U.S. Team at the 2010 World Orienteering Championships

August 8 - 15
Trondheim, Norway


The United States sent a talented team of orienteers to Norway this summer for the 2010 World Orienteering Championships. Read on for day-by-day commentary from Peter Gagarin as well as links to maps and photos. Note: Some bonus coverage of the World Trail-O Championships is included in Peter's commentary too.

U.S. Team:

  • Samantha Saeger, NEOC
  • Ross Smith, CSU
  • Alison Crocker, CSU
  • Eric Bone, COC
  • Erin Olafsen Nielsen, UNO 
  • Eddie Bergeron, SVO
  • Pavlina Brautigam, WCOC
  • Nikolay Nachev, COC
  • Sandra Zurcher, RMOC
  • Matt Scott, DVOA 

Alternates: Cristina Luis, DVOA; Ekaterina Orekhova, CSU, Jordan Laughlin, USMAOC; Clem McGrath, DVOA 

Team leader: Linda Kohn

 

Eddie, Samantha and Ali (clockwise) in the sprint finals at WOC
(
photos courtesy of World of O and the WOC website)

Race assignments:

Men

Sprint: Eddie Bergeron, Nikolay Nachev, Ross Smith
Middle: Eddie Bergeron, Eric Bone, Nikolay Nachev
Long: Eric Bone, Matt Scott, Ross Smith
Relay: Ross Smith, Matt Scott, and Eric Bone

Women

Sprint: Alison Crocker, Samantha Saeger, Sandra Zurcher
Middle: Pavlina Brautigam, Alison Crocker, Erin Olafsen Nielsen
Long: Erin Olafsen Nielsen, Samantha Saeger, Sandra Zurcher
Relay: Samantha Saeger, Alison Crocker, and Sandra Zurcher

Results for the U.S. runners

Sprint Qualifiers (Maps)

  • Women's 1 -- Winner: Simone Niggli (Switzerland), 14:19; USA: Samantha Saeger (14th), 16:39 (Sam qualifies for final); Canada: Louise Oram (19th), 17:34
  • Women's 2 -- Winner: Linnea Gustafsson (Sweden), 14:39; USA: Sandra Zurcher (19th), 18:00; Canada: Carol Ross (22nd), 19:00
  • Women's 3 -- Winner: Emma Claesson (Sweden), 15:34; USA: Alison Crocker (13th), 17:41 (Ali qualifies for final)

  • Men's 1 -- Winner: Matthias Mueller (Switzerland), 14:57; Canada: Patrick Goeres (21st), 17:24; USA: Nikolay Nachev (33rd), 19:58
  • Men's 2 -- Winner: Andrey Khramov (Russia)/Fabian Hertner (Switzerland) (tie), 14:52; Canada: Will Critchley (21st), 16:48; USA: Ross Smith (28th), 19:20
  • Men's 3 -- Winner: Emil Wingstedt (Sweden), 15:01; Canada: Jon Torrance (27th), 19:12; USA: Eddie Bergeron (32nd), 24:30

Sprint Finals (Maps)

  • Men's -- Winner: Matthias Mueller (Switzerland), 16:10.9; (no US or Canadian qualifiers)
  • Women's -- Winner: Simone Niggli (Switzerland), 16:06.2; Alison Crocker (37th/45), 19:20.2, Samantha Saeger (42nd/45), 19:34.9 (no Canadian qualifiers)

Middle Distance Qualifiers (Maps)

Qualifiers -- 9 August
Finals -- 14 August

No Americans qualifed for the Middle Distance finals. Pavlina Brautigam just missed, finishing her heat in 16th place, 9:38 behind the leader, Anni-Maija Fincke (top 15 moved on to the finals; sprint winner Simone Niggli also ran in Pavi's heat). Erin was 21st, and Alison placed 24th in her heat. Eric Bone was 20th in his heat with a per-km time of 8:29; his heat's leader was 6:23/km. Eddie placed 27th, 9:17/km; Nikolay 30th, 9:05/km (his heat was led by Anders Norberg of Norway, 6:18/km and Thierry Gueorgiou of France, 6:29/km).

Canadian results

Women: Louise Oram qualified for the final, placing 9th in her heat (#3, the same one run by Erin). Sandy Hott (16th) and Carol Ross (21st) missed qualifying for this race.
Men: Wil Smith of Canada was 31st in his heat (1:21 behind Nikolay); Mike Smith was 28th in heat 2 (1:21 behind Eddie); Patrick Goeres, DNF.

