Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A-Meet Update: CSU

Larry & Sara Mae Berman

Cambridge Sports Union is one of America's oldest orienteering clubs, founded by Larry and Sara Mae Berman in Cambridge, MA in 1962. After hosting its first A-meet in the mid-1980s, the club went through a quiet period before being resurrected with the help of college orienteers in the area in the late 1990's. Now, in 2009, it was time for CSU's second-ever A-meet, held, of course, under the leadership of the youthful Larry and Sara Mae.

The races were held at Pine Hill, part of the Middlesex Fells reservation located very close to the city limits of Boston. The terrain features intricate contour and rock detail, a lot of small and large trails, and a whole lot of green. Throw in unseasonably warm and humid weather, with temperatures reaching 30C on Sunday, and you get one challenging weekend of orienteering.

The M/F21 classes got to race three times over the course of the weekend, as Saturday featured a middle distance prologue and final format, followed by a classic race on Sunday. For the middle distance, the top 10 men and top 8 women advanced to the A final. The prologue and final format allowed for great spectating, with Greg Balter doing live commentary and reporting times from the radio controls. The women's race, both prologue and final, were dominated by Erin Nielsen, who won both races comfortably. The men's race, on the other hand, was a different story. In the prologue, CSU's own Boris Granovskiy (BG) had the fastest time, ahead of clubmate Ken Walker (KW), Jr. The third-best time was posted by DVOA's Clem McGrath (CM), with speedy Jon Torrance (JT) of OOC in 4th and wily veteran Joe Brautigam (JB) of WCOC close behind. These five would battle it out for the win in the sweltering heat in the afternoon's final.

The men's semi-final map (from Peter Gagarin's site)

CSU's Ken Walker Jr. and Boris Granovskiy

Here is a play-by-play reconstructed from the splits from the final. Keep in mind that finalists were started in the reverse order of their placements from the prologue, with two-minute intervals.

The men's final map (from Peter Gagarin's site)

Start-1: Everyone but JT misses right from the start, losing various amounts of time on the vague green hillside, and JT has a 30-second lead over his nearest competitor, though B-finalist Sergei Zhyk (SZ) actually has the fastest split. (Leader: SZ)

1-2: BG is fastest to get down the hill from 1 and then slog back up to 2, but SZ maintains his lead. JT loses about 30 seconds and drops behind BG. (Leader: SZ)

2-3: SZ loses over two minutes and disappears from the picture. JT and BG also lose time, through hesitations and uncertainty in the circle. CM and JB, on the other hand, spike the control, and are back in the mix. (Leader: BG)

3-4: JT and BG continue to lose time, perhaps overconfident from having seen this same control in the prologue. KW wins the split, with CM close behind and taking over the lead. (Leader: CM)

4-5: This tricky leg sees a lot of shuffling in the standings. BG spots KW leaving the control and spikes it, winning the split and regaining the lead. KW, in turn, sees JT and CM ahead of him, as both of them lost a lot of time here, among the cliffs. (Leader: BG)

5-6: Not much happens on this short leg, as all the front-runners are close, though, remarkably, about 15 seconds behind the fastest split, posted by Canadian junior Emily Kemp. (Leader: BG)

6-7: The next leg, coming into the radio control for the first time, involves a long run across an open field. Here, JT shows his speed and wins the split ahead of KW, who runs hard to try to close the gap to JT and CM in front of him and arrives at the radio control with the lead. Meanwhile, BG starts wilting in the heat, and loses nearly two minutes attacking the relatively simple control from below. (Leader: KW)

7-8: The leader carousel continues on this leg, as KW, tired from chasing JT and CM in front of him, gets confused by the out-of-bounds area and loses 2.5 minutes and the lead. As a result, JB, who has been solid so far in the race, takes the lead, and BG catches sight of KW and gets some new energy. (Leader: JB, 6th leader in 8 controls!)

