2012 Munster Orienteering Championships

by Brian Flannelly  (CorkO)

The 2012 Munster Champs took place in and around Liosnatubrid Woods on the western slopes of "Sliabh na mBan" mountain in South Tipperary. The imposing conical mountain is steeped in Irish legend - one tells how Fionn mac Cumhaill decided to choose his bride from a group of women racing to the top to meet him sitting at its summit. Fairytales and legends were far from the minds of 60 or so competitors however, as they made their way to registration up a narrow country lane on what was an overcast last Sunday in October.

On a day which was as physically challenging as you'd expect from a provincial championship event, some mercy was shown to entrants in positioning the start area further up the hill beyond registration, taking some overall climb from the course. Liosnatubrid Woods is a newly mapped area, and the anticipation didn't disappoint over the first few controls, most of which involved routes through nice "white" runnable forest. The course then took entrants out onto an open mountain section which involved a ziz-zag tour across the higher terrain. This section would have suited faster runners, had a few of the controls not been well hidden in depressions. Maybe the mist descending on the hill didn't help the situation! CorkO's Darren Burke was on flying form here, on his way to bagging his fourth Munster title.

Next it was back down below the tree line to a tricky control that sparked a lot of post-race discussion. It caught out many people due to the difficulty of reading the vegetation change on the ground, and "How did you relocate?" seemed to be a popular question. From here, the second half of the course was all in the forest, with legs of varying degrees of difficulty. On a personal level, it had become a finish-it-out exercise at that point, after the mistakes made earlier. Focus and concentration were required as time on the course ticked towards 2.5 hours.

On thinking back over it after coming into the finish and downloading, as a few bars of the anthem of Co. Tipperary "Slievenamon" came to mind, hadn't Fionn mac Cumhaill picked a fine challenging spot for his race all those years ago!!

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