Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, March 31, 2002

$1,000 find


This evening I struck gold. Sort of. I found four Peter Gagarin Wheaties boxes. At $227.50 pre box (the latest price at ebay), four boxes is worth almost a grand.

Mary and I were at my sister's birthday dinner at my Dad's house when I mentioned that a Gagarin Wheaties box had gone for over $200 at ebay. My Dad said that there were probably a couple of old Wheaties boxes up in the attic (I've still got a couple of boxes of old junk in my Dad's attic).

We went up to the attic with a flashlight in hand, planning to search around a bit and see what we could find. Right away we spotted it -- a stack of Wheaties boxes with Peter smiling right at us.

One of the side panels of the box has a bit of info about Peter and orienteering. I learned two new things reading the box.

1. Peter's other athletic endeavors include playing hockey.

2. The final criteria for selection to appear on the box included "athletic ability, athletic and community-related achievements and personal character."

People will collect just about anything, check out:

lineup's homepage.
Ron's Wheaties box collectibles.
Wheaties collectibles.

And, the official Wheaties homepage.

posted by Michael | 9:20 PM


Saturday, March 30, 2002

A Training Map from Bjornar


Here is a training course from Bjornar Valstad. Here is what Bjornar has to say about it:

This is the terrain I've trained in the most in the last few years. The Norwegian Champs took place here in 1999. The map is only about a 20 minute run from my house. The vegetation varies from thick spruce to very open areas on top of the spurs. The terrain is physically tough.

The course is a typical "long distance at threshold" session. I run with complete concentration and keep a reasonably fast pace without building up lactic acide. Its a tough session, but I think it is good medicine for getting ready for a classic distance race.

posted by Michael | 6:00 PM


Friday, March 29, 2002

Collecting Wheaties


Peter Gagarin was on the Wheaties box back in 1986. Wheaties had a contest. Each box had a ballot and you could vote for an athlete you'd like to see on the box. In the first Wheaties campaign, orienteers voted for Eric Weyman. But, Eric didn't make it. The next time, we all voted for Peter...and he made it!

Orienteers ate a lot of cereal to get the ballots. During the campaigns, I ate Wheaties for breakfast seven days a week. By the time Peter made the box, orienteers all over the country were sick and tired of Wheaties.

It has been 16 years since Peter was on the Wheaties box.

In 16 years, a box of cereal can become a collectors item. I searched for "orienteering" at ebay yesterday and found Peter Gagarin on the Wheaties box.

Here is the item's description:


As I'm writing, the high bid is $36.01. The auction will end tomorrow. I wonder what the final winning bid will be?

posted by Michael | 7:27 PM


Thursday, March 28, 2002

Donald Duck Method


Here is a bit of an article from the Swedish O' page Alternativet.

Donald Duck helped Max Samuelsson become a better orienteer. Donald helped Max improve his concentration.

Have you ever tried to run in the forest and read a Donald Duck comic book?

"I tried it when I was between 14 and 18 yeras old," says Max.

To be a good orienteer requires a lot of boring, hard work -- like long runs to improve endurance and strenght training sessions to be faster in rough terrain.

Chess in the Forest

But orienteering is like chess -- and it takes a lot of mental strength and speed.

"That the sport is both physically and mentally demanding is what I like. It makes it fun; a challenge" says Max.

To help think quicker, there are a lot of tried and true methods. Max practice by, among other things, the "Donald Duck Method." He read comic books while running and then answered questions about the books afterwards.

Another way to practice is to run a course, then memorize it and run it again a few hours later without a map. Samuelsson also put together puzzles of cut up maps while friends stood around and yelled at him and tried to disturb his concentration.

"It was training to focus on what I was doing and to always think ahead, without thinking about anything else," says Max.

Max is currently one of Gotland's [a part of Sweden] most promising and best orienteers. His goal during his last year as a junior is to finish in the top ten at a Swedish Championship in his age group (M20).

"I was 13th in the night champs two years in a row and I'm going to do better than that," says Max.

I can't really imagine this sort of training is very useful. I'm sure it doesn't hurt. But, it doesn't help much.

When I first began orienteering, I tried running and reading (I don't remember what I carried to read -- maybe newpapers?). It seemed like a good way to learn the basic hand-eye coordination needed to read a map on the run. But, the hand-eye coordination isn't difficult (try running and looking at the palm of your hand -- it's pretty easy to hold you palm steady and look at it).

Of course, there is some benefit to any training that you think helps. Since confidence is so important in sports, a strange training approach that you feel comfortable with can build your confidence.

It is a bit like a basketball player's lucky socks. Keith Langford thinks his socks are lucky. Wearing his lucky socks might make him feel confident, and the increased confidence might make him a better player.

