Thursday, July 4, 2013

View from the Tour

Janet Swartz: The Tour juniors at the Sprint

I am Dan's mother -- he is doing the JWOC Tour but was not able to do the training in Trutnov because of his school schedule, so we joined teh group in Hradec Kralove. This is our first JWOC and our first orienteering in Europe -- a little over a year after our first A-meet, to put it into perspective. It has been really exciting (and really humbling) to watch the European kids race. Today was a great experience for a lot of reasons. First off, it was the first day the JWOC Tour kids didn't have to take a 20-minute public bus ride to the Tour center at Strbny Rybnik to catch the bus to the event. It was the Sprint in the old part of Hradec Kralove, and you could walk to the arena. We got there by noon to see the start of the JWOC sprint. Big Jumbotron with shots of kids running through the city plus GPS images of route choices (fascinating on this fast paced course). It started raining lightly about an hour into the race, when some of the US kids were still on the course. It was fun that Izzy came into the arena to huge cheers, even if they were for the Czech boy in second place! It started pouring but slowed down for the JWOC awards ceremony.

After the awards the crowds left, the announcer left and the Jumbotron with the race feed from the course shut down. The JWOC Tour starts weren't until 4:00 so there was a while to wait. The really impressive thing to see was the support and positive spirits among the JWOC Tour competitors (6 boys, 2 girls, plus 4 adults -- Connor was still resting his toe). The boys all ran between 4 and 5 o'clock, reported that it was a tough course running on cobblestones and up and down a lot of stairs. Kudos to whomever designed the US team shirt: there were a lot of red, white and blue shirts, but the stars on the US shirt really stood out as athletes neared the finish. The US competitors came in and compared their route choices. At this point it was really cool that Ethan came back to the arena (JWOC athletes can take public buses for free) to talk to the Tour runners, ask about their route choices and bring them cookies. Although the JWOC Tour boys finished by about 5:20, they all stayed at the arena to wait for Elina's 6:01 start. We all went to the Finish chute and gave a rousing cheer as Dave Y and Tim P came in from their courses and waited for Elina to come in. I was really proud of these athletes on the Tour who had a great time and really positive attitude. At about 6:30, we ran out of the arena to catch a bus back to the hotel for dinner.

Bud O'Leary: The Tour juniors at the relay

Wow, Czech gold for men and women in the relay! The home crowd was elated. And so am I at our wonderful JWOC Tour juniors. They truly personify the best in sports and sportsmanship. They arrived at the event arena at the 10 am JWOC starts and cheered our JWOC teams in a hot field with no shade. Only after the awards ceremony and departure of all JWOC teams did they get start times for their own courses - most started between 3:30 and 4pm!

Then a long series of bus transfers brought them back to the JWOC area for a well-deserved shower and dinner. What a long day in the hot sun for our JWOC Tour athletes. They deserve all our cheers and applause. JWOC is closed but what great memories.

Sunday off to Olomouc for extra training.

Duncan Miller: Blog post for Wednesday

A lot has happened since I last blogged. We’ve been busy. Monday was the start of the JWOC Competition and JWOC Tour. Being an alternate, I am participating in the tour which consists of 6 races. No rest days. No slowing down. One race a day, every day this week. At this point in the week I’m starting to feel general fatigue in my body. It’s nothing I can’t handle, but its noticeable the Tour’s schedule is more rigorous than the JWOC one.

So yesterday was a middle with almost no climb. Jake and I being from West Point love this type of terrain. I felt good physically and once I got going I got a great flow of movement while making decisions. I almost never stopped moving. I kept a good pace throughout the course that enabled me to move fast but also navigate and maintain really good contact with the map and compass. Everything was clicking together and my training really came through. I focused a lot on checking the next control when moving to punch the current one. This is one of the reasons I was so successful. Navigate, punch, and take off again. The map excerpts below are from the course. It was a 6.5k H20A course and I completed it in 48:12.

Click on the map images to see a larger version.

Today was another middle but with 235 meters of climb and the shorter distance of 5.8k. It was not fun. Some of the worst boulders ever existed in the area and it was very technical. I made two major errors. One was on a parallel feature and the other was due to bad compass usage and attentiveness. I was going pretty smooth until point 10. I had maintained good contact with the map and moved up the hills at a steady pace. However, 9 to 10 was a longer leg and I completely screwed up by racing this other orienteer to my point. I beat him there, but I wasn’t really there. I misestimated the distance and had gone through a field and along the cliff face where I was SURE the control was located. However it was further to the SW on a different cliff face south of a different field…almost identical to where I was at. I should have relocated sooner, but I was stubborn and was overconfident from doing so well on the first 9. Lesson learned…relocating, confidence, and distance estimating. The other mistake was on the shortest leg of the whole course. 17 to 18. So naturally I sprinted downhill without much attention to my compass. I was running around in a large rock field for quite a long time before I realized it was wedged between two massive boulders. I had forgotten that short legs can be very technical.

So today, my performance wasn’t great but the rest of the night was a blast. The team treated me and JWOC graduates to dinner. Barb and Erin planned a nice Italian dinner since next year this time five of us will be 21 and no longer be eligible for JWOC. Dinner was delicious and afterward Erin and Barb started presenting each JWOC graduate with a short speech and gift. Jake and I both got new compasses which we were quite grateful for (Super psyched). Erin also when on to say I was the “heart” of the team…which struck me pretty hard. I felt truly blessed to be thought of in that way. The rest of the team also said some very nice words about me as well. I am bummed that I will see them infrequently once this is all over. Since arriving I have become a big brother to some of them and a great friend to the ones of the same age. I have loved having the opportunity to get to know such an incredible group of individuals. Some of them are so young...and seeing them grow in the coming years is going to be quite fun.

Tomorrow the Tour has another middle. More rocks. But hey…it’s just more good training. Tomorrow is also the Fourth of July. My favorite holiday. Jake and I have already talked to the French team and allied ourselves with them. I don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow but since the British team is here it is going to be interesting. USA! USA! USA!

Duncan at the team dinner


Mary Jo said...

Thanks for sharing so many details about the tour. Six events in 6 days is a lot! I'm glad that the two groups were really one big one and that you all enjoyed being together. Being the "heart" of the team is an important role, so I'm glad it was recognized and that you got a new compass as a memento. As for celebrating the 4th of July with the French--how appropriate. May it become part of your life-long memories of your favorite holiday.

Mary Jo said...

And, to Janet and Bud, thanks also for sharing your experiences at the events. I hope that Dan is truly excited about getting more invested in orienteering after having seen the world's best juniors. It will be fun to hear more details at an event this fall--perhaps the UNO event in September.