Sunday, August 21, 2011

Our fearless leaders

WOC 2011 is over. We cheered, we laughed, we gasped in horror at the mistakes shown on the big screen. There were some very fine moments from Team USA, and there were some moments that won't illicit any smiles for a while. But it all went quite smoothly in large part because of the team's two fantastic team leaders, Beatrice and Sandra!

Directing a team of nine athletes at the World Champs is not a vacation - it's exhausting! (Especially with this bunch!) Team USA appreciates all of the work that Beatrice and Sandra did to prepare for leading the time, and all of their tireless efforts throughout the competition. Thank you!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Men's relay - and they're off!

Ross is off on the first leg of the men's relay!

Added: Ross is in and has handed off to Jordan!

Added: Jordan is in but Canada has taken a small lead. Sergei is chasing down Will Smith on the last leg.

Added: Sergei is in, just ahead of Will from Canada!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sam hands over to Ali in 11th

Great run for Sam on the first leg of the relay! Here she is, running over the bridge to hand off to Ali.

Added: Ali has handed off to Alex for the last leg!

Added 2: Alex is in!

Sam says, "It was really technical but exhilarating to run with with all the other women!"

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, August 19, 2011

WOC Relay Tomorrow

Tomorrow, August 20, is the final day of WOC 2011 in France. The competitions will conclude with the most exciting race of them all - the relay. The men and women each run three legs, about 3.9-4.2km each for the women and 5.4-5.8km for the men.

The US Teams are as follows:

1. Samantha Saeger
2. Alison Crocker
3. Alex Jospe

1. Ross Smith
2. Jordan Laughlin
3. Sergei Zhyk

Last year, the US women finished 19th and the men 28th.

Go Team USA!!

Middle Final Recap

Today was the long-awaited middle distance race. We wondered what the final would be like after the surprisingly less technical qualification course and most were not disappointed - this was tricky orienteering! In fact, all of the women in today's race made mistakes, including the winner, Helena Jansson of Sweden. Helena ran the course in 33:10, while our own Ali Crocker finished 42nd, in 51:15, with a couple of good names behind her. Ali says she had a mistake in the beginning and one near the end, but it's also clear that she had a great middle of the course. Luckily her hamstring is doing fine after the long and we're all confident that she'll be ready for leg two of the relay tomorrow!

Here's today's map:

For a good look at the terrain you can follow along with the women's course with this headcam + map 3D Rerun from WorldOfO.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Middle Distance Final tomorrow

Tomorrow (Friday) is the Middle Final and once again Ali will be running for Team USA, having qualified earlier in the week. Her start time is 14:19 local time, which is 8:19am on the East coast. You can follow along online at, which includes streaming radio, live videos, splits times, and GPS.

Photo by Eddie Bergeron

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Long final - tough stuff!

Today was the Long Final, and as expected the course was long and tough and, well, long. Ali was our one runner today and she was doing it on tired legs from the sprints yesterday. Unfortunately, though she visited all of the controls, in order, and without any navigational disasters, she forgot to punch at one of the water controls and was disqualified. A tough day, but now she's already looking forward to the Middle Final and the Relay, as are the rest of Team USA!

Here's a panoramic from the arena today:

You can see the map for the women's course or follow along with the GPS tracking online.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Video: Excitement in the arena!

Spectating at an orienteering event is often an activity lacking in excitement. You can't tell what's going on out on the course and you just get a brief glimpse of the runners as they come through. It often looks a bit like this:

Photo: Orienteering fans "spectating" at a control. No runners actually punched this control.

Enter the arena. With a good arena and modern production technology event organizers can make it really exciting to be on scene. At today's Sprint Final fans in the arena could see runners start, finish, and punch two spectator controls, PLUS there was a jumbo screen for more action caught on camera throughout the course. There were live announcers giving updates continuously, noisy fans from all over the world, and constant activity, with runners starting every 1 minute. With two radio controls and a fastest-last start order we were all able to see the race unfold and feel like we were in the middle of it. For a quick taste, here's a video of Ali at the start:

Ali at the start WOC 2011 Sprint Final from Cristina Luis on Vimeo.

It's an exciting place to be!

We've had a great WOC week so far, but there's still a lot left - two more finals and the relay!

The team really appreciates all of the support from fans at home and here in France. Keep posting those comments!

