17 August 2009

Busy summer

It's been a long time since I got some time off. The busy period started from the end of June with the one week long pre-JWOC camp. For me, those trainings were the first time on JWOC relevant terrains, so I made the best of what we got.

The competition week started with the sprint, which definitely was not my goal, but with a solid flawless race I knew I could make it to the top 10. My goal still remained the same: to get the engine running for the long distance. I liked the idea of the course being very hard to follow between the narrow tricky streets. On those parts I managed well and was even competing for my predicted position, but on a long leg in the end I misread a spot and thought that i couldn't get through from where I had first planned to go. Having changed my previous plan very quickly, I ran into a wrong street (which was not actually a street) and got very confused... After some adventures, I started running the last loop in the wrong direction and that was that. 65th place in the end. But what concerned me more, were my stiff feet, which didn't allow very quick movements.
Sprint splits, map.

Then the day I had been waiting for... Right from the morning I felt great! Had I achieved this years top shape? The warm-up was modest - a tough course was ahead. I took a bit more secure approaches in the beginning as this was the first run with a 1:15000 scale map. After a great hit off, I added speed and combined the map reading and running perfectly. I had never felt this good this season! It felt great when I had the option to add speed to the already fast running! The first minor mistakes too place after the long leg, where I didn't quite hit the flags as I expected, but I continued to have a solid race. The butterfly was easy and then the climbing started. I didn't have much against the strong hill runners, so I just had to make a clean race. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. I missed a control in an area, where i had already been, cause I didn't see the re-entrant where the control stood. Right after that, I kind of wanted to make up for the loss and climbed up quickly to the next control. Before entering the control area, I stopped for a sec to make sure of my position, which I wasn't. Out of stupidity, I guess, I didn't realise I had to cross the first ditch, instead of starting to look for the hill where the control was. Those were the decisive mistakes. After the spectator control, I was just so tired of the climbing and lost quite a lot to the leaders there. I even walked a part of the climb to the last control. My goal was a medal, which was very close, but since a stupid mistake like that, i can't be very satisfied. Nor am I very sad, but it still doesn't feel good to be the first without a medal.
splits, map.

Photo: looks like running, but really isn't

The next days were tough. The muscles on my feet ached for three days after I had given almost everything on the long distance. So the middle distance races were somewhat more difficult. But most of the loss was still gathered from mistakes. In the qualification I made one bad routechoise, but otherwise a solid race and finished exactly where I w
anted (between 3rd-5th place). In the final, the technical side started failing already from the beginning. There were only few controls that I passed perfectly. The race was awarded by the same position as last year - 17th.
Middle fina
l splits, map.

On the relay I felt better than on the middle or sprint. I was running the 2nd leg, with Kristo on the 1st and Henrik on the 3rd. Kristo was tired and lost a lot in the second part, so I started well behind (23rd, +4:20) with a lot of catching up to do. In the first part, I made quite a clean race and catught a group that I was able to pass by making a clever rout
e choice. Unfortunately I lost that gap with a slope control (~45-60 second mistake) before the second spectator control. With a long spurt, I kept the lead on that group and finished 10th, with 6:06 behind. The 6th time on the second leg, but only 14 seconds behind the 2nd time. I am satisfied, considering I wasn't fighting for medals. Henrik lost 4 places and a lot of time, so overall 14th place.
Relay results, map lap 1, lap 2.

This JWOC showed me that I can concentrate on my main goals and achieve the best shape when needed. JWOC 2010, watch out!

