Monday, September 22, 2014

Pawtuckaway camping weekend

The other weekend, if you happened to be at Pawtuckaway state park, you might have noticed a whole lot of orienteers congregating in the main pavilion and then dashing off into the forest.  Among these orienteers were a couple Team members - Alex Jospe, Kseniya Popova, Isabel Bryant, Ethan Childs, Brendan Shields, and Ian Smith, to name a few.  The Pawtuckaway Camping weekend is an annual event hosted by Up North Orienteers (UNO), and it's a really wonderful weekend.  On the surface, it's a low key event where you can hang out with your friends, go for a walk in the woods, paddle your canoe, and go swimming.  But enter the forest, and there's some cut-throat orienteering, both during the day and again during the "Wicked Hahd Night-o"!  

Day 1 course.

The daytime scene is pretty chill.  Copy your own courses onto the beautifully-printed offset maps, and then head out to confront the house-sized boulders and man-eating swamps.  The forest is a wonderful mix of open hardwoods and old-growth pine, leading to some pretty quick per-km times if you know where you're going.  

Here's a map of the longest course on day 2. And here's a map of the WHNO.  

Sunset was beautiful, and was followed with a delicious potluck dinner, and then both a Vampire-o (for the young'ns), and the wicked hard night-o.

Results for the weekend.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

WUOC Wrap-up

The last few days have been quite busy, so I'll summarize the end of WUOC with a single post.

The sprint was the day after the long. The first few controls of the courses were in the zoo that had a lot of out-of-bounds. We weren't able to appreciate any of the animals as we ran by them, but it seems like a nice place to go back and visit at a leisurely pace. There was then one long leg with the biggest route choice of the race. It seems that the southern route that cuts out of the zoo and then runs along the road for a while instead of going through the forest to get out of the zoo was the faster choice. After that, there were some controls in the city which involved small route choice decisions (left or right around the block) plus a slog up a long hill near the end to finish off the course. Although the courses were both shorter than the sprint relay (2 km for the women, 2.5 km for the men), the climb and lack of being able to go straight put the winning times in the right range. The best American woman's result was Tori, who ended in 36th place, 3:18 behind the winner. For the men, Charlie was the fastest, coming in 89th, 5:35 behind the winner.

The following day was the middle, where Giacomo made his first appearance of the competition. Despite having to cope with his injured leg, he had the fastest time for the American men, coming in 84th, 13:04 behind the leader. He was happy to be able to get out in the woods again, but is looking forward to two years from now when he'll be able to compete uninjured. Alison was the top American woman, coming in 53rd. She was unhappy with some of her race, feeling like she was a bit out of control at times. She still managed to be only 30% behind the winner, pretty consistent with her results from the sprint and long. The middle terrain was difficult because it was almost completely flat (there was less than half the amount of climb as the sprint) so vegetation boundaries as well as a series of wet ditches systems with lots of potential for parallel errors were the main features to use to navigate. This course was a mix of open woods with dense green sections. The best routes were typically straight - take a compass bearing and head there. This also meant that most runners had very fast time/km. It was cool to see the top athletes running so fast through the woods. We enjoyed how easy it was to run through part of the forest because it was open and well-kept, even though there  parts of the race where it was quite difficult to hit the controls perfectly inside the circle.

The relay was held in the same location as the middle. For the women, Tori led off and stuck with one of the front packs until control 11 where they got away from her on a long leg. She then made a small parallel error but was able to come back with a strong finish. Alison followed with another strong run, and McKenzie anchored the team into a 20th place finish. All three runners had faster runs than the previous day for a similar distance. On the men's side, the team of Charlie followed by Giacomo followed by Hans ended in 25th. Charlie was 10 minutes faster than the previous day with a course only 0.1 km shorter.  The other two were both faster than they were in the middle as well. Jake and Ken were also able to compete running the first two legs of a second American team.  Although he made a few mistakes, Jake felt like he got into a good flow for many parts of his race.

