28 December 2009

Last orienteering of 2009

Today I ran my last 'race' of the year, a local event put on by my home club, Mole Valley. I had good memories of the area from the last time I ran there about 10 years ago, and the area lived up to expectation. Really nice forest and a good course.

This is the end to a mixed year - the highs being top 10s in the World Champs Long and World Cup Final, and lows being missing NOC and World Games through sickness.
I started the year living in Stockholm, and now I live in Sheffield. After 1 term of my Masters degree, I am already enjoying it more than my previous degree, and I look forward to carrying that on in 2010. I am also enjoying Sheffield life, with plenty of training in the beautiful Peak District - perfect physical training for Trondheim!

For the first time in 4 years, I am not going to South Africa in January, instead I have 2 exams, and assignment, a training camp in the Lake District and lectures to look forward too. I am off to Portugal though, for POM and NAOM in February.

I have finally drawn my routes on the maps from the Sheffield City race, which was probably the best orienteering I did in the UK this year (although there were some really good races!).
Routegadget for prologue here and final here

Here are the maps from today.

19 November 2009

Venice and a quick catch-up

Been a while since my last post and I have been busy!
In the last 2 months I have found a new place to live and started my degree. I am now sharing a house with Marcus Pinker (Irish number 1) in Broomhill in Sheffield, and I am taking an MSc in Sport and Exercise Science at Sheffield Hallam University.

Winter training has started well, and I have a really good program in place including strenght and conditioning at the performance centre at Hallam University.

I have been doing a little bit of orienteering too (not much!). Winning street orienteering races in Cambridge and Oxford. I also went to Venice last weekend. Unfortunately I was a little sick in the week before, so I wasn't quite in best shape, but I was satisfied with my 5th place, about 2.40 down on Mamleev. Not bad for a rookie in the streets of Venice.

This weekend I am doing my last race of the year, the Sheffield City Chase which should be really exciting! Sheffield is my new home, but I haven't explored it much yet, so hopefully I will know it a little better after the weekend.

Some other exciting new developments include a new job - lead coach of South Yorkshire Orienteers - probably the most successful club in the country, and last night voted Sports Club of the Year at the South Yorkshire sports awards, and a couple of new sponsors who I will write about soon.

20 September 2009

And that's the end of that chapter....

My new playground

On Tuesday I moved out of my flat in Sweden and headed back to the UK. After 2 years in Stockholm it is time for a change, and I will now be living in Sheffield. Sheffield is the home of outdoor sport in England, and I think it will be a great place to prepare through the winter, both physically and technically. Close by is the Peak District, with endless hilly terrain running. The Lake District is only 2 hours away, and being right in the middle of England, I will be well positioned to travel to races. There are also many other top orienteers living in Sheffield, and I look forward to training hard with them.

I will start a part time Masters degree in Sport and Exercise Science at Sheffield Hallam University on Monday, and I will do some part time work as well (coaching and mapping).

25 August 2009

WOC Long Distance top 10!

The culmination of the World Champs this year was the long distance. 17.5km with 750 metres of climbing, and some big route choices. This was the race I was really aiming for this year, and after my great qualification race I was relatively confident that at least my fitness was good enough for a top result. It also meant that I was starting 3rd from last, with only Thierry and Baptiste after me. Realistically, I was always expecting to see one or both of them, and I managed to stay in front for more than 50 minutes. To be honest, when Thierry catches you and you have the same butterflies, it would be more than a little stupid to ignore him - my speed definitely increased after then. I had no problem to run at the same speed as him though, and passing through the spectator control with 2.5km to go, I understood that I had a chance for top 10. I could not stay with Thierry after that though, and he was out of sight on the steep rocky slope to number 30. I really gave everything I had, and I don't really know how I found the last couple of controls! The tough climbs were a killer, but it seems like others had even more problems than I did, and I actually took some places on the last loop, despite feeling like I was going backwards.... As I sprinted into the finish, I heard that I was running to 9th place!
Before the championships, my goal had been top 20. After the qualification, I had small dreams for a top 10, but it was still unbelievable to actually do it. I had a good race technically, losing some time to the 5th (lost focus while taking a gel), and then a couple of little wobbles towards the end (24, 26 and 31).

This was a really nice end to WOC week, after a mediocre sprint race, and a decent run in the relay. I am really happy for Thierry that he took his first medal in the long - he really deserved it after both the problems in the relay last year, and also his selfless act in the relay this year. I will be cheering for France in the relay in Trondheim (after GB of course!).

