02 October 2013

Swedish Middle and Relay, and New Job!

Photo: Urban Larsson

Swedish Champs weekend was quite mixed. Fighting a cold going into the qualification, I did a good race to qualify for the final (lungs were a bit raw). Then unfortunately the SNO team was hit by food poisoning (bad meat?). Most guys were up many times during the night. I survived the night, but between waking up and racing, it felt like I spent more time in the bathroom than out of it!

I managed to race the final, and did a decent technical performance - but physically I was a bit off the ball, finishing 6 minutes behind in 31st place! Feeling sorry for myself, I wasn't sure that I would even run the relay.

I was therefore selected for the SNO 2nd team with Eric B and Pavlo U. Eric ran well on 1st leg to send me out in 6th place, just under 1 minute behind. The pace was high in the beginning, but I managed to follow the other runners around, and was running in 2nd-5th place for much of the first part. The group split up about half way, and I was then running almost alone in 3rd place for the rest of the race. I made a small mistake on the 2nd last control, otherwise it was a decent technical performance (even if I was still feeling pretty 'empty' physically), and I changed over in 3rd place 3:30 behind leaders, but only 30s behind 2nd. Pavlo was also feeling not at his best, but he did a good job against top opposition to bring us in in 6th place, with SNO first team in 4th. Results

It became official today that I am now the new Elite Coach for IFK Mora. I will also compete for IFK Mora next spring. Article. I will work with the best runners on an individual basis, organise training camps and help elite runners in the club prepare for important domestic and international competitions.

17 September 2013

Stuck in the middle

This month, I have been mostly running .... middle distances.

Partly by chance, and partly because of the remaining 'important' races, my targets are Swedish middle distance champs (and relay), and the World Cup final middle distance.
Firstly, I went up to Dalarna for the weekend and took part in Malmiafejden and Trampen. The first went very well, pretty much a clean race and a victory by 1 1/2 mins. Results.

Next up was Trampen. Slightly tougher competition today, and my run with 2 mistakes (15s at 5 and 1:15 at 14) was good enough for 2nd, 1:30 behind Anton Östlin. Results.

The following weekend was Södermanland district championships. This was a quite terrible race, with poor route choices to 1 and 2, a small mistake on 8, and big mistakes on 9, 10 and 15. My running speed was also not great, and I was 4 minutes behind. Results.

I felt much better the next day physically, and the performance was much better too at the Stockholm district champs. Total time loss about 3*10s, and I was 2nd (a long way) behind Gustav Bergman. Results.

This weekend I organised my last big event before I leave Scania (multi-sport team-building for 30 teams), and now I am looking forward to focusing more time and energy on training and competing.

13 August 2013

Fantastic Scottish 6 Days

After WOC, I spent almost 3 weeks in Scotland - I visited friends in Stirling and Speyside, did some WOC 2015 relevant training, made some new friends (mostly with my fantastic lego skills) and took part in the Scottish 6 Day. This year the 6 Day was held in Moray, with 4 coastal days and 2 inland, and it seemed like the ideal way to kick-start preparation for WOC 2015.

Photo: Wendy Carlyle

Day 1 was held at Lossie, a classic Moray sand dune area with a strip of very technical terrain along the coast, and vaguer forest inland. Unfortunately, the new motocross tracks meant that the technical challenge was really reduced for many of the controls, and some of the controls were kids course standard. But, it was still really fun, with some really challenging parts. I was happy with my performance, although an early start meant I had some long grass to contend with in places! Second place, 2 mins down on Bergman.

Photo: Colin Matheson

Day 2 was at Carse of Adersier, site of WOC middle test 2007. Pretty flat area, with vague contour shapes, many form line shapes even with 2.5m contour interval! Again, I did a decent race, with a couple of wobbles/bananas rather than mistakes. 3rd place, 1 min behind Rollier, and 1:30 behind Murray Strain who was just getting ready to jet off to some World Games success.

Day 3 was at Culbin -probably THE classic Moray dune area, but this was Culbin West, the less well-known part, and a new area for me. Today was the first time I started to feel a bit tired, and perhaps I started a little fast, leading the course until I made a 1:30 mistake (my largest mistake of the week). I also got a bit stuck in some very high heather, and was struggling to maintain a high speed on the longer legs towards the finish. Others made mistakes too, and I was again 2nd, only 40s behind Bergman, and 15s ahead of Rollier, leaving the overall standings nicely balanced after half of the races.

The following day was a rest day, so I indulged in watching the Euromeeting sprint, playing a few holes of golf (well, pitch and putt anyway - I can hit the ball fairly far, but not very straight, and usually further than I want!).

Photo: Colin Matheson

Day 4 - Loch of Boath. Another new map for me, and also Euromeeting middle distance. With a fairly high World Ranking, I had a quite late start, and with 140 people starting first, there were a few tracks in the forest. I had a good race technically, and felt I was running ok, although the previous 3 races meant that I wasn't quite as fresh as I could have been. I ended up 7th, just over 1 min down, and most importantly only lost about 30s to Rollier, and beat Bergman by 15s. Some good results from the GB team, especially 4th place (3rd in Euromeeting) for Ralph Street!

