Month: June 2014

Czech, Check

Following Jukola and surviving the boat ride home, I found myself again packing my gear for another international trip. This time the Czech Republic. Toby and I had been scheming for a while now, that we should go to Czech and for a training camp. One objective of the camp was to prepare somewhat for the World University Champs which we are both competing in later this year. It quickly turned into a ‘best of Czech’ camp and we went after the most extreme terrain that Czech has to offer. WUOC will be held on more typical continental terrain, terrain I feel is not so special and the most important thing for it will be to be in top physical shape. We tried quite hard to convince some other kiwis to join but other commitments meant that we were facing a bromantic weekend for two. Fortunately Toby convinced some Germans to join us (Marcus for two nights, Moritz for another). They were both really top guys, aiming for JWOC so I wish them all the best!

…and then, just a few days out Albin Ridifelt decided to join us! With Toby taking the lead on organisational matters, we all managed to meet without too much difficulty in Prague’s central station on Thursday. While waiting for our car to become available, we headed off into Prague to ‘sight see’. I am really starting to enjoy these training camps which have a few hours of concentrated sight seeing. You see the best parts of an awesome city, whilst not wasting too much of your dignity becoming a ‘tourist’. I have been to Prague once (or twice?) before on previous European escapades and I really like the city. Its a truly beautiful place with a vast history that I can’t even begin to comprehend. We were even fortunate enough to get a tour guides explanation of the famous astronomical clock!

Prague and  'FTP' Albn

Prague and ‘FTP’ Albin

After a long period of walking, a classic Czech meal and some great coffee we hired our car and travelled north to the small town of Duba. We dropped our gear off at our accommodation, a pretty sweet 300 year old villa and travelled just down the road to our first training. The map was insane, mildly steep spur gulley with valleys banked with truly impressive cliffs of sandstone. The terrain was extremely demanding; if Uppsala had a polar opposite in terms of verticality, it was here. Map

First session

First session

Following the training we had probably one of the best dinners I have ever had. We found this tiny restaurant, in which there was maybe one other group eating, in the town we were staying next to. Whether I was so hungry, the food was so cheap or it was actually really good food I can’t be certain, but damn it was good.

The following morning we discovered Kaufland, the holy grail of cheap food. Stocked up for the day, we did two tough trainings, one in similar terrain to the above, the other more similar to the JWOC middle terrain from last year. I really enjoyed the latter, a great long pass in quite variable terrain. Runnability was again minimised through the steepness and rockiness, but when I did get a chance to pick up the speed, it felt really good. Map

Saturday morning we ran an easy training on the JWOC middle map, Zavora and I could really feel the lack of coffee in my system which affected my training. I had tried to quit drinking coffee before I came to Sweden, but since it is basically part of their culture my coffee drinking has actually gotten worse! Albin and I fixed our caffeine needs and we were ready for the qualification for the Czech middle champs. My legs were pretty destroyed and I felt even in the warm up, that I had no energy. Despite this I actually had a good race in the beginning, 30 seconds off the lead in the middle of the course. Unfortunately tiredness set in, and my brain started to fade later in the course and I fell outside the top 8, 2 seconds off qualifying. This meant that I ran the B final the following morning in just outrageously extreme terrain. I am gutted that I could not approach a race like this with my usual focus. I had extremely poor pre-race preparations sprinting to the start to try get an earlier start time, due to travel arrangements.  I haven’t uploaded the maps to my Doma yet but you can see the A final on Adam Chromy’s map archive here. Look and wheep at some of the coolest terrain I have ever run in! Results

Czech middle B-final

Czech middle B-final

With the conclusion of the race Toby and I promptly departed for Prague, marking the conclusion of the Czech Training Camp. Overall it was a hugely satisfying weekend with high quality trainings. It was nice to train in some non-Swedish terrain for a change, and to test my technique in other aspects.

Next up is the World Champs in Italy, which I leave for next Thursday. Like most things have been this year, WOC for me is all about experience and getting that valuable first feel for it. I am running the sprint, relay and hopefully the long (ONZ decision pending). For now it will just be watching some good football, working and sharpening up for WOC.

Jukola 2014

This weekend I travelled to Finland with Ok Linné to run in my first ever Jukola. Jukola is by far the biggest club relay of the year with 1600 teams in the mens race, and another 1200 teams running the womens relay called Venla. There is a lot of history surrounding this event, with its origins being traced back to some story with 7 dudes chasing one chic called Venla. After being a little disappointed with the size of Tiomila, I was really excited to see what Jukola had to offer.

We travelled to Finland on Wednesday by boat, a massive multi story ferry, so that we could do some relevant training before the competition on Saturday. There were numerous games of 7 wonders played before we finally hit mainland Finland in Turku. This year Jukola was quite far north, in Kuopio, which meant a bit of a drive after the boat trip. It also meant that there would only be 3-4 hours of night during the relay.  After a few days of easy training in some nice terrain we were ready for the big night! I would run first leg for the second team. Running first leg at Jukola is kind of one of those things you must do in your orienteering career, and I have heard the likes of Tom Reynolds rave so much about it. So to put it mildly, I was excited!

