Monday 25 February 2013

February News Round-Up

EYOC 2013 for Portugal
Portugal has just been announced as the venue for the 2013 European Youth Orienteering Championships in October.
The competition, planned for Israel in November, was withdrawn from that country over security concerns and Portugal, along with Poland, Hungary, Italy and Serbia, was a candidate. The competition is held every year, usually in July, and caters for M and W 16 and 18 ages.
The event is now scheduled for 24-27 October and the event centre will be in a holiday centre in Foz do Arelho in Caldas da Rainha municipality, on the coast about 100 km north of Lisbon.
The bad news (or should that be the good news?) is that the dates are the week before school mid-term break starts here ... the 27th is the Sunday of the October Bank Holiday weekend ...

Wherefore art thou, Rome-O?
We learned late last year that the famous Venice street orienteering competition would not take place in 2013 as the area will be used for the World Championships in July 2014. However, the orienteers of Rome have stepped into the breach and now offer an alternative - three days in the Eternal City on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of November.

ROMe MMXIII is intended to be a one-off Meeting given the lack of MO Venice 2013. Outline Plan: Fri 1 Nov - a night orienteering event in the beautiful parks and gardens of Villa Borgese with an Assembly Area over looking Piazza del Popolo and the whole of Rome. Planner is one of Italy's most experienced orienteers Manu Manganelli. Sat 2 Nov - a middle distance race in the mixed park/land woodland of Villa Ada in the North of the City, some impressive ornamental lakes on this map too. The middle race Planner will be former pop singer, Stefano Zarfati, who planned all 3 days of MOC 2012 and who will be controlling at WMOC Sestrierre. Aim for the Saturday is to leave you with the PM for sightseeing. Sun 3 Nov - a morning sprint race in Rome's unmatchable historic Centre that will take place on a map that includes Circo Massimo, the Coliseum and the Tiburtine Island. Planner will be Mike Edwards and Stefano Z is already off seeking permissions to get you into as many places as we can. The Clubs aim to use a commercial provider with online booking facility for accommodation for those interested. All events will be accessible by public transport. More to Follow on this topic. An opportunity for 3 events like these and at this price level is not to be missed. See the event link here.

Tyrella on again
The NI Series competition postponed from October on the dunes of Tyrella, Co. Down, has been rescheduled for Saturday March 23rd.  LVO are running the event on the area used for one individual day and the relays at JK 2011. See the LVO web site for details.
You could make it a 2-Day Dune Weekend by running at the Bull Island in Dublin on Sunday 24th on Ajax's Leinster Spring Series event.

S by SW
The same weekend as Tyrella, UCCO and Kerry Orienteers are running "South by South-West", three events including the final Campus Sprint on Saturday 23rd and the Irish Student Championships. The weekend will also feature a Saturday night event at Knockreer estate, Killarney. The Student Championships at Muckross on Sunday 24th March will be combined with a Munster League event and will also be a selection race for the Junior World Championships in the Czech Republic in July and the European Youth Championships later in the year. See details of S by SW here. Muckross is a unique combination of steep forest and fast parkland dotted with islands of complex contoured forest, used for Munster Championships, Shamrock O-Ringen and the 1998 World Cup Relay race ... and the views are spectacular!

Norwegian Wood
Did you read about the controversy in Norway about wood stacking? Catch up on some fascinating non-orienteering Norwegian news here from the Irish Times. And, no, it wasn't April 1st!

Winter Sport
Road ClosedLast weekend's cancellation by CNOC of their Leinster Spring Series event at Kanturk Mountain/Scarr in Wicklow highlights how weather-dependent orienteering can be, particularly in open mountain terrain. The organisers found that roads to the area, between Laragh and the Sally Gap, were impassable by late on Saturday afternoon due to snow, so took the decision to cancel. The IOA web site, text messaging and social media were effective at getting the word out that the event was off.
It also brings home the fact that orienteering in Ireland can be a winter sport and that the gear you run in on the continent in the summer is not appropriate for Irish winter conditions. That is the reason that organisers often specify that weatherproof clothing should, or even must, be used, and why whistles must be carried to attract attention in the event of injury.
Orienteering started life here as an adventure sport, closely associated with AFAS, the now defunct Association for Adventure Sports based at Tiglin, and many of its early exponents came from a mountaineering background. where woolly hats and whistles were the norm. We may run in colourful O-tops and Lycra now, and use GPS and electronic timing, but we should not underestimate the power of nature. We have been lucky for more than 40 years not to have had any serious incidents, but you have to respect the conditions you are running in.
It's not fair on the organisers who may have to mount search parties in difficult conditions if you fail to take reasonable precautions against exposure. The recent event at Three Rock Mountain again illustrated the risks - just because you can see your house from the top doesn't mean that you are in your back garden: even young male orienteers and not invincible or immune, and will hopefully learn that some of these rules and recommendations are there for the competitors' benefit, not just for the sake of having rules.
Two Down, Two to Go
Two of the Irish Junior Squad fundraising Campus Sprint races are over, with Trinity College and University College Cork to go. The UCD and DCU races attracted good numbers, with runners travelling from as far as Cork and Belfast to take part. Both the "Long" and Short courses have been won in  sub-20 minutes in each of the events, so different techniques to the usual endurance/slog method have to be used: thinking ahead, looking for routes which shave a few metres here and a few there off the route, checking the descriptions to see which side of the uncrossable wall the control is on, or whether it's at the top or bottom of the stairs ...
Kevin O'Boyle and Eadaoin McCavana won at UCD, and Colm Moran and Mary Healy at DCU, so who will take the honours on Saturday?
See you at TCD on Saturday 2nd March, start 11 to 1 pm; UCC on Saturday 23rd March.

