Senior Elite Squad Updates & Changes

Orienteering sport at the world level is an absolute top sport. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognises the sport that is not (yet) part of the Olympic Games. Inclusion in the Olympic program is one of the declared goals of the International Orienteering Federation (IOF).

World and European championships are held in all four orienteering sports. A world ranking list is kept. There is a World Cup for all orienteering disciplines, an unofficial European Cup is the counterpart to this.

In the dominant orienteering nations are several athletes who train at a professional level and can make a living from their sport, at least temporarily. Paid coaches are standard, not only for the national teams but also for many clubs in these nations.

In addition to the international title fights, the big Scandinavian club relays, such as the Tiomila, the 25-manna in Sweden, or the Jukola and the Venla in Finland, enjoy high prestige.

At international championships and the World Cup live reporting via TV and the Internet is now standard.

Orienteering sport in Ireland is currently far away from such conditions. The Irish athletes are currently not among the best in the world in orienteering sports.

Nevertheless, talented athletes and committed coaches take a lot of time and effort to assert themselves in the best possible way. 

I am delighted to announce a new elite senior squad policy, guidelines, and application process for the competition year 2024.

And here are the soundbites of what’s new:

  • Performance guidelines for athletes/coaches & guidelines for international competition results
  • A new & comprehensive application form for anyone eligible wishing to be part of the senior team for the competition year cycle
  • The application deadline for the senior squad team is October 30 annually.
  • Senior squad team announcement in November annually.
  • An annual publication of the season calendar in November which includes dates for training camps, test races, and relevant national and international competitions

The relevant documents can be downloaded here

Report from senior international training camp by Josh O’Sullivan Hourihan

Preparations for an “Italian Job”
PWT Italia – MOC Camp ‘23

Lake Garda

Having spent the end of 2022 and the start of 2023 injured and not running I was a bit
worried this training camp would come too soon and at best I would only be able to jog some
trainings and walk the others. After lots of hours on the bike, in the gym and with the support of DC
Fitness Physio I was back training and even ran a few workouts before flying out. The 2022 edition of
the MOC Camp in Apulia was fantastic with great maps, great people, sunshine, pizza and gelato so it
was a no brainer to get it in my calendar again this year. Despite being the sole Irish representative on
the camp I was able to link in with the Belgian trio of Yannick, Warre and Wouter along with Øystein
from Norway. This made logistics easier but also, and more importantly, it meant for the entirety of the camp I would be around better athletes than me, with a mix of major championship medals and WOC Finals. This was an ideal learning and development environment.

I started my camp a few days early and spent the first ~2 days in Milan and Brescia doing some tourist runs, sightseeing and some easy paced sprint trainings before meeting the guys on Monday afternoon. The camp itself was targeted to being relevant to EOC 2023 which will be held in this area. The mappers, course planners and course characteristics were as we could expect for the championships. Over the few days we raced a Sprint Final in Peschiera de Garda, Knock-Out Sprints split between Peschiera del Garda (quali) and Bardolino (semi-final and final) and finally a Sprint Relay in Lazise. Overall I got some quite positive feedback both physically, running the 5th fastest time of any athlete in the KO Finals, and for the most part I picked and executed good route choices and runners choice options. The trainings were a chance to get more map time and work on the processes at paces from easy through to “technical speed” as the Belgians called it!

The next training camp on my plans is in Berga for the Catalan Sports Week in June followed in August by the Antwerp Sprint Orienteering Meeting (ASOM) and Vienna Orienteering Challenge (VOC) a week apart with a training camp in between on maps relevant for EOC 2025 in Belgium.

For now it’s back to doing the basics and working to get up to speed again! Hopefully in October I will be
standing on that start line at European Championships ready to “blow the bloody doors off!”

