Rossmore Planner's Report Val Jones

I first heard of Rossmore in 1998. I was planning a League event in Carrick Mountain and Damien Cashin was my controller. At the time he was planning an event for the Army in Rossmore and was doing some map corrections. He was very enthusiastic about it and asked if we were interested in taking on the area. At the time Fingal were at a low ebb and would not have even considered running a Leinster Championships, and Monaghan just seemed too far away for regular league events. I mentioned it to LVO members, they said "yes we've heard about it but it's in Monaghan".

The years went by, we did LOC05 in Carnawaddy, then we saw the LOC schedule and that we had another 4 years to our next Leinster Champs. So we set out to find another area. Tommy made a trip up around Cavan but areas like Cuilcagh and Castle Saunderson which looked promising on the OS map turned out to be disapointing in reality. I visited Annalecka in Wicklow, west of Tonlegee. It was typical Wicklow forest, with some of it already felled, and Coillte indicated the rest was due for the chop too. The open terrain around it was not very interesting either. So we then had a look at Rossmore and decided that with the M1, Carrickmacross and Castleblaney bypasses it was not as far as it seemed any longer.

Pat Healy gave us a copy of the old map, then we asked Padraig Higgins if he would update the map for us. Padraig did an initial revision in the summer of 2007 of the vegetation and some of the other areas that had changed significantly in over 20 years. Tommy and myself then updated it further in the summer of 2008. Rossmore was a very different area to plan for than Carnawaddy. There was an extensive network of roads and paths and probably every type of Irish forest vegetation. My goal was to use the nicest runnable areas as much as possible, and avoid the areas of undergrowth and fight. I also decided to use the areas of young deciduous trees (mostly oak, I think) in the northern section for the longer courses. I can't think of a similar area in another forest in Ireland, and in a few more years this area will probably be a lot more open and runnable. There were not going to be a lot of technical control sites, unlike Carnawaddy, or indeed West Cork or Donegal, so my planning aimed to provide plenty of route choice, and to keep the runners thinking about navigation as much as possible. Most of the longer course also had a long leg thrown in for good measure. The finish area, suggested by Padraig, was picked because tents could be put up and people could congegrate and view the run in. I thought about several areas for the start, and choose the final location so most courses could head in different directions and to different first controls. It also provided what were hopefully interesting and varied short courses around to the finish for the juniors.

Initially I had planned for 9 courses as in Carnawaddy, but I then split the W14 from the M65, W60, W65s, and M14 and W16 from the M60, W50, W55s, to add some more techical legs for the seniors without being too physically demanding. Faith White however thought I hadn't achieved enough technicality. I also provided a dedicated course for the W21As. I had decided not to provide separate M21E and W21E courses, because I thought it would be hard to get a course with close to a 90 minute winning time for the M21Es. I had estimated the times from times run in Mullaghmeen. However I was surprised on the day that most of the winning times were slower than I expected, with a few notable exceptions, Niamh O'Boyle, Aonghus O'Cleirigh, and Jean O'Neill. Looking at some of the routes taken on route gadget was also a surprise. Some people took routes through green fight which was not an intended choice, and was probably regretted.

I am very grateful to Igor Stefko who agreed immediately when I asked him to control the event. We spent a few days after Christmas checking and tagging control sites. He had very valid reasons for rejecting some sites and very good suggestions to tidy up the map detail around others. He also provided constructive suggestions for the courses without trying to impose any of his opinions. In fact I think we were pretty much in agreement on what type of courses suited the map and the terrain.

I am also very grateful to all the members of Fingal who helped out on the day, but in particular to Tommy, who took care of so many tasks big and small that go into making an event like this a success.

Finally a note on online entries. I originally wanted to use an Irish company run by a friend of mine, but we would have needed to set up a merchant agreement with the bank which would have cost too much for a one off event. Paypal was the only real option, and we did it as simple as possible. I am very grateful to Fachtna Healy and of course Martin Flynn for their assistance, and to our treasurer Ray Linn for handling the Paypal account. In the end over 75% of entries were made online so I think the convenience it provides is well worth it. Cork O have the whole entry process linked into OCAD, which we didn't, but Eileen still had an easier job just copying and pasting names and addresses instead of having to type them in from manual forms. If anyone is interested in the PHP code please contact me.