Video: Sam and Ali after the Sprint Final

Sam and Ali (and all of the other best sprinters in the world) were in the quarantine area for hours and hours today, both before and after their race. Luckily we were able to catch up with them right after they exited the quarantine area to ask them how they felt about their runs. Check it out!

I should point out also that Ali is one of only four runners at WOC this year to qualify for all three finals!  Go Ali!

Ali 27th & Sam 38th in Sprint!

A best ever American finish for Ali today, 27th! And also an awesome result for Sam, the 38th best sprinter in the world!

Great day for Team USA!

Photos by Dave Yee.

Here's the map of the women's course, part 1 and part 2.

Panoramic photo of the arena

From the arena you can see start, finish, two controls and a big screen. The atmosphere is exciting, especially when a home favorite comes up! Here's a panoramic:

Live from the arena

The sprint final is in Chambery, and it looks tricky! Can't wait to see the map and how the runners handle it. Here's a photo from the start/finish arena showing a neat control location.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Video: Ali after sprint qual

And another vid, this one of a quick chat with Ali after her qualifying run.

There are a lot more pictures and videos to come, but they'll have to wait until after the Final!

Video: Sam after sprint qual

Here's a video from a quick conversation with Sam after her qualifying 7th place finish in the sprint qual.

Sam's running in the final this afternoon, which you should be able to watch here.

Sam and Ali qualify in sprint!

Samantha Saeger running hard on the way to a spot in the sprint finals! Photo by Greg Walker

Tough races today in downtown Aix-les-Bains, but both Sam and Ali safely qualified for the finals! So hot right now!

The Canadians also had two qualifiers, Louise Oram and Will Critchley.

Location:Chemin des Bateliers,Aix-les-Bains,Frankrike

Monday, August 15, 2011

Interesting stuff on the interwebs

There are lots of interesting maps and videos concerning WOC floating around the internet. You can find most of them at WorldOfO, but here's a sampling:

See what the terrain looks like "in real life" with this headcam video with map from Long Qual. There's also one for the Middle Q.

See the maps and the winners' routes for all of the races so far.

WorldOfO also has some a page for each country with photos of runners. See the USA page here.

Finish Chute videos from Middle Q

Get a taste for the excitement in the arena as North American orienteers finish their courses! Barb Bryant has some great finish chute videos so you live vicariously through the fans on scene.


WOC 2011 08 14 Ali Crocker in the finish chute from Barb Bryant on Vimeo.

Also see Hannah, Alex and Canadians Louise Oram (who also qualified for the final) and Carol Ross.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Middle Distance Qualification Results

Alex Jospe finishing strong in the middle qualification race. Photo by Eddie Bergeron.

Today was the middle distance qualification at WOC, and Team USA had another great day. The highlight was, once again, Alison Crocker, who qualified for her second straight final in impressive fashion, finishing 7th in her heat. Alex and Hannah had good runs as well, and the men's team had solid races across the board, with Ross finishing just over two minutes from qualification after and excellent run.

The competitors described the terrain as very green and junky, and the consensus was that route choices on trails were almost always a good idea.

Check out the video interviews with all the US finishers in the previous post!

Here are the complete Team USA results from today's middle distance qualification:

Women A
1. Minna Kauppi FIN 26:40
2. Annika Billstam SWE 26:44
3. Amelie Chataing FRA 28:29
7. Alison Crocker USA 30:00
15. Carlotta Scalet ITA 33:44
17. Emily Kemp CAN 34:52

Women B
1. Lena Eliasson SWE 27:59
2. Natalia Vinogradova RUS 30:48
3. Annika Rihma EST 30:49
15. Aislinn Austin IRL 35:43
19. Carol Ross CAN 40:27
26. Hannah Burgess USA 47:55

Women C
1. Merja Rantanen FIN 26:03
2. Helena Jansson SWE 27:24
3. Sandra Pauzaite LTU 28:40
14. Louise Oram CAN 31:14
15. Liis Johansson EST 31:27

24. Alex Jospe USA 39:53

Men A
1. Valentin Novikov RUS 25:02
2. Mattias Muller SUI 26:59
3. Tue Lassen DEN 27:01
15. Chris Forne NZL 31:11
27. Wil Smith CAN 37:30
32. Sergei Zhyk USA 39:44

Men B
1.Anders Nordberg NOR 26:31
2.Oleksandr Kratov UKR 26:57
3.Philippe Adamski FRA 27:13
15. Sören Schwartz Sörensen DEN 32:19
20. Ross Smith USA 34:07
25. Robbie Anderson CAN 36:52

