More November News

Maxwells to run Everest Marathon
Lagan Valley Orienteers’ Fiona and Bill Maxwell are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary by running the Everest Marathon, the highest marathon in the world, on December 4th. They are running to raise money for the Everest Marathon Fund, which helps projects in Nepal, and for Maggie’s, a Scottish-based cancer support charity.
Both Bill and Fiona have had cancer and have chosen Maggie’s as one of their charities. (You may have seen a Maggie’s centre in London received a RIBA architecture award this year: see here).
Fiona and Bill have both run on the Irish Veteran Home International team and the VHI team made a donation to their cause. Their daughter, Hannah, may also be familiar to you as she was on the Irish Junior team a number of times.
Their target is £2600 which works out at £100 per mile. Best wishes to them both.
To donate, visit the

MOV 2009: Water, Water Everywhere
Sarah Ní Ruairc (FIN) went to the Venice Street-O event on November 15th …
The annual Meeting Orientamento Venezia/Venice Orienteering Meeting (MOV) or more simply called the Venice Street-O in the vernacular is a well-regarded and highly popular orienteering event. Navigation, while not difficult, is surprisingly tricky and a high level of concentration is required in what is by any standard highly unusual terrain. This year’s event took place on Sunday 15th November with a smaller Park-O event on Saturday 14th.
The event as been attended by disparate groups of Irish orienteers over the years who often combine it with a visit to the city itself, some sightseeing and, of course, the consumption of that Italian speciality, gelato (ice cream).
This year, five orienteers from Ireland attended the event: myself, Kieran Rocks (LVO), Sharon Lucey (BOC), Stuart Scott (UCDO) and Brian Flannelly (CorkO). Stuart and I both attended the event last year and enjoyed it so much that we decided a second bite of the cherry was required. Kieran an old hand at this event; this was his third MOV. His maps from previous events came in useful when navigating around the city. Neither Sharon nor Brian had attended the event before.
The journey to Venice from various locations in Ireland is a complicated tale of trains, cars, planes, 4-hour waits in Gatwick, long emails and butlers and is probably worthy of a novel itself but we won’t dwell on that. Suffice to say that we were all re-united in Venice by about 7.30pm on Friday 13th.
The Park-O on Saturday 14th is a warm-up/training day and acts as a prelude to the main event. Its purpose is to give the participants of Sunday’s event an idea of the terrain, the scale, the type of map and the features marked on it. Only a few hundred orienteers partake in the Park-O as distinct from the 3,600 or so in the main event. It also provided a distraction ahead of the Republic of Ireland vs. France world cup qualifier held that evening, and watched in the Irish pub conveniently located across the street from our accommodation.
The event centre for both days was the same as in previous years, with the finish for Sunday’s event located close to it. However, unlike previous years, the start was located on the far side of Venice (see map). A special boat was organised to bring competitors from the event centre to the start.
There were four courses available to run in the M/W21 category. Kieran and Sharon opted to run M21E and W21E respectively. Brian and Stuart went head-to-head on the M21B course and I decided to promote myself to running W21A, as I had run W21B the previous year.
The map below gives an idea of the type of terrain and the standard of mapping. The white colour, contrary to usual standards, does not represent runnable forest but streets and bridges. The brown colour on some of the streets indicates the areas that are likely to be crowded with tourists, some of whom are likely to be armed with suitcases on wheels – a menace to every orienteer.
Navigating between controls is not as simple as taking a bearing and heading in (hopefully) the right direction. Orienteers have to start thinking about bridges and crowds and decide things like, “Should I head for the long straight run or cut through a maze of tiny streets with lots of stop-start orienteering and constant checking?” or “Should I run down the street that is likely to be crowded or try the empty (ish) back streets?” It is very easy to lose your place on the map and find yourself running along a street thinking, “Where is this?”
As can be seen from the image I had a long leg between controls 14 and 15. Sharon and Kieran both had similar legs, as did the MA and M20 courses. My first thought on seeing the leg was, “Why didn’t I bring money for a gondola?” However, the only thing to do on that leg was to mentally divide it in two; the first half of the run between control 14 and the bridge (the Rialto Bridge) and the second between the bridge and control 15. I tried to choose as many long and straight-ish runs as possible with the least amount of turns and least amount of concentration. However, the leg still took me over 20 minutes and I managed to get in the way of more than one tourist’s photograph.
Once I reached control 16 it was a relief to run out to the seafront and over two bridges to the last control. Some of the busier bridges have ramps laid over the steps to facilitate wheelchair access (I can confirm that the Venice event is not suitable for buggies). All the orienteers were running on the ramps rather than taking the steps and it was strangely gratifying (not to mention good for the ego) to see a man standing at the foot of the ramps with a sign warning innocent bystanders that athletes would be running on the bridge.
I was shattered at the end of the race, so much so that I missed television coverage of Ireland vs. Australia. Although the course length was given as 7.8k I covered almost 12. I found the course a lot tougher than last year and not just because I chose a higher level. Kieran and Stuart both agreed that the courses were tougher than previous years, possibly because there was a new planner.
The orienteering community being small and close-knit, we met Farina Freigang and Soeren Riechers at the event, both of whom spent a while orienteering in Ireland last year. We also met some of the organisers of the Velikden Cup that was held in Bulgaria last Easter.