Day 5 - Roseisle. Another classic Moray coastal area, and probably the area I had been most looking forward too. It was probably the best course of the week, with a good mixture of route choice and difficult controls. It was also the day that I felt most tired, and made the most mistakes, with 4 or 5 mistakes of about 30-40 seconds each, so I was a little disappointed with my run, and I was over 3 mins behind Rollier, and 1 min on Bergman in 3rd place.

Photo: 6 Day website

Day 6 - Coulmony and Belivat. And so, after 5 races, the situation was Rollier leading by 30s to Bergman, and then 2:15 to me in 3rd, and then a 7 min gap to Matt Speake in 4th. The last race was the one that would make or break people, and really decide the results. 17km in tough marshy inland terrain, also doubling as Euromeeting long distance. Because of the large number of runners, there was a 1min start interval, with Euromeeting runners first, then 6 Day runners in reverse order. In practice this meant that with the quite open forest and good visibility that somebody slightly better than you started almost in sight behind, and somebody slight worse than you started almost in sight in front. Unfortunately, Bergman pulled out on the morning with some foot pain, so I had 2nd place to defend in the overall competition. I was nervous having massively hit the wall in my previous long distance race, and that was without having already run 5 races in the 6 days before! Therefore I was loaded up with gels, and paced myself from the beginning.
I started well technically, and was probably quite lucky that Speakey (my minute man) made a mistake on the 4th control that was just big enough for me to get a good sight of him leaving the control, and I could then reel him in slowly over the next few controls, also catching Rich Robinson and Jegor Kostylev in the process. I finally got up to Speakey at the 9th control, but then almost immediately Rollier (who started 2 mins behind) caught us up too! I had already made a plan that if this happened I would just ignore him and run at my own speed. The group split a little, but I found a better line out of the control towards the 11th (a brutal long leg uphill through knee-deep heather covered marsh!), and coming into the control we were all in a long line (including James Tullie joining the party). Then there was some downhill running, and whilst the group stretched out a bit, it was no problem to follow the guy in front. At this point Jegor was dropping off a bit, but we caught Chepelin instead! Everybody came back together at 14 (drinks point), and so it felt like a big group at this point! It continued like that for a few controls - people taking different lines, but all coming back together, with Matt and Oleg particularly aggressive here. Then came to a decisive point, big climbs to 19 and 20. Baptiste decided to put the boot in, and accelerated up the hill. I didn't follow, but Tullie did. Here Oleg dropped off the group also, and I was left leading a smaller group with Rich and Matt. That is pretty much how is stayed for quite a long time, with Baptiste in front with Tullie, as well as Vaher and Johnson. They slowly pulled away to finish 2 mins in front, and I just tried to maintain my own pace. The last loop was tough, and I lost some time on the route choice to the second last control, and I was very happy to finally see the finish!

102 minutes - 8 minutes behind the best Euromeeting runners, and 4 minutes behind Rollier. Enough to secure 2nd place overall, and also to be top Brit on the day (in front of Matt who I ran for so much of the course with). A really great end to a brilliant week - tough physically and mentally.

11 August 2013

Angry, surprised and disappointed

That's how I felt about the World Championships selections this year. The first time since my debut in 2004 that I have not been selected for an international race that I wanted to run. I didn't have my greatest spring, but I felt that I was in good enough shape to be selected, and to race well in at least the middle and relay. However, the selectors felt otherwise, and so I was left a spectator. In retrospect, I probably wouldn't have chosen to stay in Finland and watch the races, but I wanted to support my girlfriend, and to be perfectly honest - I didn't have anywhere else to go! It was also great to see the super-sprint day for GB.

16 May 2013

Spring! Little catch up

Winter lasted a long time in Sweden, in fact, there was still half a meter of snow in places when I headed back to the UK at Easter for the JK - our first selection races for WOC. I had flu the week before, and only decided the day before to try and run. I skipped the long distance, but ran the middle and relay, finishing 4th and 2nd respectively. Middle map here, results here. Relay map here, results here. Nice weekend and good competitions. It was especially nice to get a silver in the relay with my new club FVO.

I then had an unscheduled trip back to the UK following an unfortunate death in the family. I spent some time with my family, but managed to do some excellent orienteering in the Lake District during my trip. Middle distance map and results, and long distance map and results. Training map. Some of the best terrain in the UK!

Unfortunately, I had some problems then getting back into training, and I had a really bad feeling in my body. This lasted quite a long time, and I have only recently (in the last week or so), started to feel recovered.

The next thing on the plan was preparing for Tiomila. We had some issues with injuries this year, and the team plans were heavily disrupted with the snow and losing 4 key runners. One of the key build up races for me was Tiomilarepet (especially as almost every other race was cancelled because of the snow!). A 2 person relay, first leg dusk, second leg night. I ran 2nd with Erik Liljequist, and he sent me out 3rd, about 30 seconds down on the lead. I did a good race, without ever hitting top gear, and we took the victory by about 15 seconds. Map and results.