Men C
1. Peter Öberg SWE 24:30
2. Thierry Gueorgiou FRA 25:26
3. Baptiste Rollier SUI 26:04
15. Klaus Schgaguler ITA 30:50
24. Patrick Goeres CAN 33:38
29. Ken Walker USA 35:39

Some short interviews from Middle Qual!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Middle Distance Qualification

The long distance qualifying races have barely finished, but it's already time to look forward to tomorrow, when Team USA takes on the physical and technical challenges of the middle distance qualification races. The men's courses are 3.6-3.7km with 190-205m of climb and 11 controls. The women's courses are 2.9-3.0km with 140-150m of climb and 9 controls. As usual, the 15 best runners from each heat go through to the final.

Check out this video of the terrain taken during training by Ken Walker.

Here are the start times of Team USA competitors in the middle distance qualification:

Hannah Burgess 2:18pm CET (8:18am EDT)

Alex Jospe 2:30pm CET (8:30am EDT)

Alison Crocker 2:44pm CET (8:44am EDT)

Ken Walker 3:32pm CET (9:32am EDT)

Ross Smith 3:52om CET (9:52am EDT)

Sergei Zhyk 4:16pm CET (10:16am EDT)

All photos by Eddie Bergeron

Go Team USA!!!

Long Qualification Results

Ross Smith punching the last control en route to 24th place in the Men's C Heat, the best result by any North American man today. Photo by Greg Walker.

Here are the complete Team USA results from today's long distance qualification:

Women A
1. Dana Brozkova CZE 46:33
2. Merja Rantanen FIN 48:42
3. Helena Jansson SWE 49:05
10. Alison Crocker USA 56:00
15. Helen Palmer GBR 58:24
16. Louise Oram CAN 58:40

Women B
1. Signe Söes DEN 49:51
2. Annika Billstam SWE 52:08
3. Sara Luscher SUI 52:58
14. Carol Ross CAN 67:44
15. Laura Vike LAT 70:51
20. Alex Jospe USA 84:14

Women C
1. Minna Kauppi FIN 50:41
2. Tone Wigemyr NOR 51:58
3. Eva Jurenikova CZE 52:51
15. Andra Anghel ROM 65:47
23. Samantha Saeger USA 76:16

Men A
1.Francois Gonon FRA 67:43
2.Olav Lundanes NOR 68:38
3. Pasi Ikonen FIN 70:38
15. Daniel Hajek CZE 85:09
27. Will Critchley CAN 103:43
29. Wyatt Riley USA 106:26

Men B
1. Thierry Gueorgiou FRA 63:14
2. Alexey Bortnik RUS 69:22
3. Tue Lassen DEN 69:56
15. Chris Forne NZL 78:39
30. Damian Konotopetz CAN 97:57
32. Jordan Laughlin USA 103:42

Men C
1. Philippe Adamski FRA 68:57
2. Anders Holmberg SWE 72:09
3. Tero Föhr FIN 72:47
15. Wojciech Kowalski POL 81:34
24. Ross Smith USA 94:13
29. Wil Smith CAN 112:31

Ali makes the long final!

Ali Crocker finished 10th in her heat, safely into the finals!

The long final is on Wednesday.

Ali says she's happy with her race - and "ran the meadows really well and the woods tolerably well".

Congrats Ali, great run!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Long Qualification

WOC 2011 kicks off tomorrow morning with the long distance qualification race.
The men are racing 9.0-9.2km with 20-21 controls and expected winning times of 59-62 minutes. The women are racing 5.6-5.8km with 10-11 controls and expected winning times of 42-44 minutes. There are three qualifying heats for men and three for women, with 15 runners from each heat qualifying for Wednesday's final.

Here are the start times of Team USA competitors:

Alex Jospe, 11:33am CET (5:33am EDT)

Alison Crocker, 12:06pm CET (6:06am EDT)

Samantha Saeger, 12:42pm CET (6:42am EDT)

Wyatt Riley, 13:46pm CET (7:46am EDT)

Jordan Laughlin, 13:55pm CET (7:55am EDT)

Ross Smith, 14:49pm CET (8:49am EDT)

All photos by Eddie Bergeron.

Go Team USA!!!!

