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.

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