WUOC 2014 is now over, and we're all home or on the way. We really enjoyed the atmosphere at the meet, specifically the fact that all the athletes were staying and eating in the same spot, which really helped us get to know some of the other teams better. We also enjoyed the races, and the variety of different terrain types made each race interesting and challenged us in new ways. We all gained valuable racing experience which will help us in the future. See you in 2 years!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Day 3 of WUOC featured the long. The weather was perfect for running - cloudy and a bit cool. The terrain was mostly open woods in an area with patches of gnarly green and occasional open areas, surrounded by a large network of trails. All of this was in an area with steep hills with lots of reentrants leading to an unfortunate amount of climb on the courses. 

Control on warm-up map
The American line-up consisted of Jacob Grant, James O'Keefe, Hans Sitarz, and Charles Whitaker for the men and Tori Borish, Alison Campbell, and McKenzie Hudgins for the women.

The best performance of the day was Alison Campbell's 52nd place for the women. She was trying to not push herself too hard today so her legs would be feeling strong for later runs this week. Her goal was a solid, clean race, and that's exactly what she had! The plan of focusing on being clean instead of fast served her well today as she picked energy conserving routes, which in this steep terrain often turned out to be the best choice. 

Alison racing Canadian Tori in the finish shoot
Tori Borish was the next fastest woman, also with a goal of a clean, solid race, which she mostly managed except for a couple minutes lost while fighting through some dense vegetation that she probably should have avoided. McKenzie also had a solid run, and although she didn't quite make her goal of under 2 hours, she was only a few minutes off and reasonably happy with her run. The men ranged from feeling ok about their runs to remembering why they liked shorter distances better, especially in such physical terrain. The men's course was 12.4 km with 680 meters of climb, and the first half of their course was the same as the first 70% of the women's course, but they then had an additional long loop including two long legs. The main sentiment post race is that the race was long, but a good eye-opener to orienteering at the elite level.

Since today was a long day for everyone and the weather wasn't meant to be great, most athletes not racing the long stayed at the dorms to rest up. Among these was Giacomo, who is still resting his legs so he'll be able to run the middle on Friday. Since this is World University Champs, all of us athletes are still students, and unfortunately that sometimes doesn't stop even during the summer, as was evidenced by Giacomo spending the day writing his thesis. Thankfully, he now has a chance to take a bit of a break from that and he and the West Point students are off at the movie theater 5-10 minutes away from our accommodation. This is also the reason that I can't provide more details about each of the guys' individual races since they are not around for questioning.

Random anecdote of the day: the laundry adventure. The only washing machine in our building is in the basement, and you have to go get a key and insert that in the washing machine to use it. James went downstairs to put laundry in, and being used to the US where we actually have driers, when he found dry clothes waiting inside an unused machine, he naturally assumed the clothes had already been washed and dried. James therefore took the Japanese team's laundry out of the washing machine and put our team's laundry in. However, it turns out that the Japanese team had put laundry in the machine but not turned in on yet. They approached some of us at dinner, very apologetic that we had used their laundry machine. We therefore wrote them an apology letter using the calligraphy set James had brought with him. No wonder his suitcase was so big... but everything has gotten put to good use!

On to the sprint tomorrow in the zoo!

Summary of WUOC Long

1. Sund Goril Ronning (Norway) 68:06
2. Aebi Bettina (Switzerland) 72:29
3. Knapov√° Jana (Czech Republic) 72:52
18. Emily Kemp (Canada) 78:05
52. Alison Campbell (USA) 92:07
63. Tori Borish (USA) 100:10
75. Tori Owen (Canada) 110:08
83. McKenzie Hudgins (USA) 126:10

1. Frederic Tranchand (France) 79:14
2. Matthias Kyburz (Switzerland) 81:03
3. Andreas Kyburz (Switzerland) 82:30
66. Eric Kemp (Canada) 109:12
69. Graeme Rennie (Canada) 111:56
84. James O'Keefe (USA) 139:47
85. Charles Whitaker (USA) 142:17
86. Hans Sitarz (USA) 152:44
87. Jacob Grant (USA) 164:54

