O Log - Italy World Cup

[10-Oct-05] 

    Click here for my Italy World Cup '05, Middle Qual Heat 3 map.

    Click here for my Italy World Cup '05, Middle B Final map.

    Click here for my Italy World Cup '05, Sprint Qual Heat 1 map.

    Click here for my Italy World Cup '05, Sprint AB Final map.

    Click here for my Italy World Cup '05, Long map.

    Click here for my Italy World Cup '05, Relay Fork 7.97K map.

    Sprint maps go to a 12.5m interval in urban areas

    The races were based in Subiaco, which is about 1.5 hours east of Rome. It was cold and rainy every day, except for some intermittent pleasant weather for the sprint qualifier, tho it did rain on me during that race also. Temperature ranged from 6-14 degrees, or so. The last day, the relay, was particularly miserable.

    After my only other previous world cup (EOC last year), I decided I was never going to do that again -- but I think I did it this year so that a) the guys would have a relay team, and b) the experience may be valuable for various reasons down the road. I feel I did better this time around, tho I still looked like a clown. I even had a couple of highlights -- my relay run was genuinely solid, tho pathetically slow, and they tell me my sprint qual had me in a qualifying position thru about the first 40% of the race or so (I never verified this). Since I finished so dreadfully in last in the sprint at the EOC, I was happy finishing a few notches up this time round, especially given that I think there were less weak countries this time. And despite my embarrassing time in the sprint final, I was generally happy with most of that race. These races make it easy for me to retire from running M21E in Europe, tho this is sad because I think these are the best formats, etc. (I still can't get excited about WMOC and its format ...)

    The rest of the team had some good results, both Karen and Sandra qualifying for the sprint, and Boris missing the cut by about 40 seconds. The living in Europe seems to be paying off for these folks. Eddie also had impressive runs in the long and relay, terrain I felt he would eat up. Eddie has the potential for more great international results going forward.

    The organization was rough around the edges, but they got the important things right -- excellent terrain, maps, and course setting. The one notable exception to this is the dreadfully crappy overprinting of the relay course. Some examples of the negatives from an organizational standpoint were the fact that when we showed up, they told us the water at our flat was not potable, and that we would be charged for it if we went over a certain quota! Eddie got sick, tho we think this was not from the water.

    And of course, the overall highlight for me has to be the sprint final at Cervara. This was a race that I think those who where there will talk about for a long long time -- it was unlike anything I've ever seen nor ever will, I imagine, and words will not do it justice. We tried to stage lots of pictures to capture the area, which Eddie should have on his server, probably as I write this. Also, Tero supposedly reran the course with a head-mounted video camera -- this video is worth tracking down, tho I'm still not sure it could convey the unique experience of this orienteering race.

    Middle Qualifier

    Area was some sort of terraced pasture land, with green patches everywhere which absolutely had to be respected. Long vis was actually fairly poor, and it was easy to get lost near the wrong patch of green. Everything green seemed a little spreadier than mapped, and it was tough. I had a mediocre to decent race here, bobbling #5 and #10, and getting a bit confused on the way to #3. I found the course mentally intense, and harder than it looks on the map.

    I think what made it difficult was that it was unique terrain, at least for me. I know my mind works in terms of "forest structures", that is, the way wild mid-atlantic forests seem to work, and I seem to be able to operate a bit smoother when encountering forest systems that seem to work the same way. In other words, running thru stuff that works the same way as stuff I'm used to has been internalized. Some of this terrace stuff and green patches seemed a bit alien, and required an extra effort of conscious concentration.

    Middle Final

    Middle final was on the same sort of terrain (in fact, parts of the same map), as the qual, tho it was a bit more technical in the beginning. Race was on the afternoon of the qual.

    I had two disastrous controls in this race (#4 and #5); both I think have to be attributed to laziness in terms of concentration. I remember myself letting up 10 meters away from #4, and that was the hardest in circle control on the course. I knew were I was, and figured I'd "just find it". Too many random bushes, knolls, and clumps of green for my brain, tho there is no reason to doubt that the area was accurately and fairly mapped. I just let up, and it is unacceptable. Is it perhaps the result of a second mentally demanding race on the same day as one in the morning?

    #5 was just a matter of being pissed, and, by chance, pack running with someone else who could not find the control either. Fortunately, I did recover and find it first.

    Despite other lame results over the week, this is the only race I truly feel bad about, especially since, despite the somewhat alien terrain, it was the sort of venue that is best suited to my skills.

