Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Next update on Tuesday


The next planned update to this page is Tuesday, July 1.

posted by Michael | 12:49 PM


US Relay Champs


This weekend, I'll run the U.S. Relay Champs in McCall, Idaho. I should say a few words about the event:

CSU is the team to beat. I haven't looked at the start lists. I don't know who is going to be at the race. But, I'll go ahead and pick CSU (last year's champs) as the team to beat.

Orienteer Kansas will, as usual, have two teams. OK has had two teams at the relays for a good six or seven years. The relays is always one of the highlights of the year. OK is always there.

The "four point" OK team hasn't been impressive the last two years (due largely to some injuries and illnesses). Look for us to do a good bit better this year. We might not be strong enough to take a medal. But, good, clean runs by Dan, Peggy, me and Mook should give us a decent result.

The race is at altitude. McCall sits at about 5,000 feet. That's high enough to feel the altitude, but not so high that I struggle terribly. I'll need to be a bit careful to avoid pushing too hard (especially up hills).

Last year's Idaho meet featured some weak mapping. I'm hoping we'll see better maps this year. Hoping, but not counting on it.

posted by Michael | 12:48 PM


Wednesday, June 25, 2003



At work today I was reading an article by Barb Hinton (state auditor for Kansas). She began with a quote from Eisenhower:

"In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

Hinton was writing about planning performance audits.

At home I was trying to think of something to write when I came across some notes I wrote back in 1991 (when I was orienteering at my best). Here is what my training plan was back then:

Goal for 1992: Boom less than four minutes at 65 percent of the races.

Steps to meet the goal: Train for orienteering. Train effectively. Every week should have one fast session and one hill/running strength session. Every other week should have a run of more than 90 minutes. Concentrate during all O' technique sessions and races. Do regular armchair training.

Evaluate how it is going at the end of May.

Remember: Don't be sloppy with eating and sleeping. Take it easy and concentrate coming in to controls and leaving controls.

posted by Michael | 7:50 PM


Tuesday, June 24, 2003

More legs, same result...


People I have enormous respect for, like Kent Olsson, have said that booms are most common at certain parts of a course (Olsson says the first and next to last controls are the places people miss a lot). So when I looked at split times a couple of days ago, I was surprised to see booms distributed more-or-less evenly.

At lunch today, I decided to look at some more races....and the result was the same.

I've now looked at a total of 8,036 legs (i.e. chances for booms) and 1,474 booms.* The booms are distributed pretty evenly among each quarter of the race.

Maybe it is common knowledge, but it surprised me. I'd expected more booms in the last quarter of the race (when orienteers are getting tired).

In looking at results there is a very clear tendency for certain legs in specific races to have a lot of mistakes. In a specific race you'll see a very high boom rate on one or two legs. Presumably those legs are especially tricky.

Could I look at a course and predict which leg would be trickiest? I'll have to try that some day.

* I'm using the default in winsplits to identify "booms." Actually, winsplits doesn't identify a "boom." Winsplits just looks at the time used on a leg. As a result, a runner who has a slow leg, even if they don't actually make a classic boom will be highlighted as having made a mistake. Maybe they just ran too slowly or took a bad route.

posted by Michael | 8:12 PM


Monday, June 23, 2003

Canada? Why not?


When I was in Toronto I had a conversation that went something like this:

You travel for a lot of orienteering. Do you come to Canada for orienteering?

No, not really. I've only been orienteering in Canada a couple of times; not since the 1980s.


Well, there is plenty of orienteering in the states.

Plenty of O' in the states? I guess so, but that isn't really why I haven't done much orienteering in Canada.

The reason I haven't done much orienteering in Canada is I don't pay attention to the Canadian schedule. When I'm thinking about O' trips, I never check what is going on in Canada.

That's fairly stupid. There is plenty of good orienteering in Canada. The season runs a bit later in the spring and begins earlier in the fall. So, going to some races in Canada could extend the O' season.

