Thursday, May 27, 2010

First meet in the why-you-k-O-en

Last week was the first B meet of the year in Whitehorse, one of a series of meets put on by the Yukon Orienteering Association throughout the summer. It was great to see so many people out orienteering, over 58 people started the race! The meet was held at Long Lake (for those of you who remember the COC's back in 2004, you will know the terrain is special). It was a warm, sunny evening. With few leaves out and no bugs, the orienteering was exceptionally nice. The long advanced course took racers on a convoluted circuit around the lake with lots of climb, big features and technical contour reading. Seeing as the Long Advanced was the only course I did, it's the only one I can comment on.
My race started out a bit rough, with scale being the biggest problem for me. Most of the practices and courses I'd been on so far this year were 1:5000 maps. Making the jump to 1:10 000 took a bit of getting used to, and I undershot the first two controls.
Once I got a feel for the course and terrain, I started to run smoother. My shape felt good throughout the course and I was able to push where I needed to. Rosebush patches and deadfall were the biggest obstacles to running and there were a few times where I altered my route quite a bit to get around them.
The middle portion of the course was fairly technical and I started a few of what could have been very scary parallel errors. Luckily for me I was thinking well, caught myself within 15-30 seconds of each mistake and managed to relocate on the fly.
The course planners were particularly sadistic for the long advanced course and threw in a steep, 50m climb just before the finish only to turn you around at the top and send you down the same slope to lose all the elevation you gained.
In all it was a very clean race for me. No controls took me more than 5 minutes and I felt confident and smooth for most of the course. Results can be found at .
I will update this post with a map when I get my hands on a digital copy of the course from last week.
I'd also like to say thank you to all the people who volunteered for the meet and made it happen, it was a great way to kick off the season.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Team Trials Hockey Pool

Since it's the eve of the American team trials (and since there's a lull in the playoffs at the moment), we've been entertaining ourselves by creating a hockey pool for this weekend's results. You are welcome to follow along and make your own guesses. Post your picks in the comments and tally up your score at the end of the weekend and you could win a fantastic prize (TBD).

The rules are as follows:
-There are 13 questions, worth one point each.
-This is only for the results of the official trials and not for the results of those running in the non team trials categories.

For 6 points, predict the following places for each race:
Middle: 1st Men, 2nd Women
Sprint: 3rd Men, 1st Women
Long: 2nd Men, 3rd Women

For an additional 7 points, correctly answer the following:
1)Winner of cumulative finish splits (men).
2)Who will mp on the sprint?
3)Will Joe Brautigam break 43:45 in the middle?
4)How many top three results will CSU claim on Saturday?
5)Of the top three finishers, who will have the most winning splits on the men's long?
6)Will Ross make an error of over two minutes on control 13 of the long?
7) Who (out of both the men and the women) will have the fastest split on the longest leg of their respective long race?

To help you with your decisions, here are some useful links:

Middle start list
Sprint start list
Long start list
Women's rolling rankings
Men's rolling rankings

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reporting from Harriman TC

The domestic spring racing season is underway! After a few smaller races in the US over the last month, we are looking forward to the first major race of the spring calendar - the US Team Trials in Harriman, May 15/16.

Before the big races this weekend, several Canadian HPP members are spending the week in Harriman to train hard, rest up and have some fun.

Our first training tip is not to leave your orienteering socks out on the deck in the rain! One of our favourite training exercises is what we call "The Wheel." We had five people each setting out two controls before continuing on with the rest of a circular course. After a week full of training, tomorrow will be a rest day before we KAB on the weekend!

HPP Update, Will Critchley: Hail Britannia!

I arrived in Britain to start a Master’s degree in February, and immediately hooked up with the local club of Coventry, the “Octavian Droobers”, a club with an unfortunate name but impressive pedigree, having a very strong junior program and the home club of Britain’s best orienteer, Graham Gristwood. Unfortunately he’s not actually here, but in Sheffield!

From the first weekend I arrived, its been a cornucopia of orienteering opportunities! I competed almost every weekend since arriving, occasionally twice in a weekend. Amusingly, my first event was extremely foggy, which was exactly one might think of as stereotypical Britain.

Naturally, the club has been ridiculously friendly and accommodating, given my lack of vehicular transportation. Someone has always been willing to give me a ride to events, and one particular family was nice enough to let me live with them for a couple weeks while I found my own place to live. And, now that I have a place of my own, I live with a Swede who also used to cross country ski race! Sweet!

Being located in the direct centre of Britain means that no event is too far away, and few require much more than an hour’s drive. I’ve already orienteered around two castle grounds (pictured is Belvoir Castle), had intimate encounters with mud and brambles

(the much more aggressive equivalent to rose bushes), and explored intricate university campuses. Without question, the most remarkable part of it all is the sheer number of people who come to even local events. There are people everywhere, and I was pleasantly reassured that orienteers in Europe are equally nerdy as those in North America. :)

Just recently were the British Elite orienteering championships, held over two weekends at two different venues. The first was up north in the Lake District, just two days after I arrived back from Easter Break in Canada. (As a side note, I was on almost the last plane to arrive from N.A. before the aiport closed *phew*!) The Middle Distance was held in a very complex areas of tiny tiny re-entrants and spurs, which in my relatively novice mind, seemed almost overmapped! Routegadget Link

This race unfortunately included a high-speed encounter between my knee and large rock, which resulted in hobbling and swelling. Granted, the race was not going incredibly well at that point anyway, but it did have an effect on the next day’s event, the sprint, which I had very high hopes for.

The sprint qualification was a complex little housing area with weird shaped buildings and underpasses which always makes things a bit wackier. It went well save for when I overshot the road I was aiming for and ended up in the wrong overpass. Regardless, had I not made that mistake, I would not have made the A final, so clearly my running speed also needs to be faster. (Routegadget link). I also did a double take when I saw this photo.

Two weeks later were the Long Distance and the Relay championships at Cannock Chase. The long distance was relatively straight forward, which featured a quarry section which hosted most of the chaos of the race. While running through that section I saw everything, tears, group meetings, collisions, profuse swearing, and more tears. Pleasantly, I found that section relatively easy, and escaped unscathed. (Routegadget Link)

The final race was the relay, a personal first! I was paired up with the Halliday brothers, Matt having won the M20 in the long, and Dan placing 9th in M21. My apprehension was also increased when I got a call the evening before informing me I was now going to run the first leg!

At the start, most people took off like a rocket, and I calmly slotted in behind them. This was a relief because I had a vague worry I'd go insane and start running as hard as I can every which way like a chicken with its head cut off. Mid-way I found myself in around 8th place, with essentially all the runners in sight. Fortunately for me, I had already done the longer gaffles, so when we came through the spectator control, I was running in the lead pack of 2! While the wheels came off a little and another runner dropped me into third, I came through about 12 seconds back of the leader, and Matt & Dan held on to the 3rd for the Bronze Medal. Very exciting! Relay Routegadget

In retrospect, it really reminded me how much of a difference flowing through the controls actually made. I lose most of my time within the last 50 metres of a control, and with all these other people around almost guiding me into (and out of) the correct controls, it clearly made a massive difference in my performance. Now, if only I can replicate that while running solo!

Fortunately for me, the season never seems to end here. While I am transportation-less, people have been very generous and I expect to be orienteering regularly all summer long. While going to school is not necessarily conducive to great physical training, I am excited for WUOC in Sweden in July, and expect to make some great gains.