Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Showdown in Georgia!

This year the American Team Trials were held in conjunction with the US Individual Championships down in Carrollton, Georgia. I and fellow HPP athlete Alex Bergstrom made a special trip South for the occasion.

The first big A-meet of the year is always interesting because nobody yet knows who's who after the winter. Also, the terrain was a bit of a mystery since the maps were entirely new and the 14km Blue course supposedly had only 120m of climb when the model map looked like this:

The weekend started off with an urban sprint on the University of West Georgia Campus. The course was reasonably technical with a few interesting long legs towards the end. You can see Alex's killer instinct surfacing as he runs through the spectator control:

Next was the mystery Long. As it turns out much of the course traversed the flood plane of the river which was pretty flat. Even then I ended up climbing 270m, more then twice the advertised amount. Admittedly some of my route choices weren't quite optimal but nothing significant. It was a fun course with a few technical challenges, particularly the occasional expanse of featureless woods to test your compass bearing.

Finally on Sunday we ran the Middle. This was the race I was most looking forward to. Having run ~16km quite hard the day before I knew I would feel more tired then usual but also that everyone else was in the same boat. What I wasn't prepared for was the prickly nature of the forest. Spear grass, cacti and hard to see, unforgivingly spiky vines that don't break when you unsuspectingly dive into them, made running fast and focusing on the course a constant challenge.

In the end the race went well for both Alex and I. The RouteGadget for the Blue course is a real nail biter. Select all the runners then watch as the top five of us finish within a single minute!

Here's me coming through the spectator control with just a short loop to go. Alex isn't the only one with a killer instinct.

Photo Credits to Stefan Bergstrom.

Monday, April 16, 2012

JK 2012

So for Easter weekend I was racing around Pitlochry Scotland. It was a 4 day event. The first day was in Livingston for a sprint. The next day was a long for me on Dunalastair map. The third day was on Craig-a-Barns map and that was a middle. The last day was a relay event on the Newtyle map. Most of the terrain over the 4 days is the same. Wet, lots of rolling hills and rocks!

The first day was alright. We drove all the way up from Durham, England to Livingston, Scotland. I was run in W20E. I didn't make any mistakes I just took it slow because for me messing up or getting lost on a sprint is a very bad Idea. There was lots of underpasses and little alleyways that could easily be missed. You needed to know the direction you were leaving the control. You also had to really read ahead and have a route planned because there were a lot of traps.

The next day on my long it didn't go so well. I took way to long trying to find my first control because I thought the scale was 1:7,500 and it was actually 1:15,000. Once I got that sorted it was okay for the next control. Going to number 4 was not good I thought about going one way but decided to go the other way around because I didn't want to go through all the green. I got really lost and kept think oh it is the next knoll. I finally bailed relocated and found it right away. The last third of the course was in a big field and it was really hard to go fast and not sprain your ankles or smash your knees on rocks. I need up smashing my knee on a rock. I finished the race but it was not one of my better ones.

The third day at Craig-a-Barns was great, I was happy with my race. To get to the start was a real warm up. It was about 1.5km to the start and the last 300m was really up hill. By the third day my legs were starting to hurt. I only made one mistake on this race otherwise it was good. There was lots of detail so it was easy to read as you ran.  I felt like I could orienteer on this map and actually have a route, attack point and a handrail if I wanted.

The fourth and final day was a relay. It was on Newtyle hill map. My leg was really easy. I just couldn't run up hills. I would try and my legs would say I don't think so. My first control was up a big hill and it was hard on my legs to run up a hill on only the first control. That was the only really big climb. the rest would be just 1-3 contour lines. This map was fun. I would have love to run a more technical leg.

Their banquet dinners are a Ceilidh. It was so much fun to dance with tons of different orienteers. I learned a lot of different dance.

This was the sprint map

My Long at on the Dunalastair map
Middle on Craig-a-Barns

 My leg for the relay on Newtyle map

I finished my Long!

Finish at Craig-a-Barns

One of the mass start for the relay

The Jk was a really fun event and I got to run against the people who are trying for JWOC and WOC. My next event is the BOC long in the lake distract were I am running W20E. 7km here I come!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Racing Report: Flying Pig

I refrained from writing anything in the aftermath of the US Classic Championships in March since that early in the spring (technically, still winter) the Canadian contingent consisted of no one other than myself (to be clear, "myself" = Jon Torrance, not the pictured Serghei Logvin, as photographed shortly after finishing the third race of the Flying Pig weekend), Gord Hunter and the ubiquitous Alex Kerr. At Flying Pig however, despite several Ottawans being occupied with what sounded like an excellent training weekend rerunning some past A meet courses in central New York, a much larger contingent of Canadians showed up. Also, given a few more weeks to get their terrain running legs working after the winter, significantly more Americans than had been in North Carolina, although the best US competitors were a little bit thin on the ground. Whereas in North Carolina, both men and women from the A and B lists of the US Standing Team ran, at Flying Pig the US team was represented by Hannah Burgess from the B list on the women's side and by three men from the C list, Keith Andersen, Clem McGrath and Nikolay Nachev. It'll be interesting to see how things shake out at the US Team Trials in Georgia in a couple of weekends given that some contenders won't have run in any A meets this year in preparation. Likely the warm winter in much of North America will have given most of them sufficient opportunity to train in snow-free woods - here's hoping everyone took advantage well enough to have no regrets over their preparations.