Results here
My route is shown here - although it is not exactly right in some places!
Will scan some maps in soon with my routes

Photo Richard Baxter

22 August 2009

World Champs Relay

The Dream Team! (In a couple of years...)

It was always going to be tough to live up to last year, and I think that it shows how incredible last years performance really was. Matt performed pretty well to come back just over a minute down, but then me and Scott were taught a lesson in just how fit you need to be to fight for medals. Both of us felt good for long parts of the race, and were fighting with some top teams, but as the courses got more physical and the race was coming to a climax, both of us struggled physically on the tough climbs. I started really well, and after 35 minutes running I could still see Francois Gonon in front of me (who came back 1st on the leg). But then the last 20 minutes I had problems on the seemingly endless climbs, one after another, and not only that, coming off the climbs I was in oxygen debt so 3 or 4 times I made small mistakes 15-30 seconds. I changed over 9th, 3.59 behind. I had the 8th fastest time on my leg, 54.51 to Prochazka's 51.55. I should have run about a minute and a bit quicker to be satisfied with my race, but I don't have the physical capacity yet to run like the leaders (although I am getting closer!).
Scott had a tough day against all the big boys, and we finished 9th (but that doesn't include the 4 teams involved in the 'stick incident').

Results here
Map when I get home

World Champs Sprint

17th place. Disappointing. Had high hopes before the race, but blew all my chances at the second control. My route choice was fine, but my execution was terrible - I didn't have a clear way to find the control, either I should have run down the fence to the corner, or aimed off to the left. Anyway, 30 seconds gone. Ran well after that except for running down one dead end corridor in the zoo (a popular mistake) which cost about 10 seconds. Was 32 seconds from the podium. 17th is by no means a bad result, but I know my potential is so much higher.

Map on routeagadget here
Photo Richard Baxter

20 August 2009

Sprint Qualification

No problems this morning during the sprint qualifier. I was confident before, and I qualified comfortably without pushing my hardest. Really nice terrain, all forest but mostly open beech forest. Quite a lot of short sharp climbs, couple of tricky controls in the green but everything went well. I caught Christian Teich at the 13th control and we raced the last part a little together.

Results here

17 August 2009

WOC Long Qualification

I started my 2009 World Champs campaign today with the long distance qualification. After a frustrating spring - missing most of the Nordics and the World Games through illness - I was excited and nervous. I had a great winter training, but two illnesses this spring and early summer set me back, and I was unsure how my shape would be in the championships. I had a great start draw - second last, starting with Tero Föhr and Martin Johansson, and it was a good boost to be able to run parts of the course with them. The courses were quite close, so I saw a lot of them. Coming to the spectator control, Martin was just in front, and they announced he was leading his heat, so I was confident I was running well, and although the speaker didn't say anything about me, Dave Rollins told me I was right on the pace. After that I was a little more relaxed, running really well, apart from 2 controls. The 15th I didn't understand the green area at all, and I thought I was to the left of the control - I turned right and was searching for 30 seconds before I realised I had turned the wrong way. I ran back to see Simonas Krepsta (started 2 minutes before me) coming in. I had passed him at number 7, but my mistake allowed him to catch me again. I lost around 1.20 at the 15th, and after that we ran together. We were both hesitant at 17 - I didn't understand the shape of the ground, and lost 20 seconds. Then I was chasing him to the finish. When I took the last control, Dave shouted to take it easy, that I was safe, so I jogged into the finish, happy that I would be maybe number 5-10 in the results, but as I came to the line, the speaker said I had a new leading time! It turns out I was also leading at the spectator control. A real surprise and a good confidence boost for the week.

It felt like I had an almost perfect first loop, maybe losing 20 seconds on direction out of number 4. I was running fast and clean. After the spectator control I was more relaxed, and maybe a little too relaxed for 15 and 17. Total time loss around 2 minutes, but really happy with the physical shape and obviously the result! Probably my best international result to date, and certainly if you discount my sprint results.

I am realistic enough to know that a good race today does not equal a good race in the final, and that a top 10 result is still going to be really tough, but I am also happy and confident after today's race.

Respectable day for the team, Scott ran well and Sarah and Helen B made it too.

Results here

Cheesy photos below courtesy of Steve Hale

Post race interview

New leading time!
Proud team mates

04 August 2009

Karst master (?)

