31 December 2007

Map links

Didn't seem to work in previous post, so here they are

30 December 2007

Back in the UK

Box Hill

I have been back in England staying with my parents for the last two weeks, and I have had a couple of slightly easier training weeks before I head off to South Africa for January. I have taken the opportunity to do quite a bit of work, making maps of two large schools, a park and updating and extending a forest in Kent.

A new section of the Millbank map

I have also done a few races. On 23rd December I did the Army Long-O/Bike-O around Longmoor, Woolmer and Borden. The last two years I have just done the running, but this time I decided I wanted to have a go on the bike, so I decided to do the medium bike (17km), and then run the brown course (9km). I have only ever done MTBO once before, and that wasn't a proper event, so it was a bit of a steep learning curve. I borrowed a bike, and unfortunately the map board wasn't screwed on properly, so it wobbled and spun around, and eventually fell off which was a bit unfortunate. I also got blisters on the palms of both hands which was a bit annoying. Technically, it was very good except for one control - they had joined up existing orienteering maps with sections of OS map, which are much less detailed, and not very easy to read. On control 5 I went sailing past the junction and made a 4-5 minute mistake. Hmmm. Was good after that really. Will have to do some more MTBO sometime.

Results and splits for MTBO here

Five minutes after finishing, I did the brown course. I felt really good off the bike and made a really fast start (although I ran into a nasty looking fence on the way to number 2 and had to go back round). Caught up Nick Barrable about number 6, and had a good little tussle with him for some of the course. He was running slightly quicker (having not done the biking), but I was a bit cleaner into the controls. On the 21st control, I decided that I wanted to run on my own, so I took a far left route (not ideal), and he got a bit ahead and we ran seperately from there. He pulled away a bit in the end, and I took the victory by 5 seconds!

Results and splits here

Every year Southdowns have a Christmas Score event, and I seem to run it every year. The forests down there are really nice and runnable, and although I am not a big fan of score events, this one is pretty good fun. I managed to get all the controls with about 5 mins to spare. Results here.

Yesterday I ran a regional event on Ash Ranges, which is basically home terrain for me, about 5 miles from home. I have run there quite a lot, but it is always nice to do a race there. It is mostly open, with lots of heather of various depths, so it can be quite rugged, but still very fast. The course was really really good, with a variety of leg lengths and some really technical parts. It would be easy to have some dead legs, but the planner did a good job and it was all technically interesting. We started with a control pick, and I missed 10 seconds on the 2nd, and 30 secs on the 3rd (didn't see the pit as I ran past, but saw another control). After that I had a good period through the open area. 12-13 I stopped for a moment to check another competitor was ok, and lost my direction slightly. Coming out of 13 I completely misread the wall as crossable, so I ended up taking a long way around to 14. Then another tricky part through the woods before a few longer legs through the open. The heather was up to waist deep in some parts here, but I felt really strong. I navigated from 21 back to 12 (muppet), but it turned out not to be too bad anyway. 23 was slightly tricky, I came off line a bit and was hesitant. After that was really good though. Results here. Splits here.

Tomorrow morning I fly to Johannesburg, and I will be spending the next 4 weeks in Dullstroom, about 2 hours east of Joburg. The altitude there is around 2000m. I will mostly just be training, but I am also going to spend a few days making a map for an o club down there.

17 December 2007

Åland and a good training month

This weekend I went to Åland with Lidingö. Åland is an island between Sweden and Finland, about 4 hours from Stockholm by car and boat. We went across on Friday afternoon in time for a night training, on Saturday we did a middle training and a mass start night loop race, and then Sunday we did a longer training (maps below). Tough terrain, pretty detailed and unforgiving - get lost and it is pretty difficult to relocate. Mostly bare open rock, with the cold, wet weather, there was a lot of ice on the ground, so it was pretty treacherous (and painful) in places.

Back in the UK for Christmas now

27 November 2007

Winter in Stockholm

Well I've been living in Stockholm for about 2 months now, and I have just started running again after I injured my calf at Smålandskavlen. I have pretty much been living as a full-time athlete, training twice every day, and only working a small amount, mostly drawing a couple of maps for IFK Lidingö and one for a British club. I have been going to the physio every week, doing plenty of gym work, and cycling loads. I have done some aquajogging for the first time, with Fredrik Löwegren, the new IFK Lidingö elite men's coach.