WOC 2011 - Getting Ready

Team USA is in its final stages of preparation for WOC 2011, which opens on Saturday, August 13 in France with the long distance qualification race on St François de Sales, in the mountains above Aix-les-Bains and Chambery. Racing the long distance for the US will be Samantha Saeger, Ali Crocker, Alex Jospe, Ross Smith, Jordan Laughlin, and Wyatt Riley.

Yesterday, the team went training on the long distance model event map, which you can see below:

And here are the impressions of some of the US ladies, captured on video by team videographer Ross Smith:

We will try to update the blog daily with the most recent adventures of Team USA. Meanwhile, you can see complete information about WOC 2011 here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rest Day

Tuesday was a much welcomed rest day after two days of racing. After a late breakfast, five of us- Giacomo, Nate, Carl, Zach, and I - decided to go into Gdansk. The train ride was hot and the seats were less than comfortable, but after an hour we were pulling into the city center. Not quite sure what to do, we walked around for a while and saw some historic buildings- even more impressive because most of them had been rebuilt after the city had been bombed 70 years before. Lunch was at a outdoor restaurant in one of the main squares - I had Polish dumplings with chicken and mushrooms, which was absolutely delicious. After eating, we walked around a bit more and saw Neptune's fountain. After our feet were hurting we took the train back to the hotel. The Canadians were there when we got back so talked to them, went on a easy run, then took a much needed nap.
- Meg Parson


On the 4th of July the Long Final took place here in Wejherowo. What awaited all of us competitors were 11.1 kilometers for the boys (+410m climb), and 7.7 kilometers for the girls (+285m climb). The day starts, as usual, very early in the morning, especially for those of us with an early or middle start time. Coming from our hotel on the 7:00 am bus makes us the first team along with Team Turkey to conquer the gym mattresses in the quarantine area. As the other teams, little by little, start populating the gym, there is still plenty of time to look around and examine the newly put up team posters and hopefully grasp helpful insight concerning the challenging task of determining what girls deserve a spot in the very competitive and sought-after USA Top Ten list (which is still work in progress as of today).

The quarantine naptime zone.

After various cycles of hydration and dehydration we make it to the pre-start area. My legs are still somewhat tight after running the sprint on the hard pavements of the streets of Lebork yesterday, but nothing a very slow jog with the warm-up map can’t take care of. A little unexpectedly, the woods all around the area look quite a lot more dirty (i.e. with plenty of difficult-to-run-through-undergrowth) than the clean rolling hills behind our hotel. The race will then confirm these first impressions and leave opportunities for a lot of fighting in the dark greens. After a real warm-up, stretching and last minute preparations it is already time for me to start.

Warmup area terrain. Not everything was like this, but more than expected.

The race presents itself already from the start (and as expected) very physical and fast-pace. 10 minutes in the race I am past the first 4 short controls placed along some pretty clean Polish hills. No mistakes untill there and a pretty good pace and contact with the map. After that the first long leg caught me pretty unprepared: I was trying to read it earlier on the early uphills, but it was hard to find a smooth way to reach the next control. I decided to go pretty much straight and just follow the reentrances up and down as they came at me. I had some trouble memorizing the succession of reentrances and had to keep slowing down to read the same thing again and again. Post race analysis made it pretty clear that going pretty straight on the right of the red line was actually the best route, and more confidence in my decision would have made my split better. After the long leg four more controls got you ready for another long leg, only after a cool more-uphill-in-the-white vs. trail-and-then-green short route choice. Two long legs and an easy butterfly take me to the last controls, all on the faster hilly terrain. I close my race in 1h 38 min, just about 30 minutes after the gold medal winner, the Norwegian Yngve Skogstad (01:08:49). The top runners, both men and women, are really flying out there and I am sure it would be a beautiful experience seeing them soar on those hillsides.

Overall, my greatest problems occurred during the long legs, and dealt with the ability to keep focus for long periods of running time. I also found myself slowing down excessively when alone in the woods and pick up the pace only when encountering another runner. Overall the whole team lacked the endurance in the run and experience in the navigation to perform at the top level. Nevertheless, we had today a great opportunity to savor this sport at its height and learn toward what direction our training needs to go. Here in Wejherowo Independence Day was definitely very challenging and yet fulfilling.

- Giacomo Barbone

Andrew in the finish chute.

Zach at the last control.

