Sunday, June 29, 2014

Countdown to WOC! Relaxation + pre-jetlagging.

For the record, moving out of one's apartment 1.5 weeks before WOC is not the best idea, because moving = stressful! But, I'm now happily recovering and relaxing up on a lake in Canada with my family before making my way to Italy next week. The name of the game now is just to rest with only easy training, visualize and study maps!

The Venice maps look awesome, I'm so excited to race there in just a few days. And I'm also very happy to have a sense of what the middle and long terrain looks like from my early trip to the region right after going to TioMila as part of CSU's team in the spring. My impressions then were that the long maps weren't so different from what we're used to in the Northeast of the USA, with rocky, hilly terrain and mixed forest. The middle terrain, however, was much more extreme, with both regions of very small-scale features and then the trenches! It reminded me most of the limestone-y terrain of France WOC 2012, although with less dense vegetation.

Since I'm not arriving to Italy much before the races this year, I'm on a plan to pre-jetlag myself, waking up 20 minutes earlier each day before I leave. Hopefully this makes it easier to adjust timezones upon arrival!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Countdown to WOC, taper time! (6 days to go!)

Every training plan needs rest days and the Team USA Countdown to WOC is no exception! The sprint events at WOC are one week away and most of the American athletes will take it a bit easier this week -- still a few short, hard sessions but no killer workouts in the days leading up to the Sprint Qual and Sprint Final. 

What are the sprinters thinking right now?

I asked two of the Americans who will be running the WOC sprint what their feelings were in one word. 

A: "Winning."
B:  "Super-flow-y"

I think B might need an English (or math?) lesson, but that's what I got. Can you guess who said each one?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

More webroutes!

In 2009, this area of Italy held JWOC, and there was a massive thunderstorm in the middle of the race, leading to people getting pretty cold. Hopefully that won't happen in two weeks for WOC.  But in spirit of running through awesome terrain in scary storms, here's a webroute, from the men's final JWOC long course. Not much route choice, but execution looks tricky...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sprinting in the City

The sprints at the World Championships in Italy will be urban, and we can surely expect twisty city streets and some challenging route choices. Many of the sprints in the US have more of a forest feel, and even some of the urban sprints that I've attended recently don't give quite the same level of complexity (for example, this course from Uppland District champs from earlier this spring).

Sprint-SM i orientering from Robert Andersson on Vimeo.

However, there are plenty of tricky courses in city settings out there to study. The video above was made at the SM Sprint champs in Uppsala, Sweden, my new hometown, earlier this spring. I wasn't running in the race myself, but I did test several of the route choices in the weeks leading up to the competition and it was fun to watch the best in Sweden racing in my metaphorical backyard. Test your mettle with the H21 A final course in this Webroute.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Middle Minds (10 days to WOC!)

Hello there! A few weekends ago team members Cristina, Alex, Giacomo and I met up in Italy for some training races. Try the webroute from the middle, and check out the splits and gps. Running it, there didn't seem to be a lot of route choice decisions, but talking to others afterwards showed that there was some variation. The first control actually presents a nice route choice dilemma - through the slash, or climb on the trail and then drop? Spoiler - I found that going straight through the slash wasn't too bad, and the cliffs and then the open vegetation before on the control was quite obvious. But then it was hard to actually see the flag!

WOC prep for me has been focused on sprinting, but it was nice to get out into the forests while in Italy. Hopefully I'll be running the forest relay, so the hill training will come in handy!

Because sprints are fun! (11 days to WOC!)

In just over one week the first Americans will arrive in Italy for WOC. Those running the sprint will probably do some training in the city of Treviso, a city located just a hop, skip, and a jump from Venice. Even though it's an inland city it does have its share of bridges and narrow streetsto make you feel just a little bit Venetian.

Today's WebRoute is from a training course in Treviso. Do it!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Time for some middle fun (12 days to WOC!)

Want to prove that you're the best orienteer in the world? Win the middle distance at WOC. 

This year the middle final takes place in Campomulo's karst terrain and promises to be rocky and technical. See an old map of the area.

Keeping it short because today is Sunday and we should all be out training instead of sitting at our computers -- try out this WebRoute of  middle distance training in relevant Italian terrain.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Sprint madness! (13 days to WOC!)

The sprint final in Sotkamo, Finland last year brought (see men's final map) introduced maze-like sprint orienteering to much of the orienteering universe. Lucky orienteers in the USA were no strangers to maze-like competitions, thanks to the existence of Corn Maze Orienteering USA, which maintains a healthy schedule of highly competitive championship events across the country. Corn Maze orienteering (or maize maze O if you swing that way) is not only exceptionally fun but also exceptionally great training for thinking fast and simplifying route choices in complex terrain.

