Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Keeping the Europe Train Rolling

To really make a Europe trip economical, most national team members (and Canadian orienteers in general) link up multiple races and craft and entire summer Europe tour. Several members of the team headed up to Sweden for O-Ringen. A few of the American team members were going to Croatia. This year I chose to travel back to the UK after the World Championships and participate in Croeso 2012, also known as the Wales 6-Day, in Aberystwyth.

It took an epic travel day to get there, going from Lausanne to Geneva to London Luton to Coventry to Brimingham to Aberystwyth. Aberystwyth is a lovely town on the west coast of the UK on a lovely coast line of rolling hills and cliffs, and even beaches, though I didn't have the courage to get in the water. I am told it wasn't actually all that bad.

I had a huge amount of nerves coming into this event. Not actually because of the terrain or the competition, but because of the rain. The UK had the highest amount of rainfall in June on record. Flooding everywhere, people were actually getting swept away in huge flash floods. In some cases it wasn't necessarily raining more than usual, but the rain came in huge quantities in a very short time. Now, if you may recall, in 2010 I was gloating because I was enjoying O-Ringen from my luxury apartment in downtown Orebro (http://teamcanadaorienteering.blogspot.ca/2010/07/o-ringen-day-2-rough-day-at-office.html) while several other Canadians were camping in what could only be described as a monsoon. Therefore, the grand law of divine vengeance suggested that since I was camping this year, I was due for some serious shellacking. Here's a photo of what it looked like all week:

Ha Ha! Victory is mine again!

I actually started to claim that most Brits were just making all that rain up, since I experienced not a single drop of raining, and warm temperatures with nothing but sunshine. Take that, fate!

The terrain for these races were generally open hill side, with plenty of marshes, big hills, and quite a few rock features. It is seemingly pretty easy, because you can see quite far, but it is also easy to mistake one smaller hill for another. If you can stay in touch at all times, it can be quite smooth, but relocating when everything looks the same can prove to be a very challenging task. And, like many other countries, I saw quite a few intensive meetings between competitors, trying to figure out where on this vast hillside they were.

Day 2 (my first race) was probably my best, placing 7th in M21L - below is an image of my course with my route drawn on it. You can also compare it to my GPS track at  my Orienteering Map Archive . Its mildly interesting to compare my mark of where I thought I went, to where my GPS says I went. I feel that is mildly concerning given it means there were extensive lengths of times where I clearly was way off in where I thought I went.

Though I avoided the fate of tons of rain, it appears as though it caught up to me physically. As Day 3 rolled around my allergies started kicking in with a vengeance. I have never experienced a race while heavily allergic, sneezing and eyes tearing and nose running. Needless to say, my middle on Day 3 did not go remarkably well, making a few too many mistakes and not really feeling the fitness love. I had a bad misstep in Day 2 that also caused some intensive toe swelling. 

Look up, look waaaay up. The start is on that skyline over there.
After a rest day and Day 4, my cold was getting aggressive enough that I was quite tired and being pretty stupid. Multiple falls caused more bruising on my legs, and I started to hate orienteering. This is, of course, the double-edged sword of month long Europe tours. Its really hard to keep the motivation up and the fatigue down, and at this point after so many races and training in so few days, my enthusiasm has drained to nothingness. So, I decided to call it after the 3rd race, and take an early train back to Coventry. 

Now, it is time for 2 weeks of intensive Olympics watching. I saw Canada defeat South Africa 3-0 at the Coventry Stadium, and we have just bought train tickets to watch next Saturday's women's triathlon in Hyde Park in London. I am expecting big things from Edmontonian Paula Findlay. Then its back to Edmonton to prepare for the Nationals. With luck a few weeks of only running training will get me back in the spirit. 

Shameless plug: I hope everyone comes to the HPP Fundraiser knock-out ultrasprint on the grounds of the Alberta Legislature. A first for Canadian orienteering! 


  1. Thanks for the post Will. You are such a great writer. Enjoy the Olympics!

  2. Did you see Canada play GBR too?

  3. Did you see the exciting sprint finish at the women´s triathlon? Tough to lose a gold by 9/1000s of a second...