8-9: More of the same. JT pushes hard and wins his third straight split and JB maintains his lead. (Leader: JB)

9-10: Our veteran leader JB, the only one with a relatively clean race so far, finally cracks under pressure and loses his lead. BG picks a good line through the green and wins the split, regaining the lead. He is now together with KW, and they are chasing JT and CM two minutes ahead of them. (Leader: BG)

10-11: Another short leg doesn't really bring any changes. (Leader: BG)

11-12: Back to the radio control. JT wins the split, while CM is second, only three seconds ahead of BG. These three seconds, however, are enough to pull him into a tie for the lead! (Leaders: CM and BG)

12-13: BG pushes hard on the trails, wins the split, and gets sole possession of the lead. (Leader: BG)

13-14: This leg ended up deciding the race. BG, tired from running hard the previous leg, chooses the shortest route, running on the small path that goes along the side of the lake. This path is very rocky and hard to follow, and the steep climb up to the hill the control is on at the end does not help. BG loses 1:30 to CM, who goes around on the left on the larger trails, and CM takes the lead for good. (Leader: CM)

14-15-16-17-F: CM and BG are pretty even through these last few legs, which are similar to the ending of the prologue, and CM extends his lead by 5 more seconds to the finish.

Final results of this exciting and exhausting race in the heat:

1. Clem McGrath 42:34
2. Boris Granovskiy 43:46
3. Jon Torrance 44:25
4. Joe Brautigam 45:09
5. Ken Walker, Jr. 45:34

Sunday's races on the men's side offered no such close battle, as Jon Torrance dominated from started to finish, winning the long course on an even hotter day by nearly 5 minutes over Saturday's course setter Alexei Azarov, with another 3 minutes down to third place. Among the women, Erin Nielsen was the best for the third time in a row, this time having to hold off a challenge from a much-improved Corinne Porter, who finished merely 15 seconds back.

The week-end's top women: Erin Nielsen, Pavlina Brautigam, Kseniya Popova

Overall, it was a very enjoyable weekend of racing, with the middle-middle format on Saturday a deifnite highlight. Pine Hill is not an area one would want to use for training too often, but racing hard and getting bloody once in a while is a whole different story.

Middle Prologue
1 Erin Nielsen 81 UNO 31:16
2 Pavlina Brautigam 61 WCOC 32:15
3 Kseniya Popova 86 HVO 33:49

1 Boris Granovskiy 80 CSU 27:35
2 Ken Walker Jr 78 CSU 29:59
3 Clem McGrath 74 DVOA 30:15

Middle Final
1 Erin Nielsen 81 UNO 41:51
2 Kseniya Popova 86 HVO 43:25
3 Pavlina Brautigam 61 WCOC 45:51

1 Clem McGrath 74 DVOA 42:34
2 Boris Granovskiy 80 CSU 43:46
3 Jon Torrance 71 OOC 44:25

1 Erin Nielsen 81 UNO 86:03
2 Corinne Porter 84 DVOA 86:18
3 Pavlina Brautigam 61 WCOC 88:48

1 Jon Torrance 71 OOC 84:51
2 Alexei Azarov 73 CSU 90:43
3 Sergey Gnatiouk 67 HVO 94:07

Friday, April 24, 2009

A-Meet Update: West Point

Samantha Saeger at the sprint

The most recent A-Meet on the US orienteering calendar was the West Point A-Meet, organized annually for thirty years now by the cadets of the United States Military Academy Orienteering Club in West Point, New York. Our guest reporter this week is the eminent Peter Gagarin.

This was advertised as the 30th year of A meets at West Point, and it was a most worthy celebration, though I must point out that I was at an A meet at West Point in 1975, before there were any orienteering maps there. We used the old 1:25,000 military map and I remember that at the time it seemed just fine. Orienteering was different then.

This was a noteworthy weekend for West Point, and for the USA team, for several reasons. The first was that it was the visit of our new coach, Mike Waddington from Hamilton, Ontario. He spent time training with Eddie Bergeron and Clem McGrath and spent time on Saturday afternoon talking to the JWOC team, and a lot of time over the weekend talking to individual Team members. There is an opportunity here — Mike (aka Hammer) has a wealth of experience and we’ll see if Team members can take advantage of it.

Second was the presence of USOF’s new Executive Director Glen Schorr. Glen sat in on part of the meeting of the team’s Executive Steering Committee (before hustling off to meet with the JWOC team) and it was clear that he has both a strong interest in our national teams, plus experience at USA Lacrosse in helping to make such a team a lot stronger and better funded. The vibes were very positive. Any feelings that one might have had that he would have no interest in our national teams should quickly be forgotten about.