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

WUOC Sprint Mixed Relay

WUOC Sprint Relay:

It's Day 2 and the first WUOC 2014 medals have already been awarded here in the Czech Republic! In the Sprint Relay, staged around the town of Kromeriz, Switzerland takes the gold after leading the pack for almost the entirety of the competition. Quite an impressive team the one composed by Jenzer, Hubmann, Gross and Kyburz, with both of the men already part this year's Swiss gold at WOC 2014 - the first WOC-official Sprint orienteering relay in history. About a minute behind, Sweden takes second place, and, only after quite an intense and breathtaking battle with Norway and especially the strong relay from France, it's the home-team of the Czech Republic to secure the bronze. Team USA runs well and earns the 22nd place, +12.50 minutes behind Switzerland.

But before heading to sleep and turning our attention to tomorrow's tough Long Course, let's liger on some fun details! 

Technically quite an easy terrain today for our university athletes, and with no climb on the course the race remained really fast-paced and very physical all throughout. A large part of the map was covering the nearby city-park, a mostly open area with lakes and other water features dictating the main route-choices. In the second part of the courses, instead, the athletes faced some city running with small route-choices in the blocks around the main square. Fun and spectacular for both devoted fans and passerby's, the main technical difficulties for the runners were created by some interesting forkings, with the forked controls often quite far from each other, adding some confusion when picking which pack to follow. 

North America celebrates another great performance by Emily Kemp, able to stick around with Switzerland and Sweden for most of the race, and lose a bit of terrain only at the end, finishing just 38 seconds from the lead. But Team USA also put up a good fight, and it was fun to watch especially Tori (+1.53 min behind Switzerland) close our first leg in 16th place, beating teams like Spain and Italy (which will then close 9th and 10th after 4 legs) and remaining within sight of strong teams like Great Britain, Poland and Estonia. Congrats to Tori! 

Our other runners also performed quite well: Jake recovered from a difficult start under the pressure from all the other runner's company with an impeccable second half of the race, Alison was clean and smart, slightly tricked only by the long route-choice around the lake, and Charles finished it off with a nice run, strong of his past experience running these important types of competitions and able to keep up the focus and speed all the way to the finish line.

Also spectating was quite fun, with me, Mckenzie, Ken and Hans following our team around the square, taking some pics with the other teams, and enjoying the atmosphere in the WUOC arena. 

Only negative note today was the main-dish at dinner: looked a lot like chicken fingers and potatoes form afar (#awesome), only to reveal its true vegetable nature of fried cauliflower. Ketchup, though, did help us finish the plate.

Mixed Relay Recap:

1st Switzerland
2nd Sweden
3rd Czech Republic
17th Canada
22nd USA

Good luck to everyone running the Long tomorrow!

Results and details will follow sometimes afterwards; )

DISCLAIMER: google+ is going crazy on my pc trying to translate things from Czech and capitalizing / miss-spelling random things on our post. i guess extra capital letters never hurt nobody ...

WUOC 2014 Opening Ceremony

Here Giac reporting from Olomouc, Czech Republic:

WUOC 2014 has really begun tonight after the official Opening Ceremony in the city Center. There was no traditional parading across the streets here this time, and formalities started with all the teams seated in the internal courtyard of one of the university central buildings once a military complex. Instead all the teams paraded on and off the stage, saluting the crowd as they passed the spotlight of an otherwise dark quad. Only soft and intermittent rain-showers tonight, but the organizers were ready to provide small plastic ponchos for everyone, red, white and blue like the colors of the home team. Our Japanese friends and neighbors made mock white and red poke-balls out of the containers, amusing everyone in sight. There was a local choir singing the Czech anthem, and also the anthem (in latin) of the FISU, the international federation in charge of all university sports. Before the ceremonial and important promises of fair-play, fairness and sportsmanship by athletes and judges, the local dance company performed a small show centered on red-dressed girls dancing around macho soldiers. Our cadets on the team have very similar gear in their suitcases, ready for use. Could they have danced even smoother? The best part of it all though, was a short light show on the side of the building, using the windows and facade details as backgrounds to a orienteering-themed game of lights and colors. Home-made medals were celebrated and previewed, unique pieces made by a local Winter Olympic Medalist apparently also very talented in molding metals. The medals have contours and a compass-needle, the perfect design for honoring the winner this week. 

