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Friday, 1 November 2013

Sprint Orienteering Lessons

Check out the sprint final map from last weekends knock out sprint at Rathkeale College.

There were six in each final, thats two doing each loop, with each athlete doing the loops in different orders. It is an interesting format. If you are lucky you have a slightly longer loop first and and on the second loop you can get towed through by someone just ahead. On this course there was one much longer loop (7-13), to break things up a little.

There was a 100m run to the start triangle and another 100m to the first control. Whats the strategy... You've got to get there first without going lactic. Stuff gentlemanly conduct, if you punch in 6th you are already 5 seconds down, especially when dicks like Duncan Morrison flick the control in your face.

So what had I read before the first pivot? Well I knew I was heading to the right hand loop (staying on the edge of the buildings in the open field. I knew no 2 and 3 looked easy and there was a possible route choice to 4. On the way to 2 I decided to go right on 4...(5 seconds down close to my biggest mistake on the course). Heading to 4 I got rough exit directions to continue the flow through 5 and 6. With 5 I wasn't sure whether it was inside or outside corner (9 times out of ten it is inside), so I relied on getting a visual of the control on the edge of the circle, and thats the first loop done really...

Second pivot and I had my exit direction sorted, turning hard back the way I had come, but half way to 7 I lost my location on the map and had to hesitate to get contact back, several seconds and Duncan Morrison an opportunity to get in touch. I also hesitated in the circle at 7, the confusion mid leg perhap eating the moment I  would normally have spent on fine navigation. Fast to 8 and 9, but the control at 9 is slightly hidden, up a level from where I was expecting. I can again hear Duncans heavy breathing. 10 could have been difficult because the terrain wasn't quite as expected, it was the caretakers yard, so a lot of stuff everywhere, 11 and 12 were easy (though perhaps there might have been a straight bush option on 12) and then it was onto the last loop.

Third pivot and exit direction was easy. The girls had run before us so the basic shape of the course was known. 15 was easy, 16 I did well but there was someone on my shoulder. Dammit its Nick and he's trying to pass on 17. I went straight and fast but he slid in infront of me, the top two splits on the leg, but we had both pushed perhaps a little too hard and 18 wasn't optimal we went right of the building beside the tennis court, rather than the straightest route.

Final pivot and Shamus was just ahead of us, and Nick punched just ahead of me. And that was the order it stayed (with Matt clearly in front for first). A few interval sessions up my sleeve and I could have made it time.

Two lessons stick out to me from the race.

1. The amount of time (and navigational opportunity) I lost when I lost contact with the map on the way to number 7
2. The mistake that Nick and I both made after pushing just that little harder on 17. Orienteering, like biathlon requires careful management of your aerobic threshold, and you always must be conscious of the risk of mistakes after extra exertion, even within a 5-10 second window like this...

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