After a disrupted spring season with too much illness and not enough competition, I decided quite late to go to the Karst Cup in Slovakia - partly as it is a little relevant for World Champs, and partly just to do some good races in some cool terrain. It was a really fun competition, really fantastic (hot) weather, and some good other runners to race. We were staying in the same hotel as some Norwegian WOC runners, and there were also runners from Hungary, Finland, Slovakia and Czech racing. Not all the best runners were running every day, and some were just taking the competition as training. I was trying to get a good feeling after a long period without racing, and my goal was to push each day a little harder than the last. That plan lasted about 15 minutes! Just after the 4th control on day 1 I twisted my ankle quite badly - enough so that every step was hurting, but not enough to stop. I continued, but really carefully - especially on the downhill and stony parts. I lost around 6 minutes on this day, maybe 1-2 minutes from mistakes with 72 minutes. In the evening Pippa and I did a sprint training. Day 2 was probably my best day technically. I ran well with maybe 1 mistake of 30 seconds, and then 1 bad route choice on a long leg, and I was 2 minutes behind Krepsta after 72 minutes.
Days 3 and 4 were away from the Karst terrain, and hour north in 'Slovakian Paradise' which was really steep and rocky - very technical and physical terrain, and a little Norwegian. Day 3 was a middle distance, and for the first time I was trying to push really hard. I made a couple of small mistakes, but the big problem was looking after my ankle in the rough terrain, and I was a little under 2 minutes behind Weltzein. In the evening, Pippa and I did a training in an open/green karst terrain which was really different to anything I have done before - awesome!
Day 4 was a chasing start, and I was 2nd off after Krepsta (who actually went home and didn't start) and chasing me was Weltzein. Unfortunately Audun had problems with his ankle tape and quit! So I ran alone and took the trophy :). I was satisfied with my race. I ran around 66 minutes and was 3.30 behind Carl Waaler Kaas. I missed maybe 1-2 minutes.
Overall a really nice training camp - good terrain, good maps, good courses. Swam in some lakes, saw some nice mountains and ate lots of nice food. Won some good prizes too!
Maps and photos below.
Results here

On the run in day 4 (Mišo Krajčík - also photo above)
Tatra mountains
Me and Pippa in the Tatras
Day 1

Day 2
Day 3
Cool different karst training area

Day 4 - tough and rocky!

17 July 2009

Sat at home watching the World Games

Not where I want to be really - I would much rather be in Chinese Taipei with the Great Britain team racing round parks and museum gardens. After my test race victories, I took a few easy days, did a little mapping work etc, but somewhere along the line I picked up another cold. The tough weekend combined with some stressful events during the week must have lowered my immune system enough so that by Friday/Saturday I was feeling really rough. On Saturday I was lucky enough to be at Matt Crane and Grace Elson's wedding in Sheffield, but all I could do on Sunday was drive back to my parents house, drop out of the team and get into bed.
So far this year has had 2 major international championships, the Nordics, where I was sick, and now World Games, and I am sick again. Hopefully I will not make it a hattrick for the World Champs....

My plans are now simplified, I will return to Sweden when I feel better, take part in the Swedish Sprint Champs, then 2 weeks before WOC I will take part in the Karst Cup in Slovakia which I feel will be a relevant challenge for the Hungarian forests. Then I will finalise my preparations back in Stockholm (trying not to get sick!).

06 July 2009

UK Cup final and WOC test races

This weekend was the last round in the UK Cup, with sprint, middle and long races which were also the test races for the British team for the World Championships in Hungary. The races were held in the Forest of Dean, near South Wales. The terrain is quite relevant for Hungary, although the vegetation and mapping in some areas made finding controls tricky and possibly resulted in all runners making more mistakes than usual.

Friday was a forest sprint like Hungary will be, although it was probably too 'foresty'. Everybody made a lot of mistakes, but I ran quite well, taking my time to read the map and not make mistakes. I passed Scott Fraser already at the second control, but he caught me again at 5 when I overshot slighty, and we ran some of the race together. I was in front until 10, when I rushed and didn't take the time to read the map, and he was ahead until 14, when he tried to run straight through the undergrowth (big mistake). I won by 40 seconds, and I estimate I lost 30 seconds, 10 at number 5, and 20 at number 10.

