19 November 2010

Next step

What have I been up to? Well, after the championships had ended, my resting period began. It was important to take some time off and take it easy for a while. Interestingly enough, my preparation season began with Baltic Junior Cup - this was the last notable competition in 20 class for me. Farewell children, welcome men! The event itself was very enjoyable and the terrains were terrific. I heard that the terrains get more interesting southwards and we were basically running in the northern tip. I'm definitely going back there! As for the races, the courses were fast and I wasn't. With the speed I had, I could have last for a long time, but I couldn't go any faster. And the forest, well, it favored fast runners. Tried to make a technically clean race, but the rusty skills didn't allow that. I was very glad that I even got a medal - bronze! The relay was even faster and I was even rustier, I did what I could on that day and that was it. This was a very memorable weekend!
Long distance map, results
Relay map, results
"He-he, all this for me!"
The next weekends offered some of the most fun events in the whole year. First, KoKu - a long team competition (duo/trio), using retro maps. The distances have always been quite long, this time it was said to have been the longest - 24 km, which took 3 hours for me, Kristo and Jaagup. As the team name was "The Sild Experience" (without Timo this year), Jaagup totally got the experience. We still won, as a lot of other teams experienced something similar to what Jaagup did. This day fit nicely to my training plan.
Map 1, map 2, map 3, map 4, map 5, results

The other great event was the 22nd Club Match between Turun Metsänkävijät, OK Võru and OK Meridiāns, in Latvia. The terrain was nice, something what I had't had for a while. While I enjoyed the running, I was rather sad that I wasn't very much able to take part in the social side of the event. It's difficult when there's so much going on at the same time in school. That's also the reason I haven't written here. But I was still glad that I found the time to be a part of the meeting once again! As for the results, this was already my 3rd Club Match individual victory, Mikko Knuuti is worried that I've won more than he has. Nevertheless, the finns have been unbeatable in relay, exactly like this year.
Individual map, results
Relay map, results
Team spirit! (individual race finish)

18 September 2010

Tyranny in the Estonian junior class

The series of Estonian Championships continued with the long distance and the youth relay. These were held in one of the most extraordinary terrains in Estonia, the same which was used earlier this year at Baltic Championships. I really like this forest and I was mentally and physically 100% ready for it. I handled the race pretty well, except for two longer legs - 8th and 12th. After crossing the marsh, I couldn't locate myself. The area was very distinct and I could imagine how it would look on the map, but I didn't see anything even similar to that. I decided just to carry on until the narrow ride, which was surprisingly difficult to notice in the forest. I got the control, but the uncertain running cost about a minute and quite a lot confidence. Pulled myself together and carried on fast, but safe, even too safe - a bad choice to the 12th. The narrow ride disappeared completely and the vegetation boundary wasn't clear at all. Should have gone a bit from the south, through the narrowest part in the green and would have been 1,5 minutes(!) faster. Everything went well until the first real mistake with a control - the 17th. The contour lines there are pretty vague and it's hard to use just bearing in this dense forest. But I didn't lose very much time comparing to the previous technical misses. I knew I was doing well and everyone would miss at least something on the course, but it was a very big surprise when the final results were out - I won with 10 minutes! Not bad, as some would say... Map, results.
The next day continued on the same ground, but probably to most difficult distance for me to get a gold medal on. Last year our team was somewhat lucky when we won. This year the exact same team was defending the title. Jüri did much better this year and came out third, only 3 minutes down to the lead, which wasn't much. The second leg runners mixed a lot of cards. Jonatan came out first and gave me a 2 minute lead. This was more than enough for a secure run and even increase the gap to 6 minutes... A joyous day! Now there was just one last medal before the end of the junior class - the ultra-long. Map, results.
Photo: Yes, I'm only using my arms
The next weekend was planned as just a training weekend at first, but then me and my brother decided to go run the Latvian Championships in middle distance and relay. I didn't change anything in the trainings though, I was still preparing for the ultra-long, which meant I was probably going to be rather tired and slow in Latvia, but that wasn't the goal anyway. It was a long drive, but the terrain was definitely worth it - the same spot was used for EOC 2008. It's one of candidates for "101 orienteering maps you should run on before you die". The first part of the elite course was the most fun part, pure enjoyment! If only the course was longer and went even more further to the north-east... With an average technical performance, I was rather just cruising between the controls and not exceeding human limits. The last part didn't go so well. Some misunderstanding on the way to the 16th cost a lot of time. I also took an alternate choice to the 18th, but the last marsh crossing ruined the chances. I don't know if it would have been a better choice if I started later and not second; I like to think that it would have. I must say that I was already afraid of the 20th control, these seemingly easy controls can still be very tricky. And guess... Yes, I missed more than a minute. No mistakes after that, but I lost time anyway. It's quite unusual for me to lose time in the last controls, but I just didn't have a good running feeling on that day (no surprise there). This meant a 4th place, 1 second behind Janis Kruminš and 10 seconds behind Kalvis Mihailovs. Oh, and yes, 3:31 behind Martinš Sirmais... Map, results.
The middle distance was a selection race between me and my brother for the OK Aluksne's first team and I made it. I was in the first leg, where I had no power whatsoever. I lost time in the same area as the previous day, before the 4th. I never got properly acquainted to that area. And no, I did not plan my route to the 5th like that, it was an occupational accident. This "brilliant" choice included almost swimming in waist-deep water and for those who were following me. These two big misses cost the contact to the leader. Eventually I started seeing the 2nd place runner Raivo Kivlenieks in the 9th control and I started closing in on him. But I was even more powerless than the previous day. I was about 5-30 meters behind him for the rest of the course, but never caught him. I even took some different choices, but they weren't that much better or not better at all. My place - 3rd, with some 2 minutes behind the leader (J. Kruminš). Our 2nd leg - Atis Dandens - did well and finished 2nd, just behind the leader. Edgars Bertuks was in control of the situation and came out as a clear winner. Now I'm a Latvian champion as well! Map, results.

