Thursday, December 27, 2012

Orienteering and Running in Bangkok

For the last 17 months I have been living halfway around the world in Bangkok, Thailand.  While I have been in Thailand I have had the opportunity to introduce the sport of orienteering to some Thai children aged 6-12.  They were very excited to try a new sport that they had never heard of before.  I made a number of courses around the school yard at the school that I am teaching at.  The students enjoyed the challenge and adventure of finding the controls marked on the map.  However; they needed constant reminders to orient the map because they were often going in the wrong direction.  Maybe the World Orienteering Championships will one day take place in the land of smiles!  Here is the first ISSOM map that I know of in Thailand:

Running racing and training in a foreign place where the temperature rarely drops below 25 degrees Celsius can pose some challenges.  For this reason many of the running races here start at 6:00 am. or earlier when the temperature is a cooler 24-27 degrees Celsius.  Running a race when it is 38 degrees Celsius and 46 with the humidity would not be ideal!  There are many running races here in Bangkok almost every weekend and sometimes 3+ races on a Sunday morning.  To date I have entered 33 races during my time in Asia.  I have entered races of varying size and distance from small 10.5 km. races (which are called a mini marathons here) to large marathons in Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya, Thailand; Beijing, China; Chuncheon, South Korea and Singapore.  The constant with the races in Thailand are that you get at least one running shirt/singlet, a medal, and lots of food afterwards.  Many of the races here seem like a big deal with VIP only seating areas, nicely decorated awards stages, prize money and trophies.
Besides the heat, running the streets and sidewalks of Bangkok can also pose some other challenges that we would never even think of in Canada.  One of these challenges is running on an empty stomach and running past many food carts and restaurants along the road selling every type of Thai food you can imagine.  If you are hungry then there is the urge to stop and eat some food.  Another challenge is dealing with the odd chilli powder in your eye while you are running.  Chilli powder and spices are very prevalent in Thai cooking, so there has been many times where I have found myself ‘running blind’ because of chillies in my eyes!  The street dogs can also get a little crazy after dark.  It makes you run faster when they are chasing you!
There is a nice park fee of food, chilli powder and street dog challenges.  This place is called the Buddhamonthon Park, which is one of my favourite places here in Bangkok.  It is a good place to run because it is quiet, beautiful and there is some shade!  I can also practice some visualization and pretending that I am orienteering here spiking a control behind a large clump of bamboo shoots.  It would make an awesome venue for the next Park World Tour (PWT) race… 

Happy New Year from Thailand!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Training

During the winter, it’s especially important to try and keep your orienteering, both physically and mentally, up to scratch.  Since August, I have been living in Norway, and as Norway is the country of orienteering, I have gotten lots of good practice in so far this fall/winter.  I've had a couple of training sessions that were new to me, so I thought I would share them.

The first thing I got introduced to was orienteering inside.  I've actually done this before, but never on such a large scale, and never as a race.  This can be incredibly fun, and the more the merrier.  For those of you with a college or university nearby, I would suggest this!  The idea is to find a building with as many passages, floors, staircases and dead-ends as possible.  Then, you draw a course with as many floor changes, dead-end controls and traps as possible.  And set everyone loose to get confused and run around in circles!

This is a map of one of the
buildings in the local university

It’s also very important to keep running during the winter, even if you are cross-training with skiing, or some other sport.  Long runs can be amazing.  Maybe chose a map that you haven’t run on in a long time, and just run.  If you live in an area with lots of lakes, maybe do a lake-to-lake run, although be sure to check that the ice is thick enough before you cross! 

A group of orienteerers out for a run

These days, you can start running at 11 and still catch the sun rise!
Those who have little to no snow, like those in Trondheim, can orienteer in the streets all year round.  Running can always be a bit more fun when you have a map to run on!  A recent training session here had us running longer legs, corridor style, with small sprint sections of 4 or 5 controls interspersed.

The point was to run slower on the corridor, and really try to
sprint the large circles.  You could not go outside the blue line.
For those not living in a snow-less climate, mental training is important as well.  Here, while we are doing core workouts, we also armchairs read, or remember what the columns in the control description mean, or choose the fastest route.