The middle distance was similar to the sprint, with most runners making mistakes. Again I managed to minimise my time loss, and took the victory, only 14 seconds ahead of Speakey. I was really hesitant to the first control, and indeed round the first loop, and I lost around 45 seconds on number 6, and at the 6th control I was 1 minute behind the fastest (but a lot of people lost more!). Then I ran quite well except for small misses at 12 (misread the vegetation crossing the track and lost ~20 seconds), 15 (control was on the same level as 14 in reality, so was too low!) and 16 (deep bracken made contours hard to read and flag very hard to see). At 16 I was 1 minute behind Speakey, but from there to the finish I ran almost perfectly, and I won the long leg and the tough uphill leg to 22 taking a lot of time out of most runners.

Sunday was the long distance, perhaps the race I had been most looking forward too. I was a little worried that my recent illness might affect me most in this race, but I felt strong until almost the very end. My focus was on really reading the map well, trying to avoid the undergrowth and find eady ways into the controls, and really push the pace on the longer legs when I could. I started quite well, and took the lead from the 2nd control. I lost around 15 seconds at the 3rd, when I stopped a little early and the control was a little hidden in bracken, and I lost 45-60 seconds at the 4th, when my route choice took me into a part of the map which I don't think had been updated recently. The open area never finished and I ended up running much further down the fence than planned. I had a nice line into the control though, and although I didn't see him, I heard my 3 minute man, Speakey running away from 4. I caught sight of him coming out of 6, although I didn't get close to him until much later. Wobbled a little on 8, then had a slightly bad patch through 10-15. I didn't really make mistakes, but I was just hesitant and slow reading the map, and I lost maybe 1.30 through that section to the best.
I don't know if my route to 16 was the best, but I won the split, passed Matt Crane and caught sight of Speakey again. From there to the finish I gained on him, taking a better route to 20, so that I punched 22 just after him, but I had nothing to beat him into the finish.
Another victory, 2 minutes ahead of a very impressive run from 21yr old Rhodri Buffet, and 3 mins in front of Speakey.

3 races, 3 wins, selected for my preferred races at WOC which are sprint, long and relay.
And I won the UK Cup for the first time since 2005 with 4 wins and 2 seconds.

UK Cup website here (not updated as of writing this)

13 June 2009

The only orienteer in Stockholm

At least that is what it feels like this weekend. While the orienteering world descends on Finland for Jukola, I am sat at home trying to get over the virus that has been affecting me for almost a month now. After a 2 week illness, I tried to prepare for the Nordic Championships, but it was too much too soon - I managed to run ok in the relay, but I was a little off the pace, but in the middle my body did not respond at all. Running on the flat felt bearable, but as soon as there was a climb, my heart rate rocketed, my breathing got worse and I just could not get enough oxygen into my body or brain. I don't remember feeling so bad as I did in the last kilometers of the Nordics middle distance - running up out of the spectator control I had big problems, and at the top of the hill I had no idea where I was or what I was doing. Before I knew what I was up to, I had come off the hill in completely the wrong direction, and my body refused to run any more. I didn't want to quit, so I walked and jogged the rest of the course.

After the race I had a headache and felt pretty rough mentally and physically, and I made the decision to skip the sprint, go home and forget about Jukola. Now I am just concentrating on letting my body recover, just doing some easy training, not thinking about fast running for a week or two. My next goal is the WOC test races in 3 weeks, but if my body is not ready, well, we will see....

Really disappointing after some really positive performances in the last months, I obviously picked up something pretty serious after the British champs around the time of the Hungary camp.

02 June 2009

Change of plan

After a fantastic training camp in Hungary after the British Champs, where the forests were beautiful and the weather sunny, I have now been sick for the last two weeks, including 6 days in bed with really bad flu. I have finally started to recover, and I did my first fast training last night at a club sprint race. With the Nordics and other championships fast approaching, it is not the ideal time to get sick, but it could be worse. I have therefore decided to not run the long at NOC on Saturday, and will focus my energies on the relay, middle and sprint, and then on Jukola after where my club has a really strong chance of a great result.

There is a real new look to the British team for NOC, with no Jamie Stevenson or Jon Duncan to lead the line. We still have a strong team though, with good competition for places in the relay teams. I will probably be running the second leg in the first team on Sunday.

At the weekend I took a boat cruise out into the Stockholm archipelago.