Personally, I think Kieth Langford is a great player because he practices a lot with a good team and under a good coach. But, if he feels he needs his lucky socks to take the Jayhawks to the title, then I sure hope he wears his lucky socks on Saturday.

posted by Michael | 8:37 PM


Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Tucson -- Wasson Peak Death Run


On my first day in Tucson, I ran up Wasson Peak. The mountain is just west of the city in the Sugaro National Park.

The top is almost 4,700 feet above sea level. The run -- following Mook's test route -- begins around 2,900 feet. It is a good climb. You start with some rolling hills for about the first third of the route. Next, the trail follows a canyon and climbs steadily but not steeply. The last third gets tough. You climb a steep section along a series of swithbacks then you've got a short ridge line with a bit of climb until you reach the summit. This topo shows the peak. The trail Mook and I followed begins off the map to the northeast.

I took a few photos during the run:

Mook running along the ridge line toward the summit.

Mook running down hill along the switchbacks. The photo is at the top of the switchbacks and Mook is running down hill. At this point, the switchbacks aren't (yet) very steep. You can see the ridge line in the background.

Some of the hillsides are covered with Sugaro cacti. This photo shows the side of the canyon opposite the trail.

For the most part, the trail is easy running. But, in a few areas footing is a bit sketchy. I took this photo about half way back down the canyon. You can see the summit in the background.
Note the stylish Orienteer Kansas baseball cap!

When you run in the desert, you've got to carry water. I ran with a camelbak fanny-pack. Mook used water belt that Magnus brought back from Sweden a few years ago. This photo was taken on the ridge line. It was a bit windy up there (Mook is carrying his OK baseball cap so it doesn't blow away).

posted by Michael | 7:18 PM


Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Getting nervous


The Prime Minister of Namibia and I attended the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA) conference in Phoenix. I had to keep myself out of trouble. But, the PM had security.

Everywhere the PM went, you'd see a group of guys in suits with little wires coming out of their ears. I took these guys to be secret service agents.

I spent a few minutes watching the security and wondering what they look for. Obviously they must be looking for any violent attack. But, I suppose they also look for anyone acting nervous.

Was I acting nervous? Yes. I realized, as I was watching, that I was fidgeting, looking around, twirling a pen and frequently glancing at my watch.

I wondered if they noticed me. Then I wondered what would happen if I tried to act even more nervous. How nervous could I get before they'd do something?

For all I know, my nervous behaviour put these trained secret service-types on alert. Maybe their ear pieces were buzzing -- "white male, green blazer, chair near the hotel door is acting nervous; keep an eye on him."

I wasn't just acting nervous. I was nervous.

But, I wasn't nervous because I was planning to take out the PM. I was nervous because I had just a couple of hours left before I had to make a presentation.

Making a presentation before a bunch of people is not my idea of fun. (Though now that the presentation is over, I think it went ok.)

Sometimes I like being nervous. It is fun to stand at the starting line of a World Champs -- feeling nervous, but also realizing this is what you really want to do.

Presenting a paper to ASPA is not as fun as running at World Champs.

posted by Michael | 6:48 PM


Wednesday, March 20, 2002

To Arizona


Blog entries may be a bit irregular over the next week or so. I travelling to Arizona. I'm not sure how regularly I'll have internet access.

I'm traveling to Arizona to make a presentation (along with one other person from my office, a professor from UMKC and a guy from Phoenix) at the American Society for Public Administration's 2002 Conference. I'm not really looking forward to it.

I'll also spend a bit of time in Tucson, where I hope not to have any trouble with Southern Arizona's 10 most dangerous animals.

posted by Michael | 7:18 AM


Tuesday, March 19, 2002

Welcome to the new page


Welcome to the new okansas page

I moved to blogspot when geocities announced they'd be charging $5/month for FTP access. FTP access isn't worth $5/month to me. I was also getting tired of the little ad window at Geocities. Here at blogspot, I won't have an ad. I think it makes the page look better.

I picked a new template. I like it. But, I might just like it because it is something new. I hope it is easy to read. If it isn't, let me know (especially if you've got some suggestions for making it easier to read).

I added a couple of new features. One is a "site meter." There is a little colored box at the lower left of the page. Click on it and you'll get some basic site statistics. Another is an email option. You'll be able to get an email note every day that gives you the first part of the day's blog entry and a link to the complete text. Except...as far as I can tell, it isn't working.

posted by Michael | 8:45 PM


Monday, March 18, 2002

Ouch, that hurts my ears


Blog-writers block has got me tonight. I've got a few orienteering ideas, but all of them need a bit more thought before I put them in to text. I spent some time poking around web pages looking for (a) something short to translate about orienteering or (b) something that would inspire me. Instead, I found:

Miserablemelodies.com a web page devoted to really bad music. There is a lot of Yoko Ono stuff. Pat Boone's made some contributions. The real gems are things like John Aschcroft singing "Let the Mighty Eagle Soar" (a song he apparently wrote) and anything William Shatner sings.

posted by Michael | 9:00 PM


Sunday, March 17, 2002

Road race


I ran a 4-mile road race today. The race began in the parking lot of a shopping area. We went through the parking lots, then did a big square around the shopping center and a bit north of it, then back into the parking lot. We covered 4-miles of pavement.