From my calculations, the shortest routes are:
I may be wrong.
I hope that you all are having a wonderful winter, whether full of snow, or not, and that you all continue to have a good year in terms of training!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

(8th best) Course of the Year

I’ve always considered myself a good course setter.  I never thought I might end up designing a course that might be in the running for course of the year on World of O though.  Particularly not this year.   And yet that’s what happened when I designed a training course for a friend of mine visiting from Belgium, Yannick Michiels, on Ottawa’s fabled map the Barrens.  I was looking through some of the courses being put forward during the nomination period and discovered, to my surprise, that my training course from a month previous had been nominated. 
When it came time to vote 80+ courses had been nominated.  You could vote for your top 5.  I had a serious look at the set of courses and, being as honest as I could, placed mine in 3rd.  It helps of course that I was working in awesome terrain but I knew, based on the fact that the course already had something like 800 views on WorldofO, that my course actually some merit. 
My top 5 choices for course of the year.

My course ended up finishing 8th.  I guess that makes me a better course setter than orienteer (FootO World Ranking is 309th)!  Regardless I think the result is super cool.  Here’s some insight into my course setting process (you can find the entire course with Yannick's route here):
The Barrens is an amazing area for technical middle distance orienteering but the layout of its abundant lakes also allow for great challenging longer route choice legs.  Yannick had asked me for some middle distance type training lasting around an hour in length.  Perfect. 
I’ve raced and trained on the Barrens a good half a dozen times in since its debut at the Canadian Champs in 2010 so I know the area pretty well – something that important when course setting for training where there won’t be anything at the controls.  I felt comfortable in being able to pick out which features would be obvious enough to use as control circles just by looking at the map and I knew which areas were most interesting. 
That’s the ground work.  There’s only one real access road so that partially takes care of the start and finish variable.  I chose the same start location as for the Ottawa O-Fest 2011 long – it’s easily accessible from the road and provides a good bit of interesting technical orienteering right from the start.  For training the finish generally goes right by the start – in this case I had no reason not to so that’s what I did. 

Given the terrain I split legs into technical and route choice categories (with transport legs to get from one section of the course to another as needed) before even starting course setting. 
I wanted to start the course off with some short legs to get Yannick into the unique terrain.  At that point a route choice presented itself.  The route choice isn’t extreme but the straight route that Yannick took (probably fastest) is still somewhat technical.  The terrain around 4 opens up a bit so I can take the opportunity to set some slightly longer technical legs where it becomes tempting to go straight and speed up bit.  Dangerous though.  While tempting that is risking disaster in this terrain where it’s easy to get pushed around by the forest, end up in the wrong clearing, and spend a long time re-orienting. 
The next section of terrain shown below is among my favourite anywhere and certainly on the Barrens.  It’s fast and the features are very well defined.  With a little bit of care you can spike controls in there at full speed.  I knew from the start that I wanted to take my course in here. 

The trick here was to set a few short legs with the controls tucked on the far side of features.  I set legs 8 and 9 such that there were one or two larger features in the middle of the leg but lots of detail in the area that could be simplified out.  Change in direction was also important and I’ve set control 8 the way I did so that you come around the cliff to find it but have to go around another corner to get to 9 – you can’t just leave directly on a compass bearing. 
Leg 10 is mostly a transport leg – it’s tricky but it doesn’t emphasize route choice or technical difficulty in any particular way.  I tried in this case to provide some route choice where you can go straight without too much difficulty but you have to navigate carefully or you can head left to the long strip of field heading north west in the direction of the control and then run along then either left around the large marsh before the control at full speed along the clearings or stay right for a shorter but slower entrance.  I’m not sure it worked – I think straight was easily the faster choice.

With controls 11, 12, and the first half of 13, the primary purpose of the legs is to emphasize a unique aspect of the terrain.  The orienteering in this section is all about weaving through the terrain from open spot to open spot, around the lakes, and some of the hills and cliffs – micro route choice can make a big difference here!
Legs 14 through 16 are quite technical but their primary goal is to set up the first real route choice of the course. 
Going left I see 2 options for the first half and 2 options for the second half for a total of 4 options that way.  I see another two fairly equivalent options on the right.  I haven’t run this particular leg and have no idea which would be the fastest.  What would you do?
The next few legs are more transport legs (again difficult in their own right) to get to the more open east side of the map and to set up the next and final route choice.  In hindsight, I could have made one of those much better. 
Here is leg 20 as it was initially:

It’s pretty obvious you go left pick you’re through the little lakes.  With a bit of a revision it could be a very difficult route choice.  Here’s a new version of it:

Here are the last few controls. 

