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