The city of Venice had to endure two unusual events that weekend. The first was a protest by locals over the perceived decline of the city at the hands of the tourist trade. The second was the sight of brightly-clad people running around the streets clutching maps and with perplexed expressions on their faces as they stopped and started, turned, ran around in circles, down blind alleys, hollered with frustration and then sprinted over a ramp stating how much they enjoyed the event and threatening to return in the future.
The pictures show an aerial photo of Venice, Sarah’s course and a GPS plot of her route. Visit the event web site here.
Unsung Heroes

Finally, spare a thought for the unsung heroes of orienteering – the control collectors. When we’re all back from our runs, getting into the car to go home after the race; when the weather is closing in; when the darkness is coming: who has to go out into the rain and the wind to wrap up the event? The poor control collectors: many of them will have been there all day, some may have run their course, but they are prepared to do us this one last service, no matter what the conditions.
Last Sunday’s splendid Ajax event at Cronybyrne (now called the Vale of Clara Nature Reserve) was a case in point: the organisers had laid on premarked waterproof maps, GPS plotting, tea and biscuits, tents, instant results and great orienteering. Then, right on cue, as the courses are getting to closing time, the deluge starts. So, in case we don’t fully appreciate it: Thanks, guys!
Results, Routegadget are here.
Claravale Event Report by Peter Kernan

Ajax Vale Of Clara event on November 22nd – 3ROC’s Ger Butler, Colm Moran lead in the trees. Despite dropping to seventh at control 4, Ger Butler pulled the pack back and raced ahead through the trees to win the Brown by 6 mins from Christian Foley-Fisher of DUO.
His clubmate Colm Moran needed only two controls on the Blue to take the lead and hold it over 21 controls winning from Setanta’s Dave Weston. A strong run by 3ROC’s Eoin McCullough saw him take 3rd, seconds behind Dave. Conditions on Sunday were considerably better than Saturday when Marcus Geoghegan, standing in water streaming out of the car park onto the road, reflected on the chances of cancellation.
Months of preparation prevailed and Sunday saw him deliver map, planning and Grade A orienteering to a forest-starved audience.
Complementing his efforts, finishers also got to watch results on screen and drink coffee in the finish tent courtesy of Martin Flynn and Donal Wickham. When the weather turned raw for the last finishers, offers of coffee, met initially with disbelief, hit the right button. It wasn’t all plain sailing: Denis Reidys’ tale of a tree dropping as he placed control 21, reports of the Yellow course “blowing away”, the tent window splitting in the wind, added an edge of uncertainty that was only dispelled when finishers began to flow in well. The Orange course also saw a group of Bootcampers take to the forest as well as CNOC first timer Fergus Foley. Cleared up by 4 pm, the organising club Ajax deemed the event a big success.
See results here.

Photo by David Healy – Hazel Thompson, Setanta.

