Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Australian Boomerangs prepare for WOC2011 in France

When you are preparing to head overseas you always expect you will have lots of time when you are a full time orienteer training for WOC. But its amazing how your day can be filled up by breakfast, training, lunch, training, dinner and a bit of social time. So after 3weeks in Europe here is the first report from the Australian Boomerangs preparation for the World Championships in France. Grap a coffee and bagette, its a long one. 

Thursday 14th July
I (Rob) met Julian and Felicity in Annecy and headed to my friend Sylvain's place in Chambery. We were fortunate to stay with him prior to moving into our Gite (authentic French holiday house) in Lescheraines. Julian had already run a long distance training exercise with the Swedish and Czech teams. 2hrs on the toughest map in the region- Le Revard, was a gutsy way to start his WOC campaign. I decided to skip a terrain run for the day, and headed out with Sylvain for a run from his place. Good thing I didn't go orienteering, I had enough trouble just staying on my feet!

Friday 15th July
On Friday we ran a course on Le Creux qui Sonne, that the French team had set and we were lucky to find out about as there were flags in the forest. We soon learned how important it was to training with flags, as the difficulty of the terrain means you can spend a lot of time wondering if you are in the correct place. While taking over an hour for 5km isn't setting the forest alight, I was pretty happy with my first session.

In the afternoon we went to Le Revard, where Julian and I ran a middle distance training exercise set by the Czech/Swedish conglomerate. I soon learned how quickly things can go wrong in Savoie Grand Revard. After getting totally lost twice, banging my knee badly, losing my SILVA compass magnifer (then some how finding it 5mins later), and finding 5 controls I called it a day and headed back to the car. Jules didn't have a great day either, but did persist with the whole course.

The panorama view from Le Revard looking down to Aix les Bains (on our only sunny day)
Saturday 16th July
Thanks to Julian's contacts we piggybacked on the Sweczechs again, for a Middle Distance training race with SI. I was first start, pretty daunting heading into a very tough first control. I ran quite controlled and got to #9 before making a big error. It took a while to relocate in a region of countless knolls and small gullies and I lost about 3mins there. I ran 46mins, with the best 36mins, but I was far from last so that was encouraging. And it was my first victory over Julian since he was about 15...

In the arvo we moved into our Gite in Lescheraines, which is very close to the training maps Montage de Bange and Prepoulain. For company we had Graham Griswood, Doug Tully, Holly Orr and coach Toni staying with us. Jules and I ran a second session together on Montage de Bange (or The Wall as the Brits like to call it) with a headcam (hope to edit it sometime). This map was the first training map made, and probably the scariest looking. It is also probably the least relevant so we haven't spent much time there. But we set a short course, in what must have been an easy part of the map, so we didn't have much trouble. The bare rock is seriously impressive though. Not much like Aussie granite slabs, much more like running across knifeblades of limestone with numerous potholes of death in between.

Panorama view from Montage de Bange down to Arith and Lescheraines
Sunday 17th July
Today was a day where you definitely wanted to stay in bed. Torrential rain and not very warm about 8degrees at Le Revard. And it was like that all morning. But this was also a session that you couldn't miss- Relay training organised again by Sweczechs. Even the French boys turned up and there was sprinkling of other nations.
The course involved 3 x 2km courses. First course was ok.

I lost 15mins looking for the 1st control on the 2nd loop. I actually ran past it but didn't think it was mine (thought it was way too close to the track). The proceeded to search on a green hillside for a pit with the rest of the Swedish women's team. It would have been good relay training if I was running the women's relay...
Kept on going on the last loop even though I was dead last. My brain was literally freezing and I managed to run the last two controls in the wrong order anyway. Got back to the car to find Julian and GG both had pulled out thinking they were way behind and cold. It was probably the coldest/wettest I've ever been Orienteering.

Monday 18th July
Today we (including Rob, Jules, Aislinn Prendergast who has arrived, Felicity, Holly) headed to Le Grand Roc, a map close to Annecy and used for the World Cup Long distance race last October. The forest here was much nicer, and we were able to improve our speed and get some confidence back. Everything seemed to make much more sense on this map. We ran on 1:15000 for 90mins so this was a Long Distance specific session.

