Thursday, January 23, 2014

Getting Our Sprint On

It's pretty well documented that with the new changes to the WOC format, the sprint distance is set to become more and more targeted by athletes, particularly from smaller nations who only have 1 or 2 spots in the 'traditional' distances.

In fact, the next couple of months sees a number of what should be high quality sprint events down here in the South. Something I need to sit down and plan how to attack, given I'm still ideally in my base training period. But you have to take the opportunity for quality training and racing when it's there. And boy is it there for us! There's Sprint Auckland Day in a week's time, the now world famous Sprint the Bay in early February and Wellington's equally famous* O-max series throughout Feb/March. The mixed relay format is given a test at the first round of the Australian National League up in Brisbane come late Feb, and, starting today and being run over the next 5 days, there's Sprint Canberra!

Even listing them all has me short of breath!

Sprint Auckland Day is set to be a ripper. 15 courses, 1 day!
(Pic from Gene Beveridge and the SAD fb page)

Sprint Canberra is a new Orienteering Australia initiative, run in tandem with it's first sprint focused high performance squad camp. The next 5 days will see the Aussie elites and juniors doing sprint specific training throughout the day, followed up by racing in the evening, and theory sessions at night. Canberra is the perfect location for such a camp, with our high density of quality sprint areas. Plenty enough for 2 trainings and a race per day, and still maps left over that aren't being used! And all within 5km of my house, how spoilt can I get?!

The races look to be a great mix of formats; the series starts off with a normal interval start sprint tonight, followed by what's set to be a hectic mass start at Radford college on Friday evening. We return to CSIRO on Saturday evening, where WOC trials were held last year, and have a Hageby style race with 2 people starting together at Remembrance Park on Sunday evening. The week ends with a reverse order start final at ANU on Monday. All quality maps, all quality course setters, and a great variety of formats and terrain, should be sweet! And with pretty much every elite orienteer in Australia atttending the training camp and events, the competition will be top notch! So check out the live results up on O-lynx!

There's also enter on the day courses for only $10, so everyone should get involved :)

Mass start on Radford will be hectic, especially at 1:3000!
 (old map above)

Last week's club event on ANU.
(set by your's truly and the HP girls)
Even half updated the map and area is amazing!
Unfortunately I won't be joining the training camp full time as I can't take the time away from the lab at the moment. But I'll be racing, and look forward to making it to some of the training sessions during the weekend. By the end of the weekend hopefully the rust will be out of my system, my legs and brain will be well in-sync and I'll primed for the sprint races to come over the next couple of months!

PS. There should be some previews/reports of STB and Sprint Auckland Day appearing on the NZ O-squad blog soon. Keep and eye out!

*amongst Wellington orienteers.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Work now, play later

It's been a quiet couple of months on the blog front here, with my time being dominated by the phd side of my life. There has been far too much time spent shut away in the lab, and not enough time out training and enjoying summer. However, that's hopefully set to change soon, with my current aim being to finish off my phd measurements as soon as possible, to free up more time for training and racing in the near future!

Too much time spent in here lately.
Not enough time spent places like here.
That's not to say it's been all work and no play though! There's been a trail half marathon, a trip back over the ditch to watch the NZ football team fail at qualifying for the World Cup, a few trainings sprinkled in, and recently, my first trip ever to the USA. In fact, with all of that, plus Christmas, New Years, and 12 days straight of orienteering racing and training camp (more on that later), it's only now that I feel I have time to catch my breath!

So without too much detail (hard for me!), and in no particular order, here's what i've been doing/where I've been hiding the last 2 months:

The primary reason for my trip to San Francisco in early December was to attend and present my work at the American Geological Union Fall Meeting (along with 22,000 other geophysicists!). However, as orienteers have a habit of doing, I managed to end up with a map in hand, running around the local terrain!
Prior to the conference I was lucky enough to get a late entry to run the Sprint the Golden Gate orienteering events. The races were pretty low key, but had a warm atmosphere to them, and were great fun. It was awesome to meet such an enthusiastic group of orienteers, and to hear just what lengths some of them go to to get to even local events. Thanks to all who helped me get to and around the races and made me feel so welcome!
5 sprints in 3 days, in temperatures about 30 degrees colder than Canberra!

Many of us Canberra orienteers spent the cooler parts of our December daysknocking off peaks in the Canberra Cockatoo's countdown to Christmas. The challenge was to run up all of the peaks in suburban Canberra (30 odd of them) before Christmas. Although none of us fulfilled the goal individually, we did get there as a team, on the last day, and had a lot of fun in the process! I've set myself the aim to get up all of the peaks before the end of summer...we'll see how that goes! Maybe once the temperature drops a bit ;)

Spoilt for choice when it comes to hill training!
And spoilt for choice for silly selfies at the top of hills.
Way back in November, there was also the Orienteering ACT awards evening. Unfortunately, I missed the evening, as I was flying back from NZ. Bad timing, which I regretted even more when I found out I'd won  the Orienteer of the Year Award, earned off the back of my early season form. What was a complete surprise however, was being awarded the Services to Coaching Award for my work with the ACT Junior squad - the blue lightning, in 2013. I think the kids, not me, deserve the accolade here though - every Saturday morning all through winter they'd show up, rain or shine (but always freezing cold!), listen to me in my not-quite-with-it morning state, and apply themselves to whatever exercises Rohan and I had thought up for them. So a massive thanks to the Blue Lightning kids, and Rohan Hyslop, the official BL coach, for putting up with me! I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and look forward to doing so again this year!
Improvisation is key! BL drawing their simplified maps.

 I regret missing the awards evening, but what I don't regret is the all too short trip to NZ that I missed it for. Most of the 5 days was spent working, (albeit in a different lab!), but I did get out for some classic NZ back country running. I'll be heading back over the ditch in February for some more , but before then there's plenty of training to be done! Which has helpfully been kick-started by the Xmas 5 day races and the Australian High Performance Squad camp ( + a few kiwis) held over the New Years period. More on that soon, promise!
Gotta love NZ. Suicidal cows and all.

As if I needed another reason to visit home.
Gotta see more of this little cutie!
(Luke that is, not my brother. Sorry Chris.)