Photo: Right before a false start
The last o-event for now was the ultra-long championship. I was confident and took the lead right away. The preparations had gone well and I was feeling great, so I knew I could start off with a high pace and continue til the end. I wanted to see if Kenny or Raido would meet my speed and come along, but they didn't. So I just gave the whole distance what I had, well, alone. It was a very interesting course, but a boring race. I finished first, with a very big margin - 14 minutes ahead of Kenny. Map, results.

Photo: Some are finishing, some are just going on their last loop...
This was the last of this years golden package - 5 of them, just missing the night medal, when my lamp went out... No more youth and junior championships for me, next year it will be the seniors! Looking forward to it!

Now I'm partly resting and waiting for the last important start: Baltic Junior Cup in Klaipeda, Lithuania.

27 August 2010

Four starts in 48 hours

When finally getting back to Estonia, it was only a few hours before the first start on home soil. It was time for Estonian championships again, this time sprint and night.
The sprint course can be divided into two halves - the first part in the Tallinn Botanic Garden and second part in bushes next to it. The first part fit into the sprint criteria really well - the main characterizing words were fast running and quick map reading. I was doing quite well, even the speed wasn't anything to complain about. The only thing that could have gone better is the routechoice to the 9th control - it was faster from the left. When I passed the arena, I heard that I was doing well. When I entered the deciduous near-city "forest", I had no idea how the landforms drawn on the map would look like in the terrain. 17th was easy and so was 18th, or at least it should have been. II didn't understand much and the mistake was easy to come. I guess I should have taken the situation a bit more rationally and slow down more, but it's too late being smart now. Quite a few other runners missed this one too. With the next ones I was lucky, though I did not make much of the map and terrain. Then my luck ran out again. I was moving in the wrong direction and as I'm no sprint runner, it was hard to sense the scale and understand how far I had gone. I came out at a small wet clearing (not on the map) and understood instantly where I was, as I had been there. It was a very bumpy second half, even the last controls. I thought all my chances of winning were gone, but guess again! By some miracle I won! Not many runners had a clean race that day...

Photo: Which control is this?

