Saturday, June 16, 2012

WOC team de-aging

Here in the US, it's a by now hallowed tradition for Mike Eglinski to comment in his blog each year on the age composition of the US WOC team compared to that of other nations.  As far as I know, no one has a longstanding claim to that role in Canada so I'm going to step up and note what I think is a very positive development, the Canadian WOC team just named is surely the youngest one in more than a decade.  The oldest members are Louise Oram and Will Critchley, both born in 1984.  The average age is 25 years (compare with this year's US team average age of 30.2 years).  On the male side, this came about through quite a competitive selection process in which a significantly older team certainly could have resulted if the younger runners hadn't raced well.  On the female side, it's unfortunate that we're only sending one woman to WOC this year but there's every reason to believe the absent members of the very strong and young team of 2011 will both be back in future and there are eight other women 21 years old or younger in the senior and junior HPP who will no doubt be trying out for WOC teams soon.  Summing up, hooray for our efforts of recent years when it comes to developing young athletes because good things have clearly been happening on that front.

Locally here in Washington, DC, with the winding down of the spring season and all the associated travel and the end of the second Quantico Orienteering Club season with me as president, I can, to some extent, relax and focus for the next few months on putting in a good summer of training to prepare for the Canadian and North American Championships.  As for Serghei Logvin, that means some non-orienteering racing, although I'll probably mostly or entirely avoid road races since I have a slowly healing bruised heel from the spring that hard running on pavement probably wouldn't much agree with.  Fortunately, that was no obstacle to running, along with a fair number of other orienteers, in the most recent edition of the Bushwhacker Adventure Running Race this past weekend, which local race company EX2 Adventures held again this season after not having done so in 2011.

Punching at the finish
The race format is quite a lot simpler than for one of Golden Horseshoe Orienteering's adventure runs - it's basically a trail race with a small number of checkpoints en-route and off-trail shortcuts permitted between those checkpoints navigating using a slightly simplified orienteering map printed at 1:16,000.  In contrast to past editions, this year it was an out and back race with somewhat less though still a significant advantage to be gained by taking well-executed shortcuts.  In the absence of any of the Mid-Atlantic regions other elite male orienteers, I nevertheless won handily, having shaken off any pursuers within a few hundred meters of the first time I left the trail perhaps a mile into the race, and all the other QOC members participating were in the medals in their respective individual or relay team classes, including the overall female winner, Amber Tomas, a new QOC member originally from Australia.  I can only hope non-orienteers don't find that too discouraging.  The race hasn't, historically, done very well attendance-wise for EX2 - never more than 100 participants in previous editions when the same company routinely sells out both spring and fall series of trail races that they cap at 300 participants - so for financial reasons it's by no means certain it will be back next season.  This year's ~150 participants was therefore a definite improvement, which I expect can be ascribed largely to this being the first year that two-person relay teams were allowed.  Perhaps the race would be more successful if, as with GHO's adventure runs, it changed venues each time it was held and offered more challenging navigation.  Or that might lose even more of EX2's usual trail running clientele.  Maybe it would do even better if it copied the GHO formula even more closely and in addition to more challenging navigation was exclusively for teams that had to do the whole course together.  All I'm certain of is that clearly even a racing company with an excellent local reputation clearly doesn't find it easy to get people to dip their toes into races involving navigation.  I'm therefore all the more impressed by GHO's achievement of bulding up their adventure running race series to the point they have.
QOC members post-race

Photos courtesy of Heidi and David Onkst.

1 comment:

  1. Agree, Jon, that it's great to see our Junior Programs being successful.
    Re Adventure Running and orienteering, my adventure running friends say that a lot of competitors would prefer no orienteering in adventure races. A pity.