Third was the fact that this was the Interscholastic Championships, and the weekend felt much more like you were at a European meet than one in the USA, because there were a lot more young people around, with all sorts of colorful uniforms and excitement. How do we get this to happen at every A meet?

Fourth was the use of what I think for most people were two entirely new venues, the area around Trophy Point for the sprint Saturday morning (the only time I’d been there before was for the opening ceremony for WOC-93), and then for the Middle on Saturday Afternoon the nearby area that includes the ski slopes, which I remember being used only once before at an A meet, perhaps 15 years ago. Sunday was based at Camp Buckner, using the terrain north and east of there, though it had been remapped in a much improved fashion. For each one of these venues the finish areas were out in the open, convenient, and full of excitement, not some remote area off in the forest. Each event was better for it.

Ross Smith at the sprint

And fifth was just the overall excellence of the organization. Under the leadership of Mike Hendricks and Jon and Viktoria Campbell, the cadets did a first-class job. Good courses, good logistics, good information, good karma. And they got the most important thing right too — good weather.

The results are here. I will just point out that among the Senior Team it seemed that Pavlina Brautigam had clearly been doing some training (husband Joe confirms that), that Ross Smith continues to make great progress (and will make a lot more if he can add a little mental discipline instead of just winging it from time to time), and Samantha Saeger ventured onto the M21 course on Sunday (only to find out that the distance wasn’t the problem, she too having been doing some serious training recently, but perhaps her skills at spiking controls needed a little improvement). Hammer is apparently already on the case.

Eddie Bergeron at the long distance


Sprint, 2.6km, 105m, 20c
1 Erik Nystrom WCOC 90 15:27
2 Nathaniel Lyons ROC 92 15:41
3 Ross Smith CSU 83 15:52

1 Emily Kemp OOC 92 18:55
2 Samantha Saeger NEOC 82 18:58
3 Katarina Smith Falcons 71 20:49

Men 4.9km, 175m, 15c
1 Ross Smith CSU 83 37:23
2 Erik Nystrom WCOC 90 38:54
3 Mike Waddington GHO 67 39:51

Women 4.2km, 155m, 13c
1 Pavlina Brautigam WCOC 61 47:36
2 Kseniya Popova HVO 86 47:44
3 Hillary Saeger NEOC 84 49:45

Men 10.4km, 435m, 22c
1 Hans Fransson GHO 72 81:27
2 Wil Smith Falcons 73 83:58
3 Eddie Bergeron SVO 69 86:14

Women 7.3km, 310m, 19c
1 Pavlina Brautigam WCOC 61 74:14
2 Hillary Saeger NEOC 84 81:23
3 Angelica Riley DVOA 70 82:51

Varsity High School Women
1 Alison Campbell DVOA 84:13
2 Taylor Daughtry La Porte High 95:46
3 Kelsey Breseman COC 98:26

Varsity High School Men
1 Huw Stradling COC 74:19
2 Nathaniel Lyons ROC 84:07
3 Dominick Hernandez HOC 96:37

1 Channelview Varsity
2 LaPorte High School
3 Inglemoor High School

Full Results are here.
RouteGadget Sprint
RouteGadget Middle
RouteGadget Long

Monday, April 20, 2009

Americans at Tiomila

Tiomila is Sweden's biggest relay, normally organized around Stockholm in the end of April. This year was the first time the relay was held far away from the capital, in the south of Sweden, and it took place earlier than usual, April 18-19. The women's relay takes place during the day and consists of 5 legs, while the men run 10 legs through the night, finishing in the early morning, with legs ranging from 6km to the legendary Long Night leg - 18km in the dark!

There were a number of US senior and junior team members representing various clubs at Tiomila this year. Here is a summary of their results:

Women (310 total teams)
Karen Williams - IFK Göteborg 2 - 161st place on leg 4 - 136th place as a team
Ekaterina Orekhova - OK Linné 3 - 42nd place on leg 3 - 103rd place as a team
Sandra Zurcher - OK Tyr 1 - 57th place on leg 3 - DSQ as a team*
Eileen Underwood - Baekkelaget SK 3 - 294th place on leg 3 - DNF as a team**

Men (335 total teams)
Boris Granovskiy OK Linné 2 - 63rd place on leg 9 - 46th place as a team

* - When Sandra finished, she saw that she had no map to hand over to her 4th leg runner. It turned out that a runner from another club (IF Thor) took OK Tyr's map by mistake. Sandra's 4th leg runner was eventually handed a new map by the organizers, but the organizers scrwed up, giving her a leg 5 map instead, leading to the disqualification.