There hasn't really been any snow yet, and last week it was beautiful and sunny (although about -2 degrees). Now it is a littlw bit colder and more overcast.

Club winter training has now started in earnest, with indoor track intervals on a Tuesday, circuits on a Wednesday, night-o on Thursday, tech training most Saturdays and a long run on Sunday. We also have dance classes on a Monday night and hopefully will be playing some football/bandy too.
Saturday I went for a long run on a map with Emil Lauri and Petter Haraldson. Sunday I cycled to a forest and did a nice training session -

Last week was the Stockholm Film Festival, so I took advantage of the fact that I had plenty of spare time and went to see quite a few films.

Here is the training I did today.

A few weeks ago we had the GB squad Inaugaural weekend, a celebration of 2007 and looking forward to 2008. I couldn't do any running with the other guys in the Peak District, but I went out on the bike for some long rides each day. I won the prize for 'Most Improved Orienteer', and Tessa won the junior equivalent, which was nice.

The next few weeks I'm just going to get back into running, continue training hard and finish off a couple of maps. We have a weekend away in the middle of December, and then I am going back to UK for a couple of weeks over Christmas.

In terms of living in Sweden, I have had quite a protracted battle to get a personnumber, sign up for Swedish lessons, register for Social Security, get an ID card, get a bank account etc... and I am glad to say that I think I have almost sorted everything out now.

I am writing on my Attackpoint training log every day.

30 October 2007


Last weekend I took part in Smålandskavlen, the last big competition of the year. I ran the last leg, but the first two (night) runners didn't have a good day, and we were more than 15 minutes behind. Our 3 day runners did pretty well though, and I went out in 32nd place. I ran the whole race basically on my own, only seeing some other runners in the butterflies. I was happy with my race, I was about 3 minutes slower than the fastest on last leg, and I missed somewhere around 1-2 minutes, just a couple of small mistakes. My team finished 27th.

The girls won :) Results here

Only bad thing is I hurt my calf a little, and then running on it on Monday, I managed to tear something, so now I can't run.

Photo Torben Utzon

16 October 2007

Maps from the weekend

Map with route from CompassSport Cup final

Map with route from FRA relays

15 October 2007

FRA Relays and CompassSport Cup Final

This weekend I headed back to the UK for my fell running club's national relays champs, and my orienteering club's national team competition champs. I flew in on friday, and they lost my bag.

Saturday was the Fell Running Association Relay champs, and I was running for my club Mercia. With a full team, we were favourites to take the title after 2nd place 3 times in the last 4 years. Unfortunately we lost our 2 top runners to work and a broken arm. We still had a good team though, and finished 5th, but we were never in the hunt for a medal. Maybe next year.

I ran a pretty good leg, running the pairs navigation leg. I was stronger than my partner, so I was pretty comfortable all the way, and doing the navigation, which was made more interesting by the low visibility.

Results here. Event website here. Navigation leg map here

My bag turned up later that evening.

Sunday was the CompassSport Cup, the premier club team competition in Britain. 25 in a team, each run your own agegroup and score points which are added up. We (OD) had won for the last two years, and arguably had a stronger team than ever, but so did some other clubs. The race was hosted in Blidworth, which lived up to its poor reputation as a nasty brambly forest. The map wasn't great, but the planner did a reasonable job of making a course with some interesting legs and route choices. I ran pretty well, felt strong, and won the race comfortably. Liis won the women's course, and OD won overall for a hattrick of titles, which was nice.
Results and route gadget etc here.

