Sunday, October 16, 2016

Back at it again at the BC Champs

The weekend right after a bunch of us HPP members headed to the NAOCs we went out again for some more fun orienteering competition, this time at the BC Orienteering Championships in Whistler, British Columbia. This consisted of a Model Event (run as a fundraiser by your HPP members) on the Friday, middle and sprint events on Saturday and a long distance race on the Sunday. Even though it was right after North Americans, we still had a large number of HPP athletes attend, including Pia, Nicole, me (Emma S.), Adam and Graeme. We were very happy to all be staying at the Whistler Athlete center, which was  a great accommodation with a shared kitchen, spacious rooms and convenient access to all of the maps.

Model event (Pia)

After Ben drove us up to Whistler, he dropped us off for a good 4 hours of control setting.  Once all the controls were set, we spent a happy two hours re-checking all of them, including a short nap in the peaceful forest.

Who knew control setting was so exhausting?
When did orienteering become so exclusive? 

Before long a plethora of folks had come along to run this HPP fundraiser event - thank you everyone who came along!

Middle (Emma)

The next morning started with the middle on the quite technical Brandywine Falls map. It consisted of complex groupings of lakes and cliffs and interesting contour detail, mostly through forest with very good visibility and moderate runnability. Before the event, we were surprised at how short the course distances were but they did end up giving the predicted winning times because the courses were very challenging, both technically and physically. In some places, the ground was quite rocky and difficult to move quickly over.

Despite (or maybe because of?) the challenge, this was genuinely one of the most fun courses I’ve ran this year. I’d say that getting to orienteer through the gorgeous forest with high technical difficulty was the highlight of the weekend. Scrambling up moss-covered cliffs and sploshing across marshes and ponds was an exciting plus for me, although some other orienteers found the physicality of the course quite tough.

W20 Middle course
Based what we’d learnt from the model event, I decided to have my goals be to keep in contact with the map and check off features, which turned out to be a pretty good strategy as there were many opportunities to become completely lost.

Sprint (Nicole)

An urban part of the sprint course

After warming up from a chilly post race at the middle we got ready for the conveniently located sprint at Cheakamus Crossing with the start 10m from the accommodation! This was the first sprint I have done that had both residential and forested areas which made it exciting! There was a long transition leg between the two areas that allowed for reading ahead and switching the orienteering brain from sidewalks to trails. The forested section was a dense area of mountain bike trails and there were a few approaches to tackling these controls - namely, committing to compass or counting the trails carefully. After the forest interlude it was back to the village, on the trail run back the need for mental toughness was apparent! Three quarters through the race and the thought of just being done starts to takeover. By refocusing on the next leg and planning ahead I was able to finish strong. Overall it was another great course on a brand new map to finish off the day of racing! The sprint definitely worked up everyone’s appetites for the lovely banquet dinner that followed.

The tricky forest section

Long (Pia)

With a walk to the start rivalling that of any major European event (4 km with 300m climb!), I arrived at the start of the long feeling a little out of breath.  This was probably due in no small part to my misreading my start time as 11:27, rather than 10:19, giving me less than the recommended 60 min to get to the start...  Luckily I made it thanks to a brisk uphill walk/jog!

This race started out in the little used but very fun Black Magic map - ‘open’ (west-coast white) forest with boulders, cliffs and hills galore.  This was for sure my favourite map used over the weekend.  I loved the runnability and complexity.  I wish I could have spent more time up there - it was so much fun to run in!  Apart from a small bobble on the 6th control, I was in control and just enjoying myself.  

How would you go from 6 to 7?

Next the course descended into the Lost Lake map.  This section was much greener and had many more trails which made for more route choice.  Unfortunately, the trails never lead where you wanted to go, leading to two main strategies: running further around on the winding trails or bushwhacking through the (somewhat difficult to get through) forest.  I did a mix of the two, and don’t think I always chose the right route, particularly on the longer legs.  By the end of the race I was tired out, but happy to have gotten one last good forest orienteering session in before the season ends!

Lots of route choice on this side of the map
We're all smiles after a fun weekend
After the long, we took a much-needed ice bath/ swim in this gorgeous lake right next to the finish
Overall it was a great weekend of fun and high-quality orienteering and an excellent end to this year’s racing season. Thanks so much to the organizers, course planners and all of the other volunteers for a great weekend!

-Pia B., Emma S. and Nicole W.


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