The night champs was something I was waiting for. The map and the forest promised to be interesting and suitable for a difficult night-forest-fight event. The warm-up felt especially good, it's been a long time since I felt this good at an important start. I mean, the feet were basically running by themselves and they were as light as feathers. Now I was expecting a really good race. On the way to the first control, I even held myself back, just to get the rhythm going and be more aggressive later. Things were going smoothly, I was very confident and so I ran as straight as I could and avoid long routes around. At least this was my plan until... Until I was about to reach the big track before the second control. All of a sudden, it was dark as night. I thought that I had accidentally hit the switch of my lamp and so turned it on again. I could continue to the track and then the light went out again. At that point it was clear that the game was over. I tried to switch it on again for a few times just to be sure, bit it was hopeless. I couldn't run the whole course by switching the light on for a few seconds all the time. I thought that the battery wasn't charged correctly or charged at all, since it was sent to me from my home, where I hadn't been for two months. But I found out that it had been charged as I had asked it to be done. Turns out there is some technical failure either with the charger or the battery. I hope it's not the lamp itself. Too bad that a decent night competition in Estonia went to waste for me.
Map, results

Already on the next day (after 300 km and a few hours of sleep) I was participating at Malienas Kauss (Maliena Cup) with my brother and a few friends. Great two days in a beautiful pine forest - fast forest. No surprise that I was very tired on the first day's middle distance and so I made small mistakes with almost every control. I came out 2nd, a minute behind my brother. Map, results.
As the second day was a chasing start long distance, the hunt for the Maliena Cup began. The last time the Cup was in our family, was in 2003 when my father won. What's also interesting, is that the Cup has been won by different persons for the past nine years. Who wouldn't want their name to be engraved on it? I caught Timo in the 6th control and stayed with him until the 9th. I took the lead and tried to make a gap, which of course was very difficult. It seemed that I had a good lead before entering the forest again before the 14th, so that we'd lose eye contact. Timo took a faster way to 14th though and got closer again. I pushed as hard as I could and the last time I saw him was before the 17th. The Cup was mine! Map, results, total results.

Photo: Maliena Cup claimer and runner-up

Also worth mentioning that Timo lost the best finish split competition we had with our friends and has to buy me ice cream now.

26 August 2010

WUOC, O-Ringen and WOC Tour in retrospect

I was really looking forward to the long distance. I had been on that terrain twice before - in 2004 I was up there skiing with Erik and Martin Blomgren and in 2006 as a training with OK Võru's friend club Stura Tuna OK. I knew this was something for me and I was more than ready for it. The goal: make the best race of the year. I had a much better feeling than I did at JWOC and it was finally good to achieve the state of good orienteering flow. I made a bad routechoice, but other than that I was doing fine. Somehow I managed to make a 2-minute mistake in the end. The control area just didn't feel right when running, no matter how many times I attacked the control. I went to check it out on the next day and I can just conclude that it was just lack of experience... That one control ruined a very good race, but I'm just happy that I had such a good feeling on the course. I placed 13th, but without the mistake I would have had the chance to reach the podium. Map and results.
The middle distance was a disaster. On the first half of the course it was "connection lost" all along. On the second half I gained some stability, but nevertheless I was too tired to run fast and occasionally even walked uphill. The course can be divided to two halves at the 7th control. I was 53rd when I got there and 28th in the finish. From the 7th control to to the end I lost only an additional 7 seconds to the winner, but he made mistakes and I did only a small one. The only victory that day was my best split in the finish - aah, a poor man's victory. Map and results.
The keywords of the relay? Just one - fast! As having been the best Estonian runner on the previous races, I was anchoring our team with Kristo and Timo. Kristo was probably the only one of us who was able to run fast on that day, but a small mishap on reading the map didn't allow to compete with the leading runners til the end and so he came out 13th, 4 minutes after the leader and 2,5 minutes after the 2nd place. Timo did what he could, but a mistake in the end cost some positions. There was a big group finishing and we were chasing it. I tried to catch the closest rivals, but it was so difficult. I was suffering the whole distance. The long and middle distances had left their marks. I had climbed a few positions and right before the last loop I was with Janne Haikka, Arturs Paulinš and Kiril Nikolov. But since I missed the 17th conrtol, I had no say in the fight anymore. We came out 17th, 14th country. Not our cup of tea. Map and results.

