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WOC 2018

The last weeks have marked somewhat of a come back to international orienteering in which I have competed in my third World Orienteering Championships (WOC). After running in 2014 and 2015, during which I was living in Sweden, I have had a period of absence from the world champs. There were many reasons for this but largely centred on a touch of burnout from orienteering after a prolonged 2015 season and a desire to advance other aspects of my life. In this period I have been very fortunate to join an incredible Auckland based engineering consultancy, Tonkin + Taylor, through which I have met many talented and motivated people and made some great new friends. I have been able to transition my undergraduate mechanical engineering degree into the start of a geotechnical engineering career and in March this year, I submitted my Master’s thesis in civil engineering, specialising in geotechnical earthquake engineering. So for the most part, the orienteering has been on the back burner, but I have still managed a moderate amount of training and tried my best to compete at local competitions. After the National Championships earlier this year and with the Master’s completed I made the decision to have another crack at WOC. The objectives of this WOC project focused on seeing how an NZ based campaign compared to others I have done; in terms of the experience, the feelings, and the performances.

The championships this year were held in Latvia for the first time ever, with the forest races being located in Sigulda, a small town north-east of Riga. I had never been to Latvia before, so I was also quite keen to see a new country and experience some eastern European culture again.

The Preparations

As mentioned above, work and studies have taken priority over the past while but I have still managed an ok level of training. At the National Championships, I think I found myself in good form after a pretty solid summer of training which included a really nice trip up north for New Years. However, as winter set in and a few of the projects I was working with started to consume much of my time and energy, I found that my training dipped. Despite this, I remained fairly confident that I would not lose a great deal through this period of reduced training. In hindsight, I think it did take its toll as I was training too little for too long and missed some of the key interval and longer sessions. I am not saying that I would have changed the build-up prior to leaving New Zealand, especially given my priorities and motivation, but I think this was one of the reasons I lacked any real physical edge at WOC this year.

I had set my plan for the weeks before WOC quite some time ago and it included a week training camp in Latvia to acclimatise and familiarise myself with the terrain, followed by a week in Sweden with mum to find some good feelings by meeting up with friends, running in some really beautiful forests, and distracting my thoughts from WOC for a short time. This was then to be followed by a few days back in Latvia with NZ team before the races started for me on the 7th of August. These weeks went perfectly to plan (not quite the same for Gene) and I really enjoyed all the different experiences. From driving a legit Audi down the back roads of Sigulda to an exquisite dinner with the Ridefelt family after a pure orienteering session in Lunsen, I arrived back to Latvia feeling fresh and primed both mentally and physically.

Rental Car

Sick ride for the training camp in Latvia before WOC.

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Dinner with the Linne crew at the Ridefelts.

The few days before I started racing, we witnessed orienteering history with Tim Robertson taking a silver medal in the sprint, narrowly missing gold by 1.1 seconds. This result is a reflection of a talented athlete who has matured into one of the best and most consistent sprint orienteers in the world. We knew, as did Tim, that he had the capability to achieve a great result, but to handle all the pressures and conquer the demanding sprint course, is a testament to his ability to handle the big situations. For me, I found it rather emotional and perhaps raised my own expectations which contributed to what transpired in the middle distance. The days before also included the sprint relay which I spectated and the model event for the middle. I enjoyed the model and felt comfortable in the terrain, which boded well for the race itself.

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Tim Roberston taking the first ever WOC medal for NZ (Photo – WOC2018).

WOC Middle

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Results

Performing at the highest level is about mastering the pressures; from within, from others, and from the event.

The middle distance race was a lesson in how things can go horribly wrong in a race and emptied my confidence after I made the biggest mistake in an important orienteering race to date. Reflecting upon the day I have identified a number of factors which led to the implosion of my target race for the year. This included:

  • Getting too worked up about the race and letting the internal pressure get to me;
  • Not racing since June and having to go through all the nuances of preparing for a big race during the day of the race;
  • Not warming up enough before starting and hence feeling a touch on the lethargic side;
  • Starting way too fast, sprinting out of the start blocks and never gaining control of my orienteering; and most critically
  • My compass breaking at some point during the course without me realising, losing the ability to maintain a good bearing.

