HI Time

An interesting idea!

September and October are Home International Time, with the Juniors in South Wales in mid-September, the Seniors in Cooley last weekend and the Veterans this weekend in Norfolk. There is always a close tussle between England and Scotland for first and second and between Ireland and Wales for third and fourth. The countries with arguably the best orienteering (Scotland) and the biggest numbers (England) win out. Ireland and Wales often struggle to field a full team, borrowing runners from older and younger classes to make up the numbers. This was not a bad solution last weekend, though, when W35 Toni O’Donovan ran in as winner in the W21 race at the SHI in the mists of Carlingford. We have occasional flashes of brilliance but we don’t have the strength in depth.
It’s a numbers game, though: with such a small number of orienteers here it’s difficult to make up a team. There are plenty of people orienteering, in parks, school grounds and forests, but how do we translate that participation to active membership?
The people who come along casually to do some orienteering don’t make the maps or run the events. The core of active orienteers is getting older and is not being replaced by new blood at the rate that’s required. The M21 and W21 classes, a 14-year age span, should be full of competitors, but if you look at many big international competitions, it’s the veterans who form the biggest group, so it’s not just an Irish problem.
What incentives are there for someone to join a club? A nice social atmosphere? Good facilities? Regular technical and physical training? Coaching to help improve? A clubhouse on the edge of a fantastic forest? Trasnport to events? Lots of free gear? Reduced entry fees for events? A spirit of adventure and of community? Any of the above?

Anyway, back to the HI’s. Mike Long’s report on the Junior event follows. The Junior team is preparing for the European Youth Championships later this month in Portugal; the remaining Juniors will have a great weekend’s orienteering in Co. Waterford in two weeks, so there’s lots of activity, but the numbers are small and the bigger the base the higher the pyramid.

Championships time
Following the rescheduling of the Connacht Championships so as not to clash with the Senior Home International, we have a concentration of regional championships coming up soon. The Northern Ireland Championships on October 12th at Meelmore and Luke’s Mountain in the Mournes; the Connacht Championships at Ballymahon, Co. Longford on the 27th and the Munster Championships at Toureen Wood, Cahir, Co. Tipperary on November 3rd.
Another attractive event is the Welsh Championships in the sandy forest of Newborough in Anglesey on October 13th but the ferry prices are outrageous and the ferry times aren’t great either, so that idea got the chop. Quite a number (eighteen?) of Irish orienteers are going to the three days in Rome at the beginning of November, but Italian law requires that all competitors have a medical certificate stating that they are fit and well, and a certificate from their club to say that they are members. Whatever happened to adventure sports?

Simone Niggli Retires
Multiple World Champion Simone Niggli-Luder (Switzerland), holder of 23 World Championship Gold Medals from 2001 to 2013, is quitting elite orienteering after the 2013 World Cup series. In 2003 and 2005 she won all four gold medals (Sprint, Middle, Classic and Relay) at the World Championships!

