Saturday, July 18, 2015

Things We Learned in Strömstad

A portion of Team Canada held a training camp in Strömstad, Sweden. World Championships in 2016 will be held around this area so getting a chance to run around similar forests almost a year in advance is a great opportunity to get a leg-up on preparing for next year's races.

They were expecting us!

The team put in six solid training sessions over three days, including some regular training sessions, relocation exercises, relay training, and some simplification training. The terrain was physical, slow in places, fast in others, quite rocky, and often marshy.

Here's a list of things the team discovered over their days of training in the WOC2016 terrain:
  • There are wide varieties of runnability. The tops of hills are usually faster than running in the valleys between them. If the hills are big, then usually the valleys are quite green and slow.
  • There is plenty of bare rock and open, but it can be difficult to tell what is considered bare rock and what is considered only "open". Although its super fast to run on the rock, it can be very difficult to use as a navigational feature. 
  • Visibility is usually quite good! On many of the flatter, vaguer areas, it is possible to see a long way through the forest and spot smaller features, such as single contour round hills.
  • If you happen to be bonking, blueberries are an excellent source of fuel.
Also quality recovery food.
  • Like in many Swedish terrains, the relatively vague flat areas can be very difficult to relocate on. So, its really important to have a great plan and strong features to navigate by on your route. Particularly strong features in this terrain seem to be: large cliff bands, round ridged hills, or hilltops.
  • Strömstad is at just under 59 degrees north latitude, so.... bring a blindfold. The sunsets, however, were lovely.
  • Due to the fact that there were so many cliffs and rock features, clearly the mappers had to make some decisions on what would get mapped and what wouldn't. It can be difficult sometimes, then, because although some cliffs may not be marked on the map, you will still break yourself if you fell off of them. 
  • In general, if your leg involves going up or down large cliff bands, it is often beneficial to go well around than attempt to work your way through them.
    Relocation Exercise
  • Pits are interesting. Rather than a typical "hole-in-the-ground" that one might expect, they appear more man-made. The sides are often square, since they are a result of mining granite blocks.
  • Map bags are a good idea. 
This is the new M21 Ultimate Ultimate class.

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