What's wrong with me? Why don't I check out the Canadian schedule?

This afternoon I took a look at the Canadian schedule and found the Great Lakes O' Festival. Not only does the race look good, but you can combine a three day O' race with watching the World Cycling Champs. Cool. And a quick check of internet air fares showed a round trip ticket from KC to Toronto for less that $250 (and on Midwest Express, no less).

I'll have to do a bit of planning and see if it'll work out to go the GLOF. And, I'll have to start paying attention to the Canadian O' schedule. I'm not too old to learn.

posted by Michael | 8:48 PM


Sunday, June 22, 2003

WOC goals


A few days ago I posted a question to the U.S. O' Team's yahoo group:

Has the ESC or USOF Board set any goals for the WOC? What are they?

The answer to the second question seems to be:

To qualify for the individual finals and to do "well" in the relays.

Those seem reasonable goals, if not the goals I'd set.

Qualifying for individual finals is difficult for Americans, but not impossible. Doing "well" in the relays can often be measured by beating the Canada.

The answer to the first question is...well, I'm not sure. I'm not sure if the ESC (i.e. "executive steering committee") or the USOF board have set goals. I'm not sure who has set the goals.

I suspect that neither the ESC nor the USOF board have set goals (but I could be wrong). That isn't really very good.

What about the JWOC?

The Junior WOC is coming up and I've no idea about goals for the U.S. at the JWOC. I poked around the internet a bit to see if I could find any info about the junior team. The USOF has a junior page with a few links but little info.

posted by Michael | 8:52 PM


Saturday, June 21, 2003

Booming controls throughout the race


Yesterday I wrote:

Costly mistakes - big booms - are more likely when you get tired. (Actually, I'm not certain that is true. I think it is. It makes intuitive sense. I've seen some evidence that it is true. But, I haven't really studied a bunch of splits to see if it is true).

Today I got a bit curious about when booms happen. So, I looked at some split times on winsplits.

I looked at the rate orienteers booms in each quarter of a race.

I defined "quarter" of the race in terms of the time it took the winner. If the winner of the race took 60 minutes, then the first quarter of the race was the control the winner found after 15 minutes of running (actually, I used the control nearest to the first quarter for the winner).

I only looked at six races. Three were events I'd run in the U.S. and three were races in Sweden. Two of the races were short distance events.

I counted the number of booms by quarter and then calculate the boom rate by quarter. I used the default definition of a boom in winsplits.

It looks like booms are just as likely in any quarter of a race.

First quarter: 1,002 legs with 215 booms
Second quarter: 1,161 legs with 228 booms
Third quarter: 1,062 legs with 214 booms
Fourth quarter: 1,231 legs with 220 booms

The rates vary from 18-21 percent (which is probably not significant). If you exclude the final quarter, the rates vary from 19-20 percent for the first three quarters.

I suspect the low rate in the final quarter of the race is related to course setting. It is relatively common that there are one of two very simple legs right at the end of the course as the courses approach the finish area.

I was a bit surprised that the rate for the first quarter wasn't lower. I've spent time before looking at boom rates on the first control and I've seen that booming the first control is unusual (despite what people often say about how easy it is to miss the first control).

My analysis was quick and not carefully designed. I didn't pick the events carefully. I didn't look at the size of booms (maybe even though the boom rate seems to be evenly distributed, the amount of time lost might not be).

posted by Michael | 11:57 AM


Friday, June 20, 2003

Baseball and orienteering?


I was watching a baseball game on TV tonight when Mary suggested I could write about whether there was anything in common between baseball and orienteering. I wasn't having any luck coming up with a topic today, so I'll write a few words about baseball and orienteering.

Are baseball and O' alike?

The short answer is "no."

The biggest and most obvious differences are: baseball is a team sport, O' is individual; baseball isn't an endurance sport, O' is; and baseball is a hugely popular spectator sport, O' is a minor sport that isn't much to watch.

