I recently got back from a fantastic week of orienteering – Sage Stomp on the 19th to 21st, then an HPP training camp, followed by Barebones last weekend.
Sage Stomp was held at McQueen Lake near Kamloops. The middle and long were both on the same map – an area of open forest, scattered grassland, and hillsides with fine contour detail. I greatly enjoyed the runnability of the forest after spending the winter on the coast of BC! I made several mistakes on the middle, including spending 7 minutes on a fairly short first leg, but the long went quite smoothly. From talking to others after the long, it sounded like many people had similar experiences. For these races it was very important to find the right balance between keeping in contact with the map so I didn’t get lost, and letting go enough to push my speed.
The sprint was fun, but I didn’t exactly sprint it… It was a forest sprint in the area around the cabins we were staying in, on a map called Buck-eye Knoll. I got turned around a few times – probably should have been watching my compass more carefully.
There were 9 athletes (3 juniors including myself, and 6 seniors) at the training camp in Canmore, with Brent as our coach and Larry Konotopetz helping out. We were staying at the Alpine Club of Canada hostel, and training on 3 maps: Banff Centre, Rafter 6, and Bow Valley, each within 30 minutes from there. Brent kept us busy: Tuesday – sprint with a practice Qualification start (3 people start at once), then sprint with focus on control taking, then route choice (see Brent’s blog post about that one: http://t.co/pgdoEuLf); Wenesday – relocation/rough compass/precision compass, then line-O and corridors, then over to Calgary for a park sprint while Patrick coached his juniors; Thursday – Rafter 6 Barebones model course, then a mini one-person relay type of thing with a mass start on the first loop then chase starts for the next two. We also had mental training – a meeting one evening to discuss tactics after the route choice exercise, and several visualization assignments. We were asked to visualize both before and after a training session or a particular leg.
This training camp was valuable for many reasons. Obviously we got lots of training in, but it was especially beneficial to have organized training with specific goals, with flags, and with a coach to analyse and guide us. I also really enjoyed spending * days surrounded by so many other athletes. Though orienteering is usually an individual sport, it is so much more fun to train and compete with others! Also, the other athletes have more experience than me at training and competing at a high level, so they were able to give insight into orienteering techniques, warm-up routines, preparation for JWOC, etc.
Barebones was also in Canmore. I had so much fun at the sprint! (RouteGadget) It was forest and urban, downhill to the town centre. I worked on pushing my speed and taking risks, since I usually am overly cautious when I orienteer so I wanted to try something different. It worked well. I made one large mistake, leaving control 9 in the wrong direction, but I also had some really good legs and ended up third.
At 7.2 km, the long at Canmore Nordic Centre (RouteGadget) was the longest course I have run yet. I think I psyched myself out a bit, but in the end it was fine. The trail network required me to keep my concentration.
The middle at Mount Laurie (RouteGadget) had challenging contour detail. It was challenging, but that that is what makes orienteering interesting for me. I love that kind of terrain. Things got even more interesting when I ran into a black bear at control 16. It left, I took the long way to the next control and yelled hellos for the rest of the race, and as far as I know there were no incidents, though several others saw it and two cubs too.
On Monday I was sad to be leaving. It had been such a fun trip. Great orienteering with a good coach, nice terrain, teammates to train with; team bonding with HPPers and JWOCers; fun races with plenty of people; pretty mountains and forest; fun times socializing...... I am now super excited for JWOC (from training with elites and talking about it all week and getting the most recent bulletin and hearing from Emily Kemp who is currently training in Slovakia on the official model terrain with the French team and watching a presentation at Barebones by Tori and Graeme about how JWOC works and how awesome their experiences have been), as well as WCOCs, COCs, NAOCs…. And even before all that – Yukon Champs are next week, on some of the maps from COCs 2011!