Tuesday, 15 October 2013

October 2013

VHI 2013
To round off the reports on this year's Home International series, here is Team Manager Helen Baxter's account of the Veterans' event where, to everyone's surprise, Wales finished in second place behind England, relegating Scotland to third and Ireland to fourth.
Team Manager Helen Baxter
After something of a scramble to put together a full team the Irish Veterans set off for Norfolk on the first weekend of October. It all started very well when the NI contingent went to pick up their two Skoda Octavias and found they had been allocated a couple of Mercedes Benz B class. It was a little worrying that they were white and even more worrying that they were Mercs given the usual mucky parking fields at orienteering events, however they were very comfortable. As it turned out there was no need to worry, the parking was on hard standing and a nice dry field.
Things started to go downhill a little when we reached the YHA in Sheringham to be met with an unapologetic ‘There’s no hot water all weekend’. I’m sure it was an unfortunate coincidence that the English team hadn’t managed to book in time and were accommodated in a different hostel (with hot water). That and the fact that the bar wasn’t open and they were intending to lock up at 11 with half the team (plus some Scots and Welsh) still en route almost sent me into meltdown. Instructions to use the keypad on the door weren’t complete either so when they were passed by phone to Andrew at 12.15 am it didn’t work. Fortunately Philip had waited up, helping Mary with a bottle of red, so was able to let them in.
Next day, fortified by breakfast, but not necessarily showered, the team had the morning to explore Sheringham as the Relays didn’t start until the afternoon. I waited with bated breath for Kathryn to turn up as rumour had it her passport had expired – she managed to persuade Ryanair to let her aboard much to my relief. The Relay area was in three distinct parts; a sloping contoured area and a flat area with lots of small paths separated by a wooded holiday park with multiple rides and roads. Running was fast and furious with England dominating the event. The main surprise was when Wales pushed Scotland into third place. Despite some good runs we were bringing up the rear by the end of the day and 18 points down on Scotland. Organising club NOR had arranged for us to use shower blocks on the campsites so at least we had access to warm water.
The four teams managed to drink the hostel dry of red wine that evening – obviously we were all in training for the Individuals the next day. The Individual day dawned sunny and warm: Sheringham Park was a great area with some well planned courses – the bracken added to the challenge but Marcus, Toni, Mary, Jean and Colm produced fantastic runs. Despite our best efforts the deficit was too much to make up so we held on to fourth place, but congratulations to Wales who held onto their second place leaving Scotland in an unaccustomed third. Photos are here. Full results are here. Relay map and routes here; individual here.

It was a great weekend and the long term plan of lulling the other nations into a false sense of security is going well! Next year it’s the Forest of Dean near Bristol on 13/14 September, so start the fitness training now!
Helen Baxter
Team Manager

The team that travelled was: M35 Marcus Pinker; M40 Declan McGrellis, Bobby Smyth; M45 Angus Tyner, Billy Reed; M50 Colm O'Halloran, Aonghus OCléirigh; M55 Andrew Cox, Philip Baxter; M60 Colin Henderson, Raymond Finlay; M65 Wilbert Hollinger.
W35 Toni O'Donovan; W40 Jeni Pim; W45 Heather Cairns, Julie Cleary; W50 Mary O'Connell, Kathryn Walley; W55 Bernie O'Boyle, Helen Baxter; W60 Jean O'Neill, Teresa Finlay; W65 Sue Pim.

Northern Ireland Championships: Meelmore and Luke's Mountain
M21E winner Colm Moran
About 180 ran in this year's Northern Ireland Championships on the rocky slopes of the Mourne Mountains on October 12th, with top spots on the two Elite courses going to visitors Colm Moran (3ROC) and Niamh O'Boyle (CNOC).
The map, updated for the World Police and Fire Games in August, covered the south-facing slopes of the Mournes and, though not basking in sunshine, the conditions were fine for running, with a cool breeze and good visibility. The underfoot conditions were good, with little heather and reasonably dry, and  Harold White's courses brought the runners on the longer courses first west and then back east along the slopes by the old quarries, with a long leg across the hillside. The shorter courses did a clockwise loop with the juniors following the few old mining or sheep tracks available. The Meelmore café provided parking and also refreshments for the most patient orienteers in the world.
You can see the results here and the courses and runners' routes on Routegadget here. Bizarrely, there seem to be two LVO websites without clear communication between them, so you may not end up quite where you expected ... a bit like orienteering, really!
Harking back to the last TIO, a look at the numbers in various age classes is interesting. If we take both M21 classes together (M21 Elite and Long) there were 18 entered for this 14-year age spread. If we look at the next three age classes (M35, 40 and 45) - admittedly 15 years - there were 16; for M40-45-50 there were 34, and for M45-50-55 there were 36, with similar proportions in the Women's classes: where are all the 21? Are they all off doing adventure races or mountain biking, sports where you can get an immediate return for your investment in terms of adrenaline rush and instant gratification?