Then it was time for the first Silva League weekend, with 2 long distance races in Tibro. Long distance at WOC this year has been my goal, and these races were supposed to be relevant. I wanted to do well in one of these races, and use the other for some good training. I didn't have a good feeling in my body though, and I struggled to read the 15,000 scale map in such detailed terrain. So I made some mistakes, and was well off the required pace. Map part 1 and part 2 and results. I didn't run the 2nd race, which is a shame, as it looked more interesting than day 1.

Then is was time for one last night training before Tiomila. I ran the 6th leg, in a weakened team. We had realistic expectations without Scott, Jonas, Matthias and Ivar in the team, and the chat before the weekend was all about how a top 10 finish would be a reasonable result. Well. It went a bit better than that, and we went out and came back on long night with the leaders - which was a great start! I went out in 6th, and pulled up to 4th, which we then held until the end of the race. My race was stable and solid without being spectacular. I had a sore throat Wednesday-Friday, and I didn't feel 100% during the race. I tried to do a 100% perfect technical race, and I think I only lost around 15 seconds, although I was around 3 minutes behind the fastest on the leg (many slower teams ran this leg during the day, whereas I started in 'half dark' and had daylight only for the last part). My map and results.

The weekend after Tiomila was the 2nd Silva League weekend with middle and long distance races in Orebro. I was hopeful of racing a little better than the previous ones! I ran a really nice training on Thursday before the races. The middle distance went well technically, with perhaps 3*15s wobbles / hesitations, and I was pleased with the performance. I was 3:30 behind, but I still had problems to push 100% and felt like I was lacking top gear. Map and results. I took the long distance the following day as a decent long distance training - really cool tough physical and technical terrain. Very wild and rugged (haven't uploaded the map yet).

Feeling much better about myself and my shape, I am less stressed and more relaxed about the coming weeks. I feel better every time I run/race, and that was backed up last night at Centrum Team Sprint (2 person sprint relay). I ran with Pål Skogtjärn, him running 1st and 3rd, me 2nd and 4th. For the first time since March I felt good running at full speed, and could even give Jonas Leandersson a good race! On the 2nd leg (in Skansen zoo/old days museum), I started in 6th, right behind him, and pulled up to 3rd with a decent technical performance. On the last leg I went out in 4th, with Jonas 1s behind me. We stayed together for about 75%, but then his superior speed allowed him to pull away from me in the end. Really happy with how it went though, ending up 5th behind some strong teams! Cool race, even if there was a bit too much path running in the 'forest' loop. Map and results. Best news was that my calf was tight, but I could compete in a fast sprint race.

Today I headed out into Paradise for some long distance training, and it was exactly that, despite some areas with a lot of fallen trees.

Now onto Jukola and the World Champs!

I made a video from all the footage I took at Monsanto in February, which you can see here.

19 February 2013


Last week I was in Portugal for POM and a British team training camp. As usual the maps and courses were superb, and Portugal confirmed itself as a fantastic place for winter training.
POM was in general pretty open and rocky, with very detailed areas and some challenging route choices. I 'raced' two of the days, and took the other two very easily. I was happy with my performance on Day 1 (Although I was a little further behind Thierry than I would have liked), but my race on Day 3 was pretty bad, with a big mistake followed by a number of smaller ones after a really rather good start.
After POM we moved to the coast, to San Pedro de Moel. I hadn't been there for about 10 years, and it was good to be back. We did some hard training, including a lot of basic technique work and technical analysis, and some head to head running. Then it was time for MOC, racing in the sand dune terrain a little bit up the coast. My goal for the whole camp was the World Ranking Event long distance on the Saturday, and I was very pleased with my performance. My longest race for some time - since November 2011 at best guess - and I was happy with my physical shape, although my technique on 1:15,000 map clearly needs some work. I ended 10th, just over 5 minutes behind the best long distance runner in the world, but with more than 5 minutes mistakes and good splits for large chunks of the course. Good feedback for my preparations for WOC.

Maps here

16 February 2013

New Zealand

Photo: Mike Pedley

Better late than never! I travelled to New Zealand over Christmas and New Year to compete in the first World Cup races of 2013. They were held on the North Island, around Wellington and Hawke's Bay. I ran well (better than expected) to finish 13th and 19th in the 'forest' races, and 28th in the sprint (although I took it easy in a challenging final to protect my calf injury). A pleasing start to the year. I also took part in Sprint the Bay and some pre-oceania races with various levels of success.

I combined the racing with travelling around the North Island with my girlfriend, and I would say that in the 6 weeks we were there, we pretty much covered the whole island! We travelled round in a camper van, ran up a lot of mountains, ate a lot of good food, enjoyed the hospitality of the locals and generally enjoyed the climate and environment.

A selection of my photos are available here, and all my maps are available here
Results from World Cup and Sprint the Bay

I would like to say thank you to Vårdlänken Bemanning och Rekrytering and Infanta Ribbåtar for supporting me financially on this trip.