Tuesday 12 February 2013

Spring is Sprung, the grass is riz ...

From Park-O to Parkour?
Campus Sprint Series Starts
Leinster orienteers will doubt that spring may be here, if they were out at DUO's Spring Series event last Sunday on Three Rock Mountain, but there's a stretch in the evenings, the Dublin by Night series is finished and the new Urban Sprint Series is about to start.The first of four urban sprint races is at the UCD campus at Belfield this Saturday, starting from 11 to 1 pm.
Mike Long writes
"A series of urban sprint events will start next Saturday in UCD. Specific details of the UCD event will be posted separately but the start time is 11:00 – 13:00 not 15:00 – 17:00 as it was originally stated on the web. This is a requirement of the UCD authorities.The events are at:
16/2 UCD
23/2 DCU
2/3 TCD
23/3 UCC (EYOC + JWOC Qualification Race)

The motivation behind the series is to provide some practice for sprint events, now a feature of all major international competitions, to raise some funds for the university clubs and the junior squad and to have a bit of fun!
At each event there will be:
- two courses; long (4 km) and short (2.5 km)
- winning times; similar to those encountered at the JK
- costs; adults €5, students €4, juniors €3, families €10

 - SI card hire €2
- profits split 50% between university club and junior squad
We will have a league with the best of 2 races to count. Prizes for 1st M/W 21, 1st M/W 45+, 1st & 2nd M/W 18 and 1st & 2nd M/W 14-.

Any beginners who wish to try are welcome and there will be people on hand to help them out."

Modern ISSOM sprint map
This is a great chance for runners and others to try orienteering in a familiar environment: there's no mud, no heather or bog, no forest, no mountains: just buildings, paths, patches of "terrain", lots of route choice, thinking on your feet, seconds to be lost, decision making, map contact, brain work, adrenalin. Urban orienteering, either in sprint format (like this) or longer races (like London or Venice) is enormous fun. It's a workout for the mind as much as the body, so even veterans and/or less fit people can do it and enjoy it. Maps are often drawn specially, using ISSOM (International Sprint-O map standard).
Beginners won't want to travel to deepest Munster or deepest Leinster to try a new sport, but they might hop on a 46A and take a trip to their local university to try it. What's there to lose? If it's good, they come back for more; if they don't enjoy it, they've lost an hour or two but still got some exercise. And who could fail to enjoy it?
Have a look at an old sprint course at UCD from 2008 here. Incidentally, here's the map from this week's evening sprint race at the Portugal O-Meet which Thierry Gueorgiou and Simone Niggli won. Here's another interesting one, from the Sky Tower shopping centre in Wroclaw, Poland. You can see a headcam recording of the race here: bemused looking shoppers outsprinted by colourfully dresses Lycra-clad orienteers ...

Save our Forests
Concern has been voiced over Government plans to sell the harvesting rights to Irish forests owned by the state forestry company, Coillte. The proposal is that Coillte retains the land but the trees will be sold off to private companies. This has economic implications but also implications for access for forest users like orienteers, mountaineers, walkers, cyclists and others. There are no official rights of way in Ireland and the forests in many cases provide the only viable route to upland areas. While orienteering may be less of the "forest sport" than it used to be - as so many open areas are used - it is still a sport closely associated with forests. Whether commercial interests would have the same view of recreational users as Coillte has gradually come to have, is an unanswered question.
The foresters working for Coillte have produced a booklet explaining their opposition to the proposals (see it here) and the RTE "Eco Eye" programme recently did a feature on this threat to Irish forests.
A campaign web site  has been set up to focus opposition to the plans. A recent meeting of organisations affected by the proposal included the Mountaineering Council of Ireland, the Tree Council of Ireland, the Society of Irish Foresters, the Irish Ramblers Club and the Donadea Forest Group. The Irish Mountain Running Association and the Irish Orienteering Association are quoted as sharing the concerns of the other organisations about the plans.
Orienteers, despite being a small group, have a part to play and should consider the effects of selling off the state's timber resources, built up over 80 years of forestry here. We have never been ones to protest much over access and conservation issues ("Keep Ireland Open" got no official support from IOA) but this is certainly an issue which affects us.

Entries for the Leinster Championships have opened. Fingal Orienteers are running the event at Cahore Sand Dunes, Co. Wexford, on 14th April. Details of the event are here
Entries for the Irish Championships, near Oughterard, Co. Galway, on May 4-5-6 are open: details here.  
Entries for the Shamrock O-Ringen in Kerry on June 1-2-3 are also open : see here.
Entries for the Jan Kjellstrom O-Festival in England at Easter are open: details here
Entries for Moray 2013, the Scottish Six-Day, at the end of July/beginning of August are open: details here.