** - Baekkleagt SK 3 did not have a full team

Full results from Tiomila are here.
Boris' map from leg 9 is here.

Kat and Sandra after their races

Eileen training in Uppsala before Tiomila

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Trimtex uniforms

This winter, Team USA signed up with Trimtex as its sponsor and uniform supplier, and today the brand new 2009 uniforms have arrived. Here are some pictures from the first "test run" in the forests around Storvik, Sweden:

Here, our models are shown wearing the Trimtex Trainer Extreme Jacket, as well as Trainer Extreme Pants (the model on the left only.) The model on the left is also sporting the stylish Bi-Elastic Cap.

In this shot, our model is navigating her way through this Swedish marsh in the Trainer Extreme Jacket, the 3/4 Trimtex Tights, and Trimtex Socks.

You can see our models racing through the forest in their Trimtex Extreme Laser Tops, as well as the 3/4 Trimtex Tights and the Trimtex Socks.

The Trimtex Extreme Laser Tops, as well as the 3/4 Trimtex Tights and the Trimtex Socks, work equally well as sports attire and leisure clothing, as shown above.

And, a parting shot....

For more pictures that could not be posted on this blog due to decency issues, please contact the US Team.

2009 US JWOC Team Announced

Girls Team

Tori Borish COC
Holly Kuestner COC
Alison Campbell DVOA
Kelsey Breseman COC
Anna Shafer-Skelton SLOC

Boys Team

Greg Ahlswede DVOA
Gabriel Svobodny MVOC
John Goodwin WCOC
Jordan Laughlin USMAOC
Andrew Childs GMOC
John Hensley Willams GAOC

Nathaniel Lyons ROC
Michael Norris USMAOC
Carl Underwood NEOC

Congratulations to all of the athletes!
We will try to run the athletes' profiles here over the coming months.

Friday, April 10, 2009

A-Meet Update: The Flying Pig

DVOA, US Relay Champions 2009

The Flying Pig is a long-running and well-respected A-Meet usually organized by OCIN (Orienteering Cincinnati) in early spring. This year's edition took place from April 3-5 and featured a middle distance, sprint, and long distance, as well as the US Relay Championships. Just as last week, we have a guest correspondent to report on the happenings at the Pig. Get out your English dictionaries for this fantastic write-up by US Team runner and DVOA star Clem McGrath:

It is not libelous to assert that OCIN’s whimsically titled Flying Pig event is typically visited by blood, sweat, and tears. And mud, most of the time. But not this year. Yes, there was a lot of sweat, may have been some blood, and perhaps tears, but the porcine or goatish offerings the OCIN crowd made in the days before the competition were sufficient to ward off precipitation. Instead, a large, and largely Slavic elite field basked in mostly delightful weather and enjoyed a delightful schedule of fiercely pitched competitions.

Friday featured middle courses at McFarlan Woods, in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. While it didn’t really rain during the competition, the ground was soft from recent rains. But footing was generally good, even on the few steeper slopes. The courses were well done, with conventional middle legs at the beginning and ending of the courses bracketing a high intensity control picking soiree through fairly open karst-like topography. Nothing too difficult, physically or technically.

On the men’s side, as he was to do all weekend, Jon Torrance, a Canuck living in our midst, in the capital of the US no less, showed fine form. He finished nearly a minute up on Eric Bone, who was 30 seconds ahead of Magnus Johansson, a Swede living undercover in Canada. If there is a pattern here, I leave it to the reader to deduce what Eric Bone is doing, but I digress.

On the women’s side, Angelica Riley was 50 seconds in front of Corrine Porter. Peggy Dickison was third, a little further back. Of note, junior Tori Borish was just 2.5 minutes out of the medals.

