Tuesday, October 29, 2013

PWT China - Trains, Planes, and Automo-busses

After a highly underwhelming Nordic ski career, I felt convinced that I was never going to go anywhere interesting for sport. After what is now my 4th trip to China (well, third and a half, one trip was only 10 hours long), I feel like I can almost say in a casual tone, "yeah, its cool, just heading over to China again, no biggie".

Although my approach to China has morphed from wide-eyed terror of an extremely foreign country to casual familiarity, it never diminishes my excitement and honour of the invitation to go on these trips. Carted around in a style as close to a 'professional athlete' as I'm probably going to get, being on a level playing field when it comes to familiarity to the race terrain, and hanging out with  orienteering's elite, guys who normally are in a different stratosphere of performance (and usually stay in the nicer hotels). 

This trip featured 4 races, a sprinty-middle prologue, followed by a sprint, middle and another sprint. The first three races were again in Changchun in the north of China in conjunction with the Vasa Orienteering Festival, held by the Nordicways Company. Nordicways hosts a variety of different sports events in China, from the Vasa China, to multi-day running events, and cycling tours. This year their road cycling tour actually had a stop in North Korea! That alone *almost* convinces me to go road cycling more often!

Stage 1 was mildly familiar to me, having sprinted in the second part of the park before. If nothing else, it prepared me for my 'bridges of exasperation' - some islands in the middle of the lake which I got completely turned around in last year. I remained extremely vigilant during that section and escaped unscathed. Ultimately (and this is a recurring theme), I do not have the wheels of the other hot shots, and regularly lost a number of seconds on each control. I can't chalk up any major losses to anything in particular, it is simply a case of a 35 min 10k guy taking on a bunch of sub-30 10k guys. I can run my balls off as much as I want and they'll just glide away on what I can only assume are wings of angels. Stage 1 is posted is on my DOMA: http://orienteering.ca/doma/show_map.php?user=will&map=455

Stage 2 was much of the same. And by that I mean, 'damn, these guys are fast'. The city of Changchun has what they call the "World Sculpture Park", a park with 450 different sculptures, none of which I could find were by Canadians, and many of which featured topless women. Are clothes too difficult to sculpt? The first half had some briefly tricky bits where one could steer wrong if not paying attention, but after that it was again the place of the dainty track stars to leave a trail of fire in their footsteps. Here's stage 2: http://orienteering.ca/doma/show_map.php?user=will&map=456

Despite really enjoying sprinting in China, I think the vast majority of orienteers are also really interested, myself included, in what mysteries we will find in the forests of an extremely foreign country. I've blogged before about the ridiculous and amazing rice fields of Southern China (here), or the unique areas of Hong Kong and Guangzhou (here) so one can never be sure of strange and wonderful things one might find.

As it turns out, one also finds white forest. Like... immaculately straight white forest. Spooky.

Straight as an arrow.
But seriously, the vast majority of Asian people I meet are very humble and say that they're terrain is not as good as that in Europe, but this could have been straight out of any number of European countries. Stage 3 was a middle distance, on a small map just outside of Changchun. Despite being a small area, it was a very pleasant combination of white forest, some slower green, some open, and small ridges that required keeping track of which one you were on and where you were along it. There were no big climbs, but a thousand small ones that would eat away at your energy, and small enough that required you to keep running right over the top. It was fast enough terrain that you really needed to keep your foot on the gas the entire time, since mistakes were going to be few and far between.

L'il bit of forest, l'il bit of open.

After a "quick" trip back to Beijing, we closed out the week with one more race, in the park of the Ruins of Yuanmingyuan. Part of this park was the first ever Chinese map I ran on in 2010, and is a pretty special area. Traditional park, to be sure, but a mix of islands and bridges where, in a straight line, your control is only 150m away, but the way to it requires doubling-back in any number of directions and trying to choose the best way around. In this type of area, bridges are not your friend. Lovely, yes, but also slow. Its an important realization that the planner gave ample opportunity to recognize, since it was mid-way through the course.

6 bridges vs. 5, which route was faster?
I actually think that in all of the route choice legs (2-3, 3-4, 6-7) I picked the possibly less optimal route, but nevertheless I felt I had a great result. No major mistakes, I was finally getting over my cold, and was probably the closest I've ever come to some of those elite guys. This was arguably the strongest trip yet, with at least 10 guys who are a who's who of elite orienteering, and I finally got to a point where they hadn't gotten back from their cool-down yet when I was finishing. It felt good. Doma #4: http://orienteering.ca/doma/show_map.php?user=will&map=458

Throughout the whole week, I never had any major disasters, and happily hovered right in the middle of the pack, ranging between 11th and 18th out of a group of 25. Its a great situation because there are the ultra-elite guys to chase after, and lots of really good runners that can battle it out as well. I had ample opportunity to talk to the hotshots about their training, and have compiled some ideas to try implementing over the winter. China is always a refreshing change from what seems like a typical European trip, and now I'm so excited for 2014 to start. 

