I had a pretty good race, for me, today, in the WOC Long Qualification. With my best 5k in the past 2 years (and ever) of, I know I’m about ~30%+ behind the best orienteers in the world on fitness, so my goal is to navigate just as well as the best orienteers in the World, and thus finish about ~30% back. At 34% back today, I came pretty close. That wasn’t enough to qualify for the finals – but I was only 9 minutes out of qualifying, just over 10% - and while I’m not sure if I’ll ever reach that 10% faster, if I can hold onto the speed I have, it’ll hopefully help in future WMOC’s – where I’m running M40 in a little less than a month.
Also, on a less competitive and more fun note, it was some really gorgeous, fun-to-run terrain – a place I hope to take the family to when they hold another multi-day on these maps, some upcoming year.
My preparation for the race consisted of arriving 3 days before race day (at – long drive from Helsinki…), doing 2 trainings (WOC training map & a local meet 5k) at moderate-hard pace on Day -3, followed by about 5k at moderate-hard pace on Day -2, and relative rest (easy jog @ Sprint Models) on Day -1. Maybe not the best taper physically, but I find it’s important to run hard enough in terrain to understand your navigation strengths and weaknesses at speed, to learn to correct those.
On top of that, I drew a few sample courses on an old map of nearby terrain, and while I predicted the start completely wrong, the course planning exercise was very useful in understanding the types of navigational challenges they might throw at us – parallel features on hillsides, routes around marsh edges, routes through/near green, and the 3rd, 5th, etc... subtle contour feature from the nearest obvious attack point. Planning what I’d do on those sample-course legs really helped in decision making today.
As for the course itself, I’ll pick a few meaningful legs… You can find the GPS track online.
S-1: Noticed a road collecting feature that would lead me into 1, so decided to compass-bearing it while reading ahead – in particular studying the long leg ~2.4km from 4-5. Probably messed this route up a bit, as a hard bail 45-90 degrees left of the line to the road from the triangle looks like it would’ve been better – and I didn’t pick up on that in the bumpy 90m run to the start triangle. Stayed on the road for an easy attack off a hill, and down a reentrant.
4-5: Had decided that bailing right to the trail partway around, was better than up/down-ing my way along to the left of the line – which might have also had to mix with (easy-ish) marsh, or non-straight marsh-edge running. As I ran down the road, and had more time to read the leg, I decided that going even further along the road would make more and more sense – almost to the point of taking the road all the way around (which in retrospect looks like it might have been the best – though almost no one took it.) In my case, about halfway there, I noticed the forest on the left really opened up to Catching-Features-white, so I decided to angle over past the field – which had the added advantage of checking out some of the 9-10, and 11-12 terrain.
11-12: Started out okay, with some kinda crappy sidehilling, connected to a road then a repeat of a fast veg. boundary I’d seen 4-5, then up, nailed the corner, and attacked – inverting a contour – something I did only once today (vs. ~5 times in one of the training maps – learning, but not quite…) So in some fairly low-visibility pines (mapped with the same white as the ~200m visibility CF-white woods…?), I was checking out one small bump, and then another, neither of which were mine. So I decided to bail SW to the semi-open, seemingly likely en-route to a ~3 minute round-trip bail to the road – when the ground dropped again – and as the depression shape match continued, I had found my attack point! Turned a ~3+ minute error, into a 1 minute error.
13-14, and then 18-19: Were like some of the best technical parts of Colorado/Wyoming (as were a few of the other rough-open bits), where both an attention to the contour detail – and a head-up to identify (with lots of compass help) which far set of tall pines was which was important. On the latter (identifying white patches) - in both of these legs I had mis-identified one of the pine clusters en-route, but frequent, disciplined compass reads, and continual re-assessment corrected both of those with no harm done.
Speaking of compass reads – it’s worth nothing that only about 25% of total magnetic force is horizontal here (we’re at ~63 deg. North), vs. ~40% in the US – so lots of us have been struggling to keep our compass-bearings accurate on the run.
21-F: Was really hot and feeling quite tired – and was struggling against that as I worked hard to avoid too embarrassing a finish chute – which was good enough to tie several of the other NA men (phew) – but not enough to beat all the NA women (fast Ali!)
Now, to think about the Sprint !