The Easter weekend saw some outstanding performances from Irish runners at the Jan Kjellstrom Orienteering Festival in Devon. Despite heavy rain on the run-up to the event, three of the days were largely unaffected by the conditions.
The format, as in recent years, was Sprint (at Bicton College near Exeter), two-day Individual (at Cookworthy forest and Braunton Burrows dunes) and Relay (again at Braunton Burrows).
Jonathan Quinn (GEN) took first place in M14A in the sprint race, a mixture of parlkand, formal gardens, woodland and college buildings, finishing almost one minute clear of the field, posting a time of 12.56 for the 2.3 km course. Ruairí Short (CNOC) also took first in the Mens Open class with his brother Conor in 3rd place.Other top ten sprint results were Clodagh Moran (3ROC), 3rd W10, James Logue (ex NWOC) 3rd M40, Frank Martindale (3ROC) 6th M75, James Millar (LVO) 7th M12, Niamh O’Boyle (CNOC) 8th W21 Elite, Niamh Corbett (CorkO) 9th W16, Ciaran Kearns (FIN) 9th M10 and Jack Millar (LVO) and Kevin O’Boyle (CNOC), 10th M16 and M20 Elite.
The map scale of 1:4000 with 2.5 m contours must have caught out lots of competitors, as things came up so quickly, though a warm-up map on the way to the start did help with the scale.
A very sad note was struck that afternoon when Berkshire Orienteers Dave Stubbs, husband of the sprint event controller Katy, collapsed and died while out on his course. May he reast in peace.
Day 2 saw us travel to a very muddy and undistinguished forest at Cookworthy, where knee-deep slop and marshes were common. Drains, earthbanks and vegetation changes provided control sites with few brown (contour) or black (rock) features. Though the rain had stopped, the assembly field was awash and the forest was dark and gloomy. All credit to the organisers who did their best in difficult conditions, but surely there are better areas than this in the south west of England? My particular sympathy goes to the unfortunate bus drivers who have to clean up after transporting the runners from the race back to the car parks.
Things improved on Easter Sunday, though, with a bright and breezy day at Braunton Burrows, a large sand dune area near Barnstaple, an unusual combination of UNESCO heritage site and military training area for off-road vehicles. Unusually, the area was mapped with 5 m contours (sand dune areas are often at 2.5 m) so that small features were not shown. Competitors to one of the three starts followed the “American Road” down the east side of the map, used as part of the training for the D-Day landings in 1944.
The track network was complex and confusing but the vegetation and contours were clear.
After the two days, Irish competitors had taken seven firsts and a number of podium and top-ten places: First place went to Cork O’s James Griffin (M18S), James Logue (NWOC M40L), Liam O’Brien (CorkO M55S), Julie Cleary (3ROC W45S), Ruth Lynam (CNOC W55L), Helen Baxter (LVO W55S) and former secretary of Irish Orienteers Anne May (W60S).
Other notable results were 2nd for Jack Millar (LVO M16A), Eadaoin McCavana (GEN W12B), Róisín Long (AJAX W14B); 3rd place for Ivan Millar (LVO M21S) and a recovering Marcus Pinker (CorkO M35L), 4th for Ciaran Kearns (FIN M10A), Niamh O’Boyle (CNOC W21E), and Aonghus O’Cléirigh (AJAX) – a scant 3 seconds ahead of 5th place Brian Corbett (CorkO) in M50L. Peter James (ex NWOC and another former Irish Champion) finished 5th in M40L..
6th place went to Frank Martindale (3ROC M75), Clodagh Moran (3ROC W10A), 7th to Ruairi Long (AJAX M12B), Darragh Lane (CorkO M16B), Kevin O’Boyle (CNOC M20E) and Laoise Ryan (CNOC W10B). In 8th place was Leslie Loughlin (CorkO M18S) with 10th going to Sean Knight (LVO M18E), Padraig O’Donovan (CorkO M14B) and James Millar (LVO M12A).
The Men’s Elite class was won by Matthew Speake (Interlopers) with CompassSport editor Nick Barrable (an M35) 5th. The best Irish runner was Nick Simonin (Bishopstown) in 7th place. Sarah Rollins (BAOC) won the Women’s Elite with Niamh O’Boyle 4th – a fantastic run from Niamh.
