Monday, October 17, 2011

Two Roads Diverged

And two long roads they were, as this weekend Sam and I signed up for two separate and equally daunting orienteering courses.  I ran the Blodslitet in Norway and Sam ran the Swiss Long Distance Championships in Switzerland. Both of these courses were quite long but I'll have to keep this blog post quite short and get to bed on time, since another orienteering weekend is coming to a close and work beckons in the morning.

Going on a recovery run the next day. Taking photos is a good excuse for a break.

Samantha has spent this last week training in Switzerland. She arrived in Neuch√Ętel on Monday evening, and spent the week visiting Marc and Sandra Lauenstein and training with their orienteering club, ANCO. Their training camp was remote enough that Sam hasn't been able to spend any time on the internet or write any blog posts, so she left that duty to me. Naturally I shirked my responsibilities until the last possible moment.

With Sam out of the country this weekend, roommate Boris and I needed to think of some fun activity for the weekend. A plan was hatched to convince a couple of friends to join us and to have a road trip to Olso where we would visit our friends Cristina and Melissa and run a 23.5 kilometer mass start orienteering race.

So on Friday afternoon we headed off to Norway, fueled by some severely undercooked Snickerdoodles and raw cookie dough (I ran out of time to finish baking before we had to leave to catch the bus). We arrived late on Friday night and then realized that no one had written down which apartment Cristina and Melissa lived in. We guessed right though and the door we knocked on was opened to reveal friendly faces.

The next morning we pulled ourselves out of bed and had a hearty breakfast and I even ate two bowls of oatmeal, though I normally skip eating before races, because I knew I was going to be running for over 3 hours. The rough translation of Blodslitet is blood hard-work, and the hard-work part of the title really does seem to capture the essence of the event. The men's race was set up so that each runner had three short loops of about 4 kilometers, passing through the arena each time, before heading off on a long 11.5 kilometer journey into the wilderness. I made lots of little mistakes throughout the course, and finished in just over 4 hours. I don't think I lost any blood on the course, but I did work hard; running fast and climbing up lots of hill. I did find it remarkably hard to stay on my feet during this course and I fell down cliffs, into marshes and over tree stumps over and over again. 4 hours of that treatment, and my body felt pretty ravaged.

I fell face first into one of these marshes more than once. (They don't taste very good)
Sam hopefully was able to spend more time upright on her course. I hope that she will be back soon to write more about her race, but from afar her 8th place finish is a solid performance. She's continuing to post good results and though it really only counts for bragging rights, she was the fastest woman in the finish chute today as well. She has earned a rest day following a great race like that, and the timing couldn't be better as today is her birthday as well. October 17th, and Sam turns 29. She's still in Switzerland for a couple more days, but you should write her some happy birthday messages here as a comment, or on her AP log, or on her facebook page, or all three.

An appropriate format for a birthday message might be something like this.

Dearest Samantha,
                          I was reading your fantastic and well written blog and saw that it was your birthday. I wanted to sing you a song to help you celebrate this special day, but I think these guys on YouTube will do a better job. Hope that they have plenty of birthday cake in Switzerland!

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