24 May 2009

Triple Silver

3 British Champs silvers in 8 days. Long, sprint and middle. Frustrating. Looking positively, it is a good indicator that I am running well and performing in some important competitions, but I also had the chance to win all 3, and threw them all away with small mistakes. In all 3 the margins were small, and I will try and improve before the international season begins.
Maps u

I have been selected for the Nordics team

Sprints results here, routegadget here for qual and here for final - cool area and good courses
Middle results here, routegadget here - cool area and cool course

08 May 2009

13 seconds from gold in British Long Champs

Sunday was the British Long Distance Champs in the Forest of Dean in South West England. I was confident of a good result, and I had prepared well for the race. Unfortunately I didn't understand the map from the start, and I missed the first and second controls, so I was already 2.30 behind after 2 short legs. I then ran as hard as I could and really well for most of the course, and I was in the lead for the first time at the 17th control after 50 minutes. I then lost 1 minute on each of the 19th and 21st controls, again not understanding the mapping style in that area. I finished the race really strongly, and although on the loop after the spectator control I took almost a minute on Oli, it wasn't quite enough and he beat me by 13 seconds. Frustrating!
He also made a lot of mistakes, and it was amazing how close it ended, but nobody went round the course cleanly - it was that sort of area/map.
Another silver! Getting to be too much of a habit these days. But congrats to Oli. Middle and Sprint champs this weekend for revenge.

Map on Routegadget, with my route for part 1
Map of part 2, route when it lets me


22 April 2009

In the dark at Tiomila

After 7manna, I stayed in Skåne until Tiomila with some Italian and Swiss runners. We spent some time close to Tiomila terrain, taking part in Elitserien and a night competition during the week, but also some time in åhus close to Kristianstad on the east coast. It was the first time I had been there, and it was a nice contrast from some of the rough Skånsk forests to run in the perfect sand dunes there.
But soon enough it was time to come back to Perstorp for the big one. Confidence was high in the Lidingö camp, and despite a slight scare when Emil had a small cold in the build up, all the team were in good form to fight for a top place. I ran the 7th leg, and before me the team had all run perfectly. We had been close to the top all night, and I started in 9th place, 3 minutes down on the leaders, but Fredrik Löwegren who ran the 6th passed on the info at changeover that he had had longer forkings so mine would be shorter. I started just behind Södertälje and I had his back to the first controls, but then as I took a different route choice to the 3rd, I was running along in the forest when my lamp cut out and I was in the dark. Not good. After some playing around with the lamp, I continued on my reserve lamp, a really small LED lamp powered by a single AAA battery. Not ideal, but I knew that I had no choice but to get round the course and lose as little time as possible. I ran 10 controls and half the race like that, and luckily I was able to change lamps running through the arena, so I finished the race with a strong lamp and very stressed.
I lost around 8 minutes to the leaders, and a little more on the best on the leg, but unbelievably I actually gained 1 place!
Jonn Are and Klaus ran really well after me to set Emil out in 6th place, and despite not having a great race, he was only passed by 2 world champions near the end to give the team a pretty respectable 8th place. Bittersweet - decent result, but with so much time lost on my leg, who know what could have happened if Emil had had the chance to fight for a medal.

I have written about my race in much more depth on my training log here

In other news -
I have been selected for the GB team to travel to the World Games in July, and I hit the top spot in the Great Britain ranking list for the first time!

Swedish Eliteseries kicks off

So last week Elitserien, the premier elite series in Sweden, kicked off in Skåne. First up was a middle distance with a chasing start based on a qualification race the day before. I really like the concept, but I don't feel this race worked very well in the circumstances. There were 260 guys entered, running a straight qualification for 40 places, which meant that while qualifying should be no problem for the top guys, it was obvious that the time differences were always going to be really small. I was disappointed with my qualification race, making lots of small mistakes, and I ended up 26th, only 2.37 behind, but 40 guys finished in 3.20! That meant the chase was really manic, and around me people were started nearly every second. Unfortunately the chase developed very much into a running race. Maybe at the front runners were trying different routes to win, but around me, everybody was just running in a line on the same route choice as the man ahead, and just trying to run past people. I decided early that while this might be the best way to get a result, that any result would really be meaningless in the context of my season. Therefore as early as the first control I tried to do my own thing. I took different route choices to the pack on the 1st (bad, lost time), 5th (bad, lost time), 12th (very good, took quite a lot of places) and 19th (very bad, the 'dry white strip' turned out to be knee deep marsh, so I lost a lot of time, and maybe 10-12 places). Finishing the race I felt very frustrated, my tactics were not conducive to a good result, and while I ran a very good race technically, I did not get the result I wanted.