Photo: On top of the world

15 June 2009


A week before Jukola, I and Kristo began our last camp before JWOC. The camp proved to be great and now it's just the last finishing touch on the shape. We both were to run the first leg at Jukola, which I wasn't especially excited about.
I knew that this Jukola required more physical strength than good map reading and that's what I was worried about. Seeing the first leg after the start, I was disappointed - why would the first control have to be that easy to take? And consist only of 4km of running on roads and paths? And no forking? Anyway, my muscles were sore already before the first control, because of the camp. I took my own choices and went totally around from the left. I don't know if this route was faster or slower for me, but I when I split with the ones going straight, I was running with Kristo and in the control I was 9 seconds ahead of him. The controls 2 - 7 were the most exciting part of the course and also the best for me. After that the course required more running, where I was quite helpless. I was walking uphill and was slow on the roads. I was surprised that my loss to the leaders after 8km was only 1 minute. They must have made mistakes. Then I made a small mistake with nr 120, where there seemed to be another small hill befere the one where the control is, but I didn't lose much. The last third of the course reminded me of the Nuorten Jukola races - simple controls with tracks and paths between.
I finished 50th, which was about what I imagined my place to be and sent Jaagup to to his duties. My injury-recovering brother made an OK race on the last leg and finished 100th.
I wanted a bit more difficult course than this, or at least more running in the forest. But it seemed that the other longer legs did have that.
Map, team results

Photo: Jukola start (from Jukola official gallery)

Next big event: JWOC

2x Baltic Champion!

This year there were more participants than before - teams from Saint Petersburg and Belarus were present too. This meant that the silver medalist from EYOC 2007, Yury Tambasau (I was 4th), was running my category. Dense forest and limited visibility made this technically demanding terrain very difficult. Additionally, the hot sunny weather didn't make it any easier. Though I heard that a lot of runners disliked the forest, I must say I liked it! Only some places with a lot of rootstocks and fallen trees were annoying. I was certain that no-one would make a flawless race, so anything was possible! The start was good, but before the seventh control I was a bit unsure of my heading and lost a bit of time and confidence there. I hadn't missed much on the first part of the course, but that's where the troubles started. To the 12th I ran on the wrong hill and lost about a minute. To the 13th I was very unconfident and had trouble with my direction. The last part of the course was the most difficult for me - I was feeling the heat getting to me and was clearly getting tired. My speed was notably decreasing and it was hard to focus. In the area of the 16th and 17th I couldn't link the map to the terrain and to the 18 I lost half a minute on running and another half a minute by entering the dark green before the control. To the 19th I should have run on the border of the green area, but instead tilted too much to the right. I pushed hard in the last controls and won with mere 10 seconds ahead of Yury Tambasau. 3rd place to my teammate Kristo.
Map, with my and Kristo's route.
Results, splitsbrowser (M20E)
Relay followed on the next day. Kristo was running the first leg, then I and Henrik Berg the anchor leg. Henrik didn't quite succeed the first day, but our plan was to gain a maximum lead for Henrik and then let him make a solid performance to keep the lead. Kristo had his ups and downs and came out fourth, very close to the leader. I was unconfide
nt on the first part of the course and did some mistakes. The second part of the course was technically very easy and called for fast legs (which I didn't have at that moment). The last loop was my enemy on this course. On the way to the 14th my direction was altered by a lot of fallen trees and rootstocks so I was very unsure where I crossed the watercourse. I thought I was on the southern big spur and continued heading north. After realizing where I was, I was mad that I didn't see the control when I was very close to it. Henrik left with a 3 minute lead ahead of our second team. He kept his head cool and kept the lead. Unfortunately our second team lost to the Latvian team and placed 3rd.
Results (M20E), map
with my and Kristo's route.
The weekend was physically difficult, but I'm very happy receiving two gold medals, especially after last year's fiasco on the long distance.

18 May 2009

First champs

After being a bit ill from a virus about three weeks ago, I've put a lot of effort in gaining speed. In none of the last 8 running/orienteering competitions have I felt lightness in my feet - they're just stiff. The lack of running in Winter (since of the injury) has definitely altered my running shape. But I have confidence in achieving my top condition for JWOC.