Schools' Orienteering
There is a lot happening around the country in schools' orienteering. There are primary and secondary schools competitions in Munster, in Cork, in Leinster and in Northern Ireland. The Irish Schools' Championships are being hosted by GEN in Co. Wicklow in April. A short video promoting orienteering in schools has been released by IOA - you can see it here.

For your diary, here are the forthcoming schools' fixtures from the IOA fixtures list:

Leinster (Primary)
13 November - Cabinteely Park
12 February - Santry Demesne
30 April - Irish Primary Schools Championships (GEN)

Leinster (Secondary) 
23 October - Santry Demesne
4 December - Cabinteely Park
29 January - Malahide Castle
12 March - Leinster Schools Champs (Secondary) - Djouce Woods, Enniskerry
8 April - Irish Secondary Schools Championships (GEN)

South East
12 February - South East Schools' Championships - JFK Forest Park, New Ross (Primary)
13 February - South East Schools' Championships - JFK Forest Park (Secondary)

22 October - Farran Forest Park
22 November - Doneraile
28 January - Curragh Wood, Midleton (Secondary)
29 January - Curragh Wood (Primary)

13 March - Munster Schools' Champs (Primary & Secondary), Fota, Co. Cork.

Northern Ireland Schools Association
EVENT 1- 26th SEPT: Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen
EVENT 2- 16th OCT: Stormont
EVENT 3- 28th FEB: Garvagh
EVENT 4- 17th APR: Castlewellan
EVENT 5- 16th MAY:  Portglenone
EVENT 6- 18th JUNE: Drum Manor

We also have an extraordinary situation in Munster where an alternative schools' orienteering organisation, also calling itself the Cork Schools Orienteering Association, which is not affiliated to IOA, is staging more than thirty schools events  throughout Munster, some on the same day as the officially sanctioned events ...

From the archives
30 years ago ... in September 1983 Eoin Rothery was urging us to enter the 1984 Irish Championships at Killary, the first complex open mountain area which was mapped in Ireland (before that we had thought of orienteering as being only in forests) ... Joss Lynam entered into correspondence with The Irish Orienteer about his course length at the 1983 Irish Championships on Keeper Hill ... IOA Fixtures Secretary Bernard Phelan was trying to get the clubs to commit to major events farther in advance ... Four schools (Wesley, de la Salle, Oatlands and Muckross Park) ran schools events in Leinster and LSOA Chairman Brian Duffy lamented the lack of development in schools orienteering ... DUO were about to unveil their map of Glencree at the 2-Day in November ... entry fees were £6 for seniors and entries closed six weeks before the event in those pre-internet days ... The Irish Orienteer Trophy inter-club competition was about to kick off another round, with Thomond v Lee Orienteers v Western Eagles; Ajax v 3ROC; Eastern Command v GEN; NWOC v Setanta ... the ripples of the "Moving Crag" controversy at Curragh's event at Stradbally in May were still being felt, with an Ajax Limerick competition including the following verse:

"There was a Young man called Wally
who went hunting crags in Stradbally
though he looked up and around
that crag couldn't be found
it had gone for the day to Offaly" ... 