I have never actually visited the particular feature at control 21 but it’s nice forest around there and the feature is unique in that it’s mapped in grey instead of in yellow even though a lot of the rest of the yellow is mostly open rock so I wanted to take Yannick to it.  It’s also a great starting point to a classic left / right route choice.  Because of the layout of the route it becomes very tempting to take the right route choice heading out of control 21 because you’re closer to the line on the first half of the leg. 
I think the following route (dashed purple) is best though because it takes you through a series of long fields connected by white woods along a giant handrail that is nearly impossible to screw up.  The first bit of the leg takes you over ground you’ve already travelled and the last bit is the same regardless of you choose left or right. 

Everyone has a different course setting process and it can vary a lot depending on the terrain.  In this case I already knew the terrain and map quite well so I could sit down and plan this course in under an hour.  As it was training for a single person I wanted to set a good course but I wasn’t too worried about the details so that helped as well.  I didn’t pre-run any of the route choice legs to find out which was the fastest which I probably would have if it was for a major event but again, knowing the terrain, I could still set good long legs based on the map along.  Sure it could have been optimized but so what?  That wasn’t the purpose here.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

An Urban Rogaine


This Saturday I completed my longest orienteering event yet: a 3-hour urban rogaine through the streets of Victoria! It started at the University of Victora, my home campus, and spanned three separate maps: the UVic orienteering map at 1:10 000, and street-O maps of two adjacent neighbourhoods (Gordon Head and 10 Mile Point) at 1:15 000.
The first part and the last part of my route were on the UVic map
Instead of using SI, each participant carried a sheet of questions to be answered at control locations, such as giving the registration number of a fire hydrant, or “When are beach fires permitted?’ (“Not at any time,” according to a sign above the beach access). At times this was frustrating if I had trouble finding an answer, since I am used to big orange flags and a control description saying the exact location. But it was also fun to have different tasks at each control. It was fun to explore some new parts of the neighbourhood too – there are lots of hidden trails and beach accesses throughout 10 Mile Point that I had never been to before. 

The ocean!

It was a gorgeous day: a little chilly but the sun was sparkling off the ocean, and lots of walkers and joggers were out. (At one point I had a middle aged couple ask me if I was volunteering – I guess they saw me making notes – and then try to direct me to the park… I told them I was “racing” and kept going…)

There were 86 controls, of which I got to 49 (compare to the winning score of 56). I didn’t even get to Gordon Head, but I am happy with my race anyway – there were a lot of controls, and a lot of ground to cover! I don’t have a GPS, but according to Google maps, I ran about 21 km. By the end, my body was feeling pretty worn out, but I think as continue to train I will be able to run for longer with more ease and grace. The biggest technical challenge was definitely route choice (and I can always benefit from some route choice practice!). It took some planning ahead on the way out to the point, to decide which central controls I should go to, and which ones to leave for the way back.
Almost got them all!
I'll have to do this part another day :)

I'm looking forward to doing a self-organized rogaine on the Gordon Head map sometime soon. It's nice to be able to train with a map, even a simplified one, and it makes training more exciting!

The results are available from the VicO website:

Monday, November 12, 2012

The 5 Stages of Orienteering Grief

There is no such thing as a perfect race in orienteering. We all make mistakes of varying sizes, but it can be hard to come to grips with them. You may experience denial about your mistakes, anger at the course setter, bargain about what could have been if only… wait this may sound familiar. The five stages of grief, usually applied to major life changes, are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. These stages can occur in any order and be applied to other things, such as sports injuries (for instance, at first we often deny we are injured)! Perhaps a better understanding of these stages can help us deal with our orienteering hang-ups?

While making a mistake orienteering you might deny the error, bargain about still being where you wish you were, be angry with yourself for making a mistake, and be depressed about the amount of time you have lost. The main thing is that to recover in the best possible way from the mistake, and to most effectively continue the rest of the course, you need to accept that you made the mistake.

You may also experience the five stages of orienteering grief after an orienteering race that went south. You might be angry with yourself, the course setter or mapper. You might comb through the splits analyzing how things could have gone better, or be depressed at coming up short of your expectations in the results. Again, you need to get past this so that these thoughts are not bothering you during your next orienteering race. You need to get to the point of acceptance where you have learned what you can from your race but are no longer dwelling on it.

The question is, how best to do this?

For fun, and for further understanding of the 5 stages: a giraffe in quicksand.  

