Jean O’Neill’s Eastern European Tour 2007

CZECH REPUBLIC AND HUNGARY 2007

Easter 3-Day
I went to the 2007 Czech Easter 3-Day in an area 100 km NW of Prague as an alternative to the usual JK in Britain. First I had to navigate in a hire car from the airport in the dark! All went well until I arrived in on the outskirts of Ceska Lipa, where I was staying. The map on the internet didn’t cover the whole area and I ended up in the town square, not knowing where to go. Seeing café lights on the far side, I drove across and went in. The bar girl knew where my pension was, but couldn’t direct me because of one way streets and my imperfect map. As I picked up my glass two policemen walked in and came straight up to me and took me outside – I had driven the wrong way around the square (I had checked for signs but couldn’t find any). After a lot of explanations in broken German and English, and showing of documents, they escorted me to the pension, round several twists and turns. I then walked back to the café- it was only about 200m away, around the corner – and the bar girl handed me my drink! It was 1 a.m. I later learned there is a zero alcohol limit! What a good start!
All three days orienteering were within a half hour drive. The terrain on the first day had lots of steep sandstone ridges and rocky passages. Days 2 and 3 were in another area on different parts of the same map: undulating mixed forest with a lot of marshes and not much white (runnable) forest. There was a chasing start on the last day. It was very good orienteering: runnable forest with sandstone pillars. Water and basins -in lieu of showers – were supplied. There were the usual equipment and food stalls and trestle tables and benches. The organisers arranged the pension (€8 per day) and gave me a car hire contact. I paid for everything on arrival. I would thoroughly recommend this event. The 2008 event – Sandstone Easter 2008 – is in the same region.
Hungaria Kupa
In August I went to the Hungaria Kupa (Hungarian Cup), encouraged to go by a Hungarian W55 and her English husband whom I had met at Easter. This is the largest event on the Hungarian calendar. It was very well organised and there were lots of extra activities. The event centre was at Orfu, a half hour’s drive from Pecs, a beautiful town near the Croatian border in the south of Hungary.. Bus transport was provided each day. It was a 5 day event with all days to count.
Days 1 and 2 were in adjacent areas. The forest was very runnable, with ‘negative’ relief – no hills but a non-stop series of circular deep depressions (dolinas) and lots of pits (not unlike Slovenia). Unfortunately I was not there for Day 1. On Day 2 I went very cautiously for the first 4 controls, then plunged in and found I could navigate OK, concentrating on the large depressions. I finished 8th out of about 20.
In the afternoon there was a mountain bike O- event and in the evening back at the lake the Micro Sprint was held: there were several heats with 10 in each in a mass start. 15cm x 15cm controls were used. There were also false ones. Map scale was 1:750. Courses were very short, finish times about 2 mins. It was very exciting to watch – especially seeing confused orienteers running in and out of changing cubicle area with lots of narrow corridors! The finals were held about an hour later. Neil Dobbs was the only other Irish orienteer in Hungary – he ran very creditably.
The 3rd day was a Park-O sprint event in the grounds of Harkany Spa, mapped at 1:2000. There were lots of individual trees and sculptures, kiosks, buildings, paths, pools, paved open areas. It was very fast and exciting! I won the 2 k course in 15.26 and won a voucher for a meal for two in a hotel in the spa town. (I ate with my Hungarian friend from Easter) When the Sprint-O was over I took part in the National Hungarian Trail-O Championships. After that it was a toss-up whether to bathe in the thermal pool, or swim in the regular 50m pool, or have a shower. In the end, I did all three! It was very hot, mid 30’s.
The assembly area for Days 4 and 5 was within walking distance of Orfu, the finish was beside the lake. Again it was karst with oodles of depressions, generally good runnability, but there were some cleared messy areas. I was 1st W60 again. As I had missed Day 1 I started last in the Day 5 chasing start and did not rank overall. The courses for the older age classes were short, however the Elite men ran from 9.5 to 13.6 km and the Elite women ran 6.4 k to 8.4 (excepting the Park O)
There was a Mobile-O on Day 4 mid afternoon…… This was for pairs – one had the map, the other had to find controls. Each competitor was given a SIM card.! I didn’t talk to anyone about it as hardly anyone spoke English. It must have been good craic! At 7.30 there was a road run around the lake – 7k. I chose that day to go sightseeing in Pecs so missed it. The whole week was very enjoyable, excellent orienteering, good weather, supplementary events.
Spartacus Cup
I enjoyed Hungary so much that I went back at the beginning of November, this time to Budapest. There was an exciting street/sprint–O event around the hilly medieval citadel area of Buda, overlooking the Danube, on the Friday. This was followed by a 2 day end of season (for them) forest event about 50 k away. So I spent one night in Budapest, got a lift to the Spartacus Cup and stayed in a student hostel with some Swiss orienteers. There were about 500 competitors each day.
Assembly was the same for both days, with forests on opposite sides of the road. What a contrast! Day 1 was undulating and very runnable, some green and undergrowth. Most controls were on re-entrants or depressions. My only complaint was that it was too short – I only took 25 mins and won by 15 mins! The 2nd day consisted of steep spurs, all white forest, and middle green areas with boulders and small clearings, rows of small re-entrants, poor visibility. It was very physically demanding. I was much slower than on Day 1, in 4th place, but I held on to win overall. Hot spicy tea was given to everyone at the finish out of a big vat – very welcome as it was cold with a biting northerly wind
So ended my 2007 European season!

Jean O’Neill
W60, Fingal Orienteers