I think the last point happened very early on as my parallel mistake to the third largely happened due to an off bearing out of the second control. I pride myself on my ability to run straight, so this must have been the reason why the shit hit the fan. After this, my race was over and I struggled on a number of the subsequent controls without my compass. A hard pill to swallow and a race to forget but at the same time a valuable lesson. I have always maintained that we learn more from our failures than we do our successes.

Mistake

The worst mistake I have ever made in a major competition.

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A look that says it all about the race (Photo – WOC2018).

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Difficult slog to the finish (Photo – WOC2018).

WOC Relay

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Results

With the middle race knocking my confidence I had to find the strength to put it behind me and re-focus for the relay with Tim and Gene. On paper, this is a very strong team, but the past few years have seen some disappointing relay performances. This was not the case this year, with Tim having a solid first leg undone only in part by one small mistake and a route choice error. I started in 17th position but with some teams close enough to hunt down. Leaving the start triangle we had a very easy first control, but I struggled to make sense of the buildings and lakes and the thoughts came flooding back from the middle distance. I stopped and made sure I figured out where I was and then went to the first control. After this, I found a good flow and ran a stable race which brought back some of the confidence I had lost. The speed was not great compared to the top guys, but that can be largely explained by the training over the last months. Even if I am in my best shape, the top guys are still ~3 minutes faster than me in a middle/relay length course, a margin I would like to bring down in the future. Gene then, in his first race and still recovering from his sickness had a good run to close the relay out in 17th position. A tidy result for a young men’s NZ relay team.

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Finding my confidence again after the middle distance, this time reading the f***king map (Photo – WOC2018).

WOC Long

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Results

The WOC long is the toughest orienteering course of the year and this year was no exception. I wanted to avenge my middle distance performance with a good run in my second and final individual race for WOC 2018. The last two WOC long distances I have run, 2014 and 2015, were incredibly tough and a mental battle. I think I am becoming more accustomed to the challenges of the long distance and with a number of tough long trail races that I have done (Goat, ROF etc.) I felt mentally more prepared for the race this year than I have in the past. I made sure I had a good warm up and was excited to see that body felt pretty fresh. Before I started, I remember feeling very excited and truly wanting to race the long distance, a much nicer position to be in than I have previously.

With such a long race, I could write an entire essay on how the race evolved. Of course, there were mistakes, most significantly to the first control, but generally I was satisfied with the race. I became fairly tired after the spectator run-through and then took a couple conservative, slower route choices which cost me some time. But when finished, I was mostly happy and an improvement on previous years. If I want to do better in this distance, and both the middle and relay, then I need to obtain a higher physical capacity. But I was pleased to end WOC on a more positive note.

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Going strong up to the run-through (Photo – WOC2018).

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Tough finish, as always in a long distance (Photo – WOC2018).

Given my physical shape and the priorities over the past years I have decided that my come back WOC was a success. The middle was a painful reminder of the nature of sport, that even with great preparations we can fall victim to failing equipment and letting the emotions impede our performance. It was awesome to catch-up up with old friends and also to see some of them climb the ranks to the highest positions; Tim in the sprint and Eskil in all the races he ran but most noteworthy the gold in the middle distance.

The motivation right now is quite high, and initial thoughts are that I will go for WOC next year in Norway, the first in a long time that it will just be the forest disciplines. In what shape or form the approach will be I am still not certain. I will spend the next month having a break, beginning with some weeks on a beach in Croatia and in the Slovenian mountains afterwhich heading back to New Zealand, then I will begin thinking about how best to approach WOC next year. Without doubt I will need to pursue a higher physical capacity and tweak the preparations slightly so that I am more able to deal with the stresses of competing at the world champs. I think this can be achieved with more racing in the build-up to WOC. But whatever happens from now, I walk away from this year’s WOC with some great memories and experience.

Thanks to the awesome NZ team, especially Malcolm for his immaculate management skills, T+T (work) for allowing me to have an extended period of leave (and for providing such a great working environment), my family for their support, notably my mum who made the trip to Europe by herself this year to help the team and spectate the races, NWOC for being the best club in NZ, and to many others who have provided insight and support throughout my orienteering career so far.