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Sport psychology strategies?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Season Ends with NAOC's

I am finally able to give everyone an update about my experience at the NAOC’s after being busy with school and my short track speed skating. It has almost been a month since the NAOC’s that were held in the Delaware Water Gap, PA. The NAOC’s was a great event to attend, great competition, great atmosphere and good organization. I was happy with my races considering the lack of orienteering I did since the COC’s in August. The middle was held on some awesome terrain that I really enjoyed, my result was almost awesome as well but made a poor route choice decision and paid for it really bad. The long was a very physically tough race; I did not have the speed at all and combined with small mistakes here and there made for a mediocre result. The sprint was fast and furious and I am the most happy with this race despite learning a new lesson, if you know you’re at the right control don’t bother checking the code because if you compare it to the wrong code you will lose over 1 minute and lose what could have been a medal for sure and possibly a gold. The relay was a great opportunity to practice a relay race since there are not many opportunities to race them. It was great fun until I could not find one of my controls, it turned out after running by it a few times within meters it was on the ground and that’s why I could not find it. It is really is too bad that it happened that way but it did. Overall the NAOC’s was a jammed packed weekend of great orienteering, great maps and tons of friendly Canada/USA competition.

Middle finish in the pouring rain.

Long finish.

Train on,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Ahh graduation is approaching! hmmm maybe I should make a plan...

A couple years ago I was lucky enough to be able to go to JWOC and compete as part of team Canada. It was a great experience and was amazing to be able to be part of that atmosphere of intense competition.  However, I myself was not at that level and although it was a lot of fun I told myself that I didn't really want to compete internationally again until I had done significantly more training! Unfortunately, there is no orienteering team or maps in Kelowna (where I am going to school, studying nursing) and my motivation for training everyday dwindles when I don’t have people to train with, sad I know, but after 3 years here, I have to admit it as the truth... So in attempt to gain some speed, I joined a local triathlon group this past summer and this fall trained with the varsity cross country team.

Training exclusively for running was interesting as it was something that I had never done, but just reinforced to me how I would love to be in a place where I could meet every night with an orienteering specific training group!  I then began to think of the areas within Canada that have established orienteering programs and thinking of reasons that I would move there. This thought process coincided with the idea that I had been toying with of doing my masters (which seems to me like a really good way to put of deciding what ‘I am going to do with my life’, something I seem to have to know when I graduate in June...)

After looking more into different places I could take my masters and what programs were offered within Canada, I began to consider international options.  Mainly Europe... and seeing as my Mum’s from Scotland I thought it would be neat to be there for a year or so. There are a couple schools that I am looking into and one that looks promising is the University of Edinburgh, which not only has an appropriate nursing masters program, but also has an orienteering club that practises 4 times a week! :D I am in the process of investigating the program further, but am very excited about the possibility of being able to train at an appropriate level for someone of my skills (the club level, no French national teams for me! :P) but also at being so close to the many European competitions held every year.

After much discussion I decided that it was essential to work for a year before doing my masters, *sigh* Scotland you will have to wait another year... In the meantime I am hoping to keep up some of the speed I have gained running with the cross country team and hopefully get out to as many meets as possible this summer! Well that’s the plan, hopefully not too much of a pipe dream!

Head HPP Coaches Announced!

Orienteering Canada's High Performance Committee (HPC) are delighted to announce that Brent Langbakk has once again accepted the position of Head Junior National High Performance Program Coach. Brent did not think that he would be able to take on the coaching role this year, but has arranged his schedule so that he is able to work with the junior HPP athletes. Brent brings a ton of experience to this role, including 5 years as head coach of the successful Yukon Junior Program, and coaching Team Canada to the best ever results at the 2012 Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC).

This year, Darius Konotopetz will work alongside Brent as Assistant Coach. Darius has represented Canada twice at JWOC, has a degree in education with a major in kinesiology, and has experience coaching a wide variety of sports, including soccer, ultimate frisbee, and cross country.

Although not completely finalized, the 2013 coaching structure for the High Performance Program will look quite different to 2012. The HPC are actively recruiting regional mentors to work with local HPP athletes. Mentors working with junior athletes would have support from Brent and Darius, and would work one on one with a small number of juniors to develop training plans, as well as some technical coaching. If you are interested in volunteering with one or two juniors in your area, please email Brent at brent (dot) langbakk (at) gmail (dot) com. 

The HPC was not successful in engaging a coach for the senior High Performance Program athletes. The HPC is currently working on a plan to compensate for this vacant position, and details will be released shortly.