Below is a breakdown on the training for the week. You can find more details, splits, data,
map images and photos on my Strava account if you want to see a bit more about what I got
up to.
Saturday – (AM) Travel / (PM) Long run in Milan
Sunday – (AM) SprintO in Parco Biblioteca delgi Alberi in Milan / (PM) SprintO in Brescia
Monday – (AM) Easy run in Brescia / (PM) Easy paced KO Sprint courses in Brescia
Tuesday – (AM) Sprint Final in Peschiera del Garda / (PM) Recovery run near Lake Garda
Wednesday – (AM) KO Sprint Q in Peschiera del Garda / (PM) KO Sprint SF & F in
Thursday – (AM) 2 easy trainings in Verona / (PM) “Technical Speed” training in Bardolino
Friday – (AM) Sprint Relay in Lazise / (PM) Recovery Intervals – 6 * 1500m w 90sec jog
Saturday – (AM) Tourist run around Sirmione / (PM) Easy map trainings in Rovereto
Sunday – (AM) Easy jog before traveling home / (PM) Travel
Total – 190.63km, 10 map trainings, 234 controls

If you want to see what I get up to you can follow my accounts here –
Strava – @joshoshourihan
Instagram – @joshoshourihan

WOC Memories

In 2021, IOF is celebrating 60 years of its existence and, at the same time, it was 55 years ago when the first world orienteering championship was held.
Jaroslav Kačmarčík, a long-time Czech national o-team member and founder of the Park World Tour series, has brought the idea of compiling a publication that would map all world championships between 1966 – 2021 using the eyes of their most successful participants.

Their testimonies are to be accompanied by abundance of photographs, maps and result overviews. To get a grasp of the idea and design of the book, you can have a look on a publication which has been issued for the purposes of WOC 2021 and which has mapped all WOCs ever held in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. IOF took sponsorship of this project, Jaroslav Kačmarčík is responsible for the factual content of the book and ŽAKET publishing (CZE) is in charge of its design, printing and distribution.

The book is in English, expected volume of approximately 450 pages, A4 format in hard-case binding. Its issue is planned for first half of 2022 for an indicative price of EUR 79.
At this moment, we as the publishers need to know the demand for the book. Therefore, we want to encourage those interested in buying it to fill in a simple form. Based on the level of interest we will be able to estimate better the amount of copies to be printed and the final price per piece. Based on the questionnaire, all interested ones will receive detailed information regarding the date of issue and payment in 1Q 2022.

The form will be active till the end of December 2021. Hoping that we have caught your interest in this project,

Tom Hollowell (IOF, Secretary General)
Jaroslav Kačmarčík (author)

Memories of the Winners – Interest Form

The Orienteering World Cup Final 2019, China

Niall McCarthy and Nicolas Simonin traveled to the Guanghzou region of China recently to represent Ireland at the Orienteering World Cup. Following on from the Military World Games the previous week, Orienteering made headlines across the world, unfortunately not for the right reasons as disputes against a number of athletes were upheld by IOF officials. Watching the races from the armchair, the intricate sprint terrain with narrow passages high walls and little in the way of visuals gave the European athletes plenty to work on, a similar scenario in the forest terrain where jungle is difficult to equate with our own temperate forests. Those athletes who were given the luxury of training in Asia would have had an enormous advantage.

Niall takes us through his trip and races….

On the morning of Thursday the 24th October, I started the longest journey I’ve made to date for an orienteering race – just over 16 hours from Dublin to Guangzhou via Amsterdam. So with my Visa in hand (issued by some bewildered embassy workers who’d never heard of the sport), and a bag full of o-gear, I arrived in China the following Friday morning.

I knew that I had very little technical orienteering done since the summer, but I was hoping that the forests (or jungles?) of China mightn’t prove to be as technical as their European counterparts, and I might hold my own and try get a decent result in the final round of the orienteering world cup. Arriving at the hotel five minutes before the bus to the model event, I had made it just in time! The model event was on an unused section of the map and proved to be a good indication of the race the following morning – green and tough and using paths was going to be key for route choices.

On the Friday night we were treated to a very unique and spectacular opening ceremony – the Chinese organisers were certainly hoping to make a lasting impression on the orienteering community. By the time we were back at the hotel, I was delighted it was finally time for bed.