1. OD 2197
2. Nottingham 2152
3. South Yorkshire 2130
My bag got lost on the way home too.

09 October 2007

World Cup Final

The World Cup Final was held in Stein am Rhein, a Swiss town close to the German border. Virtually flat in Swiss terms, it still felt pretty hilly in the middle race, and I was struggling with a combination of lack of strength on the climbs, and not resting enough beforehand. Without too many mistakes, I finished 28th, 7 minutes behind Thierry - some work to be done in this kind of terrain. The sprint was in the town centre, and I knew it could potentially be very tricky, with a large number of controls, and my plan was to stay ahead of myself, and try and save the seconds at every opportunity. I started really well, and orienteered very cleanly around the first 9 controls. Then, when we came back into the arena, and had a map exchange, I failed to pick up what was going on immediately, and ran right past the 10th control, in the middle of the arena, within half a meter, and continued running down the street. I went 50m too far before I realised what was going on, and even when I came back it wasn't clear. After that I had an almost perfect run, losing a couple of seconds towards the end as I was getting tired, and we had some controls in little passage ways off the side of a larger road. Without my error, I would have been really happy with the result, but the loss of 25 seconds there turned my really good race into a bad race and an average result which I am not satisfied with. I take positives out of the fact that I was running fast enough for a really good result well inside the top 10.
That control - after my race I thought it would be interesting to see how the women coped with the control in the arena, and I saw 2 runners run past and just miss it out, 4 or 5 run past and come back 30-60 seconds lates, and maybe another 5-10 stop and look really confused. I suspect that there was a similar phenomenon with the men, and I think that to have a control that so many runners have problems with is a little bit indicative that something could have been better. Having said that, the majority of the best runners didn't even miss a step, and had no problems tells the story that the rest of us should read the map a bit better.
Back in Stockholm this week, before heading back to UK for a couple of races next weekend. First the FRA relays, then the CSC final.

25 September 2007

Stockholm! Plus Czech training, Austrian Champs and SM Middle and Relay

Me at the last control of Austrian Relay Champs (photo from Austrian website)

OK so I haven't written anything for a few weeks, but I have been kind of busy. I spent a few days in Czech Republic training for WOC next year, then I went to run the Austrian relay and long champs, and then I moved to Stockholm. At the weekend I also went to the SM middle and relays in Halmstads.

Czech Republic

This was a training cam with the GB team, but it was a very young group of athletes in general, with 7 athletes and 3 staff. We did a lot of training, ran up a lot of big hills and in general I did a bit much.


At the end of the few days in Olomoutc, we drove down to Vienna to take part in the Austrian champs. Saturday was the relay, and we had 2 even teams entered with 2 athletes and a coach in each (for a bit of fun). I ran 1st leg and felt surprisingly good considering all the training we did in Czech, and I came back first, just in front of Matthias Muller, which was nice. I did feel a bit of a strain in my right quad though, which meant I didnt run the long, and had a few days off running when I got back. After 2 legs, the two GB teams were 1st and 2nd with a fair lead, and then the coaches ran to form and dropped us to 2nd and 5th (?). We didn't really have time to run the long anyway, as we had to drive back to Brno to catch our flight.


On wednesday I moved to Stockholm! On Thursday I left Stockholm to go to Halmstads for the SM middle and relay. I wasn't allowed to run the middle as apparently I am not good enough. I ran round after everyone else had finished and my time would have put me 17th=, about 3 minutes behind Wingstedt.

Public results here, SM results here.

I was allowed to run the relay though, and with Petter Haraldsson, Casper Giding and Emil Lauri IFK Lidingö finished 8th. I ran 3rd leg, and when I came in we were in 3rd place, within reach of 2nd, but Emil had a bad day and dropped a bit on last. 8th is still a damn good result though, and only 3 minutes from a medal after 4 x 70 minute legs isn't bad. Results here.

Back in Stockholm again now, and this week it is Lidingöloppet, which is 'the world's largest cross-country race'. The men's is 30km, women's 15km, and my club organise it, so all week we will be helping set up.

I have started putting my training on Attackpoint again, so if anyone is interested in seeing what training I do, you can see here.

10 September 2007

Selections for 2008 British Senior Squad

I have been selected for the 2008 GB Squad, and also for the World Cup finals in Switzerland.
Selections here .

