This rogaine started a year ago, when it was cancelled due to the heat and air pollution. I immediately informed Itay Manor, who I am coaching and is one of the best orienteers in the country, that he should plan on participating, because Roni and I were already planning another child and I knew we wouldn’t be able to run together.
Then it was decided that the national team would have a training camp with their foreign coach on the date of the rogaine, and a month before, after I finally gave up on my efforts to get the date changed (and we weren’t the only team affected), I was left without a partner. I called up Ronen Shurer from my club, who is probably the closest to me in ability (we’re almost level in the H35 rankings), and he agreed readily. A week later his employer rescheduled a business trip for that date, and I was alone again.
After a few phone calls to potential partners from the orienteering scene, I started thinking “outside the box” and checked up with Veronika Ulychny, who is in our work team for the Mountain to Valley relay (coming up in a couple of months – 8 runners, 24 legs, 200+ km) and theoretically the second fastest on the team after myself. She’s younger than me (30), runs marathons and goes trekking and climbing, and she agreed to participate as my teammate with only two weeks notice.
So there we were on Saturday morning at the crack of dawn, with some light rain just starting on a cloudy day, ready for an 8-hour rogaine. I was as ready as I could be, hoping to hold up better than all the previous times, praying that Veronika could run in terrain as well as I expected. I also knew that we were going to battle Noam and Naomi Ravid, as usual, for first place in the “mixed” category.
Our planning was based on an estimated straight line pace of 4.5 km/hour, or 36 km overall. The route we planned was 34.5 km, so there was margin for error, and we had a plan for extending it if we were really fast.
We could have won. During the race I made three orienteering mistakes that cost us 11 points, and we lost to Noam and Naomi by 9 points. None of the mistakes would have happened if I’d had an experienced orienteer such as Itay or Ronen beside me, but Veronika was orienteering for the first time in her life. She can read a map well, but obviously I had to make all the decisions and I didn’t expect her to have the confidence to second-guess me on any of them, though I consulted with her and explained all the route choices.
First, we missed our first control, number 81 (8 points). It was in thick forest, the map had lots of missing features, and after looking around for a few minutes with a few other teams I decided to cut our losses and continue. The planner has admitted to being partly at fault, and the features on the map are too small for my eyesight, but we didn’t get the control and that’s it.
Secondly, I made a parallel error at 83 (stopped for gel after a steep climb and restarted somewhere else…) and lost around 10 valuable minutes.
Third, I decided to skip control 53 between 93 and 84 (the only actual change to our plan), but didn’t notice that the new route needed only a small detour to collect no. 33 (3 more points) as well.
After about 6 hours my knees started acting up, and my running ability slowly deteriorated to the level where I had severe pain running downhill and a bit less on the flat (we weren’t running uphill anyway). Luckily the last hour was mostly uphill, and Noam and Naomi went past us at the last control (74) so we knew they were in front and I could walk the steep downhill to the finish, where we arrived with two minutes to spare.
We finished 5th overall and 2nd in our category with 122 points. It rained only at the start, we dried out after a couple of hours, and the weather was perfect (cool and cloudy) the rest of the time. My GPS logged 49.1 km and almost 1300m climb, though Veronika’s died out showing 49.5 km about 15 minutes before the end, so maybe we ran over 50. We filled up with water only once (at E), and ate lots of gels and some other stuff.
Veronika was magnificent. Physically she held up much better than me and was skipping around at the end as if she’d just finished the warmup. Her shoes were not suited for terrain, but she didn’t complain even once. She was on my heels wherever I led her into the bush just like an experienced orienteer. In the first hour something got into her eye and she carried on for the rest of the race with one eye mostly shut, despite our best attempts to wash it – afterwards the doctor diagnosed it as a scratch and gave her a few days off work… She also had one bad fall (it looked bad to me) and carried on as if nothing had happened. I’ll be eternally grateful to her for agreeing to come on this adventure at such short notice and enabling me to participate.
Next year Roni will be back, even if it’s just at walking pace, and I’ll be with her. I went further than before this time, despite being a few years older, and I know how to get even better, so maybe I can still run a painless rogaine before I get too old.
