The Senior Home Internationals, cancelled earlier this year due to covid-19, took on a new look as athletes flocked to their computers in order to race virtually!
Ireland have fought good battles with Wales over the last number of years for 3rd spot, as Scotland & England battle for the true crown, some ways up the road.
But this year, the opportunity for greatness arose, could Ireland rise to the challenge?
With physical capacity taken out of it, could Ireland excel in a purely mental & navigation (with a minor sprinkling of game-knowledge and mouse skills) race? They were to be put to the test.
In advance of the competition, of course a selection race was held using one of the Lockdown online competitions. With big numbers in attendance, the likes of Paul Pruzina, Mick Farrell & Brad Connor were unfortunate to miss out, with the final squad named as: Laurence Quinn, Colm Moran, Jonny Quinn, Ruairi Short, Cillin Corbett and Conor Short.
A squad training camp was assembled on the Friday evening, before we moved to the main event on Saturday 4th of July. The Irish were prepped and ready to race.
Catching Features multiplayer allows all runners to run in the race with their competitors around them, but with a max of 20 runners, 2 servers were needed, so each country’s top 3 athletes were selected to race in the A-server.
With a 60 second start interval the pressure started to mount, but as Ireland’s athletes raced around Wharncliffe South, the depth of the squad began to come to the fore.
Laurence Quinn recovered from an early mistake to take the individual title, leading Ireland to a blitz in the individual, taking 1st & 3rd in the A-server, from Laurence Quinn and Colm Moran respectively. As well as securing a clean sweep in the B-server of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, from Conor Short, Cillin Corbett and Ruairi Short respectively. Unfortunately Jonathan disconnected mid-race ruining what looked to be another strong performance.
Ireland took 1st, 3rd & 6th places in the individual once the results were merged. This gave them an almost unassailable lead ahead of England in 2nd place going into the relay. But the Irish team were not going to stop there.
- Laurence Quinn – 60:22
- Joe Sunley (Eng) – 61:01
- Colm Moran – 65:54
- Conor Short – 71:14
- Cillin Corbett – 73:53
- Ruairi Short – 77:23
DQ. Jonathan Quinn
The Relay kicked off immediately following the individual, and despite his earlier DQ, Jonathan Quinn’s experience and known-form earned him a spot on Ireland’s first relay team (something he would like to see more of in real selection policies, but that debate is for another time).
After their resounding individual performance Ireland went in as favourites, and took firm control early on first leg as Colm Moran was able to get a gap on the 2nd control. Ireland never looked back, taking an 11min lead into leg 2, which only continued to grow with more fine runs from
Jonny and Laurence securing the title in style.
The Irish B-team also won the B-relay, and actually had the second fastest relay time, which would have made it an Irish 1-2 in the relay, however the B-relay was unofficial as competitors were able to watch the gps tracking from the A-relay beforehand.
- Ireland 103:23
- Colm Moran 34:10
- Jonny Quinn 33:53
- Laurence Quinn 35:20
- England 117:14
- Jake O’Donnell 45:39
- Mikey Adams 38:52
- Joe Sunley 32:42
- Scotland 121:07
- James Hammond 45:51
- Tam Wilson 38:48
- Graham Gristwood 36:27
- Wales 139:38
- Kris Jones 47:46
- Ben Mitchell 43:40
- Megan Carter-Davies 48:11
It was a great competition overall, with great maps designed by the lockdown team, with particular thanks to Nick Lightfoot and Martin Ward for their hard work on the maps and courses. There was great spirit and camaraderie between all the competitors, with fortunately Ireland’s experience of the game proving to be enough in the end.
Catching Features has been a really beneficial resource throughout the lockdown to keep some orienteering going, and has been hugely beneficial in the development of our orienteering, especially during our junior days.
Colm & Laurence have shared a combined report of their individual race below, with Colm’s comments and routes in blue, and Laurence’s comments and routes in red.
CF SHI Individual:
The alarm sounds at 05:48 and I roll around for a minute of denial, before lifting myself up out of the van and towards the kitchen. Open CF, join the server, the crowds are in, some brief nerves are settled by efforts to warm up my hands. Actually, I really could have done with a warm-up, oh well, here we are. In we go, and looks like I’m 2nd starter, with a Scot to chase.
I’m one of the later starters, I watch as perhaps 8 competitors start before me and disappear into the forest. I feel pressure even though I am sitting at home, it is great to experience that racing feeling again and have to deal with nerves and force oneself to concentrate.