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End of the WOC 2018 project and now onto Croatia and Slovenia before heading back to New Zealand.

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WOC 2015

It has been quiet on this blog for a few months now, mainly because I have been busy and kind of questioned the point of blogging, largely the former. But now I feel it will be good to put down some thoughts and feelings regarding WOC and my preparations leading into it. My last post concerned Tiomila, well actually just before it, right before our dreams were devastated by old misfortune (no result in the end due to a miss punch). Since then it has been a mediocre (my performances anyway) round 2 of the World Cups (68th Long, 50th Middle, 14th Mixed Sprint Relay), Jukola (which we finished a fantastic 4th) and a few other smaller competitions. Work was quite intense through this period as we tried to finish off the project I have been working on before the summer. However, due to a really good working situation I could end work on the 30th of June and have all of July to focus on WOC, which began for me on the 4th of August with the middle distance.

The Preparations

I started the main preparations with 2 weeks in Rauland, Norway with the JWOC team who were competing. Fortunately they were happy with me tagging along, and I tried to offer some advice when I could. The scenery in Rauland was truly special, and some of the most inspiring terrain I have been in. Waking up every morning to the backdrop below, was a very powerful motivator for a tough training period. I wanted to have an “overload” period in order to improve the shape, and also to do something whilst the JWOC team was doing all their fun activities! It brought back some good memories of when I was running JWOC. During the JWOC week I competed in the 50th Sørlandsgaloppen, which offered some very nice orienteering. Because of racing and travelling, the training during this week was not the highest, but by the end of it I was still pretty tired! So my time in Norway was really great for my training and motivation, and seeing the JWOC team do so well made it that much better. Tim won the gold again!, and some others had really tidy performances which bodes well for the future. Thanks to the JWOC team, especially Jean Cory-Wright for all the good laughs and discussions.

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Insane view from the accommodation in Rauland!!!

After JWOC I travelled to Uppsala with “the AOTC cool c**ks”. Earlier in the year, I had offered those in the Auckland Training Group (AOTC) the possibility to come back with me and experience what it is like to live in Scandinavia (or Uppsala at least), and expose them to the vastly different world of orienteering here. It was a really fun week, filled with some nice orienteering, good food and awesome company. Thanks to Åsa Hedin and her kind family for hosting us. It was very fun to meet someone completely new from the club, but whom we had plenty to talk about! Next it was Oringen, which I was a bystander for, competing a couple of times in open courses and watching everyone else slog it out for 5 races. Albin and Rassmus were highly impressive in the elite class, and also there were some fantastic runs by the Kiwis throughout the week.

AOTC i Sverige

AOTC i Sverige

It was then time for Scotland, heading to Edinburgh, staying there and sightseeing/training for one day and then up to Inverness to meet with the rest of the team. We had a fun week before the racing began, longer for me as I wasn’t starting until the middle distance. In this week I did a number of solid technical sessions to become familiar with the terrain. The trainings confirmed what I had been told previously, that the terrain was nothing that special. I felt really comfortable in the terrain very quickly, even despite some strange mapping.

Going into WOC I was pretty happy with my preparations. Performing at WOC is not something that can be accomplished simply in a short in time, it takes years of dedicated trianing, however one key to the puzzle is fine tuning the preparations in order to be in the best shape possible come race day. I avoided sickness and injury which is a large component. But overall I think I did it the best I could for this year, but I have found some things to work on, regarding the preparations and in general towards my training.

WOC Middle

One big thing I noted before the race was how ‘flat’ I felt. I think I had rested perhaps a little too much, and I maybe missed one key speed session prior to the races in order to remove the stiffness in the legs. However, I still managed a really stable middle distance race and finished in 26th position. I was only 3 minutes and 6 seconds after the winning time, which is progress on the last individual race I prepared for which was in the World Cups in Tasmania earlier this year. I lost significant time on the long leg, running a little too much in terrain and I felt the speed drop towards the end. As a result I missed that ‘kick’ in the last controls which is so important in middle distance. But on the whole, it was a nice day and a performance I am reasonably happy with!