Thanks to Pavel Levitsky for the planning, and to Noam Ravid for the mapping. Let’s hope that there are many more rogaines like this one!
I’ve been slowly consolidating my fitness in preparation for next week’s Rogaine (the saga around that will be told later), so at Saturday’s national event at Tal-El I was in good form and it was probably my best result of the season – 4th in H35 and closest to the leaders in H21A. The course wasn’t very challenging but there were some tricky controls: I think the map includes some features that definitely wouldn’t have been mapped (or even found) in pre-Lidar days. Roni ran before me, so I was thoroughly warmed up when I started from wandering around with two toddlers, but my aim wasn’t to push hard but to cruise through the course at a steady pace, and that’s how I felt. I finished 7.9 km in 71:23 and really enjoyed the journey.
My route from 2 to 3 could be a candidate for the “conundrum” section in CompassSport: my passage through the fenced and out-of-bounds area is accurate on the map below, because the out-of-bounds is actually split into two separate fenced sections in the terrain and there is a clear passage between them. Bad mapping? I don’t think so, because I made the previous map of this area and they were definitely connected back then, so maybe there have been changes. Obviously now I can be disqualified, if anyone cares (I don’t, and I knew I should go around), but it raises an issue that occurs more often in sprint events – what do you do when an out-of-bounds area on the map simply disappears?
This is nearly the end of my competitive season – the remaining national events are the relay (hopefully I’ll run) and a sprint race (probably not – waste of time). But I intend to keep on training, work on a few small projects, and think about some goals for the future.
Still in Singapore, yesterday I ran in the Green Race Ultra Challenge, a trail run based on loops of 9.3 km, with options to run one loop, two, or as many as you can in 8 hours. I chose the two loop option, and since the start was at 08:15 I prepared myself for the worst of the Singapore heat and humidity.
In the end the heat wasn’t that bad, but my race was. I started much too fast, partly because of the deceptive first 3 km, on a flat and easy track, but then the hills started – lots of small and steep ones – and I finished the first loop with severe cramping. I started the second loop much slower, walking some of the hills, and recovered a bit towards the end, but my splits were 51:47 and 63:10, which is pretty awful. I finished 9th out of 71, and I couldn’t have improved more than 2-3 places anyway. My route is on Strava.
The course was half an easy track, which here is basically a wide grass strip with a dirt single-track in the middle , usually used by bikes, and half a scenic walking/bike trail through the jungle, which was very similar to running a single-track back at home, except the rocks are replaced by tree roots. On the first loop I wondered why the various tourists we passed were pointing their cameras up at the trees beside the trail, but then I realised that they were trying to take pictures of the monkeys!
Speaking of pictures – I’ve never seen so many photographers at a running event, at so many places along the course. The Running Shots team took loads of pictures and the best ones of me are below.
I’m on another business trip to Singapore, but this time there is progress on the ground. My compatriot Gil Rinat is still on relocation here, and he managed to connect the Singaporean orienteering group to Davidi Segal, one of our experienced mappers who has lots of vacation time and adult children (unlike myself). They paid for him to travel, and he just finished making a few park maps.
Yesterday after work I ran with Gil on Pasir Ris, a large seaside park in the north of Singapore. It was probably the easiest orienteering I’ve done for years, but it was fun – not too hot with a brisk sea breeze, mostly flat grass and paved trails, and some very nice features. We just marked some controls on the map and ran the course as fast as we could, which was 4.75 km in 26:04.
They can definitely organise an event here soon, and there are plans for more maps and races in the future, with Gil giving advice as long as he’s here. Hopefully Singapore will soon be one of the IOF’s newest member states.
For the first time since 2003 (my last year in H21A) I participated in the Israeli Championship with no expectation of finishing on the podium, and therefore no pressure. That’s a consequence of running H35 this year in order to enjoy the longer courses. For some reason the championship was a middle distance on both days, so the difference in course lengths was minimal, but because H35 is the same course as H21A and both days were WREs I decided to stay in the category and see how many world ranking points I could get (not yet published, so I don’t know).
