Tuesday, 29 May 2012

June 2012/1

Orienteering in the Olympics?
Maybe this is as close as we will get to orienteering in the Olympics for the foreseeable future, but congratulations to Fingal's Fiach O'Rourke who was an Olympic Torch Bearer on 28th May in Wales. Fiach, a student at Bangor University, represented Ireland as a Junior at orienteering and has brought orienteering back to life in Bangor University, as well as badminton and squash. (The previous O-club, Bangor Backwoodsmen, must have folded?).
You can read Fiach's nomination here. (Thanks to Marcus Geoghegan for noticing this!).

Irish 3-Day
The June Bank Holiday weekend will see three new maps near Oughterard in Co. Galway used for the first time by Western Eagles Galway Orienteers. The word is - keep in contact with the map! Intricate open hillside on three adjacent areas, mapped by Pádraig Higgins and with courses planned by Ed Niland, Martin Flynn and Paul Dunne should set good challenges to the 160-odd orienteers entered. Unfortunately the Irish World Championships team selection races are in Scotland at the same time, so most of the Elites are missing. Lots of potential UK orienteers have also been lured away by several very promising events in Scotland over the weekend.
Saturday sees short courses with starts from 4 pm, Sunday will have classic distance courses (the M21L is  9.6 km with 300 metres climb) and Monday will have slightly shorter courses with a chasing start.
Several regular visitors will be back again, with the locals who decided to give the Irish Champs a miss. Runners from the UK, USA, Sweden, Ukraine and Switzerland will add to the local colour
Details of the event are here.
Somewhat confusingly, the pre-event information says "All rock features are not mapped". Mmm ...

New IOA Chair
Mary O'Connell, former IOA Treasurer, has been co-opted onto the Executive as the new Chairman. At the AGM in Castlegregory the call was put out looking for a replacement for Brendan O'Brien, who had served the maximum three years, and Mary responded. Having been on the Executive before is a very useful attribute for an incoming Chairman. 
Mary (3ROC) is a familiar face at events around the country and abroad. Her son, Colm Moran, is  coming towards the end of a year training in Sweden and was selected for the JWOC team for Slovakia. (Of course I have to mention that up-and-coming junior, daughter Clodagh Moran here too!) Best wishes, Mary, on your ratification!

Junior International Teams
Congratulations to the members of the two Irish Junior teams travelling abroad this summer: the European Youth O-Championships in Correze in France are at the end of June (see here for details) and the Junior World Championships are in Slovakia at the beginning of July (see here).

The EYOC team is: W16 Róisín Long (AJAX), Aoife McCavana (GEN); W18 Niamh Corbett (CorkO); M16 Jonathan Quinn (GEN), M18 Eoin McCullough (3ROC), Jack Millar (LVO).
Team leaders: Mike Long, Ruth Lynam.

The JWOC team is:  W20 Aine McCann (LVO), M20 Colm Moran (3ROC), Conor Short (CNOC), Josh O'Sullivan-Hourihan (BOC). Team leader: Greg McCann.
Preliminary entries have been received from 38 countries so far.

Junior Tour
The Irish Junior Squad tour is travelling to the Welsh 6-Day, Croeso 2012, in Aberystwyth from July 22-28. 1700 entries have so far been reveived for the event, which will feature Welsh open hillsides, forest and urban orienteering. Entries are still open and you can get details here.

European Championships
The Irish team at the European Championships at Falun in Sweden in May got some good preparation for July's World Championships in Switzerland, running all the disciplines (Sprint, middle, classic and relay) in varied continental terrain against top class opposition. The team was Roz Hussey (DUO), Niamh O'Boyle (CNOC), Nick Simonin (BOC), Dave Healy (GEN) and Hugh Cashell (CNOC), with all except Roz now Swedish-based. Both Nick and Roz qualified for the Sprint final. You can all read all about the week here.
Gerard Butler (3ROC) had to withdraw from the team following the death of his mother. Our sympathies go to Gerard and to his father, Michael, on the death of Toni.

World Championships
Follow the Irish Team as they prepare for the World Championships in Switzerland in July here and here. The WOC web site is here. The selection races are in Scotland at the beginning of June.

The Tollymore Festival of Orienteering - June 15-17, Co. Down.
Details of this 3 day event are now available here and entries can be made at Fabian.co.uk here.
The weekend includes the Veteran Home International with camping available in Tollymore on the Friday and Saturday nights and a barbecue on the Saturday night.
Please note that this is a pre-entry event with entries and bookings closing on Sunday 10 June.
Harold White, Event Coordinator
(The Veteran Home International team selection is still to be announced).

