On early May Bank Holiday weekend, a relatively large group of DrongOs, a CUOCer, random guy from LVO, and DrongO parents headed to the Irish Orienteering Championships near Dun na nGall. It seems the capital letters in the middle of words are a thing in Ireland.
Ben W, Ben S, Zuzka S, Vicky S and Lily A flew together on Friday morning, joined shortly afterwards by Ben and Vicky's mum Sue, and John O. Various people drove to various airports and everyone ended up at the Pružina House for lunch, although the Stevens car ended up at not the Pružina House for a bit. We had a tour of the garden which included a trampoline.
The Irish champs has the same format as the JK (sprint, middle, long, relay). The sprint was in Sligo on evening. The area was harder than the JK area, but only just. Ben W walked and took photos of people overtaking him, but nobody got too distracted by it. Once everyone was finished we played catch in the sun using dandelions, watched the prizegiving, and went for fish and chips.
We were staying at Helen and Paul's uncle's holiday house, which had no signal or heating. It was great weather all weekend though and we lit a fire so all was good.
Starts were late on Saturday so we had a nice lie in. Everybody went to the middle race which was on marshy moorland, except Ben W who took his arm for a walk up a hill near the house. Paul came 2nd and Ben S came 7th, while Vicky came 5th and Helen narrowly beat her mum Steph into 9th.
In the evening we went for a short walk on a stony beach / headland where there were lots of fossils, which Vicky knew everything about. Unfortunately the bird poo didn't count as geologically interesting, and Zuzka found a bone. Ben S discovered that his waterproof shoes weren't waterproof when the water gets deeper than the height of the shoes, and many people hit a stone with another stone in mid air after many attempts.
Sunday was the long distance with a 2k walk to the start. Paul came 2nd and John came 9th, and Vicky was 2nd, with Helen and Zuzka 8th and 9th in the women's. Steph didn't come last. The area was rough open and physically tough with a 98 minute winning time for the 12k M21E.
Afterwards we sat in the sun for a while and some people bought a plate of some very impressive salad the organisers were selling. We went home and most people swam in the sea and decided that it was quite warm in the water compared to the breezy beach, upgrading to a tennis ball for a game of catch. We cooked broccoli with some other stuff for dinner. As it was getting dark we squeezed in a spontaneous trip to a cliff viewing point, where Paul's claims of a 600m high cliff were actually just claims of a 600m high very-steep-slope-with-integrated-sections-of-cliff.
Monday was relay day in very runnable sand dunes in a military area. Ben S brought the men's team back in 2nd after leg 1, with Vicky and John running next and finishing 5th overall. The women's field was small with only 4 full teams - Helen came back 3rd after leg 1, with the team finishing 4th overall.
Once again, amazingly, we sat in the sun for a while then started the drive back to Belfast. We stopped for a walk at Castle Cool, which had a suspicious rock, an unsuspicious bench, some interesting trees, a forest hide, a rope swing but no actual castle.
Vicky flew home in the evening, saying that she would see us at the big 5 O week in South Africa because she's going to do a postdoc there soon. Everybody else went back to the Pružina house to eat broccoli with some other stuff. We discovered we had left the teapot on the other side of the Ireland, and Zuzka tried to break the kettle by boiling it without water to make things worse, but then Pružina father Mark fixed it, alleviating guilt from Zuzka and alleviating tea withdrawal symptoms from all the Pružinas. Finally, there was time for Steph to give John some pilates instruction on how not to be deformed, then we went to bed and home the next day.
Thanks Helen and Steph for organising everything for us! The next chance to go the Ireland is the Mourne Mountain Marathon in September!