Long Distance Qualifiers (Maps)

Qualifiers -- 10 August
Finals -- 12 August
  • Women's 1 -- Winner: Emma Claesson (Sweden), 41:16; USA: Sandra Zurcher (14th), 54:45 (Sandra qualifies for final); Canada: Sandy Hott (16th), 55:44
  • Women's 2 -- Winner: Anne Margrethe Hausken (Norway), 43:40; USA: Samantha Saeger (9th), 54:52 (Sam qualifies for final); Canada: Carol Ross (18th), 1:02:12
  • Women's 3 -- Winner: Simone Niggli (Switzerland), 40:46; Canada: Louise Oram (21st), 1:02:31; USA: Erin Olafsen Nielsen (DSQ)

  • Men's 1 -- Winner: Thierry Gueorgiou (France), 56:16; Canada: Patrick Goeres (21st), 1:09:15; USA: Ross Smith (27th), 1:23:19
  • Men's 2 -- Winner: Franois Gonon (France), 55:09; USA: Matt Scott, 1:11:27; Canada: Nick Duca (29th), 1:20:50
  • Men's 3 -- Winner: Olav Lundanes (Norway), 54:58; USA: Eric Bone (22nd), 1:10:15; Canada: Mike Smith (24th), 1:11:38

Long Distance Final (Maps)

  • Men's -- Winner: Olav Lundanes (Norway), 1:32:41 (no US or Canadian qualifiers)
  • Women's -- Winner: Simone Niggli (Switzerland), 1:12:49; Samantha Saeger (29th/45), 1:35:33 (9:40 behind Simone); Sandra Zurcher (44th), 1:55:28 (no Canadian qualifiers)

Middle Distance Final (Maps)

No Americans qualified for the Middle Final. Canada's Louise Oram was tied for 28th out of 45, an excellent result, in a time of 38:04 (winner Minna Kauppi's time was 30:01). [Middle Final Results]

Relays (Maps)

Men's -- Russia's team of Andrew Khramov, Smitry Tsvetkov, and Valentin Kovikof won the men's relay, with a time of 2:09:51. The U.S. Team with Ross Smith, Matt Scott, and Eric Bone placed 28th of 30, 2:48:33. [Canada's team of Patrick Goeres, Mike Smith, and Nick Duca finished 27th, 2:47:02.]

Women's -- The Finnish team, with Anni-Maija Fincke, Merja Rantanen, and Minna Kauppi, won the women's relay in 1:59:04. The U.S. Team placed 19th out of 28 teams (though less than 2 minutes behind the 13th place team), with Samantha Saeger, Alison Crocker, and Sandra Zurcher finishing in 2:28:29. [Canada's team of Carol Ross, Louise Oram, and Sandy Hott finished 16th, less than a minutes ahead of the US, in 2:27:37.]

Day-by-Day Commentary from Peter Gagarin

August 8 -- The Sprint

The first event at this year's World Championships in Trondheim, Norway, was the Sprint. As with all the individual events at the WOC these days, there is first a qualifying race, three heats where only the best 15 from each heat qualify for the final. And then, if you qualify, the final is later the same day.

It has always been a stretch for our team members to qualify for the final in any event. You have to figure that runners from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, Russia, Czech Republic, France, and Great Britain -- those being roughly the best teams these days -- will take 9 of those 15 spots in each heat. And then there are bunch of other countries not far behind such as Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Australia, Poland, Austria, Germany.... And then a bunch more countries like us, often on the outside looking in. To qualify means being overall very good, and then having a very good run on the day that counts. There is almost no margin for error. It is simply very hard to make the finals.

So the results of the Sprint, with both Alison Crocker and Samantha Saeger qualifying, and Sandra Zurcher not missing by much, can only be considered as outstanding. And, strange though it may seem, it is a sign of progress that both Alison and Sam made without having perfect runs, and Sandra could have made it but it just wasn't her day. They are all moving up the ladder.

In the final Alison was 37th of the 45 starters, Sam was 42nd. For Alison, in her first WOC and not having orienteered that long, this was an extraordinary result. For Sam, it was one of those runs where you can't help but think what could have been. One bad control, the 12th. Splits show that she was in 26th place starting the leg, 41st at the finish. A painful memory, perhaps, but also an indication of her amazing ability and her steady improvement.

For the men, Ross Smith, Eddie Bergeron, and Nikolay Nachev competed. None made the top 15, though it must be said that it is even tougher to qualify for the men's final, as there are several countries that field full men's teams but only partial or no women's team at all. At the current level of competition, our men need pretty much perfect runs. That wasn't the case today, but there are two more chances (middle on Monday and long on Tuesday) to see if it can be done.