Over the weekend I represented both British Orienteering and the GB Squad at the British Athletes Commission annual conference in London. The BAC is the 'voice of Great Britain's elite athletes', and offers a unified front for athletes accross all sports. It was a very interesting weekend, very Olympic sport orientated, and even based in the London 2012 offices, but it gave a good insight into a lot of other sports, what things they do or don't do that we should take notice of, and it was fun to meet representatives of loads of sports I hadn't even heard of.
Website here

04 September 2007

WOC maps, some analysis, and what happens next

WOC Sprint Qualifier

I am always most nervous before the first race of a major championships, and this time it was the sprint qualifier first. I was also confident in my ability to produce a good race and qualify comfortably though. My warm up was quite interesting as I got stung by a wasp, and then taking some time to sort myself out, I almost missed my start and had to sprint to the start line.
Despite that I composed myself and ran pretty well. I was cautious to take my time and pick out good routes, not taking any risks. I got my feet wet a couple of times by not being aggresive, but that was about the worst thing in the first half of the course. Right after the spectator control, I ran straight into a branch of a tree, almost impaling myself and knocking all the wind out of me. After a few seconds wondering if I was still alive, I carried on a little sluggishly. I managed to complete the course but I was in a fair bit of pain. Luckily no lasting damage and I was fine by the next morning. I finished 6th in my heat, which is my best WOC qualification.
Results and splits are all available here.
Middle Qualification

My only real disappointment of the championships is the fact that I failed so badly in the middle distance. I missed the first control, and failed to relocate. When eventually I found the first control, I had lost 4 minutes and had no chance of making the final. I moved out of qualifier mode, and into panic must run as fast as possible mode for the rest of the course and proceeded to make a lot more mistakes. I also got quite a few fastest splits on the controls I did spike, but I finished well outside the top 15. I was pretty gutted with my performance, and to prove to myself that I could do it, I re-ran the course the next day 5 minutes quicker without pushing it - just goes to show that you just need a clean steady run in the qualifiers, and I will be better next year.


After the middle disappointment, I had plenty of time to recover and prepare for the relay. I have been running a few first legs over the last year, and I was really keen to make the GB relay team. I stood on the start line feeling confident in my ability, and the ability of Jon and Jamie after me to get a top result. I started steadily, and was completely stupid at the first control, mis-reading my code and running off, before coming back again. Despite that, I managed to be in the lead at the 3rd control (thanks to a short early gaffle). I led through my 4 - 8, where I saw a large pack of runners just behind me. On the long leg to 9 most of them caught me, and I took what was probably a stupid route into the control (down along the marshy gully rather than up and round), and I dropped into the middle of the pack (but most had had a longer gaffle earlier on - seems in a relay its a real disadvantage to have short early gaffle, especially on first leg, and more so if you have a longer gaffle later on). Through 10, 11, 12 I was running with a large group, although people were splitting to go to different controls. I missed 11 slightly, just overshooting in the circle, but it seemed like everyone on my gaffle did the same, and we were all running together up the hill to 12. After that, I just ran in a pack through 12 - 15. I had a longer gaffle to 16 and lost Oberg and Gonon who were just in front of me. Then disaster just before 19, my SI card flicked off my hand and I had to go hunt for it. Luckily the forest was open and I found it fairly easily. Then I was so tired for the last few hundred metres. I handed over to JD in 15th, about 2.50 down on the leaders. Actually my worst performance result-wise all year on first leg, but I felt like my speed was good and my technique was good. I lost a little time in the gullies, and I was really tired from all the climbing, but I didn't lose more than minute. I must have lost some time on running speed in the last loop, and also some seconds looking for my SI card. Anyway, Jon and Jamie ran pretty good and we finished 7th, some 2 minutes off the podium. A creditable result, but we were all hoping (and maybe expecting) something even better.

After the race I got some really bad stomach cramps, some diarrhoea and really struggled to eat or drink anything. It was about 6 hours before I could really eat anything, and that went straight through me. At that point the sprint final was looking a bit dubious.