Photo: Skiing at Gyllbergen with Martin and Erik Blomgren (By Håkan Blomgren)

It was only one day of "resting" (actually travelling and a training on an official trainingmap) before the first day of O-Ringen. I wasn't ready for this event, except for a training with Stora Tuna in 2006 again right next to the 2nd day's map.
I decided not to take any risks this year and take all the time that I need to make technically clean races. In brief: The first day fulfilled its purpose and I was off to a good start. The terrain suited me and I was full of positive emotions. The second day began well, but I forgot my principle in the end and made two mistakes. Nevertheless, I was in for the fight. On the third day all the competing finally got to me and it hit me hard - I was so tired that I was reading wrong control descriptions and making many other bad decisions. I was no longer in touch with the leader, but anything was possible. This year, the resting day fit in my plan well, usually I want a 5 day competition to be a 5 day competition, not a 3+2 day event. I wasn't tired on the 4th day, actually, I felt rather good and fresh. The mind, on the other hand, was still tired and I didn't achieve any good rhythm and had to make a lot of long stops, which were necessary. I had some mistakes, but I'm sure I avoided some big ones. I was very surprised to have lost 5 minutes to the best time. I knew my time wasn't good, but this much? Maybe I was still tired, just didn't feel it. Now I was 4th in overall. While the first four days had been on very demanding terrains, the last day was from a totally different class. I started right behind Matthias Kyburz and caught him quickly. A stupid miss in the 7th and 8th let him go his own way and catch Gustav Bergman. I was caught by Rassums Andersson. My situation was cleared on the way to the 10th as we took different choices (to my advantage). I didn't see him again after that. This was my 12th O-Ringen and I have been 2nd three times and 3rd two times, but I must say that this was one of my best performances at O-Ringen so far (not counting very young classes). Since this year's competition the tightest of the last years, I got the 4th place. Though my last day was a failure, I'm pleased with my overall result!
Maps: day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5.
Results: day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5.

 Photo: some of my Norwegian fans came to ask for my autograph

WOC Tour
Now it was finally time to meet the fantastic Norwegian terrains. I was a spectator on this year's WOC and running the WOC Tour 21E at the mean time. The goal: enjoy orienteering! On the first day I was having the time of my life! I was so amazed by the nature and ran like a tourist lost in the forest. The second day was as fun as the first and I it already felt like home. So far, I was running on other fantastic maps also in the evenings, taking what I could of the Norwegian trip. I didn't expect much from the sprint, but miraculously I felt really good and had a very good result. It's a shame that the course was too simple and had no routechoices or very detailed reading. The best thing about the race - I beat the WOC sprint bronze in sprint! Since I was doing good also in the result-department, I decided to have a real competition race on the fourth day. Though (to my mind) this terrain was no match the the first two days, it was still a great experience. In the evening I went to conquer a nearby hilltop - Vassfjellet - with Peeter and Timo to enjoy the views. The training was good for me in the long run, but considering the next day's pursuit start, it was a mistake. I was so tired of the long climb that I managed to lose about 4 minutes to my closest rival Frederic Tranchand and he basically caught me in the end of the course. I speeded up as much as I could and lost sight of him. I finished 1:21 before him. Sad that the last two days were in the same area and even parts of the courses matched. Otherwise, I had a really great training camp in Trondheim! This gave me a lot of confidence towards the future!
Maps: day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4, day 5 and results.

 Photo: first attempt to reach the summit of Vassfjellet (by Andreas Kraas)

I feel more at home in Nordic terrains than I do in Estonian terrains. Strange, isn't it?