Last weekend offered this years first Estonian Championships - middle and relay. Notably, the battle for the medals took place on Latvian ground, right near Riga.
The medalists for our class were quite obvious already before the start, only the order was unclear. I felt great when warming up and hoped that maybe I could experience the long-awaited "aeroplane feeling". After the first controls, it was certain, that this was not going to happen that day. The terrain was very similar to the Latvian middle distance Champs two years ago. That meant fast running and quite detailed contours. Every second counted and I couldn't allow myself any mistakes. Started rather carefully and kept on going as fast as I could til the finish. Since I felt myself moving slowly, the complex terrain didn't play any tricks on me and I managed to make quite a clean race, unlike my opponents (see Kristo's map below). Later it turned out, that I had the fastest time per km in all the classes, but I'm certain that I didn't have the fastest pace of all.
Map, Kristo's map, splitsbrowser (M20)

Since Timo isn't capable of running, this years team consisted of Jaagup, me and Markus. Although Olle Kärner had finished 3 minutes before the group, the fight for the silver and bronze was tight. Jaagup made a great race and finished 5th, 18 seconds behind the 2nd. I caught our opponents in the first control and managed to quickly gain a gap ahead of them. With two notable mistakes (7th, 14th), the lead ahead of the third in the finish was 1:30. But the gold medal was twice as unreachable as it was after the first leg, with more than 6 minutes ahead. Markus just had to make a clean race to maintain our position. Unfortunately, his technical performance wasn't that great and Kenny Kivikas caught him right after the spectators control. The fight was very tight and lasted until the finish line, where Markus outran Kenny and we got the silver medal! The loss to the winners was 6:59.
Map, Markus' map, results

Photo: Jaagup, Markus and me with medals

Next event: Baltic Champs

20 April 2009


I hadn't run the first leg at 10MILA or Jukola before, so this year offered something new. Although I consider myself to be an individual runner and prefer any "work shift" (middle legs), the past results have shown that I'm quite universal on any leg.
Photo: me (116) captured in the start
I had no expectations before the start and just tried to focus on my own race. In the beginning, it was impossible to get the rhythm since the ones in front were blocking and the ones behind were pushing, especially in the green. But after a few kilometers, it was much easier to set my own pace. Despite one mistake, I was 23rd in the spectator control. In the next radio control (no. 163) I had reached already 6th position (I didn't know it at the time). But then there was forking. When almost everyone that I saw had control 50, I had 162. To the next, I took the safe way and ran out to the road, which wasn't so easy because of really dense undergrowth. When heading into the forest again, I saw a lot of headlamps heading to control 147 and continued my route to 126. I was surprised that so many people had 147 and I was completely alone in my own forking. Fighting through the greens, I reached the finish.
I was asked if I made mistakes in the end - no I didn't! Only then I got to know that I had fallen from 6th to 46th and lost 3 minutes! Later I checked and discovered that no-one who finished before me, had that forking! I was a bit disappointed. It would have been great to finish among the leaders!
After me, my brother didn't run very well, but got us one place higher. After him, we started slowly falling behind, but managed to stay in the top 100. So the overall place was 98th.

13 April 2009


A week ago I made the first official start this season. The competition "Kurzemes Pavasaris" took place in a nice and snow-free forest (unlike at home at the time) in Southern-Latvia.
The middle distance on the first day offered a great deal of short and quick controls, but also required quite a lot of confidence in the trickiest parts. My performance had its ups and downs. Before the 3rd control, I didn't reach the big path where I thought I did and didn't quite understand the situation. While i
n the 8th I just didn't see the flag at first and started having doubts about being in the right re-entrant. In the end, especially to the 20th I probably wasn't thinking straight anymore and made rash decisions. The results gave me some image of my shape so far, which I was uncertain of. Map, splitsbrowser (H20).
On the long distance, I was feeling more in charge of my race. This day, physical strength was more important as the course wasn't as complicated as the previous day. Other then the 4th control, I managed to make a solid race. Maybe the biggest weakness was not reading the map very far ahead and not planning enough. Map, splitsbrowser (H20).

The overall feeling was like in any other spring competition - like a slow diesel en
gine. This feeling has also been helped by the 1,5 months in winter when I couldn't run. It will be harder to get the speed up after such a break.

A week later, after a local night-o competition on Friday, I took part of this seasons first (day)competition in Estonia, "Peko Kevad". Since the juniors had registered themselves to the M21 class instead of the M20, it was just me and my clubmate who took part of both days of the event (two finns ran on the first day). Sad. Didn't really matter to me, the lack of opponents doesn't decrease my motivation, I still run the same.