Monday, July 4, 2011


Our sprint course of JWOC was held in Lebork, Poland. The course overall was quick. It was 2.9km long with 35m of climb. My initial three legs were slightly confusing but after crossing the bridge the change in terrain greatly increased the speed. Almost the entirety of the course's climb was found between the third and fourth controls. The most commonly chosen route was directly up a stairway that composed the majority of the climb. The short section in the woods was fairly easy but the underbrush seemed to be much thicker than the map suggested. After the woods controls the course moved into the city proper and became very fast. The most difficult control in the city was 14, which was tricky because it appeared as though you could go around the north side of the building but in actuality the route involved going south to reach a small alley.

Men's Sprint in Lebork

I thought that over all the sprint map was a lot of fun. The organizers handled everything efficiently and smoothly. The winners times were very competitive and fast. Although a Frenchmen may have won the day, our US junior times had good showings from all our runners, who will continue to improve with each race.

- Zach Schroeder

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sprint Model Event

Saturday morning was low key with breakfast and hanging out at the hotel. We then had lunch - well part of lunch... Most people left the salad untouched as they did not want to be ill again. It was then on to the bus ( for an hour drive after picking up the other A accommodation people) to be driven to the sprint model.

The sprint model was on a slice of map just next to where the actual sprint will be held. It was so close, actually, that Ukraine disqualified themselves from the sprint because they ran into the embargoed area. (Lesson number 1: never run off the map! ) We had a few guys forget their model maps but other than that it was a very useful trip out.

Everyone was running around this small sprint map and in all directions! I ran the controls on the map in numerical order and a bit faster than a jog since I hadn't been on a sprint map here yet at speed. Found the model controls quite easy and the map not too difficult. Paid special attention to crossable and uncrossable features. Went over a crossable fence just to see if it would be worth it - being short probably not, for a guy maybe. Having everyone running around was also nice to work on blocking everything else out and just focus on the task at hand. This sprint should be fun... Once I figure out what to wear! Socks no socks is the debate at the moment. Ready to give this sprint hell!
- Alison Campbell

For me, it was nice just to get out running feeling 100% better after being sick. The biggest issue on my mind was not having any running shoes - one thing that didn't quite make it during my frenzied, last minute packing at home. Luckily, there was an Adidas vendor at the model, so thanks to a loan from Greg, I now have a pair of bright pink shoes to run the sprint in. As for the model map itself, everything seemed clear enough to me. Paying attention to what is crossable vs. uncrossable will definitely be the biggest thing on my mind during the sprint. Pretty excited/nervous for my first JWOC race - not quite sure what to expect, so we'll see how it goes!
- Meg Parson

Saturday, July 2, 2011

JWOC Opening Ceremony

Team USA 2011: Carl, Giacomo, Meg, Andrew, Alison, Ethan, Nate, Zach.
First race: sprint tomorrow afternoon!


(Here we finish our training week by going back in time and talking about the first couple days, since we never got around to writing about those.)

Training began Saturday when Andrew had to leave Arlanda airport, travel to the Stockholm airport, grab our lost bags, and get back to Arlanda, all before 12:30 in the afternoon. The remaining training for the day was just an easy hour long run through the park behind our hotel.

The next day, we practiced map simplification where we drew our own maps with only the features we needed. This was not because we needed practice --although it's always helpful -- but rather because we only had two maps, and one was black and white. Then we ran the course again, but using the "other route choice." Most of us liked our original routes better.

Creating maps.

And the result, one of Ethan's hand drawn maps.

The third day we were blessed with training maps. However, the semi-permanent control locations were not on the maps. Because of this, Greg planned a line-o with a couple of controls where we could run any way we wanted to. The woods were about as close to perfect that I've ever run. On both of the free controls, the best route was just to run straight. The terrain was almost completely flat, and many contours were simply form lines. There was one issue, where we discovered that the maps were not up to date. This knowledge came in the form of an uncrossable fence that some of the lines had to cross (There were several slight variations on the line-o). All-in-all, a very good first three days.

- Ethan Childs

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sick day

It was sadly a long puke filled night for the junior team. We woke up to find all but three juniors sick and out for the count. Needless to say breakfast was quiet and caution was taken with what we ate. Later we found out that seven of the swedes were also affected. So the morning was spent talking to the hotel and moving to clean rooms.