VO2 Max test on Wednesday. Let's get it started.

An obligatory group photo (photo from Tuomas Kari)

So, you're there a week, what else does a guy do in China when not orienteering? Well, number 1 - sit on buses. Or in airports. Or on trains. This is, unfortunately, an inevitable aspect of China. When a Canadian tells the average Chinese person that there's traffic in Canada, they just laugh and say "No no no, you have NO IDEA what traffic is". There are more than 5 million cars on the road in Beijing, but only 4 million parking spots. Add to the fact that they generally drive like maniacs, it makes for quite the adventure. A slow, slow moving adventure. 

In between epic bouts of sitting, there's a requisite run on the great wall (of which I now own the new course record on Strava, YES!) - 

That's actually rain, a refreshingly different type of fog (Photo from Jānis Kūms) 
Seeing and then being promptly disappointed by the lack of "frolic-ing" by the pandas at the zoo - 

Look cuter, dammit.
And of course, taking pictures at China's earnest but poorly informed attempts at English signs.

Ooh, so close.

Once again, a big thanks goes out to Nordic Ways, the company that brought us to China and put on these great events. If you have ever given any thought to orienteering, nordic skiing, running, or cycling in China, give them a look for some amazing events across China. In particular, thanks to Jaroslav Kacmarcik and his great race planning, Torbjörn Pettersson for his handling of all the crazy things that seemed to go wrong that were fully out of everyone's control, and to Gåvert Wååg, head of Nordic Ways, and the rest of his team for making it all happen and giving us this opportunity.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Canada Cup Elite Series ~ 2013 Final Results

The sprint, middle and long distance races at the Canadian Orienteering Championships in Hamilton were the last of 14 Canada Cups held in 2013.
At each Canada Cup race, participants in the men's and women's elite classes receive points based on their placing.

Louise Oram from GVOC won the women's category for the 3rd year in a row with 153 points. Catherine Hoofd, a former member of the Belgian JWOC team currently living in Vancouver, placed 2nd.
Galyna Petrenko from Ontario club VO2 was 3rd.

The men's competition came down to the final race and a tie-breaker. One of Damian Konotopetz's (CdeB) major goals this season was to win the Canada Cup series to prove that he could be consistent and have many great performances on all different types of terrain. Damian came into the Canadian Championships weekend with a 14 point lead over second place Magnus Johansson (GVOC) and a 22 point lead over 4th place Will Critchley (EOOC). However, 1st place finishes for Will in the sprint and the long left both Damian and Will with 134 Canada Cup points at the end of the competition. If athletes end up with the same overall score, it is the overall score in the Canada Cups which are WREs that decide a winner.

Damian managed to eke out a win on the tie-breaker by scoring 30 points in the WRE Sprint and 23 points in the WRE Middle for a total of 53. Will scored 40 points in the sprint and 12 points in the middle for a total of 52 points. Serghei Logvin (GHO) was 3rd.

When all Canada Cup points are tallied by club, GVOC places 1st with 504 points, CdeB 2nd with 214 points and GHO 3rd with 204 points. Despite a commanding lead in the point totals for the past 3 years, GVOC will have to watch out for the other clubs in 2014 when GVOC heavy-hitters Louise Oram and Thomas Nipen move to Oslo.

Full list of the final 2013 rankings
Damian's Blog about his Canada Cup win and 2013 Nationals

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Canada Cup Elite Series ~ Damian & Louise still lead going into the final race...

After the middle distance race today at the Dundas Valley, Damian and Louise still lead the standings in the Canada Cup Elite Series.

Louise Oram asserted her dominance over the field with a winning time of 34:49, beating the second Elite Series eligible runner and her closest contender, Catherine Hoofd. Carol Ross came in a cool third, edging her up to 7th place in the standings.

Preliminary standings (top 10) after the Middle:
1: Louise Oram - GVOC - 123
2: Catherine Hoofd - GVOC - 101
3: Galyna Petrenko - VO2 - 52
4: Laura Teutsch - OOC - 36
4: Pam James - OANS - 36
6: Tori Owen - FWOC - 33
7: Carol Ross - ONB - 25
8: Nicki Rehn - FWOC - 23
8: Emma Waddington - GHO - 23
10: Natasha Ouellette - ONB - 21

1: Damian Konotopetz - CdeB - 117
2: Will Critchley - EOOC - 94
3: Serghei Logvin - GHO - 83
4: Eric Kemp - OOC - 61
5: Magnus Johansson - GVOC - 50
6: Adam Woods - GVOC - 46
7: Steven Graupner - CdeB - 39
8: Nick Harris - GVOC - 28
9: Thomas Graupner - CdeB - 24
10: Hayden Earle - VICO - 22

On the men's side, Serghei Logvin secured 40 points, with only a 12 second lead over second place man Eric Kemp. Damian Konotopetz picked up 23 points in third place, securing his lead at the top of the standings. It is still possible for Will to take over the lead from Damian, but it will be a tough battle... stay tuned for the final results tomorrow!