We're still looking for Team Leaders to assist at WOC and JWOC. If you're interested, check out the details and email Alison at alimcalison (at) gmail (dot) com by November 15th.

Please join us in congratulating Brent and Darius!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Little Sunday Morning Fun

As most of you know, here in Vancouver we do a fair bit of sprint training. Once a week we have our trainings on a different city park map at a one to four, five or seven point five thousand scale, however in GVOC we also have a series called 'Why Just Run?' Once a month we put on a bigger, electronically timed, race on one of our "forest maps". Here's the map from this week.
Okay so it's a sprint map. But it is actually one of my favorite sprint maps I've ever run on. The reason I love this map is simple - it gets me every time. I'm starting to get the hang of it now that I've run there a couple times but I still can't make sense of parts of it unless I'm standing completely still. I certainly do not have it memorized as well as some areas that I've only ever run in once.This section:
The main area of the SFU Campus is actually made of three different levels - all mapped onto one flat piece of paper. It is mapped well and when you study it now it makes perfect sense how one area is below the other because of that small staircase over there. And how that area must be the middle level because it has grey over it and the tunnel symbol under it. Unfortunately however as the rule in orienteering generally goes, the faster you move the harder it gets. As soon as your sprinting around it becomes a whole different story.

I've always found the biggest challenge in sprint maps is multi-level areas. I'd love to see how the pro's work through knowing what goes where. Have a look at the map, see if you can figure out what up and whats down. Anyways, I just thought it'd be fun to share a favorite map of mine! And don't forget there's plenty more where that came from... I hear the Vancouver Sprint Camp is a good event :p. Results and other courses from this mornings race are on the GVOC page at

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Elites Series 2012 ~ and the winners are.....

It's been an exciting year for 2nd Canada Cup Elite Series! We've had many different leaders and stiff competition over 23 races throughout 2012. But in the end, there can be only one winner... well two actually, but you know what I mean!

In the men's standings; in third place with a grand total of 150 points is Graeme Rennie of the Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club! Second place is Will Critchley of the Edmonton Overlanders Orienteering Club. In first place, with a very decisive 84 point lead, is Eric Kemp of Ottawa Orienteering Club! Congratulations to Eric on a strong season, with a great finish!

In the women's standings, up and coming junior Molly Kemp (Ottawa Orienteering Club) secures third place! Second by a mere 5 points is Carol Ross of Orienteering New Brunswick. Winning for the second year in a row, despite an early season ankle injury, is Louise Oram (Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club). Congratulations to Louise!

In the club challenge, the Greater Vancouver Orienteering Club once again gained the most points, and retains “bragging rights” as the best club for elite orienteering in Canada!

Here are the full final standings!

Louise and Eric both win $300 for their achievement. This year the High Performance Committee is extending cash prizes to second and third places. Carol and Will will receive $150 each, with Molly and Graeme receiving $50. Nice!

What did our winners have to say? We interviewed them both! Check out the videos below. A big Orienteering Canada CONGRATULATIONS to Louise and Eric!

Please join us in wishing a huge Orienteering Canada THANK YOU to the Canada Cup race organizers from coast to coast. There were 23 Canada Cup races in 2012! We're definitely looking forward to the 2013 Canada Cup season!

Friday, November 2, 2012

The Balancing Act

Hi Everyone!

It has been a long time since I last wrote a blog, but it has been a busy fall! I am back at Carleton University for my second year studying law. The struggle this year has been to balance an even higher amount of training than last year with a more intensive work load at school. So, I thought I would share my thoughts on this with everyone else out there that has to balance training with school or work!

Here are my thoughts:

            I think of it this way: there are three categories in my life that I must balance: training, school (or work), and all the other little requirements of life. Most people only have to balance two categories, and find that hard enough! Unfortunately (or fortunately,) high-level athletes must add a third category that takes up A LOT of time: training. For me, the two main categories are school and training; however, it does not seem to be any easier balancing these two categories than the full three. School and training take up enough time that it seems logically I should only do one at a time. For most people (myself included) doing one at a time is not a feasible option, so the question remains, how are you supposed to balance the two so you can succeed at both?

           My answer is to prioritize . You must decide what is most important and focus mostly on that. First time management is key, you must not spend your time wholly doing one thing. If school is important one week, sure focus on it, spend more time on it then you would usually, but remember that going for a run or out training every day will still add to your productivity rather than waste time.

