Thursday, May 21, 2015

Upcoming World Cups in Norway/Sweden

Greetings Canadian Orienteers!

It's that time of year again where we start getting exciting news from our elite athletes racing abroad! Coming up quick, we have four athletes competing in this year's second round of World Cups, with 3 individual competitions and a Sprint Relay June 3rd –7th 2015. The World Cups are being hosted by Halden SK in partnership with the Norwegian Orienteering Federation and the WOC2016 organizers in partnership with Swedish Orienteering. This will be applicable terrain for next year's WOC, so will be a great experience for those who are running. On the male side we will have Robbie Anderson and Michael Svoboda and on the female side we will have Louise Oram and Emily Kemp competing.
If you're interested in learning more, see below for the website and bulletin:

And/or stay posted here for more information and results!

Go Canada Go! We will be cheering from here!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

The JK - And the season starts again.

Last week I celebrated a milestone. All the cuts and bruises on my legs had fully healed and 90% of my toe nails were back to normal.

And then the orienteering season started again.

Although a seemingly short geographical distance away, it took an unfortunately long time to fly from home in Finland to England for the "Jan Kjellstrom International Festival of Orienteering" (aka, the JK, ). With the World Championships being in Scotland this year, there was quite a large international field in the elite categories, many of whom were heading up to Scotland for training afterwards. I would recommend the JK in non-Scotland-WOC years as well!

On Friday was the sprint race, which was made initially problematic by it being the first day of the Easter weekend, which meant our 1.5 hour drive from Manchester took 3 hours due to solid traffic on the M6. It would appear the Lake District is a popular place over the Easter weekend, and it seemed the entire population of Southern England was heading there.

To be fair. I guess I'd probably go here too.

I wasn't expecting much from the sprint at Lancaster University, since universities can often be a little bit bland. This was not the case! First, it was nicely complicated by rain. The grass was soft and slippery. The pavement was hard and slippery. It was quite slippery. Also, part of the course was really spiced up by a small labyrinth of underpasses, uncrossable walls, and staircases. It was positive because it was challenging and technical, but rarely felt unfair. Team Canada was represented by myself, Emily, and Jeff, with Emily leading the way (as per usual) with a 10th place finish. She was heard to have said afterwards, "that was fun!". If you've ever spoken to Emily after a race, you know that getting this statement from her is some hard hitting journalism. 

Personally, I was modestly pleased with my result. This was the first real sprint of the season and I had pretty good focus, but still lost some time. The fitness felt good but it was difficult to really push hard on this course. Looking at the results I can feel heartened by my proximity to some very strong runners, but I am also still consistently the same time behind the winners as I have been for several years now.

Crooked bib. What an amateur. (photo by Wendy Carlyle)

After the sprint, we continued to mosey up to the Lakes District where the forest running began in earnest. I had actually been to an area very similar to the maps for the long and the middle back in 2010. It did not go well then. It did not go well now.

Plenty of side slope, and very rugged, rocky terrain were the name of the game, there was also a very brief jaunt out onto one of the fells, but it was largely a running section, since visibility was good (contrast that to tomorrow!). Middles are, of course, not my forte, and I'm not certain that either Jeff nor Emily had quite the day they would prefer.

I don't have any pictures of the terrain, so here's one of a English professional basketball game.

The last of the JK was the long. A rather long long. But really quite fun. I'm not sure I have ever experienced quite so much variety in one long before. We started off on the fells in the fog, which made it difficult to see, and I presume it cleared up just in time for the Swiss to start. The first few controls were made just a tad harder when you couldn't see very far, but actually proved to be good practice. If I could control the weather, I think I'd roll in fog for training all the time! Then it was down into some different open area covered in bracken, then into some forest, back into the fog, down into some open marsh, a little bit more forest, some extra pea soup fog, and THEN the second half of the course came along.

Take yesterday's rocky side slope and make it steeper and rockier. It was pretty darn rugged. There was always the choice of going all the way to the bottom or all the way to the top, but the hill was so large that neither of those options seemed viable.

I also give extra thumbs up to all the runners over the age of 60 who were gamely battling through that rocky side slope. I hope I'm that nimble when I'm that age!

Personally, I was quite pleased with how my navigation went, in that some of the scarier controls went quite well. So, on an objective, task-oriented level, I can take some positives from this. On a results-based level, I can't say I am overly pleased. Being 30 minutes behind the winner doesn't suggest that a few mere tweaks to my training could close even half of that. Its a tough pill to swallow when looking at the results. That time gap suggests there are several fundamental things missing from my performance that need to be sorted. I can't make up that kind of deficit by eating more vegetables (though it probably wouldn't hurt).

We also took a light jog up a baby-sized mountain. Sunny!
It is only April, however, and one can only try to take the lessons learned from this weekend and be better next weekend.

At a night relay. Best to say farewell to my toenails now.