Returning to last weekend, Orienteering Cinncinnati turned in its usual sterling performance of making the best of the terrain at their disposal, offering three middle distance races, each with its own character, and a sprint that started in fast, open parkland, plunged into the variegated, fairly intricate vegetation of a disc golf course, then returned to open parkland for some more fast running to the finish. Scoring for the weekend was based on scores for each race computed based on time relative to the winner, with the best three of four scores counting. On the women's side, Hannah Burgess won overall with three race victories, with Galyna Petrenko of VO2 a close second with one race win and two second places. The bigger news from a Canadian elite perspective came on the men's side with Serghei Logvin winning three of the four races and coming second in the last to win the weekend handily at the head of a Canadian sweep of the top three positions in which I was second, only a little ahead of Mike Waddington, who managed third overall just ahead of a Swede who has recently popped up living in Indiana, Mattias Eriksson, despite not having run the sprint and therefore not being able to throw out his worst race result. GHO's Hans Fransson also had a respectable weekend, improving in each middle distance race to finish third in the last race of the weekend and seventh overall. All told, not bad for Mike, Hans and I but a stellar result for Serghei - he's been fast before, particularly in sprints, but I don't remember him ever stringing together that many races at that level of excellence before. The terrain may not have been the most technical, although the last race required precise orienteering to hit the right ditch or other feature on bland hillsides in thick vegetation, but if he can perform anywhere near as well in terrain types other than spur and reentrant, I think we can anticipate some very good results from him at the higher profile events on the 2012 North American orienteering calendar.

More immediately, I believe Serghei will be doing GHO's training camp and running in the Giant's Rib Raid over the Easter weekend, as will I. After years of having trouble justifying the travel to run in one, it will be my first time participating in one of GHO's adventure running events so I'm looking forward to finally seeing what they're like in person, and to getting in some intense technical training to prepare for the rest of the spring season.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Orienteering in Cappadocia

So I am taking a kind of gap year to travel the world. Two weekends ago I was in Turkey for the Cappadocia Cup. This is my first across the seas race and I was a lot nervous in the start area for my first race. I did my mental relaxation to calm down so I could focus. This is my first time orienteering since last season so it was an adjustment to remember distance and what the features on the map look like in real life.

The Terrain is so different from anything that I have ran on before. There is very little vegetation. There is a lot of rock and caves and the famous rock pillars everywhere. The special features I used were the caves and rock pillars. On the map they are big black shapes with white on the inside. The caves were the same but if it was a cave you could go in there was a V attached to the rock pillar symbol. There where a lot of huge canyons. They some times had tiny little paths going down and up them that you could use.
Sprint terrain

My first race as a Sprint which was 1.7 km. The first few controls I was running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. I made a huge error on control 4 which cost me a lot of time. After that I finely got into of okay orienteering race I need: plan ahead, route choice and attackpoint. The race was a lot better after that. My sprint had no urban in it at all. It was on the side of a highway.

The next race I had was what they called a middle. It was 5.2km long. Man was it a hard run. This time I remembered my key point right off the bat but I got confused because they didn't tell me that I had to run 200m to the start triangle. I figured it out after a few seconds. The start control was just a little flag on the side of a stone gate. A lot of people didn't see it. Going to my first control I was going down a slope and found out it was pure mud. I didn't even find my first control and I was covered in mud. I found the first control with no problem. It was getting down to the next control that was the problem. I figured it out. The next few controls were urban. Man are their tiny streets confusing. After the urban we go into for longer legs  where you need good route choice. I was a lot happier with this race I did make a bad route choice that cost me some time but I was still happy with the run.

The third and final day was in Goreme, the city I was staying in. It seems that each day the map just kept getting more difficult. This was another middle of 4.3km. This race was not as great but it was a lot of fun to run. I could definitely feel my legs were tired from yesterday. This map was all about good route choices. If you didn't have one and you didn't find the control you just ended up running around looking at the controls hoping it was yours. Luckily that didn't happen to me. going from control  4 to 5 there is a huge canyon that there is only one way around and one way down and up. I ended up going off the map trying to find this little trail which is the only way down. I found it because some people where running down it. 

All in all I was very glad that I decided to do this race. It was a great experience and a lot of fun. It definitely is a map that should be ran on before you die. I am currently on route to Pitlochry, Scotland. There I will be running the Big race there called JK. There is suppose to be a lot of people there. Looks liking more mental training is going to be needed to calm down.

                                               Sprint Terrain
     Day 2 and 3

Going to my races
 Sprint map
 Day 2 middle
 Day 3 middle