Summer O-Series-es
There are several series of local events on over the summer: in Leinster the CNOC Tuesday evenings continue until June 19th in Hollywood; CorkO's summer series continue on Tuesday evenings until James's Fort on July 17th; the North Cork Orienteers events are on Wednesday evenings until 27th June at Ballyhass Lakes; LVO's WEE (Wednesday Evening Events) series run until 29th August at Stormont; NWOC's ThEE (Thursday ... you get the picture!) events run until 14th June at Downhill and Fermanagh are finishing up their TES (yes, you've guessed it!) events on Tuesday 5th June at Florencecourt.
Details of these events are in the fixtures section of the IOA and NIOA web sites.

Watch out too for a series of 3ROC events in Dublin's Phoenix Park on Tuesdays in August and Fingal's Scatter event series in North Co. Dublin in September.

And, for a family day out, there's the Athletics Ireland Family Fun Day at Farmleigh, beside the Phoenix Park on Sunday July 1st, featuring basic orienteering as well as lots of other activities. Details here.

Finally, Good Luck to all our orienteers doing school and college exams around now: they'll be over before you know it, then off to EYOC, JWOC, Wales, O-Ringen, Austria, Norway ...

Saturday, 12 May 2012

May 2012/2

Irish Championships
Mt. Brandon from the Relays
Excellent areas, excellent maps, worthy Champions - these could summarise Bishopstown OC's Irish Championships last weekend in Kerry's sand dunes.
Marcus Pinker retained his Men's title in the Classic race at Inch, while late entry Maeve O'Grady's (DFO) years of training and competition paid off when she took the W21 Elite title. See the classic race results here. In the middle distance event the day before at Castlegregory, Darren Burke took the trophy (his first Senior title), relegating Marcus to second, while Ros Hussey had a comfortable win in W21E. Full results here.
In an exciting finish to the Relays, Cork O's Marcus Pinker gained minutes on third leg leader Colm Hill (CNOC) to win the Men's race while late entries CNOC comfortably took the Women's race with junior Caoimhe O'Boyle joining veterans Eileen Loughman and Ruth Lynam on the rostrum. Relay results will be here.
Terry, Darren, Marcus, Brian
It was an enjoyable weekend's orienteering, with the controls in the right place, no major complaints about the courses, and good weather for running and spectators. What a pity that the entry fees were so high, though, and that put off many would-be competitors - a pity that it may go down as the most expensive IOC yet.

Having said that, you might think that the high entry fees would guarantee a correspondingly high level of organisation, but this was not really the case. BOC, "one of the largest orienteering clubs in Cork and Munster" according to their website, seemed to be able to muster only a very small number of helpers. Despite Club Chairman Terry Ley playing a blinder and doing every available job himself at some stage, there were some serious administrative deficiencies in the event. Is it unreasonable to expect prompt results with split times, Sportident units woken up before the race, Routegadget, maybe even punches on the entry on the day controls? There was an unnecesessary neutralised section at the road crossing in the relay which made the head to head racing element a bit meaningless - the central feature of relays should be that it's the first team across the line wins. Taking on IOC is a serious undertaking, but the organisational standards which are adequate for a local park event may not be sufficient for an Irish Championships. As one comment below echoes, surely you should have an external controller, at least? BOC are obviously good at running local events (their web site lists an impressive 27 BOC events so far this year, not including IOC) but where were all the members last weekend - did the club buy into the IOC project as much as it could have?
The excuses for not having split times printed at the Relays ("we have run out of paper"; "we have no printer in the club") are not enough for competitors who supported the event at up to €80 per team.
Terry, Caoimhe, Eileen, Ruth.
Anyhow, clubs aren't queuing up to organise IOC so thanks are due to BOC for taking it on. Maybe if more club members got out more to events in other places there might be a realisation that the competitors expect and deserve better organisation and a less cynical approach.
We all appreciate that orienteering is run on a voluntary basis and without willing volunteers we would have no sport and no IOC. If there is a fault, it doesn't lie with the BOC team who were there  on the days; more perhaps with the people who weren't there, or on the failure to ask for help when it was needed: it was willingly offered in relation to the cattle access problem at Inch.
And yes: there was even a cuckoo at Inch - a sure sign of IOC!

Some other comments on IOC:

Just a few thoughts - Inch is always a great place for orienteering. We have some great sand dune areas, but I think it's still the best.  The new map was perhaps over detailed, perhaps some form lines could have been left off, or for us seniors, a 1:5000 print might have been better (but I'm probably looking for something to blame for my blunders) - but it was better than the previous maps, I didn't notice that anything was missing.
My memory is that the back area was more runnable back in the 80s, perhaps it's not grazed by sheep any more?
I enjoyed the middle distance on Saturday. I wouldn't complain that the course was too short, perhaps it could have been a bit more technical, and again, printed at a higher scale for seniors.
Generally, there was a lack of atmosphere around the event. Natterjacks, the event center, was very quiet on Saturday night, whereas 8 years ago it was buzzing.
One point which I think is a valid criticism is for an Irish Championship they should have had an independent controller from another club. In the results there isn't even a controller listed for the relays - Val Jones.
Despite the apprehension surrounding the weekend it turned out to be very enjoyable, the weather was excellent, the courses fair and the controls in the right place. It's just a shame that the exorbitant entry fees (80 Euro for the three races) - understandably - put so many off attending - Marcus Pinker (you can read Marcus's story of the relays here).

