Saturday, July 4, 2015

Goats and Boats

2 July

Today’s training was at Bj√•li for relay training. We all had similar courses with forking and did a mass start at every three controls or so to simulate running with a lot of other people around.

The chase is on!

The map has several small hills with lots of contour detail on each, lots of marshes (as always), and a few ski trails criss-crossing the map. The forest here is a bit thicker than it will be for the actual relay.

After training, some of us played around on one of those big web pyramid play structures.

We got back for lunch and had cake to celebrate Emma Sherwood’s birthday.The cake, made by Pia and Emma W, was supposed to resemble an orienteering flag. Pretty accurate!

Happy birthday Emma!

Some of the team went out again to walk a bit on the sprint training map at Krossen in preparation for the sprint on Sunday, the first race. According to Alex, the sprint should be fairly strait forward since it’s in a typical small town. But because of this, the organisers will put up some artificial barriers to create traps and interesting route choices. The course will also have more climb than most of the team is used to as well as a forest element (approximately 30% roads and 70% streets).

After dinner we quickly checked out the petting zoo. Lots of super cure bunnies, ducklings, and goats.


We then walked down the lake to fool around with some boats on the dock. Alex and Robbie learnt how to steer a rowboat while Jan Erik and Raphael kept ramming into Emma S, Emma W, and Pia. Caelan and Trevor got a little lost though.

Pia went for a swim

Much later into the night, while Michael and Robbie were catching up with their blogging, they noticed two guys run out of the Irish team’s cabin and jump onto the roof of the girl’s cabin to try and steal their flag. But we managed to scare them off before any damage was done.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Operation Big Beaver

1 July

Happy Canada Day! To celebrate, we did a mock race at Sauraai with a full warm-up, interval starts, and all that jazz. “It’s very difficult to relocate if you get lost, because all the side hills look so similar so parallel errors are easily made.” –Pia

Today's course, some controls were cut to keep it short.

“You have to be very aware of your compass when running on marshes since they split so much, it’s easy to run full speed in the wrong direction” –Emma S

Pia Blake

Trevor Bray
Caelan McClean

When we returned to our cabins, the boys began brainstorming ways to assert our dominance over the USA team (since it being Canada Day). We decided on unhinging their bathroom doors and hiding them in their cabin. So Alex, Jan Erik, Michael, Robbie, and Trevor practiced the heist a few times and while the American team was at dinner, we began operation Big Beaver. We had planned and practiced entering through the window however they left their front door unlocked, which made out heist much simpler. We unscrewed their doors and hid them under their beds (which fit perfectly) then walked right out. 

We completed Operation Big Beaver in under 5 minutes. Link to video

We then went to dinner, paranoid that we would run into the US team and not be able to keep a straight face. We managed to get through our meal and a team meeting without an incident. But only a few minutes after, there was a commotion over by the USA cabin. “Okay guys, just act natural.” –Alex. But as soon as one of them looked in our direction we put the cabin into lock-down, and of course they all came running over and had us surrounded. Luckily, they were all good sports about it and we put their doors back up for them.

Norsk O-Festivalen Afterthoughts

     The Norsk O-Festivalen was quite a unique race in comparison to the majority of races that I run in that many aspects were different such as the atmosphere, the number of runners around you, and the fact that my own age category had tough competition for once.

     The event consisted of the traditional sprint, middle, and long distances spanning over the course of three days. First was the sprint which was very well constructed given the resources that the organizers and course planners had to use. Part of the original building section where the sprint had originally been planned to take place at was under construction, and so the categories that were not elite had to run a forest sprint. The map used for this was generated quite accurately and was very understandable, yet much simpler then the original. The course was relatively easy with about one slightly tougher control which was vaguer and required you to stick vehemently to your compass bearing. Unfortunately I didn't do that and so I ended up losing a minute on that control, and when added to the time lost at others due to small hooks, the result put me in a narrow tenth place.

Sprint Distance

     The following day many people ran the very technical middle distance that you could begin after you had gone to the start 1.5 km uphill.  The course setting was stellar and as I ran out at my start time to number one, then I forgot about one of the fundamental rules of a middle distance. You have to start slow. So I missed the first control to the right a bit losing a precious 20 seconds right there, and then I continued my bad navigation by not finishing my attack into number two efficiently enough, leaving me to circle into the control twice before I went out to the path to relocate. Unfortunately I was where I had though I was, and so from there I attacked a third time and aimed further behind the long hill with the rock features just to the left and successfully found the control. At this point I had lost 3 minutes on the course and was estimating 4-5 as I did not really know, but I had a difficult time pulling myself back together mentally in order to continue running at my normal race pace, with such a massive time loss so early on in the course.