Julian and Felicity headed to Annecy for some sightseeing and sprint training in the afternoon, while I was more interested in some couch time and watch le Tour.

In the evening I went for another session on The Wall. It rained again. I finished very cold and disillusioned. I really found out how hard this map was today. Full respect for Thierry who has done night sessions on this map.

Tuesday 19th July
We had another session on Montagne de Bange, this time running the Swiss team Middle Distance selection race. This area was relatively nice for running, not nearly as deadly, but I didn't feel comfortable wearing the non-metal studded X-talons. I ran most of the course well apart for losing 4mins looking for #6 (and getting caught by Felicity). For the 2nd half I was also a bit sloppy as I tried to put more pressure on myself. Lets just say I wouldn't have made the Swiss team...
Lescheraines church
Wednesday 20th July

Prepoulain- Long distance training
Swedish long distance trials. Lost 16mins on #1 otherwise it wasn't too bad... It felt very lonely up on the mountain and I had to convince myself a few times to keep going.
Jules had a pretty good session though, and is starting to get back into the swing of it.

Thursday 21st July
We headed back to Le Creux with Jules, Aislinn, Doug and GG for a relay/middle qual training session set by Toni. We did a mass start, with a few splits and it felt good to race a little faster. I was within contact for most of the race, only wasting a bit too much time making sure I was in the correct place or looking for a small blue tape. Jules was again happy with his last session in the forest before WOC.

Finally the sun came out in the afternoon and Jules, Felicity and myself went for a run around Lescheraines. Here are a couple of pics of our pleasant little village.

Friday 22nd July
Sprint O training at Montmelian. I wasn't going to run, but after I set the course I thought it looked pretty fun. I was pretty happy with my nav, but the hill in the 2nd half was brutal on tired legs. Good to get a higher intensity session done before heading to Alpe d'Huez. It was turning into a beautiful day.

The Tour de France- well what an amazing day. I'll do a full blog about it later....

Saturday 23rd July
Jules and Fel headed back to Geneva, then flew to their new home in Stockholm, Sweden. Well actually straight onto a train to northern Sweden for the Swedish 5 days. Sounds like it was a tough week up there, but they finally got to see some sun.

Aislinn and Roch headed back to the forest for a final punishing session on Le Revard before catching the train to Paris for a bit of R&R and Cadel cheering.

While I got the bus down to Grenoble to watch Cadel smash out the Time Trial of his life and end the day in the Yellow jersey.
TDF Time trial finish
Sunday 24th July- Cadel day
I didn't do a whole heap, just went for a run from Sylvain's, and headed into Chambery to find a pub with the Tour on TV. It took a while, and I know the WOC Sprint final area pretty well now, but finally found The Tour. I had a tear in my eye as Cadel climbed the podium in France. So many past disappointments and sleepy mornings became irrelevant.

Monday 25th July
Well I was now flying solo, and without a car. But I didn't let that stop me from getting a bit more training in. I borrow Sylvain's bike and rode for nearly 2hours (and 1000m climb) to Le Revard. Then I attempted the course from the Savioe National event from May. This race was won by Thierry in 91mins, and 2nd was 8mins behind, and he had been caught by the Frenchman anyway. This was an epic session. I got lost big time looking for #5, but mostly because I couldn't understand a big area with new forestry work and extra tracks. I decided to leave that section out and modify the course after that. After 2hrs18mins I had done about 20 controls and actually ran them relatively well. But there were still a few improvements to be made before I challenge the best. With a long ride home I was pretty knackered that night.

Tuesday 26th July
Again I rode up onto the plateau, and this time did an easy session with Sylvain for company on Le Creux. We ran together and it was good to help teach him a little about how to orienteer in this terrain. Kind of like the blind leading the blind, but its good to help reflect on your own technique.

Wednesday 27th July
I finally left Chambery and headed to Chamonix for a few days, then to Switzerland. But I'll leave that for another time.

me with Mont Blanc in the background
now I need to head for a coffee and pain au raison before the lazy French head for a siesta. Au revoir

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