Monday, October 17, 2016

N Eh O C

Middle - Robbie

The weekend kicked off with the middle distance at Storr’s Pond. Since the first starts weren’t until the afternoon, Jan Erik, Tomas, and I went out on the model map to get a feel for the terrain.

When I arrived at the start there was quite a lot of commotion. It seemed that everybody had forgotten something whether it was an SI, compass, or start time. Along with forgetting my own SI and having to borrow an ancient model 5, I also realized that I had forgotten something far more important… How to orienteer! My original race plan “medium speed, no mistakes” quickly turned into “full speed, full mistake”.

The technical loop of the M20 course. The forest was very nice and open and combined with all the trails around it was easy to open up the throttle in most sections.

I was lucky enough to get through the course with only bobbles and hesitations rather than any big blow-ups. After chatting with others after the race it seemed that a lot of us had gotten a little too excited for the race and made several mistakes in the woods. But that didn’t stop people from pushing hard right to finish line.

An epic battle between Jan Erik Naess and Graeme Rennie in the finish chute (Graeme won).

The first places in the elite category went to Emily Kemp and the one and only Thierry Gueorgiou who was closing his North American tour with NAOCs. It was exciting to see le Roi de la Course d’Orientation in action.

Some random French people.

Long - Pia

Next up was the long distance, not only grueling in terms of length, but also in terms of the map.  As noted in the event handbook, the flat and boring looking walk was deceptively calm and a complete contrast compared to the terrain.  

This map at 1:15 000 was one of the hardest maps I have ever read.

For the first couple controls every time I wanted to read the map I had to stop dead just to focus on the tiny rocky details. Around the 6th control I finally got into the flow of things, only to mistake a trail on the map for a series of cliffs, and the whole thing fell apart until I decided to just head north until I hit something I recognised.  

The long leg from the W20 course.

The last couple controls went by fast, and before I knew it I was running through the spectator loops, finishing the last couple controls and running down the really really short finish chute (4 second best time split!).

Adam rounding the corner in the finish chute.

After that, all that was left was to relax and watch the juniors boys finish and the exciting race in the seniors as they competed for the individual spot for WOC next year.

Sprint - Pia

Finally, it was the day of the sprints.  First off was the individual race on Dartmouth campus, a typical college campus with plenty of randomly shaped buildings and relatively flat lawns separating them.  There were some trickier sections with underpasses as well, but, on the whole, it was a runners’ course, and I was not 100% feeling it in the legs.

How would you go from 1-2 (don’t forget about the underpasses)?

There was another exciting competition in the elite classes, with two of our very own juniors competing among the elites - and holding their own!  The final positions ended with Canadian victories for both the men and women, with Emily Kemp taking 3 for 3 in the individual classes and Damian Konotopetz and Will Critchley both running faster than Thierry!  Jan Erik finished in a strong 7th place and Emma W in 6th.  In fact, she was in first place until the 9th control!

Emma W, Emily, and Tori
Photo taken by of David Yee

Ignoring the stares from all the college students wandering across The Green, we relaxed and recovered in preparation for the sprint relay.

Sprint Relay - Robbie

After the individual sprint, Hans Fransson eastern Canadian coach rounded up all the Canadian athletes and put together five teams. Four senior and one junior. We were all whisked away to the basement of a nearby building which would serve as our quarantine. We prepped for the race by coating ourselves with some tattoo team spirit courtesy of Emma Waddington.

Ready to race!

The race itself was very similar to the individual sprint through a similar area of campus. Not very technical but very very fast as a result.

The format of a sprint relay is 1st and 4th legs women, 2nd and 3rd legs men. Here is the mass start. Go ladies go!

The race was very tense with the lead being passed around between teams.But in the end, Emily Kemp brought her team composed of Damian Konotopetz, Will Critchley, and Louise Oram to victory.

Thanks to some great racing by everyone over the weekend, the Canadian senior team won the Bjorn Kellstrom Cup!

Full results and maps can be found at

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Back at it again at the BC Champs

The weekend right after a bunch of us HPP members headed to the NAOCs we went out again for some more fun orienteering competition, this time at the BC Orienteering Championships in Whistler, British Columbia. This consisted of a Model Event (run as a fundraiser by your HPP members) on the Friday, middle and sprint events on Saturday and a long distance race on the Sunday. Even though it was right after North Americans, we still had a large number of HPP athletes attend, including Pia, Nicole, me (Emma S.), Adam and Graeme. We were very happy to all be staying at the Whistler Athlete center, which was  a great accommodation with a shared kitchen, spacious rooms and convenient access to all of the maps.

Model event (Pia)

After Ben drove us up to Whistler, he dropped us off for a good 4 hours of control setting.  Once all the controls were set, we spent a happy two hours re-checking all of them, including a short nap in the peaceful forest.

Who knew control setting was so exhausting?
When did orienteering become so exclusive? 

Before long a plethora of folks had come along to run this HPP fundraiser event - thank you everyone who came along!

Middle (Emma)

The next morning started with the middle on the quite technical Brandywine Falls map. It consisted of complex groupings of lakes and cliffs and interesting contour detail, mostly through forest with very good visibility and moderate runnability. Before the event, we were surprised at how short the course distances were but they did end up giving the predicted winning times because the courses were very challenging, both technically and physically. In some places, the ground was quite rocky and difficult to move quickly over.

Despite (or maybe because of?) the challenge, this was genuinely one of the most fun courses I’ve ran this year. I’d say that getting to orienteer through the gorgeous forest with high technical difficulty was the highlight of the weekend. Scrambling up moss-covered cliffs and sploshing across marshes and ponds was an exciting plus for me, although some other orienteers found the physicality of the course quite tough.

W20 Middle course
Based what we’d learnt from the model event, I decided to have my goals be to keep in contact with the map and check off features, which turned out to be a pretty good strategy as there were many opportunities to become completely lost.

Sprint (Nicole)

An urban part of the sprint course

After warming up from a chilly post race at the middle we got ready for the conveniently located sprint at Cheakamus Crossing with the start 10m from the accommodation! This was the first sprint I have done that had both residential and forested areas which made it exciting! There was a long transition leg between the two areas that allowed for reading ahead and switching the orienteering brain from sidewalks to trails. The forested section was a dense area of mountain bike trails and there were a few approaches to tackling these controls - namely, committing to compass or counting the trails carefully. After the forest interlude it was back to the village, on the trail run back the need for mental toughness was apparent! Three quarters through the race and the thought of just being done starts to takeover. By refocusing on the next leg and planning ahead I was able to finish strong. Overall it was another great course on a brand new map to finish off the day of racing! The sprint definitely worked up everyone’s appetites for the lovely banquet dinner that followed.

The tricky forest section

Long (Pia)

With a walk to the start rivalling that of any major European event (4 km with 300m climb!), I arrived at the start of the long feeling a little out of breath.  This was probably due in no small part to my misreading my start time as 11:27, rather than 10:19, giving me less than the recommended 60 min to get to the start...  Luckily I made it thanks to a brisk uphill walk/jog!

This race started out in the little used but very fun Black Magic map - ‘open’ (west-coast white) forest with boulders, cliffs and hills galore.  This was for sure my favourite map used over the weekend.  I loved the runnability and complexity.  I wish I could have spent more time up there - it was so much fun to run in!  Apart from a small bobble on the 6th control, I was in control and just enjoying myself.  

How would you go from 6 to 7?

Next the course descended into the Lost Lake map.  This section was much greener and had many more trails which made for more route choice.  Unfortunately, the trails never lead where you wanted to go, leading to two main strategies: running further around on the winding trails or bushwhacking through the (somewhat difficult to get through) forest.  I did a mix of the two, and don’t think I always chose the right route, particularly on the longer legs.  By the end of the race I was tired out, but happy to have gotten one last good forest orienteering session in before the season ends!

Lots of route choice on this side of the map
We're all smiles after a fun weekend
After the long, we took a much-needed ice bath/ swim in this gorgeous lake right next to the finish
Overall it was a great weekend of fun and high-quality orienteering and an excellent end to this year’s racing season. Thanks so much to the organizers, course planners and all of the other volunteers for a great weekend!

-Pia B., Emma S. and Nicole W.