Monday, March 28, 2011

WCOC Training Camp Kicks off the Spring Season

By guest writer and US Team member Jordan Laughlin:

Photo by Greg Balter

This past weekend, while the United States Ski-O team was competing in
Sweden, Western Connecticut Orienteering Club hosted a foot-O training
camp to shake off the rust of the long hard winter in the Northeast
and kick off the orienteering season on a great note. Becky Carlyle
and Boris Granovskiy designed the great courses. This week was the
first that I have been injury free in the last month as I suffered
from an injury in my foot from too much road running in January. It
was nice to get into the woods and run.

Saturday’s events at Osbornedale State Park had a ‘back to the basics
focus.’ The weather was sunny, a little windy, and cool. Most
trainees were wearing many layers during their events and even more
between them. The events, distance estimation and compass, line-O,
and control-picking courses each did a great job on breaking the rust
off our skills. The week prior to this training camp was the first
week I began to do any real orienteering training in the woods this
year due to the immense amount of snow in the woods prior so some of
my rust had already began to come off but the training event expedited
the process. I began with the compass course, which was my weakest
skill this week. I messed up the first few controls and redid them
for extra practice, both backward and forward. By the end of the
event, my compass skill was more proficient but still in a little need
for some assistance. Next up was the line-O, this started in a nice
green patch but moved to open woods characteristic of most of
Osbornedale. This was great practice reading contour features and
certain point features, no problems for me on this one. My last
morning course was the control-pick. I started immediately after I
returned from the line-o in fear of losing my body heat. I arrived at
the start just prior to Ian Smith starting. I approached this as a
good thing so that I could practice my focus while running around
other runners. Running the control-pick was entirely fun even with a
period of time where I was failing to run in the woods and just
tripping over everything and hitting trees left and right. After
finishing the control-pick, I began to rest, relax, and refuel for our
evening training event, sprint training on Yale’s campus on a very
good map-in-progress. Socializing with the different groups in the
cold prior to collecting controls for the morning was enjoyable as
always, especially since I have not seen anyone since early November.

Prior to beginning the sprint course at Yale we met up piece-meal at
Becky’s Apartment, a whole 200 meters away from the start and finish.
We received our map, clue sheet, and control description (A small bit
of pink tape) and instructions to the start. While waiting to cross
the street to the start, a passing couple initiated conversation
asking me what I was doing. Immediately after they asked the
question, they recognized the map and informed me that they
participated in orienteering events but only in the woods. Sweet,
orienteers. I finished the conversation and shuffled off to the
start. This race was immensely fun due to the extreme urban nature
and irregular building shape and size characteristic of European
sprints. Initially, I had some problems finding the pink tape but it
became much easier with time. One control was improperly clued and a
few map errors were found but nothing that degraded from the
extraordinary training value. Immediately following the sprint, my
clan of West Pointers that decided to come quickly departed, as we
greatly desired to get back to allow homework to be started and sleep
to be had. Unfortunately, we missed the dinner hosted by Marie
Arnesson, surely a great bonding event.

Sunday’s courses culminated the weekend in a mass start event with 42
unique courses. Peter Gagarin’s comments immediately prior to the
start did absolutely nothing to quell the competition in the air,
“This is the event we have been striving for the entire time, a race
that everyone can win.” The race began quickly as with all relay
races. I started bumbling around to a few different controls but
finding each in relatively quick fashion but it was rather unnerving
since I was completely alone. Yep, I still have some rust to break
off. After my first long leg, I caught up to Ross Smith and we ran
near each other going in and out until about 2/3 of the way into our
courses where I promptly made a terrible parallel error which resulted
in a 10+ min error, again all alone. I finished the remaining portion
of the course decently. Ross chalked up a win in our friendly
rivalry. I guess it was good that I did not agree to the bet for a
box of cheerios. Thanks again to Becky, Boris, WCOC, and the rest of
the people who assisted and showed up for a great training event to
kick off the season.

Jordan's QuickRoute from Sunday is here.

Only 9 weeks until team trials and 20 weeks until WOC!

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