Today's results were a great way to start off the WOC. But where does this rank in comparison to WOCs in recent years?

  • In 2003 in Switzerland, no qualifiers. one qualifier, Brian May in the Middle, finished 43rd in the final. [see correction below]
  • In 2004 in Sweden, one qualifier, Brian May in the Sprint, finished 41st in the final.
  • In 2005 in Japan, one qualifier, Erin (Olafsen) Nielsen in the Middle, finished 43rd in the final.
  • In 2006 in Denmark, two qualifiers, Samantha Saeger and Hillary Saeger in the Sprint, Sam finished 29th and Hillary 42nd in the final.
  • In 2007 in Ukraine, one qualifier, Sandra Zurcher in the Middle Sprint, finished 42nd in the final.
  • In 2008 in the Czech Republic, no qualifiers.
  • In 2009 in Hungary, three qualifiers, Samantha Saeger in the Sprint, finished 37th in the final; Sandra Zurcher in the Middle, finished 45th in the final; and Samantha Saeger in the Long, finished 42nd in the final.
So today was certainly an excellent start.

Peter Gagarin

Alison's AttackPoint log for the day:
http://www.attackpoint.org/viewlog.jsp/user_2942/period-1/enddate-2010-08-08

Samantha's AP log for the day:
http://www.attackpoint.org/viewlog.jsp/user_369/period-1/enddate-2010-08-08

August 9 -- The Middle Qualifier

Today's event was the Middle qualifier, with the same format as yesterday's Sprint qualifier -- three heats, top 15 in each heat go on to the final (which will be Saturday).

As I mentioned yesterday, qualifying is tough. And the bottom line today was a couple of close calls, plus another run that was good for much of the way, but in the end the bottom line was that no one qualified. (At least our neighbors to the north had one qualifier, Louise Oram, the North American champ in Middle distance, and she ran great today. Yesterday the Canadians had been shut out.)

Closest today was Pavlina Brautigam, with what seemed to be a very solid run, just not quite fast enough, and she finished in 16th. Frustrating to be so close, but on the other hand much better to be close than farther back. Eric Bone also had a good run, 20th place but only 1:22 out of qualifying. I think this is the closest he has come. And then the third one that was close was Alison Crocker. Two-thirds of the way through the course she was in 10th place, but then one really bad control on a hillside and 6 minutes lost cost her any chance of qualifying. Still, it was another "almost."

The others competing today, Eddie Bergeron, Erin Nielsen, and Nikolay Nachev) all had respectable runs, just not quite up to the high standard necessary. For what it's worth, in head-to-head matches against the Canadians, yesterday we were 2-3, today we were 4-2.

And for today's link to what our athletes are experiencing, here's Eric Bone's entry for today in his AttackPoint log:
http://www.attackpoint.org/viewlog.jsp/user_17/period-1/enddate-2010-08-09

On the schedule for tomorrow is the Long qualifier. Running for the USA will be Sandra Zurcher, Samantha Saeger, and Erin Nielsen for the women, and Eric Bone, Matt Scott, and Ross Smith for the men. First start is at 4pm Norwegian time (10 am EDT, 7 am PDT).

Also on the schedule is Day 1 of the World Trail-O Championships. Competing for the USA are Sharon Crawford, Joe Brautigam, and Michael Poulsen in the open class, and Glen Cafferty and David Irving in the paralympic class.

Good luck to all of them.

Peter

Two corrections to how we've done in the individual events since 2003 – in 2003 Brian May qualified in the Middle; in 2007 Sandra Zurcher qualifed in the Sprint, not the Middle. So the corrected list is:
  • In 2003 in Switzerland, one qualifier, Brian May in the Middle, finished 43rd in the final.
  • In 2004 in Sweden, one qualifier, Brian May in the Sprint, finished 41st in the final.
  • In 2005 in Japan, one qualifier, Erin (Olafsen) Nielsen in the Middle, finished 43rd in the final.
  • In 2006 in Denmark, two qualifiers, Samantha Saeger and Hillary Saeger in the Sprint, Sam finished 29th and Hillary 42nd in the final.
  • In 2007 in Ukraine, one qualifier, Sandra Zurcher in the Sprint, finished 42nd in the final.
  • In 2008 in the Czech Republic, no qualifiers.
  • In 2009 in Hungary, three qualifiers, Samantha Saeger in the Sprint, finished 37th in the final; Sandra Zurcher in the Middle, finished 45th in the final; and Samantha Saeger in the Long, finished 42nd in the final.