The race was an unforgettable experience, simply because of the scale and number of people running. I entered the pre-start area and the first person I saw was Tim Robertson! He had made it safely to Europe and would be running his first Jukola also. We spent the good part of 20 minutes running up and down the start chute, in a state of awe and exhilaration. The number of people in the start chute grew and grew over 30 minutes, and it was then I fully understood how big this relay was. With 5 minutes to the start, everyone went to their respective start positions. I took the opportunity to jump and look behind me, to see what can only be adequately described as a ‘shit tonne’ of people.

Jukola 2014 start

Start of Jukola 2014

The start was insane. Just before, the organisers had said that there would be jet planes flying above us during the first part of the run to the start triangle. Like seriously, come on; jet planes! After the start gun was fired, it was a frantic stampede for 1km as runners jostled for position. People were falling, deafening jet planes, and thousands of spectators lined the start chute, screaming at their teams. It was nuts!

For the race itself you can read about it on my doma. I finished 47th which I am mostly satisfied with. I just wanted to experience Jukola this year, so the end result was not of great importance. Of course I still pursued a good performance, but unfortunately I made some mistakes. I think my best position throughout the relay was 26th, but then I didnt have the speed in the end and lost 20 or so places.

Jukola 2014 Map

Jukola 2014 map

Post run, Niklas and I enjoyed a refreshing sauna (along with copious amounts of naked dudes) and I stayed up and watched the rest of the relay. The Linné first team had a really strong finish to end up 14th, so hopefully next year we can do better! My team finished in 100th position, 6th places better than last year. I am writing this blog in a pretty tired state, after an epic Jukola boat party, another insane experience. A similar boat to the one we took to Finland, except this, time filled predominately with orienteers celebrating an awesome Jukola. So now I better get some sleep, and get ready for next weekend when I will be going to Czech for a 4 day training camp, including the Czech middle distance champs.



Summer is here!

Since the last post, I have mainly been in a state of work and training. I am trying to find a balance between working and training which can be quite hard when every weekend there seems to be some event on. I would have to say that my training has not been optimal.  I fell sick a couple of weeks ago, which I blame on the extremely long days which have impacted my sleep. But despite this, I am still quite confident in my training, and I just haven’t had the necessary rest to see the full benefits of it. With a large group of NZ’ers coming to Europe very shortly (or have already arrived) I am getting very excited to see some kiwi friends and this also means the big competitions are almost here. For me this will be WOC and WUOC. I will also be competing at Oringen (but probably not the full 5 days) and I am doing a training camp with Toby in Czech the weekend after next.

Summer is definitely here with today reaching just under 30 degrees! The forests are getting much greener, and the undergrowth is really starting to flourish. As always you can see some of my technical trainings on my doma page. I have been doing more trainings than those in my doma, but I have not had the time to upload them. One of my favourite trainings was this long session, which I ran with Oskar at his summer house.

One highlight, over the past month, was two weekends ago when I meet my sister in London, and we then travelled to Stoke on Trent (my Dads birthplace, and the reason I can get a British passport). This was a really fun weekend, and it honestly felt like going home. Whether this was simply the language or because NZ is actually quite British I was not certain, but it was a refreshing reminder of some of the good (and not so good) things from back home.


God save the queen

God save the queen

I also celebrated my 22nd birthday last Wednesday. My first birthday abroad, which was filled with delicious cake prepared by Oskar and Kate, following a nice relay training.

This weekend I will be in Finland competing in the biggest relay of the year, Jukola. Big is probably an understatement. I will be lining up at 11pm, just before the cannon, marking the start of a 1600 stampede of runners, fires. I am running in the second team, despite being selected for the first team initially. With my recent sickness, and lack of confidence, I said to myself that I would just enjoy the Jukola experience and eliminate the pressures. Plenty more years to run Jukola with Linné, but this year they will have smash it without me! The first team is looking really strong, and I am excited to see what everyone can produce.

So I am really excited now that summer is here. Rob kindly loaned me his bike after our solid training period together earlier this year. One thing I have found challenging with the change of moving to Sweden, is this idea of having a training identity. It can be quite easy to forget what methods have worked best in the past, and it is also very easy to see what others are doing and think that you should be doing what they are doing. This idea, of having a training identity, I think is very important and something that I understood when I was back in NZ, but perhaps have kind of lost it since I arrived in Sweden. But with the arrival of the bike, I feel now like I can replicate the training which I was doing earlier this year and take my orienteering to the next level.

Unfortunately I kind of broke my body in the past few days. Firstly cutting my knee on a rock, then last night blowing my ankle, twice, in Lunsen. I think I will need ankle surgery in the future to remove the scar tissue in my troublesome ankle, but for now I will go back to strapping both my ankles when orienteering in the forest. Evidently I dont have the strength just yet in my lower limbs to run without at least some support, especially in my right ankle.

Orienteering abuse

Orienteering abuse

Next up, Jokola! Check out the terrain here.