Friday, March 27, 2009

A new coach!

After an intense search, Team USA has a new coach! Canadian Mike Waddington, one of the best North American orienteers of all time, has been hired as coach of the US Orienteering Team for 2009. In order to get to know Mike a bit better, here is a short interview with him:

1) What's your name?
Mike Waddington

2) What's your hometown?
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
aka The Hammer
aka Steeltown
aka the city that most deserves a NHL team.

3) Marital status/kids/pets
Married to Starr and the proud Daddy to Emma (aka AdventureGirl).

4) What's your club?
Golden Horseshoe Orienteering. GHO formed from the merger of Hamilton King's Foresters
and the Niagara Orienteering Clubs ten years ago. HKF and NIA were the home clubs of two of Canada's best ever orienteers - Ron Lowry and Ted de St. Croix.

5) What's your birthday?
August 19, 1967. Born in Canada's Centennial year a few months after the Toronto Maple Leafs last won the Stanley Cup.

6) What do you do when not orienteering?
Together with my family we like to travel a lot and to photograph, hike, ski or paddle and explore different parts of Canada and the World.

I'm a Professor of Hydrology at McMaster University so get to spend a lot of my job working outdoors in places like Alaska, Alberta, Sweden, northern Ontario, the U.P., and Quebec.

7) How did you start orienteering?
A visiting Norwegian to McMaster University introduced my family to the sport in 1977. The next year my family spent a year in Bergen, Norway visiting that same Norwegian - Jan Lien. Jan has been a big supporter of the U.S. team by being a WRE advisor at a few U.S. team fundraiser events. Small World eh! After a year living in Norway I was hooked on the sport.

8) What do you consider to be the biggest successes you've had as a competitive orienteer?
From a performance perspective it would have to be my results at the North American Championships during the 90's. I won in 1992, 1996, and 2000 and came second in 1994 and 1998 (by 23 and 6 seconds respectively).

I moved back to Hamilton in 1995 and started training and racing with a great group of athletes and friends. From 1995 to 2000 and then 2004 to 2006 (I took a break from O to try out AR for a few years) I had my best and most consistent (and fun) training. During the late 90's I made the 'A' final at WOC in 1997, won 5 Billygoat races in a row and added a half dozen or so Canadian Champs titles too (oh yeah and we won a few US Club Relay Champs as well with those great training buddies in Hamilton).

9) How much orienteering do you do now that you are retired from international racing?
I love orienteering a lot and it took a serious injury in 2006 to get me to stop international racing. I needed knee surgery and my surgeon told me I would never run again. He failed to tell me I would never orienteer again so since the autumn of 2008 I have been orienteering about once a week or so. Mostly setting up races or training for GHO but also a few races here and there.

10) What are your favorite places to orienteer?
Well I do like the Dundas Valley here in Hamilton a lot but 7 of my favourite 10 maps are in Harriman State Park. 'nuff said.

11) Did you have a coach during your orienteering career? If so, can you describe the relationship you had and how the coaching helped you progress as an orienteer?
I've had two coaches during my career and both were very influential in my training and racing but also for school and life in general. As I mentioned earlier I was lucky to have Ron Lowry in my club when I was young. It was a short 500m run through the woods between our houses. Ron wrote two of the best books on training for orienteering and we had regular weekly meetings about training and probably on average two 'on-map' orienteering exercises a week. He taught me that it was hard work and consistent training that gave the results. "Nobody remembers the excuses....they only remember the results" he said. I learned a lot about the technical and mental side of the sport from Ron and gained a healthy confidence from him. But, my greatest success came from being coached by my good friend and club mate (and best man at my wedding) Mark Tarnopolsky. Mark lived directly across the street from me and we both lived a 15 minute walk to the same employer (McMaster University) so we !
had lots
of time to train and talk about training together. He developed my training into a more consistent pattern, made me tougher and stronger and taught me a lot about time management, injury prevention and nutrition. I made my greatest improvements when training with Mark in the late 90's. Mark may be one of the World's best people to talk to about performance and nutrition but it was his simple philosophy and motivation of 'just get out and train' that helped me progress as an orienteer.

12) How do you see yourself being able to help the US Team in the near future?
I teach what I was taught. Taking what I have learned from Ron and mark I hope to inspire the team to set high goals and motivate them to train and race to achieve those goals.