But, I can think of at least one similarity.

In baseball the pitcher tends to start out well and then get tired. As the pitcher gets tired, he is more likely to make a bad pitch, to make a mistake.

Orienteering is a bit like that. Costly mistakes - big booms - are more likely when you get tired. (Actually, I'm not certain that is true. I think it is. It makes intuitive sense. I've seen some evidence that it is true. But, I haven't really studied a bunch of splits to see if it is true).

There are probably some other similarities, but none come to mind immediately.

As an orienteer, there probably isn't much to learn from baseball. It'd be much more useful to spend your time thinking about golf or auto racing!

posted by Michael | 8:54 PM


Thursday, June 19, 2003

Some thoughts from Rostrup on confidence


Jorgen Rostrup wrote a bit about confidence on his web page. Here is a translation of a bit of it:

Orienteering, especially at a championship, is about confidence. For me, self confidence is built up by having many good training sessions in representative terrain. A 100 percent perfect O' race is something you'll never achieve. The idea of training is to reduce the mistakes that are likely to occur to a minimum (e.g. under ten seconds). By experiencing the feeling of doing "the right thing" in every imaginable situation (short or long legs, different weather conditions, alone or together with others) you gradually develop a sense of security. That feeling of security is what makes is possible to believe that you can manage whatever you meet. The feeling of security and self confidence is what you've worked up to by training in the area you want to perform in.

* The translation is a bit rough. Normally, I'd double check it. Normally, I'd also add a few of my own comments. But dinner is ready so I'll just hit the "post" button.

posted by Michael | 7:20 PM


Wednesday, June 18, 2003

A few words about Toronto


I'm home after a few days in Toronto. Instead of writing about orienteering, I'll say a few words about Toronto.

I didn't have much time to explore Toronto. I managed to spend some time on the Toronto Islands and took in a baseball game at the Skydome. I also spent a bit of time walking and jogging around the center of the city (including a bit of wandering in the underground shopping areas). From what I saw of Toronto it is a nice place.

SARS must have hit Toronto hard. My original return flight was cancelled, probably because they couldn't sell enough tickets. The flights I was on were less than half-full. The city didn't feel crowded and I saw few people who looked like tourists.

The Torontonians (?) who spoke at the conference made a point of thanking us for not canceling the conference (I was at the annual conference of the National Association of Local Government Auditors). Even thought the conference wasn't cancelled, attendance was down from the last couple of years and one of the conference sponsors pulled out.

I wasn't really worried about SARS. I stayed out of hospitals, and the odds of getting exposed to SARS are quite low (especially if you stay out of hospitals). Still, SARS is a bit scary. The thought sits in the back of your mind. It comes to the front of your mind when you're in a crowd and someone starts hacking and coughing.

On flights to Toronto you get a yellow SARS form. On flights out you get a pink SARS form. They make good souvenirs.

A few weeks ago I wrote a bit about baseball and identifying players who are going to be good performers, and that book (Moneyball) came up during one of the presentations at the conference. One of our speakers was the president of the Toronto Blue Jays, one of three teams trying to follow the model described in Moneyball.

I did very little running in Toronto. I haven't run since Sunday evening. Now and then a few days off feels good.

posted by Michael | 7:38 PM


Saturday, June 14, 2003

Next planned update on Wednesday


I'm going to Toronto for work this afternoon. I'll be back in Kansas City on Wednesday.

I don't plan to update the page until then (though I might add a couple of short notes if my phone lets me send SMS from Toronto).

posted by Michael | 9:55 AM




Jukola is a huge O' relay in Finland; biggest in the world I think (over 1000 men's teams of seven runners each).

You can sit at the computer and follow Jukola live. Check out the english language Jukola page for frequent near-live results (including several split times from the forest) and live audio and video.