            On the other side, if you have a week where your training plan and lack of schoolwork meet up, take advantage of it! Enjoy this week and get that hard training in, or big hours or even just go a little farther afield to train to add to the enjoyment of it. These weeks are truly precious.

However, the realist in me recognizes that really even with prioritizing and amazing time management skills, most of the time for 8 months you and I will be scrambling to keep up with the workload of school and training combined. This is the time when you wonder is it all worth it? Is the stress of it getting to be too much? When this happens to me, all I have to do is take a break and go for a long run in beautiful conditions.  Or out on a truly wonderful map. These excursions make me realize that the stress is worth it. My life would not be complete without training, and its hard to get away from the requirements of life! School keeps the brain occupied and training keeps the enjoyment in life. Balance is key.

And always remember the enjoyment you get racing and training! For me, North Americans was one of those races, it revived in me the enjoyment I get from orienteering and of course hanging out with the people you only see a couple times a year at the big meets! Have a good fall and winter everyone :)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sunday at NAOC's

Sunday was the day of my best races at the North American Orienteering Championships, the sprint and the relay. Both races took place on a 1:4000, 2.5m contour map of the Pocono Environmental Education Center (and the surrounding forest).

The Sprint- My best result of the weekend, a 3rd place finish.

The sprint started off the same way as my other individual races, I messed up the first control. Despite a plan to take the first control slow, I had my map slightly disoriented when I hit the start triangle. The result was running along the road rather than across it and then a panicked scramble to re-orient; you can see this route below. My time loss was about 25s.
Control 4 was a silly loss of 30s- I read the control code for 3 rather than 4 and ran off thinking I was at the wrong control. The number of leaves on the ground made noticing trails difficult, which lead to hesitations on the way to control 6 and a further loss of 15s. Controls 7 and 8 were where I stared to feel comfortable, they allowed me to pick up my speed and the fastest splits. I caught up to my teammate, Trevor at control 12 and ran with him for the remainder of the course.
Despite, losing 1min over the first 4 controls I was able to refocus and preform well for the remainder of the course. Although I had a number of controls in need of improvement, I was pleased by the race. It was worthy of the third place it earned me. The focus was now on the relay

The Relay- My best and most disappointing race

I ran the second leg of the relay on Can-1:  Trevor Bray,  Alexander Bergstrom and me.
The NAOC relay was practice for JWOC, as Trevor, Alex and I will likely be running together this summer.

Alex ran the opening leg of the relay. After a competitive run he passed off to me with Can-1 in a close third. I finally manged to run a good first leg, taking a safe route along the flagged out of bounds areas. Over the next 15 minutes I demolished the course. My consistently good navigation allowed me to push physically and run faster than any of my previous races. In fact, I beat one of the top Americans, Ethan Childs, by over a minute (we had the same forking).

However, as I came down the finish chute I passed a member of an Elite Woman's team. The volunteer at the map exchange was pointing at the Elite Woman's board (for the runner I passed) and I incorrectly assumed the volunteer was pointing at the Junior Men's board. I picked up the map form the correct position (but wrong board) and handed it off to Trevor. Trevor proceeded to run a great third leg and came in first, well ahead of the other teams. Unfortunately, my mistake at the map exchange resulted in Can-1 being disqualified. Only a heroic race by Can 2 (junior men) prevented a US victory in the Future Champions Cup.

I take full responsibility for my  mistake - it is my job to pickup and hand off the correct map. I am quite disappointed in myself for letting a lapse in concentration cost my relay team the victory and Canada  the Future Champion's Cup. I apologize, but as I have heard from many people - things happen (especially in relays).

Despite it's unfortunate end, I am very pleased with my race. It was the perfect race to end on - a reminder of how fast I can be and a lesson to learn from. I'm glad I made this mistake at the NAOC's rather than JWOC. It will serve as a memorable reminder to double check that the map I hand off is the right one.

I greatly appreciate all the understanding and support I have received from the Canadian orienteering community. I look forward to representing Canada at future races.

Adam Woods

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Canada Goes With Youth for NAOC Relay Teams!