The long distance on the first day went rather well and I lost only 2 sec/km to my brother, who's running the men's class. Routes, splitsbrowser (M20).

second day was even faster, but this time I made one bigger mistake and another smaller one. The area at the 6th control didn't seem right to me, the distances between features seemed off and there were many more small marshes because of the high water season. Lost a bit more than 1:30 there. Map, routes, splitsbrowser (M20).
I feel that my map-handling is OK right now, but the misses I've done could have been avoided easily. Also, my speed has been getting better and better with each fast excercise, that's a good sign.
Next event: 10Mila

Photo: Comeback?

3 April 2009

A superb ending to the preparation season

Photo: 2-man-relay start in Foresta Umbra

When I got the chance to go to a training camp in Italy with the Finnish team, I took it without hesitation. For eleven days, I had the pleasure of training with some of the best orienteers in the world. The people I met were great and so was the overall atmosphere! Besides the Finns, there were also Kalevan Rasti, the Czechs and a few Swedes who all cooporated in some of the trainigs.
The first part of the camp was held in the Gargano area by the Adriatic sea. Almost all the o-trainings (besides sprint) were
carried out in Foresta Umbra, which is a very nice and tricky terrain. I was a bit rusty with the map at first, but after a few days I started getting back the good ol' feeling. Already the first training was a difficult task - a course on a modified map. I didn't handle it very well, but maybe it was a bit too difficult for this years' first try with the map. I don't even want to show my route on that one, but just for the record, it wasn't a disaster.
Along with other interesting trainings, one was a
2-man-relay (3 loops each), where the other nations took part as well. I was teamed up with Jani Myllärinen and we both made satisfying races. So we finished 5th, 3:10 behind Thierry Gueorgiou & Hannu Airila, but only 1:10 after the 2nd place. Map, results.
Then s
print trainings came along. First, 2 distances in the historical old-town of Vico del Gargano. I must say that this was by far the most complicated sprint I have ever run. In the main part of the course, the streets were so narrow and tricky, that I was forced to make a lot of stops to clarify the situation. Anyway, this years' JWOC sprint might be as tricky as this one was, so I better start solving maze puzzles! Map of the second course.
The second sprint training was set on a beach terrain, which wasn't very pleasant. The thickets were just so bad that my pace on the warm up course reached about 18 min/km! The most annoying thing about the bushes was a plant that resembled barbed wire - I still have some scratches left from that training!
Map of the sprint.
Too bad we couldn't run the last long training in Foresta Umbra though -
it had snowed so much in one night that the terrain was unreachable by car! Would have been fun though!
Then we travelled to Fiuggi, close to Rome. We ran on a World Cup map (Altipiani di Arcinazzo), which besides height contours consisted mainly of yellow and green. Again, it was important to avoid those nasty bushes! The trainings went well and it seemed as if I had finally reached some kind of map-reading level again. But with no mistakes, came along one big mistake. On a mass start training, I screwed up 6 minutes in the second control. After that, everything went great. Well, OK, except for the time I was stuck in some rosebushes for 2 minutes.
Map of the mass start's last loop.
The last training was something very different from the previous trainings - an ultra long course in a park-like forest at ~1500 meters above sea level. The map was Monte Livata, also a World Cup terrain some years ago. 18,1 km course with 892 meters of climbing with the time of 2:26 in perf
ect weather was pure joy! The slopes were still snowy in the forest and on the northern slopes, but fortunately it had hardened enough to carry a runner. A perfect training for ending a great camp! Map of the second loop.

Photo: Terrain in Monte Livata
Thanks a lot to the finnish team for letting me tag along!

Tomorrow I will take part of my first competition this year - a two-day event in Southern-Latvia.

