3ROC News 23 February 2017

Armagh Night mass start

What a great three days orienteering we had last weekend in Armagh! A really imaginative use of the adjoining areas of the Royal School and Planetarium for the night mass-start race on Friday, followed by a sprint qualification race on Saturday morning and Sprint finals on Saturday afternoon, and then an urban race on Sunday morning, all on top-class maps by Kieran Rocks and Bill Simpson, and home in Dublin by lunchtime.

A top-class international field ran in all the races at the weekend, and in the 5K road race on Thursday evening where orienteers Kris Jones (Wales) and Yannick Michiels (Belgium) finished 5th and 13th. There were orienteers from Ireland, Belgium, Canada, Norway, New Zealand, and the British team used it as a sprint training weekend.

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Colm Moran (in green) in the Sprint Qualifier

Friday night’s event involved four mass-starts of about 30 runners each, 3 minutes apart. We had a “score event” section to start with, where we had to choose 5 out of 7 controls to visit – this split the mass-start fields up straight away; then we ran through a tunnel under the road and did short taped loop with two controls before continuing into the Planetarium grounds proper where we flipped the map over. We had two butterfly loops from the top of the hill before returning to do another longer taped running loop and back through the tunnel for five final controls in the school: 29 controls in 3.8 km! The map was called “The Hill of Infinity”, reflecting some of the planetary exhibits in the grounds, although they were largely invisible at night.

Saturday’s sprint qualifier started in the grounds of one of the two St Patrick’s cathedrals, taking us around schools, buildings and housing estates in twists and turns, up and down the seven hills of Armagh, to the finish at a sports centre. The top 5 from each of three heats went through to the A-final, plus the fastest losers based on the split times for some common “mystery legs”. The next slower people went in the shorter B-final and the slowest and the many mispunchers, disqualified people and DNF’s ran in the shorter-still C-final.

The finals on Saturday afternoon ran from the Shambles market, going further south around another hill (evidently there are seven, like Rome, and almost as many churches) with the other St Patrick’s cathedral.

Sunday’s urban race was longer and emphasised route-choice more than what might be considered devious control sites and fine navigation in the circle, starting in the city and finishing in the palace Demesne where the junior courses ran. Aidan McCullough was 2nd in the M16 race and Clodagh Moran 4th in W18.

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Part of the Men’s Qualifier at Armagh, including John’s favourite control 10!

From the club perspective, our notable runs were Aidan McCullough 2nd in the under-16 night sprint, 2nd in the sprint qualifier U-16 class, and 3rd in a very tight final; and Eoin McCullough and Colm Moran 1st and 2nd in the B-final, disappointed in not making the cut for the A race. Veteran John McCullough says he “never saw control 10 on the map” in the sprint qualifier and was disqualified for going from 9 to 11. A likely story!

You can see full results, maps, route and photos of the weekend here.

This weekend there are, believe it or not, two orienteering events in Co. Cavan: On Saturday (February 25th) Fermanagh Orienteers are running the first 2017 NI Colour Series league event at Castle Saunderson, near Belturbet, in the northern part of the county, while on Sunday 26th Fingal Orienteers are running the second Leinster League event at Deerpark Forest, Virginia, in the southern part of Cavan.

Anyone care to make a two-day of it?

You can see the Castle Saunderson map here  and Deerpark Forest here. Details of the Fermanagh Orienteers event are here and of the Fingal event here.

Reminder: You can join 3ROC or renew your annual membership online here.

Appeal for volunteers: The next 3ROC event is the Leinster League at Carrick Mountain, Co. Wicklow, on April 23rd. We are looking for an organiser, and for helpers on the day. Please contact 3rockoc@gmail.com if you can help.

Relays: If you would like to run on a 3ROC relay team at the JK at Easter or at the Irish Championships in May, please contact 3rockoc@gmail.com and let us know as soon as possible- remember, as you are representing the club, we pay for the team to enter.

See you in the forest!