Results
Map (GPS tracking)
TV (around 3:25 for some nice footage of me)

The course wasn't all this nice!

The course wasn’t all this nice!

WOC Relay

Tim seriously injured himself the day before in the middle distance, dislocating his shoulder for the third time this year! Luckily Gene was with us and stepped up to run first leg. His preparations were not exactly optimal, and I could sense that he was quite nervous before the race. But he did an absolutely fantastic race, controlling his technique and the situation to come back in 12th position. Read about his race here. Shamus and I then did stable races (mine was actually quite average, but it was enough on the day), so we finished up in 16th position. The best ever result for a NZ 3-man relay team, which is pretty cool!

Results

WOC Long

I ran the WOC long distance last year and I really suffered then, struggling with the distance and physicality of the course. This year I wanted to do better, and I thought that my overall increase in training volume would have had some dividends. Turns out, it didn’t or not very much. This year I finished in 46th position, a few places better than last year but still a monumental 28 minutes 27 seconds behind the winner. I am pretty disappointed with this, but I kind of realised that it will take some time and numerous more long races before I can even push for the entire racing time. I went into this race almost in fear of how long and tough it would be. I took a conservative approach in the beginning, which meant that I set a rather pathetic tempo from the start. I never managed to increase it, which I wanted to do. You cannot run conservatively in a long distance, you must push from the beginning which I failed to do. My orienteering was pretty good, apart from a stupid mistake in the butterfly and not picking the best lines all the time. The long distance this year was another tough day in the office, but also another big learning experience so I guess I can take that as a positive!

Results
Map (GPS tracking)

Tough day in the office (WorldofO)

Tough day in the office (WorldofO)

Progress

I am not a ‘beast’…yet, that was confirmed at WOC, but I am making progress in my training and orienteering. It is so demanding at the top level, again made more difficult with limited support by our federation, but that is the orienteering world I live in and as I have said before, it is all about making the most of the situation we are in. Playing the hand of cards the best way possible, even if the hand is not the best. It was inspiring to see Lucas and other younger guys do so well, emphasising that the good feelings do come again, it just takes time and a whole lot of hard work! One big bonus from this WOC is that NZ will move into the next division, meaning that we get two spots at WOC next year in Sweden. This makes it much more exciting as there will be more spots for us to compete for, and ultimately more kiwis on the start line.

I have learnt so much preparing for and competing at WOC this year. Now begins thoughts towards the future. One thing I will like to try is to spend a longer period in NZ to build a higher physical capacity. I think if I am to bridge the gap to the winning margins then I must become so much fitter, stronger and faster! It takes time, but I believe that significant gains can be made whilst being based in NZ for a longer period of time, especially with the optimal, summer training conditions we have there during the European off-season. Also a big motivator for me is spending time with kiwis, especially my family whom I haven’t seen for 5 months. I noticed this when I was in NZ in January-February, and I think is a big component for me to achieve what I want to achieve.

But that is the end of the WOC2015 project, and I move onto to other things. Thanks to everyone who has supported me and continue to support me. There are so many that I couldn’t possibly name them all, but just know that it makes such a big difference! Now it is less than 40 days until I head back to NZ, via the Australian Champs. It will be a pretty busy schedule till then with Night Hawk, DM and SM and also launching a new project at work. But I am really looking forward to heading home for the entire NZ summer, to see family and friends again!

#perfectflow

 

The Calm Before The Storm

“A moment of pain, is worth a life time of glory”

…a quote that has stuck with me after watching Unbroken, and I think works quite nicely with my favourite quote of all time “pain is weakness leaving the body”. With tough, painful training (of the non-injured kind) we set ourselves up for glory, and that, right now, is the feeling in Linné. It is just under two weeks until the first “big relay” of the season, Tiomila.

Looking back, the past few weeks have been very stable. By minimising the travelling, and only competing a few times I have been able to secure some very good hours of training which I have put into the bank. Below is a look at a few of the highlights, including my first SM Natt.

