Saturday, June 30, 2012

WOC Training

I always saw this blog as an orienteering adventure blog, but most of the time I write about food. Maybe I should take Alex's approach and have a food blog and an orienteering blog. Then again, I can barely write enough for this one.

This past Wednesday I participated in the Swiss selection races for the World Championships, this summer in Lausanne, Switzerland. The women had 11.3km with 380m of climb, which is long. You can view the map and the splits. If you're planning your own routes, you should know that none of the purple slash (out of bounds) was on the competition map, so feel free to run right through it.

As you can see, I'm at the very bottom of the results. Physically, I was hurting the entire time, even during the warm up. I had this tightness and low lactic acid burning in my legs that was set off just by walking. In these woods you need to be ready to attack, and I just didn't have the energy. This led to lazy planning and execution and I surrendered tens of minutes to mistakes and bad routes during this "race".

For my nonorienteering friends out there, green on the map indicates thickness of vegetation. White on the map means runnable woods. Light green is slightly less runnable, then medium green and then the darkest green (don't even try to go through). On top of that, the green slash, on this map, is briers and stinging nettles and other vines and downed trees and branches. Yellow generally means open area, but yellow with green slash means an open area that has grown up and been filled with briers and nettles. Really avoid these areas! As you can see, if you wanted to avoid all the green on this map, you wouldn't make it around the course. You have to go through it sometimes, but you try to minimize the damage. Stick to trails as much as possible.

Here is that I learned, after looking at my race along with GPS tracking and splits from some of the other runners:

1. The streams/ditches are hard to see, especially in the dense green. It all seemed wet. Possibly I was too high and so ran over the top of the first one. Others didn't seem to have as much trouble. I also ran the trail around the corner out of the start. I should have just bitten the bullet and gone through the bit of green slash.

2. Straightish is fine here. I ran out to the road on the right and that was way too far around. I'm not sure what I was trying to avoid, except that the whole area seemed much greener than mapped.

3. One of the best routes was going right out to the trail and then going north (down) and along the bottom and up the indistinct trail right to the control. What I did, attempting to contour the side of the hill, was a very poor choice. I couldn't tell how far I had gone, I was too high and ended up having to bail out to the bottom anyway. Most people went across the top of the hill and attacked from the green patch. They didn't seem to have trouble from there. I was too timid to leave the trail and enter into the green yellow slash. The map says there was an indistinct trail, but I never saw it. Some others may have found it, but others just cut in somewhere along the way, nettles, briers and downed trees be damned.

4. A few different routes into 4, but it was important to make sure you had a good bearing from the trail above. I thought I was following along the stream, but I ended up almost hitting the downhill trail to the north. Although some people did it straight no problem, the safest and still fast route is to take the trail downhill and then cut in when you see the green and clearing coming up.

5. Many people had trouble in the circle here. I missed slightly, but had people around. Again, it's hard to see far in the low visibility and the ditches are not as obvious as I want them to be. I'm not sure how to guarantee spiking it here. Possibly aim off a bit to the right, pay close attention to hitting the stream ditch and know to turn left.

6. Two good routes, left or right. Right involves staying on trails for the most part, going south of 11, cutting a bit, and ending up south of 15 and running the dirt road. The left route, that I tried to take but didn't see, involves going on the dirt road northeast from the control, taking the small path through the rough open and going down the steep nose at the stream junction. Cross the stream and there's a little trail you can take up the steep bank to the dirt road. Run the road and come in from the bottom. It seems that route may have actually been the fastest.

12. I didn't want to go into the woods from the trail, as they were thick. I should have. Everyone else did. I wimped out and ran up the trail a bit, but then had to come back and I missed the control. Basically straight was the best.

14. The most common route was taking the large trail to the small building at the trail cross, and then cutting up the ride. I wasn't anywhere near the first starter, but even when I got there, I was not psyched about running up the ride. It was so overgrown. But, after the first few meters, as indicated on the map, it became more distinct. Remember, just go for it! The plants aren't going to kill you (in the long run).

16. Running along the large field with the slash in it was fantastic. It was only grass on the edge and it had been trampled. Ten times faster than running in the woods. But, of course, this may not always be true...

17. Leave going west, out the broad nose on the indistinct trail and down into the reentrant. I found it hard to get out of that area once I was in the bottom, even though there is a trail. I ran down along the stream and then cut up on the second trail to the upper one. I stayed on trails the whole way here, and I was surprised by the number of people who cut the corner from the trail along the river to the upper parallel trail. Sure, after the first bit of medium green the map says the woods are white, but you're going uphill through crap. The trail doesn't have a great angle, but hey, no crap on the ground. Based on the number of people who cut, I think cutting is the way to go, but, again, you have to just go for it. Be strong, fight through the green! At the end of the leg, it seems a number of people ran down the trail to where the indistinct trail comes off on the semiopen. I also did that. It's a good attackpoint. I still missed, but at least I was closer.

18. Still not sure about the best route. Not what I did. (I ended up running on the trail to the finish...) Possibly swinging a bit to the south to stay in whiter woods.

So, those are my thoughts :) Interesting only to me, and boring for most of you, but it's good to document what I learn :)

And, because all blog posts need pictures, here's the view from Sandra and Marc's balcony.
A bit too cloudy to really see the mountains.


Alex said...

This is super useful, Sam. Definitely more trail running than I'd expect, even just armchair-orienteering it. Sounds like it's worth respecting the green, but being tough enough to fight through it when necessary.

andymurrey said...

Hi Alex! I am impressed to see the wonderful usages of the GPS. I have learnt very important things from it. Thanks mate the superb article. :lol:
Fleet gps tracking