Both maps are newly mapped versions of well-known areas, and not easy, especially with the high undergrowth at this time of year. Day one at Kivrot HaMaccabim was slower, and I enjoyed the course less, but not because it was less technical. I lost some time on the first three controls and then I “clicked” and managed the rest of the course with very few problems (4.9 km, 51:33). Day two in Ben-Shemen forest was faster, with a great course – technical with a variety of challenges and cleverly placed controls – planned by Eyal Heiman. I had a very good run until control 19, where I managed to lose a couple of minutes, but it wouldn’t have made a difference to the end result (5.8 km, 53:02). I finished 5th in the championship.
Roni, halfway through her third pregnancy (this time it’s a girl) “ran” only the second day and enjoyed getting away from studying to become a maths teacher. We had to skip the ceremony and rush home, because I’m off to Singapore again, and I’m now blogging from Amman airport. There will be orienteering-related news from Singapore later on…
I haven’t done any competitive orienteering lately, but I’ve been busy organising my largest project for this season – 123 controls. Yesterday it finished successfully.
This is the third time I’ve organised a 100-control event, but the previous occurrences were in 2006 and 2009, and I didn’t have two toddlers taking up much of my time. This time I partnered with Itay Manor of Modi’in O-Club, whom I’m coaching as well, and we split the planning and marking between us.
The terrain I chose was Tel Azeka – Srigim, which is relatively close to the centre of Israel, very well mapped by Czech mappers, and has a multitude of features. The long course was 14.4 km and had 25 finishers, with a winning time of 2:10. There were shorter courses with 62 and 30 controls as well, and those who finished 123 or 60 received a car sticker similar to the ones you see for marathon and half-marathons (thanks to Ziv for the brilliant idea).
One of the most challenging parts of the planning was the control punching. Most of the SportIdent chips in Israel are limited to 30 punches, so even though we could have collected 123 control units, it wouldn’t have been effective. In the end I planned it using a long list in Excel: The Short course had SI units on all 30 controls. The Medium course had SI units on 30 controls out of 62, and just a bare holder (with number and flag, of course) on the others. The Long course had SI units on 52 out of the 123 controls, and 30 of them had an additional sticker designating that they were to be punched. There was lots of computer work at the end, mainly for orienteers who punched controls twice so their chip filled up early, but the system worked.
I vowed, very publicly, that I’m not organising anything similar until I’m able to participate in one myself, preferably before I’m too old to finish the long course. It remains to see who will rise to the challenge.
Saturday was the Israeli version of the Billygoat, known mostly in the USA as a mass-start race with the option to skip a few controls. We first held one 12-13 years ago, and now Modi’in O-Club has started a tradition of organising these events, that will hopefully continue.
I ran the longest course (10.5 km), where you could skip any three non-consecutive controls. In hindsight, I think the best option was to skip 9, 15 and 21, but I started badly with a parallel error at 1 and decided to skip no. 3 in order to regain some ground. This helped me at 5 and 8, but I miscalculated the size of the trap at 20-21 and wasted another skip at 9 in order to clear my head with some easy orienteering, during which I understood my situation (dire) and had no choice but to fight on. Analysis of the split times shows that I lost at least 5 minutes by having to collect both 20 and 21, and a few more by missing 20 and a bad route to 21. I finished 14th overall, which isn’t too bad, in a time of 1:48:10, but the pack that I should have been competing with was under 1:40.
The course was well planned but in my opinion the steep and slow terrain isn’t the best for a race of this type, which should be more free-flowing. Many of the controls, even when easy to find, involved a scramble into the bushes or over large rocks. I enjoyed the physical challenge more than the orienteering, but overall it was a very good event.
This weekend was our annual Winter Cup – two days of orienteering on a new map of Segev Forest, which I actually mapped back in 1993 but has since been mostly cut down and re-planted, and was now mapped from scratch by Davidi Segal.
On Friday I travelled alone to the event, started at my allocated time, had a good race (benefiting at some tricky controls from the presence of other orienteers), and finished with a better result than expected – 4th in H35. Despite this, I felt disappointed: the course (see the bottom map) lacked the excitement of a championship. It was a bit monotonous, lacking fire, if you know what I mean.
On Saturday we made it a family event. I started early, before the official start times, and was alone in the forest for most of the time. The course (top map) was longer, steeper, and trickier. I lost time looking for some controls, and a lot of time at control 17, where there was general agreement afterwards that the map was problematic and it shouldn’t have been placed there. I finished 6th, a long way behind the pack. And I really enjoyed myself, because this was definitely one of the best courses of the past few years (thanks to Asaf Avner for the planning).
When I finished I took Alon (4.5) in hand and Matan (1.5) on my back, and we set out on the family course, against the direction, while Roni ran D21C. After a few minutes we met my parents just finishing the course, and after that Ayala (almost 12) and a friend as well (as I said – a family event!). Just after a snack break Roni passed by us on the course, and Alon decided to run with her to the finish (this dropped her from 2nd to 4th in the category, but who cares?), so I walked back with Matan. The weather and the forest were beautiful, my legs were exhausted, and it was fun. This day was everything orienteering is supposed to be, and may there be many more like it.
I had no real hope of challenging for a podium place in H35, so I wasn’t disappointed. The 5-6 minutes I lost at 17 could have brought me into a really respectable time, fighting for 4th-5th place, and this is where I paid the price for starting early, but I’m still happy with my performance, especially physically. I’m ready for more…
I’ve been busy with some tragic family issues over the past few weeks, but now I’m trying to get back to normal and I have some spare time for blogging again.
After getting back in competitive shape quite quickly, I decided that my fitness is very important – as well as allowing me to enjoy orienteering races, it also enables me to avoid fatigue on normal work (and parenting) days and enjoy my time more. I’m trying to run longer distances, preferably in terrain, and I have a goal of running four 20+km single-tracks in the region by March.
Being fit enough, I also decided to switch to the Long course at national events, running H35 even though I have no chance of competing for anything. My first attempt was at Adi (the bottom map), where I first used a new compass with a magnifier, though not enough (see no. 9), and I really enjoyed the running despite some steep climbs.
Last weekend, at Massuah (the top map), the Long course was the longest and toughest here for ages – 10.2 km, and on tricky terrain as well. I was doing reasonably well until control 17, which was marked as a drinks control but was not. I decided not to take a risk and to detour south to the water on the path, and from then on my performance deteriorated. The biggest mistake was at 20 – I simply couldn’t make out the green (impassable cactus) on the map, due to a combination of my failing short-range eyesight and colour-blindness, and it took me ages to find a way through to the control. I still enjoyed the race, spent another couple of hours marking controls for a 123-control race we’re planning on an adjacent map, and didn’t crash into bed after the 90-minute drive home.
So my legs are now feeling 40, while my eyes are probably nearer 50. Meanwhile I’ll stay in H35 as long as I can finish the course respectably and read the map, or unless I get the itch to fight for a championship in H40 (which isn’t easy either).
I have decided to take an example from my favourite football club and start the season slowly. Saturday’s national event at Tel Hadid, on a newly mapped section of the forest, was very slow and I had a really bad run by my standards. Physically I felt better than I expected, but technically I was rubbish – out of practice and probably in need of a magnifier attached to my compass.
The slow start extended to the race itself – after crossing the path on the way to control 1 my focus jumped to control 2, so I was reading the map around 2 while looking for 1, and by the time I noticed my mistake I had lost contact. There were a few other time losses in these tricky slopes, but I got better as the course progressed.
Surprisingly, I finished only 3rd in H40 and the splits say I had the 5th lowest mistake percentage on the course, which means that either everyone else was just as unfocused, or I’m better than I thought.
Then there was the singles issue: the maps had all the bike single-tracks, of which there are a lot and not all can be marked, removed. Some of those unmarked tracks caused my mess-up at the start of the long leg (8-9), where I made a parallel error. On the way home I noticed that Roni’s map had the singles on it – apparently a small batch were printed with them by mistake, and as a late starter she got lucky. It explains why she was 2 minutes ahead of me at control 8, but not why she finished 12 minutes behind! I appealed on principle, but luckily very few runners were affected and I won’t insist on any action.
Alon (now aged 4.5) tried the new children’s course and enjoyed (half of) it, though he’s not really reading the map yet. He also wore Ayala’s old club o-suit (she’s almost 12 now) and there’s a great picture of us here (by Dalia Ravid).