Championship Fever

Championships this autumn are coming head to tail, with the Leinster and Northern Ireland events a week apart, the Munsters on October 28th on the slopes of Sliavenamon in Co. Tipperary (details here) and the Connachts at the end of November at Portumna in Co.Galway (closing date 2nd & 16th November; details here). The first two had very contrasting terrain and conditions as the reports below show. Big news, however, is the arrival of muttiple World Champion Thierry Gueorgieu for a weekend coaching course in October.
Autumn is also Home International season with our Seniors and Juniors taking on England, Scotland and Wales in, for us, away matches in Scotland and England.

Event reports

Conor Short at LOC (Paul Smyth)

Leinster Championships, Carraig na Seabhac, Co. Wicklow, September 30th: Ajax finally got to use the map they had prepared for last year’s Irish Championships but were prevented from using because of wildlife issues. The excellent map by Pat Healy covered an area of young patchy forest, open mountain, and boulder-strewn hillside between the Sally Gap and Glenmacnass. Conditions on the day were challenging, to say the least: high winds and rain, with little shelter for organisers or competitors. The start was on an exposed open hillside where runners literally went over the top into the unknown. The shorter courses and the early stages of the longer courses plunged into the patches of young trees after the start; the longer courses emeged on the other side to be faced with a climb to a rocky ridge with lots of elephant-sized boulders across the river, before returning to the scattered trees towards the finish. Aonghus O’Cléirigh’s courses were challenging and, combined with the conditions on the day, defeated some competitors as there were an unusually high number of non-finishers.


Ruth & Shay

Luckily the maps were printed on waterproof paper and the Irish Junior Squad had a tent dispensing hot drinks and cakes to revive the runners, and they raised almost €500 for their efforts.
The map was surveyed with a lot of GPS input so it was very accurate, though the terrain wasn’t easy to traverse/ Enjoyable? Not really; Challenging? Definitely! If the conditions were better the area would certainly be an enjoyable one to run on. The organiser coped very well with the difficult conditions and the sun came out in time for the prizegiving and the control collectors.
Shay O’Boyle and Ruth Lynam retained their Leinster titles from last year in M21 and W21. Full results, routegadget, split times are available here.


Northern Ireland Championships, 6th October

What a novelty to run in a forest! Binevenagh in Co. Derry was first used for the 1990 Irish Championships but the map was recently extended by Marcus Pinker to include some old open farmland and some newer low-visibility coniferous forest. The area was a candidate for JK2011 but didn’t make the final cut for a range of reasons, but it provides great variety, with the original contoured runnable forest nestling under the huge crags forming the core of the area which we all got to visit towards the finish.
North West OC of Limavady were the hosts and were part of an action-packed orienteering weekend which also featured the Irish Trail-O Championships on the open mountain above Binevenagh’s crags (it’s OK – you could drive up there!), a night event at Downhill and a mixed style sprint race at the University in Coleraine the next day.
Planner Charlie Reid used two starts, one for juniors close to the finish and a high start above the forest for most of the others. This worked well and running conditions on the day were perfect. Fermanagh’s Ciara Largey took the title in W21 and …. local lad Steven Linton took M21.
Results, photos, routes etc are here.

The French Connection

Thierry Gueorgiou, France’s mutiple World Champion, has been invited to Ireland to run a coaching course mainly for the Senior Squad in the build up to the 2013 World Championships in Finland. Thierry will be coaching the Squad at Tollymore, Co. Down on October 20th. The afternoon will also feature a micro-O event and the evening will have a talk by Tero on his orienteering technique.See his impressive orienteering CV here.
The next day Thierry and the Squad will run at the Leinster League event at Carlingford, which is also doubling as the LVO Club Championships. You can read more about the weekend on the Senior Squad blog here.

In London’s fair city …
The 5th London City race took place on 22nd September, unfortunately clashing with the Senior Home International in Scotland, but providing a unique way to see one of the world’s great cities. This year’s race didn’t start in the 3-D complexity of the Barbican but further west at Kings College close to Waterloo station and beside the Inns of Court. The start was in a small alleyway which spewed out the runners at 1 minute intervals before they spread out across the city.
There wasn’t s whole lot of route choice and final placings depended on pure running speed as the orienteering was fairly straightforward, though you did have to watch out for deadends and uncrossable boundaries.
A smallish Irish contingent travelled over but some of the LVO runners showed that it was possible to do it all in a single day, eliminating accommodation costs.
Best Irish results were Susan Lambe’s  12th in W21 Elite, Róisín Long’s 14th in Women’s Open, and Aidan McCullough’s 5th in M/W12-.
Details of the race are here. Relive the experience with a 47 minute headcam video of Joaquim Sousa’s race here, like Google street-view on steroids! Joaquim did get into the Barbican after about 15 minutes.
(Fro those of you who would like to try a really different city race, the MOV 2012 in Venice is on November 11th. Details here).