Rånässtafetten

A smaller relay, but this time the relay was hosted on a map very close to where Tiomila will be held. Therefore, there were a lot of good teams, some combining it with a training camp in Uppland. I ran 4th leg in the first team with Csaba, Rassmus, Joseph and Oskar. The guys before me had really stable runs, so that I could go out in second position. My race was fairly good and I was able to catch the lead and then create a gap. I handed over to Oskar a little over a minute in front, which meant that Oskar just had to do a stable race. Which he managed comfortably, meaning a third straight relay victory for Linné.

Map

Third relay victory!

Third relay victory!

SM Natt

My first Swedish Night Championships, and so a start time of 10:30pm! It was quite a strange feeling starting so late, and it meant that I had to take a sizeable dosage of caffeine before the race. The terrain was fairly nice, but the technique was simple. Run hard on the compass, picking up the few features under the line. Although easier said that done, especially at night,  I felt I handled the challenge quite good making only a couple of small mistakes. I ran by myself, well some guy followed after 17, but I could focus largely on my own race which I think was a good thing. I finished in 12th place, 7 minutes down but only 2 minutes from top 6, which was fun!

Map

Uppsala Möte

The most recent competition, held over the weekend. I ran the night and long (last year I ran the middle and long). I had some problems in the week with some pain in my quad, but it had subsided by the weekend. I had a good race in the night, barring a shit end, and managed to win! The long was less successful and I really struggled in the terrain after the strength training the day before. My legs were really heavy, as was the terrain which made it difficult to sustain a high intensity. The course was also uninspiring, 14 controls over 11km! The end result was #amateurhour of orienteering (see below). It was still a fun training, and it was such a beautiful day in the forest! The days are getting longer and warmer, and I am really starting to see the beauty of Sweden again!

Map Natt
Map Lång

#amateur

#amateur

Siggefora!

Siggefora, Uppsala Möte Lång

Summer is coming!

Summer is coming!

I will now take out some of the training I have invested into the bank, in hope to find some top form for Tiomila. It always feels a little uneasy before the big competitions, a calmness before the storm. I will be running towards the end of the relay, which will mean a very early start, depending on if I sleep or not. I am really excited, as are my teammates, but we are also calm, focusing on the final prep in order to get the job done.

#itsourtime #ogdenexcited 

 

Its Only the Beginning

Well it has been 5 weeks since I arrived back to Uppsala after the training camp in Croatia and Slovenia. It has been a stable period of training and working, with two significant highlights being victories in Måsentafetten and Kolmårdskavlen with Ok Linné. These relays are pretty insignificant in the scheme of things, but despite this, there is significant excitement and energy surrounding them.

Måsenstafetten

I ran first leg, followed by Rassmus, Albin and then Oskar. Linné won this relay last year, so there was a little pressure/expectation to repeat the effort. There was some stress in the beginning for me trying to find where to get into the start. Evidently the mass of people congregating was not clear enough. This stress was quickly replaced with focus, and I got into my rhythm once the start gun was fired. I had full control over the technique up to the 7th control. Towards the 8th I made a small mistake, where the group got ahead of me. I think here the tough swedish terrain caught up with me at this point also, and I became tired. It wasnt too far to the finish, so I managed to finish in 6th position on the first leg, just under 20 seconds down. The business was already done, with Rassmus, Albin and Oskar taking over and finishing off the relay in style.

Map

Måsen Champions (photo by Mats Troeng)

Måsen Champions (photo by Mats Troeng)

Kolmårdskavlen

A week later, a small team change with Oskar pursuing romance over glory, and it was another victory. This time Kolmårdskavlen, with Jakob running the first, me the second, Jan 3rd, Rassmus 4th and Albin running the anchor leg. Jakob had a stable run sending me out in 18th position. I could then “hunt” the pack down, and eventually caught the front group just before the finish. I was really happy with my race apart from one 20 second mistake to the 5th control. It was even nicer to have the feeling to catch the first group, so that I could give Jan a good position for him to go out in. Then again, Rassmus and Albin were better than the rest, and Linné took the top place on the podium. It was actually pretty close in the end with SNO, so it was even nicer to finish on top.