Sprint Final

I actually woke up feeling a lot better, nervous and empty, but generally pretty good. I still had some diarrhoea, and warming up I felt like I didn't have a huge amount of energy. Still, I felt good and confident in my technique at least. As I was on the call up, I heard Wingstedt finishing and answering a few questions, so I knew a little of what to expect. I started steadily and noticed the first couple of controls looked a little tricky. I navigated carefully to the 1st, and didn't really understand the 2nd. The green 'hedges' turned out to be vines or something, and they werent very distinct. It was only after I had run past and looking back and around that I saw the control. 3 was an interested route choice, and I tried to minimise the climb and find the easiest way into the control. Perhaps I should have run north of the building along the path, but the forest floor was fairly level and easy running. After a slightly slow start, I got a really good split here. 4 was straightforwards, although looking ahead, I knew there were a couple of key route choices coming up. I had decided to try and conserve height as much as possible, and chose a route to 5 that looked to have a good way into the control as well as not having too much climb. It turned out that a lot of the small paths were really overgrown, and there was no chance to run and read the map. My route was a little slow compared to the route to the west and I lost around 15 seconds. 6 was potentially quite tricky, and I was careful with my direction through the bushy forest. 7 seemed to be another crux route choice, and again faced with a 50-50 decision, I opted for the slightly longer but flatter route to the west of the large building. It also offered some better surfaces for running and looking ahead at the course. I think it was a good decision for me and I got a really good split time (4th). Number 8 I didn't really see a route to the north out of 7, so I was looking at over or round the hill to the right. Again, feeling weak on the hill, I chose round, but this time I think it was a poor decision, and I lost arund 10 seconds here. My route was just too far off the line. I saw my 1 minute man, Leif Bader, here, and I ran 9 and 10 really hard to catch him. I passed him on the hill down to 12, and I knew I was having a good race. Control 13 seems to have caught out more people than any other, including me. I came out of 12 too far right and ended up 20-30m NE of the control. As soon as I hit the small path I stopped, relocated, and ended up losing only around 5-10 seconds. Martin Johansson did the same but lost around 30 seconds and a gold medal. 14 was easy, and 15 offered an interesting last route choice. I was obviously getting tired as I lost a couple of seconds on the climb. I ran hard into the finish though, and overtook Nordberg by less than a second on the line. As I finished, I was 3rd, and I knew that it was good enough for top 20 for sure, and maybe around 10th if I was lucky. I am really happy with 12th place, and while I can find 2 route choice errors (25 seconds maybe), and 2 small mistake (10-15 seconds), I am really happy with my race technically. Physically I felt weak on the hills, and I will work on that for next year.

After WOC

I am back in England now after a weeks holiday in Odessa on the Black Sea. This weekend I am attending the British Athletes Commission annual conference in London, the on Tuesday I am going for my second WOC 2008 training camp in Czech Republic with the British team. When I get back from that, I will spend a last few days with my parents before moving permanently to Stockholm on the 19th.

28 August 2007

Reflections on WOC 2007 - 12th place

WOC 2007 is over, and I am sat in Odessa having a relaxing few days. Kiev was an interesting venue this year, and for a lot of competitors it meant heat, traffic, stomach problems and dogs, but the orienteering was good, the races were good and the best athletes did well which is what makes the championships overall pretty successful.

From my point of view, I was very disappointed with my performance in the middle distance, I was satisfied but not overjoyed with my relay run, and I was really happy with my sprint race, especially considering I had a few stomach problems of my own to contend with.

The sprint was really fun, with 4 good route choice legs (2 good choices, 1 ok, and 1 not so good for me), and some really technical legs. I lost time on 2 route choices and I missed one control by 5-10 seconds, but apart from that my race was very good. I finished 12th, worse than last year's 9th place, but my race was technically better in general this year, and I believe that the competition was stronger with more of the top men running due to this year's schedule.

I will put all my maps and some photos up next week when I am back in Britain, but for the next few days I am going to enjoy sun, beaches and beer.

18 August 2007

WOC Begins - Sprint Qualifier

WOC 2007 kicked off today in sunny Kiev, with the sprint qualifier. The day started badly for me, getting stung by a huge bee / wasp thing during my warm up. I then proceeded to miss call up and have to hurry to make my start. I felt good and composed though and ran pretty well. Picked some good route choices and felt ok. I ran into a tree just after the spectator control and impaled my stomach, really winding me for a few seconds. Valiantly I struggled on through the pain (it wasnt really that bad), and I finished 6th in my heat.
Good start to the week, room for improvement but job done.