Around 10:30 the three survivors and the giant decided to leave the sick to sleep and get in a bit of training. We went out to the map behind our hotel for some fun in the woods. We ran a course and stopped at each control to talk about what the possible route we saw to take were, which might be the best, and what features/techniques are good to use. Most of the forest was open and fast. However that being said it was easy enough to pick up a parallel feature or drift off track if you're contouring around. I found this type of training really useful. Getting to talk when actually seeing the terrain. Getting to run with other people around and trying to ignore them and then getting to have the giant around to help us figure out what we had done and to provide safety tips on how to plan a good route. We were out for around an hour.

By lunch there were still only four fully well. But chicken noodle soup and rice was dished out and people seemed to be a bit on the up.

By the time we headed over to visit with the Canadians we were up to five of us. So we went out and were told to walk around the sprint course the Canadians had just done. It would have been nice to get some speed and see how easily one could read things on the run, but even walking around to get a feel for things was better than nothing. The key in the sprint I think is going to be how well you're able to read ahead and how well you can switch from town to woods and maybe back.

We socialized with a few teams after walking the sprint. And then five of us were at dinner. Hopefully we will have a full table for breakfast again tomorrow!

- Alison Campbell

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wednesday JWOC training

For our Wednesday training in the spacious woods of Poland we did an easy training focusing in on following our route choices. So even though we were running much slower than race pace we were still supposed to run the routes that we would run in a race and not take the easy way out. As it being my first day of training here I found that the woods are quite open, even the green areas are not that thick or difficult to run through. Also you should not rely on rocks as an attack point; even though there are not very many of them they are very small and would be easy to just run by.
- Carl Underwood

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Relay training

Today we did a 2 man relay in middle terrain. Andrew and I were on a team, and we both ran somewhat smoothly. I was trying to do these a little faster than race pace to try and get an interval like workout in during the training week. I made one mistake on each of my legs--the last control on the first and third legs and the first control on the second leg. The one on the first leg was just because the streamer was on the back of a tree and I ran right by it. The second leg one was a parallel error in the wrong reentrant, which would have been obvious had I been going slightly slower and reading he map. On the third leg the control was at the end of a clearing, but in the actual terrain the clearing went far further than it did on the map, so I ran to the end and had to come back to find the streamer. We also beat the Canadians. Just thought I'd throw that in here. The fact that they were taking it easy today is irrelevant.

As for the rest of our team, Giacomo ran with Zach and Ethan ran with a Canadian girl. It went pretty well for them too. Ethan ran the last leg faster than me and Andrew, but that made sense since I got lost. I think Giacomo and Zach did well enough too. But it was a good workout for all of us and it was nice to run fast. These woods were very open and you could run quite quickly almost everywhere. It was a little hilly, but not enough to really slow us down.

Later on we went with the Canadians to the beach where we played some ultimate frisbee and went swimming in the Baltic Sea. The water was quite nice and it was a good day all around.

-Nate Lyons

JWOC 2011: Poland!

The whole team has arrived in Wejherowo, Poland for a week of training and general timezone adjustment. Many of us have already been here training since the weekend, but we're finally getting organized enough to tell you about it. Team USA for 2011:

  • Nate Lyons (ROC)
  • Andrew Childs (GMOC)
  • Carl Underwood (NEOC)
  • Ethan Childs (GMOC)
  • Giacomo Barbone (CSU)
  • Zach Schroeder (USMAOC)
  • Alison Campbell (DVOA)
  • Meg Parson (NEOC)
You can read all sorts of interesting things about the team on their OUSA profile page. JWOC info can be found over on the JWOC site.

Over the next two weeks we'll have training reports and race reports from what's going on over here on this side of the world, so stay tuned!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

2011 Northeastern Junior Training Camp

Last weekend was the annual Junior Training Camp and NEOC Junior Meg Parsons wrote all about it:        

Although with about 25 other juniors, I attended the 2011 Northeastern Junior Training Camp, held on April 8-10 at Blue Mountain Lodge in Peekskill, NY.  My dad and I arrived around 7:00pm on Friday night, grabbed a quick bite of dinner and settled into the dorm.  Soon I was playing cards, which seems a staple every year at the camp.  At the table was a mix of people I know and people I didn’t know;  the game, President, I didn’t know either but figured out pretty quickly.  The minutes ticked by and we played a few more hands of cards than I would have expected-  I knew from previous years that we should have been doing a Night-O once it was dark.  It was then that I learned Samantha Saeger and Ross Smith, our two coaches, were stranded in Worcester, MA because Sam’s “new” Volvo had broken down.  

