Thursday, June 3, 2010

Success in Harriman!


On the last Friday of May I set out on a long awaited 17 day endeavour as a full-time Orienteerer. With the help of many kind fellow sportsmen, I travelled over 3000 km's, attended two A-meets, a Team Trials and spent the time in between training in some of the finest orienteering this side of North America. I set a new personal record logging 16.5 hours of orienteering in two weeks, over 120 km's.

The trip started out well with some very positive feedback at West Point, followed by a strenuous but enlightening week in Hamilton. From there we travelled to Connecticut for the WCOC's where I received more positive vibes and gained greater confidence in myself after the long winter. The next five days I spent with a small group in Harriman training for the US Team Trials and acclimatizing to the comfortable and sunny weather of New York. In short, orienteering paradise!

I had been waiting for the Trials for months. It was my fourth trip to New York this Spring counting two training camps plus West Point and I was back for more. Finally the trials was here and I had done everything in my power to be ready. Saturday started with the Middle distance, my personal favourite discipline. Although not the best middle distance race I have ever run it was definitely one of the most technical. (RouteGadget) An unfortunate start led into a 1:30 of mistakes in the first four controls. Fortunately I minimized my errors and finished the race with a solid result. (WinSplits) Of all my races in the M-21 category, this is the closest I've come to challenging the top spot. Six seconds behind 3rd and only one second ahead of 5th, I was a mere 1:01 away from taking first place!

Upon reaching the finish and realizing how close I was, I wistfully thought back to the beginning of my race where I had made my mistakes: the forest rushing past, scrutinizing the map trying to simplify the impressive detail, every second critical, every hesitation an eternity, bashing through the mountain laurel, the controls especially well hidden. It's safe to say the beginning of that course caught me off guard. By control #5 I at last entered the zone. Much to my relief, I had reached the end of the green forest and the beginning of the white. From here I made my way from 26th position to 4th, winning three splits and more then making up for the time I had lost. I ran as fast as I could handle, pushing the limit at every opportunity. It was technical, runnable and enjoyable. I stood at the finish satisfied knowing I had given it my best shot.

There are many great victories hidden in the route choices and split times of this race that don't just belong to me. I have made huge gains thanks to coaches and competitors in and out of the forest, organizing trainings, carting me hither and thither, and always ready to answer a query I might have. The individual sport is deceiving in that the strongest community will foster the finest athletes. It is the kind generosity and hospitality as much as commitment that brought about the successes I enjoyed under the trees in Harriman. That's something we can all enjoy.

3 comments:

  1. What about the long distance?

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  2. It's been fun to follow your progress this year. See you at the NAOCs!

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  3. The long distance was a very different race. 12.8 km and almost 700m of climb. It was a challenge just finishing the race let alone orienteering smoothly the whole way. I had a very respectable minutes per kilometer time but my race wasn't nearly as clean as the Middle distance. Still, enjoyed the challenge.

    NAOC's are definitely the next race on my radar. Can't wait!

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