    Sprint Qualifier

    The sprint qual was in the back alleyways of the town center of Subiaco, after a brief forest section. This was also a mentally intense race, and I think a good race for me. I did bungle the first control, but so did everyone else, at least it seemed that way from the whining about it. I started last, and could not believe the number of runners I encountered there. I had a qualifying position some decent amount of way into this race, or at least that is what they tell me. I think this is my best WC race in terms of "distance from last" -- what a way to measure performance!

    I've done a few European old city sprints, but don't ever remember doing one this mentally demanding in such an intense area. Making it tougher were external things to think about, such as TV cameras, crowds, locals wandering around, cheering, and saying/pointing "its that way" (with 3 heats, you can't trust them, of course).

    There was also a map exchange in the spectator area, right near the finish, with all the crowds, etc. The second loop was printed on the back of the map of the first loop. This was a visually confusing area, and I actually stopped and dialed in a bearing into my compass to make sure I went out the right way (I otherwise don't ever remember using a compass in an urban sprint). This seemed embarrassing, but a map exchange really disrupts the flow and momentum of a sprint. I understand that this gave Eddie a good deal of trouble.

    One thing I did find awkward about the sprint was the mix of forest/urban terrain. It was not clear what sort of footwear to choose, as I hate running on pavement with O shoes. I chose trail running shoes, which are fine in towns, but were a disaster in the forest. The forest was wet and slippery, and I almost killed myself on falls several times. I'm not sure of the best footwear choice for these sorts of mixed venues.

    Sprint Final

    Final was in the hillside old town of Cervara. Even as you are driving up the mountain to the place, you get the feeling that it is going to be spectacular. The old town is almost nothing but narrow passageways, stairways, and tunnels (mapped as building passthrus). No cars, and extremely steep. By far the most intense orienteering experience I've had, and probably the most interesting place I've ever raced. Hopefully others have described the place pretty well, as I'm not sure how to.

    Race again started out with a forest section on the mountain side above town. The weather was dreadful again, and I decided to go with O shoes this time. I remember the view from start being pretty cool into the neighboring valley. I mowed thru the forest section pretty well, picking up three runners who started before me. We had a pack going into town, which I was actually leading.

    The town was basically a maze, and I did pretty well for a few controls (they told me I had a decent split going thru the spectator control), but I lost it on #13. It was so intense, and I was stopping so many times to make sure I maintained contact, that I decided I wanted to simplify the longer leg by running to the edge of town and relocating, which I think could have been an effective strategy, except that I ran to the wrong edge of town. I was disoriented and made a 180. Oh well. I lost a ton of time -- take that one mistake away, and it was a good race on a hard, unique map, and more importantly, an intensely fun experience.

    Long Day

    The long day was up on the mountain near where we were staying, in the small resort town of Monte Livata. Terrain was extremely fast, open, and with great viz. Navigation was pretty straightforward. Altitude was about 1500m, but this wasn't really a factor. The only thing to slow you down was a good bit of climb. There was absolutely no undergrowth in the forest. There were charcoal platforms everywhere; that is what the brown x's on the map are. I've never seen a control description as "middle charcoal platform".

    I navigated pretty well, but ran a dreadfully slow race. There is no reason I should not have been 8min/k, despite the climb, but ended up closer to 10. It is something I cannot understand. My route to #2 probably wasn't the smartest (but some of the most beautiful forest I've ever seen), and I bungled #19 a bit, but otherwise the navigation seemed trivial, and I seemed to be moving along pretty well, so I don't understand why I was so slow. The only things I can think of is that I've been racing pretty hard for the week and don't recover well, and I also had an injury that felt pretty bad, but it seemed to clear up as the race started going. It was a fun area, and it is unfortunate that I underachieved physically. The area did de-emphasize my skills (running and route choice vs grunge running and navigation).

    Relay

    The relay was on the same map as the long. Our running order was Eddie, Boris, then me. The day started cold, with thick fog, but most of the fog cleared before the race. Rain came intermittently. While I was out, it was about 6 degrees and driving rain, with fog in the higher elevations.

    Eddie had a great run, and put us in 18th, which is pretty good. Boris also had a good run, and we were in 19th when I went out. I decided I was going to have a clean, aggressive race, and that's what I did. I only lost a few seconds on #5, when I wasn't quite where I thought I was, and had to stop and sort it out.

    I lost us 3 places, but at least my navigation was clean and I ran as hard as I could. I can also rationalize that 2 of the teams that past me (ESP and AUT) stopped early to help and injured runner, so these may have been places that should not have been there to lose. In any case, I'm glad my (probable) last M21E race was a good one, and especially in a relay.

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