12 March 2009

Haanja Marathon

Picture: Me after 7 km

Last weekend, 932 participants took part of the classical skiing marathon (check last post), which was a record for this mass-start event. Last year my place was 106th and I intended to improve that place to about 40th. The course is quite narrow and hilly already from the beginning, but fortunately my number bib (64) gave me a position in the first group and I didn't have exceptional problems forcing my way past the slower ones. The tempo in the beginning was rather fast and I didn't want to fall too much behind either. After the first kilometers it was clear that my skis didn't glide as well as they were supposed to. While I was being passed going downhill, the sight was quite the opposite going uphill. So on the climbs of the first 10 km I was often passing skiers that I had already passed on the previous climb. The first 15 km were difficult, but then I could set my own sp
eed and I felt like a fresh man! Until 22nd km I had no idea which position I had. Then a spectator shouted that I was 19th! Unbelievable! On the next climb I passed two more opponents, but after that was a long even part which I wasn't looking forward to because of my bad gliding. Then I noticed that the other three men I was with, were getting either tired or my speed was to high for them, so I could get a small gap and go my own way. But there wasn't anybody close to catch, so the last 14 km I was alone. I finished 17th, which was better than I expected. My time was 2:01:21, +12:58 behind the winner (Priit Narusk). Results, heart rate and altitude.

Picture: Peeter Pihl having additional grip applied after 16 km

Tomorrow I'm heading to a training camp in Italy, Gargano. More about that when I come back.

25 February 2009

Recovering from my knee injury

In winter, skiing has always had a great part in my trainings, but never before have I skied so much. In fact, for one and a half month I've almost done nothing else than ski. This is sadly because I've had a knee injury since a training camp in January. The cause is presumed to be a lot of running on hard surfaces. So I had to lay off running for as long as the pain was gone. It wasn't easy giving up running, but fortunately I enjoy cross-country skiing very much too and this year the conditions for this winter sport have been great. I've also competed in five ski-orienteering competitions and there's at least two more to go. Four of the races have been Estonian Championships, where I've done quite well, considering that my ski-o trainings are the competitions themselves.
First, I won the 2008 middle distance in M18 by a minute, which of course was a big surprise.
Then, this years middle distance, where my biggest opponents were in the ski-o national team. I was 4th, which was also somewhat of a surprise, because there were some that should have beaten me without any problems.
The next day, M21 relay in a new format of competition. I don't know the name or explanation in English, maybe something like precision-ski-o. We had the same team as in the summer (me, Timo, Markus), b
ut in different order. Markus, who hadn't skied for years (although originally he was a skier in his youth), started off well and came in 4th, close to a medal. Timo didn't have to ski any penalty laps and with a solid race, we were 3rd. Then I started on the last leg. There was a big time gap in front and a smaller one after me. I had one penalty lap to ski, but I managed to keep our third place til the end. Results
The last event so far was the sprint this weekend. There was no M20 class, so I had to compete with the men. I was really satisfied with my race and I finished 7th, 1:14 behind the winner. Again there were some, who should have beaten me easily. This was maybe my best ski-o com
petition so far this year. Results, map:
Meanwhile, my foot has been getting better and better and Yesterday I tried to run again. It was pure joy and I've really missed it. Two hours passed with what felt like only half an hour! There was no pain, but it's not 100% healed and I'll still give the knee some more time to recover. So I'll continue with mostly skiing, but occasionally going for easy jogs. In 10 days will be perhaps the most important skiing start for me this winter - "Haanja Maraton", which is a 40 km classical skiing marathon. These are my "hometracks", since this is where I've mainly been skiing this winter.

Picture: me finishing in the sprint

Next post next time.

18 January 2009

Last seasons biggest mistakes

As physical preparations for the new season began already some time ago, it's time to look back at last seasons biggest and most idiotic mistakes.
Picture: Timo and Tõnis examining maps.

First I browsed through the maps and selected a bunch that contained a significant mistake. I came up with 15 mistakes on 11 races, so that some of the mistakes have occurred on the same course. After calculating the loss, I ranked them according to the loss in percentage.

The numbers indicate:
"best split"; "my split"; "loss in time"; "percentage compared to best split".
And here they are, counting backwards from #12 to #1:

Mistake #12: O-Ringen, Sweden. Stage 5, control 3.
9:20 10:29 +1:09 112 %
Good leg until after the last big swamp.
Position: 12 -> 14.

