) I decided to open the gas.
I climbed hard and then this happened.... not sure what happened

After giving Shea a good head start, I got into a flow and began to orienteer really well. Spiked 3 and 4 and continued up the hill to 5. Excuted the leg perfectly but I didn't read my control descptions and with the control buried close to the cliff, I didn't see it and dropped another minute running around in circles.

After this blip, I upped the ante and began to orienteer, kinda. Suffered up the hill to 7 and attacked number 8 aggressively. Needless to say, as I descended, I got pulled by the contours and managed to hit number 9 after a little running around - doh!

Following 8, I began to orienteer better, I was running well and keeping my head clear. I battled away and as I punched number 14 I was one second down on Shea and 2:15 down on the current leader, Ger. Then I pulled out a series of orienteering skills that are the blessing of every other orienteer in the country and the reason why I don't run sub 5min/k's on every map.

I'm not even sure how to describe the mistake. I was clear in the head, I was running strong, I knew I had the race in the bag and perhaps thats why it all went to hell... These were the easy controls to clock up the extra distance and bring us home.

16 was a matter of running to below the big cliffs below the 12th control. These cliffs were BIG. Impossible to miss..... So I took of from number 15 and was picking up the pace when I see a control a little up the slope, for some reason I decided to check the code on it, it reads 154 (number 17 was 54). My thought process was this..

"What the ....
How am I here already!
I wasn't running that fast... O well
Right climb the slope, look out for the steep ground and the reentrant....
where the hell is this ... re entrant....
That was number 17...right.... right....
of course it was 154....
where the hell is this piece of xxxx.....
ok. Stop. Relax.
Ok, thats that, thats that.... so wheres the ... piece of ......
(Hugh walks past)
Where the hell is he going...
Oh! XXXX!!!
How!!! WHY!!!! NOOOOO!!
FASTER. EVERY second counts...

As I hit 16, I turned and descended. Reading my map (first mistake). I was panicking. I was freaking out completely after dropping 5mins. I dropped down the contours. I couldn't see the control. I panicked more.... I attempted to keep calm but I was failing.... Hugh walks past again. I felt like crying.... FAIL.
After this, I just ran the rest of the controls. I ran them hard but my heart wasn't in it. It kinda showed by walking up the hill to the last control.
It wasn't a good day at the office.

I reckon it was a mixture of being off colour for most of the week and the added grief of my thesis and other project work due....

I'll make up for it this weekend in Glenmalure. +25km +1300m climb

Ya win some, ya lose some. I already had it so I didn't want it half as much as I did last year.
After the post-mortem - I'll be all guns blazing next year. You don't appreciate something until you no longer have it.

The six inches in front of your face
You have to want it.
(Colm Hill)


Monday, 3 May 2010

Irish Championships Report & May Preview

Lagan Valley Orienteers and North West Orienteering Club combined to give us three days of varied and exciting orienteering on April 23rd to 25th,
In Friday evening's Sprint race at the Coleraine university campus, Nick Simonin (Bishopstown OC) took the men's title, while LVO's Susan Lambe took the ladies' race, benefitting from a mispunch from leader Niamh O'Boyle. In Saturday's individual race on the sand dunes of Magilligan,  Niamh regained her Irish title and Bishopstown's Nick Simonin took his first Men's title. Nick cleaned up by taking the Mactíre Trophy award for competition performance in Sweden at the IOA AGM on Saturday evening.
CNOC took both the Premier and the Women's relay title on Sunday, on the faster area behind the dunes at Magilligan.

The sprint, a dry-run for next year's JK sprint at Stranmillis in Belfast, was a disorienting experience. The start was in a gym, with runners emerging, blinking, into the daylight in a small courtyard, with first controls within seconds of the start. The nearest thing I can compare it to is the sensation of going to the cinema in daylight and emerging in the dark through a different door. Runners were everywhere, like a leprechaun hunt, peering into corners looking down stairs, searching for the elusive markers. SportIdent timing allows planners to make courses criss-cross and zig-zag in a small area, and planner Igor Stefko took full advantage of this, using only a small part of the campus. Different levels, flights of steps and underpasses all added to the complexity of the challenge. The most talked-about leg, shared by many courses, involved a run through a large passage under one of the buildings (see leg 6-7 on the map). Routegadget and sprint results are here.

Saturday saw the emphasis shift to the complex open dunes of Magilligan, previously used for a British Championships, Home Internationals and NI Championships. Steven Linton's courses used the dunes near the sea and the flatter areas inland. Areas of scrubby vegetation and fences simplified the navigation but at the end of the day, it was all down to reading the contours. Running conditions were ideal - cool and breezy but warming up in the dunes. Results and routegadget are here.

