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Back (pun intended)   Leave a comment

I’m back from a back problem, just in time for the end of the orienteering season and the start of high summer.

What happened to my back? Nobody knows, of course. It started gradually over a few days, and then I was barely able to move without acute pain. After taking anti-inflammatory pills for a while I got better and I could get back to work, and then slowly back to running. Two months ago I could hardly walk, a month ago I managed a 3 km jog through the pain, and now I’m totally pain-free and running single-tracks again.

All the doctors asked if I had any severe stress, so maybe they’re right – a combination of hard work, organising orienteering events (a rogaine), and the usual day-to-day grind with kids. And age (53). I dialed everything down until the last week or so, but now I’m getting back to normal, carefully, with lots of back and core strengthening exercises as well.

I also discovered, unfortunately, how a month of nothing can impair my fitness: I can confidently say that I haven’t been as unfit as this for at least 30 years, and bouncing back from various ankle sprains and an appendectomy was much faster (maybe because I was younger). I’ve had my holiday, so now there’s a long, very hot summer of training ahead of me in order to get back to my usual level by the start of next season.

I managed to jog through two of the end of season sprint events, so I’ll write about those soon, and hopefully I’ll be able to blog about the various international events and our team through the summer.

Posted 20/06/2021 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Israeli Championships 2021   Leave a comment

Last weekend was the highlight of the season – The Israeli Championship. Already a bit late in the year, with the undergrowth growing a bit tall, but we had very good weather and two great new maps of well-known areas, making up for a very compressed schedule for the organizers. Both areas were also quite close to home, so we could manage the kids easily and Alon was able to finish the children’s course alone on both days.

The first day was in Alon Hagalil – steep but fast pine forest, so a very physical race with very few tricky controls. Our course (H40, D21A and others) had 7.3 km with 370m climb, and I finished it in 64:39 but 5th place, as it favoured the faster (and younger) runners. Roni ran 72:54 on the same course – not bad for a 40-year mother of three who doesn’t have time for any running or orienteering training at all – and finished second in D21A.

The second day was at Megido – much thicker vegetation and rocky details, so expected to be slower and more technical. I was only 3 minutes behind second place, which was the goal, so I felt confident I could close the gap. The course was 7.0 km with 255m climb, but much slower, and I ran 72:54 – second on the day but third overall, 19 seconds behind silver. All of the damage was done at control 5, where I lost contact and had to search around for 2-3 minutes. The second half of this race was peak orienteering for me – I was “in the zone” physically, flying through the forest, knowing what I was doing at every point and enjoying every minute. Great fun!

Roni finished second again, in 79:11, but third overall. Most interestingly, the Israeli Championship for men was won by Matan Ivri, age 18. Matan is the only Israeli orienteer ever to have achieved a podium place in an international championship – 6th in EYOC 2019 M18 sprint – and is already at a running level on the verge of the national athletic team: his PBs are 8:20 for 3,000m and 14:35 for 5,000m! Unfortunately he’s already missed out on his last year at EYOC due to COVID-19, and on a JWOC year as well, but if we ever had a chance of a medal in sprint orienteering, this is it.

We have about a month to go before forest orienteering slows down and gives way to sprints due to the heat, then we can start thinking about making up lost ground next year, and hoping it will be a “normal” season.

Alon Hagalil

Posted 27/03/2021 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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A Changing of the Guard   Leave a comment

The season has started (very late, of course, because of COVID-19), and the first two national events are behind us, with the Israeli Championship already looming on the horizon – next weekend. But this time the landscape has changed.

Usually the various age categories, excluding the juniors, have more or less the same people as last year, and the same results. Once in a while someone goes up to an older age group and slots in amongst the leaders, but there’s no massive change. Lots of older orienteers stay in a longer course and age group even as they grow older (just like myself, running H40 at age 52).

But this year we have a major shift, a “changing of the guard”, in three of the toughest categories. In both H35 and H40, the previous leaders were thrashed (by over 10 minutes) in the first two races by Alexey Marchenko and Daniel Griff respectively – two of our best ever elite orienteers, who have reached the age, are superbly fit, and are therefore much better than everyone else (that includes me, of course). I won’t be winning the Israeli Championship in H40 this year, but I won’t be “running away” to H50 either, and my goal now is second place behind Daniel.

By the way, the previous time I can recall something similar was in 2004 – when I myself reached the H35 category, as the first of the previous generation of national team orienteers with elite experience.

In H21A, the situation is different – a whole crop of promising young orienteers has taken over, with the top 5 places in the rankings, at the moment, occupied by under-20s. This is a bit misleading, because our top orienteers weren’t in action in both races, but it’s now obvious that they’ll have a fight on their hands.

There’s nothing bad about this change, of course. Some categories will become more competitive, and maybe we’ll see some orienteers deciding to run their real age next season, and not 2-3 age groups younger, which will cause a ripple-on effect. I haven’t decided regarding myself yet – for now I’m staying in H40.

I participated in the first national event in HaMeginim Forest, and finished second, 10 minutes behind Daniel and with the rest of the pack 4 minutes behind me. After that I sent Alon (nearly 10 years old) alone to the children’s course, and set off after him with Matan (6.5). Alon managed to lose his SI card (it was my old one, 12-13 years old, so no great loss), and he joined us in the middle of the course, but both of them enjoyed themselves. They’re not going to be great athletes, but they definitely have good map-reading ability. Maybe it’s inherited…

Posted 13/03/2021 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Looking Forward   Leave a comment

The 2020-2021 orienteering season has just started. After the “training” events of December we had another month of total lockdown, and another month of training, but now competitions are allowed and they’re trying to cram the whole season in before the summer. So in the next couple of months we have 6 national events (including the Israeli championship), 2 rogaines, and lots of other interesting events.

I’ve run some training courses, the best being one of the five set out by our club as “permanent” courses for the past month, in Zippori (map below) – makeshift controls, register online and pick up your map from someone’s front garden whenever you want. I also prepared one of the courses, recycling a pile of medal ribbons as the controls. The weather has been fantastic over the winter, not too cold, and quite wet but almost always in the middle of the week, so it’s a real shame we couldn’t hold any events.

I probably won’t be running too many races – one of the problems is that you can’t yet have an “assembly area” at events, so coming as a family and mixing up with all the other kids is not a good idea. Add some mapping work and organising, and I’ll probably run 5-6 races this season. But now is the time to look forward, start planning for the end of the Corona era, and enjoy the forests.

Posted 03/03/2021 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Forest Time   1 comment

Despite COVID-19, we’re allowed to hold “training” events – which are basically the same as regular events, except that there’s no registration on the day (so no contact), no official assembly area, no drinks controls, and no results (but you can still use SI and get your split times). As far as I know, competitive events are planned to start in January, unless there is a third lockdown. The season is going to be compressed into a few months, and hopefully we’ll be having a lot of forest time over the winter and spring.

Today we went to a training event at Ma’anit, on a partially new map (of an old area). There were 280+ orienteers registered, the assembly area was full, and the forest was busy. Alon (aged 9.5) successfully finished his second solo forest course, and I ran the long course at cruising pace. It was fun – peak orienteering season, beautiful countryside, nice weather, and good terrain. Apart from my headless chicken routine at control 21 (where I don’t agree with the map, but I was still off course) I was more or less OK, but a bit rusty.

Last week I also started mapping in the forest again. I had planned to expand my small map of Naura ( back in the summer of 2019, but then I discovered that the vegetation in the new section was awful, and that half of the existing map had just suffered a serious forest fire. After that I was busy with Rogaine mapping, then COVID-19 came along, and now I’m back. The vegetation is nicer at this time of year, and much of the forest has recovered from the fire, so we can think of planning an event on the expanded map. Below are aerial photos of almost the entire map for 2018, 2019, and 2020, where you can see the effect of the fire.

Posted 12/12/2020 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Restart #2   1 comment

Lockdown no. 2 came just after the first few events of the season, and lasted until a week ago. We actually managed to hold a club training camp just before, which was great fun despite the (still) hot conditions, and then all activities closed down: not a 100 meter limit like in April, but 500 meters (increased at some point to 1 km), and any individual athletic activity provided you start from your home.

So I ran around home quite a lot, getting acquainted with new routes, but the conditions were still hot throughout and I managed to orienteer only on the last weekend, when it cooled down a bit – running 5 km to the nearby map of Alonim, doing a 6 km training course (without controls, of course), and then back.

