Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Jukola Smukola

Just to shake things up a bit...for the first time ever Chris is going to write this post! He spent more time in Finland than me and he was kind of more part of the action than I was too, so it seems appropriate he is the author of this O geek post.

Not really related to this post, but it is a pretty photo of Chris orienteering during the Trondheim sprint cup final.

Hello there, well I'm not sure I'm qualified to post on this prestigious blog site, but I'll try my best ):

While Emily was hard at work, I was skiving off in Finland to run the first two World cup orienteering races. These were held near the town of Salo on the South Coast of Finland. These races were followed by another world ranking event somewhere nearby, before I final meet up with Emily at Jukola the following weekend

After many many hours of busing, training, and catching the ferry from Stockholm to Turku, I finally arrived in Salo late at night (Although it wasn't really night as it never really gets dark at this time of year). I was on a mission to free camp as much as possible. So in keeping with this plan I quickly located the nearest patch of forest and put up my tent. A pretty little spot on top off a small hill right on the edge of town.

Next day I wandered into town to find the event centre and hopefully meet up with Greg and Todd, the other 2 NZers who had come over to run the WC races. Fortunately one of the organisers offered to give me a ride out to the event that day. I was not really sure where the others were, but assumed they would probably turn up at the event. Luckily they did, and even more fortunately they had meet up with Nicholas from South Africa who had free space in his rental car for all three of us. So for the next few days we travelled around with Nicholas. Todd and Greg were saying in a local campground, so I ended up hiding my tent in the forest nearby, to save some more money.

On one of the nights when I was wandering out into the forest to find my tent, I happened to notice that someone was following me. Thinking it might be the camp manager, I pretended to be out for an evening stroll and instead of heading for my tent I detoured to a lookout point and sat fiddling with my cell phone. After about 10min, when I was pretty sure whoever was following me was gone, I sneaked back to where the camp site to discover to my horror that my tent was gone. Thoughts of the sneaky camp manager taking my tent flashed though my mind, then above me I suddenly spotted someone with a camera about to take a picture of me. Arrrr....
Thankfully I soon discovered it was only Todd and Greg who were playing a trick on me and who had moved my tent. Sneaky!

Middle distance world cup M21E course

The first two days were spent running some model courses. I really enjoyed the orienteering and felt my navigating was going well, so I was really looking forward to the actual races. The first event for me was the middle distance. This was held in really nice Finnish terrain, with lots of contour and rock detail. Unfortunately, both my running and more importantly my navigation did not go so well, so I ended up finishing about 9min behind the leaders on a 30min course. I think I was rushing things too much, and although i didn't make too many big mistakes, I lost small amounts of time on almost every control.

The next day was the sprint race. This was held in town, with a mixture of forest, housing/buildings and park. Not too surprisingly this went a lot better, as I have been doing more sprint racing this year and the navigation is less specific to different countries/areas. However in the very strong field I just missed out on qualifying for the final, coming in 11th out of about 40 competitors in my heat, with only the top 10 going into the final. Never mind, I was still much happier than with the middle race.

The following day I managed to get a ride with one of the Swiss coaches to the Fossa games, a middle distance world ranking event a few hours drive away. This was not held in so exciting terrain, but I had a really pleasing run, so was quite excited about that. I was still running too slow, but managed to finish 12th from over 100 runners.

Runners heading to start of Jukola. 1500+ teams

Finally it was time for the big event of the week - Jukola! This is a massive orienteering relay race, the biggest in the world, held in Finland each year. Both me and Emily were running for Wing OK. Emily had just travelled over for the weekend, so it was great to see her again after a week away. I was running 3rd leg on the first mens team, while Emily was 5th leg on the second mens team. Unfortunately there was not enough girls to make up a second womens team, so Emily had to pretend to be a man. This involved a lot of sweating, dribbling and of course incomprehensible grunting as she thrashed wildly through the bushes. Emily tried her hardest but still looked a little to pretty to be mistaken for a man.

The 3rd leg that I was running was called the long night since it is around 16km and most runners are running it between 1am and 3am in the morning. After a pretty average run at Tiomila (the big relay event in Sweden) my plan this time was to try and make more use of the other runners on my course. So when it finally came time for me to start I rushed off in hot pursuit of the runners just in front of me.