Fortunately, several people stepped in to fill the gap while plans were made to rescue Sam and Ross.  Guy Olsen led an icebreaker activity of Two Truths and a Lie.  Among the interesting facts that came to light was that Jeff Saeger had worked in the pit crew as part of Paul Newman’s racing team.  Perhaps the most entertaining lie involved John Osborn describing the details of his life as a commercial airline pilot.
Then Jeff Saeger took over, explaining the details of the annual Trivia Night-O.  We were broken up into teams of three, given a map and 30 minutes to find ten controls around the area.  Each control had a trivia question at it; the person at the control either needed to write down the question (or the answer, if they knew it) and bring it back their team.  Letters from the answers spelled out a word- Jellybeans.  The evening ended with word that Boris Granovskiy was rescuing Sam and Ross and that they’d arrive in the morning.

The next day, after a delicious Janet Porter breakfast, our coaches did arrive.  The first training exercise practiced map simplification:  ribbons along the way marked key features on the map that we should see on the way to the control.  This went pretty well for me, except for one control that involved quite a bit of wandering around a steep, rocky hillside.  After lunch, our advanced group did a contour reading exercise.  Ross had taken out all the details on the map except for the contours-  which was somewhat disorienting, because there are many cliffs and trails at Blue Mountain.  I started first, and was running along to number 1 when suddenly my ankle rolled sideways and I heard a crack- probably not a good sign.  I roll my ankle somewhat frequently but this time was different;  I tried to walk it off for a couple of minutes and the pain didn’t go away… definitely not good.  Concerned and upset, I turned around and spent the rest of the afternoon with ice on my ankle, getting medical advice from a variety of people.
The final activity for the day was the Uphill Map Memory relay.  Teams of mixed ability must copy a course, leg by leg, onto a blank map.  The twist is that the master maps are at the top of the hill.   It’s definitely a different experience watching the relay rather than running it!

Two highlights of the after-dinner activities were a large game of sardines and Kestrel Owens giving a presentation about his experience at ski-JWOC a few months before.

Sunday was slightly different from past years.  After packing up the lodge, the entire group traveled to Lake Welch in Harriman State Park for a local meet put on by HVO.  Ross and Sam encouraged us to pre-plan our routes, putting the skills we had practiced Saturday into action.  I carefully walked the Brown course with a taped ankle- it’s amazing how many more details you notice when you’re not running.

While the weekend had a few more mishaps than usual, it still came together as a resounding success.  Thanks to all cooks, coaches and others that made it happen- it would not be possible without you!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Flying Pig XV

The US spring orienteering season got kick-started the first weekend in April with the classic three-day event Flying Pig, organized by Orienteering Cincinnati. Below follows a report by guest columnist Nikolay Nachev of Cascade Orienteering, member of both the US Summer Orienteering and the US Ski-O Teams.

Nikolay is all smiles after winning Sunday's race

The past weekend I flew east to Cincinnati for the 15th annual Flying Pig orienteering event. This year the program included Middle distance race on Friday, the US Ultra Long National Championships on Saturday and another Middle distance race on Sunday.
The Cincinnati Orienteering club ( OCIN ) event is one of my favorite locations, and I have been using it to start up my summer orienteering season for several years now.

