Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sunday at NAOC's

Sunday was the day of my best races at the North American Orienteering Championships, the sprint and the relay. Both races took place on a 1:4000, 2.5m contour map of the Pocono Environmental Education Center (and the surrounding forest).

The Sprint- My best result of the weekend, a 3rd place finish.

The sprint started off the same way as my other individual races, I messed up the first control. Despite a plan to take the first control slow, I had my map slightly disoriented when I hit the start triangle. The result was running along the road rather than across it and then a panicked scramble to re-orient; you can see this route below. My time loss was about 25s.
Control 4 was a silly loss of 30s- I read the control code for 3 rather than 4 and ran off thinking I was at the wrong control. The number of leaves on the ground made noticing trails difficult, which lead to hesitations on the way to control 6 and a further loss of 15s. Controls 7 and 8 were where I stared to feel comfortable, they allowed me to pick up my speed and the fastest splits. I caught up to my teammate, Trevor at control 12 and ran with him for the remainder of the course.
Despite, losing 1min over the first 4 controls I was able to refocus and preform well for the remainder of the course. Although I had a number of controls in need of improvement, I was pleased by the race. It was worthy of the third place it earned me. The focus was now on the relay

The Relay- My best and most disappointing race

I ran the second leg of the relay on Can-1:  Trevor Bray,  Alexander Bergstrom and me.
The NAOC relay was practice for JWOC, as Trevor, Alex and I will likely be running together this summer.

Alex ran the opening leg of the relay. After a competitive run he passed off to me with Can-1 in a close third. I finally manged to run a good first leg, taking a safe route along the flagged out of bounds areas. Over the next 15 minutes I demolished the course. My consistently good navigation allowed me to push physically and run faster than any of my previous races. In fact, I beat one of the top Americans, Ethan Childs, by over a minute (we had the same forking).

However, as I came down the finish chute I passed a member of an Elite Woman's team. The volunteer at the map exchange was pointing at the Elite Woman's board (for the runner I passed) and I incorrectly assumed the volunteer was pointing at the Junior Men's board. I picked up the map form the correct position (but wrong board) and handed it off to Trevor. Trevor proceeded to run a great third leg and came in first, well ahead of the other teams. Unfortunately, my mistake at the map exchange resulted in Can-1 being disqualified. Only a heroic race by Can 2 (junior men) prevented a US victory in the Future Champions Cup.

I take full responsibility for my  mistake - it is my job to pickup and hand off the correct map. I am quite disappointed in myself for letting a lapse in concentration cost my relay team the victory and Canada  the Future Champion's Cup. I apologize, but as I have heard from many people - things happen (especially in relays).

Despite it's unfortunate end, I am very pleased with my race. It was the perfect race to end on - a reminder of how fast I can be and a lesson to learn from. I'm glad I made this mistake at the NAOC's rather than JWOC. It will serve as a memorable reminder to double check that the map I hand off is the right one.

I greatly appreciate all the understanding and support I have received from the Canadian orienteering community. I look forward to representing Canada at future races.

Adam Woods


  1. Great running at the NAOCs Adam! You're improving fast, but there is still lots to learn ;)

    Don't sweat it with the map exchange. It happens to all of us sooner or later. For example, I remember skipping a control in a big relay in Sweden on the last leg (never saw it on the map). And so did Thierry Gueorgiou when he was in the lead on the last leg in the WOC relay in Norway in 2010!

  2. Adam ran a great race and has a great attitude. Good luck with training this winter. I look forward to seeing your 2013 race results

  3. Thanks for the great post Adam! Congrats on your excellent relay run and your sprint medal. Glad you were able to come to the NAOCs. And it sounds like you have already gained a good perspective on the map exchange problem as a good learning experience.