Qualification map
Final map
Sprint race
Later in the week was the second race of Elitserien, and after the middle distance, I was keen to get a good performance and result under my belt before Tiomila. This race was a sprint race in Helsingborg, and a quick look at the start list showed that this was more than just a normal Elitserien race - many top runners from around Europe were in town for Tiomila, and using this as a warm up. I was really pumped up for this race, more so than any other race this year I would say, and I really put a lot of effort in.
I started well, taking a good, but safe route to the first, and I took the 2nd well also. I made a poor decision not to run through the field to the 3rd, and lost a few seconds there, but the 4th and 5th were perfect. To the 6th control I never even saw the route out by the sea, and at the end I made a poor decision to run down through a really rough area rather than run a little further and through the white. I also lost around 7-8 seconds here. But most importantly I caught sight of my minute man, Mats Haldin. He was still a long way in front, but I had certainly gained a lot of time on him. I ran through the spectator control and the speaker said I was around 15-20 seconds behind Wingstedt, and I really tried to push the pace on the long flat section after that. I took a good route to the 9th, and I could see Mats a little more than a control ahead in the forest area - close enough for me to really drive, but not enough to be helpful finding the controls. The extra motivation obviously worked as I won the splits to the 10th, 11th and 12th controls. I wasn't sure about the route choice to the 14th, but I could see Mats about 200m ahead on the road, so I used that information to confirm my route choice decision. He was much to far ahead to catch, but I ran strongly through the last few controls - I knew I had run really well and gave everything to the line, and crossed in 3rd place only 12 seconds behind Wingstedt! My last loop had been really strong, taking 10 places, and after I finished only Kramov came in in a faster time, to give me a 4th place, and my best ever result in Elitserien.
I was really pleased to have only lost 18 seconds to the World Champion, and most of that on the 2 small route choice errors in the beginning. That was the feeling I wanted to get before Tiomila, a really good indicator that my training has been going as well as I thought.

11 April 2009

Victory in 7manna

Lidingö's preparation for Tiomila has started to go really well, with podium places in the last two relays in Måsen and Rånäs, and now we went one step better and won 7manna, only a week before the big one. Many of the teams we were racing were not at full strength, but we were missing a couple of runners too, and although not everyone performed as well as they would hope to next week, we managed to take victory by about 3 minutes.
I ran the 3rd leg (the longest night leg), and I was satisfied with my race, starting in a pack from 2-10th around 4 minutes behind the leaders, and I came in in 3rd place, with 2nd place, only 1.10 behind the leaders. The forest was very scrappy, with lots of fallen trees, and it was often hard to run in a straight line. I lost little bits of time here and there but I didn't make any big mistakes more than 20 seconds. I ran most of the race with Christian Christiansen from Göteborg.
The boys on the day legs ran well and got away from the others to leave us with a comfortable victory - and our girls won too!


06 April 2009


Nice 5 man relay in Upplands. Lidingö had a strong team, but we had no chance against the impressive OK Linné team, who finished a massive 10 minutes in front of us! We were 3rd though, not far behind a pretty good Kalevan Rasti team.
My race was ok, but not as good as it should have been. I ran the 2nd leg, went out in 9th, at the 4th control I had run to the lead, but on the second half of the race I was really scrappy - I never lost more than 25 seconds on any control, but I lost 10-20 seconds a lot. Came back in 3rd, around 2 minutes behind the leader, and was about 1 minute down on the best time on my gaffle, but I would have liked to have been 2 minutes quicker maybe.
This week in 7manna and then Elitserien down south, then some preparation before Tiomila. Time to do some night training :)

04 April 2009


Ran a nice short/middle distance today up near Uppsala. Was really happy with my race both technically and physically. Finished second, 40 seconds behind Jan Troeng.
I love these smaller elite races, perfect technical training with good competition, good prizes and could even sunbathe!