To learn more about the JK, head to for results, maps, and info for next year's JK in Yorkshire.

Monday, December 29, 2014

December 31 deadline to apply for the 2015 High Performance Program

The 2015 High Performance Program (HPP) Athlete Handbook has been published on the HPP page on The Athlete Handbook provides information about what Orienteering Canada’s High Performance Program does and how to apply to become a member in 2015. It includes information about the new HPP coaching structure as well as preliminary information about 2015 training camps.

It also includes information for athletes interested in being considered for the 2015 Junior World Orienteering Championships and the World Orienteering Championships in 2015. The WOC selection process will be updated as the details of the spring selection races are confirmed.

The deadline to apply for the 2015 High Performance Program in December 31, 2014.

The Handbook is written by Orienteering Canada’s High Performance Committee and is approved by the Orienteering Canada Board of Directors.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The 2014 North American Championships are underway

A quick update for spectators and for racers about this weekend’s North American Orienteering Championships in Ottawa.

Over 600 are here to compete and there are many club members representing Canada. It is going to be a fun weekend of races on some great terrain. And there are some high stakes involved too!

BK Cup – Canada versus USA – men & women’s elite
After a long, long winning streak Canada has lost out the last few times to the USA. Can we win it back this year? A little unlikely since Canada’s top two females (Louise Oram & Emily Kemp) will not be competing. But the men will do well, and perhaps with a strong showing from Kerstin, Tori and the other Canadian women we will be able to claw it back. The top three finishers for each country score points, and more points for higher placing (so even the fourth, fifth, sixth Canadians can help if they can beat the top Americans so that their top three finish lower in the standings and so score fewer points)

Future Champions Cup – Canada versus USA – junior men & women
This cup was started at the 2012 NAOCs and, most appropriately, it was a tie. So will Canada’s up and coming juniors be able to win this trophy for the first time? I think so ;-)

Both Cups will be calculated based on the scores in the Middle (Sat), Long (Sun), and Sprint (Monday), plus the grande finale – the Sprint Relay (Monday) which will have mixed teams of two men / two women. 

World Championship qualification
In addition to the US/Canada competition there is more on the line for the elites. The World Champs have a new qualification systems, and an exciting part of it is that the Middle & Long distance North American Regional Champions automatically qualify for the next WOC final in that discipline. So the elite (M/W21) will be fighting for a treasured spot in next summer’s World Championships. Can the Canadian men win both spots? Can the women make an upset and steal one from the Americans?

Follow all of the great racing at where you will be able to find results plus course maps (as soon as the race is over)

Written by Adrian Zissos

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Fall Orienteering in the Yukon

Hi there, my name is Caelan McLean and I am from Whitehorse, YT. Fall is definitely coming on as most of the leaves have now fallen off the trees and it is starting to freeze some nights. Orienteering training is starting to get a little cool, especially if it is raining.

Friday night we had our last B-Meet of the season and it was a night-O for a change. In the Yukon you could't really have a night-O in the middle of summer because it is light for almost 24 hours a day. But by now it is dark by 9 pm so a night-O works well. It was just a small event but was still fun.
I had the fastest time at about 25 minutes but made a few errors. I lost a little bit of time from control 2-3 because I decided to go straight though the green rather then run out to the trail and along it to the control. I also lost a minute on control 13 because I decided to go straight which meant climbing 5-6 contours and then dropping all that elevation as soon as I stopped climbing. I should have gone around the base of the hill following the trail and then in. Night orienteering is definitely different and it is harder to see all the detail and make out the big picture because you can only see what is being illuminated by your headlight. 
Here is my map.

Friday Night-O Advanced/Expert Map

I am looking forward to the NAOC's in Ottawa as they are less then 2 weeks away. It will be a nice change to run in some eastern forests. I will be running in the M-20E and it looks like it will be very competitive which is good. I am hoping to finish in the top 10 or at least do my best.
 It will be nice to be at an event in Canada that actually has 600+ competitors. 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WUOC 2014 Race Recap

     WUOC 2014 was one of my main goals for this season and was a competition that I thought I would be able to perform well at. I was in good shape physically and my orienteering was not even comparable to my orienteering when I arrived in Europe over two months ago. I was very well prepared for the races and new if I could orienteering at my own level and do my own race I would see some good results.