August 10 -- The Long Qualifier (and WTOC)

Today was the third and last of the qualifying races, this one for the Long. The usual rules, you had to be in the top 15 to qualify. The usual situation, you had to run fast, no make that really fast, and navigate well, no make that really well. There is no such thing at the WOC of getting by on being just a good runner or just a good navigator. Everyone is extremely good at both.

In addition, it should be added that both the running and the navigating are very demanding. The running is tough going, lots of marshes and lots of areas with heavy ground vegetation. It requires a lot of strength (physical and mental) to keep moving quickly. And the orienteering is demanding too, as a look at the maps will make very evident.

So it took a lot of skill and a lot of guts, and so the results were even more satisfying, two more Team members qualifying (Samantha Saeger and Sandra Zurcher), and several other good runs even though not good enough to qualify. Eric Bone and Matt Scott in particular both had very good runs, but just not as fast as needed.

Samantha finished 9th and Sandra 14th; congratulations to both. If you look at the splits, Samantha was 15th more than halfway through her course, but then placed 7th, 7th, 10th, 9th, and 10th on the remaining legs. She has trained really hard, and the payoff was today, running really strong at the end.

They now have a day off before the Long final on Thursday. Sandra will be starting at 1308 local time (7:08 am EDT, 4:08 am PDT) and Samantha at 1340 (7:40 am EDT, 4:40 am). Good luck to both of them.

So that makes four finals for this WOC, the best we have ever done. Good for them. And also, good for all of you who one way or another have supported the Team, whether with words of encouragement, or a contribution, or in whatever way. It all makes a difference.

The rest of the schedule for WOC is the Middle final on Saturday (where the only North American qualifier is Louise Oram from Canada), and then the last event, the Relay on Sunday.

Meanwhile, at the World Trail-O Champs (WTOC), today was the first of two days of competition, with the results based on the total scores of the two days. After the first day Joe Brautigam is 5th, Michael Poulsen 31st, and Sharon Crawford 42nd in the Open class; David Irving is 23rd and Glen Cafferty 40th in the Paralympic class. Day 2 is Thursday; good luck to all of them.

And for today's link to what our athletes are experiencing, here's Erin Nielsen's entry for today in her AttackPoint log. Yes, it wasn't a great day, and yes, she punched the wrong control, but she still did a lot better orienteering than she gives herself credit for (sometimes we are our own worst critics). Her running time was 62 minutes, 55 was needed to qualify. On another day she would have been there.

http://www.attackpoint.org/viewlog.jsp/user_334/period-1/enddate-2010-08-10

Peter

August 11 -- Rest Day

There were no WOC or WTOC races today (though there was a public event, a sprint in the middle of Trondheim, and the city was full of controls and orienteers -- just think if we could do that in a city in this country!).

I thought it would be interesting to continue with comments from our athletes, as these give a sense of what is happening that is more than what you get by just looking at maps and results.

The first is from Sandra Zurcher, reporting on her run in yesterday's Long qualifier, where she finished 14th and qualified for tomorrow's final --

"Wahoo! This was the race I have always wanted to run at WOC. Eight years of working at this and today was one of those days where you see proof that the work is paying off. :-)

"I basically felt really confident and calm before the start. I was actually a little worried that I was not nervous enough. The only thing bothering me was (is) my right butt region which has decided to stiffen up so much that it's pushing on a nerve. That was hurting a lot during my warm-up and I was a little concerned that it would be a problem during the race. I kept rolling on my Nalgene bottle, so that was helping.

"My plan was to run at a speed that I could navigate cleaning and no faster, because I was very confident that that would be a good enough strategy to be happy with my race in the end. I was running strongly, pushing the pace, but patiently, looking for what I wanted to see and making sure to see it. So, yeah, I spiked every control, but that doesn't mean I didn't have any time loss out there. I certainly took the longer route choice on my long leg to 8, looking at it now, I am pretty sure I lost about 2 minutes there, but I haven't looked at the splits yet (too busy). I also got off my compass to number 5 and took a zig-zaggy route to it, so maybe about 1 minute there?

"Overall, I just couldn't stop smiling all evening and I am still smiling now. I am really looking forward to the final. The terrain is so beautiful here."