Unfortunately the first control was rather tricky and everyone just in front of me, as well as myself lost some time. The next few controls also went rather poorly, however I settled into the orienteering and began to run my own race and slowly managed to work my way up the field making it into 21st place at one stage. Towards the end I was part of a big bunch, and things were going well, but I was beginning to get tired and low on sugar. I slowed to eat a leppin squezee and then made a small mistake, which caused me to loss the main bunch. Stumbing through the last few controls I finally made to the finish shute and a long run in to the change over.

In the end I finished my leg in 30th place, the same as where I started, so not too bad, but not too good either. The rest of our team all ran well, especially Øystein who pulled our team up from 27th to finally finish in 19th place, out of over 1500 teams. This was the best result ever for Wing OK, so we were all very excited. Horah!

Emily just finishing her long course at Jukola

Emily also had a good run for most of the course, but lost quite a bit of time on one or two controls, and her team finished 340-390??, but they were still in the top 20% of all teams. The Wing girls team also ran well, so a good event all round for our team.

Finally it was a very long journey home for me and Emily who were again taking the bus, train and ferry to save money, unlike most of the others who were flying home.

Camping village at Julola. Our tent is in the pit in front of the picture

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Kråkfjellet Boglands Tooouuur

What wonderful weather we had on Saturday! That, coupled with the fact it was a three day weekend meant it was definitely time for another adventure.
Chris and Em up to no good in the mountains again!

The university O club here (NTNUI) had organised an orienteering training event over near the Selbusjoen lake at 7 pm on Saturday evening, so we planned to bike out to the event with our gear to head into the hills following the event.

After a pleasant 1.15 ride out to the meeting point we assembled for the girls' and boys' mass starts. Off into some depressiony kind of terrain, myself along with several much more reputable orienteering others (not to name any names (-:) spent 13 minutes on the hunt for control no. 1.

After several more controls working out in a alarmingly similar manner my 'orienteering patience' was dwindling - not aided by the fact I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes every time I stopped to look at the map!

However, not being one to give up I stomped around my course for a further hour and arrived back hot and grumpy to find Chris and several others in a very similar state. This cheered me up no end (-:

By now it was 8.30 pm so Chris and I headed off 'a short way to a nice camp spot'. At 12.30pm at night we finally reached a suitable spot! It was still light though, so my normal complaint that we should stop because soon it will be dark didn't work!

This is taken at 12.30 am just as we finishing dinner!

Off to bed at 1 am and the sun is rising already!

At 3.30 pm the hot sun rose, so we had to roll out of the tent and sleep out on the mossy licheny ground to avoid baking inside the tent. When we finally gave up trying to sleep we gazed across the marshy land to a distant blip that was our magnificent summit.

After wheeling our bikes towards our elusive goal for some hours we decided to leave them in a sheltered spot by a large lake and continue on foot. Both feeling rather lazy, a refreshing swim in a babbling brook woke us up and we covered the last part of the climb to the top of Kråkfjellet.

There were many folk on top of Kråkfjellet, largely due to the fact it is part of the 'til tops' competition which runs in Trondheim each year. They name 7 nearby mountains all which will have a code word on its summit, and if you collect all code words over the summer you can enter yourself into a competition to win some great quantity of outdoor gear.

We lounged about and slept on the summit for about 2 hours, before deciding to head back down to our bikes. We then pushed the bikes for another few hours to a very pretty spot on the tops by a tarn and cooked up a wonderful lentil curry.

In the not-very-dark night a strong mist came in and enveloped the tent keeping us nice and cool and allowing a much better sleep. The morning dawned cool and clear. We pushed the bikes a bit further down through the bogs until we reached the walking tracks which were narrow but remarkable rideable and we bumped our way down the track much to the amusement of some Norwegians on the the way up the track on foot.

Emily looking energetic as always on the way down (-:

Finally we reached the road and cruised out along a nice 4wd track past a beautiful lake and some quite 'Austrian' terrain with lots of farmhouses, green fields and forested hills. After a picnic near Klaebu we followed some winding singletrack alongside the Trondheim river. One last uphill grind and we were back at the flat again!