..............by Mike Long
I had the pleasure of attending my first JHI over the weekend of 10-12 September, based around Perth and Stirling in Scotland. On paper the Irish team looked strong and so it was proven in practice with a comfortable overall win over Wales to win the Judith Wingham trophy for the first time in many years. Can anybody actually remember when we last won?
The JHI coincided with the World Park Tour. Our first port of call therefore was Scone Castle on the Friday afternoon where we were able to run over the courses earlier used by the elites in the qualification race for Saturday’s final. A sample from the map is shown below. Personally I found the dark green detail confusing but it did not seem to bother the Juniors. As Greg pointed out to me “you have to run at the same speed as which you can orienteer”.
There was also a maze-O (south end of map) done by the Juniors without a map! The winner was Alex who got to the centre via the exit. Nobody had spelled out the rules! It was a good start and got everyone’s head on the job at hand.
Unusually the relay was held on Saturday (so that all could go to watch the elites in Perth town centre later). Several of the Juniors were familiar with the map of Kinnoull Hill, as it had been used at the 2009 Scottish 6 day. The map (part of if reproduced below) is characterised by steep runnable woodland with many paths. In fact most of the juniors said they had to ignore the paths, which they found confusing and focus on the contours.
Overall we did very well. The boys were 8th, 11th and 12th and the girls were 7th, 11th and 13th. At the end of the day England, on 54 points, had a 4 point lead over Scotland. We were on 24 points, 8 ahead of Wales.
Then it was off to Perth where we had the pleasure of watching Niamh O’ Boyle and Nick Simmonin compete with several of the best elites in the world literally in Perth town centre much to the bemusement of the local shoppers. Both placed in the top 10 behind the very impressive Helena Jansson of Sweden and Østein Kvaal Østerbø of Norway.
Then there was the ceilí. I will let someone else tell the story here!
On to Devilla Forest for the long distance individual races on Sunday. Here the forest was pretty flat with much fewer paths and subtle (to me at least!) contour detail, see below. The only issue here was the “white” area were very rough with waist (except for Colm Moran) high heather and a net work of old drains. Keeping a bearing was very difficult. The M18’s had a very long leg through the middle of the map and several of the lads choose to run the path to the east (some 3 km) which turned out to be as quick.
Again the performances were very good our best runner in each class were Caoimhe (7th), Niamh (7th), Áine (6th), Jonathan (4th), Jack (6th) and Séan (5th): strong across the board.
We ended up on 61 points well ahead of Wales 45. England, on 135 points, also had a very comfortable 16 point margin over Scotland. Full detailed results can be found on www.rstrain.ndtilda.co.uk/results 10/jhi/
My overall view of the results was that although we had no individual medal winner we performed strongly with strength in depth in most of the classes and we were certainly not hovering around the bottom.
My 3 personal running highlights of the weekend me were:
• Cliona Mc Cullough’s first back in the relay despite leaving both her shoes in a marsh in the forest!
• The sight of the four M16’s finishing the relay more or less together
• Jonathan Quinn’s excellent 4th place in the M14 long distance, 13 seconds off a medal (The picture below shows Jonathon with the winning team trophy. Jonathan was also named the best Irish performer).
The entire Irish crew are shown below:
Back row left to right: Cilín, Megan, Colm, Laura, Cliona, Jack, Séan, Mark, Alex, Jill, Conor, Áine, Andrea, Niamh, and Lawrence
Front row: Cathal, Caoimhe, Róisín, Jonathan, Deirdre, Peter and Donal
The other competition of the weekend was on the various roads between Edinburgh, Perth and Stirling. The drivers Ruth, Kathryn and I were forced into various, often strange, route choices by our intrepid navigators. Lawrence and Colm can fill in the details!
It was the last JHI for Colm, Conor, Laura and Séan. They will be clearly missed but a first for Cathal, Donal, Peter, Róisín and Megan. One would have to conclude all is well in Irish Junior Orienteering. It was also clear to me that none of the above would have happened without the dedication and hard work over the past number of years by Ruth and Greg. Roll on 2011!