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).
Our first orienteering race of this season was an evening mini-rogaine of 4 hours starting in Park HaYarkon, in the centre of Tel-Aviv, last Friday. Basically it’s a very long and flat stretch of park and some orchards on both sides of the Yarkon river, from the Mediterranean Sea in the west and almost 9 km inland to the east.
Roni and myself are nowhere near competitive fitness, but we saw this as a unique opportunity for some quality time together, and knew we could last the course, even though our last competitive rogaine (12 hours and hilly) was 2.5 years ago. We also assumed that we could get all 29 controls, and planned accordingly without measuring distances. In the end we were 3:20 minutes late, mostly due to a planning error on our part – we misread the X marking the bridge near 93 as blocked, and had to detour to take the control.
It was a long race: 32.4 km, running most of the time, with a couple of strategic spells of walking. The map (rotated – east is up) is below, with some annotations. We had perfectly even splits – at 2:01:40 the distance covered was exactly 16.2 km. Our plan was to minimise river crossings (though there were 15 bridges) by going east on the south side, crossing to the north, back all the way to the west on the north, and then back to the start on the south. We lost very little time on the orienteering, but the last hour or so of running was really tough on Roni, especially as we already knew we’d be late and had decided to take all the controls anyway as long as we could make it without being disqualified (over 15 minutes late). The race against time from the tip of the pier (92) to the finish was murder, and looking for the last control (72) in pitch dark woods was a challenge, but it was worth it. We both ran again yesterday morning (2.5 days after), so there are no ill effects. Thanks to Pavel Levitsky for planning a great course, as usual.
And hopefully there will be some real orienteering stuff soon – it’s getting a bit cooler at last.