30 March 2009

Third place in Måsenstafetten

Yesterday I ran in my first competition of the Swedish season, Måsenstafetten. A five man relay competition down near Nyköping, about 90 minutes south of Stockholm. Lidingö decided to field 2 even teams, and there was a mix of good clubs doing the same, but also some with their strongest team. All 5 legs ran about 8km, and after 2 legs my team was doing quite badly, already 8 minutes behind the lead! Legs 3 and 4 ran well though, and I went out on last leg about 2 minutes behind Holmberg in 2nd, 45 seconds behind Emil in 3rd for our other '1st team'. I started 2 seconds before Skogtjärn and 45 seconds before Millinger. I ran well to the first control, and caught Emil who missed a little. Then I had a longer gaffle than him and Skogtjärn to the second. I followed them towards their control then had to go further east to mine, so they were both out of sight on the way to the 3rd (which Emil missed and I got in front). Running across to the 5th control I could see Holmberg and Millinger about 100m in front, so I knew 2nd place was up for grabs! I really stupidly pushed really hard to catch them, and followed them in overshooting the 6th control. I ran within 5m of it, then ran 100m too far, turned round to see Emil punching it and running away. Ran well to the 7th, different route to the other 4 guys, but then to the 8th, 9th and 10th we were all pretty close (with some small gaffling).
The 10th control was a common radio, and Holmberg took it just before me and Emil. Then he had an extra control and me and Emil ran away up the hill to our 11th. He was running real fast and I struggled to stay in control, so I let him get a small gap. Unfortunately I couldn't close it again! He had a different 13th, and after I plunged into the cold green marsh I didn't see him again. I dropped 10 seconds on the 14th control with a dumbass route, and he was out of sight. All the other boys were out of sight behind so cruised into the finish to take 3rd.
Cool the have 2nd and 3rd places for our teams! And our 2 'even' teams only finished 32 seconds apart. It was an awesome relay training to be up against 3 Swedish internationals and one of the best last leg runners in the country pushing on the last leg.
I took second fastest time of the day, but 2 minutes behind Peter 'local hero' Öberg!
Only disappointment was how far ahead Södertälje were

08 March 2009

Back in snowy Sweden

Finally I'm back home after more than 2 months away training in South Africa and England. It's good to be back, even if it means lots of running in the snow. I have got back into some really good technical training (some maps below), and some British juniors came out for a long weekend to get some experience in Scandinavia. As well as some tough orienteering training, we also had time to do some night sledging on the Lidingo ski slope and have a bit of a birthday party.

Last week I did an interview for an outdoor gear website, you can read it here.

Labyrinth Orienteering

This interesting sounding training was as complicated as it looked. 75 minutes to score as many points as possible, 1 point for a red control, 2 for blue, 3 for green. Double points if you are the first to a control (it was a mass start). Minus 1 point for each time you cross a 'wall', and for every minute late. I was RUBBISH. The map was old and the vegetation was out of date, but that is no excuse. I started really fast and made a huge parallel error trying to be the first to the green control. I crossed about 5 walls on the way there! After that was much better, once I had relocated, and I only touched a wall once by accident and once on purpose on the way back when I was running out of time.
Really cool training, but I was pathetically bad!

I ran this course from last years club night champs with Jonn Are, nice medium intensity training in quite an urban forest.

Today I ran in the Vinterserien race in Nacka - one of my favourite places to run in Stockholm. Really beautiful terrain, pretty nice course. I made one mistake at number 10 - the control was really tucked away and I ran right past it. Apart from that pretty happy.

03 March 2009

UK Cup race 1 and British Relay Championships

The very early British season continued this weekend with the first elite races of the year. First up was the first UK Cup race, the British equivalent of Eliteseries, including all the top races like the JK and the British Champs, and some stand alone races like this. It also doubled as a junior cup race, so there was some pride at stake there too!
The race was held at Hampton Ridge in the New Forest, which is an absolutely beautiful place, but could never be accused of having the most challenging orienteering terrain. The main challenges were understanding how the gorse bushes were mapped (failed utterly at the first control and lost 1.30), keeping direction across featureless heathland, and working out which of the many small parallel ditches are the one which is marked on the map.
After the first couple of controls, I had a close to perfect race, and I was able to push the pace quite well. Towards the end, I caught Peter Hodkinson, one of the top juniors at the moment (he had a pretty good race, less than 3 minutes down!), but I couldn't run away from him, and a tactical falling flat on my face in the mud at the last control meant I didn't have to sprint finish against him :)
I managed to take the victory, but Duncan ran really well until the last part when he was a bit scrappy and let me back in. Great to see the juniors doing so well!