Here are her routes from the race:
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_93aH6irRG74/TGLmuapJv6I/AAAAAAAAAIg/kixlH-wwnd4/s1600/IMG_0986.JPG

The second is from Eddie Bergeron. Eddie has been one of our very best orienteers for a long time and a member of several WOC teams. He's also just an outstanding person. He ran in the sprint qualification on Sunday and the Middle qualification on Monday. His comments --

"The orienteering has actually been going very well, except for that first control of the sprint. Wall of spectators, couldn't see the trail I needed to take (through the spectators), thought I was on the correct one and couldn't relocate. Just wasn't using all the available information. My middle race went very well. A pretty clean run. Public races since then have also been just fine. Yesterday's 6.2 km course was in some really really sweet terrain -- same area as the middle qualifier but without the green section to start off. I was actually navigating pretty well throughout both of the training weeks. I think we all came over with the expectation that the unfamiliar terrain would eat us all alive, and that hasn't been the case. It's definitely tough -- physical and very technical, but it's not impossible to do. And in races without the pressure -- non-WOC races :) -- it's a real pleasure.

"It's a little hard for us guys, since the women are showing us up. Ross and I in particular are feeling a little down about underperforming. I'm just trying to soak it all in and enjoy it, since I think this will be my last year as a WOC athlete. I've had a good run and I don't think I can add any more value in this department. Time to start pushing the younger ones along.

"I really took it all in during the middle qualifier. We had extra time at the pre-start so I took lots of photos and joked around with the other guys getting ready. Had a nice run around the warm-up course, and had a big smile on my face at the start just thinking about where I was standing. Almost at the pinnacle of the sport. It was really kind of magical, and that made me feel really relaxed. So the middle race came off very well, and at the end I just stood around in the finish zone in the sun and ate it all up. All the top names in the sport right there with me. It was really something. Talked to Linda and Nikolay about it. Nikolay wasn't really happy with his run, so I told him to just look around at where we were standing. Thierry just over there getting his post-race interview. Some kid asked me for an autograph right after I downloaded. Same thing happened to Eric and you could just see how happy it made him (Eric). A little thing like that makes your whole day."

Eddie, as I said, is a class act. It is really really hard to qualify on the men's side, but the guys are getting closer. And I'd guess that at the same time that they may be thinking that the women are showing them up, they are also thinking how cool it is that the women are doing so well.

The men's turn will come.

And a reminder -- on tomorrow's schedule is the Long final with Samantha Saeger and Sandra Zurcher running for the USA, and also the second and final day of the Trail-O Champs. Good luck to our Team members in both events!

Peter

PS. And one more thing to add, this just received from Eddie, a little bit about life when you're not racing --

"It's about midnight here in Trondheim on the rest day before the Long final. Most of us ran the public race today, which was a sprint around the fortress where the Sprint final was held. Tom Hollowell was there -- I got a photo of him running below the fortress wall while we were exploring the TV control sites from the final. Then a few of us took a boat out to a small island with a fort on it and Ali and Nikolay went for a swim in the fjord. Erin, Sam, Sandra, and Ross went to lunch and shopping downtown. Eric went to the gym to swim and work out. Pavlina and Joe wandered around on their own. Matt spent the afternoon with his girlfriend (Lara Prince, NZL team, qualified for the Long final tomorrow), taking her nieces around the string-O course.

"I had dinner with Sam and Ross at the hotel and now I'm doing some map drafting for QOC in the lobby (the only place with table space where I can use a mouse - the rooms are *really* cramped and full of smelly O-kit). Next to every door in this huge hi-rise hotel is a pile of wet O-shoes and smelly clothes. We all got a memo from the hotel today that we have to remove all clothes from the hallways. Fire marshal must be after them. I have no idea where we are going to put this stuff. We are basically walking on top of each other as it is. The hotel is nice though and the food, while expensive, is good.

"Ross, Ali, Matt, and Nikolay are in a lounge area around the corner playing 'liars dice' with Neil Dobbs and some of the other Irish team members. Neil is moving to NY in September for a year-long job with IBM I think. He'll be living right near Ellen Stibler near Blue Mountain.

"Pavlina is up in her room Skype-ing with Bulgarians. Linda is probably reading or asleep by now. Eric is working on his computer as usual. We have to drag him out kicking and screaming to get some recreation. Sam, Sandra, and Erin went to bed early. *Somebody* has to race tomorrow.  :)"

-- Eddie

August 12 -- The Long Final

Just a short report for now on a day full of excitement.

First off this morning was the second day of the Trail O' Champs, and it was a good day for this year's star, Joe Brautigam, though I know he had his hopes set higher. Joe was 5th after the first day, getting 21 of 22 controls correct. Today was a harder course (as I gather is common for the second day), and he got 19 of 22 correct, ended up overall in 11th place (one more correct would have put him in 6th, 2 more in 4th). Also in the Open class, Michael Poulsen finished 43rd and Sharon Crawford 46th. As a team, they finished 12th of 14 teams. In the Paralympic class, David Irving was 24th and Glen Cafferty was 36th.