19 July 2010

JWOC 2010, Denmark

The preparations had gone well and I was ready for battle. Right before the JWOC-week, I somehow must have caught cold (!), as I had a running nose and my voice was lossy sometimes. But since there were no other symptoms, I tried to ignore the situation as much as I could and just think that this must mean I'm in good shape. The sprint, as always, worked as a good startup for the next starts. Only with a few small misses, the loss to the winner was too much. I was expecting about a 10th to 13th place, but as it turned out, I was slower than I should have been. I wasn't worried though, since I'm accustomed to a difficult day before my main event.
Results, map.
I felt great during the warmup for the Long distance. Everything was according to plan. The very beginning of the course suited me well: technical controls in sand dunes, lots of changes in direction and speed, and lastly - running in forest, instead of paths or roads. On the long leg I could feel that this was not my day. The feet were heavy and it wasn't possible to run as fast as needed. I tried to push hard, but it was no use. On the butterfly, I met Johan Runesson and then I saw how I should be moving. Nevertheless, I ran as fast as I could and give my best on that day. To the 15th control I should have gone from above and because of that I lost some time. In the control itself, I saw Pavel Kubat, whom I ran side-to-side until the 20-21 control. We chose different routes and I just died on the ascent. It felt as if I hadn't done any trainings for steep hills. Just so hopeless. After the 21st control I occasionally saw Pavel again, until the 25th, where I got hit in the eye with a spruce branch and had difficulties seeing. On the last loop I made one bad choice - I went totally around the green area. When I left the previous control, I saw how bad the open are could be and decided to run around, which was a mistake. In rough conclusion - I lost about 2-3 minutes because of mistakes and bad routes, the rest by slow running. Clearly not my day. In the end, I felt that the course lacked some technical challanges. There were many different routechoices, but not enough detailed mapreading, which also meant that there was a lot of running on paths. But that's how the terrain was and the best won. My race was worth an 8th place.
The middle distance qualification went just swell. I ran cautiously and a place in the final was secured. Since the running shape was not of the best, I started with the thought of "all or nothing". The first 5 controls went OK, but then I made a fatal mistake with the 6th. It was very hard to connect the map with the terrain, but I thought I had it under control. I ran past two depressions, which seemed right. When I arrived in the presumed control, there was no flag. I had ran too much to the left, but I didn't understand that then. I went further to determine my location and attack the control again. Didn't quite work out again. Finally got it at the same time with Jan Petrzela. After the open area, the course was rather simple and the main attention was on fast legs. I managed to lose some more time with the 9th control. I still don't understand why. The rest of the distance went ok, no technical difficulties. I got the 20th place, which is worse than on the last two years - both 17th. Although those races went worse, I had a better position. I guess this shows that this year's course was simpler and therefore, the results tighter.
Results, map.
On the burning hot relay day, our teams' hopes were up and my teammates were ready to fight for medals. Unfortunately Raido had a really bad day and lost an enormous amount of time already in the first part of the course. The medal hopes were gone. I still tried to give my best. The feeling wasn't all that bad. When it wasn't running straight up steep hills, I was moving quite well. The course was simple, but yet very difficult. It seemed as if there was "physical forking" applied. A rather good race for me. With a 5th time on my leg, I climbed from 26th to 17th place. Kenny on the last leg, kept the position.
Results (pdf), map.
I can say that this JWOC turned out as a disappointment to me. I had good races on venues, I don't really prepare for and bad races on my main distances. Now looking forward to the WUOC in Borlänge.

22 June 2010

First foreign experiences of the season

May ended with anoher successful event for me - Baltic Championships, where I defended both of my titles from last year. To my mind this was one of the best terrains in Estonia. The variety was incredible, which made this event an orienteering-, not a running competition. Though the feeling on the long distance was not the best I could hope for, it was enough to be among the fastest on that day. I could handle the map well and no additional stops were necessary, except for the 3rd control. In fact, the map was drawn by two persons and the border of the two areas went on the narrow ride between 2nd and 3rd control. The map style difference was very well noticeable, hence the mistake. Anyway, besides that mistake, I can be satisfied with the race. Results, map.
Photo: Winners finishing

On the next day's relay, there was a totally different person running though - amateur mistakes and no running feeling. Raido opened quite well for us, but a mistake in the end gave Belarus and Latvia a two minute lead. With a rough beginning, I finally caught the leader by 8th control. His mistake gave me the chance to give Kenny a safe 4 minute gap in the start. Kenny even doubled the lead and another gold was in the pocket. Results, map.
Photo: Timo found a coin!

