Orienteering coaching course – a students perspective

Having seen a Facebook post for a coaching course on a cold March evening, on a whim, I booked…

So a couple of months later and thinking to myself , I ought to be gardening ( it was sunny) and orienteering this weekend I headed up to Rockbrook School in Dublin. We had been set some homework a couple of days previously, which of course I hadn’t bargained for so I was hoping for some inspiration on the day!

So seven wannabee coaches joined Eoin and Terry (or Terence as his mum calls him) our tutors for the two day course. I didn’t really know what to expect, not having a whole heap of experience myself and like many of us, mostly in the forest self-learning. My aim was to gain some more ideas for my cubs, scouts, local school and hopefully orienteering club too.

Of course in true Irish tradition we started with tea and a chat followed by some ice breakers. I now know who had porridge for breakfast that Saturday morning.

The day was broken into classroom and practical sessions, interspersed with general discussion and lots of sharing of ideas. We broke into pairs and were given packs with a variety of orienteering games which could be played inside or outside. Given the task of using or adapting the packs to create a short orienteering game. Our classmates were of course the guinea pigs to test our lesson plans. After testing each activity we gave and received feed back. There was a great mixture of teaching styles and personalities working together. Our tutors of course keeping us on track and in order.

As the day progressed we swapped partners for each task, moving outdoors and using the Rockbrook map to design simple learning activities. Once again creating great feedback and discussion.

So Sunday came and my homework done (in the wee hours of course) we presented our given topic, mine being ” Preparing a Novice for their First Public Event”, it was to be a five minute presentation. Thankfully the five minutes passed quickly ( maybe too quickly) and my excellent students behaved impeccably and didn’t ask too many awkward questions, despite the  inserted video in my slideshow not working.

During the day we advanced to learning about the parameters of planning courses for the novice. Safety, location choice and course planning. We dabbled with ‘Purple Pen‘, which will prove to help all novice planners.

The afternoon brought further outdoor activities, this time we planned individually to introduce a particular element of the sport to the slightly more experienced novice. We each made short training exercises within the grounds introducing attack points, route choice, collecting features, catching features etc….

We finished with an individual chat with our tutor, giving guidance on where we did well and what we need to work on. Now off to test our new skills on the unsuspecting with 20 hours of practical work required before a final assessment under the eyes of our tutor.

All in all it was a great weekend and worth the effort. It flew by seamlessly from one aspect of ‘O’ to another. We came away with great ideas and a framework for us each to work upon. There was a great mix of people within the group from the ultra experienced (elite) orienteer, dabblers like myself, to several trained outdoor instructors. I left feeling that if we could each go out and introduce and enthuse even just a few more individuals to orienteering we will do both the sport and the public a good service.

Debbie Whelan (trainee instructor)

WOC Selection Race- Estonia

Many thanks to Ruairi Short who brings us a little closer to the trials and tribulations of a Irish Senior Squad Selection trip:

The weekend of May 6th saw 7 members of the Irish squad compete in the WOC 2017 selection races in Estonia near Otepää. The Irish competitors were:
Olivia Baxter, Niall McCarthy, Colm Moran, Conor Short, Ruairi Short, Nick Simonin and Jens Waechter.

Conor and Colm arrived in Otepää first, managing to fit in two training sessions on Wednesday, during one of which they were snowed upon! They also visited the second highest point in Estonia at a whopping 318 m.
Ruairi arrived late on Wednesday after the Finnish team, who were giving him a lift, had their car rental cancelled!
Training was a mixed affair on Thursday, with Conor and Ruairi checking out the still-snowy-in-places forest and Colm the roads during the morning. Olivia arrived in the afternoon and she and Ruairi headed out to the SI training event.
Assessments of the forest mostly complete, our objective would be ‘go straight’ as even green is not that bad. As is the tradition of squad orienteering trips, the evening was completed with a few rounds of cards before heading to bed.

Friday morning was restful for most with the sprint in the evening. Conor did avail of a nearby map and Ruairi took an easy jog to explore the town of Otepää which is known as the winter capital of Estonia; as the sun began to shine. Colm then collected our penultimate member Niall on the Latvian border before the team (still minus one) headed to the sprint.

The sprint was a relatively easy course, with some route choices later on.
Nick was best of the Irish securing the coveted WOC spot. Colm was 2nd and Niall third, so with one selection race left all is still to play for. Olivia was the only Irish woman so she also secured her place in the sprint team. Results: Sprint Men , Sprint Women .

The final member of the team, Jens was delayed, after a late initial flight, he missed his connection and had to re-book. Jens finally arrived just in time for dinner followed by some more cards, though the game of choice had to be changed due to fluctuations in player numbers.

The squad had a late start on Saturday, though Jens and Colm took an easy morning jog. We had some adventures getting to the event as the organisers provided no instructions and the chosen road had 15 km of road works which meant only a dirt and gravel surface.

When we did arrive there was some more stress over the distance to the start, the organisers didn’t know; luckily one of the British team ran there and back and filled us in. The bib collection didn’t go perfectly either as Nick hadn’t paid and had forgotten cash so we had to pool resources to pay for his entry before everyone got into race mode.

There were mixed emotions after the race. In order of results: Nick was ok. Colm’s ankle held up. Conor felt sick. Niall felt good but made mistakes. Ruairi was clean but slow. Jens also had some mistakes but felt good physically. Olivia just about survived the terrain but was fairly happy with the navigation.
All agreed it was a physical forest. Fast running, with lots of small climbs and short stretches of green. We waited for our maps before taking a more sedate route home. Results: Middle Men, Middle Women.