     Somehow I was able to continue running normally, and gradually picked up the pace until I was going again at my race pace. The terrain was relatively complicated, but was very runnable and possibly to be going very fast if you simplified each leg accurately and used only the most necessary features. With many cliffs and knolls speed changes were very important so that you do not lose control and consequently lose contact with the map. During the last few control I was rushing the end of the course so I made a number of small hooks that added up to a number of minutes. By the end of the run I was deeply surprised that I had been able to place 11th with such a bad run. Now that I look back it must have been because others made mistakes that were greater than mine.

Middle Map

     The Long distance was challenging due to the need to orienteer at a relatively fast pace for a long amount of time. My run navigational was sound, but it was not fast enough as I was starting to feel my legs.

Jan-Erik Naess finishing (Photo Courtesy: Robbie Graham)
Alexander Bergstrom finishing (Photo Courtesy: Robbie Graham)

Emma Sherwood finishing (Photo Courtesy: Robbie Graham)

Emma Waddington finishing (Photo Courtesy: Robbie Graham)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

JWOC 2015 details

The 2015 Junior World Orienteering Championships run July 4 to 10 in Rauland, Norway.

The Canadian team consists of
Pia Blake (Whitehorse)
Emma Sherwood (Calgary)
Emma Waddington (Hamilton)
Alexander Bergstrom (Ottawa)
Trevor Bray (Whitehorse)
Robbie Graham (Ottawa) (unfortunately Robbie is injured and unable to compete)
Caelan McLean (Whitehorse)
Jan Erik Naess (Chicago)
Michael Svoboda (Calgary)

Team Leader: Stefan Bergstrom
Coach: Raphael Ferrand

Here are a few ways to connect with JWOC and the team:
Here’s the JWOC schedule:

Land of the Midnight Sun

30 June 2015

During this time of year in Norway, since it’s so far north, the sun doesn’t really set. Even in the middle of the night, there's still plenty of sunlight which can making getting to sleep challenging.

23:00 and still very bright out

After a hearty breakfast, we headed down to Sauraai, which has relevant terrain to the long and middle JWOC races. The training started off with a windmill exercise, then a memory-O followed by another windmill. When the team finished, we headed back to the cabins for lunch and a siesta.

Warming up

We then drove down to Juvstaul, a map similar to the JWOC middle. We did a long course with several different sections, beginning with a line-O in a very complex area. Lots of contour detail, small marshes and gullies, and several splotches of green slash. The next exercises were only going on a bearing, no compass, and then only contours.

The training course at Juvstaul
Most of the map, aside from where the line-O took place, was made up of a few large, shallow-slopping hills with marshes, streams, and boulders littering them. The vegetation was much thicker than Sauraai so the visibility was lower.

Alexander Bergstrom
Michael Svoboda
Jan Erik Naess

After training, we went back to the cabins and went for dinner. In the cafeteria, there are several stuffed animals placed on shelves all around the building. As Emma S was trying to get back to her spot on the bench, she accidentally knocked over a poor stuffed grouse (pheasant?), causing him to plummet onto the table. Between forgetting where the bird was originally placed and uncontrollable laughter, we had quite a difficult time putting him back up.

If anyone can properly identify the black bird, they get a cookie!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

En Route to Rauland

29 June 2015

On Monday morning, most of the team met up in Oslo and we started our journey in our rented nine-seater van (which Alex nicknamed “The Slug”). We were heading up to the chilly mountains of Rauland, which is about 210 km west of Oslo.

On our way to Rauland, we stopped at Heddal stavkirke. A church built completely out of wood!
Lunch time!

Five hours of driving through breathtaking terrain brought us to the beautiful Vierli Tourist Centre near Rauland. We met up with Pia and Emma S, signed in, then made our way up one of the many ski hills to our cabin. At the top we were greeted with an astounding view, a ring of large, snow-covered mountains surrounding an area of rolling hills, and a lake. The fashion for houses in this village and along the way seemed to be black wood paneling, red trim, and a grass roof.

Some of the cabins in Vierli

After admiring the view and a quick team meeting, we drove down to the Sauraai map. The terrain has several hills scattered with hard-to-read rock features. There is a lot of contour detail and plenty of marshes that go up the sides of hills. They are, however, very runnable. “The marshes are like highways.” Emma W. The key for this map is simplification to marshes and contours since the mapping of rock features is quite inconsistent.