Map
Video of the finish

Running into the finish (photo by JB)

Running into the finish (photo by JB)

Run in with the team! Vad kul! (photo by JB)

Run in with the team! Vad kul! (photo by JB)

The spring weather is starting to arrive now, and following day light savings last weekend, training conditions are becoming increasingly more pleasant here in Uppsala. I ran one of the coolest trainings ever last weekend, a leg over 3km with contours only in Lunsen set by Thierry. An awesome challenge!

Highway to Hell

Tomorrow I shall run my final relay before Tiomila, Rånässtafetten, and I will run the 4th leg. We have two very strong teams, so it will be fun to see which of the two teams comes out on top. Our goal for this relay is to demonstrate the strength of our team for Tiomila. The feeling in the mens team is really great at the moment, everyone seems to be in rather good shape so we are getting very excited (even #ogdenexcited) for Tiomila. Then, it is under a month to Tiomila, and my first major goal for the season.

 

CroSlo Utlandsläger

It has been a little over a week now since I came back from OK Linné’s annual training camp, which was held in Croatia and Slovenia. This was my first camp with Linné since joining the club. I had been to Croatia/Slovenia before, back in 2011, after JWOC and I thoroughly enjoyed my time then. In my opinion, this part of the world offers some of the nicest and most demanding orienteering terrain possible so I was very eager to get back there! Most clubs go to Portugal or Spain during this time of the year to escape the cold and harsh training conditions that consumes Scandinavia during the winter months. After a visit to Uppsala from Matija Razum last year, the idea to go to Croatia/Slovenia was conceived and we soon realised that the camp could be combined with two competitions, Kvarner Bay Challenge (Croatia) and Lipica Open (Slovenia). This provided a platform to plan a tough schedule of training, and discussions/organisation with Ivan Naggy (organiser of the previously mentioned competitions) promised an unforgettable camp!

Rather than a detailed account of the camp, I thought I would share some of the hash tags (some classic and some new), photos, and overall impressions.

#PerfectFlow, #CroSlo, #CroatiaInvasion #SexySexyDJ, #SlovasionInvasion, #DJInternet, #TräningSomBeats, #Missingtheferrytotakephotos #RassmusCoDriver #Itsnotreallyfantasyapartfromthedragosns #LadiesNightWickedWonderland

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Overall impressions from the training camp:

  • Fantastic terrain and maps (available here)
  • Un-matcheable local support from Ivan Naggy, who assisted with organising the trainings and accommodation
  • Great weather and organisation made for optimal training conditions
  • Nice competitions which could be easily integrated into the camp programme
  • Great company and the it felt like we developed the club spirit for those on the camp
  • Satisfied with my training on the camp, however fell sick after stage 2 of Lipica, I think because of the high training volume and perhaps catching it off someone. Seems that nearly everyone got sick after the camp.
  • Kvarner Bay Challenge were two nice competitions, struggled at times in the diffuse terrain and broke my shoe 😦
  • Lipica Open was also great! The first race was a target race, and I got a nice result (3rd in M21E) however I had the speed to get close to Albins time but was let down by my technique. Need to work on my technique more! Bit rusty after not doing so much in NZ. The other races were not so serious, and because of the sickness I couldnt compete at any high level in the last 3 stages.

I would definitely recommend this part of the world for clubs wanting to go on training camps this time of the year. Of course, I think a lot depends on the weather, but provided you have the good weather then I think the environment is almost unbeatable! Thanks in particular to Albin and Matija, but also to everyone on the camp for making it such a wickedly wonderful time!

I have now spent 1 week in Uppsala, in which I have started back at work, have been confronted with the best and worst of the spring weather (polar shift in the weather in the past 3 days, see photos below just 1 week apart), and resuming the life I had last year in the Autumn. I am in good physical condition and I am satisfied with my training over the past months (check out this long training I did in Lunsen last Sunday. Fin!). I feel I have really progressed as an athlete since moving to Sweden, however I am still not convinced that I need to live in Sweden if I am to become the best orienteer I can be. What I should be doing, or where I should be living consumes a lot of my thoughts, and I feel torn between two places. If I am to really thrive and really improve in the time before WOC then I must accept that this is an experience, and I simply must enjoy and be grateful for the opportunity to train along side the best orienteers in the world. I have a lot to learn, a lot of things to work on, but I am really motivated to push this year and see what I can achieve in orienteering! After that I might re-evaluate, but for now its full throttle for the training and the competitions coming up!

