Nead an Iolair Nav Challenge

Authors

Paul Nolan

Keystone cops race yesterday.

After two controls Zoran was gone and clear, easily 3 or 4 minutes ahead. I opted to contour around Stony Top he went higher, our paths crossed with Zoran maybe 10 seconds ahead but he then pulled away to control 3, we left it together after he'd had a bit of standing still map consultation.

Not quite hare and tortoise but he was running faster, climbing things that didn't really need climbing eventually ending up above me at the river which was our next control. I was 50m closer to the control so led into that one. Next one was a bitch, plenty of forest sh*te to hack through. I told him I was going to take a risk on finding a forest ride, I think the feeling was two sets of eyes are better than one. Anyway we didn't find it and had to do some extra climbing but it worked out ok-ish. He blasted down Carrigshouck to the military road, then stopped for more stationary map consultation. 30 or so second later I got down to him and we went into the next crap forest together, again looking for a forest ride. This time we found it and he ran on opening up another big gap as I was cramping up calves and hamstrings like the couch potato I am.

Last control was tricky but I got it and began the pain march to the finish. Opted for a longer route that minimized bog time as I had to get onto a road, the cramping was killing me on the uneven ground. I could see the finish when Zoran came flying into view from my left, he'd messed up the last control finding it after I had, then took the direct route. I tried to respond but legs point blank refused, cramping up savagely and my sudden fairytale comeback disappeared into a cloud of impolite language. Still happy for Zoran.

A real feel good kind of day that the lunatic fringe of IMRA specialises in.

Kevin O'Riordan

A small enough group this time for the Nav challenge, circa 25 people. Had a newcomer in the form of Peter O'Farrell, straight after yesterday's World trial race.

Got off to a good start. Crossed over the river wondering why on earth Paul Nolan was running off North on the wrong side of the river. Took the steep messy route straight up the side of the forest while others opted to find the sheep track which was slightly longer but offered easier running. Got out just ahead of them so that was good. Started running towards the next forest corner, looked around, was in the lead. Decided to back off the accelerator a little to make sure I was still thinking and didn't lose the lead to stupid mistakes. Started hesitating, do I stay on this sheep track, do I not. As I was hesitating, Paul Nolan passed me by. Right, no more hesitation. Resolved to keep with him, let him find the best lines to the forest corner. To our right, Zoran blitzes through at seemingly unstoppable pace.

I reach a decision point at the forest corner. Zoran opts to continue along the forest to find the nice looking path marked on the Harvey's map. Paul opts to head straight across to the shoulder. I pause. Zoran's route looks much faster if it pays off, Paul's route looks less risky. Decide to opt for Paul's route. I keep to the left of Paul on my approach to the shoulder. As we get about half way, Paul gets a burst of speed. I reckon he's found a sheep track but I stay the course, I figure I stand to lose more time by messing about looking for the things than I would by simply bashing through the heather and marsh and crap. After passing through a few peat hags, I end up on the shoulder looking down on the lake. I see Paul closing in fast on the control from the right hand side and Zoran in the middle of punching. I race down as fast as I can, but Paul has left by the time I get to it. I run after him, getting caught in the marsh as I simultaneously aim for the low lying point between the peaks ahead. I manage to regain ground on Paul but when we get over the low lying point, his mountain goat legs manage to pull away from me again on the treacherous steep descent. Zoran meanwhile is doing phenomenal pace and has long since pulled away from both of us. I punch control 2 with a hundred metres or so between us but manage to fall down a pothole and bang my shin off a rock and lose sight of him as I recover. This means I'm left trying to find the motivation to run with no-one to chase.