Things are ready here in Olomouc, and tomorrow the fight for the medals begins.

Good luck to Team USA's Sprint Relay Team competing in the afternoon!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

World University Team starts at WUOC 2014

The World University Team has arrived at WUOC in the Czech Republic. The team is made up of:

Tori Borish (COC)
Alison Campbell (DVOA/Edinburgh University OC, Heriot-Watt University)
McKenzie Hudgins (USMAOC)
Giacomo Barbone (CSU)
Jacob Grant (USMAOC)
James O'Keefe (USMAOC)
Hans Sitarz (USMAOC)
Charles Whitaker (USMAOC)
Team Leader: Ian Jones

back LtoR - Jacob, James, Giacomo, Charles, Hans, Ian. Front LtoR - Tori, McKenzie, Alison

We have been training since Saturday on the middle, long and then a sprint relay today. For a middle and relay training description please see Alison's Blog post about it ( The team then went to the Long distance model map this morning which hopefully Alison will write more about in the next day or so. The main event of today though was the practice Sprint Relay event. So this format is new which involves a 4 person-mixed team running a forked sprint course. At WUOC the format is female-male-famale-male. The course today was around 2km, with an expected winning time of 8-10mins per leg. We entered one official team who ended up placing 15th (Tori Borish, Jacob Grant, Alison Campbell, Charles Whitaker), with a time of 41:23 only 5:31 off the winner. The mixed team (Rosalind Hussey of Ireland, James O'Keefe, McKenzie Hudgins, Hans Sitarz) placing 28th with a time of 45:04, 9:51 off the winner. Most teams however were using this as a learning experience as many of us have not run a sprint relay before. We learnt a lot and are excited for the real sprint relay on Tuesday.

Here are some photos from the day and some quotes from the team:

Ken: "Simple course, favored fast runners."


"Awesome experience as a team to exemplify unity and patriotism as we took on our newest competition"


"It was fun to finally race this new format. There were battles for punching"


"A nice warmup to racing and feeling confident for the week ahead of us"


"Short and sweet, the best kind of course"


"This Harvard business was a mistake... next year I'm applying to West Point! #team-matelove"


"Today built confidence and comradry amongst the team"

McKenzie @11pm:


Saturday, July 19, 2014

WOC Goals

So, this is a bit backwards, but some people have asked about our goals at WOC. We have a few levels of goal setting here. There's the strategic plan made a few years back, which has goals for 2015. Back when they were made, we were not aware that the WOC format was going to change, so here were the 2015 goals:

  • The Senior Team men should be in the top 20 in the WOC relay and the women in the top 15.
  • The Senior Team women should have four individual event finalists (again, one person could reach the final in multiple events) and two in the top 30 finishers.
  • The Senior Team men should have two individual event finalists and one in the top 35.
  • The top two men and women will all be ranked better than 200 in the world. The man and woman will be in the top 100 in the world.
We're further away from some than others, and you have to rethink a bit now that the men only have one start in the middle and the long, and the women only have two. 

