Friday, February 17, 2012

Kicking off the season, real real fast.

The Vancouver sprint camp is unique opportunity to split of the 6 month dark period that Canadian orienteers experience over the winter. At least, from 6 months to 3 months. It is a helpful time to test early season fitness, and brush the plaque off your navigational chops. You are now welcome to slow clap that amazing metaphor (here's a video to learn how).

This year, the sprint camp crossed the pond (no, not that far), over the Vancouver Island to visit BC's capital, Victoria. From what I understand, there was some initial trepidation over this decision, perhaps due to the lack of good terrain, or the concern of lowered interest from participants. Now, after having done the event, I can say assuredly that those concerns were entirely unfounded, and those that didn't attend have most definitely missed out. There was still a large contingent of orienteers, from across Canada and the US, even Team Mexico showed up (there was even a Kiwi and a Brit there, at least, I'm pretty sure that's where they were from). Add those always irritatingly talented Norwegians and it totalled up to an impressively competitive weekend.

The terrain in Victoria is distinctly different than that found in Vancouver. It seemed the most significant addition is the presence of open hill tops that feature interesting bare rock as well as small cliffs and boulders. It was a unique addition to the standard terrain found in sprints, especially because one could encounter this terrain in the same race as having run through an urban area, as was evident in the Layritz race.

Try and count how many people are actually looking at their map.
My impression of the sprint camp is that it mostly a 'race camp' rather than 'training camp'. I suppose as sprint is concerned, the best training is ridiculous fast training, and there was ample opportunity to do so this year, with 7 race, one "tempo" race, and 2 trainings, which simulated race situations. If you weren't ready to keel over by the end of the weekend, then you probably weren't running hard enough.

By the end of the weekend, I was actually feeling pretty good (!). My current foot problems aside, the legs felt brisk and the brain was still functioning at my standard 30% capacity. Admittedly, my enthusiasm for warming up and cooling down waned significantly as time wore on, but mid-race still felt strong. I can say I was modestly pleased with how all of my own races went. I can definitely think of times when I felt the fitness was lacking, and there are seconds to be had out there everywhere. And this is sprint, you NEED those seconds.

It was all going swimmingly until I took the scenic route at 14.

I think that after this sprint weekend, Victoria and its surrounding area should be upgraded from a relative unknown to an undiscovered gem of possibility. There was vast agreement that the maps and the train were fun and unique, and there's a huge amount of island that's ripe for exploring and development for orienteering purposes. VICO jumped into the game in a big way with hosting the sprint camp, and should be commended for its success. Hopefully we'll soon return and race some more.

Maybe the sun will even come out.

If you haven't seen results or map, visit for all the information. Or visit this link to watch dueling head camera videos of one of the mass-start races: . You'll either find it interesting or nauseating.