I opt to contour round Stoney Top. I get all the way to Barnascullion Ridge with no-one in sight when I see Paul at a tree down ahead. Ah, hope. If I can keep him in sight, I have someone to pace myself against. I run down to the old forest corner and follow the bog path around and that's when I lose the head. I get to within a hundred metres or so of the control and I see Paul and Zoran coming against me. I had opted to leave my glasses back at the car due to the rain shower and didn't have contacts in so couldn't see the control just ahead. "We must have overshot the control if they're doubling back" I think to myself, disorientated from all the felling that has taken place where the forest was marked. I look to my left and can just about make out the forest road. I turn left and run towards it. A few minutes later I realise my mistake. I look at the map again, the fence delineates what was the forest border so I should have continued to the fence/stream junction. I relocate and find the control. I look around to see Paul and Zoran disappearing over the crest of the next shoulder. As I'm running back I see Peter O'Farrell for the first time since the first control at the pond. "Oh well, stay ahead of Peter and I still have 3rd place probably" I think to myself.

I get over the next shoulder and my head's still not in the game. It's on a stream/river I think but the ground is wet and there are many water channels. I squint at the river down below to try and make out where another river meets it but it's not obvious. I wander around aimlessly for a while losing time. Eventually figure it out and head towards what turns out to be an obvious river. I find the control but not before losing another few minutes.

Next step: find a way to control 5. Philip recommended a route around the left of the forest and a fast unmarked path. But I don't want to take the chance of not finding the path he talked about and ending up with information on the map to help me. So I opt to head right. There's a large ride through the forest that I can see. It's not marked but I opt to take the risk. I head down this for a while, wondering when's the best time to cut left to the road. I eventually see an opportunity, bash through a few trees and start heading up towards Carrickshouk. There's heather but it's not too bad. Find a handrail fence back down and I'm down on the road again. A quick bit of decision making, I decide to take the fence down to a forest ride and come at the control from the left.

At this point I'm on my own, so slowing down to a walk, lacking the motivation to run. I ascend up the ride wondering how I'm going to locate the control when I get there. The most obvious feature is the forest line but the map is years old and I can't rely on that. I find two monster boulders and think "Hooray, that was easy". However, after running around the boulders twice I see no sign of the control. A quick look at the map and I see that I'm at the second of two pairs of boulders. Unfortunately I don't have a baseplate compass with me so I can't take a bearing between them. I opt to relocate back to where I came off the forest ride and meet Peter O'Farrell and Finbar McGurren. Peter knows exactly where he is and once I tell him my mistake, he decides we need to contour around from our current location. We arrive at the control spot on. We begin the trudge back towards the car park and Peter and I are neck and neck until Peter decides to hang back a bit to make sure he's navigating by himself and not following me. I opt to take the direct line back to the car park rather than following the road and arrive with time to spare on Peter and Finbar thankfully. Thankfully there are no surprises with people overtaking me without my knowledge and I manage to finish in 3rd place despite the mistakes. The leaders though have a 14 minute gap after a nailbiting finish between Zoran and Paul.

Peter O'Farrell

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/106487102

Yet another great race event ably organised by the outer spectrum of "the IMRA", sign on was literally in the back of Philip Brennan's car, the race started from the back of Philip Brennan's car and the finish was, you guessed it, in the back of a car! Pre-marked laminated maps, helpful hints from Philip, sharing of food and tips before the start, g'wan the feelgood factor..

We ran, walked, crawled, splashed, sank and fought our way through bog, grass, rocks, slopes, climbs and bogs of death. Route choice for most controls appeared to revolve around your aversion to climbing with only the approach to control 5 providing real opportunites for convoluted route choice.
On the day that was in it there was a fairytale outing for Zoran, coming out in front by a short leg to one of the masters Paul Nolan and with his virgin IMRA win securing the title of Nav Challenger 2011.
If I can say so myself I took a brilliant line into the tricky control 5, although in fairness Finbarr was responsible for suggesting it :)
I managed to come in 200m to the left of control 3, there's aiming off and there's over the top aiming off..I was so far left it took Finbarr pointing out some features to re-assure me I was in the right valley :)

thanks again one and all
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