13) If you didn't have to worry about money or jobs, where would you live? Why?
I ask this question every time I buy a lottery ticket and it always comes down to two areas (I'm proudly Canadian):
Parry Sound, Ontario or Canmore, Alberta. The east coast of Georgian Bay near the town of Parry Sound in central Ontario is a pretty special place. The Canadian Shield rock and lakes remind me a lot of Sweden (but with less taxes and better hockey players). Rocky and sandy shorelines, great paddling, excellent skiing and the potential to be an awesome orienteering area as well. But Canmore Alberta is pretty sweet as well. I love the mountains and there is great skiing and some of the best orienteering in Canada. Wildnerness surrounds you but I think I would miss the lakes and rock of central Ontario.

14) Do you have any favorite orienteering moment or memory you can share with us?
Having Oyvin Thon (2-time World Champion) take me and three other Canadian orienteers on a training run on my home-town map when I was 19 years old following the 1986 Dundas Valley World Cup race. Very inspirational as he was my orienteering idol when I was younger. But watching my daughter win an under 10 year girls race in Upsala Sweden when she was 8 is a pretty close second.

Thanks for the answers and welcome aboard! I am sure that lots of US orienteers are looking forward to working with you and learning from your experience and knowledge.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Team USA Profiles: Hillary Saeger

Here is another US Team profile. This time we present to you Hillary Saeger, who has run WOC for the USA the last 3 years.

1) What's your name?
Hillary Saeger

2) What's your hometown?
Originally from
Dedham, MA, but now live in Watertown, MA with two other roommates.

3) Marital status/kids/pets
Who really has time…

4) What's your club?
NEOC (New England Orienteering Club)

5) What's your birthday?

6) What do you do when not orienteering?

I mostly just row in the morning and evenings, work, eat (if I have time), and sleep. Sometimes on the weekends I go crazy and relax… or Orienteer and run with the sister (US WOC Team member Samantha Saeger).

7) How did you start orienteering?
Started by being dragged to meets when I was really young by my parents and be forced to Orienteer when all I really wanted to do was play with my friends and hang out in the mud
J… this was all before my competitiveness came out to play. I think once my sister started to Orienteer more, so did I … younger sister syndrome I guess.

8) What are your biggest orienteering successes so far?
Well, I basically consider it a success when I don’t get lost in the woods and have a clean run. In the long run, I don’t consider wins and losses as successes and failures, and I don’t actually keep track of what I won in the past. If I feel I have made some sort of improvement over the last year then that is a huge success for me.

9) What are your goals for 2009? What are your more long-term orienteering goals?
Right now my goal for Orienteering for 2009 is to make it to as many races as I can without conflict. Physically I feel I am pretty fit, technically I am not… Long-term goal is to become stronger technically. Rather then focusing on goals in terms of where I want to place at certain events, if I can improve technically, then I feel like other things will fall into place.

10) What is your favorite place to orienteer?
Well, any place that emphasizes my strengths is a favorite. So give me open areas, with lots of hills and I am golden
J. Wyoming has always been a favorite (except for the whole not being able to breathe thing), but new places are always very exciting. I like to mix things up every now and again.

11) What are your favorite orienteering disciplines?
Well, since I am strongest at running and hills, I consider those to be my favorite, but I really think that I should branch out eventually. Still working on that one.

12) What would be your ideal training session?
I really like sprints because they are fast and usually less technical. Give me couple of those in a day would be a great workout. Oh, and have snacks and games in between too

13) Can you describe a typical training week?
Well, every month my rowing coach sends out my training for the next month. This week looks like on Monday- Friday I wake up at 5:05am, go to the Riverside Boathouse, and either row or erg anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half. Then I head off to work and in the evening I go back to the Boathouse to either row or erg or possibly run. Then on Saturday I get up at the same time to do a hard erg workout, rest for about an hour, then go row for an hour, and then later in the day I would probably go for a run. Usually by Sunday my body is kinda whooped.

14) You had some awesome results during the World Cup round in Sälen, Sweden last summer, including a 20th place. How do you explain that success? Is it something specific about the terrain there or did you happen to just be in great shape then?
Well, as I had mentioned before, my strengths are hills and running. That is more or less what it was like at the World cup. Rowing keeps me in constant shape, especially for hills, it is a full body workout. Prior to the World Cup and WOC that year, I was training with my rowing club, Orienteering with my sister, and working at a moving company. I built up a lot of strength endurance.