Jukola is known for being a very well organized event. The online coverage is outstanding. The video is very high quality and they seem to have quite a few cameras. The quality of the audio is also quite impressive. I've been online for about the last 20 minutes. I've seen and heard a couple of interviews with top runners. Unfortunately, I don't understand Finnish. Too bad, it'd be interesting to know what Vroni Konig-Salmi had to say after sending out her team's last runner -- Simone Luder -- with about a one minute lead.

The U.S. has a team and a half at Jukola this year. By "team and a half" I mean they've got 11 runners and will need to pick up three more to fill out two complete teams. It will be interesting to see how they manage. Predictions on Attackpoint have ranged from 179 to 388. I think the first team's goal is "top 200."

I won't make a prediction without studying a few years' of Jukola results. But, I will say that the most important thing for the team will be to have seven runners get around the course without making big booms. To have seven people have clean runs is tough. Add to it: travel/jet lag; unfamiliar terrain and maps; strange language; different food; etc. It will be tough.

** And while I've been writing this, Simone Luder has boomed! She's lost the lead with about two kilometers to go.

posted by Michael | 9:53 AM


Friday, June 13, 2003

Orienteer cam


How about strapping a video camera to an orienteer?

Check out the bow hunting/angler "bullet cams."

I bet you could get some impressive images of something like the start of a relay race like Jukola.

posted by Michael | 1:39 PM


Thursday, June 12, 2003

More on routes


Two more thoughts about trail routes and Bjornar's strange route in the Norwegian long champs:

Bjornar lost three minutes on his route. But, his route was consistent with his strategy for the race. If he'd gone straight, but boomed the control by three minutes, would it have had a different effect on his race? Losing three minutes on a route choice costs time, but shouldn't break your concentration and might not weaken your confidence. Booms might break your concentration and stress you. Following the strategy you decided on before the race should, or at least could, have the opposite effect -- increasing your concentration and confidence.

At some point in my development as an orienteer I stopped thinking of a race as controls and legs and started thinking of it as a course. When I began to think of an orienteering race as an entire course, I began to see the value of giving up some time on a leg in order to have a better time for the entire course. At some point I realized that keeping my legs fresh in the early part of the course (e.g. by running trails) helped keep be better prepared for the last third of the course when booms are more likely and more damaging. I started taking more trails routes.

posted by Michael | 8:00 PM


Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Running on trails instead of through the forest


why do you, being a weaker runner (I am weak myself) choose the trail running so much?

This isn't a very carefully thought out response, it is more like a collection of thoughts related to the question of why I run trails a lot....

1. I feel like I'm slow on trails or in the forest. But, I feel like I'm more slow in the woods than I am on the trails. I can keep closer to a strong runner on a trail than I can in the forest.

These numbers are just made up, but they might not be that far from the truth. When I was at my fastest, I could run 10,000 meters on a road in about 35 minutes. So, over half an hour, I'd lose about 5 minutes to the best orienteers if I was on a road. But, when I ran in the forest I'd lose more time in 30 minutes -- let's say I'd take me 38 minutes to cover the same amount of forest as it would take a top orienteer in 30 minutes. If Jorgen Marstensson passed me in the forest, I could barely keep him in sight. But, if he passed me on a trail I could keep him in sight for a while. I think (but I don't have any hard data to prove this) that strong runners lose less time running off-road than weak runners do.

2. I also feel that it is easier to run the right effort on a road or trail than in the forest. When I'm on a trail and I run a little bit too fast, I can ease off the pace just a bit and recover. But, if I run a little bit too hard in the forest I have to slow a lot (even walk) to recover. I guess the margin of error (in terms of picking the right effort) is bigger on a trail than in the forest.

3. I suspect it is easier to run too slow in the forest than it is on a trail. On a trail if you're jogging along well below the pace you ought to be going, you notice it. But, in the forest you might "justify" a lower effort by telling yourself the terrain is rough and you've got to take it a bit easy.

4. Especially when I'm not doing a lot of training in the terrain, I get worn out quickly when I run in the forest. This is especially true in rougher terrain. In rocky areas -- like Harriman in NY -- I can get tired very quickly.

