EYOC 2024

The Irish Junior Team recently took part in the 2024 European Youth Orienteering Championships, held in Szczecin, Poland from June 21st - June 24th. The team this year was the largest ever sent to EYOC, with 13 athletes selected to represent Ireland:

The team was accompanied by Dave Masterson (Team Leader), Toni O'Donovan, Eoin Brown and Anne McKenna. (Huge thanks to them all)

We flew to Berlin a few days early, and drove up the Autobahn to Poland. We spent the next few days doing some gentle training around the area, to get ourselves familiar with the local terrain and vegetation, and the mapping styles that would be used over the next few days. Our accommodation was at the event center which proved to be both very nice and very convenient for the officials.

First events this year were the long distance race in the forest south-east of the city. Typical large beech forest, with plenty of good visibility and runnability over large and varied contour features. The weather suited us, being around 20C with patchy drizzle/rain to keep everyone cool. The courses were fair, and gave everyone the opportunity to demonstrate both their technical route-planning and execution skills, as well as their physical condition over the many hills. The long leg on many courses unfortunately devolved to a long run up a tarmac road on the edge of the forest, but a technical section towards the end kept everyone on their toes.

We had several good performances in this race - Aidan McKenna (M16) finished in 33rd place, Niamh Browne (W16) was 40th and Eve Buckley (W18) was 46th. Many of the other first time EYOC juniors had decent mid-table finishes, and their GPS tracks show relatively clean runs. Eoin O'Donnell was the other excitement of the day - arriving at the finish without an SI card, but a map with a lot of backup punches in it. The officials agreed to allow him to return to the terrain (with a chaperone) to search for his SI, using an SI station on a stake as a metal detector. After a while, they arrived back with the SIAC, the punches were verified and his finish time reinstated. Huge thanks to the organisers here for going above and beyond to make sure his first EYOC was a positive experience.

Livelox for the Long race is available here, full results are here.

On the evening of this day, we also had the opening ceremony and the traditional friendship party - our team didnt disappoint, having come dressed up collectively for the beach party the organisers had arranged for all the teams.

The second day took us into the center of the old part of Szczecin for the Sprint race. We felt we had prepared well for this, having gone through many practice legs on the old maps of the area at the hotel in previous days - many thanks to Josh O'Sullivan-Hourihan for preparing these. The race turned out as expected, many legs being complicated by the addition of barriers to increase the complexity. Many runners had difficulty maintaining concentration in the fast later stages of the race, with many mispunches on some of the final controls, which were very close together.

The sprint course also produced some very strong results - Aidan McKenna's 14th place in M16 being the highest male placing we've ever had at EYOC. Liam Casey (M16) was only seconds behind in 27th and Sadhbh Hassett (W16) produced a respectable 43rd place. Once again, many good runs by other first time juniors, their routes being generally good, with maybe one or two small mistakes costing them dearly - sprint is a cruel discipline! Fionnuala Rowe was our mistake of the day, teaching everyone that the arena run-through is not an optional route. She immediately owned her mistake at the finish and reported herself to the officials tent for disqualification - a great show of maturity. (She wasn't the only runner who made this mistake)

Livelox for the sprint is here, full results are here. Our own analysis of the courses is also available here

The last day was the turn of the relay - a return to the forest from the previous long race, so the terrain was quite familiar. The courses proved to be quite physical, and with multiple tricky gaffles, with big gaps opening up between the teams, and much less pack running than usual. Our teams made a good account of themselves - 18th place in M16, 18th place in W16, but unfortunately a mispunch sank our M18 team. 

The relays were followed by the traditional frenzy of equipment swapping, and then since our flights were quite late, Dave, Eoin and Toni had time to take part in the coaches race. Our juniors were on hand to provide much needed water for the coaches on the arena passage, and the final run-in. We are just glad they didnt think to bring flour.

Finally, we packed up, hit the autobahn again, and headed back to our respective homes  -tired, but satisfied at a job well done. We finished 22nd (out of 33) in the overall team scores, which again is our highest ever placing - so I can safely say that overall it was our most successful EYOC (as a team) ever.

All the links to the results, the livelox, the maps, the splits and the photos are at the EYOC 2024 website. More team photos from the trip available at our album here.