Monday’s Relays returned to Braunton Burrows where the courses were fast and less tricky than the day before. The longer courses looped around to return close to the start area for a spectator control with a bit more than 1 km to go to the finish, adding some extra excitement. In the W120+ class Ruth Lynam (CNOC) and Interlopers Lorna Eades were neck and neck at this point but the Scottish girl drew away to win by 20 seconds, relegating the CNOC ladies (Niamh O’Boyle, her mother Bernie, and Ruth) to second place. Also finishing second were the 3ROC team of Colm Moran, Cliona and Eoin McCullough in the biggest class of the race – the Mixed Ad Hoc, with almost 100 teams. The JK Trophy, now back to a 3-man team from the 4-man it has been for some years, was won by Sheffield University’s Ralph Street, Dave Schorah and Graham Gristwood, and the Women’s race by South Yorkshire Orienteers in an exciting finish, with 20 seconds to spare over Interlopers.
After the JK there were two other unusual events: on Wednesday a race at Wheal Florence near Plymouth on a small open area previously used for tin mining. The area was only about 900 metres long by 300 metres wide and was mapped at 1:2500 scale with 1.25m contours. It was intricate, with lots of depressions and re-entrants, but not as difficult as I had expected. The long course of 4.2 km /150 m/ 29 controls was won by world champion Graham Gristwood in less than 24 minutes while CorkO’s Corbetts – Brian, Cillin and Niamh – did the Irish proud with times in the low 30’s.
The second unusual event was at the Eden Project in Cornwall but someone else will have to write about that as the entries filled up before I managed to get mine in.
Full JK results are available at the SIEntries web site here. – routes, courses and splits too.
The organisers of JK2011 in Northern Ireland distributed a very attractive flyer for next year’s event at the end of April 2011: Sprint-O in Stranmillis College, Belfast; individual races at Tyrella (sand dunes near Dundrum, Co. Down) and Slieve Croob (1986 Irish Championships area) near Ballynahinch in Co. Down, and Relays at Tyrella again. Next year you’ll be able to go to the JK without flying or taking a ferry – take the opporyunity to do it, and offer to help as well: you’ll be welcome!
Remember that cheap entries close for IOC2010 on 12th April and entries close on 19th April. Enter now on-line via www.orienteering.ie/ioc.
The competitions are a sprint race in Coleraine, with individual and relays at Magilligan sand dunes on the east of Lough Foyle, close by. This promises to be three days of excellent orienteering, so go ahead and enter. How many sports do you know where you can just go and enter the National Championships without all kinds of strings attached, qualification rounds and red tape? It’s the Irish Championships: a no brainer: how could you missit? enter now! I have run in every Irish Champs since 1976 at Stranahely in the Glen of Imaal – (except the ones I’ve been involved in as an official) – it’s what you do!
Mullaghmeen or Inch?
Another definite “don’t miss” this month is Setanta’s annual bluebell-fest at Mullaghmeen, Co. Westmeath on April 18th (unless you’re in Munster, in which case go to the dunes at Inch, Co. Kerry!). This is a unique area – the largest planted deciduous forest in Ireland and the highest point in Co. Westmeath. The forest is beautiful at this time of year and well worth the journey. It’s located near Oldcastle, Co. Meath close to Lough Sheelin and will be signposted from Castlepollard. Details on the Setanta website here. You can also visit the cairns at Loughcrew on the way home.
Another entry reminder: the latest date for cheap entries for the Leinster Championships at Carlingford on 9th May is coming up: enter by Sunday 18th April. Final entries close on April 26th. Details from 3ROC here. Look at previous courses on Routegadget here.
Irish Trail-O Championships
The eagle-eyed reader of the IOA fixture list will have noted that the Irish Orienteering Champs takes place over two weekends this year. The early staging, on 17th April (Saturday next), is of the TrailO variety at Castleward, Strangford, Co. Down. If you follow the links from it you will be taken incorrectly to the web site for the FootO champs which take place the following weekend in the Coleraine area. See here for details. The event is being held on the Saturday to allow the FootO community to run at Mullaghmeen the following day. You could do worse, however, than return to Co Down for the Sunday TrailO which, despite being the NI Champs, is open to all and pit yourself against the British squad who are using the weekend for selection purposes. – Alan Gartside.
[Trail orienteering, if you haven’t tried it, is the most intense brain and map workout you can give yourself: decision making (some of it against the clock) and pitting your wits against the devious Mr Gartside will give you a strangely satisfying yet frustrating experience, an indescribable love/hate day out rather like one of those shower gels that get you clean but leaves you all cold and tingling afterwards. I don’t know quite what the extra ingredient is in trail-O, but try it if you can – you’ll like it!]