On Saturday evening at Limvady, the IOA AGM took place, followed by a quiz which raised €750 for the Irish Junior Squad.

Overnight rain had largely cleared for Sunday morning when we returned to Magilligan. This time we were on the Drummans, flat farmland with some more contoured areas, where very fast times would be recorded. The navigation was much less complex than the day before, but the increased speed still meant the mistakes were possible. In the Premier class, Cork O had a lead of 24 seconds from CNOC after leg one, which they had stretched to 54 seconds after leg two, but CNOC's Colm Hill, with a shorter gaffle than Cork's Bill Edwards, slipped in with a lead of 86 seconds to take the title. 3ROC took third spot, almost three minutes further adrift. CNOC also had a successful outing in the Women's race, with Niamh O'Boyle, Orla Jennings and Ruth Lynam in the clear from Queen's University all the way round: but isn't it great to see QUBOC back in action again?
The volcanic ash from Iceland had dissipated so most travel plans were unaffected. It did, however, feature in the Juniors' quiz, with extra marks for anyone who could spell Eyjafjallajökull. (There is an interesting parallel with a previous Irish Championships in Northern Ireland - on Saturday, April 26th 1986 a nuclear reactor at Chernobyl exploded - the day of the Individual Championships at Slieve Croob).

If you are wondering how the Irish Championships were in Ulster, a week before the usual date, and with a sprint race rather than a middle, here's the story: there is a rota between the four provinces to run IOC and normally Leinster would have run the 2010 event and Ulster the 2011, but the JK is coming to Northern Ireland in 2011 and it wouldn't be possible to run both IOC and JK, so there was a swap and IOC2011 will be in Leinster. The reason the Irish Championships were a week before their normal date on the May Bank Holiday weekend is to avoid a clash with the British Championships. And finally, there was an agreement between IOA and NIOA that IOC organisers would run the two core events (individual and relay) with a third event which could be middle distance or sprint. Last year we had middle distance in Donegal (with a sprint championships at Ross Castle, Killarney, on the eve of the Shamock O-Ringen) and this year we had a sprint. The missing event is on offer to organisers of regional championships or other similar events to make a bid to run it - so far I'm not aware of any takers for the 2010 Middle Distance race.

Leinster Championships at Carlingford
3ROC are running the Leinster Championships as a stand-alone event in Carlingford, Co. Louth on Sunday 9th May. Entries have closed but there may be some maps and start times available still - contact to enquire. There is entry on the day to yellow, orange and light green colour courses, but allow for a 30-40 minute walk from parking/assembly in Carlingford village to the start/finish area. Details, start lists etc will be on the LOC web page here.
Don't forget the NI Series race at Slievenagore on Saturday 8th and the Micro-O event at Kilbroney Park, Rostrevor that evening tio raise money for the Irish team travelling to the World Championships in Norway. Details here.

As mentioned above, the 2011 Jan Kjellstrom International Festival of Orienteering (you can see why it's just called the "JK"!) is coming to Northern Ireland. Plans arae already well advanced and the event web site is open here. Visit the site and keep in touch!

Irish Orienteering Association AGM
The Annual General Meeting of the IOA took place in Limavady on Saturday 24th April. An uncontroversial event, it saw only one change in the Executive Committee, with Sarah Ní Ruairc (Fingal) taking over the Treasurership from Mary O'Connell (3ROC). Brendan O'Brien, Chairman, gave a wide-ranging overview of the state of the Association, highlighting the developments in Elite and Junior competition, technology, mapping, and schools orienteering. These areas were expanded on by the officers of the executive and the full reports will be on the IOA web site.

Annual Awards
The annual awards at the IOA AGM were announced: the Mactíre Trophy was given to Nick Simonin; the Silva Trophy to Pat Healy and the Silva Award to Marcus Geoghegan. Full detils and nominationa can be seen here.

May highlights
After the Irish Championships the main competition season is winding down, but May still promises the Leinster Championships at Carlingford on the 9th and two interesting events on Saturday 8th (see above).. At a more local level, the Cork Summer League (Sundays, next event Curragh Wood on the 9th), the Cork Inter-Firm league (Tuesday evenings starting at Farran on the 11th), the Tara Sprint Series (Sunday 16th at Tara and 23rd at Ardgillan) and the CNOC Summer Series (Tuesday evenings: starting at Donadea on the 18th) are all starting.
May 21st is the closing date for the Donegal 3-Day on the June Bank Holiday weekend at Lough Eske (scene of IOC 2009). Details here. Enter online here.
And there are the evening hill races, including a 30th Anniversary race on Three Rock Mountain, believed to be the first organised hill/fell/mountain race on Saturday May 22nd. Details here. The organisers hope to see lots of orienteers there, since we have always featured in the mountain races.

That's all for now!