Both Aonghus O'Cléirigh and Wally Young were anxious to improve the selection process for WOC teams ... there was a report on the 1983 World Championships in Hungary where only Wally Young and Eileen Loughman made it through to the final ... Norway finished 1-2-3-4 in the men's race. This was the first time that qualification races were used to select runners for the finals. The Irish relay teams finished 18th and 15th ... National Orienteering Day was on September 25th ... John McCullough gave yet another report on the 1983 Swedish O-Ringen in Smaland where Aonghus ÓCléirigh won the H21A class on Day 5 ... the World Military Championships was to be in Brazil in November ... the IOA organised a course planning competition ... the first seven teams at the Tio Mila overnight relay in Sweden finish within 48 seconds of one another after 13 hours of racing. Finland's Kalevan Rasti win ... the inclusion of Ski Orienteering as a demonstration sport at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Canada is threatened by Curling ... IOA Juniors Officer Larry Roe was encouraging schools to make O-maps of their grounds ... IOA were running a development conference in October in Kilkenny... Plassey Orienteers (PLO) ran a relay event at Foynes, Co. Limerick ... and ECO ran an event on their new map of Fauna, near Donard in Co. Wicklow, which another club had been mapping under a different name, little suspecting that two maps were being made at the same time until the two groups of surveyors met in the forest. "What are you doing here?" "Making a map. I might ask you the same question ...".

35 years ago ... In Autumn 1978 Curragh Orienteerers were about to launch their new 4-colour map of the Curragh (printed on yellow paper to save ink) ... John McCullough reported on his first trip to the Swedish O-Ringen ... the second edition of John Disley's book "Orienteering" had been published (Cost £3.25) ... Wally Young and Eileen Loughman were heading the Leinster Ranking List ... Brian Porteus was about to run a planning and organising course at Newcastle Youth Hostel in Co. Down (Cost approx. £3). Brian is now the President of the International Orienteering Federation. The Irish Junior Championships were run in Donadea, Co. Kildare on 14th/15th October (I was sent by the planner to put out controls in the dark with sites marked by streamers made from pieces of black plastic rubbish bags - the only was to find them was by touch!). The two-day Leinster O-Ringen was in Clarabeg and Donadea. Schools events were run on Sundays and there were 9 planned for the season in Leinster.

You can read the full story in the Irish Orienteer and Leinster Orienteering Clubs' Newsletter archives here.

And finally ...
The venue of next Sunday's CNOC Leinster Autumn Series event (October 20th) is at the Curragh, Co. Kildare - the location isn't shown in the IOA fixtures list.
Some reminders: don't forget to enter the Connacht Championships on October 27th and the Munster Championships on November 3rd.
Good luck to the Irish team travelling to the European Youth Orienteering Championships in Portugal on october 24-27: hope you don't miss too much school!
And thanks to the people who replied to my recent request for confirmation that somebody out there is actually reading this!


Saturday, 5 October 2013

HI Time

An interesting idea!
September and October are Home International Time, with the Juniors in South Wales in mid-September, the Seniors in Cooley last weekend and the Veterans this weekend in Norfolk. There is always a close tussle between England and Scotland for first and second and between Ireland and Wales for third and fourth. The countries with arguably the best orienteering (Scotland) and the biggest numbers (England) win out. Ireland and Wales often struggle to field a full team, borrowing runners from older and younger classes to make up the numbers. This was not a bad solution last weekend, though, when W35 Toni O'Donovan ran in as winner in the W21 race at the SHI in the mists of Carlingford. We have occasional flashes of brilliance but we don't have the strength in depth.
It's a numbers game, though: with such a small number of orienteers here it's difficult to make up a team. There are plenty of people orienteering, in parks, school grounds and forests, but how do we translate that participation to active membership?
The people who come along casually to do some orienteering don't make the maps or run the events. The core of active orienteers is getting older and is not being replaced by new blood at the rate that's required. The M21 and W21 classes, a 14-year age span, should be full of competitors, but if you look at many big international competitions, it's the veterans who form the biggest group, so it's not just an Irish problem.
What incentives are there for someone to join a club? A nice social atmosphere? Good facilities? Regular technical and physical training? Coaching to help improve? A clubhouse on the edge of a fantastic forest? Trasnport to events? Lots of free gear? Reduced entry fees for events? A spirit of adventure and of community? Any of the above?