15) If you didn't have to worry about money or jobs, where would you live? Why?
Truthfully, I think I would stay just where I am. Right now, I don’t “worry” about money or my job. I have my friends here, my family, rowing, good running and Orienteering. Always things going on in
Boston and the weather will keep you on your toes, which allow xc skiing in the winter and lots of running and rowing in the summer. I was never very good at grammar (hence being a math major) so I think learning a new language in another country is pretty much out of the question. But if I could pick up all my favorite things that are in Boston and move them to Colorado, then that would be awesome.

16) What would you take with you to a deserted island?
Probably a boat to get off, I gotta keep moving and if I am on an island, I will eventually run out of places to go…

17) Do you have any favorite orienteering moment or memory you can share with us?
Favorite moment… not really. Collectively the whole Orienteering experiences have created most of my favorite memories. Mostly I have Orienteering feelings I remember, like finishing a hard race and knowing I did well, relaxing after a race on a nice evening just hanging out with friends. That is what I feel are my favorite moments of Orienteering. But do I have stories to tell ;)

18) In addition to training for orienteering, you are an elite-level rower. What are your goals in rowing? What aspects of rowing do you enjoy most?
Right now I am part of the lightweight rowers in a group at
Riverside called the High Performance Group. My goals for this season in rowing are similar to that in Orienteering, to improve technically. I can post the fastest times on an erg among all the lightweights in the club, but put me on the water and I am a little wobbley to say the least. I will be going to a couple of races soon. I have one in the middle of April and then in May we get ready to compete in the National Team Selection races. Kind of scary, but I am getting used to facing down tough races. Things that I love about rowing is the atmosphere. I really like the rowing group that I am in, all of the girls are close to my age and we all train together.

19) What kind of music makes you feel invincible against wicked course setters and Canadians?

Well, my music changes a lot, but on my playlist right now I have music by Panic! At the Disco, Anberlin, Carolina Liar, The Fray, Fall Out Boy, The Afters, and 3 Doors Down. All that fun stuff.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Team USA Profiles: Clem McGrath

This week we have the pleasure to present Clem McGrath, who has represented the United States at the past three WOCs.

1) What's your name?
As the first question, this one is probably intended to be a layup. And, for most people, it probably is. However, I am not most people. So… some folks, and certainly most people reading this, know me as “Clem” McGrath. But, many more people know me as “James” McGrath. A smaller group, which I hope does not intersect with either of the other two, may apply various other scurrilous monikers. Luckily, I am mostly not privy to those.

2) What's your hometown?
Also, a very difficult question. I emanated from a place called Narvon, Pennsylvania, in the United States of America. On Earth.
That was a long time ago. Today, I feel somewhat like a quark, and my location is not precisely determinable (if and when one attempts to determine it.) My average location has recently been Tolland, CT, but I fancy my hometown to be Boston, and it soon will be in actuality.

3) Marital status/kids/pets
I am very happily married to the lovely Dasha. Status=happy. Kids = Ø. Pets, sort of, but only when subject to a charitable interpretation. You see, Dasha and I like wild creatures and we try to respect their wildness. Thus, while we would like to have moose, lions, rabbits, geese, etc. as pets, these creatures are not necessarily aware of our affection for them, nor are they willing to trade their freedom for a place in our apartment. Moreover, the apartment administration may not be amenable to the arrangement. While their (the apartment's) satisfaction is not our primary concern, we have had to satisfy ourselves with plush pets and houseplants, including two lemon trees, which we dote upon heavily.

4) What's your club?
My club is DVOA, despite lingering disillusionment, and CSU. I may join WCOC and/or GHO at some point the future.

5) What's your birthday?
The anniversary of when I arrived in this world kicking and screaming. This event is commemorated annually on January 29th.

6) What do you do when not orienteering?
Not too much. I do some training. Some reading. Some thinking. The relative proportions of each are not fixed.
I am now seeking a new professional challenge and am open to suggestions. However, I hope to be afforded an opportunity to think deeply as part of the deal.

7) How did you start orienteering?
I started orienteering in 1985 (I believe… or else it was 1986.) It was at a clinic held by Bob Putnam at Robeson Elementary School in Mohnton, PA. Orienteering presented itself to me as a way to expurgate my festering desire to go run around in the forbidden and mysterious woods surrounding my former elementary school. And which young boy would not want to do that?