For the women's team, the result goals were translated for this year as follows:

Lowest tier: 
- Stay in Division 2

Mid tier: 
- 2 finalists in Sprint
- top 18 relay 
- top 25 sprint relay
- two top 45 results in the forest races (similar to having two finalists, which would be 50% of the starts qualifying)

- 3 finalists in sprint
- two top 30 + one top 20, all individual events
- top 15 relay
- top 20 sprint relay

How did the women do? We reached our main, basic goal of staying in division 2. Whoo! 
  • had one finalist in the sprint who finished 32nd
  • finished 17th in the relay
  • DSQed in the sprint relay (but were about 24th)
  • had a 26th and 52nd place finish in the long
  • had a 41st and 59th place finish in the middle
I think this makes it through three-quarters of our mid-tier goals, missing a finalist in the sprint, and not finishing the sprint relay (although, shoulda, coulda, woulda close).

Reach goals are a reach for a reason.

Of course, results are just the final end of the experience. They depend on a lot of factors, including other people. I think the personal goals are interesting, so I'll share some of those here too:

From a process standpoint, I would like to concentrate hard early on in the long distance to get into a good routine and level of focus. I'm not going to worry about pace early on, and will rather focus on being clean--good precision when it counts--and smooth. I would like to beat most of group 3, and with all the new countries this year, that seems like it should be possible with a good run.

Less than 2 minutes behind the leader in the qualification is what I am aiming toward. (He was 1.13 behind the leader of his heat and 30 seconds from qualifying.)

Never lose, during the race, the dream of qualifying for the A final. 
A More tangible goal
Try to beat most 3rd tier nation athletes and maybe even a couple of 2nd tier nation athletes. 

My own goal is to qualify for sprint final, and then just run as hard as I can and see where it gets me. Top 30 would be amazing, but if I run a clean race then I'll be happy with wherever I end up. (She was 32nd in the sprint.)

Outcomes: I am aiming for a top 60 in the long final, as that will earn us points towards forest start spots.  I am hoping to run well enough in the spectator race on Sunday that I am named to the forest relay. (She was 52nd in the long and she ran second leg of the relay.)
Process: I will have solid attackpoints for every control, and will change gears as necessary through the race to keep my navigation and speed in sync.  I will make <20s/km of mistakes, and I will keep my head in the game no matter what happens out there.

Top 20 in the Sprint
Top 35 in the Middle
Top 30 in the Long
(She was 26th in the long, and 41st in the middle.)

My goals for the Middle are to a) have a <3-5 min. nav. error race in what's looking like potentially near France difficulty terrain, b) finish in the top half of tier 3 nations, c) earn at least one point toward tier 2, d) beat Canada.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Relay drama!

The final battle of WOC 2014 was fought at Campomulo, the same area as the middle distance final from the day before. We learned from the middle that the area was tricky and, when you add in a mass start, forking, and the pressures of relay -- you know it is going to be exciting! People were dreaming of a repeat of the exciting women's relay of WOC 2011 in France.

This year there was added pressure for many teams as the placing in the relay is a major factor in how many start places a team has in the middle and long finals next year. The US women are currently in division 2, which means they have 2 starts spots in the middle and long finals. Points for the division placings are awarded based on finishing place in the middle, long, and relay. At the end of WOC the countries at the bottom of division 2 are relegated to division 3, and those at the top of division 3 are promoted to division 2 (two teams in each direction).

Based on unofficial standings before the relay, the US women were ahead of Spain, Germany, and Hungary, but not by enough to guarantee they'd stay in D2. A DNF or being walloped by Spain or Germany would result in relegation to D3 -- and only one start in middle and long next year.

Things didn't look good for Team USA as over the course of several minutes every runner came through the first radio control -- except Sam. She had trouble with two of the early controls on the course and ended up all alone running through the arena to start the second loop, in 28th place. She made an excellent recovery, however, and passed an amazing 10 teams before coming back into the finish! 

"I wasn't actually doing anything special, just finding all the controls!" - Sam

Alex had an excellent 2nd leg run and brought the team up one more place, exchanging to Ali in 17th. There was more shuffling of places around Ali on the 3rd leg (AUS moved up, CAN moved down) as she ran a mostly clean run. In the end, a triple success -- 17th place (2 higher than last year), ahead of Canada, and with enough points to stay D2.