Next on the agenda was the Long final, with the women running first. The course was 9.9 km with lots of hills, rough vegetation, and difficult orienteering, and the winner was Simone Niggli from Switzerland, winning her 17th World Championships gold medal. The USA had two starters in the final. First off was Sandra Zurcher, and while her run in the Long qualifier had been rock solid, anyone who has orienteered much knows that every day is a new day, and that orienteering at times can be a humbling sport. Sandra got off her planned route to the second control and took a while to recover. After that she did well – not easy, as anyone who has ever had a bad start knows, good for her for hanging in there -- and finished 44th.

Our other finalist was Samantha Saeger and today was her day to shine. She ran well the whole way, just a couple little bobbles, and ended up in 29th place. To people thinking that you are only any good if you win a medal, well, you should understand that, given the status of orienteering in this country compared to in Europe, finishing 29th in a World Championship final is just awesome. Bravo, Samantha. This matches her 29th at the Sprint in Denmark in 2006, but this was on a much tougher course. She trains very hard and is getting better and better.

A side note – for those of you who may not know, when she is not running up and down hills through thick vegetation and marshes, Samantha is a very talented second-grade teacher. She also spends a lot of time coaching juniors and is a member of the Board of Directors of the New England Orienteering Club. A real credit to our sport.

In the men's Long final no North Americans qualified. The race was won by Olav Lundanes of Norway.

I'll try to add some comments from the Team later.

Peter

P.S. Our federation has put together a Strategic Plan, and it addresses the goals for the Team, one of which is --

"By 2012, the Senior Team women should have three individual event finalists (this could be the same person). One finalist should be in the top 30."

Congratulations to the women for being two years ahead of schedule.

The Strategic Plan also says --

"SENIOR TEAM
Strategy: The Senior Team will be perceived by the U.S. orienteering community as the pinnacle of the sport in the U.S..
  • As the Orienteering USA-sanctioned and supported competitive orienteering squad, it is critical that the US Team generate exemplary results and receive due acknowledgment and respect from within and outside the orienteering community.
  • Achieving this goal hinges on (a) performance and (b) publicity. It will require generating great results and promoting those results effectively to the orienteering community, non-orienteering community, and current/potential sponsors and donors."
As the Team works as hard as it can to produce great results, please help as much as you can with spreading the word.

August 13 -- Rest Day (IOF General Assembly)

Friday is another "rest day," meaning that there are no races scheduled, but athletes are still training and preparing for the final events this weekend -- the Middle final on Saturday and the Relay on Sunday.

We had no qualifiers in the Middle, though I'm sure we will be rooting for Louise Oram from Canada, who ran an excellent qualifying race to make the final.

So our next event is the relay on Sunday. Teams are 3 runners, both in the men's and the women's races. Our men's team will be Ross Smith, Matt Scott, and Eric Bone. Our women's team will be Samantha Saeger, Alison Crocker, and Sandra Zurcher.

Start sending them all lots of positive thoughts!  :-)

August 14 -- Middle Final

With no U.S. runners in the final, here instead are a couple of athlete reports from yesterday, one very short, one a little longer.

The first is from Joe Brautigam, 11th in the Trail-O Champs, our top performance. By comparison, he was 19th in 2009 when the event was in Hungary.

"I was a bit disappointed on day 1, but much more so after today. I waffled a bit on 3 of the 4 I got wrong. Initially I correctly identified the flag, but convinced myself it was another one, sucks!

"Also, It was much more competitive than last year. If you look at day 1 results there were 30 people who had a chance at winning. Last year there were more questionable controls and the results were spread out. Overall it was definitely a better result than last year and I am happy about that, but I can do better."

Joe is right, it was a very good result and he should be happy, but he understands maps and he can do better. And will.

Results and maps from the Trail-O are at:
http://live.woc2010.com/wtoc/

The second is from Samantha Saeger, 29th in the Long final. She wrote the following report on her AttackPoint log. I've added links to her route as shown by the GPS transmitter she was carrying. The route is in 7 parts because only so much would fit on the screen at one time. Note that in a couple of places, most notably on the first part of the leg to #2, the GPS track somewhat hides the view of the trail she is running on.

"I have to admit, it was quite a surprise to end up in 29th place! The race was solid, but it didn't feel especially fluid when I was running it. I think, though, that it's just how this terrain makes you feel. Last year when I ran the long distance final I was really hurting. I was running as hard as I could the whole way and felt exhausted. This year I was certainly tired, but I didn't have the same feeling of exhaustion. It was hard, for sure, but I never opened up and ran hard. I suppose others didn't either :) I saw lots and lots of people out there, but really felt like I was running my own race. Some people I caught, but most caught me. The butterfly loop area was especially packed with people running everywhere.

http://www.petergagarin.org/misc/sam-1.jpg

"From the beginning :) I ran to the start triangle trying to find the start and then realized I had my map orientated upside-down :) Fixed that and followed the ski trail into the semi open - no problem.

