Monday, December 14, 2009

Course Analysis: Sandra Zurcher in Trondheim

This week's US Team course analysis comes from a training camp for WOC 2010 in Trondheim that Sandra attended this fall together with the Swiss O-Team.

September 1st, 2009

In this training we had the objective to use the swamps as much as possible as navigational help. As this was only the 2nd day in the training camp and the first 2 trainings didn’t go very well for me, I was pleasantly surprised and also relieved to find some flow and confidence during this training. For the most part, I ran well and I felt like I understood how the terrain was mapped. I made a pretty big route choice error (control 6) and a parallel error (control 7), which were due to not being familiar with the terrain yet.

Here is a control-to-control analysis:

Start -1: The start was pretty tricky, because the terrain is really quiet vague. I basically ran on a compass and saw the change in the contours as I headed uphill. I felt pretty relieved to find the control right there where I thought it should be. I would not have had a good concept for relocating, since I wouldn’t have know if I was too far to the left or right. This can be a problem on the hillsides in Trondheim, they are vague and it’s hard to relocate.

1-2: With this initial wake-up call, I decided to run the next leg using the swamps (like we were told to) and therefore having a more precise plan. It was the safer way to run this control, but that turned out to be a good thing. Others had trouble with this one. I potentially could have used the lower swamp and the stream running in the direction of my control.

2-3: The yellow swamps light up in the forest really well and are great objects to use for navigation. I used the small swamp up the hill, out of the control, to the bigger yellow swamp. Afterwards, I used the stream down to the big yellow swamp. Saw the hunting stand at one edge and went along the hillside to the stream. Ran along the stream for a moment and then up the hill on the other side to the bigger swamp and then ran the swamp all the way to the control.

3-5: Straight shot to both controls

5-6: I took a bad route choice. My problem is that I didn’t see the bridge across the big stream just south of the line. I also thought it would be fast to get out to the road, but this actually felt like it took a long time. I guess it was way too distance, especially in this type of terrain, which is really quiet runnable and fast. The 2nd half of my route choice was good, using the swamps.

6-7: Left the control using my compass and seeing the small white patch in the swamp first and than the two green patches later. I must have drifted up a little after the green patches and did a parallel error, mixing up the forest patches, thinking I was running in the lower swamp. This doesn’t make sense in retrospect, because the swamp would have been open to the north, and I ran between two forest patches. I relocated on the two rocks. Nice to have a feature like that, it would have been trickier without them.

7-8: Surfing the swamps. This is when a good phase kicked in and I really “saw” everything I wanted to see.

8-9: Used the swamp to head down the hill and then saw the rock at the end of the swamp.

9-10: Contoured around the small hill and through the yellow swamp. Then went a little further on my compass and hit the small stream, kept going on my compass and the control appeared.

10-11: Used the small swamp running downhill and then used my compass in the forest until the hillside got steeper. Saw the cliff just below me and went around to the left of it and down to my control. The nose was not clear here and the terrain was pretty deep and tough, but everything had been correct up until then, so I just went down a little further and there it was.

11-12: Popped over into the yellow swamp, than contoured in the forest until the next swamp and followed it until I saw the swamp coming up from below and the control.

12-13: Ran the swamp down hill and kept on my compass. Simone Niggli passed me here and I tried to keep up with her running downhill. She is really very skilled at downhill running. I had trouble being as agile and limber. Landed in the big yellow swamp below and ran on the road for a few steps before running in the swamp around the hill. Ran through the big swamp into the woods and to the control.

13-14: Decided to climb a little and run the swamp on top (because they are SO great for navigating!!) and saw the small knoll at the end of the long flat hilltop and well as the vegetation boundary.

14-15: Ran on a compass down the hill, but it was pretty junky, so I got off my compass bearing. Ended up too far to the right and ran along the river back to the control.

Overall it was a good training, and it is really easy to learn from the two larger mistakes as well. I really enjoyed the accuracy and flow I had from 7 to 14. I think (or better said, I hope) that there will be orienteering like this in the middle distance at WOC. I also think that the long distance will have orienteering like the beginning 8 controls.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Course Analysis: Nikolay Nachev at Salmon La Sac

This week's course review is by Nikolay Nachev from a race he ran at the Pacific Northwest Orienteering Festival in June 2009.

Long Sunday June 28

I had a steady and consistent training building up to the Northwest O festival, and felt good during the event. Had a good run on the middle distance on Saturday, and in spite of being a bit sore, felt good Sunday morning on the day of the long distance. Here are the results from the day for reference:

http://www.obasen. nu/winsplits/ online/en/ default.asp? page=table&databaseId=12075&categoryId=0

While warming up I thought about starting with a safe route and not too fast, not to blow up from the start. I did not have any specific tactics how to approach the race or what to focus on, and was just repeating myself to slow down and look at my map as much as possible…Ah, and Oysten was starting 16 mins behind me, and given the many results from the whole spring and summer, it was a stretch goal not to catch me up. The GPS track is somewhat zigzagging too much because (later I noticed ) my Garmin was set to Least Smoothing option that introduces some noise to the GPS track.

Here is my run:

Start – 1. While running on the road to 1 I looked for my route for 2 and did not see the indistinct trail. In the green the black indistinct trail looked to me as a form line and I did not consider this as a route choice at all. Punched and turn back through the start.

1 - 2. Ran on the road as fast as I can, and just before the left bend on the road climbed up through CP15. From there to 2 it was a slow going and I was making sure I follow my compass, then I noticed the big cliff/hill that is on the right of my control and ran to it through the green. The splits show 40” - 60” lost here. What I take from this error is that I still need to slow a bit more while looking at my map. Running full speed on a road does not necessarily count as a quality navigation time.

2 - 3. Took a bearing and followed it as even though short it was “very diffuse” as Tero would say.

3 - 4. Here I looked for some interesting or hidden route choice but did not see anything other than cross to the road and follow the open ridge up directly to the control. Now the execution is another thing… I began running west on the small path until the intersection with the indistinct path going along the semi open. My plan was to follow it NW and pop out in the open woods to the road. I lost the trail and was fighting almost all the way to the road. Not wanting to lose elevation or go on the road 90 degrees to my direction I immediately crossed and started climbing, and from then on it was just that climbing and contouring to the control.

Having looked later for the route choice I again haven’t seen the indistinct path. Going through CP1 and then left on the open ridge looks like a faster route choice. Same take out as for CP2 take some more time looking for a route choice

4 - 5. Here I took a bearing and followed the knolls till the small reentrant with the green and to the control

5 - 6. Control picking leg. Made sure I am going the right direction.

6 - 7. Took a bearing and simplified the leg as having to cross 2 big ridges and then look for a high knoll on the right of my control that’s on the flat.

7 - 8. Took a bearing to the bend of the trail and the fun began. Running downhill past one’s control is what I call living dangerously… hit the bend right on and while running on it decided to go around all the way to the road and go off the road from the saddle. Did that, contoured on the left of the 3 hills and ran down to the control.

8 - 9. Took a bearing and hit 9 directly.

9 - 10. Planned to go through the saddle left of the dark green through the undergrowth, contour around the hill and through the second saddle look for the control. No problems here.

10 - 11. Lost 1 + mins here: Plan was to go through the saddle of the hills in the semi open, then follow in the foot of the elongated hill, and then jump across the control. I did not see the elongated hill and I noticed that I am already in the flat area with all the knolls. Noticed on the right of me the reentrant bottom, and as I was already in the vicinity of the control (not pacing just feeling of distance traveled passed the saddle and the semiopen) I turned left and spotted the control. I guess I got lucky here. Not sure what I could have done better still don’t understand how I missed to see a 3 contours hill right infront of me. And in the semi open as well…..

11 - 12. Decided to go in the right side of the mountain. Took a bearing to the road bend . Followed he roads to the oval marsh and then climbed to the cliff just before the control.

12 - 13. Compass work again. Looked for the big stone on the left before the control and saw it.

13 - 14. Compass to the bend of the road through the saddles, then spaced out running on the road and missed by 20 – 30 m the control.

14 - 15 - 16 - 17. down the ridge and to the road and then on the road

17 - 18. While planning it I thought that this might be trouble with all the cliffs on the steep slope, and sure enough I felt uneasy and approached slow until I make sense of the cliffs. I am really proud of that leg. I slowed so much but because of that I figured out the terrain and directly went to the right cliff.

18 -19. Painful, the split shows it.

19 - 20. Direction to the road, across the open and direction from the end of the marsh. The green was very noticeable.

20 - 21. Did not took the right direction exiting 20 and end up too much to the left. Corrected immediately though. Not much time lost.

21 - 22. Plan was along the marsh on the open and then gradually climb to the control. The bunch of knolls and cliffs should stop me. As it did. Too tired to climb even gradually and apparently did not climbed enough. Did not noticed the small reentrant when planning my route, but As I ended up in it I did use it.

22 - 23. Down to the trail and then pass the junction took bearing to the control.

23 - 24. Here I did not took good direction and missed the path. End up fighting all the way to the road. 90+ seconds lost here. Take out from this do not let go until you cross the finish. It’s as easy to make a mistake for the last control as for any other.

To summarize. I consider this a good and smooth run. Had 2 not optimal route choices costing 1+ min each (didn’t noticing the same trail twiceJ), and 2 execution mistakes costing me another 1 and 1:30 each.

As a take away

1. I already know that my weakest technique is route choice selection and execution (trying to stay focus for the long legs). Need to spend more time when looking for the route choice on long legs

2. Don’t reduce my focus even for a minute.