Corinne Porter, DVOA and Jon Torrance, OOC in the middle distance race

We arose Saturday to a brilliant morning. This day was to feature not just a US Team benefit sprint, but also the US Relay Championships, an event taken very seriously by some, and poorly understood by others.

The Elite Sprint was hotly contested at Burnet Woods in Cincinnati. Corrine Porter led the way for the women, with a nice run in 19:52. Tori Borish also did well, just one minute back. On the mens’ side, the Americans were muscled out by more Slavs. Serghei Logvin, a Canadian, a Slav, a junior, and likely many other things, cruised to an impressive win in 14:43. Magnus was 39 seconds back, and another Canadian Slav edged Mr. Torrance out of the medals for the only time this weekend. However, a notable performance was put in by John Hensley Williams, a 17 year old from GAOC, who came in 5th.

John Hensley Williams, a junior and best American in the sprint

After some lunch and rehydration, the contenders moved across town to the arena at Mt. Airy Forest for the main event of the day: the US Relay Championships. While the Delaware Valley Orienteering Association (DVOA) has won this event many times, and for the past several years, and were ready to take on all comers, even the most cocksure DVOA partisan could not deny that teams from Cascade and a motley crew of Canadians, styling themselves as the “Trans Canada Express” were there to represent.

The crowd would not be disappointed. Leading off, Jon Torrance laid down some smack, opening a lead of over 5 minutes over DVOA stalwart Gregory Balter. Drew Inglis of Cascade was a further 4 minutes back. Some of the crowd in the cheap seats started packing up to go home, assuming that the game was over. Others, who just wanted to see DVOA get their comeuppance, were making themselves comfortable. What was going to happen? Was Jon Torrance setting aside room for yet another medal premature?

The second leg was a lot closer. DVOA started to make its move, with Angelica Riley of DVOA clearing Tori Borish of Cascade by a minute. Tori was 30 seconds up on Andrea Balakova from the TCE. Things were getting interesting, no?

On to the third leg. DVOA’s Wyatt Riley and Cascade’s Nikolay Nachev were locked in a heated battle. While their times were almost the same, Wyatt’s 2 second advantage must not be overlooked. That was just the sort of extra effort that can lead to a championship. But, what about Canada’s 5 minute lead? 2 seconds won’t do much to chip away at Torrance’s smackdown. It turns out that Cascade and DVOA were able to exploit a relative weakness in Canada’s lineup. Wyatt (and Nikolay) ran through the Express. It was an entirely new ballgame going into the last inning.

DVOA was now where they always like to be. In the lead. This year, Sergei Zhyk came forth to run the last leg. Well rested, he just had to hold on to a few minute lead. But, Eric Bone, a seasoned pro and a fierce relay competitor is one to be reckoned with. So is Magnus Johansson. What would happen? Could Sergei do it?

The winning DVOA Team: Greg, Sergei, Angelica, and Wyatt

Of course. Although Magnus and Eric (on slightly different forkings) had kicking runs (Eric had almost 3:30 on Sergei on the last leg) the overall outcome was never in doubt. The battle for second was, however. But, Eric’s clutch play could not be overcome. He fished 20 seconds clear of Magnus to take 2nd.

After all that excitement on Saturday, who could possibly rise to the occasion to do battle in Sunday’s long? Jon Torrance, that’s who. But, in what was probably the most competitive race of the weekend, Jon had his work cut out for him. He finished only 19 seconds clear of Magnus and a minute clear of Eric. And Eric just barely (by 4 seconds) edged out Wyatt Riley. Wyatt, in 4th, was a minute clear of Nikolay. Wow! 5 guys in 2.5 minutes. Not bad. The women’s elite race was also tight. Corinne Porter would take her 2nd of the three available F21 golds in Sunday’s race, while Tori Borish edged out Angelica Riley for silver.

Tori Borish of COC, one of the week-end's stars

It was a glorious weekend of racing in Ohio. Your correspondent, who has been to numerous Flying Pig races over the years, rates this as one of the finest. The weather was no doubt a factor, but the high quality event organization, fine maps, and good course setting, earned many plaudits.