"I then wanted to go north to the trail by the lake, but I had trouble following my compass north and ended up not hitting the trail until just before it crosses the ski trail. I spent way too much time bashing my way through the woods and  wondering where in the world the trail was - and worrying that somehow I had crossed this dirt road without realizing it. But I could see the lake, so I knew that it must be somewhere in front of me. I decided to take a straight route that brought me to the semi-open area southeast of the control. I was aware that this might lead to extra climb, but I was willing to do it to stay on the trails longer and know where I was. I made one small mistake by turning north on the ride that runs through the marsh, thinking that I was already in the open area, but after about 20 strides I realized it and turned around. Then I went through the rough open and cut out by the stream. I went though the flat area and then climbed and looked for the field. Once in the field the control was obvious.

http://www.petergagarin.org/misc/sam-2.jpg

"The trail was so tempting out of 2 so I followed that until I was due west of #3, where the trail went into the open marsh. Just after I cut in off the trail, I saw the girl who started ahead of me heading back to the trail, probably to relocate. I unfortunately didn't see the marsh or the open area on the way to 3. I hit the steep hillside and couldn't see the reentrant. I was standing next to what I thought was a cliff and I found a matching cliff on the map, just south of the control. I cut up and over the nose next to me and there was my control! So the cliff I was standing at was not on the map, but I luckily turned the right way.

"I ran the contours through the reentrants on the way to 4 and then got into the semi open area. I knew I had to run to the hill and then go into the green on the east side. When I didn't notice was that there were two hill tops. So I ran to the east side of the first one and couldn't find anything. I cut back into the semi-open and noticed the second hill. Ran into the green next to this hill and found the control.

"I stopped to drink and plan the next leg and I saw straight and right. I decided to go right, but I didn't want to go straight out to the trail as it would mean running left and then right of the line, which I thought was too zig-zaggy. Instead I went south through the swamps.

http://www.petergagarin.org/misc/sam-3.jpg

"After crossing the dirt road though I should have cut more east to the small trail. Instead I ran through the light green crap next to the lake and only came out to the trail at the end of the lake. I lost a lot of time doing that - I think my route was quite good if I only got on the small trail in the beginning. From there it was easy to follow the trail, and then semi-open area to the control.

"6 was straightforward and there was a nice beaten down trail towards 7. Plus, the camera was sitting there :)

http://www.petergagarin.org/misc/sam-4.jpg

"Then my big mistake :( I had a plan on how to get close to 8 using the swamps, but I just couldn't make enough sense of the map around the control. I got confused along the way in the swamps. I was further north than I thought in the beginning and lost my way a bit. Luckily, I hit the trail junction about 2/3 of the way through the leg. I followed the trail into the open marsh and then cut into the woods. I was again further north than I thought. I expected to go down into a steep reentrant, but I didn't. Then I expected to climb and go into a more shallow reentrant, but I didn't. I haven't see my gps tracking, but I think I was just further north, where everything is flatter. I found a narrow reentrant, with a row of cliffs along the east side, and thought that maybe I was south of the control. I think I was actually in the reentrant just in the circle of my #13 (I ran the right/southern wing first). Because I then decided to run uphill to relocate and I bumped into 13. I was very excited to see the control because although it wasn't the one I was currently searching for, I knew I could use it to relocate. So I established I was at 13, but still couldn't figure out how to get to 8. I just couldn't understand the contours in that area. I ran along the hillside, but got too low, dragged down by the reentrant and more open woods. Standing there in the semi-open field I heard people coming and it was the Belgian girl I lost on the way to 5 and a French runner. They also were hesitating, but I figured they were probably sort of on the right line. I cut up the hillside there and, after going up a bit, could see the cliff. Very frustrating control.

"9 was straightforward. The woods were more open so running on a rough compass and looking for the reentrant worked fine. At this point the Lativan runner who started 4 minutes behind me caught up and we ran the rest of the butterfly loop together.

"10 I caught the trail at the end which led very close to the control.

