Friday, July 31, 2015

WOC Sprint Qualifier

Today, our team raced in the sprint qualifier at Forres. There were a couple of tough route choices, and lots of opportunities to lose track of where you were in tiny alleys. The top 15th from each heat on to the Sprint Final, which is on Sunday. The results for our athletes are below. Notably, Emma Waddington had a solid WOC debut, and Will Critchley was 20 seconds out of the final.

Time Behind 1st
Time Behind 15th
Men 1
Yannick Michiels

Hakon Jarvis Westergard

Damian Konotopetz
Men 2
Kristian Jones

Helmut Gremmel

Will Critchley
Men 3
Jerker Lysell

Tomas Hendrickx

Robbie Anderson
Women 1
Maja Alm

Imogene Scott

Emma Waddington
Women 2
Tove Alexandersson

Mariana Moreira


Tori Owen

More detailed results, including splits, can be found at the WOC website, along with the men's map and the women's map.

The Canadians are not done sprinting yet though! Will Critchley, Louise Oram, Damian Konotopetz, and Tori Owen are racing in the mixed sprint relay, which starts tomorrow at 18:05 BST (10:05 PST, 11:05 EST). 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

WOC Preview

The World Orienteering Championships in Inverness, Scotland start tomorrow (Friday)! Here's what you need to know about the Canadian athletes, schedule and how to watch.

Start Times
Friday, July 31
Sprint Qualifier
18:00 – 19:55
Saturday, August 1
Sprint Relay
Sunday, August 2
Sprint Final
Monday,  August 3
Rest day & Medal Ceremony

Tuesday, August 4
Wednesday, August 5
Thursday, August 6
Rest day & Medal Ceremony

Firday, August 7
* Start times are in British Summer Time (BST). This is 5 hours ahead of EST (i.e. Ottawa), and 8 hours ahead of PST (i.e. Vancouver).

Meghan Rance is the team leader and Raphael Ferrand is the coach. The following athletes are racing for Canada*:

Sprint Qualifier
Robbie Anderson, Will Critchley, Damian Konotopetz
Tori Owen, Emma Waddington
Sprint Relay
Will Critchley, Damian Konotopetz, Louise Oram, Tori Owen
Sprint Final
TBD based on qualification heats
Middle Final
Brian May, Damian Konotopetz
Emily Kemp, Louise Oram
Robbie Anderson, Will Critchley, Damian Konotopetz
Emily Kemp, Louise Oram, Tori Owen
Will Critchley, Robbie Anderson
Emily Kemp, Louise Oram
* Some changes to the team could happen (e.g. in the case of injuries), in which case the National Team Coach and Selection Committee will determine these spots.

The official event website is: There will be live pages for each event as well as athlete profiles, spectator information for each day, race previews, start lists and post-race reporting.

You can buy an IOF LiveCenter Portal pass to watch live TV, commentary and live GPS for all the races. It costs 18 euros for the week or 5-10 euros per individual race.

The WorldofO also tends to have good coverage (including in-depth race analysis) and an active Twitter.

BBC Alba will be broadcoasting live coverage of the Sprint Relay, Sprint Final, and Relay Races. You may be able to access it via their iPlayer shortly after broadcast.

We will be posting updates on the blog and Orienteering Canada's Facebook (with as many updates as possible from the team on the ground), so be sure to check back. There are also many other Canadians racing in the public Scottish 6 Days, so you can follow them too! Go Canada go!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Terrain, maps and courses at O-Ringen 2015

    O-Ringen was my first big orienteering event in Sweden and it certaintly lived up to the great orienteering that Scandinavia is famous for. 

        For most of the days, the terrain was composed of fairly runnable, forested hills. Mossy rocks and blueberry bushes covered the ground. The hills were divided by marshes which required much physical strength to run through as they could be deep, muddy, and filled with vegetation. There were also some greener sections that were very challenging to navigate within due to their limited visibility. Because of the massive number of participants at O-Ringen (see Tori's post about the spectacle that is O-Ringen), many elephant tracks existed on almost every route choice. This could be a good thing because it packed down the moss on the hills, making it easier to run along and also caused there to be less other vegetation in the way; however, in the swamps this worsened the runability because it would churn up the muck, making for some particularily mushy sections that orienteers could easily get stuck in or fall down into. There were also lots of rock features scattered about the hills.
        Some of the days also included a wide range of paths from large gravel roads to small single tracks, as well as meadows, cut lines, small areas of private property, clearcut areas, small lakes or larger hillsides. 

        The format of the event for most classes involved two longs, a rest day, another long, a middle, and a final long in the format of a chase start. In my category (D18E), alll maps were 1:15,000, with the exception of the middle at 1:10,000. This was challenging because I train and race much less frequently on 1:15000 maps then any other scale and also becasue the terrain was very detailed. Relocation, if needed, also presented a challenge because many of the hills, surrounded by marshes and dotted with rocks, looked quite similar. 

        The first race was probably the most technical of any of the long races, and maybe even the middle. It was very, very challenging. There were fewer trails then the other stages, and also very complex contour details involving many knolls and small form-line hills. Additionally, fallen trees, marked as a green line (half of the distinct tree 'X' symbol) were scattered across the map. 
        The second race had mostly larger, broader contour features, and more trails, especially in certain areas where indistinct cutline-like trails criss-crossed all over the hillsides. The vegetation was quite distinct and useful for navigation.
        The third race started off in similar terrain to the previous days, but continued gradually into areas with steeper hillsides and finished wth a couple controls in a dark green area with plenty of rocks. 