...  A relay should be about head to head racing with pretty equal "gaffles" so that competitors and spectators have an idea who is ahead of who. What is the point of a mass start and a first-across-the-line finish if, during the comp itself everything is so complex no-one knows what's going on? Particularly the last leg and particularly the last few controls on the last leg.
Having said that - great race Marcus; exactly how to approach Relay running. (former Irish Champion Eoin Rothery, now living in Australia)

Two things that I think are worth mentioning:
1/ the high quality of the courses on the Sunday. I didn’t get to see anything other than course four, but that course was excellent - a real championship course with route choices that tested the competitors both physically and technically.
2/ the willingness of many orienteers at short notice to do a cattle-watch shift. BOC encountered a land access problem on Saturday afternoon, asked for help on Saturday evening and by Sunday morning there were lots of orienteers available to do a shift. Note that the objective was not to protect the people from the cattle, or the cattle from the people; it was more about reassuring the landowner that we were listening to his concerns and taking action to prevent any safety incidents - Marcus Geoghegan.

I have never commented on an O event before now. If the Irish Orienteering Championships are supposed to be the "defining" event of the year in terms of competition and organisation, then this one fell well below the standard. It is Wed night and the results are still not published. Lets go back to the result string if needed!!!
It is no wonder that the number of competitors are decreasing.
If a club needs help to run IOC then get that help, not muddle through  - Denis Reidy

Gaffled Relays!!!! Finally! Relay was great (we'll ignore timed out controls/computer crashes). But everything else was great. Gaffled courses, great spectator area. Technical courses. 
Fun - Colm Hill

Night Navigation Competition
The Belfast mountain rescue team are running a night navigation competition starting at 9 pm on Saturday 19th May. This is a team event for teams of 4-6 people to raise funds for the team. Details here.

VHI/Tollymore weekend
The midsummer weekend has become something of an O-festival in Northern Ireland. This year is no exception, with LVO hosting the Veteran Home International and two open events for all comers at Meelmore (Saturday 16th June) and Tollymore (Middle distance, Sunday 17th). Added to the mix this year is an urban O-race in the centre of Newcastle on Friday 15th. Details from LVO here.

JWOC Team Selected
The team to represent Ireland at the Junior World Championships (6th-14th July) in Slovakia will be:
W20 Áine McCann (LVO)
M20 Colm Moran (3ROC), Conor Short (CNOC), Josh O'Sullivan-Hourihan (BOC).
Read about JWOC 2012 here

In the middle of IOC 2012 the IOA managed to slip in a quite well attended Annual General Meeting in Castlegregory.  The Officers' Reports are on the IOA web site here.
Outgoing Chairman Brendan O'Brien made the very valid point that the people on IOA only have a limited time to devote to orienteering and specifically to IOA activities and that it is much better and more productive if they spend this time on positive things rather than on negatives like disputes between clubs. Brendan has to step down as he has been Chairman for three years. The post remains to be filled and IOA hopes that a suitable person will be found and co-opted. Ivan Millar (Director of High Performance) has gone abroad for a year and so Darren Burke has taken up many of his functions leading up to the 2012 World Championships in Switzerland. Another change was Ruth Lynam (Juniors) stepping down (after seven years?) and Mike Long taking over. Ruth received tributes from seniors, parents and juniors alike : she was and is universally respected by the juniors she dealt with.
The rest of the Executive stays as it was: Treasurer Sarah Ní Ruairc; Mapping Brian Power; Education Ed Niland; Development Andrew Cox; Communications Finn Van Gelderen, Fixtures Fergal Buckley; Technical Harold White.
Thanks to them all for their work on our behalf.
Liam O'Brien (R) receives the Spirit of Orienteering Award
There were some awards announced at the AGM: The new "Spirit of Orienteering Award" went to CorkO's Liam O'Brien; the Mactíre Trophy went to Marcus Pinker (CorkO); the Silva Trophy went to Greg McCann (LVO) and the Silva Award went to Tommy Burke (Fingal). The nominations will be on the IOA web site.
The IOA has also instituted a series of retrospective awards recording significant performances over the years and you can see more details of these in a while. The only ones I remember were Aonghus OCléirigh, Aislinn Austin, Marcus Pinker, Alex Simonin and Andrew Quin ...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch ...
While we were running in the dunes at IOC, Irish orienteers were distinguishing themselves in other areas. At the huge overnight relay in Sweden, Tio Mila,  BOC's Nick Simonin finished 16th for his Swedish club IFK Lidingo in the 14 km+ first leg (only 32 seconds down on Swedish team member Martin Johansson), the team finishing 6th overall; former Irish Champion Andrew Quin (3ROC) was also running in Tio Mila, as was former Champion Niamh O'Boyle (CNOC). Read about Tio Mila here.
At the British Championships, James Logue was 9 minutes clear to win M40L, Toni O'Donovan was 13th W21E, Faye Pinker 7th W35L.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May 2012/1