When I'm really tired, I find that I can jog on a road or trail. But, when I'm really tired, I end up walking a lot if I'm in the forest.

5. I think a lot of course setters make mistakes -- they set legs with trail routes that are very close to as good as the straight routes (this particular course setting mistake seems more common in the U.S. than in other places I've run). A good example was at the TJOC last week. Take a look at let 1-2. I ran the road that goes right of the straight line, through the open area with the buildings, and then attacked the control from south of the control (near the area surrounded by the uncrossable fence just south of the control). The other route was to go straight. Runners who were faster than me and went straight took 30 seconds longer. I showed my route to a number of people who thought it was clearly slower. But, the split times showed it was clearly faster. I think a lot of people -- orienteers and course setters -- underestimate the difference between running on a trail and in the forest.

6. Finally, a lot of orienteers have the exact opposite opinion. Lots of people feel that slow runners should go straight; that they'll lose more time to the best if they take trail routes. At some pace that is probably true. An orienteer walking the whole way might be better off trying to go the shortest route.

posted by Michael | 8:53 PM


Tuesday, June 10, 2003

About this page


I have no idea who a lot of the people who read this page are. I'm guessing that at least some of them have no idea who I am. So, I wrote a page with some information about myself and this page. I wrote it as questions and answers. If there are other questions I should include, let me know (use the comment function or send me an email).

posted by Michael | 7:57 PM


Monday, June 09, 2003

Bjornar's plan at the Norwegian long champs


Bjornar Vlastad won this weekend's Norwegian long champs ( about 22 kilometers) and wrote a bit about his plan for the race on his web page. Before you look at what he wrote, take a look at a bit of the course -- the fifth leg was nearly three kilometers.

Here is a bit of what Bjornar wrote:

My tactic was simple. KISS -- Keep it simple and stupid. In other words, run safe and simple. My plan was to take routes that were simple and easy, both physically and technically. The idea was to save energy during the first half of the race, and then use it at the end. It worked out perfectly for me!

That is why I took some unorthodox route choices. I decided to go way around to the right on the first long leg (from 4 to 5). My route turns out to be three minutes slower than going more nearly straight when Hans Gunnar (silver) and Øystein (bronze) went. At the 5th control I was four minutes behind the leader, Øystein Kristiansen. But, the split times also show that from the 5th control to the end, I beat the other two medalists by six minutes. That suggests it was easier for me, after running roads and trails in the first part of the course, to hold the pace than it was for the others who'd run through the tough "fell" terrain. From the 5th control and on, I picked up the pace and was able to run relaxed.

I think Bjornar's approach -- look for easy/simple routes and run on roads and trails to save energy -- is a pretty good plan for almost any course. Because I'm a comparatively weak runner, I find it especially useful to look for trails and roads.

posted by Michael | 7:30 PM


Sunday, June 08, 2003



Can I post from my wireless phone? Yes, it looks like I can. But writing on a phone goes slowly.


Mobile Email from a Cingular Wireless Customer

posted by Michael | 8:32 PM


Running with the pigs


On the jog back to my car today I met a couple walking a dog and a pig. A pet pig!

You don't see people out walking pigs very often. So I stopped and chatted a bit.

Turns out the pig's name is Wally. Wally doesn't come when called. But, he likes to stay with the dog and the dog comes when called.

When I got home I Googled "pet pig" and found a lot of links with info about pet pigs. Check out www.petpigs.com for loads of information. Read the bizarre story of the man who was shot by his pet pig or the disturbing story of the murdered pet pig.

What sort of strange things have you seen while running?

posted by Michael | 5:41 PM


Saturday, June 07, 2003

Specialization in Switzerland


I spent some time today catching up on a couple of Norwegian O' web pages. The Norwegian team has been at a training camp in Switzerland. I read a few of the reports.