Waking up Saturday morning, I was fresh, rested and looking forward to the race (thankfully my body doesn’t seem to understand how to get jet-lagged). What was to follow however was one of my poorest performances in recent years. No big major mistakes, but a plethora of minor ones, losing time somewhere along the way at nearly every control. My rusty orienteering technique was evident and I was very disappointed with myself for allowing it to happen. The race itself was a very unique setting – Xiqiao Mountain, the plateau of an extinct volcano right in the middle of the city, scattered with ancient burial sites and a large network of paths, and surrounded in every direction by a never ending urban environment. I thought the course itself made quite good use of the area available, in what felt at times like a jungle.

Sunday morning we made our way to Nanhai Movie and TV Town for the sprint relay. With no competitive team, I watched Switzerland clinch victory only taking the lead on the final leg, while cheering on Nick who ran in a mixed team, all before sneaking in a quick tempo-effort run on the map shortly after the official race ended.

Monday was a rest day, and I used this opportunity to sharpen up my sprint-o technique on a training map a mere ten minutes jog from the hotel. The sprint map was crazy and proved to be highly relevant for the race the following day – tiny paths (60cms wide in places) winding through a residential area (it might be harsh to call it a Favela of sorts!) creating an absolute maze. One tiny lapse in concentration and you found yourself struggling to relocate in a grey concrete jungle. There were even locals at their doorsteps cheering on the large amount of teams using the training map that morning! The biggest taking point from the model was that map contact in the race was going to be essential. Relocation following a lapse in concentration is usually fairly simple in sprint-o, but Chinese labyrinths were a whole different ball game.

“The sprint map was crazy and proved to be highly relevant for the race the following day”

Tuesday finally rolled around and I was looking forward to the race. I even did ten minutes on the same training map as part of my pre-breakfast jog in an attempt to hone my skills one last time. The race itself proved to be fast and furious with a wealth of route choice options and areas for mistakes. Even the best, most experienced orienteers were dropping large amounts of time throughout the course. Trying to keep to my plan of steady and clean, I was reasonably happy with the first 8 or so controls, and felt reasonably in control of my race. However, after the 8 control I decided to try up the pace and this proved to be detrimental to my performance. I had a poor 9th control getting disorientated in the tiny streets and paths surrounding the control. While this was followed by a couple of easier controls where I regained some confidence, it wasn’t long before I was back “on the edge” and I made some further rushed decisions and lost crucial time in the latter sections of the course, and thus any chance at a decent result.

Map-Men sprint

In an attempt to make the most of my trip, I tried to put the bad parts of the race behind me and made the most of my remaining time in china, enjoying the atmosphere and sun as I warmed down in the arena and watched as the top elites started flowing into the finish. It wasn’t long before I was back on a 16 hour plane journey that Tuesday night and straight into work Wednesday morning back home in Ireland. A short trip (very busy season at work) – but a memorable one nonetheless.

On reflection

Reflecting back on my trip, there was both positives and negatives to take from the experience. I was disappointed with myself for allowing myself to go to an international competition after very little orienteering practice directly before the races, but at the same time, there was also positives to take from sections of the sprint race, and to a lesser degree the middle distance. I guess it also didn’t help that my season largely ended in mid-August, and this late race in late-October was somewhat separated from the rest of the racing season.

Another season older and wiser (apparently) and I’m delighted to be starting into the winter training period and hoping to set up a solid base for the coming year. While it’s always exciting to be looking at the international calendar, Irish Championships is always going to be an orienteer’s bread and butter. The only Irish titles I’ve won in the senior class are in the sprint distance and the relay, so looking forward to next May it’s safe to say the middle and long distance races will be top of next year’s agenda.

And finally, I’d like to thank Darren and Aine for all their help, helping to sort entries, accommodation and even a please-get-my-visa-sorted-asap embassy letter.

Many thanks to Niall for taking the time to share his experience with us.

If you would like to share your orienteering experience at home or abroad, please contact Debbie on

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