Irish Champs Preview
This weekend's Irish Championships in Kerry will bring togather some of the best orienteers and the best terrain in Ireland, with a feast of sand dune orienteering on three contrasting areas on the Dingle Peninsula. Castlegregory and Inch have been used for orienteering before, but the Maharees is a new map. Castlegregory and Inch have been resurveyed for IOC, a move necessitated by the natural movement of the dunes and aided by the arrival of LIDAR technology for Inch (read more about LIDAR here).
Saturday's middle distance race at Castlegregory will have courses from 1.2 to 6.4 km before moving to the classic distance at Inch with an M21 Elite course of 10.6 km with 500 m climb (reduced from 13.1 km with an incredible 750 m). The Women's Elite course is almost as long, at 9.3 km with 450 m.
Numbers are down on recent IOC's, probably due to the high entry fees, and this is likely to have a negative effect on the perceived level of competition: there are only two classes with more than 10 competitors. Nevertheless, there will be stiff competition out there: will defending Men's Champion Marcus Pinker (who has won on these dunes before) manage to hold off Darren Burke and Gerard Butler? Will Áine McCann's youth and fitness be enough to overcome the skill and stamina of Ruth Lynam and the experience of Ros Hussey? As Danish physicist Niels Bohr is supposed to have said, prediction is very difficult, especially about the future. We'll know the answers in a few days.
Monday's Relays return to the north side of the peninsula, with a mass start at 10.30 for all teams. Teams in a relay run broadly similar legs, but in a different order or with cross-overs in mid course ("gaffles") to prevent following. Munster teams dominate the start list, with the organisers. Bishopstown, fielding ten of the twenty five teams, followed by CorkO with four teams. At this stage it seems safe to say that Bishopstown will take the Women's Premier class (both teams entered are BOC) and Cork O are likely to be uncatchable in the Men's Open (Darren Burke, Brian Corbett and Marcus Pinker) though a wild card in the form of a Ukranian team is something of an unknown quantity.
Finally, we'll be running through marram grass so don't forget to pack your gaiters!
For more information on IOC, visit the competition web site here.
Maybe some of you will write about your IOC for The Irish Orienteer, rather than leaving it all to me!!!

One of the features of the Irish Champs weekend is the Annual General Meeting of the Irish Orienteering Association. This takes place on Sunday evening and is an opportunity to voice your opinion on the activities of IOA and to lend them your support. Orienteers all prefer to be out there doing it rather than sitting at meetings talking about it, but without IOA, there would be no structured orienteering, no government grants, no international representation.
If you're around Kerry this weekend, do go along to the meeting.

IOF at 50
The prizegiving at the first World Championships, Finland 1966
The International Orienteering Federation celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2011 and has just released an on line video to mark the event: you can see it on the IOF web site here. It follows the sport from the early days and focuses on elite competition. Can you spot Eileen Loughman at the start of the 1979 World Championships Relays in Finland?
When the Federation started at a meeting in Denmark there were just 10 members: Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Federal Republic of Germany, Finland, German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland. The IOF now has 73 member countries and at last year's World Championships in France there were more than 50 countries represented.

"Inside Orienteering"
You can catch up with the latest news from IOF with the on-line "Inside Orienteering" magazine here.
  • “It’s fun and rewarding to be an organiser”
  • Behind the Scenes: David Rosen
  • North South East West: Spain
  • Orienteering and the Environment survey
  • Paralympic class in IOF Trail Orienteering events
  • Tove Alexandersson – Just an occasional day off!
  • News in brief

May MTBO Off
The planned Mountain Bike orienteering event at Djouce Woods, Co. Wicklow, on May 13th has been postponed.  The organisers, Setanta, failed to get any other clubs on board to run a series of events in May. There were some offers from clubs and it is hoped that a series of MTBO races will be held in September, possibly on Saturdays. Watch the IOA fixtures list for details.

Odds & Ends & Odds
They sound like lines from Brian Friel's play, "Translations" but what do these placenames have in common?
Croaghakeadew, Croaghloughslug, Meenabrock, Clogher Hill, Croaghmeen, Barnesyneilly, Croaghnakern, Croaghnameal and Meenadreen.
Full marks if you identified tham as the areas which are out of bounds in advance of the 2013 Irish Championships near Lough Eske in Donegal!