15 August 2007

Final countdown to WOC (plus maps from Czech, Oringen, Ukraine and Scottish 6 day)

I haven't updated this page for a while, mostly due to laziness, but partly because I have been very busy competing and preparing for this years World Championships.


Not a great set of World Cup results for me, 44th in the long (and hence not qualifying for middle A final), 15th (ish?) in the middle B final, and 27th in the Sprint. Despite the disappointing results, I took a lot of positives out of the week. In the long I ran really poorly through the short loops at the start, and started the last loop a long way behind, but I ran really well round the last loop and pulled up quite a few places. I felt strong at the end of a 2 hour race which is a really good sign for me as I have not really been strong over longer distances in the past. The middle race was really a race of two parts for me. The first 20 minutes or so were near perfect, I was running fast and orienteering really well. I was in the lead at the 9th control and looking good. Then something went wrong and I started missing lots of controls. Maybe I lost concentration, or I failed to identify more difficult controls, but I lost around 3 minutes over the next few controls to end up well down the results. Never mind.
Long map, last loop, results here

Middle race map, results here

The sprint was really fun, with thousands of spectators in the arena and all around the course. I had a fairly early start and I was never really on the pace. I am pretty sure that was due to tiredness after the long and middle, as my shape was really good before the week. I had a good race apart from at the 6th control where I misread the fence close to the control as being crossable - it does not / did not look like it is thick enough by sprint mapping standards to be uncrossable, and while running at high speeds, I assumed I would be able to get to the control. I lost 30 seconds there and the nature of the course was such that you couldnt afford to lose a second anywhere. That was the end of my race and I finished 55 seconds behind the leader. Results here

I went home after the sprint to recover and prepare for the following week.

Ukraine Camp

The week after Oringen, the GB team for WOC went out to Ukraine for the final training camp before the championships. We stayed in the WOC hotel, the Turist, and while we did not do a huge amount of training, we did some really good intense sessions on some of the most relevant terrains.

Scottish 6 day

I decided that after Oringen and Ukraine, that I would go for a few relaxing days in Scotland, and run a couple of the days of the 6 day, but mostly just chill out and enjoy myself before WOC. The 6 day was based in Grantown, and I was sharing a cottage just down the road from the event centre. I missed the first day because of flying back from Ukraine, and I missed the second day due to my bag flying back from Ukraine . So I arrived in time for the 3rd day on Inshriach in the glorious Scottish rain. Not really loving the full classic length, I just cruised around 2/3 of the course and enjoyed the beautiful forest. The next day was the rest day, which for some people meant mountain bike orienteering in the morning, followed by a sprint race in the afternoon. I just did the sprint race, around the town of Kingussie. The area is not the most technical, but the course was well planned, and it was tricky in places with some good route choices (and some hills). I won comfortably in the end, but comparing splits, it was really only down to a couple of legs.

Results here

Day 4 is one of the most beautiful forests for orienteering in the world (let alone Scotland). Everybody should orienteer in Culbin (British champs next year hint hint). It is fantastically detailed in places, and most of it only has pine needles on the ground. There are some areas of dense trees and heather for variation, and mixed visibilty makes it a real challenge. It really calls for high speed orienteering. I had an amazing run - I was really enjoying my orienteering and was delighted with my performance on an area which is very relevant for the middle terrain in Ukraine. Results here

Day 5 I spent stretching and relaxing. Day 6 was on another truly awesome area - Anagach. Unfortunately for me, as I wasn't running all the days, I had to start first (ish), about 3 hours before all the elite boys. I suspect that there will have been some advantage to running later due to tracking, but that is not to say I think I would have beaten Oli, who ran an awesome time. I had a pretty good run, with no big mistakes, a few poor lines through the terrain, and I missed the penultimate control in the green. Results here

Congratulations to Oli and Sarah on winning overall.
Then it was a long drive back down south to my parents house. I am just relaxing and doing the last few training sessions before flying out to Ukraine tomorrow. Last night I went to a sprint race organised by South London Orienteers. The race was in a forest, we had no control codes,
and there were dummy controls in the forest. This was a great technique session, requiring speed and accurate navigation. I got 1 control out of 18 wrong. Great idea for a training session though.
Maps from Czech, including Bohemia 3 day competition