Anyway, back to the HI's. Mike Long's report on the Junior event follows. The Junior team is preparing for the European Youth Championships later this month in Portugal; the remaining Juniors will have a great weekend's orienteering in Co. Waterford in two weeks, so there's lots of activity, but the numbers are small and the bigger the base the higher the pyramid.

SHI Relays, Carnawaddy
SHI 2013
The rotation of the three Home Internationals meant that it was Ireland's turn to host the Seniors. Some negotiation between Northern Ireland Orienteering and IOA ended up in two areas in Co. Louth, Carnawaddy and Carlingford Mountain, being chosen for the event and Fingal and 3ROC volunteered to provide the orienteering.
The relays at Carnawaddy on the Saturday ran the teams straight out onto the open mountain and on to the interesting part of the map, with its crags and contours. Val Jones's courses ran across the hillside, giving the spectators and waiting runners a fine view of the race. Luckily the visibility was good even if conditions were cool and windy, but the under-strength Welsh side sufferd two injuries which put them out of contention, with one English injury also interfering with the teams' plans. Good runs by the Irish on their home turf brought the score after Day 1 to: England 26, Scotland 22, Ireland 16, Wales 10.
Overnighting in the medieval village of Carlingford, the teams didn't have to travel far for Sunday's individual race.  Carlingford Mountain has played host to the SHI before (in 1997?) and one Welsh runner had run in that as a W16. Its presence dominated the village, particularly with its permanent cap of cloud which was to play such a part in the proceedings on Sunday. The first couple and the last couple of controls were below the cloud, but the rest of Ger Butler's courses kept the runners in very limited visibility and challenged their natigation, fitness and nerve to the limit on the upper part of the mountain. Great wins from Toni O'Donovan and Jack Millar inspired the Irish team but still the final result was Scotland 48, England 46, Ireland 31, Wales 15.
You can see the relay results and routes here, with the results and routes for the individual and the associated Leinster Autumn Series event which followed the early-startuing SHI here. Read the Scottish perspective on how they routed the Sassanachs here.

Championships time
Following the rescheduling of the Connacht Championships so as not to clash with the Senior Home International, we have a concentration of regional championships coming up soon. The Northern Ireland Championships on October 12th at Meelmore and Luke's Mountain in the Mournes; the Connacht Championships at Ballymahon, Co. Longford on the 27th and the Munster Championships at Toureen Wood, Cahir, Co. Tipperary on November 3rd.
Another attractive event is the Welsh Championships in the sandy forest of Newborough in Anglesey on October 13th but the ferry prices are outrageous and the ferry times aren't great either, so that idea got the chop. Quite a number (eighteen?) of Irish orienteers are going to the three days in Rome at the beginning of November, but Italian law requires that all competitors have a medical certificate stating that they are fit and well, and a certificate from their club to say that they are members. Whatever happened to adventure sports?

Simone Niggli Retires
Multiple World Champion Simone Niggli-Luder (Switzerland), holder of 23 World Championship Gold Medals from 2001 to 2013, is quitting elite orienteering after the 2013 World Cup series. In 2003 and 2005 she won all four gold medals (Sprint, Middle, Classic and Relay) at the World Championships!
Read more here.

Junior Home International 2013

The 2013 Junior Home International took place in South Wales on the weekend of 14-15 September. Ireland was represented by a full team of 24 at W/M 14, 16, 18 age groups. We had 4 debutants: Ciara Fitzgerald, Dara O'Cléirigh, Cian May and Zac O'Sullivan Hourihan.
The individual day was held at Mynydd Llangatwg, an area immediately adjacent to one of the JK competition days for next Easter. From my vantage point (OK it is easy for me to say!) it looked like clean, runnable but technically tricky open mountain terrain. I am told that the runnability reduced on the higher ground and that the ferns were poorly mapped making route choice difficult.
The relays on Day 2 were held at Clydach Terrace just off the famous (well to us Civil Engineers anyway!) Head of the Valleys Road. In this area the ground has been much altered by spoil heaps from mine workings etc. so was very tricky technically. The planner choose an excellent change over area on a hill overlooking most of the area.
In the end the Judith Wingham trophy (Ireland v Wales) came down to the performance of the last Welsh girls on their last relay team and we were beaten narrowly by 3 points. If I am honest I guess we did not deserve to beat Wales as they had 3 podium places on Day One and our best results were 5th, 7th and 8th (all girls). The juniors were excellent ambassadors for Ireland, behaved well (I missed the céilí so not sure how that went) and were definitely the best supporters.
My thanks to Ruth for her technical leadership during the weekend and to Rosemarie, Jeni, Brian, Steve, Gerry and Nigel for driving and lots more. Congrats to Cliona, Niamh, Niall and Harry, who are moving on upwards from the M/W18 ranks for their efforts over the years. Róisín was awarded the trophy as best Irish athlete of the weekend for her 5th individual place and a strong run on leg 3 of the relay.
Full results can be found here
An excellent set of pictures, taken by Gerry Meehan, can be found here.

