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Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The Adventures of Todd

Now I'm taking the positives out of the experience. I've improved my ability to run independently whilst taking note of a pack, I'm a lot better at running hard on a good bearing regardless of the visibility/footing and I'm confident in my terrain fitness compared to all but the very fittest guys.

Hello,

I guess you want to put something on the O-squad blog. So I've written a little about the WC races.

Middle race in Finland: went well for a leg and a half. You can see my race on the GPS but some of the controls are embarassing... I was slow at the start because I was careful not to veer off my bearing but I ran a good line and increased my confidence. Going to number 2, on a longish leg, I hit the big boulder I was using as a stepping stone and then got pushed off line a little by some close pines. I jumped down a cliff (by NZ standards) and ticked it off as a feature, considering myself relocated, and ran away on a bearing expecting to come across a wide re-entrant going up to my right. Pity I was 100m north of the cliff I thought I was on! Going into the pivot for the first time I got overly involved in a foot-race with a German, lost contact with the map and more importantly a minute or two.

On my way to my 8 (I think) I ran on the compass without a plan and didn't get lucky. Later in the course I was caught by an Italian and Norwegian. I wasn't about to repeat the mistake with the German. I could run faster because I had the back-up of two other navigators behind me. I led for a couple of controls and then we just pushed each other to the finish. Some satisfying legs but not good as a whole. The good thing was that all the training of the last year was paying off: an ability to run as fast in the terrain as a lot of the seasoned internationals (albeit seldom having the navigational confidence to be able to) but more importantly at that moment; some fresh feeling legs.


GPS tracking at Salo World Cup, check it out here. The Sprint race was the next day. Qualifying races in the morning and a final in the evening in the town centre. It was going to be a struggle to qualify. At this World Cup round the field was far bigger than at a world championships. At WOC a country can only enter 3 men but here the nordic countries and swiss could enter 8. At WOC there are 15 men from each heat who go through to the final. At this race it would be 11 due to TV coverage!

I started at the same time as two guys on the other qual races. I kept my head throughout the course, I mainly picked the right route-choices. On a longer leg half-way round I exited the control at the wrong angle and by the time I realised I had to take the long route-choice otherwise I would've lost more time. That cost 20 seconds. Apart from that it was a good fast run. I managed to lose some seconds by double checking a control code. During that split second 3 guys arrived at the control and I had to wait for them all to punch... with E-mit! Fortunately I then took the better route to the next control and didn't have to wait again.

One of my mates from JWOC, Christian Christensen from Denmark, had started a minute behind me on the same course. He had been running a bit faster early in the race and said he could see me for a few legs after first half but couldn't reel me in. Then he saw me make my mistake, caught up a chunk and was the first person to punch at my pause! He got to the finish line just ahead of me. Christian only missed out on the final by 9 seconds I think. Now I know that a lot of the guys making the final can run more than a minute faster than me for 5km and that I could easily have ironed out the 20 second mistake. So I feel quite happy that I was only about 75 seconds off qualifying and hearing that Christian thought I was going well.

Greg and I really enjoyed going to Jukola and then training for a week in Halden, Norway. Kenneth Buch (2009 NZ WOC Coach) had invited us to his town and was an awesome host as well as sorting us out with daily training out on fantastic maps. One day we did club running intervals with Emil Wingsted showing how fast he is.

I stuffed the first control in the Norway middle because I didn't see the start kite... ran too far along the track thinking I was following the tape, realised it was a TV camera cable after 150m and then corrected. Rookie error! Was running pretty well after that and caught a couple of guys. I was concentrating on good compass work to get to obvious point feature attack points, like clearings, cliffs and hilltops. Some very quick Czech came through and we formed a good train. I got off the train on a long leg as we started going diagonally down a slope. The Czech had pulled away getting to the hillside and the other guys went hard trying to catch him. There were very few features to use and the guys in the mini-pack didn't seem to be following anything apart from the Czech's footprints. I aimed for a small hilltop with a clearing on it on the otherwise sloping ground then slowed down for a fine bearing into the control. I arrived just after the Czech. He'd missed and had to relocate. So I was back in the pack and had a bit more puff than the others. We did a couple more legs. I was feeling good and was reading the map enough to cut some corners off the Czech's trail-blazing. Then I sprained my left ankle at about halfway. Managed to hobble/jog into the next control and saw Greg! He'd started 4mins in front of me.

Couldn't really run too well on the ankle so obviously the result wasn't great. I wasn't too happy to get beaten by the bunch of guys I'd caught! I got the best world ranking points I've ever had though, it's to do with all the top guys being there and some of them making huge mistakes.

After the race I got some ice and a compression bandage then limped home. The next day I strapped up the ankle really well for the long. The swelling was gone and I wasn't going to miss out on this race. Norwegians love their "Classic" orienteering and I knew the course would be cool. The other aspect was that it was a chasing start and I wanted to beat those guys I'd caught in the middle but had had to let run away. I was going ok until the control between the long legs. Made the same mistake on it twice and lost about 10 mins. In fields of that quality a mistake that big is just too much. It was nearly thirty degrees and when I couldn't find the control on the second attempt I almost lost the will to compete. I couldn't help but slow down a bit, the heat and guarding my ankle were nagging at me.

Now I'm taking the positives out of the experience. I've improved my ability to run independently whilst taking note of a pack, I'm a lot better at running hard on a good bearing regardless of the visibility/footing and I'm confident in my terrain fitness compared to all but the very fittest guys.

Part 2

I went to the Belgian 3 days the other week-end and was thrown by the 1m contours (the programme said 2m to be fair). I improved on day 2 but tweaked my ankle on day 3 and DNFed.

So that was good preparation for a 10km race I did the next day! The ankle wasn't swollen and felt fine doing some strides. I was hoping for about 34 minutes or under. Couldn't talk my way into the elite start box so I had to fight (almost literally) to get out towards the front at the start. I finished ahead of the first woman, just, in 33:08. So I was quite happy considering the slopes (hills if you're Belgian) and hard start.

I've just done the French 3 days which have been a highlight due to the terrain. Fountainebleu has awesome deciduous forests with some big hills, good for orienteering. The best thing is that the hills are COVERED in massive boulders. I had a really good run in the middle on day 2. I was concentrating on using the contours and tracks so that I couldn't get confused by the boulderfields. I had the cleanest run of my year so far and was really happy. I had had quite an early start so it was good to see my time compare well with the later starters who had trains and tracks. Good thing is that it was a world ranking event so I'm looking forward to the points going up.

Tommorow I'm off to watch a stage of the Tour de France and this week-end I head to O-Ringen so life is good.

Thanks to Wellington OC for contributing to my WC costs.

Cheers,

Todd

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