Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Bjornsgaard on sprint orienteering


Bernt Bjoernsgaard -- the top Norwegian orienteer -- wrote a short article on sprint orienteering. Here is a quick (and a bit rough) translation:

With the recent Norwegian Sprint Champs, I've put down some thoughts and some tips about sprint races. I've had a lot of successes and a few disasters in sprint races. So I've built up some experience.

"Sprint. It'll go fast." That's what a lot of people think. Wrong! You've got to adapt your speed to the terrain and the course. Too many people sprint from the start and make a little boom. Maybe they lose just five seconds. But, five seconds is a lot in a sprint. You've got to, just like any competition, have good "flyt" even if the orienteering is easy. Starting by building up lactic acid is an easy mistake to make. The speed will come during the race.

Sprint orienteering often changes from easy to difficult orienteering, the tempo changes, there are a lot of controls and direction changes. It demands concentration for the 15 minutes it takes. The key is "flyt." You get that by reading and thinking ahead. You get that by reading the map at the right instant, looking up and reading the terrain ahead of you. Try to know the way to the next control when you're going into a control.

Don't stress! Too many people get psyched up for a sprint race. They run like scared dogs around the course and lose four seconds here and 13 seconds there. Til sammen en del sekunder paa rett og slett vaere [sorry, I'm not sure what that means] too excited and to run too fast. Let the orienteering guide the adrenaline and don't think, "today I'm going to run fast."

To summarize -- read the map and Orienteer -- get "flyt" -- read the map and keep looking up -- don't stress.

If you can read Norwegian, take a look at the orignal article.

A couple of comments:

I didn't translate "flyt." If you look up "flyt" in a dictionary, it says "flow." But, I never like to translate it to "flow." I connotationw" has a different conotation in English. "Flow" sounds a bit mystic or spiritual. Based on my understanding of the Scandinavian orienteering use of the word, "flyt" isn't mystical. It is just how things are going when you're orienteering really well. It is reading the map and anticipating what is coming. No booms.

Bjoernsgaard's tips on sprint orienteering are a pretty standard description of how a lot of Scandinavians seem to approach orienteering. The emphasis is on running the right speed, having "flyt" and not getting stressed. You could follow his advice for any type of orienteering.

Sprint orienteering is the newest type of orienteering. It'll be interesting to see how it develops over the next few years. What sort of terrain and maps will be used for sprint orienteering in ten years? What sort of strategies will the top sprint orienteers be using? How will sprint course setting develop? Will orienteers specialize? Will sprint orienteers train differently?

posted by Michael | 8:09 PM


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