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Another European Adventure Begins

Last Friday I begun the 18,000km journey back to Europe. The trip is getting pretty irritating now, especially doing it so many times now and doing it by myself. The novelty has definitely worn off, and it just presents a disruption to my training for which I have to try minimise its effects. It did however allow for some time to reflect upon the past few months in NZ.

Overall the 2 months in NZ were really inspiring, and I am satisfied with the training I have done. I think my approach to training has seriously evolved over the last year, which can be largely attributed to spending time with the best orienteers in the world. I have a more complete understanding of how I should be training, and a greater awareness for my bodies response to training. After Tasmania I ran in Le Tour de Peninsula which was a series of fun sprints in Christchurch organised by Papo. It was really fun to spend some more time with the NZ orienteers in Akoroa, a place I have never been to before. Again I was exposed to the remarkable diversity in the terrain that we have in NZ, a reason I love the country so much. The races were fun with good variety in courses, terrain and safety (thanks to Chris Forne). The time in NZ also made me think about what I want to do after this season, and where I want to be.

Maps from Le Tour

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Beautiful NZ

The last week in NZ was fairly busy as I tried to complete my BOP mapping project and test run various courses for events later in the year. Unfortunately I fell sick on the Sunday before I left, which made the last few days are bit rough. I had always planned to have a week or 2 of easier training around now, so that I could adapt to the training that I had done in NZ and to get my body as ready as possible to minimise the impact of changing the training environment, especially considering that I am heading into the backend of a European winter. So I could easily justify the sickness as a good thing in my head, however as I write this it is still persisting so hopefully it decides to disappear as quickly as possible now.

During the flight to Europe I had a stopover in Singapore, which I made the most of with a treadmill training and a swim in an outdoor pool. I am becoming a big advocate of having a slightly longer stopover and training during them, after doing it also when I traveled to NZ last year.  Both times I have felt so much better at the end of the travels, than when I traveled for a straight 24hours.

Before heading to Uppsala, I spent a few days with my sister in London. Both her and I left NZ last year to explore the world, however she did not travel back to NZ for the summer, so it was nice to catch up. I managed a couple of trainings in which I became pretty adamant that I could never live in London. But it was nice to see my sister and her life in London, do some cliched tourism and visit the Science Musuem which I was visited back in 2009.

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London tourist for the third time

Yesterday I arrived to Uppsala and was surprised how much it felt like “home”. The experience of time is pretty interesting sometimes and how places can seem to almost freeze the passage of time. Anyway, the weather is no where near as harsh as I expected, with a large proportion of the snow having already melted. The temperatures are mostly above zero as well, which suggests that Spring is almost here! Next up is a 2 week training camp in Croatia and Slovenia with Linné. It is looking like it will be a great camp, with a good programme incorporating a variety of maps, terrain and training types. Stay posted!

Back to blodan

Back to blodan

Tasmania – Ten out of Ten

After the NZ Linné Training Camp, I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with my family. I also took part in a couple of really nice trainings with AOTC, including a “God Jul” special and boxing day O-intervals. The intervals were especially nice as the group was quite large. In Auckland we have not done many of these group o-intervals before, but they are especially common in Uppsala. I think they are really good for orienteering under pressure, and at a speed which is higher than your usual orienteering speed, therefore really stressing the technique.

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Boxing Day O-Intervaller

I then packed my bags and joined a group of orienteers from Auckland to travel to Tasmania, primarily for the first round of the World Cups. I had been to Tasmania earlier in 2014 as part of the Australian High Performance Training Camp. It was a fantastic experience, and I really enjoyed the terrain so I was excited for this trip to Tasmania. The travelling group was mainly North West members, all enthusiastic and fun people, giving the trip the ingredients needed to make it a truly memorable one.