Mistake #11: Youth Jukola, Finland. 7th leg, control 5.
2:28 3:03 +0:35 124 %
It was hard to see the paths on the bare rock and I thought I was somewhere I really wasn't.

Mistake #10: JWOC, Sweden. Long distance, control 7/12.
9:51 12:30 +2:39 127 %
Two mistakes in one control, how about that? Probably my biggest weakness - approaching the control from above. I concentrated extra when closing in, but that didn't help. I came very close to the flag, but didn't see it. Finally I got it and tried to remember the place as I would have to take that control again after the loop. When back again, I was master of the situation, or not. This time even lost more than before.
Position: 1 -> 5.

Mistake #9: O-Ringen, Sweden. Stage 3, control 4.
7:36 11:44 +4:08 154 %
My biggest weakness again, so I was extra careful. All went perfect, I even ended up in my control. But then, I checked the wrong control description and I couldn't imagine on which side of my control I was, because I was certain in my location (which turned out to be correct afterall). This mistake is from a bit of another category, which includes mistakes that weren't caused by bad map reading.
Position: 3 -> 22.

Mistake #8: O-Ringen, Sweden. Stage 2, controls 4 & 5.
4:10 6:25 +2:15 154 %
I count this mistake as one, as they are consecutive and possibly linked. It was unusual for me to get distracted by another control. So I wondered around in the fourth for some time. Got it, ok, not that much time lost, nothing that bad. Everything under control again until I crossed the marsh. I ran downhill, but didn't notice that I had to climb up some meters again before I got to the lower marsh. More time lost there.
Position: 8 -> 47.

Mistake #7: Baltic Junior Cup, Sweden. Relay, control 4.
3:28 5:29 +2:01 158 %
Didn't see the highest point in the green which I wanted to use for navigating. The knoll was hard to see because of the 2,5m contour line.
Position: 1 -> 10.

Mistake #6: eGames, Finland. Control 11.
2:12 ~3:40 +1:28 167 %
Used the big road as a catching feature and beside it was a power line (for illuminating) and I immediately thought myself to be a bit to the left of the purple line. Looking straight ahead, the huge boulder was there too, unfortunately not the right one. After that it was one bafflement after another.
Position: 1 -> 1.

Mistake #5: Ilves 3, Estonia. Stage 1, control 6.
2:31 5:17 +2:46 210 %
Although being suspicious of my bearing all the way from the beginning, I thought myself to be heading in the correct direction. Found myself in somewhat of a parallel situation, although some things didn't add up.
Position: 1 -> 7.

Mistake #4: O-Ringen, Sweden. Stage 4, controls 10 & 12.
2:16 4:57 +2:41 218 %
As I knew I was bad in picking controls when descending, I approached carefully. Still missed two out of three.
Position: 4 -> 31.

Mistake #3: Baltic Championships, Lithuania. Long distance, control 3.
~2:45 7:19 ~+4:34 255 %
The terrain just didn't match with the map! Why? Well, maybe because I was in the wrong area to start with.
Position: not sure, but possibly 2 -> 5.

Mistake #2: JWOC, Sweden. Middle distance qual, control 7.
1:09 2:59 +1:50 259 %
I just didn't dare go down there.
Position: 4 -> 13.

Mistake #1: Baltic Championships, Lithuania. Long distance, control 18.
~2:19 8:29 ~+6:10 366 %
One can never be perfect in orienteering!
graph of Baltic championships (also relates to mistake #3).
Position: 3 -> 4.

The sum of these twelve mistakes is 30 minutes!
Now officially, my worst race last season was definitely the Baltic Championships Long distance. O-Ringen was a phenomenon - it was either a big mistake or no mistake at all. If the whole races would have been bad, I wouldn't have gotten the 2nd place overall.

I'll make my own conclusions and hope to learn from these mistakes, I hope everyone will. They say that smart people learn from their own mistakes, but clever people learn from other peoples' mistakes. I did these mistakes so that you won't have to!