Mike Long

6th London City Race - Clean around the bend
This was my third London City Race, on September 22nd, and it moved downriver from the historic centre to the Victorian docklands on the Isle of Dogs: Eastenders fans will recognise the area from the TV series opening credits. Somewhere recently I read that is was a marshy area in the past and called the Isle of Ducks. 

Getting off the train, we were up high, overlooking the start at West India Dock. Courses were less tricky than in my previous two London races, but the location was unusual, with big basins, lifting bridges, industrial areas, modern skyscrapers and warrens of houses, combined with Mudchute Park featuring a city farm and a reconstructed WWII anti-aircraft battery as a control site. Two of our controls were down by the river itself, on a gravelly tidal beach, so we got the full whiff of the Thames.
The competition area was in the large U-bend in the river, just across from Greenwich. The younger juniors ran in Mudchute Park, just across the road from the event centre, but the rest of us took a train to the start: we had a Docklands Light Railway ticket printed on our race numbers - that's joined-up thinking!
The map was at 1:5000 scale and was about A3 size, with the competition area split into two: the northern part on one side of the page and the southern on the back.  The mapper was Italian Remo Madella who also surveyed the sprint map for JK2011 in Belfast, around Stranmillis College.
It's a very enjoyable race and certainly gives visitors a new perspective on one of the world's great cities.
You can see the map, courses and results here.
Next year the race (on 21st September) will revert to the heart of the city and will be tied in with three other city races to make a series: Porto in Portugal, Edinburgh and Barcelona. Ryanair, here we come!
Another city race to watch next year, though, is the Venice race during the World Championships in Italy.

The City Race was preceded on the Saturday by an Ultrasprint run by LOK in Victoria Park in North London. The 1:1250 scale map showed every tree and bush of quite s small section of the park, and included a special orienteering maze with 2 to 4 controls in it. Runners did three short courses of about 1 km with about 25 controls each. These times were added to find the fastest four in each category (Juniors, Vets etc) who then had a head to head race, after which the rest of us ran a final course to finish 5th, 6th etc.
Typical control site
We had no control descriptions or control codes to check that we were at the right control (there were more than 60 controls out) and if you punched the wrong control you weren't disqualified but got a 30 second time penalty, so it paid to be careful (a lesson I learned the hard way, twice!). The precise location of the control was shown by a small dot in the circle and, in the example on the right, there could well be another control on the opposite side of the tree.
A lot of work for the organisers in terms of computer programming, mapping, control placement and maze construction, but a lot of fun for the 300 or so participants. At least this time I realised that there was an enlarged version of the maze down in the corner of the map, not like the previous time I did one of these.
You can see a video of the event here and  here. Results, maps and courses are here.
Verdict: packed a lot into a great weekend - orienteering, sightseeing, visiting, getting parking tickets ...

On the level ... In my own City Race, I lost 1 minute on the first control by getting the levels wrong and running past a set of stairs in a building without seeing them, and I never recovered the lost time. I ran around the corner and instead of seeing the control, the road disappeared into the bowels of the earth. Later, a small gap in a wall on the map lured me to it, only to find that it was a printing defect in the map and I was again on the wrong level!

Come in, do you read me?
Since the revision of the IOA web site, it's a bit more difficult to see The Irish Orienteer on the page. If you are reading this, and you would like it to continue, do drop a line by e-mail to theirishorienteer@gmail.com to encourage the editor to keep going! Thanks to Mike Long and the people who have done reports for TIO ... how about some more from people? John McC.