Sunday was the British Relay Championships - the first weekend in March! Bit early for some, and the start list was weaker than previous years. The timing of the race affected my club too, with several of our best runners unable to come. Unfortunately my training mate from when I was back in the UK, Jules Simpson, hasn't been training quite as he used to, but he was doing a decent job on first leg until the technical green area towards the end when he dropped almost 5 minutes! He came back in 15th, 7 minutes behind the rampant favourites, South Yorkshire and Nick Barrable. Matt Halliday, our rising star and junior team member, ran really well to bring us up to 7th place, and in a pack up to fourth place. I started fast, and quickly myself and the South London runner, Ralph Street (another really fast junior!) were running away from the other guys in the pack. We ran at a high speed, and pretty accurately too, and half way we caught the 3rd team (although actually Thames Valley were actually 3rd at that stage, they were ineligible with a foreign runner, Bertuks, in their team). Coming back into the woodland, and the technical green area, I was able to get a gap to Ralph, and caught up with Bertuks at the second last control. Again a tactical tripping over my own feet meant I didn't have to do a sprint finish, although to be honest the effort I put in to catch Bertuks over the last 2km meant I had absolutely nothing in the tank as he sailed up the hill to cross the line. Luckily (for us) they were not allowed to take a prize, so Octavian Droobers took their first relay medal in a couple of years (we won in 2003, and have taken one bronze since then I think, but apart from that it has been a lean couple of years). British Champs bronze to start the year - pretty good! South Yorkshire were run away winners as expected, but it was good to see Sheffield University take second with 3 solid performances. I had the fastest time of the day, and if Jules hadn't made the mistakes at the end, it could have been really interesting to see if I could have caught Baker on the last leg.

Results here

22 February 2009

First racing of 2009 - English Cross Country Champs and Interland

This weekend I kicked off 2009 with the national cross country championships and Interland. First up on saturday was the xc, and after a 2 year break I was ready to resume mudrunning with a new club - Aldershot, Farnham and District AC (one of the top clubs in the country and close to my hometown). I was quite nervous before the start of the 12km race, partly due to my large training load this winter which simultaneously made me feel that I should not be at my best, but also that I was running more and faster than ever before. and also because after 2 years, I could still remember how much these races hurt. 1500 men lined up on the start line on a beautifully sunny day on Parliament Hills in northern London. My goals were to try and run a smart race, finish as the best orienteer and come easily inside top 100. The first 400m were all uphill, and I had decided to take this easy and then push off the top as most people kill themselves and get into oxygen debt for a good start. I felt this really paid off, and although perhaps I could have had a better result pushing from the gun, I ran the whole race feeling 'comfortable' (although that word doesnt really apply!). Easily outside the top 200 at the top of the hill, I was then able to stretch out, and spend most of the first 7-8km overtaking people. The course was pretty ideal for orienteers, very undulating with some pretty steep climbs, and very deep mud after 9 other races before hand and then 1500 guys! Part was even in a forest round some trails. On the second lap, I had settled into a position just outside the top 50, and overtaking became much harder, but with a couple of kms to go and some big climbs I kicked in and got up into about 42nd on the last bend. Unfortunately a combination of no really fast work this year, a high training milage and those last climbs meant I had nothing in the home straight and was killed on the run in to finish 48th (41.23). Despite this disappointing finish, overall I was very satisfied with my race. I was 6 seconds from top 40, 33 seconds from top 30, and 61 seconds from top 20, so I feel that with some decent prep for the race, and maybe a couple more xc races under my belt, top 20 is an achievable target. I was also top orienteer, with Rob Baker next in 86th.

My legs then had 18 hours to recover for the first international race of the year - Interland. An annual match between England, Holland, the various parts of Belgium, and sometimes (although not this year) the west part of Germany. This year the match was held in England, very close to my hometown, so I couldn't turn down the opportunity to run in one of the forests I remember from my childhood. Despite the exertions of the previous day, I was really motivated to have a good performance, and although my legs felt a little sore when I warmed up, in general I felt strong and was able to run fast. I had a good race, only losing some time at the 22nd control when I lost my direction a little, and finished the 15km in a little under 74 minutes. I was the first finisher, and I had to wait for all the other runners to come in. Craney and Barrable were a couple of minutes behind, but Fabi was ahead of me at the radio control, and it was a nervous wait for him a the finish. Finally he came in, having lost time to me in the last part of the course, finishing around 1 minute behind me, but he had been running so fast in the start! At the 16th control he was already 1 1/2 minutes ahead and I had been running really good!
Anyway, a nice race in a beautiful forest, a good performance and another victory for myself and for the England team :) A good start to the year.