     The sprint started out very well for me as I was running fast but under control. Going to the 7th control I planned on going to the left as soon as I saw the leg but as I was running down the path the right option looked shorter so I changed my mind and went to the right. I did double check the map to see if I could get through and thought I could. It ended up that it was a trap. Looking at the map now I think I just saw the contour line under the black wall and the little tiny dot of white which made it look like I could get through when running at a high speed. That cost me way too much time and I was so rattled that I chose the worst route choice to the 8th control with 45m climb and didn't even see the other option. It wasn't my day and my result (44th) did not show what I was really capable of. 
Looking at #7- can't believe I didn't see I couldn't get through
Photo:Robert Svoboda
Sprint Finish
Photo: Robert Svoboda
WUOC Sprint Route (right click and open in new tab for better quality)
     I started out quite conservative in the middle running at around 70%, basically letting the orienteering dictate the speed and making sure I didn't lose time on the first few controls. I had a few smaller mistakes up until the 19th control where I lost control.  As I left the 18th control I thought I was drifting off my compass going through the green and when I hit the trail I was confused and thought I could be at the trail junction to the NE. I continued to run down the trail until I was sure where I was and then attacked the control from there. I had another big miss at the 21st  control after losing some confidence from the mistake at #19. I ended up with a result that I was happy with (53rd) but I know I have the potential to do much better that I did. My orienteering is slowly starting to become more equal with my running speed but I didn't feel like I pushed hard enough at any point during the race.
Middle Finish
Photo: Robert Svoboda
WUOC Middle Route (right click and open in new tab for better quality)
     The relay was really exiting and the most enjoyable race I have ever run. I had a really great race in general but again it could have been a whole lot better. It was pretty chaotic at the start of the mass start and I was happy that I was able to do my own race so that I went to all the right forkings and not just run like an idiot and follow whoever. I was running very well up until right before the spectator control where I got a bit ahead of myself in planning the final loop after the spectator control and skipped the 16th control. Something just didn't seem right as I was running to the spectator control and then I realized I had skipped #16 and had to start running back to it, most likely swearing the whole time as I crashed through the green as fast as I could. It is a terrible feeling running by so many teams that you were ahead of just because you unintentionally missed a control. I was running in 12th up until that point but dropped to 20th and maintained that position to the changeover and tagged off to Eric who was running second. Eric had a good run and tagged off to Graeme who also had a decent run. We ended up finishing in 18th which is the best result Canada has ever had if I am not wrong.
WUOC Relay Route (right click and open in new tab for better quality)
    Thanks to coach Toni who gave us encouragement, advice and confidence when we needed it for each race and to team leader Jared who let us know everything that went on in the team leader meetings and who kept things organized. Also thanks to my teammates who made WUOC 2014 a memorable experience.

     Next up is the US individual Championships in New York followed by the North American Orienteering Championships in Ontario in early October on back to back weekends. I will now take a bit of time off from orienteering and let the body and mind recover after a long two months of orienteering away from home. It will be nice to get back on a more consistent training plan after racing in Europe which requires a lot of resting to be added into the training plan before the major competitions.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

WUOC Sprint

We got to do a bit of a different style of sprint this year, in that the races started in a zoo(!), was a mixed forest and urban sprint and had 115m of elevation (more than double our middle course the next day…)

Click here for a high resolution map.
The start triangle flag was about 10m from where we got our maps and the first legs were short, so you got thrown into fast decision making mode right off the bat. No room for errors! We then had a mixture of short and rout choice legs before a long leg in the middle that involved a right and left rout choice, but you had to make the decision before leaving the control.  Because it was a long leg (even the winning man took 3.21 mins to complete), you really had to choose wisely or could loose quite a bit of time! I came to the decision control just after seeing Frederic Tranchand taking off,(a top French runner who ended up placing third) and it was reassuring to see him also come to a full stop when making the rout choice. (oh course at the time I didn't know he was looking at the same rout choice I was).

On this leg, not only were you trying to quickly judge which one was shorter you also had to take into account the elevation in the town- not something you always have to for a sprint! I took what felt like eternity deciding and in the end I think I chose right(which was running left…J, although when I was pounding down the downhill cobble stone streets trying to maintain control over the uneven surface, I wasn’t sure...

The end of the course was more basic with rout choices that were slightly less punishing BUT the elevation was enough! I kept having to tell myself “just keep running” on the uphill leg between 8, 9 and 10, telling myself that it was completely inexcusable to walk in a sprint. It was at this point my legs were really feeling running the long from the day before. I think I am going to blame my legs, which  were requiring all the oxygen that I was breathing in,  and therefore leaving none for my brain and resulting in me running right past my 11th control and a 45 second error right before the finish. Although I wished I was able to run faster, (and cleaner) everyone else was hurting too and it ended up being my top result in the week.

Graeme coming down the finish -picture taken by Robert Svoboda
Damian and Graeme also ran the sprint. Both the boys got caught by the fast paced short legs in the beginning and in the unforgiving time restraints of a sprint unfortunately that is all it takes to harm a sprint race.

in quarantine before the start.  -picture taken by Robert Svoboda
As the closing ceremonies happened yesterday we have now wrapped up an action packed week for the Canadian University Orienteering team. A big thank you to Toni, for his helpful coaching throughout the week, to Jared for his help as a team lead, Robert Svoboda for all the fantastic photos and to all the tireless volunteers and organizers who helped make WUOC 2014 such a success!