Now lockdown has been lifted, but we still can’t hold official events, so there are lots of informal trainings – register, come and take a map, go out into the forest and find the controls. On Friday I went to a Window-O training (some call it “Swiss cheese”) at Hosh’aya, which was tricky but better than nothing. The forest is quite open, the fact that the map is from 2007 doesn’t matter too much when most of it is erased, and the main problem was the very rocky terrain, which made running in a straight line and pace-counting very difficult. I managed to find all the controls except no. 7/11 – apparently there is an unmarked rocky knoll slightly to the west of the correct one, and that’s the one that I arrived at twice.

There’s lots more training coming up, and hopefully the season will be able to restart within a few weeks, just when we have the best orienteering weather and vegetation conditions.

Posted 24/10/2020 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Back in the Forest   Leave a comment

After a summer of early morning sprints, we’re back in the forest at last. I was out and about last weekend as well, marking controls for a club training camp, but yesterday was the first real event of the season – in the midst of an unprecedented heatwave.

My club was organizing, but I wasn’t involved this time. Despite the heat and humidity, the decision to go ahead – with shortened courses and very early start times – was made, and the event was successful. It was really humid: Strava says 83%, but it felt like 200%, and I was soaked in sweat after the first few controls, despite being acclimatized from training throughout the summer. My strategy was to choose the least physically demanding route, which is usually close to the fastest anyway, and I had an almost perfect run, mostly enjoying the lack of undergrowth.

Thanks to Gil Rinat and the other members of Galilee O-Club for planning and organizing. I think we’re going to have a great season, and this is just the start!

Posted 06/09/2020 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Orienteering in the Jewish Olympics?   Leave a comment

Let’s be realistic – orienteering won’t be in the Olympic Games in the near future.

But the Maccabiah (, the Jewish version of the Olympics, is a different matter. The 21st edition of these games will be held in July 2022 (after a COVID-19 postponement), as always in Israel, and the absolute minimum for including a sport is 25 athletes from 4 countries (excluding Israel, of course).

We’re in contact with some Jewish orienteers around the world, but there may be many more that we don’t know about. So if you (or someone you know) are Jewish, in any age group, and interested in participating, please contact Doron Keynar at Don’t worry about the bureaucracy and logistics yet, there’s still a long way to go – let’s get orienteering included, and then take care of the details.

Posted 29/08/2020 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Night Rogaine   Leave a comment

Orienteering is almost back to normal here, but because of the summer heat there are only a few early morning sprints. The exception was a night mini-rogaine – 3 or 4 hours, only on tracks, in Ben-Shemen forest. This happened to be the location of the last rogaine more than a year ago, with two events having been cancelled since then due to the weather and lockdown.

It was also an opportunity to run with Roni again, for the first time in over two years. As usual, we had great fun together, and without the agony of 8 hours. There were 25 controls with points values of 1 to 5 (the second digit), and after calculating that collecting everything was beyond us, though not by much, we based our plan on all the 3-5 point controls, with the others as bonuses depending on the pace.

In the end we skipped only two controls, and finished with 7 minutes to spare and 4th overall (1st in two of the categories, meaning we won a prize), behind three teams that collected all the controls. The next forest orienteering is in September…


Posted 03/08/2020 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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The Return of Catching Features   Leave a comment

When Lockdown started, I wrote that I would try to participate in all the stages of the Catching Features World Cup. Having fulfilled that commitment, I have come to a few conclusions:

  • Catching Features is probably vastly underrated. It is fantastic software that simulates orienteering very well, despite having a few drawbacks.
  • The CFWC was very, very tough, and after some of the races I was sweating in my chair. The maps were fantastic (some of them are below) and the courses very challenging. Thanks to the course creators for a great job.
  • My orienteering is OK, but my gaming skills are lousy. My results were consistently just over twice the winner’s time, usually without any big mistakes (I finished with 872 points, the winner had 1777).
  • I’d really like to upload one of my maps (Odem Forest) and set a course online. I hope to have some time for it soon.

I also concluded that Catching Features has returned, and in order to confirm this I received permission to collect all the historical data from the website and analyse participation over time. The results are published here (screenshot below of the first page):

I’ll try to add some more analysis in the future, such as the most active users, the most prolific course setters, and so on.


Screenshots from the Catching Features World Cup races:

CF 9 newCF 7 newCF 5 newCF 6 newCF 10 newCF 8 new

Posted 10/07/2020 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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