Junior Home International 2013

The 2013 Junior Home International took place in South Wales on the weekend of 14-15 September. Ireland was represented by a full team of 24 at W/M 14, 16, 18 age groups. We had 4 debutants: Ciara Fitzgerald, Dara O’Cléirigh, Cian May and Zac O’Sullivan Hourihan.
The individual day was held at Mynydd Llangatwg, an area immediately adjacent to one of the JK competition days for next Easter. From my vantage point (OK it is easy for me to say!) it looked like clean, runnable but technically tricky open mountain terrain. I am told that the runnability reduced on the higher ground and that the ferns were poorly mapped making route choice difficult.
The relays on Day 2 were held at Clydach Terrace just off the famous (well to us Civil Engineers anyway!) Head of the Valleys Road. In this area the ground has been much altered by spoil heaps from mine workings etc. so was very tricky technically. The planner choose an excellent change over area on a hill overlooking most of the area.
In the end the Judith Wingham trophy (Ireland v Wales) came down to the performance of the last Welsh girls on their last relay team and we were beaten narrowly by 3 points. If I am honest I guess we did not deserve to beat Wales as they had 3 podium places on Day One and our best results were 5th, 7th and 8th (all girls). The juniors were excellent ambassadors for Ireland, behaved well (I missed the céilí so not sure how that went) and were definitely the best supporters.
My thanks to Ruth for her technical leadership during the weekend and to Rosemarie, Jeni, Brian, Steve, Gerry and Nigel for driving and lots more. Congrats to Cliona, Niamh, Niall and Harry, who are moving on upwards from the M/W18 ranks for their efforts over the years. Róisín was awarded the trophy as best Irish athlete of the weekend for her 5th individual place and a strong run on leg 3 of the relay.
Full results can be found here
An excellent set of pictures, taken by Gerry Meehan, can be found here.
Mike Long
6th London City Race – Clean around the bend
This was my third London City Race, on September 22nd, and it moved downriver from the historic centre to the Victorian docklands on the Isle of Dogs: Eastenders fans will recognise the area from the TV series opening credits. Somewhere recently I read that is was a marshy area in the past and called the Isle of Ducks. 
The competition area was in the large U-bend in the river, just across from Greenwich. The younger juniors ran in Mudchute Park, just across the road from the event centre, but the rest of us took a train to the start: we had a Docklands Light Railway ticket printed on our race numbers – that’s joined-up thinking!
Getting off the train, we were up high, overlooking the start at West India Dock. Courses were less tricky than in my previous two London races, but the location was unusual, with big basins, lifting bridges, industrial areas, modern skyscrapers and warrens of houses, combined with Mudchute Park featuring a city farm and a reconstructed WWII anti-aircraft battery as a control site. Two of our controls were down by the river itself, on a gravelly tidal beach, so we got the full whiff of the Thames.
The map was at 1:5000 scale and was about A3 size, with the competition area split into two: the northern part on one side of the page and the southern on the back.  The mapper was Italian Remo Madella who also surveyed the sprint map for JK2011 in Belfast, around Stranmillis College.
It’s a very enjoyable race and certainly gives visitors a new perspective on one of the world’s great cities.
You can see the map, courses and results here.
Next year the race (on 21st September) will revert to the heart of the city and will be tied in with three other city races to make a series: Porto in Portugal, Edinburgh and Barcelona. Ryanair, here we come!
Another city race to watch next year, though, is the Venice race during the World Championships in Italy.
The City Race was preceded on the Saturday by an Ultrasprint run by LOK in Victoria Park in North London. The 1:1250 scale map showed every tree and bush of quite s small section of the park, and included a special orienteering maze with 2 to 4 controls in it. Runners did three short courses of about 1 km with about 25 controls each. These times were added to find the fastest four in each category (Juniors, Vets etc) who then had a head to head race, after which the rest of us ran a final course to finish 5th, 6th etc.
Typical control site
We had no control descriptions or control codes to check that we were at the right control (there were more than 60 controls out) and if you punched the wrong control you weren’t disqualified but got a 30 second time penalty, so it paid to be careful (a lesson I learned the hard way, twice!). The precise location of the control was shown by a small dot in the circle and, in the example on the right, there could well be another control on the opposite side of the tree.
A lot of work for the organisers in terms of computer programming, mapping, control placement and maze construction, but a lot of fun for the 300 or so participants. At least this time I realised that there was an enlarged version of the maze down in the corner of the map, not like the previous time I did one of these.
You can see a video of the event here and  here. Results, maps and courses are here.
Verdict: packed a lot into a great weekend – orienteering, sightseeing, visiting, getting parking tickets …

On the level … In my own City Race, I lost 1 minute on the first control by getting the levels wrong and running past a set of stairs in a building without seeing them, and I never recovered the lost time. I ran around the corner and instead of seeing the control, the road disappeared into the bowels of the earth. Later, a small gap in a wall on the map lured me to it, only to find that it was a printing defect in the map and I was again on the wrong level!

Come in, do you read me?
Since the demotion of The Irish Orienteer blog to the depths of the revamped Irish Orienteering web site, it is no longer clear that anyone is actually reading this. If you are, and you would like it to continue, do drop a line by e-mail to theirishorienteer@gmail.com to encourage the editor to keep going!
Orienteering in Ireland
  • Orienteering Ireland
    Irish Sport HQ
    D15 DY62
  • fixtures@orienteering.ie
  • info@orienteering.ie