At the North American Orienteering Championships (NAOC's) this weekend, both our younger and our more experienced runners have been helping Team Canada to gain valuable points in this year’s BK Cup. Several of Canada’s runners from previous WOC teams (including Mike Smith, Pam James, Wil Smith, Brian May, Hans Fransson) came up big in the middle and long races. Our young Future Champions (FC) Cup team is also doing very well against the older and more experienced U.S. team.  With an eye to the future WOC sprint-relay event, the NAOC relay provides an excellent opportunity for Canada’s younger team members to gain valuable race experience. Here are Canada’s teams (in the running order) for tomorrow’s relay:

Junior Women 1  
 1.        Kerstin Burnett  
 2.        Molly Kemp  
 3.       Kendra Murray

Junior Women 2
1.       Darya Senpanj
2.       Jennifer MacKeigan
3.       Emma Waddington

Junior Men 1
1.       Alex Bergstrom
2.       Adam Woods
3.       Trevor Bray

Junior Men 2
1.       Gavin Tasker
2.       Roan McMillan
3.       Michael Svoboda

Senior Women 1
1.       Carol Ross
2.       Pam James
3.       Louise Oram

Senior Women 2
1.       Meghan Rance
2.       Jennie Anderson
3.       Charlotte MacNaughton

Senior Men 1
1.       Graeme Rennie
2.       Will Critchley
3.       Serghei Logvin

Senior Men 2
1.       Damian Konotopetz
2.       Jeff Teutsch
3.       Eric Kemp

There may be some last minute changes to the team due to injuries. You can follow along online by tuning in to the live video feed and live results!

A big thanks to Mike Waddington for handling the team selection!

Monday, October 15, 2012

25manna 2012 – A Scandi Club Experience

To give a bit of an update, I’m now starting my second year as a Masters student at Chalmers Institute of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden.  After WOC this summer my shape felt really good, my motivation was really high for the coming year, and I was able to put in a few really good weeks of training. The past month however has been a bit of a struggle, with injury and sickness, as well as settling back into school and living in a new part of town. One of the races I’ve most looked forward to this fall was 25manna, and after a bit of a break from racing, I was excited to get myself back into things.

25manna (pronounced in Swedish as: shoo-fem-manna) was my first big race in Sweden last fall, and I really enjoyed it. It is an all-ages, whole-club relay, with 25 runners per team, where the winning club is deemed the ‘world’s best club’. This past year my Swedish club, Göteborg-Majorna OK, has put in a lot of work into a “Gränslöst” project, to work on unity and development across all the age groups in the club. As one of Sweden’s biggest clubs, and after top 6 placings the past two years, the goal was to enter four teams, and to fight for the victory.

The format for 25manna is a bit different.  Legs 3 to 7 are run in parallel, with 4 runners on each leg. The first two, and the last three legs have only one runner per team. There are age and gender requirements for each leg, as well as a minimum number of women and juniors per team. It’s a bit hard to explain, and the leg requirements change each year, so here is a table of this year’s breakdown.

 25manna 2012 leg breakdown (
I was selected to run the 5th leg on the really strong second team, as the second of four runners out. With 100 club members racing, as well as coaches and support crew, two buses were required to transport the club to the competition. We all piled into the buses last Friday afternoon, and 6 hours later, after two bus quizzes, and a dinner stop at IKEA Linköping, we arrived at the hotel south of Stockholm.
The two club buses
The size and club atmosphere of the event was apparent upon arrival to the parking area early Saturday morning. One of the cool things with 25manna, different from other individual races in Sweden, is that all the clubs travel in their own buses. The parking was located on an old runway, with a hundred buses lining the length of it. I took a video of the long walk down the runway, but didn’t get a chance to edit it.

 This doesn't show how big the arena really was...

My team, GMOK 2, was off to a great start with some really strong early runs. The legs go by really quickly though, and before I knew it I was into the changeover area doing my final warm-up with my fellow leg runners; Viktor, Anders, and Magnus. The parallel legs are interesting in that you are always seeing doubles, those from the same club with the same tops, both warming up and in the woods. I was tagged off in really good position by Martin, the second youth runner on leg 4, 10s after Viktor. I ran an ok race with a few smaller mistakes. The pace was really high, and I was amongst other runners most of the time. I managed to “do my job” and exchange in as the first of my team, handing off to Ulf and the 40+ guys on leg 6. The other guys ran well, and we were able to move up 3 spots as a leg from 28th to 25th.