Orienteering Stance

Thanks to Harry for permission to publish his poem (Shilo is his dog)

Me, Mum and leggy Shilo
arm-in-arm off-lead
listening to
Mahon Falls

Cold air, wind rushing through me ~
every time we found
orange and white
we lurched forward
to find the

We burst back. Shilo slips,
falls ten feet into the river,
is dragged, heaved,
tossed and turned
by the rushing

I live in shocked suspense ‘til I see
him hobbling, disorientated but
trying to get back
to his familiar

One hundred and ninety seven minutes.
How can I describe them?
Top of the world
The end

November 2009

Disappointing VHI Performance by Ireland

Fine runs by Ruth Lynam (2nd W55), Ann Savage (5th W50), Bridget Lawlor (6th W35) and Brian Corbett (6th M45) weren’t enough to save Ireland from the wooden spoon at last weekend’s Veteran Home International in Derbyshire, hosted by Derwent Valley Orienteers (DVO).
The strength in depth of the English and Scottish showed, with both countries clear of the Irish and Welsh in both Saturday’s relay and Sunday’s individual races.
The competition, for age classes M and W35 to 60, rotates between the four participant countries and this year was England’s turn. The relay at Longshaw, near Bakewell, was run on the side of a steep valley covered with largely deciduous forest with open heath on the flatter area above. The relay team composition must be two men and two women and their age-related handicaps must add up to 18, so there are complications in forming teams. An outstanding run by a Welsh team saw them take 32 points as winners in 108.07, with the following six Scottish and English teams finishing in less than 6 minutes. The best Irish time was 149.58, finishing in 19th place. After the relays the scores were England 98, Scotland 82, Wales 72, Ireland 20.
Sunday’s Individual at Eyam Moor was on a largely open area, part of which was covered in high heather with vague features, and finished in a complex open area with large knolls and interesting contour detail. The event was combined with a regional event which attracted some hundreds of runners. Several good individual performances were not enough to salvage the Irish team, however, and the score in the individual race was England 144, Scotland 124, Wales 98, Ireland 56.
Luckily the weather was good for running on Sunday – cool, breezy and dry, and on Saturday most runners got around dry, though later starters did get caught in heavy showers.
The overall result was England 240, Scotland 208, Wales 170, Ireland 76.
The teams stayed in the splended Hartington Hall Youth Hostel, a 17th Century manor house with its own bar and restaurant (sadly, closed by the time some of the Irish arrived on Friday evening).
It seems to be an unwritten rule of the VHI that the events are on exposed open terrain in November and that the relays, in particular, are staged in a bone-chillingly cold location! The Juniors (September) and Seniors (October) escape the worst. There was some discussion on the choice of date for future years (next year’s event in Wales is in October) and on the inclusion of the M/W65 classes at the expense of the M/W35’s, but more details of these changes will be available before next year’s event.
Thanks to Tish McCann, who didn’t get a run at all, for managing the team.
The question remains, though – what do we need to do to improve? We don’t have the same level of competition as in England or Scotland; Welsh orienteers, though few in number, do have ready access to top class terrain and top class competition. if you compare an age class here (say M55) with events in the UK, the numbers are quite different. Take the Munster Championships, for example: MOC 2009 had eight M55’s. Last Sunday’s DVO event had twenty three M55 Longs, including eight from the VHI compatition and a further eleven M55 Short.

What do we need to do to beat the Welsh? We can do it at Rugby, why not at orienteering?

For the record, the team was:
M35 Declan McGrellis (LVO), Tony Lawlor (CNOC)
W35 Bridget Lawlor (CNOC), Hazel Thompson (SET)
M40 Colm O’Halloran, Igor Stefko (LVO)
W40 Kathryn Walley (FIN), Mary Knight (LVO)
M45 Brian Corbett (CorkO), Dave Weston (SET)
W45 Heather Cairns (LVO), Roxanne White (SET)
M50 Sennen O’Boyle (CNOC), Don Short (CNOC)
W50 Ann Savage (LVO), Bernie O’Boyle (CNOC)
M55 Raymond Finlay (FermO), John McCullough (3ROC)
W55 Ruth Lynam (CNOC), Ger Power (3ROC)
M60 Colin Henderson (LVO), Bill Hopkins (LVO)
W60 Trina Cleary (3ROC), Clare Nuttall (BVOC)

Results and Routegadget (courses & routes) are at the DVO web site here.
(Photos: Raymond Finlay (M55); Hartington Hall YH.)