Boris on the course at the first CMOUSA event, October 2010

The sprint final in Venice is not likely to include 800m of fencing to increase complexity but it is still good training -- and good fun -- to armchair with such courses. The most recent sprint World Cup event in Imatra, Finland took the fence complexity up a notch from WOC last year, literally creating a labyrinth in an otherwise boring town. Try it out with this RunningWild! for the women's World Cup course. WorldOfO has results and GPS tracking from the World Cup race as well as route choice analysis for the long leg on the men's course.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Who is the toughest? USA countdown to WOC!

The long distance final at WOC is a true test of endurance and the ability to keep your wits about you as you fight exhaustion. This year the long distance will take place in Lavarone, far from the canals and marshes of Venice and with just a few more contour lines to climb. You can see an old version of the map if you click this sentence.

A few weeks ago there were World Ranking Events in Italy on terrain relevant to WOC, with nice long courses on the Sunday. Like this one:

Blatantly stolen from Gernot Kerschbaumer's DOMA archive.
Today you can try your hand at picking route choices for the men's WRE course on the clock with the experimental RunningWild from WorldOfO. Go ahead, give it a shot! Click/think fast!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What awaits the sprinters? OUSA countdown to WOC!

This year the WOC Sprint Final promises to be a fantastic event, taking place in the intricate streets, crossing the numerous canals, of the fabulous city of Venice.

Hopefully there won't be any swimming involved. (Photo by: Wolfgang Morode) 
What's it like to sprint in Venice? It's amazing! Can't make it there yourself? Check out this training map and draw your own routechoices with webroute!

Map teaser. Click it! Go draw your routes! Don't be afraid!

The plan is to have a new map each day leading up to WOC for you to armchair prepare and get a bit of a taste of what the WOC athletes have ahead of them. Enjoy!

WOC 2014: T minus 15 days!

With 15 days left before WOC 2014 in Italy, Team USA is gearing up for the action and we hope the fans at home are gearing up for some very early morning spectating. Two weeks is plenty of time to start waking up a bit earlier every day, ready for those 4am GPS-track-watching sessions.
You may not get to see his smiley face or hear his quiet cheers, but you can pretend. (Ross Smith, relay WOC 2013)
Throughout WOC there will be info on this blog about starts and results, but here's a preview of the schedule:

Sat, 5 Jul: Sprint Q + Sprint F (Venice)
Sun, 6 Jul: Opening Ceremony
Mon, 7 Jul: Sprint Relay (Trento)
Tue, 8 Jul: Rest day
Wed, 9 Jul: Long final (Lavarone)
Thur, 10 Jul: Rest day
Fri, 11 Jul: Middle final (Campomulo)
Sat, 12 Jul: Relay (Campomulo)

And a reminder of who is running what:

Sprint - Ethan, Giacomo, Ross
Sprint relay - to be announced in Italy after the sprint (2 among, Eric, Ethan, Giacomo and Ross)
Long - Eric
Middle - Wyatt
Relay - to be announced in Italy (Pre-selection of Eric for a leg)

Sprint - Ali, Sam and Tori
Sprint relay - to be announced in Italy (pre-selection of Ali and Sam)
Long distance - Ali and Alex
Middle distance - Ali and Hannah
Relay - to be announced in Italy

Dust off the facepaint and get ready for some hardcore team support!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Jukola Reactions: Matt and Isabel

Continuing with our series of junior team members reacting to Jukola--next up are Matt Stout and Izzy Bryant. 


Our Jukola trip began Friday morning. After originally planning to head over to Jukola in two trips we decided to go over as a team on the 10 o’clock bus from Kuopio to the race site, which was a military camp. When we arrived it was cold and rainy. Everyone threw on all the layers they brought with them to try and stay warm. We checked in, picked up the emit punching devices, and found our 17-person tent. We headed to lunch and went through the stores. With the rain the ground had turned to mud, and everywhere you stepped there was more and more mud. 

At 2 o’clock we went to watch the Venla start with Izzy as the first leg. After going through a few more stores and finding free sun glasses, Addie started the second leg. Midway through her leg I did the model map with Ethan, Connor, and Addison. Some time during the model, Anne started the 3rd leg of Venla. After coming back from the model, Ane, a Norwegian, had started the 4th leg, and Addie was having story time, reading a book out loud to everyone. At 6 o’clock the boys had a Jukola meeting going over how to pass the emits and when to wake people up. The order was Michael, Ethan, Erin, Addison, Austin, Connor, and then me. After the meeting we to watch Ane finish her leg and complete the Venla relay. Once we saw Ane finish we ate dinner and completed the 2nd half of window shopping we had done earlier. I bought a pair of o-pants for training. 

One of the tents at Jukola selling clothes
After a few more hours of relaxing and trying to stay awake for the start of Jukola, the team went over to watch Michael start the race with the mass start. There were so many spectators trying to watch the start when we got there that the closest we could get was maybe 20 feet from the fence at the start corridor. A few people sat on others’ shoulders to see the start while others jumped up and down. 

Excited for the Jukola starts!
Once the relay started at 11 o’clock, I went back to the tent to sleep. After putting layers that I had taken off earlier, I got in my sleeping bag and went to sleep. Throughout the night I woke up several times to people coming back. They all seemed slightly discouraged about how slow they were, but happy talking about the physicality of the terrain. Addison woke me up at 6:10 am, then Austin went out. 

I headed to breakfast and watched Theirry Georgieu on the big screen run legs 15 through the end to win the competition for his team by only 10 seconds. It felt weird seeing legs of my course ahead of time, almost as if I was cheating. I headed back to the tent go dressed and got to my start early at 8:10. The mass start was at 9:00 and the last time Connor could make the handoff was at 8:45.  Once I looked at the radio controls I knew he would not make the time, because at 8:30 he was 5k into his 10k course. I began to prepare myself for the leg 7 mass start. 

The start was full of people and very fast. My first 4 legs went great but then I struggled with a few controls throughout the rest where the pack split, always seeming to have the control further past the other fork. I also messed up on leg 13, accidentally going to control 17 (long legs with lines intersecting) and got disoriented trying to get back to the elephant trails leading me to my controls. After that the people seemed to spread out and I felt like I was orienteering by myself instead of in huge lines. Once I returned to control 17, I hit a wall physically and was struggling to keep up with a group I had caught. The people I had just run past were now slowly marching behind me on the elephant trail trying to pass me. I pushed through and got to the GO control, and sprinted with everything I had left to the finish. 

Matt in the finish chute--it was a long haul!

Thirsty and exhausted, I saw Erin and headed back to the tent with him and some others. As soon as everyone was back, we packed up and headed for the bus back to Kuopio. Everyone was exhausted, and slept for most of the bus ride back to Kuopio.



I think it is good luck to forget something before a race. It’s kind of like getting lost on the way to an orienteering meet, which is super good luck. Erin wanted to talk our Venla team through the map exchange thirty minutes before the mass start, so at 1:30 we all walked over to the arena together. Right as we entered the arena, I realized that I forgot something pretty important… my compass. So I raced back to the tent, grabbed my compass, and quickly made my way back to the arena to find Erin waiting at the entrance.

Izzy wearing the new USA uniform in the woods at Venla

I have been the first leg runner in the majority of the relay races I have participated in, but Venla was a completely different experience.  For one, the warm up area was over a kilometer long and there were hundreds of other women warming up with me. There was also a huge crowd of people watching us. I was more excited than nervous while warming up, and the other competitors and their club members cheering them on were welcome distractions from the chaos soon to come.  At eight minutes to the start the announcer called all of us to the starting line. I found my place and focused on clearing my head and enjoying the moment. Pretty soon the announcer called one minute to start, then thirty seconds, twenty seconds, ten… then BAM the gun went off and so did we.


Izzy after finishing a run

Photos and editing by Addie Nolan

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jukola Reactions: Ethan

The USA Junior Team ran in Jukola this year, and we'll be releasing some of the juniors' reactions to the relay over the next few days, supplemented with pictures of the race. First up: Ethan Childs' perspective on the race and his run.


The day before the race I wasn’t too thrilled. We had two days of training on Jukola training maps and the result was general disaster both days. I couldn’t understand the way the rocks or contours were mapped, and I was frequently struggling on controls. After hearing the girls’ report of Venla, I felt a little better, and then I did a warm up on the model map. That was clean, and it came down to being very careful on the compass and following the elephant paths. Thank god for elephant paths.

Venla starters

Front line of Venla racers

I started my race a little after one o’clock in the morning. Michael had a little trouble before me. The Emit radio controls didn’t broadcast his position until he hit the GO control, but fortunately I had jogged for a few minutes right before just to keep warm. One thing that I was worried about, though, was that I hadn’t eaten hardly a thing since 8:00, and I didn’t know how long my energy would last. In addition, my headlamp only lasts for an hour and a half at best on the dim setting. I miraculously managed to squeeze both extra batteries and my extra headlamp in my pocket, but that meant I had to pin the HammerGel to my bib number… which hung in such a way that it would swing and bounce off me in a most unpleasant manner. I also had to tighten my pants while running and frequently pull them up due to all the weight in the pocket, but lucky for me it was so light outside I never even had to change batteries. I probably had my headlamp turned on for less than 10% of the course, maybe even less than 5%. It was very bright outside, even at the darkest part of the night.

Crowd at the start of Jukola. As you can see, it's still pretty light out.

The first control was interesting: A 3-3.5km leg, not including the 1km run to the start triangle. What made it frustrating was that I was stuck behind slow people the entire time, and I could only get by them on open areas or roads. On the bright side, it meant very simple navigation. As long as I stayed in touch I was able to hit my controls safely. After hitting the first control I decided I had had enough of the slow people and would take paths off to the left or the right in order to get by them. I had trouble on the next control, but it was due to poor map-reading, but after that I was very smooth and fast. At one point I even ignored the tide of people and went my own route and spiked the control dead-on. The people were certainly useful, but I did a good job of paying attention and only using them to key me into the finer points. Editor's note: Route Gadget for all Jukola and Venla courses can be found at:

This didn’t last forever, unfortunately. I had taken my HammerGel before I felt exhausted, so it kicked in before the fatigue really hit me. I also got stuck behind more people, though, as some parts got to be a little denser, and then, close to the end of the course, I was jumping a ditch under a power line and my foot got stuck. Several thousand people had turned the small stream into a bed of deep mud, and I got all of it. The worse part was putting my hands out to stop myself, but they just sank into the mud, my map with them. When I tried to extract my map before it could get soaked my hand wouldn’t come out because of suction. After a few tries I freed myself, but I was covered in water and mud which slowed me down a made me feel noticeably colder than usual. I also had to take everything one leg at a time because I couldn’t get all the mud off the map. Fortunately it held together, but all I could read was whichever leg I wiped off with my thumb for that time. I still managed to finish strong and pick up the pace again, but not after crashing on some rocks after my second-to-last control. I didn’t feel any pain until after I finished, but I noticed later that my left knee was swollen and aching a bit.

After the race was another story in itself. I was tired, sore, wet, and I desperately needed food. I went back to the tent and gnawed on a frozen power bar (it got really cold during the night), and picked out some clothes so I could go and get a shower as soon as possible to get the mud off and warm up. I arrived at the place, watching the steam drift above the area they had set up for people to get clean, only to discover it cost three euros. So I jogged back to our tent, got money, and changed out of my wet clothes after warming up a bit (thanks to Izzy for volunteering Addie’s raincoat and Addie for allowing it). When I got back to the showers I paid and headed inside. As one might expect, there were naked men everywhere, but lucky for me I don’t really care too much, so I stripped down, grabbed a shower head, and soaked in the steamy goodness that was my salvation (I was really cold). Better yet, because this is Finland there were two sauna tents, and as long as you don’t have an issue with standing shoulder-to shoulder in a steaming room with at least fifty other men is was amazing. I remained in there until my drinking water got warm and my goosebumps were gone, which was probably around half an hour. This was also when I first noticed my swollen knee, but now I was warm and my knee didn’t really hurt at all.

The rest of my Jukola experience can be summed up by three things: Shopping, eating, and spectating. I saw the Jukola and Venla starts, and I watched as many of our runners as I could. I also checked out all of the stores and hit up some sweet sales, although there were some things I forced myself not to get (Like a 10 euro jacket), I did cave on others like a sleeping pad for the bare ground to spare my good one from being soaked. Eating wasn’t very exciting, but there was decent variety and it all cost more than it should. Still, having dinner or breakfast at Jukola with my junior buddies was a great experience. 

Junior team in conference after Venla.
Goofing around with the team :)
I also spent a lot of time taking pictures. I should have saved my camera battery for just our team, but I did save some at the end to take pictures of the winners finishing. I went over to the GO control to snag the best spot about an hour and a half early, and it was totally worth it when I got some shots of Thierry punching the last control and starting his way into the finish chute.

Thierry Georgieu in the finish chute!
Daniel Hubmann finishing
Notice, sleep was not part of my day. I got about and hour of sleep or so before the Jukola start, but I didn’t sleep again until after the chase start went out, and then I crashed hard. The sun came out and the outside warmed up, so I grabbed my cheap sleeping pad, moved outside, and took a nap. I slept like a rock.

All in all, Jukola was amazing. I sincerely hope I’ll be able to return and participate in it again.

-Ethan Childs

edited by Addie Nolan