Thursday, June 24, 2010

What's up in Kristiansand?

Sandy Hott reporting from Kristiansand, Norway.

With the spring rush of national cup races and the relays Tiomila and Jukola over, things are starting to quiet down for the summer here in Kristiansand with our club Kristiansand orienteringsklubb. Summer vacation is a big thing here in Norway, and there isn’t much action on the local orienteering scene during the summer. Instead, people will go on vacation, maybe taking in Sørlandsgaloppen or O-ringen or another multi-day event during the summer.

The last club event before the summer was the Club Championships, held on an island at the edge of town. It was a beautiful summer day, and the meet site was appropriately set near the beach which was a great place to hang out before and after the race. Although the race had an informal tone, the courses were very good: Steep and physically tough (especially in the 24 degree heat!), and with lots of good route choice problems to solve underway. I pre-ran the course so that I could switch off with Holger for child-care, and so I was undisturbed by other runners in the forest. I had a decent race, but had a bit of trouble staying ahead in my route choices the whole time, and didn’t manage to run as aggressively as I would have liked. I had several small time losses here and there, mostly due to hesitations and being wimpy downhill. My biggest time losses were going to the wrong pit first at number 5, and getting caught on some cliffs on the way in to control 10. There were some problems with the timing system, but my unofficial time was 1 second behind my club-mate Irene Arnevik who became club champion in D21.

Link to results

After the race we enjoyed BBQ hot dogs and chocolate cake in the evening sun with our club-mates. In all, a great way to bring in the summer season!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Yukon Champs!!

Well, here in the great place called the Yukon, orienteering is in full swing. We have been training on Mondays and Fridays with training or a meet every Wednesday. The last two Wednesdays have been the sprint and the middle of the Yukon Championships and the turnouts were amazing!! Most of the people were running novice or intermediate but its great that the community is coming out to participate in our events. I was running the long advanced course for both the sprint and the middle but my sprint was a lot better! The sprint was held as a fund raiser for the junior program here in the Yukon so everyone helped plan courses and dealt with registration and such. The long advanced course was a pretty long sprint at 3.1km and was held around the Mt Macintyre ski trails. It was in general a forested sprint with minimal climb.
My race started out smoothly with a couple of really smooth fast controls. I was focusing on thinking ahead and being smooth through the controls. The next couple of legs were longer and I had to think more about route choice. My choice was pretty good I think but I was tentative and stopped short of the control and had to look at my map for probably about 10-20 secs to make sure I was where I thought I was. These are the kind of mistakes that I would like to eliminate in my races, I need to be more confident. The rest of the course I was technically sound as the course weaved through a residential area and back into the forest but I was not going very fast, my decisions were not as fast as I would have liked them to be near the end of the race.
The next Wednesday was the middle distance for Yukon Champs, it was held on the Macpherson map North of town. The middle was only 100m longer than the sprint but with quite a lot of climb 160m! The course was really well set with many challenging controls. My race was less than stellar but I think I learned a lot from this course. My plan was to be really technically sound and to try to pick up the pace a bit. The problem I ran into on this course was that I was too safe with my routes. I didn't take enough risk so in consequence even though I wasn't going really slow I took longer. An example is the first control which was in a depression beside a really distinct hill with a clearing on one side. The hill was a perfect attack point coming up from a trail junction. What I decided to do was run farther on the trail and come in along a ridge. This route choice worked but it was slower and longer. During this race I was thinking but not in the right ways..
Many people did have good races though, and I would like to thank the organizers for there efforts and I am looking forward to the long next Wednesday and all the other orienteering thats going to happen this summer!!
I will hopefully be able to put some maps up on this post soon!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Success in Harriman!

On the last Friday of May I set out on a long awaited 17 day endeavour as a full-time Orienteerer. With the help of many kind fellow sportsmen, I travelled over 3000 km's, attended two A-meets, a Team Trials and spent the time in between training in some of the finest orienteering this side of North America. I set a new personal record logging 16.5 hours of orienteering in two weeks, over 120 km's.

The trip started out well with some very positive feedback at West Point, followed by a strenuous but enlightening week in Hamilton. From there we travelled to Connecticut for the WCOC's where I received more positive vibes and gained greater confidence in myself after the long winter. The next five days I spent with a small group in Harriman training for the US Team Trials and acclimatizing to the comfortable and sunny weather of New York. In short, orienteering paradise!

I had been waiting for the Trials for months. It was my fourth trip to New York this Spring counting two training camps plus West Point and I was back for more. Finally the trials was here and I had done everything in my power to be ready. Saturday started with the Middle distance, my personal favourite discipline. Although not the best middle distance race I have ever run it was definitely one of the most technical. (RouteGadget) An unfortunate start led into a 1:30 of mistakes in the first four controls. Fortunately I minimized my errors and finished the race with a solid result. (WinSplits) Of all my races in the M-21 category, this is the closest I've come to challenging the top spot. Six seconds behind 3rd and only one second ahead of 5th, I was a mere 1:01 away from taking first place!

Upon reaching the finish and realizing how close I was, I wistfully thought back to the beginning of my race where I had made my mistakes: the forest rushing past, scrutinizing the map trying to simplify the impressive detail, every second critical, every hesitation an eternity, bashing through the mountain laurel, the controls especially well hidden. It's safe to say the beginning of that course caught me off guard. By control #5 I at last entered the zone. Much to my relief, I had reached the end of the green forest and the beginning of the white. From here I made my way from 26th position to 4th, winning three splits and more then making up for the time I had lost. I ran as fast as I could handle, pushing the limit at every opportunity. It was technical, runnable and enjoyable. I stood at the finish satisfied knowing I had given it my best shot.

There are many great victories hidden in the route choices and split times of this race that don't just belong to me. I have made huge gains thanks to coaches and competitors in and out of the forest, organizing trainings, carting me hither and thither, and always ready to answer a query I might have. The individual sport is deceiving in that the strongest community will foster the finest athletes. It is the kind generosity and hospitality as much as commitment that brought about the successes I enjoyed under the trees in Harriman. That's something we can all enjoy.