Training for M/W 16 and older potential EYOC and JWOC squads – Sat 28 November, the day before the Connacht Champs.  Some light training on the Burren but the emphasis will be on preparation for the big international races

The Connacht Champs

The Connacht Champs are the last major event of 2009, and the last of the Junior Cup series.
Entries are open til Fri 20 November.
Current standings in the Junior Cup, including Munster Champs results, will be up here very soon…

November News

Munster Championships

What a novelty – orienteering in a forest! Toureen Wood, location of the Munster Championships on November 1st, is a largely runnable forest near Cahir, Co. Tipperary, on the northern slopes of the Galtees. Recent rain made the going slippy underfoot, but the map was mostly white (indicating runnable forest) with a network of roads and tracks. Starting high and finishing low, Jim O’Donovan’s courses made the most of the terrain, giving choices between contouring through the forest or taking longer road routes with more climb. The typical Galtees feature of large gullies running down the hillside broke up the forest into blocks. Two hundred competitors took part in the event, organised by Cork Orienteers. The map, surveyed by Pat Healy, was at 1:10000 scale and was printed on waterproof paper – quickly becoming the norm for bigger events.
CorkO’s Darren Burke finished first in the M21L class and Niamh O’Boyle won the W21L class.
See results, splits, routes here. (Photos by Finn van Gelderen and John Shiels. To see more of Finn’s MOC photos see here; to see more of John’s, see here.).
Veteran Home International
The Irish Veteran Team is travelling to the VHI in Derbyshire next weekend. There are several new faces on the team and ireland can expect some course wins, with Ruth Lyman (W55), Colm O’Halloran (M45), Brian Corbett (M45) and Declan McGrellis (M35) running well at the moment.
The weekend kicks off with the relays at Longshaw on Saturday where six teams of four runners from each of Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England will run. Sunday’s Individual event at Eyam Moor, near Sheffield, will feature open mountainside with some steep forest, and all eyes will be on the critical Ireland v Wales struggle, while in the secondary competition England and Scotland will battle it out for first place. The Eyam event is combined with a BOF regional Event (which would until recently have been rated a National event) so there should be big numbers and intense competition.
OCAD Course
This Saturday (14th) there’s an OCAD course (for drawing O-maps by computer) in Dunboyne.The course was originally to be run on September 26th but was postponed. There are a few places available on the November 14th OCAD course. The venue is Dunboyne Castle, Co. Meath. It is an all day course on Saturday, Nov 14th for all levels of OCAD skills. The course is given by Pat Healy of CNOC.
To secure your place please send a cheque for €25 to the Irish Orienteering Association, Second Floor, 13 Upper Baggot Street, Dublin 4
For those already signed up, also send your cheques to the above address.
Aine Joyce IOA Admin Assistant (
Orienteering In Venice
There are a few Irish orienteers running in the annual Venice street-O race on Sunday 15th: good luck to you all – hopefully we’ll get a report on the event afterwards.
NI MTBO Championships
The Northern Ireland Mountain Bike Orienteering Championships has been rescheduled for Saturday November 28th at Craigavon Lakes. The event was to have been at the more demanding Castlewellan Forest but access restrictions forced the change. See details of the event here. See previous courses and routes here.
Connacht Championships
Finner, Co. Donegal is the venue for the Connacht Championships on November 29th. Entries are still open but the cheapect entry deadline has passesd. WEGO are accepting e-mail entries. Details here. Entries are possible up to November 20th – maybe even later?

Finner is a good area of open sand dunes, more physical than many sand dune areas: steeper and with long marram grass. The area has been used for previous Connacht Championships and even Interprovincials (remember them?) as well as part of a Junior Squad training weekend in 2008. Make a weekend of it by taking in the NI MTBO Championships on the Saturday.

Orienteering in Ireland
  • Orienteering Ireland
    Irish Sport HQ
    D15 DY62