"11 just made sense again, running along the contours and then I cut up the reentrant, as you could even see the control from the bottom. Here I didn't stop to drink, as my right shoe had managed to come untaped and then untied (even though I triple knotted it!) I punched and then had to stop to tie my shoe, which is not what you want to be doing during this race! I didn't lost any time to the other runner, as she stopped to drink.

http://www.petergagarin.org/misc/sam-5.jpg

"Then back to the evil control :) I hit the rough open area, cut up hill a bit, saw the small huts and hit the trail in the reentrant. Then I went to the top of the spur, but stayed too high. I passed over the top of the control and was heading toward 13 when I saw two Swiss girls - Caroline and Vroni - running towards me. Oops! I realized that I had overrun the control and turned around to go back to it.

"I had already been to 13 and ran ahead of the pack. I went straight to 14, over the first hill, although I've since heard that many ran around it. I cut through the slashy open and Vroni and Eva appeared to my right and we all cut into the woods to the control. Then I was behind all 3 runners, down the spur, back to the drink control. Vroni still had another loop so it was Eva, the Latvian, Aija, and I who headed out to the slashy open to get 16.

"I headed out of the control before the other two and ran through the swamp and out to the road.

http://www.petergagarin.org/misc/sam-6.jpg

"I crossed the road and started through the semi-open. I heard runners below me and saw Eva and Aija crossing the road to my left. I had decided to run mostly straight to the control, as it didn't look like that much extra climb. I cut over to the rough open and ran down the trail to the first settlement. There I cut up the steep hill and there was taping to keep you out of people's yards. I then ran up the road and into the field. I should have run the road and then along the edge of the field. I cut into the middle of the field and had trouble finding the marked route through the out of bounds area. I saw the two pieces of tape going along the edge of the field and then into the woods to make the corridor, but to me it looked like one piece. I ran to the northern end of the field, close to where one piece of taping ended, but knew I wasn't in the right part of the field. When I looked back at the tapes from that angle, I could tell that it was two pieces of tape, not one blocking off that section of woods like I had thought before. I had to cut back up through the field. Then I hit the ski trail and ran to the top of the hill where the two trails intersected and cut down into the woods.

"We were warned about a dangerous cliff near the arena what would be streamered but I didn't see this cliff on the map. Even now when I look at the map the circle is covering the cliff. I ran right at the cliff and hit a part that wasn't streamered but way too steep to get down. I ran right along the top of it looking for a way down a pausing to consider various parts, to see if I could get down without dying. I lost about 40 seconds here, as Aija caught back up to me and she also had trouble getting down. We then cut basically straight down the hill to 18.

http://www.petergagarin.org/misc/sam-7.jpg

"In the spectator area I took a drink, but I was really thirsty as I had not stopped to drink since #5. Linda offered to pour a water bottle over my head, but I asked to drink it instead :) I ran through and grabbed my map, a bit disappointed that I had not caught and passed anyone at this point. I ran out behind Aija and we went right up the ski jump. The taping forced us into the woods about 3/4 of the way up and we did the rest of the climb in the blueberry bushes. It's not until now that I see the trail that goes from the bottom to the control and was about a whole minute faster.

"The last loop flew by - pretty simple controls. It was nice having people in front of me coming into the arena to the last control. And then the finish!"

Well done, Samantha. And in a way, good to see that you could have been faster, there are even better results in the future.

And here's a photo by Eddie Bergeron of Samantha signing autographs...
http://www.catchingfeatures.com/eddie/woc10/long_final/IMG_2169_small.jpg

Peter

August 15 -- The Relay

Last event of WOC 2010, the relay.

A day with a couple of outstanding runs, but at the end, what can you say, it was not quite what it could have been, or what we had hoped.

For the women, a brilliant run by Samantha Saeger -- 7th place after leg 1, just 2 minutes behind. And then another excellent run by Alison Crocker -- dropped down a little but not much, now 12th, holding our own with teams that have always been a lot better. And then, well, Sandra Zurcher did OK but not clean, a couple of what looked on the GPS tracks like 2-3 minute misses, and the final result was 19th out of 28 teams. As I said, not quite what it could have been, 6 teams finished in the two minutes ahead of us, oh so close to a fantastic result.

http://live.woc2010.com/lists/relay/results/result-list-relay-w.html

For the men, more of a struggle. Ross Smith ran first, OK but a couple of misses and not as good as he's done before. Matt Scott was next, OK run but also a couple of misses. And then Eric Bone, same for him, OK run but a couple of misses. The final result was 28th out of 30, not far behind a bunch of teams, certainly a better performance than the place would indicate, but still, you need clean runs to run well in a relay and today was not that day.

http://live.woc2010.com/lists/relay/results/result-list-relay-m.html

We are not that far from doing a lot better, but you need to have everything go right....

I'll try and send more later.

Peter