The men's race followed, with Giacomo, Ethan, and Eric running for the US. All three did what they needed to do, finishing in 28th (27th last year) and also beating Canada. Unfortunately this blogger has not had a chance to hear from any of them about their races, else this section would be longer.

Results for women and men. Hopefully there will be some pictures to share soon!

That's the end of race reports from WOC2014, and most of the team is already on their way home. Thanks for following along!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Relay time!

It's here! The event we've all been waiting for!

"and it's sunny and gorgeous and the terrain is fun and interesting and I get to be on a team with teammates who are also my friends!" - Alex, this morning

The Relay! A mass start event to see which country really is the best. It takes more than one superstar to win, and anything can happen!

The women's race starts at 13.00 CET (7am EDT) and the men's at 14:55 (8:55am EDT). Catch all the live goodness at the LiveCenter.

For the women: Sam - Alex - Ali

For the men: Giacomo - Ethan - Eric

This is the first WOC relay for Giacomo and Ethan.

USA and the challenging middle distance

Fans and athletes expect the Middle Final at WOC to offer courses that are technically challenging to even the best in the world.  This year's courses didn't disappoint!

Beginning of women's course (from
You can see the full maps for men and women. GPS tracking was unfortunately sketchy so it is difficult to replay the courses for amusement and enlightenment's sake.

As for the Americans, Ali sums her up race (she finished 41st) with, "Not terrible, but not great either." The general feeling is that these were tough courses, and our runners got through them without disasters but everyone felt they could have been a little cleaner and a little faster. This sport is tough and yesterday's races demonstrated that quite clearly!

Ali racing Louise Oram (CAN) into the finish (photo: Kenny)

Hannah on the course (photo: Kenny)

Wyatt on the course (photo: Kenny)


1  Annika Bilstam (SWE)              37:03
2  Ida Bobach (DEN)                     37:25
3 Tove Alexandersson (SWE)        37:27
41 Ali Crocker (USA)                    48:43
59 Hannah Culberg  (USA)           58:42

And a big shout out to our rival from Canada, Emily Kemp, for her 11th place finish!
Full results and winsplits.

1 Olav Lundanes (NOR)      38:12
2 Fabian Hertner (SUI)         38:30
3 Oleksandr Kratov (UKR)  38:46
66 Wyatt Riley (USA)       1:03:25

Full results and winsplits.

Saturday brings the most spectator-friendly of all events at WOC -- the relay! Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ready for middle final!

There's one more individual race left in WOC 2014 and it's one that everyone loves -- the middle distance.

Here's a preview of the three runners to watch out for in USA gear tomorrow.

Ali in the Long Final (photo: Kenny)

Hannah Culberg
Start time: 12:13CET (6:13am EDT)
Club: Cascade Orienteering Club
Best middle result: Q19 (2013)

Fun fact: Hannah learned to orienteer while a cadet at the US Military Academy (West Point).

Fact: This is Hannah's 4th WOC.

Fact: Hannah is now an officer in the Army.

Fact: Hannah would prefer to be an officer in the Air Force.

Fact: Truthiness enabled on this post.

Ali Crocker
Start time: 12:55 (6:55am EDT)

Yep, Ali is running this one, too. Even without the qualification races the WOC week is a tough set of races! The Aligator is, however, up to the challenge and will surely be trying to better her 29th place from the middle final last year in Vuokatti.

Wyatt Riley
Start time: 14:38 (8:38am EDT)
Club: Delaware Valley Orienteering Association
Best middle result: Q30 (2009)

Fun fact: Wyatt is the only WOC team member who is also a dad.

Fact: This is Wyatt's 5th WOC.

Fact: Wyatt is a location engineer.

Fact: Wyatt has designed an ocular implant that interprets the orienteering map in his hand and wirelessly communicate instructions to a haptic compass worn around the torso.

Fact: It also ties his shoes for him.

As usual, live info should be available from the LiveCenter. The women start just after 12.00 (6am EDT) and the men shortly after 14.00 (8am EDT). Start lists for men and women.

Eric on the long

Eric gives us a personal account of his run in the Long Final yesterday:

I ran the Long Distance Final race at the World Orienteering Championships today, placing 61st of 84 men. I knew the race would be tough, at 16.4km straight-line distance and 820m climb at altitude in hilly alpine forest terrain, but it was made tougher when I started running out of energy pretty early on, after only 75 minutes running. A couple gels helped get me through the next hour of running, but I experienced dizziness, narrowing of my visual field, walking up hills that I normally would run, and some stumbling and a few falls; it wasn't my best physical performance.

On the plus side, I navigated very well today, losing probably no more than 2 minutes on navigation. Also, I still nearly made my goal of a top-60 finish, and I took top honors among the two North American men in the race by a few minutes. I've been looking forward to this race all year, and while I was hoping to put in a better performance, I am still very honored and pleased to have had the opportunity to race, and I'm happy about the many things that went well about the race, including the great support I received from my wonderful teammates, our excellent coach, Tom, Orienteering USA and all the supporters at home, and of course my dear family and friends.

The photos (by Zarina Parpia) are of me approaching the final control point and then running up the finish chute.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Good day in the long for USA!

Ali had the best run for the Americans today in a very physical long race at Lavarone. Her phenomenal 26th place, 12:20 behind winner Svetlana Mironova, will be tough to beat later in the week in the middle distance -- but we know she'll be trying! Alex and Eric also ran well, finishing in 52nd and 61st, respectively. Reports from the field are that all three are exhausted after a job well done.

A snippet of the women's course. Lots of brown lines.
Official results for women and men.

Maps for women and men.

This blogger is taking a break to sleep in the forest tonight. Tomorrow's a rest day on the WOC schedule.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Going the distance

Wednesday afternoon three speedy members of Team USA will be going the distance (and going for speed) in the long distance final at Lavarone. The women will be running 11km with 435m of climb and 23 controls, while the men will have 16.4km/820m/33. The first starts are 12:21 for the women and 12:26 for the men. The live coverage should be available from the WOC website shortly before the first starts.

Here's a closer look at the three who are running. At the time of this blog posting the runners themselves were not available for comment, so I made most of this up.

Ali Crocker
Start time: 12:27 (6:27am EDT)
Best WOC long: 18th, 2013
Nickname: Killeraligator

Club: Southern Michigan Orienteering Club/Cambridge Sports Union

Strengths: amazing aerobic capacity (likely from salsa dancing)

Weakness: giggling

What I suspect she would have said if interviewed: "Rahr!"

Eric Bone
Start time: 13.18 (7:18 EDT)
Best: Q20
Club: Cascade Orienteering Club

Goal: beat most of group 3

Strength: most experienced WOC runner on the team (14th WOC!)

Weakness: arrived sans luggage

What I suspect he would have said if interviewed:
"I'm Eric Bone and I am ready to race."
Alex Jospe
Start time: 14:27 (8:27am EDT)
Best: Q20
Club: Cambridge Sports Union

Results goal: top 60

Process goals: I will have solid attackpoints for every control, and will change gears as necessary through the race to keep my navigation and speed in sync. I will keep my head in the game no matter what happens out there.

Strengths: very high pain threshold

Weakness: gelato

What I suspect she would have said if interviewed:
"Did you bring me chocolate?"

The Soundtrack to a Great Race

In baseball, players can choose a walk up song which is played over the stadium sound system when they enter the game. Orienteering doesn't have closing pitchers, but music still helps us set the right mood before our races. This year, for WOC, the team has been listening to a playlist of songs to get us into the racing mood. The songs on the list have been suggested by team superfans and supporters and we have been having great sing alongs on the long drives to our trainings and races.

We had initially thought to codify this list into a Mix CD (for all you kids out there, a Compact Disc is a way that ancient humans used to store and play music on car trips) but we found that some of the cars didn't have CD players?! However, all of the cars have a USB jack and so we have been playing the playlist off our phones. Thanks to the wonders of the modern universe we can bring this playlist to you, too:

Here is a link to the Spotify list where you can listen along to the "WOC 2014 Gelato Jams" list. Even better, this list is collaborative, which means that if you have a suggestion for a song that we should be listening to, you can go ahead and add it to the list! Go USA! and happy listening.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The highs and lows of sport

The first ever WOC Mixed Relay was a day of mixed emotions for Team USA.

As this is the first year of the event at WOC, teams were assigned start numbers alphabetically. This meant USA had bib number 34 and a start position at the very back of the pack. It seems that it doesn't matter whether she starts at the back of the front, Sam rises to the challenge and gets past those unworthy of being in front. She had yet another killer run, clawing her way past more than half of the other teams. Sam's hard work meant USA exchanged in 10th place, just 27 seconds behind the lead (Emma Klingenberg from Denmark) and a minute ahead of Louise Oram from Canada. 

Making history - Mixed sprint relay today!

International orienteering's newest discipline, the mixed sprint relay, premieres this afternoon in Trento. That sentence may illicit a cascade of questions. I'll do my best to answer them all!

Q. Newest discipline?
A. Yes. This year is the first year of a new WOC program that includes fewer qualification races and more medal races. This means there are no middle and long qualifications (countries are allocated starts in the final based on how well they performed in previous WOCs) and there is one new medal event: the Mixed Sprint Relay.

Q. Mixed?
A. Yes! Men and women race together!

Q. Together?
A. Well, okay, on the same teams. Technically women race against women and men against men. Each team consists of two women and two men, and the running order (at least this year) is W-M-M-W. I think this will be exciting but nobody asked me.

 Q. Okay, sounds like fun. But, where the heck is Trento? I thought they were sprinting in Venice?!
A. They *were* sprinting in Venice! Two points for you! But the rest of the races are up in the mountains the northwest of Venice.

I stole a handy map and added a circle and an arrow!
Q. With all those teams running around how will everyone punch?
A. This year they are using a touch-free SI system. Runners do not need to physically insert the SI stick into the unit, they just have to pass within 50cm of the unit. The stick beeps and flashes to let you know you've registered a punch.

Team USA at the Opening Ceremonies (photo: Eric? but he's in it!)
Q. Great! But, uh... when is it?
A. This afternoon! The mass start is 17.30 local time, which is 11:30am on the east coast -- perfect lunch break spectating timing! As for the other events there will be live results, audio from the arena, gps tracking, video, etc. all available from the organizers/IOF. See for more info.

Q. How long will it take? Relays are long!
A. This is a *sprint* relay! Each leg is only supposed to take about 15 minutes, which means the whole thing will just about as long as an episode of Game of Thrones.

Q. Who is running for Team USA?
A. I can't believe you left this question for last!

The line-up for USA:

1. Sam
2. Ross
3. Ethan
4. Ali
Sprint relay team in pre-race relaxation mode! (click to en-goofen)

The men were unavailable for comment this morning, but the team's tallest member, Ali Crocker, is psyched to have a better race today and is looking forward to being a strong anchor in the first-ever WOC sprint relay!

That's all for now, get ready for some cheering this afternoon!

More photos from the sprint final!

The forest team headed in to Venice to cheer on our sprinters, and after playing around at the spectator race (holy cow tourists EVERYWHERE), we arrived at the arena to cheer for Sam! It was a hot day, and Sam ran really well; it was fun to cheer for her.  Below are some less-professional-photos... 

Go Sam go!

Team USA superfans chilling against a wall, waiting for the arena passage.

I guess if you need more features, you import a frog statue on a box with angel wings.

Control from the spectator race.  

The Grand Canal of Venice!