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