You can view the full Canadian Champs results on Attackpoint.

Canada Cup Standings ~ Sprint down, middle and long to go!

The Canadian Orienteering Champs sprint took place at McMasters University in Hamilton yesterday. Our Canadian Champions are Will Critchley and Louise Oram. You can see the full list of results here.

The preliminary Canada Cup Elite Series standings (top 10) after the Sprint are: 

1: Damian Konotopetz - CdeB - 94 
2: Will Critchley - EOOC - 82 
3: Magnus Johansson - GVOC - 50 
4: Adam Woods - GVOC - 46 
5: Serghei Logvin - GHO - 43 
6: Steven Graupner - CdeB - 39 
7: Eric Kemp - OOC - 31 
8: Nick Harris - GVOC - 28 
9: Thomas Graupner - CdeB - 24 
10: Hayden Earle - VICO - 22 

1: Louise Oram - GVOC - 83 
2: Catherine Hoofd - GVOC - 71 
3: Galyna Petrenko - VO2 - 49 
4: Laura Teutsch - OOC - 36 
5: Pam James - OANS - 27 
5: Tori Owen - FWOC - 27 
7: Nicki Rehn - FWOC - 23 
7: Emma Waddington - GHO - 23 
9: Natasha Ouellette - ONB - 19 
9: Abbigail May - SAGE - 19

Today is the middle distance, being held in the Dundas Valley. Stay tuned for an update on the scores either tonight or tomorrow morning... it's going to be a close one!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Silent auction sneak peak

As I'm sitting in the airport waiting for my plane I figured I would give everyone a peak at an item I'm bringing with me to the silent auction. 

Blue Hills by Bryan Chubb
Painted in the 1980's possibly at Myrtle Lake, BC.

More details at Bryan's site: http://tinyurl.com/l4oktca

Don't forget your wallet and remember you can always appoint someone to bid for you if you are not able to make it to COC's. Just give them an idea of what you'd like and a price limit. There will be plenty of goodies up for grabs, and the HPP will be very grateful of all your support as always.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

A report from Alberta Champs

Alberta Champs were held this year in and around Calgary. It was uncertain for a while if they were going to happen as there had been extensive flooding in Calgary and area in the spring. This caused areas that were to be used for the events to be closed and damage to roadways that will take a long time to clean up. However, with a team of very dedicated volunteers, new locations were found and the weekend turned out to be wonderful! A big Thank you to all of those numerous people who put a lot of effort in with short notice and made this weekend so great!

The weekend started off with a sprint at the University of Calgary. For me, who had not been on a map since the spring, it was a good wakeup call with some fast paced decisions and a reminder of how I need to do more intensity! Super fast and fun race! 

The second event was the middle on the new Connop Creek map near Bragg Creek. As previously mentioned I had been unable to do any orienteering over the summer so my goal was to take it slow enough that I would stay in contact with the map and not have a large error. It worked for all the legs but two... and those legs didn’t go so well... one was particularly bad. We were warned before the race to make sure we knew the symbol for ‘rough open with scattered trees’ as some areas had been recently clear cut. This was very good advice, some areas had so many fallen logs it took nearly all my concentration to move, faster than a walk, through them without falling! (not that I can blame my navigational errors on the logs, in fact I would have been faster on a particular leg if I had walked…!)  It was a good learning day (as messing up in orienteering always is!) And as I had volunteered for control pick up, I got to head back to the area I had trouble with in the race, for more learning! 

The Sunday brought us the long event which was a gruelling 310meters of climb on a 6.3km course. Oh boy did I feel my legs after this weekend! After my abysmal control the day before my plan for the long was simple. Choose simple rout choices (taking into account elevation) and stick to them. It worked well. I wasn’t the fastest out there but I wasn’t the slowest. I even got to visit some of the hillier sections again with control pick up! Below are the links to the maps on Rout Gaget for your viewing pleasure!

One thing that I am going to take away from this event in preparation for Canadians is that to always remember that in Orienteering anything can happen. As proved to me in my sprint and middle, just because you have made a mistake does not mean others are having clean races and you are out of the running. Always race the whole race and get back in the game after a mistake, no matter how big or small! Hope everyone is as excited as me for Canadian Champs (although I think that part of that excitement for me is that I get to go a week without having to work a night shift!)
Happy Running!