The series of three mountain bike orienteering events in Leinster attracted a small but enthusiastic following. The first race, run by Setatna at Djouce on September 1st, saw a mix of technical orienteering and technical cycling challenges set by planner Dave Weston, including plenty (too much for my modest MTB skills!) of tortuous single track on steep slopes, plus some long route-choice legs and some nice swooping ups and downs. CNOC’s Conor Short was fastest on the long course in 105 minutes.
The second outing, 3ROC’s event at Carrick Mountain, used an old map but a good road network to provide lots of route choice (some of which nobody saw) and fast cycling. Alan Ayling took the long course in 63 minutes.
The final event on the Curragh on October 7th again saw Conor take the honours with a ride of 79.41, a scant 18 seconds clear of first timer Daniel Morrogh.
The three areas provided very different challenges and were enormous fun. Numbers were disappoointing, though, so maybe we’re trying to attract the wrong people? Maybe we should try for mountain bikers who’d like to try some orienteering, rather than orienteers who’d like to try MTB-ing?
There is talk of another series in the spring, so watch this space.If you enjoyed the MTBO series, why not try a Trailquest? There’s one at Newcastle, Co. Down on Sunday 4th November. It’s a 2 or 3 hour MTB score event. Details of the event are here.

O-bits …
“Lost? Join the club!” is the slogan on the new car window stickers produced by IOA Communications Officer Finn van Gelderen. Get yours now and get the orienteering message out there to the traffic jams and car parks of the nation …  
Viking invasion: Globetrotter Peo Bengtsson is bringing another group of Scandinavian orienteers to Ireland at the beginning of November as part of a tour of Britain and Ireland. They will also do the first orienteering event in the Isle of Man as part of the trip. They will run in an event in the North before coming to Dublin to run a sprint race and then take part in GEN’s Autumn Series event at Brockagh, which has been changed from Sunday 4th to Saturday 3rd to suit the visitors. Peo has been an orienteering ambassador for many years with his Worldwide Orienteering Promotions tours, bringing groups to the far east and all kinds of exotic locations … A previous scandinavian incursion coincided with the 1984 Leinster Championships, the results of which I found recently. The event was in the Glen of Imaal in Co. Wicklow, the map called “Hairyman’s Brook”. In a remarkable turn of events, Eoin Rothery beat former World Champion Jorgen Martensson by 19 seconds in M21A. Interestingly, the 1984 Championships had 304 runners (37 in M21A and 23 in W21A) while in 2012 we had 162 (10 M21E and 8 W21E). Brian Corbett was the only one to have run M21A in 1984 and M21E in 2012 but, sadly, DNF’d each time, though there are a good many of the class of ’84 still running.

WPFG 2013: are you elegible for the World Police & Fire Games, being held in Belfast at the beginning of August 2013? Orienteering features on the programme, with sprint in Belfast city, middle distance at Barnett’s Park and classic distance at Tollymore. Mountain running also features, at Donard Park, Newcastle. To get details and check if you are eligible, see the website here.

The next Junior Squad training weekend will be in Co. Waterford on 3rd/4th November, featuring a sprint race at Woodstock, Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny, training on Tramore sand dunes and a competition at Brandon Hill, Graiguenamanagh. Interested? Contact IOA Juniors Officer Mike Long for full details, but wait until aftyer the Junior Home International on October 13/14th! E-mail Mike at
Speaking of Juniors, they plan to run a series of sprint races early in 2013 on university campuses, to help raise money for themselves. Next year sees the Junior World Championships in the Czech Republic from June 30th, and the European Youth Championships in Israel from October 31st.
Read the October issue of the International Orienteering Federation’s on-line magazine, “Inside Orienteering” where Clive Allen writes about the state of orienteering in Ireland here.

Orienteering in Ireland
Orienteering Ireland, Irish Sport HQ, Blanchardstown
D15 DY62, Ireland