And we’re off, starting with the traditional straightforward first control. Beep, beep, “my heart beats slow…”, what? Is that spotify? Sh*t. Beeeeep. Alright stay calm, 1 is fine. Second control looks straightforward enough, just need to be careful I leave the track at the right place. I turn left after my hill, through the re-entrant, across the path junction into the next re-entrant
and then start looking for the rocks in the undergrowth. See them and we’re off to a clean start. I’ll go along the track for a little to 2, ignore the music,
ignore the music, damn it’s so loud. Alright there’s the 2nd hill, cut down, hit the path, the undergrowth looks a little scrappy, I’ll follow the path and contour in. Scrappy, but we’ve hit it. I haven’t looked ahead to 3 and leave 2 without any real plan. I haven’t read ahead at all, ehhh, up a little? I will pay the price for this. I contour along but I’m really not sure where I am or what I’m looking out for.
Stupid music. I contour through the hashing for a while before deciding to drop to the main track. Okay, here’s a chance, I pick up my phone with my map hand and try to change Spotify to my phone, and pause it. Nope. Oh well, time to leave the track, you’re going to have to get used to the music. Damn, I have not paid enough attention and this is kind of tricky. I hit the wall and should just stop and fully relocate quickly but I keep going. I know I crossed the wall, and I think I saw the boulder? I hit the track but I’m not sure if I am high or low. Okay I think the bearing should be good. I am distracted and take longer to relocate than necessary, but I get it.
Uncertainty ensues. Some wiggles. Ah, there is the green, phew disaster averted. Got it. 2 minutes lost and I know that it will be hard to get back if others run clean. Not ideal but all I can do is plough on. Well, not a great start, but here we are, time to settle. 9th (+1:58). 6th (+1:15).
4 is easy, follow your bearing, cross the track and work your way in guided by the clear thickets. Alright let’s go. Compass for life on this one. Tick off one or two small boulders, and most notably the big one. Stay on line. Yep, there’s the green. All good. A beep behind me. Hmm, was that the Scot or have I been caught? Who knows, on we go. I don’t overthink the route to 5, and go fairly straight, getting a nice 100m of good running on the track. Easy into the control along the side of the green. Oh some routechoice to 5. Well, got to take the small path really, then I think I’ll straighten. Goes quite nicely and I enter cleanly, I’m not nailing the lines through the hashed stuff, but hey, if I’m clean that’s primary. Another beep behind me. 5th (+1:16). 4th
6 looks alright, aim for the white, tick off the boulders and cruise in. Butterfly time baby. I work my way over to the butterfly and wow, it is mayhem in there. People everywhere, all over the butterfly control. I have the north loop first (10-11 on this map). Definitely going for the better runnability on the first one (10 on map), so we’re staying right. Nervous cutting back into the green with nothing to guide me in, but I time it well and hit it cleanly. Another beep and the tail has not been lost. I don’t reckon it’s one of the top guys because they haven’t overtaken me despite some scrappy lines. On the compass, and a bit aggressive through the green to try drop ‘em. Hit it cleanly, and the beep is a little back. Follow the path and straight through the green back to the butterfly. All good, and sounds like the tail is gone. Woop. I have the southern variant first, back out of the thicker green, into the open and careful to hit the gap between the two greens. 8 is straightforward, 90% of the control is just ensuring your direction was OK. Back to the butterfly control, easier to hit this time than the first time around. More mayhem. Now relax a little for the next loop, oh there’s a Scot ahead. Plough on through the open, through the green, it’s further ahead isn’t it? Why is there no control? Check map. Sh*t. How did I do that? Turn back and find it fine, but silly time gone. Cruise along the ride, and open into the next one, and glance one or two tops on my way back to finish the butterfly, but I’m just focusing on my own race now. Cruise into it. 10 catches my attention. Right looks quicker but I’m worried about the vague entry point back into the forest and don’t want to be messing around in green. So I aim off left for safety, cross the first stream and run east up the second, probably a slower route but it removes all risk. 11 and 12 are fine, just taking some caution coming into 12 from a new angle. 4th (+0:58). 2nd (+0:24).
