Heres some of the upcoming events that you can look forward to in the next year:
The Junior Squad Annual Calendar
The life of a orienteer can be as easy or as busy as you want to make it - there's always opportunities to train and compete all the year round, so the more the athlete puts in, the more they will get out of it. Here's an overview of the typical year for a busy junior orienteer:
This is the time of the year when training starts in earnest. People will possibly be moving up an age category in a few months, the evenings are getting short, and all of next years races seem a long, long way away. But truth be told, this is where the groundwork is laid for the season ahead. There will be an increase in weekend orienteering club events after the quiet summer period. League events give you a chance to practice your skills and try new things. During the weekdays, we build up a solid aerobic and strength base through structured training and conditioning to get ourselves ready for the upcoming races next spring/summer.
The first big races of the year are looming on the horizon, so our training continues. Regular orienteering as often as possible is invaluable, and some of our training volume might decrease when we move to a more competition focused schedule. The first major Junior Squad event of the year is also imminent - the annual squad time trials in the Phoenix Park. This is a good opportunity to see who has been training well over the winter, and for the coaches and selectors to start assessing each athletes form.
Depending on the fall of Easter, March or April will see the Jan Kellstrom Festival of Orienteering (the JK) taking place in the UK on the Bank Holiday weekend. Three days of intense orienteering against a strong international field gives us the first opportunity to see how we match up against athletes we will face again in later races. The selectors often use some of the JK races to help decide on team make-up. The JK is often close to the Leinster Orienteering Champs, typically the first of the provincial home championship events - again, another typical selection event, and not to be missed. Training volumes during this period tend to be shorter, and more focused on being sufficiently rested for the bigger events.
The Munster Champs are normally held around this time of year also, and can attract a strong field, given the quality of terrain in the south-west of the country. The Irish Champs are normally held over the May Bank Holiday weekend, representing the apex of the Irish competitive year. The Irish champs are almost certainly one of the most important selection races during the year, so definitely one to train hard for. For many people, their training over the last few months have led to this, and the volume of competitions will reduce now during the summer months. For the juniors and elites, we're not done yet...
July is the usual time for year for the European Youth Orienteering Championships (EYOC), which has races for selected juniors teams in the M/W16 and M/W18 age classes. This is often the first opportunity that young athletes have to run on the major international stage, against competitors from around the top European orienteering nations. Next up is the biggest event of the year for junior orienteers, and the final stepping stone to the senior levels - the Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC). This is a series of races for M/W20 athletes, and pitches them against future senior world champions. Intense competition, and the ultimate goal for any aspiring elite junior orienteer.
With the big international championships over, many orienteering families look to some of the big summer orienteering festivals for a holiday trip. Popular in this part of the world are events like the Scottish or Welsh 6-day, the OOCup, the Bubo Cup 5-day or the French 5-day competitions. Sept and early October also features events like the Northern Ireland Champs and the Connaught champs. Finally, the last squad event of the year is the Junior Home International - most juniors first foray into the world of international competition. Teams from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales compete over a weekend to see which nation will bring home the silverware.
In between all of these, we also organise training days, online training sessions and try to get together as a squad several times a year for full training weekend camps.