The Norwegian team has split their team into two groups at this camp -- short/middle/sprint and classic/long. That is an interesting idea. Given the enormous differences in terrain that will be used at the WOC, this sort of specialization might be a good approach.

Jorgen Rostrup wrote:

The national team camp was a good finish [to a training trip to Switzerland]....I was able to do what I wanted. The Swede [Anders Gaderud, the Norwegian coach who is from Sweden] has given us a lot of flexibility and we're able to train very specifically for the distance we want to aim for at the WOC. That suits me.

Bjornar Valstad wrote:

The runners were split into two different groups: one sprint/short and the other classic. Each group trained in the terrain that was relevant for the specific distance. That makes it easier for individuals to specialize as they prepare for the races they feel they have the best chances in at the WOC. It is easier to get the best quality for the goals you have in each session....The WOC areas have different character.

Tore Sandvik wrote:

The sprint group spent a few easy days as tourists in Rapperswil, where the sprint will take place in August. You're permitted to get familiar with the sprint terrain. But only as a tourist, you can't run with a map. That alone gives you reason to boycott the sprint race. But, at the same time the IOF has decided that only 1-2 runners from each nation get to start, so it might make for a "easy" good result.

* Note: As usual these translations are a bit rough (my Swedish is decent, but my Norwegian is rough).

posted by Michael | 9:38 PM


Friday, June 06, 2003

Part II: A typical day at the TJOC


1:00 p.m.

I drop by the classroom to see if there is anything that needs to be done (putting out controls or vetting other courses, for example). If I'm lucky, I'll get a chance to rest a bit. I like to spend some time reading on the couch in my cabin (air conditioned).

While I'm relaxing, the kids aren't. The TJOC features a number of non-O' events that the kids do: rock climbing, "drown proofing", rappelling, for example.

TJOC is a Junior ROTC camp. I'm not exactly sure what that means. I think the kids enrolled in Junior ROTC programs get credit for attending the camp. It also means the camp is sponsored by Junior ROTC. The sponsorship is important. It keeps the price low and the quality high. Most kids at the camp have to pay $100 for a week long camp. That includes all of the training, accommodations and food. That's a good deal.

Orienteering, at least junior orienteering, in Texas is largely a Junior ROTC activity. TJOC reflects that. The camp has a mildly military flavor. A lot of the adult camp workers and organizers have military backgrounds and are active in Junior ROTC programs. A lot of the kids are in Junior ROTC programs.

4:00 p.m.

Another meeting in the classroom. After an hour or so of relaxing in my cabin, the heat feels oppressive. It is hot out. The sun is strong. On the way to the classroom, I make sure to pick up another bottle of water and one of sport drink.

Staying hydrated is important at TJOC. Most of the kids wear Camelbaks. I carry a water bottle in a fanny pack.

It is actually a TJOC rule that you've got to have water with you at all times. If you don't, you might have to do 25 push ups!

After another short meeting, we pile into the buses to drive out to the day's last O' session (though some nights TJOC has night O'). The afternoon session might turn out to be O' on a contour only map (which turns out to have contours and rock features only).

I have a really tough time with the afternoon session because of the heat. Even if I try to start out easy, I quickly begin to suffer. I walk the hills. If I push just a bit too hard, I have to rest in the shade. I probably lose a good minute per kilometer to the better local kids.


We arrive back at the cabins after the afternoon session. Dinner is ready at 6:00, but a quick shower is a bigger attraction.

Dinners at TJOC get better every year. The menus are a bit heavy on meat for me, but the food is good and plentiful.

After dinner, I wander out to the picnic tables in front of the dining hall. The sun is lower in the sky and the temperature feels not-too-terrible. I don't stray far because in a few minutes the "ice cream social" begins!

The rest of the evening is relaxed. Some kids swim in the lake. Some play volleyball (don't these kids every get tired?). You see a lot of kids sitting or walking around with mobile phones to their ears. Most are probably just sitting around talking.