The first couple of days in Tasmania we had no races which gave us the opportunity to train and see some of Tasmania. As I wasn’t running the sprint, I had more time before my first race, so I wanted to have a mini-training camp to make the most of the wonderful training conditions that Tasmania has to offer. Included in this was a great run in the Ben Lomond National Park with Nick and Fraser. The terrain was surreal, both Nick and I describing it as “out of this world”.

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Ben Lomond National Park, Legges Tor

All was going well, everyone was having fun, the training was good, the weather perfect…but then I was confronted with a rather unpleasant stomach virus which put me out of action for 3 days. I missed the New Years celebrations and was left in an exhausted, bed ridden state. The source of the virus could not be determined, and we became pretty sure that it wasn’t food poisoning as a few other people got the virus, but thankfully to a lesser degree. In some way I think it was a good thing to get sick, as it gave my body a complete chance to recover and I could lose some weight before the competitions, or at least that’s how I justified it in my head.

For the first World Cups (sprint qualification and final) I was just a spectator, but it was fun to see everyone race and made me hungry for my own races. It was good to see Cameron Tier have the best performance in the sprint, another North West runner moving through the ranks! The sprints were well organized, and it was nice to see that the organisers used the qualification as a chance to showcase Cataract Gorge, a place that the NZ team visited a number of times after the race.

After the sprints we moved out of Launceston, and shifted to the coast in a small town called Bicheno. It was really neat here as basically all the NZ orienteers stayed together in a collection of bungalows. That meant that there was almost 80 of us all within walking distance. One highlight from this arrangement was going for easy jogs, and being cheered on by the older members of the group. Tom and I found this to pretty motivating. Before my World Cup races started I had a chance to run the Oceania Relays. It was good to do a high speed O-session after being sick so that I could get my body back to working condition. The race was close in the M21E class, but Julian was stronger than me on the last leg, which gave Australia the title.

Oceana Relay

My first World Cup race was the middle on the 8th and then the long on the 10th. Both competitions were awesome. The terrain and courses were some of the best I have ever run in Australia, and it was really nice to see the 3.8km monster leg in the long distance. It takes a pretty courageous course planner to set a leg that long, but it was a nice challenge! Links to the maps can be found below, which have some specific comments about the races and the results. The best thing about the middle was running to the cheers of a big NZ contingent! I was satisfied with my 13th position, and really happy to secure a place in the WOC middle. The long was tough and identified again the difference in my abilities in the long versus the middle. There are some things I really want to work on to improve my long distance orienteering, like optimizing the technique to a higher degree and more attention to route selection. I find I don’t have the same focus in the long, that I can achieve in the middle. This is connected to my physical capacity at the moment, but also experience so bring on more tough long distances!

WC Middle
WC Long

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Middle Spectator Run-through

 

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End of the Middle

After the World Cups it was nice to have an extra day to visit Coles Bay, and run across to Wineglass Bay. Such a beautiful place, with insane geography. I have to say that this trip has been one of the best orienteering experiences of my life. I am really inspired by the level of motivation that is growing within NZ, and I think things are just happening now which will take NZ to a whole new level. One thing that is critical for development, as a small orienteering country, has been the appointment of Malcom Ingham as High Performance Leader. I believe that under his leadership we have a real shot at putting the systems in place to produce a self-sustaining development pathway and to re-ignite the super-series and ANZ test matches.

But the main source of inspiration from the trip was the group. Everyone got on so well, and the variety and number of characters in the group made it so much fun. I would like to give a huge thanks to Rob and Marquita who organized a significant proportion of the trip. Rob has been so influential in NZ orienteering, and his enthusiasm and energy is something that greatly inspires me.  Overall I would give the trip 10/10, even getting sick couldn’t lower its score.

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Part of the NZ Travelling Group

 

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The sun sets on a great trip!

Now I have 1 month left in NZ before I head back to Sweden. I will be producing some maps in Tauranga and Rotorua to earn some money. The goal for training is to continue with a stable training regime. I will also be competing in Tour de Peninsula which is looking like a great competition. 7 races in 3 days, on some nice sprint maps! I hope to work on my Swedish in this period too, I really need to learn the language om jag är att trivas i Sverige. But we will see how far I get before getting on the plane!

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#PerfectFlow #LoveSummer