I’ve already glanced ahead at 13. Looks like straight is great, but I would like to make use of some of the paths. Yeah, I’ll zig-zag a little for some runnability, but stick close to the line. As I enter the bit of white before the control it feels like it’s gone pretty smoothly. Leaving 12 I see that jonnyq had disconnected, bad news for team Ireland. I choose to go fairly straight and know where I am crossing the stream. Then the plan is to continue and clip the top of the re-entrants and work into the control. I come in a little higher than planned, so don’t see the re-entrants clearly but more or less gauged it okay and see the control as expected. 3rd (+0:30). 2nd (+0:01).
I know I’ve been running fairly clean since 3 and the race is on. 14 looks vague though, lots of potential for coming in without any clear attackpoint and losing time wandering. I aim right, through the open to hit the small path after the main track. From here it is an easy bearing in, checking off the large boulder for comfort. I can’t really see anything calling my name on the route to 14, so it looks like straight again. I get through the green alright and check my position crossing the track – the spur I come down is pretty obvious. I think I’m out of the stony ground, hmm, how much further? Keep on the compass, patience Colm. Yes, there’s the dark green. In we go. 15 and 16 I take straight lines, the boulder in the track circle makes 15 an easy leg. I like the idea of some easy navigation to 15, a short respite, maybe enjoy a bit of the Nina Simone now singing in my ears. So to the path option we go. I’m a little scrappy contouring into the control losing 20sec, it’s not beautiful but here we are. Straight to 16, head up, there it is.
1st (-0:03). 3rd (+1:06).
Has to be left to 17, the running looks infinitely better. Cruise up to the path, and along we go. Exit the path, tick off the corner of the undergrowth, yep, in control. I climb quite aggressively out of the control, wanting to go left towards the small path and work my way around the thick undergrowth. Climb a little, yep, the compass looks good. Ah yes, there’s the dark green. Hit some rocks on the slope, I’m not sure exactly which rocks they are, but it seems a little early anyway, so all good, I’ll just follow the slope. Jeez, there are a lot of rocks. And no control. Nah, this has to be too far. Hmm, alright, find something obvious, climb a little, oh no, there’s the track. Pretty confident my distance was good so I plough straight down the hill on a bearing without checking the exact position. Phew, I was right, there are the boulders – that was risky. Still though, bad time loss. Getting closer to the control I realise this is another area for losing time so I carefully work my way in from the top of the undergrowth. (Note: Funnily enough a day or two later I reran the course and made the same mistake as Colm that I had been wary of making in the actual race). Continue down on the compass to 18. The depression is huge, I can’t miss that, yep, there it is. And the crag, okay cool, hit it. 18 was straightforward, big depression/hills guarding the control. 4th (+3:12). 1st (-0:18).
Alright, the business end now, it’s not been great but every place counts, and it hasn’t been awful. Plus I saw Jonny timed out so my place really matters. Straight towards the butterfly, cross the river, follow the path, some hesitancy entering, but I find it. Another butterfly, again it’s useful to pay extra attention first time hitting the butterfly control, especially as I will be hitting it from the same direction in two controls time. I battle through some undergrowth to 20 before bailing south for better running and climb into it fine. The pond couldn’t be missed. 20 has a micro routechoice, I choose to go up the path for a few seconds before cutting in above the
worst of the undergrowth. Compass to 21, on we go, cross the path, hit the river. Siucra, I’m wide, cut left and in we go. 21 is just compass, aiming off somewhat to the right but correcting as I get more confident approaching the control. Retrace my previous line into the butterfly for the next one. On the compass into 23, catch sight of it late, but all good. 23 I run around the light green forest, it’s vaguer than expected but the line of boulders and gully are clear and lead me to the control. Contour round to 24, no problems. 24 I stay low and contour into the control. And back up and re-tracing my steps once more into the butterfly. Good old butterflies. Back to the butterfly control for the final time and once I hit the circle it is all familiar. Alright one to go, into the white, over the little hill, nice running here. I cross the path and river and focus on one last bearing. Tick off the boulder and it’s cruise control from here. Hit 26 and down to the finish. I see now 26 is the final control and I’m almost finished, breaking an hour looks unlikely. Run the right direction to the river and then try and pick out some of the detail to gain some clarity and not lose a few seconds. And into the finish. 3rd(+5:33). 1st (-0:39).
Not the best race by any means, but job done, and aside from 2mins on 17, no major disasters, just general scrappiness. I’ll have to take it. Time to pause that bloody music.
I’m disappointed with control 3 but I ran as well as I could have from there to the finish which is positive and was good mental training! I see immediately I’m leading at the finish which is a nice surprise and that the main rivals Joe Sunley and Colm Moran are behind. Happy days.