Running road races isn't much fun for me. I don't really like running on pavement. The scenery isn't much. I don't like being in crowds.

But, running races is probably a decent way to get in some good training. Some good orienteers -- like Dan and Peter -- seem to do a lot of running races. It is a lot easier to run hard in a race than in training. Once you've entered a race, you feel committed. So even if you don't feel like it, you show up and put in an honest effort.

Races are also good ways to gauge how you're doing. A time doesn't mean much on an orienteering course (where the courses and terrain are different each time). But, races are relatively comparable. A road race gives you a good measure of your running ability.

Maybe I'll do a few more races this year.

posted by Michael | 7:29 PM


Saturday, March 16, 2002

Why don't I do this more?


Mean Gene, Snorkel and I went back to Weston Bend for some O' practice today. Most of our practice was re-running legs we'd run last weekend. We were testing different routes. It seems like a good way to practice. I wonder why I don't do this sort of training more often.

posted by Michael | 6:35 PM


Another test


This is another test. Here is my training log.

posted by Michael | 12:47 PM


Friday, March 15, 2002

5 CDs I listened to at work this week


I listened to a bunch of CDs at work this week. Sometimes when work is stressful I put on my headphones and listen to some music. Just having headphones on makes it feel like I'm a bit cut off from the stress. Here are five of the CDs I listened to this week:

U2. I'm not sure what the album is called, but the second track is "Stuck in a moment you can't get out of." Hearing that song reminds me of the Olympics. That particular song was played a couple of times a day at the Soldier Hollow cross-country ski venue.

Jakob Hellman. A blurb on the cover of the CD describes it as the best Swedish pop album of all time! I'm not sure if that is true (and I'm not sure if that is saying much), but the CD is very good. Hellman was popular when I was living in Stockholm. As far as I can tell, he released a CD in 1989 and hasn't released another one since. Too bad. I like his stuff. You can listen here. I like Vackert Vader, Vinten Dor, and Du Ar Allt Jag Vill Har.

Getz and Gilberto. This is a classic album. It is old (released in 1963). It is good. Here is a wierd quote about it I found on the internet:

"This music is like a pleasantly warm bath whose water is perfumed with essential oil, or like a mild summer night bathed in golden moonlight. The songs, all of them now classics in their own right, are filled with the joy of life, peace and harmony. What more can one possibly desire."

Everyone is familiar with the big hit from Getz and Gilberto -- The Girl From Ipanema.

Grandmaster Flash. I've got a "best of" CD with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. Rollingstone.com describes them as "one of the best-known rap groups of the early '80s." Listening to the CD always reminds me of high school; listening to KJHK while developing film in the high school newspaper's darkroom.

I'm not sure if lyrics like, "dont' push me cause I'm close to the edge," are the best way to relax from stress on the job (from The Message).

X. X is another band I listened to when I was in high school and/or college. I guessed I'd describe X as pop with some punk roots. I'm not really sure. I like a lot of their stuff. Check out 4th of July, The Hungry Wolf, and I'll Stand Up For You to get a good sense of what X sounds like.

posted by Michael | 7:41 PM


Getting old and orienteering


I spent some time today thinking about getting old and orienteering. The topic came up when I read the March 12 entry at mapsurfer.com.

After some thought, I suspect the biggest physical constraint for an orienteer is eyesight.

As you get older you slow down. I'm 38 and much slower and weaker than I was ten years ago. Some of that is from getting old. Most of it is from training less, working full time and eating too much. No question, most of us are going to slow down as we get older.

As I've gotten older, I've begun to have a bit of difficulty seeing fine detail on the map. I noticed it a few years ago when I did a training course at Harriman. I was approaching a control and couldn't distinguish between rocks, rocky ground, boulder groups and small cliffs. When I stopped, I noticed that if I held the map at just the right distance from my eyes, it came into focus.

These days, I've been running with a magnifier. It helps. It is much easier to read detail with the magnifier.

I don't (yet) need bifocals. But, I suspect the time is coming.

Having your eyes get weak is a much more difficult physical problem than just getting slower. As you get slower (older, out of shape or overwieght) you still orienteer the same. You just move slower. But when you can't read details that you used to be able to read, you've got to change the way you orienteer.

Adapting your techniques for weaker eyesight is an interesting challenge. Maybe some of my readers who have gone through it will have some tipes? If so, leave them in the comments. I'm interested to hear about peoples' experiences and suggestions

posted by Michael | 1:36 PM


Wednesday, March 13, 2002

A test



posted by Michael | 8:26 PM


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