Friday, October 4, 2013

BC Orienteering Champs

I've been feeling a bit under the weather lately. My course load leaves little time for anything but homework and causes a lot of stress. I'm unable to make GVOC's weekly events and the orienteering I have done has been mistake ridden. In short, Kendra's post describes my situation all to well.

However, this weekend, I was literally under the weather. The BC Orienteering champs took place in the pouring rain. The first event, a long, was held at Thetis lake. I was surprised to find myself swimming through raindrops rather than the expected salal. Instead, the course hopped between beautiful white hill tops.
In spite of, or possibly because of the downpour, the race was the most fun I've had orienteering since JWOC.

The other race at BC champs was a delightfully tricky sprint at the University of Victoria. Take a look and decide for yourself.

The identical looking student housing might explain my trouble with 7. Maybe my problems stemmed from being a UBC student racing on the UVic campus. Either way, the sprint gave me a chance to practice my mental fortitude for the upcoming Canadian Championship.

The BC orienteering champs were a blast but I'm sure the Canadian Championships will be even better.
Hope to see you there.


It is always easy to stay motivated when things are going well. This is true for everything! Here, talking about orienteering, it is applicable in numerous ways. Currently, I’m unfortunately on the other side the equation: it is pretty hard to stay motivated when things are not going great. Well to clarify: that may be an overstatement, but its not going stellar. The orienteering that I have done during the past few weeks, I may have been lost more than I have been found! This is always hard on the mind and motivation.
Here comes the mental reframing and perseverance that needs to happen; especially when Canadian
Champs are a week away.

When things are not going great, I tend to think more about the expectations I place on myself and why I am not meeting them. THIS IS NOT HELPFUL! Even when I realize that I am not helping myself, it is hard to change the attitude. So here comes sport psychology. Stay in the moment. Focus on the process, not the result. These are key to overcoming the lack of motivation and frustration.

Focusing on the process, and staying in the moment, for me, capture the idea of completely letting go of any expectations you have of yourself. Thinking instead about the technical aspects, the physical aspects and the real reason why we orienteer: to have FUN!
When things are not going as planned, focusing on the basics gets you through and back to the enjoyment of sport. Coming into Canadians, this is my biggest goal. I will focus on the basics and just have fun getting out there. Happy orienteering! J

p.s. Thanks for the Ottawa Orienteering Club for putting on some great events that I could take advantage of!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

HPP Silent Auction

Every year the High Performance Program holds a silent auction fundraiser at the Canadian Orienteering Championships. This year the silent auction will be at the Orienteering Canada Expo and Banquet on Saturday afternoon/evening in Hamilton, ON.
Members of the high performance program will be donating items, but we greatly appreciate donations from the Canadian orienteering community and their family and friends. If you would like to donate something, here are a few ideas:
  • Could your club donate an entry to an upcoming event?
  • Are you a crafter – can you donate something like a pair of home-made mittens or a hat? pottery? weaving? sculpture? jewellery? This could be the perfect place to try out something you've been eyeing on Pinterest or Craftgawker
  • Are you a foodie – can you donate a jar of home-made jam, a batch of cookies, a ready-to-go home-made baking mix, some home-made granola? 
  • Do you have a cabin or cottage that you could donate a gift certificate for a weekend or a week’s stay at?
  • Do you live in a tourist destination and could offer B&B for a weekend or longer? (especially great if it was in conjunction with future orienteering events)
  • Are you an artist – do you have a sketch of an orienteering scene, or a great photograph that you could put in a frame?
  • Could you ask your local running/sport store to donate an item?
  • Do you have a new unused item kicking around your house that you would love to get rid of – it might just be someone else’s treasure!
  • other ideas? Think about what you would like to bid on.
If you have an item to donate, you can bring it with you to Hamilton or send it along with someone who is attending (Here’s the list of attendees). Or contact Charlotte MacNaughton to make other arrangements or if you have any questions.
You can also bring your item to the auction if you haven’t had a chance to submit it earlier. You can also leave it at the registration desk when you pick up your event package.
Your support is much appreciated… And if you are coming to the COCs, please bid generously! Don’t forget your wallet and/or your cheque book. Cash or cheque is the preferred payment method. But we can sort out other options if you don’t have enough cash or a cheque with you.
Those of you who have been to one before know that the Silent Auction is a lot of fun, often with frantic bidding as time runs out. You never know what the highly sought after items will be. And if you can’t make it to Hamilton this year, there is always the option of allowing a trusted friend to bid for you! Just give a budget limit and an idea of what you want.
The HPP is very appreciative of all the support we receive and we look forward to seeing you in Hamilton!