TIO back in action …

JK cotter
Bishopstown in front at the JK

After a break since late last year, The Irish Orienteer is on the way back, with a new look which should allow easier access from the Irish Orienteering Association web site. To read anything published in TIO up to October 2014, follow the link here.

After a super JK last weekend in the English Lake District where several people mentioned to me that they really miss The Irish Orienteer, we’re back to report on what’s been happening and what’s coming in the near future.

The Leinster Championships at Lough Firrib, near the Wicklow gap (scene of last year’s Irish Championships) on Sunday 19th April, followed by the Irish Championships at Lisburn, Slieve Croob and Hillsborough, and the Shamrock O-Ringen at Glengarriff are all imminent. Another unique event coming up is Setanta’s Wicklow Rogaine on 27th/28th June, so get started entering! The Leinsters entry date has been extended to Wednesday 15th April so you may still get an entry if maps are available. Just announced is UCDO’s plan to host a sprint race at the Belfield campus on the afternoon of Saturday 18th April, the day before the Leinsters – good preparation for the Irish Sprint Championships at Lisburn two weeks later. This event is not yet on the IOA Fixtures list but more details should be available soon.

The map, the whole map, and nothing but the map

I have to say that I am very concerned about one aspect of orienteering (several interlinked aspects, actually), but the one that bothers me in particular is mapping. The death of Setanta’s Brian Power, until recently the IOA Mapping Officer, brought home how few mappers we have and how much we depend on them.

We have a lot of maps, produced over the years, which now need to be revised to meet the expectations of 21st Century orienteers: they want accurate, up-to-date maps, beautifully drawn with OCAD, geo-referenced so they can reconstruct their routes using GPS, printed on waterproof paper with overprinted courses. They want new areas surveyed, and old areas revised to the same standard.

In the part, maps were produced by dedicated volunteers like Brian Power, Pat Healy, Pat Flanagan, Padraig Higgins, Seán Cotter, and they spend a lot of time on these projects. Nowadays we don’t seem to have so much time and we rely on a small group of people to survey and produce maps. Admittedly the technology has moved on, to provide us with LIDAR basemaps, GPS surveying and computer aided drawing, but these technologies are expensive and specialised, and not everyone is interested or able to use them. So where do we go from here?

We have some mappers who excel at urban maps, where the need to go into uncharted terrain is minimal, and we need to develop these kinds of map. We can attract new people to orienteering if we bring the sport to them, rather than force them to travel to us in the wilds of Wicklow or West Cork.

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