The team went out for a map run and a few controls just to get used to the Norwegian terrain. After returning to Veirli and grabbing some pasta, we went outside the cafeteria and played around with several attractions they had. This included some scooters and tricycles, a giant chess board, a trampoline, and a zip-line. And goats…

Emma W made a new friend

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Shipping Up to Boston

What better way to get pumped for this summer’s big races than a sprint camp in Boston? That’s right, nothing! Robbie Graham and myself, Emma Waddington, spent the weekend down in the Boston/Cambridge area for CSU’s Sprint Camp! 4 days loaded with great training, races and people! - Emma

Thursday 11 June 2015 - Robbie

The day's training started off with an early strength session with the US juniors at a park near Isabel Bryant’s house (where all of us were staying). After a hearty breakfast and with sore abs, we all drove to Highlands Playground for the first of the training sessions. Unfortunately I was injured (something with my shin) so I was forced to walk all the sessions, at least I was able to focus completely on the technical aspect. The camp started off with a simple course to focus on the sprint fundamentals, which included looking up, folding the map before punching, and knowing the exit out of the control. This was the basis for the next four days. The next exercise was a snowstorm-O (everything except the control circles and lines blanked out). This was to practice distance estimation and making sure you exited the control in the proper direction, since you were only able to go on a bearing. The final session in this park was a maze-O, which focused on very quick route choice to get the best flow both to and through each control. It was really fun so we all did it many times and had a couple mini races.

After a pizza lunch, we went to Edmands Park for some forest sprint training. First was a partner relocation exercise where one partner did three controls on their course, then the other partner did three controls on another course. I did it with Michael Laria, since he has a leg injury and was also walking most of the camp. Team cripple! Shortly after was the final race of the CSU Park Series, a forest sprint on the same map. There was a lot of quick route choices, mostly whether to stay on the trails or cut through the woods.

Friday 12 June 2015 - Emma

On Friday, we spent the morning at Magazine Beach in Cambridge for some great training. The first training focused on precision map reading that involved touching 3-5 different features during the leg depending on how long the leg was. This was a great way to start off the camp (for me anyways, I arrived that morning from a long drive down from Ontario) because it required lots of focus. It was tricky to plan your route since you had to think about not only getting to the checkpoint, but also where you were going to find different features without going too far out of the way.

The second training was a little, or maybe a lot, more complex. The goal of this was to work on micro control punching. From what I understood, which wasn’t a lot, (I arrived halfway into the instructions…) there was a maze-like shape set up on the ground with many junctions and flags hung about. There were three levels of maps that showed a course with many trails and crossings. What you had to do was imagine you were running on the trail while actually on the maze, and turn at every maze junction based on the course of your map to find the right checkpoint. (Have I lost anyone yet?) I didn’t get very far in this, but from the little I did, it was very good brain training in terms of visualization, map orienting and quick decisions.

Our third training was a street-o that focused on left or right route choice. This was quite fun because you got to test out different routes with others who were near you.

We also got to help out some students that Barb Bryant coaches from the nearby elementary school try out a maze-O. They were all super keen about the sport and all seemed to do very well! Great to see so many kids smiling and having fun when they finished the course!

That evening was the second race (1st one for me) at Danehy Park, a typical park-like terrain with one large hill and some tricky fences. This was a good race for me, I felt like I was able to keep a good flow with lots of reading, planning and looking ahead which is essential in a sprint race. There was some debatable route choice from 19-20, both of which I have decided were equally out of the way.
Left or right?

Saturday 13 June 2015 - Robbie

Today’s training was all at Franklin Park, an open forest with a good trail network, lots of rock features, and some neat ruins. It started off with O-tervals, three to four controls at a hard pace with one control recovery in groups of three. This worked simulating a sprint race where decisions had to be made quickly in order to keep up with the running speed. Next was a farsta (one-person relay) which had three courses, all similar but with forking. There was a mass-start (which are always a metric-tonne of fun) and everyone went off, but since there were so many people running around, it was tough to stay focused and decide when to follow and when not to. The last morning exercise was practicing starts. There were seven maps with a start triangle, two controls, and a marked route to the next start. The idea was that when you flipped to the next map, you had to orient and locate the triangle with no knowledge of the course just like in an actual race.

We all returned to the download area and ate some sandwiches that had way too much parsley, then some of us decided to go to a zoo that was nearby. Lots of neat animals and creepy crawlies, but it was stinking hot so we headed back and took a quick nap in the shade. Later in the afternoon we had the usual race, another forest sprint. It was interesting because I’ve only ever done urban sprints so this really opened my eyes to a whole new type of sprinting.

Dreaming of getting on the podium 

Sunday 12 June 2015 - Emma

Sunday was jam-packed with action down at Boston Common for the sprint qualifiers and finals. The area was a large park with lots of crossing paths, tons of individually marked trees, and definitely no shortage on people. (Even some with guns! Don’t worry, us juniors took em’ down… or rather called the cops over who had arrested another guy not even 20 minutes before!) Each race had lots of direction change and a surprising amount of route choice. It was easy to get blown off course just from the amount of people, a good preparation for Europe! For me, the races went very well. I had a shaky start just trying to get the directions right, but once I got into the map, it was easy to look ahead at areas that would be crossed again at some point to get a general idea about where the checkpoint would be. Because the area was open enough to see the flag from a while away, map re-folding was key to get the change in direction right. The final went equally well with lots of cheering, spectating and yummy treats to be won! Thanks to all who organized this great event, can’t wait to race it again next year!

The Jrs! Photo credits to Dave Yee 

More photos here:

Results here: