Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chase The Sun Trail Run

On January 23, the small contingent of US Team members currently in Tucson, AZ for a winter training camp organized a trail run to benefit the Team. The run took place just before sunset at Ironwood, the site of a Tucson Orienteering Club event earlier in the day, and was called the Chase The Sun Trail Run.

Eric Bone designed and marked the course for the small, but enthusiastic group of 13 runners who showed up at the start line. The race went well, and the competitors appeared to enjoy the race, as well as the snacks and hot chocolate available at the finish.

We are hoping to make this race an annual fundraiser for the US Team, and hope that the positive reports from the race (here and here) help draw a bigger crowd next year!

Eric Bone giving the pre-race instructions

Just before the finish

Paul, the race winner

Kristen, the first woman

Chia-Chi is clearly enjoying the race

Everyone is having a good time!

The best part of a trail race: the snacks and chatting afterwards!

Saguaro at sunset

Monday, January 18, 2010

Western Regional Ultimate String-O Champs

This past weekend, US Team members organized a creative fundraiser at the event at Anza-Borrego State Park near San Diego, CA. We would like to present to you the Western Regional Ultimate String-O Championships:

Approximately 40 gutsy orienteering runners came out to challenge Marc Lauenstein and Daniel Hubmann in the Sonoran Desert Ultimate String-O Championships. The demanding .176km, 20 control course had a grueling 4m of climb and an exciting variety of terrain. Top runs of the day:

Daniel Hubmann (SUI): 49s (5th attempt)
Jonas Kjall (SWE): 54s (2nd attempt)
Marc Lauenstein (SUI): 55s (3rd attempt)
Raffael Huber (SUI): 55s (1st attempt)
Eric Bone (USA): 58s (2nd attempt)
Mark Everett (USA): 59s (1st attempt)
Greg Walker (USA): 59s (2nd attempt)
Highlights from the Ultimate String-O event at Anza-Borrego.

A promising Junior-Junior by the name of Beau wowed spectators with his determination and punching ability on all four of his sub-2:00 runs. Fans were also impressed by the smooth punching and speed of multiple World Champion Daniel "Punchmaster" Hubmann. But the style points go to Marc "Flashpants" Lauenstein, whose triple muntz jump over a particularly large creosote bush drew gasps from the crowd.

Competitors and spectators alike all agree that Ultimate String-O is here to stay.

Jonas Kjäll

Greg "Biggins" Walker

Eric Bone - fastest North American



Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Course Analysis: Wyatt Riley at Camp Horseshoe

It's time for our weekly (sort-of) course analysis, and this week we have a write-up by Wyatt Riley from Delaware Valley Orienteering Association (DVOA)'s local race on December 6, 2009 at Horseshoe Camp. Follow along as Wyatt does his best to try to capture DVOA's annual rankings crown at the final race of the season.

Here is Wyatt:

The race map is available on RouteGadget:
Select the Red course to see the course without any routes, and then choose "Wyatt Riley" and click "View routes" to see what Wyatt did.
The splits from this race are available here.

Before the race: - I was well behind Clem in the DVOA rankings, but not impossibly out of reach - theoretically a 115 point run - 16% faster than my average run relative to the rest of the field - could have gotten me past Clem, to take the 2009 DVOA Ranking Championships. This was also my first orienteering race since a foot injury at the US Champs - I had been running road races on the foot, and had tried some terrain, so I was hoping it would handle the run. An Active Ankle was added protection. And with an attitude that I needed a perfect run, I set off. See Upon flipping the map over, I saw that the control was through the 'maze' of trails and briar that I had seen on the map before, and talked to Vadim & Angelica about - I had never been there though. I aimed in the general direction and followed the paths of least resistance - keeping track of where I was going, and how far off the compass bearing I was leaning, and I eventually corrected back to the left, through a bit too much briar, whereupon I read the map enough to see I could get to a trail, then take that basically the rest of the way. Looked for the reentrant with respect to a small building or two, and knew I had the end of the hill and pool behind it as solid catching and relocation features so didn't slow down. Angelica found a better route out of the start going first left, then basically straight down a trail and won this split - ahead of both Clem & I.

1-2: A whole bunch of green on the line, and left around was the only real option, so I did that, with a bit of trail up front, the roughly following the edge of the green and the base of the hill, and looking for the relatively large reentrant to cross then look for the bag. Clem really flew on this - perhaps I was slowish along the edge of the green?

2-3: Decided that around left looked reasonable, and a lot easier than finding a way through the trails and briar on any straighter route. Exit climbed a bit to cut the corner - too far to try to avoid the climb. Read ahead on the flat along the water to note the various ditches, and the unique north pointing one to use as references on the way into the control, intentionally going in a bit high along the indistinct trail, partly to be sure, and partly because of unmapped veg. thickness. Clem again was quite fast - perhaps I could have run more aggressive, esp. in the flats - it was bumpy and perhaps I was being cautious due to the foot?

3-4: Followed the obvious exit route through the green to the large trail, then contoured in from there, intentionally doing the needed climb earlier to be closer to the building reference points.

4-5: Could have contoured, but didn't want to risk more green than necessary, so the hard bail up to the road, then fast road run was the way to go. Used tower on right to just distance on road, saw reentrant, and went in a bit late as the veg looked a bit better.

5-6: Bailed to the road, then pushed hard up the road. Decided to attack from the road as it began to curve, hard across spur, then contour in. Looking now, I probably could have used the power pole on the other side of the road as a more specific attack point, for a straighter attack in, while would've saved 5+ seconds.

6-7: Bailing to the road works, as the road is fast vs. the forest here. Trail crossing made for easy attack.

7-8: After some road running - where I knew I wasn't going to beat people by enough to get 115 points, I tried to push this one hard too on a bearing, but was too vague on the bearing, missing the large trail somehow and then turning left because I was getting too far. Suspected (correctly) that I was in the forest 'spur' - the veg being vague enough that the suspicious wasn't totally confident. Green near the end was bad to had to drop south, and wasn't super confident as I kept going east and eventually saw the bag as I turned the corner.

8-9: West to aim for the slot, which didn't exist, but fortunately I'd come in quite near there so backed out w/o too much loss.

9-10: Diagonal down - not super fast as it wasn't smooth enough, then a hard push across and up the hill, aiming for 'near the top of the spur' from where I'd contour in.

10-11: Considered going left to avoid the potentially green forest, but the attack from there was terrible, so straight in it was. Mostly rough compass and then contouring to the sharper spur, then rough direction down in and nailed it. Clem appparenetly nailed it too with exactly the same plan. Odd, as it would seem that plan might more easily miss by 10's of meters...

11-12: Running in medium green didn't seem like a fun option, and the L option seems like neutral on climb/distance vs. curving R, but with much more certainty, so L it was. Attack was easy past the pile of rocks.

12-13: Straight, using hill-slope and fence.

13-14: Contouring straight, climbing when needed to get around thick stuff in order to ascend the needed contour. Adjusted elevation of contouring based on wall bend.

14-15: Strongly considering diagonaling down the hill to the ruin and running back up the road, but the green near 11 hadn't been that bad, and the terrain was bumpy enough that I wouldn't get that much value out of the somewhat steep drop down to the ruin, vs. a more gentle contour/slight-drop toward the green. Keep my eyes scouting ahead, and managed to find a way through the clumpy green that wasn't too bad, only costing a bit of climb at the end to get around some thick stuff.

15-16: Decided to climb on the dirt road for better footing. Road was badly gouged and rocky, but I could still place my feet on solid rocks with almost every step, ensuring little loss of effort. Looked out toward the spur, and realized I'd need to contour in early to avoid the deeper part of the ditch, so did so then climbed.

16-17: Even the non-rocky slopes weren't esp. great downhill, so the left option was looking bad. Right wasn't good either, due to the 4 contours of climb you weren't going to get back, but that seemed the lesser of two evils, so right it was. Keeping in the relative flats away from the steep slope was useful for better footing, and the descent was reasonably fast. I had just passed Angelica (and apparently Alison too) at 16, so was pushing up the hill. Angelica was quick though, and a little hesitation checking my elevation as I went around the spur toward 17 was all it took for her to reel me back in a bit.

17-18: Pretty straight. Seemed to go over a slightly broader spur than the map suggest, but the compass was good, and eventually the hill pointed down. Note that some e-punch units between 13 and 18 probably weren't perfectly synced, as the splits in here don't make that much sense.

18-19: Hard as I could diagonal down to the road - bumpy but running aggressively as I knew I was near the end. Really hammered the road once I got there. And yet I was third on this split, behind Clem in 2nd, and Angelica (chasing me) in 1st...

19-20: Hammered down the road knowing there was nothing but physical effort needed here to get me a few more points, and to possible break 50... Eventually noticed that the end of the leg would require some eyes-open as the drop from the road to the field started quite steep, was much thornier than mapped.

20-21: Used the white & yellow - pretty pattern here... Ran straight to the pole, and was about to be alarmed at no bag on it when I was surprised to see the bag in the ditch to the side - oh.

21-22: One final hard climb as the possibility of sub 50 was hearilty destroyed by a bit of thick at the beginning, but mostly by the 35m of climb in this 'finish chute'. Navigated first perpendicular to contours, then along the paved road, which was good, because some buildings had changed, which threw off Clem. Overall, I was actually surprised to learn after I finished that Clem had shown up, and pleasantly surprised that I had nipped him by 2 minutes on the day. It wasn't quite enough however, so the DVOA rankings cup will go to Clem for 2009. For 2010, we'll both have our hands full, as Angelica & Karen have imported an apparently fast Swedish couple into our neighborhood...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Course Analysis: Boris Granovskiy at Tiomila

Happy New Year to all US Team fans!
This week's course review brings us back to spring 2008 and Tiomila, the legendary Swedish 10-person relay, which was held next to the Rosersberg Castle north of Stockholm. Boris ran the 4th leg, the famous "Long Night" leg, for Team CSU (Cambridge Sports Union), the first ever North American team to race Tiomila.

The weather this week-end was very un-Tiomila-like: 15-20C during the day and well above freezing even at night. We watched the women's relay in the afternoon, getting to cheer for Sandra Zurcher as she ran away from Simone Niggli on her leg.
After Ross Smith's start on leg 1 I went back to the military tent and crawled into my sleeping bag outside under the stars, relaxing and listening to the reports from the forest. I dozed off for about the half-hour it took the leaders to get from the spectator control to the finish, and that was all the sleep I got.
After Ross and Matthias Mahr ran the first two legs, Brendan Shields did a solid job in his first-ever Swedish orienteering experience and exchanged to me in 293rd place and 88 minutes behind the lead, just a couple of minutes behind Jesus Orienteering Klubb from England's Oxford University, catching which became my first goal.
Somehow, right from the start of my Long Night, I felt great. My legs felt light, and it took very little effort to focus on the orienteering. The constant pain in my glute was the only reminder of my less-than-impressive orienteering season 2008. The brand-new lamp battery I bought two weeks ago gave me confidence that I wouldn't run out of light, but I turned it to low power on all the trail and road sections anyway.

Here is the map with just the course:

And here it is with the routes:
[On this map, Boris' routes are marked in red, and the alternatives he considered in magenta.]

S-1: Leaving the start triangle, I saw a bunch of lamps heading left across the field, taking the around route choice on trails. I went right instead, running by myself, and stuck closer to the line, taking the small trail north from the first aid station. There was a moment of self-doubt when I cut into the green forest heading to the northwest and towards he control, but that was replaced with a boost of confidence when I saw the reflector and JOK's Ian Cumpstey punching just ahead of me. In retrospect, this was a pretty risky approach, with no clear attackpoint in the night, but I had done a lot of night training that winter, and this was practically home terrain for me, so I was confident.

1-2: On the looong leg to 2, I didn't really see any route choice and went pretty straight. I felt like I needed to break this leg up into shorter pieces, and my first goal was to hit the road near the aid station, which I did almost perfectly. The next aim was to hit the second road at the bend, where the trail comes off to the NE. I just missed it, but checked the direction of the road and knew I was off to the right. I then drifted off line trying to catch the road to the southwest of 2, but recovered fairly quickly, knowing that I just needed to run hard to the road and not attempt to relocate in the vague flat woods.

2-3: Careful here, still all alone. Over the top of the hill to be safe, past the obvious cairn, and down.

3-4: Aimed a bit left to hit the top of the small ridge and then followed it down to the control.

4-5: Saw the two route choices to 5 and went left, on the roads and trails, rather than risking going through the fields to the north that could, for all I knew, contain waist-high grass. [From talking to other runners later and looking at splits, it turned out that the field route would have been at least a minute faster!] Passed one more guy shortly after getting on the road, but was then alone in complete darkness, just running along and enjoying the feeling. As I was contouring along from the trail towards 5, I suddenly looked right and saw a sea of lamps (10-15 of them) coming in from my right. Wasn't sure if I caught them or they me (probably the former), but it didn't matter.

5-6: I decided to shake them. Saw that they went more-or-less straight to 6, contouring along the steep slope, and so I took off on the trail route around, through the small field on top of the hill. I liked the road approach to the control and did not want to contour. A couple of guys went with me. Spiked 6 and saw the group of lamps coming in as we were on the way out. Excellent. Very happy with this leg.

6-7: Another route choice to 7: northern road past the shooting ranges or southern one with the indistinct trail as an attack. The guys I was with tried to convince me (in Norwegian!) to go south. I went north, not wanting to risk the indistinct trail not being there, and never saw them again. All alone the whole way to 7, through the empty spooky shooting ranges and along the hillside. Hit the long nose north of the circle, then climbed up to the top of the ridge to be sure of dropping down at the right spot.

7-8: Careful again on the short legs to 8-11, not losing any time, but hitting my knee hard on a rock on the way to 8 and having to walk for a bit. Annoying. Climbed the hill, which loomed gigantic out of the darkness, and aimed a bit left to make sure to hit the ridge leading me right to the control. (My thinking this whole night was to make my targets bigger - instead of aiming for a single feature with the control on it, I tried finding bigger or longer features that would lead me right to the flag, like the ridge here.)

8-9: Back up again, then down, keep the smaller hill to my left, then climb up, over the top again to be sure, and drop down.

9-10: Again wanted to stay high here, so left the control aiming a bit left to make sure I hit the hill. Up and down over the first three hilltops, then to the top of the third one.

10-11: Flying down the ridge. Almost got distracted by a control on a rock to my right, but checked the map and saw the clear spur I should be following. No problem.

11-12: Feeling great running through the meadow down to 12, trampling the occasional flower and spiking another control.

12-13-14-15: Just running, listening to the announcers and admiring the masses of lamps running in and out of the exchange area.

15-16: Finally, climbing the hill on the way to 16, I realized I was very tired. Lost focus twice on this leg and drifted north of the line for a total of nearly 2 minutes lost. I definitely did not have a plan for this leg and paid for it. Stopped when I found the control and regrouped, forcing myself to concentrate harder in this tricky area - would be a shame to ruin a good race towards the end!

16-17: Orienteered well to 17, but moving slowly, and staying with a small pack of a couple of guys I caught. A pretty easy leg: run down the indistinct trail, cut SW toward the steep hill, run around the hill, and attack into the group of small knolls on the other side.

17-18: Skirting the top of the big reentrant and trying not to drop down too low. Spotted the reflector from above.

18-19: Slow climb back up the hill, cursing the course setters for the unnecessary leg.

19-20: Picked a route that avoided climb, but did not have a safe attack - another sign that I was rapidly fading. Managed to contour ok, but was definitely relieved to find the flag.

20-21: Screwed up 21, going too far right and not being sure of myself. Relocated on the trail. About 50 seconds gone.

21-22: Went past the building and was momentarily confused by the steep earth bank / reentrant in front of me, which I had not seen on the map.

22-23: From there, all that was left was to slog along through the mud down to 23 and then leave it all on the run-in. As I was finishing, I realized that it was starting to get light.

I had been out for 114 minutes and exchanged to Greg Walker in 254th place. I was very happy with my run, even though my time was not particularly impressive (177th on my leg is nothing to write home about.) Still, I survived, orienteered well and ran mostly by myself. More importantly, I had a blast - long night at Tiomila truly is something special, and I am really thankful to CSU for giving me the opportunity to run it!