2012 Connacht Region Orienteering Championships

by Sean Murphy (Cork O)

A cloud of anxiety and in trepidation descended on me when I received the mail from Elaine to consider scribing a match report from the CROC 12, in Portumna. Reflecting on my disaster in the Munster Champs, I would question my ability as an orienteerer in repeating such a feat !. So, the focus had to be first and foremost on navigating correctly. Speed could come at a later date. Associated with the CROC this time of year is usually the cold !, and this year was no different, however, despite being -1 degrees in the car from Thurles to Borrisoleigh, we were spared the frost & snow from the 2010 event, at the same location. It was still cold though, happy that I brought the gloves. One of the advantages of running in Portumna, is that it is relatively flat, and with a internetwork of paths and rides, and a golf course, one can correct oneself relatively quickly.

Looking at the start times, the convenience of the parking area to the start line was a lot more welcome than the Munster Champs, nothing of course to do with my timing ! As I got ready, I noticed that other clubmates, Brian Flannelly & Fiona O’Riordan were scheduled in and around my time, so I asked Fiona for some motivation tips, her being the club chairperson and all. With a look of ‘what are you like ?’, Brian sensed his cue of opportunity and piped out ‘Pain is just tiredness leaving the body’, so I said that would do fine !

A serious of common controls were on all the courses, notably at the start and the end. So, most starters went off down the path leaving the car park in south-westerly direction and could join another path or go through the forest for the first control, a cairn. Off I went, picking up Course 2 and away. Always comfortable to get the first one relatively painlessly. Heading for 2, I went around a few hills (small), fighting through the high grass and brambles. I came upon a few other runners heading in my direction, but they punched before the earthwall, so with me knowing that I had to go over the wall, I kept going, and making sure to check my control code as I landed. From 3 – 9 took me up to the NW side of the map, up as far as the main road at the northern tip, with the comfort of the golf course as a close boundary. Nothing too exciting there, just plodding through the runnable forest, hitting a series of re-entrants, depressions, cairns, etc, avoiding the marsh, (too early to get the feet wet!). I did enjoy the runnable forest, as it permitted me to run directly on the compass bearing, again making sure I was at the correct control. 

I met Brian Flannelly again leaving 9, and it seemed he was heading also to my no. 10. Back onto the bigger path, down past the golf course, hard right, and watching for a ride to appear on my left, in the runnable area. Brian bounded past me, and in we went, straight into 10, a depression next to a ruin, As I ran in I was preparing my exit so both of us ran straight through out onto the southern path, he going left, me going right. Heading up to 11 which was paths based, I was able to identify an entry point for 12, so no stopping required. Hit 11 at the edge of the marsh, back down the path, into my attack point across through 2 earthwalls to 12 and off again to the direction of no. 10 for 13. 

The control symbol (red circle) covered a part of the map that threw me on the way to 13, as I lost my bearing, where was I, where were the rectangle of earthwalls I was in…aha, found it, stopped too short, on again and hit 13. Used the compass again for 14, a re-entrant , straight line running, back on a path to 15, following similarly to 16 & 17 (odd trees), on the south eastern side of the map , with the car park to our north. I planned to go direct line for 18, which had me hesitant, hit a path and a lost soul, so took a breather to help him, and to my relief, he was also looking for my no. 18 (his no.2), so with the adage of 2 heads are better than 1, we spotted no. 18 fairly quickly. 18-19 was probably the longest leg on the course, so with the training tips of Dave Donovan flooding back into mind (1992), I prepared 2 attack points, the Eastern tip of the golf course fence, and a ride running perpendicular to the main forest road. Fighting through the high grass and brambles again, I hit the forest road, down to the ride, in over the hill and punched. 

20-23 were a serious of zig-zags across the main forest road at the North end of the map. At 19, I noticed a spatter of rain, so it was time to push on, didn’t want to be cold, wet and lost !. Added to my focus was another competitor, later found out to be Gavin Doherty (on course 2 also), starting to run in the same direction I was running, so we both hit 20-23 (seem to be common controls for previous events) within seconds of each other. I paused to greet Fiona again at my no. 23 (a depression), and with 1 control to go, I certainly didn’t feel depressed or need any motivation this time. You can question Fiona on her thoughts at that time, but reading her body language, it certainly wasn’t as joyous as mine. Out on to the path, went West instead of South, saw Gavin Doherty further up the road, so with the rebel trait, head down and reeled him in. Got to 24 at the same time, back now into the car park, and 70m to finish. 

All in all a great day out, certainly my best run since the CROC 11, and added to the bonus was also winning Course 2. As I reflected on the car journey home, being kept awake by the tingling/stinging sensation of bramble scratches above my knee, I wondered about being 6ft or taller, with a longer leg span, would have made the day a lot less painful ? On to Kilworth we go. 

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