Saturday, March 2, 2013

A break from the snow

This past week, I was in Turkey in the Antalya region.  The first few days were spent as a family, hiking in the surrounding mountains and exploring ancient ruins in the area.  However, once Wednesday rolled around, we met up with Camp Norway and had our first training session.

We had a few problems getting to training Wednesday, as we drove through small coastal villages on roads little more than dirt paths, and not sure where we were.  However, orienteers that we were, we finally arrived.  My fears of being very, very late were quenched-we were the first there, and the course setters were not even back from setting the course.  By the time we actually got going, there were a few buses, and a few busloads of people.  I instantly got confused, or overwhelmed, by the sheer amount of detail on the map.  The first few controls were touch-and-go, and I managed to confuse myself quite satisfactorily.  I also learnt-going to number 3-that green was on all accounts to be avoided.  The thorns on the bushes were about 1-2 cm long, and, if you were sprinting past at full tilt and one of them happened to brush against you, you would be drawn to a complete and sudden stop.  Trying to fight through it was not much easier-after the first meter, I gave up with multiples scratches on my hands, arms and legs.

The biggest thing to consider was that the map was most likely done during the dry season, and this was the wet season.  For most of the course, we were running through ankle, knee and sometimes even waist deep water.  At the beginning of the course, I was hesitant about getting my feet wet-by the end, I felt more comfortable running in the water than out.

There was water from control 9 to control 20
The next morning we woke up bright and early for the first middle of the competition series.  The sun was shinning and the woods were open and full of trails.  I had issues with number 1...and number 3...and some others as well.  Needless to say, the race did not go quite as I had hoped it would.  

That afternoon, we headed into the nearby town for a model event.  The first part was spent running through narrow alleyways-all the time getting strange stares from local people going about their normal days.  I was stopped by a policeman who wanted to know what I was doing running along.  Unfortunately, he didn't speak any English and I don't speak any Turkish.  He attempted to question me for about a minute with me not understanding a word until another policeman (who did speak English) was able to clear up the situation so that I could continue on my way.  The next section of the course was the most exciting-running through an old ancient set of ruins!  The eroding walls and prickly bushes made for interesting navigation.

Unfortunately, one was unable to
stop and admire the ruins while running
Friday was the day of the sprint.  I was feeling a bit more confident about the sprint than I had been about the middle.  The terrain was very similar to the middle, and I told myself that what I had to do was keep contact with the map and run as slow as I needed to in order to maintain that contact.  As I ran, I saw lots of people running around looking very lost.  Luckily, I was able to hold it together and crossed the finish line feeling pretty good about my race.  

This was a pretty good sprint for me!
Saturday morning was an early rise for everyone.  I got on the bus at 7 in preparation for a two hour drive up the mountain.  The bus was going up the hill at about 20 km per hour, almost stalling on each hairpin corner.  We arrived in this small, rural village based purely on agriculture.  Even there, ancient ruins were everywhere.  We passed an old amphitheater on the way to the start and most of the race took place on terraces, in use for centuries.  The most exciting part of the race was through a maze of stone pillars, and one could get easily confused.

A stray bull got into the finish shoot
Some of the rock pillars, as seen from the road
My map for the long 
That evening, we didn't have any training to give us a bit of a rest for day four: the last middle.  This one was on the side of a mountain and was played out on large spurs that extended down into the finish area.  Once again, the forest was very open in white and deadly once you hit green.  Of the whole race, the finish shoot was most likely the hardest part.  It was long, up hill and the sun was shining with no clouds in the sky.  That afternoon, our training concentrated mostly on taking it slow and orienteering technically to the best of our abilities.

The woods, although open and planted in rows,
had lots of underbrush that made for slow running
Monday was our last full day in Turkey, and we made the most of it with two last training sessions.  The morning was an opportunity to explore even more terrain and the afternoon was taken up by a simulation of a relay, with forking and mass starts.  Finally, it was time to say goodbye to T-shirts and sun and to head back to the land of snow.

Check out the results at:


  1. Nice report! I am so jealous. That camp looked amazing!

  2. Great post Pia!! what a photo with the bull in the finish shute!