 Finish chutes
Our first team, GMOK 1, was amongst the top teams throughout the race, and after leg 24 was together in the lead with Halden SK. Our last leg runner, Erik, wasn’t quite able to keep pace with World Champion Olav Lundanes, but managed to hold second place. A fantastic result for the club! The rest of GMOK 2 ran really well, and after some pressure from OK Linné 2 we managed to finish as the top second team in 34th place. A great result which highlights the club’s depth. A more detailed write-up of the day can be found here:
It was a great day and a great weekend, and it was really cool to be a part of the GMOK crew. After three weeks of rain in Göteborg prior to the event, it was nice to have a weekend of sun, which definitely added to the positive feelings. A big thanks to the rest of the GMOK runners and to the coaches and for all their work!

American runner Ross Smith showing his club spirit for OK Linné

GMOK 2 youth runners with the top 2nd team plaque (photo credit:

GMOK 1 on the podium as the 2nd place team (photo credit:

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Coaching & Team Leader Opportunities

In recent years Magnus Johannson and Brent Langbakk have been volunteer coaches of Canada’s High Performance senior and junior team athletes. Due to education and family commitments, both have stepped away from their positions. The High Performance Committee (HPC) would like to thank Magnus and Brent for their hard work with the Canadian athletes, and wish them both well with their new life challenges!
The High Performance Committee is now recruiting in these four areas:
  1. Head Senior National High Performance Program Coach (description)
  2. Head Junior National High Performance Program Coach (description)
  3. Team Leaders for the junior and senior teams (description)
  4. Other individuals interested in assisting with coaching our High Performance Program athletes (description)
Full job descriptions are available on
Please pass this information on to others you think may be interested in developing elite orienteering in Canada. With the number of talented young athletes, and the work of the HPC over the past couple of years, it's an exciting time to be involved in elite orienteering development in Canada!
We look forward to your applications!

Night-O in the Yukon

With winter approaching faster than some of us would like, the Yukon Orienteering Association held their final meet; a night-O. With only five hours of darkness in the Yukon in mid-summer organizing a night-O can be rather difficult. So this years annual night-O was held in late September close to ten in the evening. The meet was held on the Hillcrest map where last years WCOC sprint was held.

With my rather small headlamp I managed to find all the controls but not without a few bobbles. Fortunately the course planner hung some reflectors on the flags but those only help a certain amount when your headlamp only illuminates about six feet in front of you. Running through the woods was particularly difficult because your light would only illuminate the tree directly in front of you. Therefore in any dense woods you could only see about 2 feet forward.

Another note, avoid running in any rough ground, it often leads to face-plants irregardless of the lighting outside. A big thanks to all the volunteers who made this year very successful and enjoyable!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Running and Orienteering in Vietnam

I have now been in Vietnam for about four weeks, and I'll be here for another two months.  I am staying in a small community in the mountains of Hoa Binh province, called Dong Chua.  The view from here is stunning and when I first saw the hills and mountains I could not wait to get out for a run.  When I went for my first run, I ran up into the mountains, on a winding dirt road along the top of a ravine.  I ran through another, even smaller community farther up in the mountains. I got a lot of strange looks from all the villagers, but I guess that's understandable.

The road I ran along.
Imagine.  You live in a small community with less than 100 houses in the mountains of Vietnam.  You have to boil all your water to drink.  You have to boil water if you want to have a hot shower.  You do your laundry by hand in a large metal bowl.  You've probably never seen a person running just for the sake of it.  You've never seen a person with blonde hair.  You've never seen a Canadian. And suddenly there's this blonde haired girl, running through the one street in your community, wearing a very Canadian running top.  Personally, I understand why they were surprised.
This is the kind view I had on my run.
Unfortunately, when I was returning from my run, the Vietnamese supervisor of the group I'm with saw me and questioned what I had been doing.  When he realized that I had been out running in the mountains on my own (with a cell phone and on a road that never split so I couldn't possibly get lost), he told me that I can't do that again because it's dangerous.  Looks like I'm not going to be orienteering any time soon.
Another view from my run.
I have, however, convinced a few other members of the group to come running with me occasionally, so at least that won't be given up completely for the next two months.

I also spent some time talking to other members of the group about orienteering and there are a few of them that seem quite interested in trying it out.  I'm hoping that once we get to Port Alberni, BC, for the second part of the trip that we will have access to some maps and I can spend a day teaching orienteering to the nine other Canadians and the ten Vietnamese.

I am going to miss orienteering very much over the next couple of months, but I know that even just the occasional run or hike in the mountains will absolutely phenomenal!
The view from the Cultural House in the village. Don't you just want to running in those mountains?

It's quite typical to see water buffalo being herded down the street.
Orienteering is a wonderful sport!

Laura Teustch