Thankfully the hotel had a late lunch for us after the race and everyone was glad to get some fuel on board before the long day tomorrow. No one had success in getting a massage from the French team masseuse but Jens organised a sauna in the hotel which was perhaps as good before heading for dinner! Some of us then went to the pub for, along with discussion and speculation of what the results mean for the WOC team, before an early night.

The long start list had been hopping and changing all weekend as various people needed to leave for flights. Olivia departed herself at 5am from the hotel! In the end we had starts around 1030 which meant an earlier start today. Having learnt from yesterday we took a safer route to the event. It was still not without incident as Nick tried to drive into the assembly instead of the parking!

For the competition it was a long day with 16.5 km on the menu, not including the 460 m to the map from the start! We started at the top of a ski slope on one side of Estonia’s deepest valley, there was a good view of the runners on the course running up the opposite side so we knew what was in store. In the end only Conor and Ruairi finished. Jens had to catch his flight, Nick had a small knee injury and Niall hadn’t been expecting to run, only hoping I’m instead of Colm at the last minute due to Colm’s achilles issue. The loan of a single energy gel from Conor was perhaps not enough. Results: Mens Long.

The squad members went their separate ways to await the official announcement of the forest WOC team.

Map links: WOC Selection Middle Men

WOC Selection Long Men


Events up to May 27th

For a full list of events go to www.orienteering.ie/fixture




Tue 23 May: Naas Kildare CNOC Summer Evening Series (Urban)/No. 2
Tue 23 May: Doneraile Forest Park Cork CorkO Summer League/No. 3




Tue 23 May, Naas
Venue: Naas, , Kildare
Club: CNOC
Event: CNOC Summer Evening Series (Urban)/No. 2
Start Times: 19:00-20:00
Grid Ref.: N 895 184
Follow Signs From: Naas Hospital Entrance
Contact 045 879780 / cnoc@orienteering.ie
Tue 23 May, Doneraile Forest Park
Venue: Doneraile Forest Park, Doneraile, Cork
Club: CSOA
Event: CorkO Summer League/No. 3
Start Times: 17:30-19:00
Grid Ref.: R 603 076
Follow Signs From: Doneraile
Contact 086 0851128 / jimcallanan@hotmail.com


WOC 2017 – Team Announcement (Part 1)

The following have been selected to run in the forest disciplines at WOC 2017 in Estonia.

The Sprint team will be finalised after the upcoming selection race in Craigavon.

Middle Distance


Colm Moran

Conor Short

(Res. Niall McCarthy)


Olivia Baxter

Long Distance


Conor Short

Ruairi Short

(Res. TBC)



Colm Moran

Conor Short

Niall McCarthy

(Res. Ruairi Short)


The selection panel (Helen Baxter, Kyle Heron & Paul O’Sullivan-Hourihan) with to thank all those athletes who sought selection.


New IOA Committee announced

The new executive committee has been confirmed for 2017/18.
Many thanks for all the work from the officers who stepped down at this years AGM.
A big welcome to the new officers who have accepted the challenge and joined the team.
Chairperson – Paul O’Sullivan-Hourihan
Vice-Chairperson – John McCullough
Honorary and Fixtures secretary – Fergal Buckley
Honorary Treasurer – Sarah Nì Ruairc
Mapping Registrar & Environmental Officer – Stuart Scott
Controller of Technical Standards – Ruairi Short
Director of High Performance – Darren Burke
Junior Representative Orienteering – Jeni Pim
Public Relations Officer (Comms) – Debbie Whelan
Director of Orienteering Education – Eoin Browne
Development Officer – Andrew Cox
In addition
Non -Executive
Webmaster – Martin Flynn
IOA Child Protection SME – Barbara Foley-Fisher.
Medical & Anti-Doping Officer – Dr Bernard Creedon
Admin Assistant – Àine Joyce
I hope you all join me in wishing them the best of luck for the coming year as they guide and develop our sport.

Spending at IOC Weekend Survey

The IOA would like to gather data on typical spending at an IOC weekend. We hope this information will be useful for future Irish orienteering championships. It will help to encourage the support of a local community with regard to access, parking, sponsorship and other areas. Below is a link to a simple survey on your spending at the IOC last weekend. The information is anonymous. If you have any questions please email me at osec@orienteering.ie


IOC 2017 – A big thank you

Well that’s it then – Done and dusted.

What a great weekend IOC2017 was. A huge thank you to all the WEGO team and all the external controllers who contributed to such a memorable event.
The terrain and planning made for a really challenging weekend and all the photos prove the rugged beauty of the area.
On behalf of the Orienteering community I also want to acknowledge the local landowners for allowing us access and it was great to meet both John O’Sullivan Snr. and Jnr. They were very pleased that we were there and would be delighted to have us back again.
To everyone who attended the AGM I thank you and for those unlucky enough to not get a ticket and had to sit outside – maybe next year.
Congratulations to all the prizewinners and also to all the various award winners.
Performance Excellence award winners
Nic Simonin.
Eoin McCullough.
Colm Moran.
Ròisìn Long.
Spirit of Orienteering award.
Harold White.
MacTire Award
Val Jones.
Roll on IOC2018
Paul O’Sullivan-Hourihan
Orienteering in Ireland
  • Orienteering Ireland
    Irish Sport HQ
    D15 DY62
  • fixtures@orienteering.ie
  • info@orienteering.ie