As for this year's event I just came back from Sweden competing for US in the Ski WOC, and was short on time to adjust to foot orienteering techniques as well as fight jet lag and heavy skiing legs. Surprisingly my running form was really good. I did not feel any sluggishness or heaviness in my legs as in prior Flying Pig years.
On Friday I did run strong throughout the course but made several navigational errors I am not proud of. As a first woods orienteering race for the season, my navigation was a bit sloppy and even though I tried to stay ahead in the orienteering, I was not precise with my compass, and did not slowed enough to look at details on the map. I end up 5 mins back from the winners with a 3 min mistake and multiple smaller mistakes.
Friday's blue course
Saturday was the Ultra Long US Championships race at Hueston Woods park and we had 19 km in store. I was excited as I was feeling in a good form and felt rested even after the hard race on Friday. Focus was not 100%. Started off the course a bit cautiously, but my goal was to push hard hoping the legs will last through the course. Made one big 3 min mistake on a short leg that I did not read the map correctly, and multiple sloppy small bubbles. But being behind or sloppy on my navigation did not stop me from being in control of my running, and there was a lot of it. In the middle of the course I felt that I am doing 10 K road race with pit stops every 4 – 5 mins to get in the forest pick a control or two and go back on the road. I think a more interesting course could have been created given the map and terrain.
The challenge with this course though was that the last 3 – 4 km we finally left the road and were doing all forest navigation. That comes to you as a huge surprise after running for almost 2 hours mostly on road more or less at orange level course with some compass bearings for spice here and there…
So some people made mistakes there, for me I lost steam and slowed down considerably after the 2 hour 10 min mark. Which is interesting as this is usually the length of my regular long runs in training.
Ultimately, Norwegian Anders Tiltnes on a college exchange program here in Texas was fastest with 2 hours and 1 min. Some 28 mins ahead of second place. Embarrassing? Not really… Anders is ranked 59 in the world, incidentally sharing the place with past world champion and multiple WOC medalist Mikhail Mamleev. On top of that looks like Anders is a Ultra long distance specialist as he finished 2nd at the Norwegian Ultralong Championships ahead of most of the Norway’s orienteering elite. Hope to see and race Anders again here in US in the coming months.
First for the US championships eligible and second overall was Maricel Olaru from Chicago.
I finished 2nd in the US Championships eligible runners and 4th overall.
Sunday was the second middle distance race at a more technical and a bit dense part of Hueston Woods park. This ended up one of my best orienteering races in recent years. In the morning I was really surprised that I was not stiff and I was able to get out of my bed just fine. This does not happen to me usually even after 1 hour 40 min classic distance races let alone after 2:40 mins ultra long. It was another confirmation that the long running miles and skiing sessions in December and January were paying off, as much as this sounds like a cliché.
My mind felt fresh and rested as well, as I was able to get two good nights of sleep not waking up from the jet lag at 3 AM feeling fresh as a pickle.
From navigation and focus point of view, I can not say I had a good orienteering flow or I was “in the zone” before or during the race. On the contrary, as I was in my start minute and about to punch the SI box the start guy was about to hand me the map and I realized I did not have my compass….. ooops… Ran back to the clothing bag to fish for my jacket where I had left my compass. So I waited and started at the next available empty spot. Also during the run I was slowing down ( coming out of controls to look at my map and decide or reconfirm on a route choices) more than I usually do and this was annoying me actually. I caught myself several times slowing down to confirm what I need to do next, or check whether my route is good, and kicking myself mentally in the butt at the same time why am I slowing….
At the last 10 mins of the course my legs finally began to complain from the 3 days of running, and it was a struggle to keep pumping. The last kilometer of the course did not gave any room for rest to navigate, it was all compass bearing running in the flat open woods…
As I came back I realized that I have came in first: edged the Norwegian guy by a smudge, and put more than two minutes on the next North American.
Sunday's blue course
Later I was thinking about my Sunday run and trying to recapture the essence and feeling of it. What was going right, what did I do differently:
Short term /day of race factors:
  • I was mentally rested.
  • Physically the ultra long have taken the nervousness, the edge and the over-excitement and I was calm
  • Following my compass religiously
  • Slowing to read ahead and plan more than I usually do.
  • Wearing my Cascade OC Jersey (see picture)
Long term factors:
  • Solid base through the winter (good endurance and race recovery for the third day of racing)
  • Ski O training (strength training done on the ski and in the gym)
  • Experimenting with running technique (heel vs mid foot strike)
All in all I can't pinpoint one single thing and say because of that I had a good race. As usual nothing is black and white, but looks like there is no substitute for hard work. And some luck may be :)
You can see all courses from the weekend, along with route choices at OCIN's Route Gadget site.
Results and splits from the weekend are available at the Flying Pig webpage.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Already the best: IOF on Ali

Someone at the IOF has noticed the great results by Ali Crocker in the past year and wrote about it here. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More photos from Ski WOC

Just a couple more photos of the cold snowy winter that we experienced in Sweden - now that everybody is back in our regular springtime abodes. These photos are all from the organizers.

Nikolay a bit boxed in at the start.
Nikolay again.
Greg in the mass start.

Adrian at the start of the Long distance.

Scott on the bridge.
Chaos at the back of the pack - taking the time to just chill out and read the map.
Greg after the long.

Start of the long distance - women.

Ali after finishing - she held off that Russian girl.
Alex coming in to the finish of the Long.

Alex done.

Robbie in the relay

Ali in the relay.

Headcam guy.

Alex punching a control in the relay.