Maps (from RouteGadget)

Middle distance

Long distance

US Relay Championships

Summary of Results

Middle distance

1 Nathaniel Lyons 92 ROC 36:05
2 John Hensley Williams 92 GAOC 36:50
3 Carl Underwood 93 NEOC 38:51

1 Taylor Daughtry 94 HOC 39:04
2 Mary Hamilton 91 OLOU 45:34
3 Shania Bridges 94 HOC 63:41

1 Jon Torrance 71 OOC 33:37
2 Eric Bone 74 COC 34:25
3 Magnus Johansson 73 GVOC 34:53

1 Angelica Riley 70 DVOA 42:08
2 Corinne Porter 84 DVOA 42:59
3 Peggy Dickison 60 QOC 48:28


Men, 2.25km, 60m, 15c
1 Serghei Logvin 91 GHO 14:43
2 Magnus Johansson 73 GVOC 15:22
3 Igor Palagnyuk 86 TOC 15:34

Women, 2.25km, 60m, 15c
1 Corinne Porter 84 DVOA 19:52
2 Tori Borish 89 COC 20:54
3 Andrea Balakova 77 GVOC 22:38


M20, 8.2km, 400m, 14c
1 Carl Underwood 93 NEOC 58:49
2 Nathaniel Lyons 92 ROC 60:31
3 John H Williams 92 GAOC 62:24

F20, 5.8km, 290m, 10c

1 Taylor Daughtry 94 HOC 60:04
2 Shania Bridges 94 HOC 66:43
3 Mary Hamilton 91 OLOU 74:16

M21, 11.5km, 490m, 17c
1 Jon Torrance 71 OOC 76:12
2 Magnus Johansson 73 GVOC 76:31
3 Eric Bone 74 COC 77:18

F21, 8.2km, 400m, 14c

1 Corinne Porter 84 DVOA 74:52
2 Tori Borish 89 COC 78:14
3 Angelica Riley 70 DVOA 78:55


1 DVOA 2:22:19
(Gregory Balter(2), Angelica Riley(3), Wyatt Riley(1), Sergei Zhyk(1))
2 Cascade 2:23:39
(Drew Inglis(6), Tori Borish(4), Nikolay Nachev(2), Eric Bone(2))
3 TransCanadaExpress 2:23:58
(Jon Torrance(1), Andrea Balakova(1), Eugene Mlynczyk(3), Magnus Johansson(3))

Complete results are available here

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A-Meet Update: Ran-it Granite

In addition to introducing you to members of the US Orienteering Team through interviews and profiles, we are now starting a new series dedicated to providing updates on A-Meets and other large national orienteering events in the US. This will normally be done through reports from some of the competitors, in addition to pictures, maps and summaries of the results, in particular in classes where US senior and junior team members compete.

The first A-Meet in the series is Quantico Orienteering Club's Ran-it Granite, which took place just outside of Baltimore, Maryland this past weekend. The A-Meet offered an unusual format, with 5 races in three days, as well as the US Intercollegiate Championships. The five races were two sprints on Friday, a middle distance and a handicapped sprint relay on Saturday, and a classic distance on Sunday.

Here is a competitor's eye-view report from the races by US Team Member Ross Smith:

Getting there

The A-meet was a real blast, and although the woods were pretty bland and courses fairly routine, I think that overall the meet was a great success.

Sam [US Team member Samantha Saeger] and I left from Boston on Thursday night and arrived actually 20 minutes early in Baltimore. Eddie Bergeron came and picked us up from the airport, took us back to his place and fed us shrimp gumbo (made using his grandma's recipe) and french "everything" bread which was a delightful cross between an everything bagel and a baguette. In the morning, Eddie drove us to the sprint location because he was needed to do a lot of set up work for the event.

Ross Smith, photo by Jan and Dasa Merka

The sprints

As for the races themselves, Swedish junior Erik Nystrom had some impressive performances, winning one of the sprints and coming 4th in the other one. 16-year-old future star Carl Underwood also excelled, finishing 3rd out of everybody on the second sprint. The top females were Canadian junior Emily Kemp and Sam, who beat a number of US men's team members on both sprints.

I was in 2nd place only 2 seconds ahead of West Point cadet and junior team member Jordan Laughlin on the first sprint. (I had a pretty embarrassing mistake on the first sprint, coming down into a re-entrant and getting distracted by a bridge that I couldn't see on the map. It was embarrassing because I had just passed Sam, and she followed me into my mistake and had to relocate and find the control for me) I started only a minute behind Jordan on the 2nd sprint and caught him at #7, but on the way to #9 he made a mistake and started orienteering to #10, dragging another cadet with him.... This left me to my own devices to finish the course on my own. Jordan realized his mistake, and I saw him coming back from 10 as I was leaving 9. For both sprints the woods were spectacularly open. Just a few long re-entrants to play in and not too many features, fairly easy orienteering; but at high speeds, anything can happen.

Middle distance

The next morning the weather was a bit colder and damper. We parked in a giant field and everyone was worried that it would turn to mud and all the cars would get really stuck. The start was at the corner of the field and as we were warming up we could see people finishing. Someone told me that there was an estimated winning time of 25 minutes for the Blue course (5.2 k) and that seemed pretty daunting. I don't think it was a realistic goal if it was even true. I actually had a pretty great race, I was pushing hard running like it was a sprint and spiking controls. Felt in contol the whole way and physically felt very strong. Well this was until control 9, at which point I was leading in M21. As I came out of 8 I was too far right and got onto the wrong spur. This was bad enough except that as I was running down the spur I glanced over and saw a control on the next spur even farther to the right. When I reached the end of the spur I was on, I saw that it was the wrong control and immediately went over to the right to check out the other flag I had seen. Silly silly, now I was even farther away and just confusing myself.... I relocated and had to work my way back to the proper feature.... I lost a good 4 minutes there, looking at the splits. I didn't fully lose my flow but my confidence was shaken a bit. I was also getting tired and had to walk a couple of the hills (up to 10 and up to 12). I finished as best I could but was not pleased by how many people beat me. Erik Nystrom won the blue course (M21) with a time of about 32 minutes, 5 seconds ahead of Canadian Jon Torrance and another 7 ahead of Australian Will Hawkins, who was not completely satisfied with his run. Ken Walker was the best American in 4th place with a decently good race and a stylin' blond goatee. His small daughters are both way cute and were dressed in matching pink rain gear. On the women's side, Sam won F21 with an okay run, finishing several minutes ahead of Kseniya Popova and Corinne Porter, while Emily Kemp took some scalps running the men's course.

Team "I can haz sprint relay?", photo by John Landers

Sprint relay

Next up was the handicapped sprint relay. Sam and I teamed up with Cristina Luis, thus creating team "I can haz sprint relay?" The buzz beforehand was about the stellar and unbalanced Canadian team of Jon Torrance, Eric Kemp and Emily Kemp. unbalanced because although all three member were running blue for the A-meet they would get to run down to their age categories for the relay. Emily was running orange/brown and Eric was running red. Another seemingly stacked team (I mean, besides our own) was the last minute team of Will Hawkins, Nikolai Nachev, and Nate Lyons. There was also a family originally from Halden in Norway that was pretty impressive.... it all came down to how well the courses were handicapped. The handicap was arranged so that all the men had to run an extra penalty loop when they finished the course. The finish chute had two sides; women went straight to the finish banner and men had to run out along the edge of the field and then loop around the stake with their course length on it. The blue stake was probably almost 80 meters down the field. The girl from Halden, Ane Sofie Nass Björgul finished first, then a few of the younger runners with speedy legs (Zach Lyons is one to watch for the future). As Jon Torrance arrived in the finish he was leading a group of runners with him, as they all headed out to do their manly penalty loops. Sam streaked in and Cristina went out in a nice position (6th, 3 minutes down on the lead). The relay was spectator friendly, and you could see the courses crossing the field in a couple of areas. The second leg of the relay was dominated by Carl Underwood who torched the thing and moved his team into first by almost 5 minutes. But the Canadians were not to be beaten.... Emily Kemp had a solid finish to win the thing by over a minute ahead of the Childs family from Vermont, featuring former and future US team members. Halden came third, another minute down. The Underwood/Williams team came in 4th and our team edged the Rochester team for 5th even though Nate Lyons went out with a pretty good lead on the last leg.

Samantha Saeger, photo by Jan and Dasa Merka

Long distance

Sunday morning we drove to the start on another damp, but much warmer, day. I started exactly 3 minutes behind Erik Nystrom. I would need to pass him and get a 6 second lead to win overall :) The woods were awesome so I was happy to wear shorts for the race and I felt like the race started well. The first control was in a depression right off the side of the trail. However, this depression was on top of a hill, which was confusing when you were expecting to see the terrain take a dip. I was cooking along until control 6 where I made a small error (30 seconds). I was following the edge of some green. I was told afterwards that the holly bushes extend past the edge of the marked green section because it only gets slow to run through deeper into the shrubs... which helps explain why I was 15 meters off and on the wrong cliff when I relocated. I guess I had been catching up to Erik but I lost that ground here, and I'm not sure I would have ever gotten him in sight even with even a really clean run. I kept working hard, seeing people every once in a while out in the woods. One area had an option to ford a shallow river a couple of times.... I didn't take advantage but some others did. There was a route choice from 13 to 14 on the blue course (9-10 on red) that was pretty divisive. One route had you stay high, take a few contours and run through a field and then come down into the control... the other obvious route was to run alongside the river on a trail and then climb several contours right at the end. I got suckered into running the trail but looking at splits later it was far better to stay high. This is where I really lost the race to Erik, I think. I talked to a bunch of people and a few went high and a few low. The last 6 controls on blue were all grouped together in a very cool feature-dense area. After such open woods, many people got tripped up in the fine navigation here at the end. I was able to stay at top speed, and felt pretty good about my last section. My race was good enough for 2nd place on the day, 16 seconds behind Erik and just ahead of Will. Sam won the women's course well ahead of Kseniya and US Team veteran Pavlina Brautigam in 3rd.

Intercollegiates winner Neal Trump, photo by Jan and Dasa Merka

Elsewhere in the results, West Point cadet Neal Trump won a close battle with teammate Jordan Laughlin to take home the Men's Varsity Intercollegiate trophy, and Martin Hawkes-Teeter finished 3rd. In the women's Intercollegiate class, Cascade Orienteering Club's Holly Kuestner (University of North Carolina) and Tori Borish (Williams College) were head and shoulders above everyone else, with Holly taking the overall prize. Michelle Alderson of West Point finished 3rd.

All told it was an awesome time to hang out with Quantico. The maps were well printed, the woods were clear, and even if things were very simple and straightforward the chance to run hard in the woods with friends was very much appreciated by me at least. All the controls were in the right spot too, and results were up quickly on WinSplits. High quality.

Maps (from Route Gadget)
Middle distance
Long distance

Summary of Results

Sprint 1, 2.5km, 95m, 16 controls

1. Jon Torrance OOC 13:24
2. Ross Smith CSU 14:06
3. Jordan Laughlin USMAOC 14:08

1. Emily Kemp OOC 16:03
2. Samantha Saeger NEOC 16:30
3. Ane Sofie Nass Bjorgul QOC 18:17

Sprint 2, 2.4km, 75m, 11c
1. Erik Nyström WCOC 12:11
2. Ross Smith CSU 12:20
3. Carl Underwood NEOC 12:45

1. Samantha Saeger NEOC 14:39
2. Emily Kemp OOC 15:10
3. Ane Sofie Nass Bjorgul QOC 15:47

Middle distance
M21, 5.3km, 215m, 15 c
1. Erik Nyström WCOC 32:52
2. Jon Torrance OOC 32:57
3. William Hawkins CSU 33:04

F21, 4.7km, 200m, 13c
1. Samantha Saeger NEOC 37:43
2. Kseniya Popova HVO 41:15
3. Corinne Porter DVOA 42:27

Long distance
M21, 11.8km, 425m, 23c
1. Erik Nyström WCOC 78:17
2. Ross Smith CSU 78:33
3. Will Hawkins CSU 79:25

F21, 8.1km, 260m, 19c
1. Samantha Saeger NEOC 65:28
2. Kseniya Popova HVO 72:04
3. Pavlina Brautigam WCOC 75:15

US Intercollegiate Championships - 2-Day Overall Results
1. Neal Trump USMAOC 95:54
2. Jordan Laughlin USMAOC 96:35
3. Martin Hawkes-Teeter EMPO 99:31

1. Holly Kuestner COC 93:58
2. Tori Borish COC 97:10
3. Michelle Alderson USMAOC 123:37

Full results are available here