8) What are your biggest orienteering successes so far?
I am not really satisfied with any of my accomplishments so far, but I am proud of the 1997 US Relay Champs, and to a lesser extent, all the other US Relay Champs I’ve won with DVOA. I also am proud of winning the DVOA Club Championships a number of times. On a larger stage, getting 3rd at the Classic Champs was pretty good, and I’ve occasionally medaled at some other races—Longs and the Sprints.

9) What are your goals for 2009? What are your more long-term orienteering goals?
To stay uninjured all year. To build upon my current conditioning and what I put in the bank over the winter. To be in the top 5 in the US rankings. Medal in at least one US Champs, excluding the Relays, which I intend to win along with my DVOA teammates. And, in general, to keep my head straight in higher profile races. If I do, everything else will follow.

10) What is your favorite place to orienteer?
Pawtuckaway, Delaware Water Gap, Harriman, Iron Hill Park, and Valley Forge Park. I can be dangerous if given a bunch of point features and small to medium sized discrete contour features. And, while you did not ask for this, my least favorite place to orienteer is any place more than 4,000 feet above sea level.

11) What are your favorite orienteering disciplines?
Relays. Then the middle. I’ve always had a comparative advantage in the longest races, but they aren’t my favorite.

12) What would be your ideal training session?
Hill repeats on a late spring afternoon or early evening with temperature about 65-70 and no insects getting in my eyes or stuck to me. Newish shoes and a comfortable shirt or maybe no shirt.

13) Can you describe a typical training week?
It depends on the season, but 8 hours in volume, with a 70, 15, 10, 5 ratio of level 2, 3, 4, and 5 in intensity. One 2 hour run, one strength session (hills or weights), and one speed session. And one race.

14) Unlike in many European countries, most orienteers on the US Team, including yourself have full-time (or more than full-time!) jobs. How difficult is it to combine such work with the demands of training and traveling for orienteering?
Well, I think this is difficult. They US paradigm is two weeks of vacation per year. While I recently have had three weeks of vacation per year, I could not take it in a large chunk without some negotiation. This obvious impedes just about all protracted summer travel.

But, then there is also the daily grind. I have recently worked at jobs of about 50 hours per week, which is down a bit from earlier jobs of about 60 hours. Needless to say, that is a bit tiring, and it is difficult to motivate to train when you leave work at 6PM.

15) If you didn't have to worry about money or jobs, where would you live? Why?
Maybe a place like Châteauroux or Giverny in France, Santa Barbara, CA, or Salerno or Siena in Italy. I like the countryside, or la paysage, and am an inveterate romantic. I also like wine and warm summer days and grass under my feet. However, of that list, I have only been to Santa Barbara, so those other places may fall short of my notion of them.

16) What would you take with you to a deserted island?
Dasha might resent being designated a “what,” but I hope she would agree to go. Aside from her, the Financial Times Weekend Edition, and my Blackberry or computer, provided I could get WiFi.

17) Do you think you're weird enough to be an orienteer? If yes, illustrate with an amusing anecdote.
Res ipsa loquitur.

18) A lot of people in the US orienteering community are familiar with your outrageously vast vocabulary. How have you come to possess such a vocabulary? What is your favorite word?
This is a beautiful question, because I certainly have many words that I like a lot. And I think of them often and reflect upon why I like them. My very favorite word is prolix and the next favorite is interlocutor; both are clearly self-referential. Other good ones, which I like for sundry reasons, include contubernal, crepuscular, and epiphyte.

Why do I possess this vocabulary? I read a lot and was/is a geek and had a few friends who were geeks, with whom I could use words like these. (I miss those days…) Unfortunately, there are a number of words I “know” that I do not know how to pronounce.

19) What kind of music makes you feel invincible against wicked course setters and Canadians?

“The Final Countdown” by Europe, of course. Listening to that song is to envelop oneself in a shroud of cheese, and thusly arrayed, I would be impervious to the mischief of an evil Canadian or malignant course setter (or anything else). However, if it is merely a Canadian (and not a course setter) seeking to vex me, I can listen to “O Canada” and be immediately reminded of inherent Canadian inferiority.

And for those of you who just can't get enough of Clem, here is a video of Clem's dance moves, published previously on this blog during WOC 2008: