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!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sam 32nd in Sprint!

Samantha Saeger came through with an impressive 32nd place finish in the much anticipated Venice Sprint.  Here's a bit about her runs today in her own words (apologies for the text version, it's difficult to do a video interview from another country):

Couch at the finish -- check! (Photo: Kenny) 
Squeezing into the final:
"I had a lot of fun running both sprints today. Running around in Venice was truly amazing! I had a lot of 10 to 20 second mistakes during the quali and did not feel confident about my chances coming into the finish. I was really relieved to see my name in 15th, just squeezing in."

32nd best in the world:
"The final started well and I was feeling strong on the long run through the arena. I had good plans for the controls and was executing everything well, but started to tire and make mistakes around 12. I still think I chose good routes, but I often missed a turn, or slightly overran alleys. Just after I finished I was in third, and I checked an item off my bucket list -- sitting on the winners couch on the stage! I sweated in my moment in the sun, before having to move down and cool off."

Women's Sprint Final (
Zoom! (Photo: Kenny)
See splits from the Final and gps tracking is also available for all your post-race, back-seat-driving analysis.

Tomorrow is a rest day and travel with just the opening ceremony and sprint medal ceremony. The team will be reunited as the sprinters head up to the hills for the rest of WOC.   

Sprint Qual recap -- Sam through to final this afternoon!

Sam Saeger was the only American to make it through to the Sprint Final after this morning's Qualification races. Sam finished 15th in Women-B, 1:22 behind heat winner Lena Eliasson of Sweden. All the women report running strongly but unfortunately Ali and Tori also report having one bad control each.

Ali, Tori, and Sam discuss routes after Sprint Q. (Photo: Eric Bone)
1. Emma Klingenberg (DEN) 12:57
15. Bernadett Kelemen (HUN) 15:06
30. Alison Crocker (USA) 18:07

1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) 13:38
15. Olha Panchenko (UKR) 15:05
26. Tori Borish (USA) 17:45

1. Lena Eliasson (SWE) 13:39
15. Samantha Saeger (USA) 15:01

Full results for the women.

Best for the men today was Ross Smith, with a very nice 23rd place in Men-C, 1:13 behind heat winner Yannick Michiels of Belgium.

Men's sprint Q map (
1. Daniel Hubmann (SUI) 12:37
15. Tiago Romao (POR) 13:23
28. Ethan Childs (USA) 14:46

1. Jonas Leandersson (SWE) 12:30
15. Mate Kerenyi (HUN) 13:15
35. Giacomo Barbone (USA) 15:28

1. Yannick Michiels (BEL) 12:46
15. Algirdas Bartkevicius (LTU) 13:29
23. Ross Smith (USA) 13:59

Full results for the men.

This was the first race for WOC rookies Ethan and Tori and a congrats is certainly in order for their results!

The Final takes place in Venice this afternoon starting at 15:20 local time (9:20am EDT). Basic live results from and full live coverage is available for purchase.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Shifting gear!

The sprint squad is heading to bed, but we wanted to share a nice photo from today, to give people a view of what the beach near our hotel looks like and also a view of what the new uniform design is like when worn by the very stylish and very speedy Ethan.

Sprint Q start times for USA

Startlists for tomorrow morning's sprint qualification race for women and men are available from the organizers.

For Team USA we have (previous best WOC sprint result):

9:09 Tori Borish (first WOC!)
9:17 Alison Crocker (20th, WOC 2012)
9:27 Samantha Saeger (29th, WOC 2006)
10:08 Ethan Childs (first WOC!)
10:16 Ross Smith (Q21, WOC 2011)
10:36 Giacomo Barbone (Q33, WOC 2012)

(All times are Central European, so EDT is -6 and PDT is -9).  

Sam sprinting! (From
There are 3 qualification heats with 3 runners starting at the same time -- runners do not know which heat there are in, nor which heat other runners they might catch or be caught by are in. The top 15 finishers in each heat will advance to the final tomorrow afternoon. 

The O world has been buzzing about sprinting in Venice for two years! Now it's finally time to get your (crazy) sprint on!

WOC starts tomorrow!

The team is in Italy doing their final preparations -- easy map runs, taper workouts, and topping off their glycogen tanks with a taste of gelato.

Tomorrow will be a busy day for the athletes running the sprint events as the qualification race is in the morning and the final in the afternoon -- on two different islands! Runners will be transported from the pre-quarantine area to Burano by boat. There they will race the qual and then be transported to Venice for the final, again by boat.

Sprint locations, from website.
The forecast for tomorrow promises warm sun in the morning and cloud cover in the afternoon, which may help athletes from colder climates who won't be used to the higher humidity! (The afternoon dew point is forecasted to be a sticky 20°C.)

Meteogram for Venice from

The qual starts at 9:00CET (that's 3:00am for east coasters) and the final at 15:20CET (a more manageable 9:20am). It will be possible to follow the GPS tracking live during the event through the LiveCenter (ticket required!). It sounds like there will also be arena audio and/or video! We'll link to startlists once they are published later today.

For those of you at home the best way to cheer on Team USA is to leave supportive comments here and to get together with a bunch of friends for a watching party. Host of the biggest US watching party over the WOC week (pics or it didn't happen) gets a special prize!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Countdown to WOC - arrival to Lavarone

The forest team have arrived to the Lavarone plateau! Eric, Hannah and Alex are settled in and getting used to the terrains, and Wyatt is somewhere around here with his family; we'll all meet up somewhere tomorrow for training. (Possibly followed with a recovery gelato?).  Here are some photos, since we all know that's why you're here :)

Sunset in lavarone. 

Hannah points out that the open fields aren't all that open, actually.

Trail selfies!  Sigh, I'm a 13yo girl, apparently.

Nice beech forest! We're looking forward to orienteering in it.

Look ma, a cliff!

Looking toward the embargoed part of the map.

Sunset pretty done, now.

Colorful buildings!