As the evening wears on I wander back in to the dinning hall to discover an Austin Power's movie is playing on the big screen DVD! Cool!

10:00 p.m.

I crawl I check to make sure my alarm is set for 6:40 a.m. and crawl in to bed.

posted by Michael | 9:10 PM


Thursday, June 05, 2003

Part I: A typical day at the TJOC


Here is what a typical day was like for me at the Texas Junior O' Camp...

6:40 a.m.

When the alarm goes off, I get up. Most of the kids at the camp have been up since just before six. They start the day with some exercises and stretching before breakfast. Some of the camp instructors join them. I don't.

Breakfast in the dining hall is at seven. When I walk in the place is packed with about 80 kids in matching TJOC T-shirts wolfing down breakfast. The menu changes daily -- one day it might be breakfast burritos, the next day french toast.

The kids have been up since before six. I don't know when the kitchen staff (parents who volunteer to help out at the camp) have been up. Since 5?

8:00 a.m.

Everyone meets in the meeting room at 8:00 a.m. Sharp. Dressed in full O' gear (which usually includes duct tape around the ankles to protect from spear grass). The meeting includes some general announcements about the day's schedule. The meetings are usually short -- maybe 15 minutes.

The first O' session of the day begins around 8:30. The day's first session is a highlight because the temperature is still relatively cool. Running when the temp is in the lower 80s and the sun is low feels great.

A classic TJOC exercise is the "4-point course." Some of the kids have designed a course with four controls. The race begins as a mass start. But, instead of being at the start triangle, we line up a few hundred meters away. At the start we've got to run along a gravel road, climbing maybe 4-5 lines, to reach the start control. There is just one SportIdent punch at the triangle, so you need to fight hard to avoid a long line at the punch.

The course is short and the race is fast. Most people are done within 30 minutes and the winners might be ten minutes faster than that. Everyone hangs out at the finish discussing the course and chugging some water and sport drink.

Because of the heat, it is important to drink a lot. There are big coolers filled with bottled water and sport drink waiting by the finish. It is great. I think a sponsor donated the drinks. Thanks!


The kids pile into a school bus for a dusty ride to the morning's second session. It might be the score O' (designed by TJOC graduate).

By 10 the sun is starting to feel hot. The air is starting to feel heavy with humidity. I usually take the session easy, but the kids (being younger and probably a bit more acclimatized to the weather) seem ready to race.

I should say a bit about the terrain at Sid Richardson (where the last two TJOC's took place). To put it simply -- it isn't nice. The footing is rocky on places. The vegetation is unpleasant -- spear grass and cactus are particularly nasty. The forest is grassy, making it difficult to see the rocks. Now and then you wonder if you're going to step on a rattlesnake.

The competitions are usually tough. The better TJOCers are quite strong. The US JWOC has eight runners -- two of them are TJOCers (and another couple of TJOC participants are very close). The kids are divided into two or three groups based on their experience and level. There are prizes for all the races and the level of competition is probably higher than the junior categories at most A-meets.

I tend to take the late morning sessions easy (being an old man). Sometimes I skipped them altogether and helped out hanging controls for later events or vetting courses.


A bus full of sweaty orienteers returns to the main camp. Everyone piles out and cleans up quickly because there isn't much time before lunch.


Grab a bottle of water or sport drink, and wait in line. The line moves quickly and lunch tastes great. Lunch is a sandwich and salad bar plus any leftovers from last night's dinner.

Part II tomorrow....

posted by Michael | 10:04 PM


Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Back from Texas


I just returned from Texas and the TJOC. I'll probably write a bit about the camp over the next few days.

You can check out the terrain from the camp by looking at today's "4-point course" (the camp's first technique training today). 4-point courses are a TJOC tradition. The format is interesting. We began as a mass start along the road near the fourth point. About 80 people ran, split about evenly on two courses. The run to the start triangle strings the bunch out a bit and gets you tired before you even reach the triangle.

posted by Michael | 8:31 PM


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