Saturday, 28 August 2010

Irish Perform Well at World Champs

Well done, David, Niamh, Nick and the rest of the Irish team in Norway. For the first time we had qualifiers in every distance: Nick Simonin in the Sprint and the Long, David Healy in the Middle and Niamh O'Boyle in the long. The first 15 from each of three parallel heats went through to the final in each distance. Niamh, her brother Seamus, and Ciara Largey were among those to miss qualification by a matter of seconds in some of the heats. David Healy finished 43rd in the Middle Distance final, Nick was 41st in the Sprint final (2 mins 20 seconds down on winner Matthias Mueller) and 40th in the Long, and Niamh was 34th in the Long distance final race.
You can read about the Irish performances at the World Championships in Trondheim, Norway, on the excellent Irish Team blog here, with reports from all the races by the team members themselves. Full results, maps, photos etc are here.
The atmosphere in Trondheim was electric, with runners and supporters on the edge of their seats waiting to see who would qualify for the finals. The competition at this level is intense, and the shorter the distance the more severely a mistake of a couple of seconds is punished.
Trondheim, Norway's third city, was out in fete to celebrate the WOC: banners on the streets, newspapers in the shops, a big stage in the town square for concerts and prizegiving. There were almost 2000 other runners there too, taking part in the WOC Tour, a series of five events run on the WOC areas at sprint, middle and long distance. This group included many of the Irish Junior Squad on a training trip - and they learned a lot about orienteering both from running in the fantastic Norwegian forests and from watching the world's elite orienteers in action.

Aonghus O'Cléirigh's advice was to keep your feet wet, in other words to use the marshes to run in, and there were few enough other linear features out there to use. The natural pine forests were a delight and the WOC Tour courses were testing and fitted in well with the WOC programme itself, allowing us to run and watch.
The best Irish WOC Tour performance was Ruth Lynam (2nd W55).

We should also mention the three members of the Irish Trail-Orienteering team, Alan Gartside, Wilbert Hollinger and Gordon Stephens, all from LVO, who were on their way from the European Trail-O Championships in Sweden. Wilbert was the highest placed of the three.

Finally, no account of the Trondheim WOC would be complete without a special mention for the "extra man" on the Irish team: Mike Long and family. Mike and Catherine, Róisín and Ruairi made their house in Trondheim a base for the Irish team before and during the competition, with a series of Elite runners staying there and training over the summer.  Not only that, but they provided floor space, bikes, local information and transport so that the team and supporters really felt at home.

Ivan Millar adds: David Healy gives a fascinating insight into the big race thought- processes in his World champs middle distance report.
You can read his view of the race on the Irish WOC blog now.

World MTBO Championships, Portugal
Read NWOC's Bobby Smyth's report on the event here.

Northern Ireland Championships Weekend
In a move from tradition, the Northern Irieland Championships were run in June rather than September, and the weekend - based at Tollymore forest park in the Mournes - also included a night mass start race (won by M16 Jack Millar), a barbecue, overnight campsite, a Temp-O event, a bearing and pacing challenge, technical training on the Sunday and orienteering fun and games for the kids, all hosted by Lagan Valley Orienteers who simultaneously ran a micr-O event in Belfast for the official opening of the Decathlon store. On top of all this, LVO managed to have more than 80 entrants in the NIOC - some going!
Steven Linton (NWOC) took the Men's title and Sharon Lucey (FermO) the Women's.

French 3-Day
A small party of Irish runners made it to Besancon in Eastern France for the 3 Jours de Franche Comté: a sprint in Besanconn on Friday evening was fast and not too technical, the courses starting at Vauban's UNESCO listed Citadel fortress and dropping to the town below, passing through a 400 metre long tunnel with a canal. The Saturday race was full length, in runnable limestone forest with lots of depressions, and the Sunday was similar. Luckily the temperatute had dropped from 38C just before the event so running conditions were just right. About 800 runners took part, mostly from France. The event was only about 100 km from the World Masters in Switzerland a few days later but I didn't see much evidence of overlap between the events. Next year's World Championships are not far away (further south, at Chambéry, in August).

Lakeland 5-Day
I hope to get a report on this one soon, but as I write it's just finished. Rain meant the cancellation of one of the days because of the possibility of pollution from the parking field to a reservoir nearby. (The organisers have appropriately affered to pass on unclaimed refunds to the Pakistan flood appeal). A quick run through the results shows Niamh Corbett 3rd W16, Anne May (former Irish Orienteers secretary) 1st W60S, Anne Donnell 1st W75, an Enniskillen native if I'm not mistaken; Cillín Corbett 5th M18L, Shane Lynch 5th M21L, Declan McGrellis 3rd M35L, James Logue 1st M40L, Brian Corbett 2nd M50L. The event website is here.
Next year's 6-Day is at Oban in Scotland starting on July 31st. Details here.

Autumn preview
The Fingal scatter events are among those to kickstart the new season - these are like score events but without a time limit, where you have to get a certain number of controls in any order (also called Spanish Scpore events, if I'm not mistaken). Apart from this, the annual Mournes Mountain Marathon is on 18-19th September (details here). Full fixtures list here, though there are more events still to go on the list. Cork and Kerry clubs are also staging series of beginners events in the autumn.

Good to see two mountain bike orienteering events scheduled: Setanta Orienteers have one at Castletimon (near Brittas Bay, Co. Wicklow) on September 19th and one at Djouce Woods, again in Wicklow, on September 26th.

JHI 2009
Congratulations to the Juniors selected to run in the Junior Home International at Perth in Scotland on September 11/12th:

M14 Cathal OCléirigh, Donal Kearns, Jonathan Quinn, peter Meehan
W14 Róisín Long, Jill Stephens, Caoimhe O'Boyle, Megan Getliff
M16 Jack Millar, Alex Simonin, Mark Stephens, Laurence Quinn,
W16 Niamh Corbett, Clíona McCullough, Deirdre Ryan
M18 Seán Knight, Conor Short, Colm Moran, Cillín Corbett
W18 Áine McCann, Andrea Stefkova, Laura Cox

The relay race is at Kinnoull Hill outside Perth, used for the 2009 Scottish 6-Day, and the individual on Sunday at Devilla, used for the 2008 World Schools Championships.

Event cancelled
The NIOA series Woodburn event on Sunday September 5th has been cancelled due to an infection of p.ramorum in the Japanese larch trees. This is the same fungal infection that causes sudden oak death in the USA and it has been identified in three forests in south Antr

Istanbul 5-Days information
IOG (Istanbul Orienteering Group) invites you to the 7th "Istanbul 5 days" Orienteering Event which will be held in and around Istanbul, Turkey on 2-7 November 2010.
This is a multiday O-event taking place in two continents (Europe and Asia); in various parks, forests and even in the maze-style streets of the huge and ancient Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. The middle distance race on November 6 will be a WRE (World Ranking Event), while other days host sprint, long and classic distance races.
Since 2004, IOG has been organizing the Istanbul 5 days and have enjoyed a high level of participation from different countries. Last year 1028 competitors from 32 different countries participated to the event and returned home (with their words) “I don’t regret a second ;) Good organization and nice competitions” . According to a participant, Jan Kocbach of WorldofO, “The Grand Bazar orienteering is one of the things all orienteers should have on their “Must-have-once-in-a-lifetime list”
On the website, you can find all the information about the event, accommodation possibilities in the centre of the old town, transportation, participation fees and more. Bulletin 2 is already released and Bulletin 3 is coming soon, while you can also register online for the event.
For more information :

That's all for now!

Thursday, 5 August 2010

August 2010

Good luck to the Irish team running next week in Trondheim in the World Championships, and to the Trail Orienteering team in the World Trail-O Champs there: Neil Dobbs (Middle distance), David Healy (Sprint, Long Distance), Shane Lynch (Sprint), Seamus O'Boyle (Sprint), Andrew Quin (Middle, Long), Nick Simonin (Sprint, Long). Ros Hussey (Sprint, Middle, Relay), Susan Lambe (Sprint), Ciara Largey (Long, Relay), Niamh O'Boyle (Sprint, Long, Relay). Trail-O:  Wilbert Hollinger, Alan Gartside, Gordon Stephens.

For the World Orienteering Championships in Norway (August 8-15) see here. (next year it's in France in mid-August). The Irish Senior Squad blog is here. The Irish Elite page (with team profiles etc) is here.

Multi-Irish champion Niamh O'Boyle is not afraid of a challenge! 2010 has seen her not only finishing off her PhD, this summer she has also taken on the challenge of orienteering her way across Scandinavia against some of the best orienteers, most testing terrain and thirstiest mozzies you could ever meet!

Thanks to Niamh for permission to reproduce this here:

Leaving for Trondheim
I was due to leave for Trondheim, where Mike (Long) and Catherine had generously offered accommodation, on Thursday 10th June. On Monday, June 7th I ran in the Flora Women’s mini-marathon, running a new 10km PB of 39:18 and more importantly, raising €1000 for Barretstown Gang Camp, an amazing association near where I live that works with seriously ill children and their families. On Tuesday, 8th June I managed to submit my PhD thesis, 466 pages of anti-cancer drug-related research. I was unsure until the very last few days whether I would be able to submit it before I left, or if I would have to wait until I returned, but it was in! No time to think about it – had to start packing and before I knew what was happening, I was on my way to Norway with a bag full of orienteering kit. I had some ill-effects from the 10km – a sore underfoot – but a trip to the physio (my long-suffering physio, Aidan Woods on Pearse Street – he’s great!) assured me that it was nothing serious and a few days rest would be fine…

The Trondheim Open
Arriving on the Thursday, myself and my brother Seamus had about 18 hours to settle in before our first competition. The Trondheim Open was held over 3 days and to be honest, I was still in a bit of a daze for the whole thing (this daze was to last a while…!). My foot was still a little sore, but improving daily and I couldn’t resist the enticement of a 3-day orienteering event. A sprint on Friday was fun (map below), with a middle distance on Saturday and a longer distance chasing start on Sunday. The maps for the middle and long are available here with GPS tracking, though I wasn’t wearing one. In the middle distance, I was doing well until number 9, where I dropped 3 minutes. Ditto for the longer course on Sunday, where I dropped 5 minutes on number 8 with a horrible error leaving number 7 the wrong way. Lessons learned and wasn’t worried at this stage of the summer at all. It was just wonderful to be back out orienteering!

The Nordic Orienteering Tour
This was a new concept in the World Cup for 2010. I won’t go into it in too much detail but basically it is aimed at raising the profile of orienteering by increasing coverage, etc. The bit that mattered for the athletes was that it incorporated 3 races in 3 countries over a 10-day period, coinciding with major races like Jukola and O-Festivalen. It was an interesting idea and an Irish team of myself and 5 males were to compete in it. The first race was in Finland. It was a mixed middle distance-sprint distance race, and the middle part was a disaster. It has been a long time since I made such a silly error, and I can’t even figure out a reason for it. I was running along the high bank from 13 – 14 when I saw some huts, and try as I might, I could NOT locate them on the map (of course they were there!). I was thrown by this and took way too long to relocate. Rusty map skills… The positive that I took out of the race was that I got over it well and completed the sprint part with no hiccups, and was in 33rd place for the sprint part of the race. Map and GPS tracking.

After this, it was time for Venla and Jukola. Unfortunately I was picking up a cold, which got way worse after my Venla run. Not good for stage 2 of the Nordic Tour, which was being held 3 days later in Stockholm. It was nearly gone by then, and I managed a good, consistent sprint race to finish 44th. Unfortunately it wasn’t fast enough to qualify for the next round (top 30 – was 45 seconds down on qualifying). The sprint finals were held in Gamla Stan (The Old Town) in Stockholm. The final leg of the tour was in Norway at O-festivalen. Another sprint race, not part of the World Cup series, was held on Friday and the World Cup chasing start on Saturday. The terrain was rocky and tough, and I didn’t see anyone out there, so it felt very alone. After all this, I was really looking forward to going back to Trondheim!

The Nordic Tour was fun, but for me it came at the wrong time. In hindsight, I hadn’t done enough orienteering prior to it and would have benefited far more from staying in Trondheim and recovering from the craziness of the month before I left, with writing up and my 10km road race. The Nordic tour involved a lot of travelling, and I can understand why a lot of orienteers chose not to include these races in their schedules for 2010. It also ended up being quite expensive, and if it were not for the hospitality of Andrew in Stockholm, would have been even more so. I don’t think this Tour will be an event that I’ll be aiming for in the next few years. Having said that, it was fun travelling and staying with the Irish team.

The Irish selection races, Verdal
There was a one-week gap between the end of the Nordic Tour and the start of the Irish Selection races. During this time, most of the Irish team travelled up to Trondheim to get in some terrain work. It was a great week of team bonding! And it was fantastic to see so many of the guys going for the team. The only disappointment was the number of girls – only myself and Ciara made the trip, and we were staying in Trondheim anyway for the summer. This was good in one way, as the top 2 were guaranteed selection! Because of this, there was no need to taper and I could train hard in the week before the races. However, increased competition can only be a good thing and hopefully in the future, when some juniors start coming through, competition for the women’s team will be just as intense as the men’s.

The races themselves were fun. The sprint on Friday was fast and furious, and not very technical, mostly based on route choice (which way would you go? – see the course at this link. I was most pleased with my middle race. In the races since arriving in Scandinavia, I had been making unacceptable big mistakes, so the aim for this weekend was to forget about the pace I was running at and get around without any major mistakes. I managed to do this in the middle distance and only had a small loss of time, managing to beat some of the Swedish girls who were using it as their WOC selection race too. In the long on Sunday, I didn’t stick to this plan and lost a lot of time on number 3, and some more time with not being aggressive enough.
Routegadget middle distance
Routegadget long distance
In the guys, Andrew won the middle selection and Nick won the long. The Irish WOC team was selected shortly afterwards and is the largest team to be sent for many years.

And so, to summarise!
The trip has been a little crazy in terms of travelling around, so that’s something I’d like to reduce when preparing for a big event in the future. After the Irish selection races, I had a bit of time to breathe. I did some travelling with Hugh in the western fjords, including a hike on a glacier, incredible. I’ve been doing some training in the Trondheim area and getting some runs in too. It’s time for the 2 big aims of 2010: the World University Champs and the World Champs. I’m down in Borlänge in Sweden for the World University Champs, and unfortunately as I write this, the long distance is in progress. Food poisoning hit me three days ago, and although I’m recovered, I decided last night not to run the long distance. It was a really tough decision to make, but definitely the right one. Even if I could get around the long, I’m not here just to get around – I want to do well. Getting around the long and risking the possibility of wiping myself out again for the sprint and middle (Wednesday and Thursday) would have been silly. I learned my lesson at Venla that I shouldn’t run whilst not feeling well. So as hard as it is to sit out the long distance, I can go into competition tomorrow knowing that I’m fully fit and ready to go. Looking forward to it!

There will be blog updates about how myself, Nick and Colm are getting on here in Borlänge and also from the World Champs. After the World Champs in Trondheim, where I’m running the sprint, long and relay, I’ll let you all know my own take on the competition phase of my summer. A big thanks to Mike, Catherine, Ruairi, Roisin, Murray, Aidan, Jim, Ivan, Ruchika, Hugh and the O’Boyle clan who have all helped me immensely along the way. Till then, happy orienteering!