      The fourth race finished similarly to the third, since they were at the same arena, but started off with some particularly fun navigation, running between especially complex contour areas surrounded by featureless marshes. 

        The final stage started with some very tough physical climb (that could partially be avoided depending on route choice), ran through a technical area, and finished with many controls on a large, fairly featureless hillside before crossing over a river, then quickly along a paved area and into the arena. 

      All and all, O-Ringen provided challenging terrain that common themes between the maps but was still diverse enough to be quite interesting. The courses were quite difficult but lots of fun anyways. I look forward to racing O-Ringen again someday!

Emma S.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Oringen Experience

I would say, most North Americans attending a big Nordic multi-day orienteering competition are struck by the enormous scale.  This year at Oringen, there were 18 058 runners (including a whopping 40 Canadians)…we were joking that if that many people singed up for an event at home we would probably have to cancel it. The logistics surrounding an event this large are crazy! First, there is the camping city that springs up around the Oringen event centre (and the fact that there are cell phone charging stations and a tent that had a wall of washing machines, talk about camping with all the amenities!). Then of course there are all the people that decide not to “rough it” - like us :) and rented houses in the surrounding town.
Anyone got any laundry!?

All these people then get transported to the areas in very organized buses every day. Oringen has loading buses down to an art. As people arrive at the bus stop they are counted and directed into fenced areas so that 3 buses can be loaded simultaneously while the organizers organize people for the next set of buses.

My first five controls on day one
THEN once you get to the area you have a sea of club flags and people to contend with to try and remember where you said your meeting point would be and find someone you know. If that takes too long you will just have to put your stuff among the masses and head off towards your start. It might be a bit of a hike (over 4km…) so allowing yourself 30 mins to the start would be a bit of a brisk and stressful warm up.. AND make sure you go to the right start … there are nine. Thankfully they have idiot proofed the process and it is well signed and all you have to do is look at your bib and follow the signs that are the same sponsor as your bib. Once you actually get out in the forest its time to really concentrate, with fine contour features and bogs that will suck your entire leg in (which explains why they provide washing machines to campers. There is no way you will be dry at the end of this, it's time to be vigilant!

Pick the right finish chute!
Then when the race is almost over and you are getting closer to the area, people are everywhere. Literally everywhere. Running around asking you where there are. If you can ignore the chaos, punch the go control and start your sprint, the last amount of mental energy is dedicated to making sure you run down the right finish chute (again thankfully they are visually coded for our benefits:). The last bit of your race is to compare your finish run-in time with your coach. Ask Brent who one won at the end of the five days… :D And then its time to start the process all over again for the next day 

The arena on the last day, in the Borås football stadium! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Training Camp in Stromstad, Sweden

Monday July 13th, 2015

I took the bus from Halden, Norway to Stromstad, Sweden in the morning and met up with Brent Langbakk and Jeff Teutsch at the bus station. Brent would be our coach for the training sessions at Stromstad. After getting a bit of delay settling in we headed off for training. It was about a half hour drive to the map. The focus for this training was to treat it like a model event map for the first half hour and then run the course that Brent had set. The map had large bands of cliffs running though them. These were very slow to pick your way though. In fact anywhere there were cliffs was generally slow. The green was also very slow running especially when it was combined with cliffs. There were many cliffs that were not mapped but were large enough that you had to pick your way around them. The large rough open areas were slow to run through because most of it was clear cuts from logging and had a lot of brush and undergrowth on it. The only places that were decent running were the hill tops with the small clearings. Even these though had blueberry bushes on the ground which slowed down the running, especially when you stopped to pick berries. Also the trails were very indistinct and in some places unnoticeable. Overall it was a slow map for running and I found it technically challenging especially around the cliffs.   

Tuesday July 14th, 2015

Left for training at 10 am and went to a map called Kasen. It was again about a half hour drive from our accommodation. The focus for the training was simplification. The start was on a small indistinct trail near a field. Most of the course went ok but I definitely made some mistakes. These were often due to not having a clear picture of what I was looking for or not having a good attack point. I found it a good exercise because it forced me to try to not worry about all the little features that are not important to the leg. One important thing worth mentioning is that the marshes were not indicated on the map for some reason. They definitely  could have been useful if they were on the map. About halfway though the training a thunderstorm started and it poured with rain for the rest of the run. We were originally going to stay at the map area for lunch, however we were all soaking wet from the thunderstorm so we decided to go back to the lodge for lunch and to dry out.    

In the afternoon we went to a different map that was back out the same direction. The map was called Nasinge V on an area called Skala. The map says 1/15,000 on it but it was actually a 1/10,000. This training was focused on precise compass. This area had some sections where being very precise with your compass was important.  Micro route choices were also important as there was a mixture of bare rock which was fast running and the little sections between the open areas were soft and had a lot of blueberry bushes and other vegetation which was slow and tiring to run through. If you could sight ahead and even avoid a little bit of the bushes you saved time and energy. I find in general I stare at my compass too much and so the micro route choices not only saves time but also forced me to look up more.    

I found the training camp very useful and learned a fair bit about how to orienteer in terrain like that. There were a lot of features that I would come across that were not mapped but were big enough to confuse me. I found the cliffs especially hard because you would run through an area with none or very few mapped and there would be many cliffs a lot of which were still big enough that you had to either pick your way through very slowly or go around. There is just too much detail for it all to be mapped. Also several of the trainings were on a 1/15,000 map, so on the detailed sections a magnifying glass would have made it easier to read as I had to stop sometimes to see what was actually going on.

Thank you Brent for doing the training camp, it was very helpful!