The trainings continued with one easy week and one camp week. It was finally time to meet the terrains awaiting at JWOC in Denmark. Even though I hadn't made any presumptions about the forests, I was rather surprised by the vegetation. It was so damn thick that I almost bounced back when I tried to enter the forest. I was unsatisfied with the quality of the maps - it seemed like they were made in a hurry or something. This was even worsened by ordinary printed maps, which were really hard to read even when sitting behind a table. But we got the taste of an offset map in one training and let me tell you, it was a whole different thing! The map finally made some sense. Considering JWOC itself, it will be really tough as it seems like the terrains aren't really favouring me. 
Some maps of the camp: long and middle trainings from Vester Torup, Bulbjerg, Blokhus; sprint from Mølleparken; relay from Rold Skov.

This years Jukola promised to be a lot of fun, and it was. After resting from the last trainings, It felt hard to get the speed up when I was exploiting the Jukola model terrain. But on the warmup, the old familiar good-shape feeling arrived. As I was getting ready for my 2nd leg, I saw that my teammate, Jaagup, was keeping his head cool in the forest and was not far from the leaders. He made just the race I was expecting from him and came out 62nd. I immediately made friends with the map and everything was crystal clear. A good feeling in the legs allowed to make fast movements too. By the first radio, I had decreased the loss to the leader from 5:09 to 3:03, not that I knew that at the time. To the 6th control, I took it carefully and didn't want to lose contact. But at one point, I couldn't connect the map and the terrain. I knew exactly where I had gone, but then just nothing made sense anymore. I kept moving and not after long, I determined my location. As I continued, it turned out, I hadn't been in the location that I had thought. After countless tries to relocate myself, I took a bearing to the west and wanted to end up on either the big road, one of the lakes or the big clearing. Not after long, I arrived at a harvester's track and found out where I was. Even then I didn't get to the control without a mistake and lost about a minute or two more. The total mistake cost about 7:30! I haven't made a mistake that big for a very long time. Trying to forget about the lost time and continue well, worked for some time, but after the long leg, I had forgotten the basic orienteering skills and hesitated with every choice I took. I arrived at 34th place, 9:26 after the leader, which meant that after my big damn mistake I was moving at about the same pace as the leaders. Could I have caught the leader without my huge mistake? I guess we'll never know. I can't really complain about my physical shape though. My brother had a real long night - his lamp was not obeying him and worked for a few seconds after turning it on. Switching it on and on and on and on and.... all the time didn't let him orienteer and he had to follow the packs he saw and use the light of others. Considering that, it was an impressive run, since he only gave away 11 places! By the last leg, we had fallen to the 102nd place, which is 2 places worse than last year. We were clearly capable of making a better result. This was a good pit-stop on the way to JWOC. Team results, map.

17 May 2010

Hammer time!

After my last post, I took part of Ilves 3-days instead of 10Mila. Previous successful starts had tuned me positively and I was looking forward to the upcoming event. Sadly, already on the first day's warmup, I felt like an empty battery. I began rather fast, to see how my body would react to high intensity. Soon I realized that I wouldn't last long maintaining that pace and cooled off a bit. Nevertheless, by 5th control the overall feeling had gotten so bad, that it started affecting the technical performance. I started making wrong decisions with simple situations. The day basically went down the drain and the question was if it was just another case of my bad first day syndrome? Anyway, I hoped it was and couldn't wait to start over the next day. But the difficult times continued... Though I ran slow on the next days as well, I had adapted a bit and didn't make any remarkable mistakes. The loss to the stages' best times decreased each day, but it never got good enough.
Results, maps: day 1, day 2, day 3
The weekend raised a lot of questions. I knew this wasn't the time to be in shape, but was this low-keyed performan
ce justified? Something was very-very wrong and the situation needed to be analyzed. Two reasons were taken into consideration and a few others were ruled out. Remained: taking part of too many competitions or that I had been ill without knowing so. Familiar my body, I believed it was the second reason. Either way, I decided to take a rather easy week of training with low intensity.

On the next saturday, I ran a 4 km testrace to compare the shape to the previous year
s. The result - a new PB - brought a slight grin to my face, but the difficult feeling had me still doubt a bit. Furthermore, I lost to Raido with quite a margin. Results, course.
On the following day I took part of one of the selection races for Baltic Championships. I took it very easy and had a nice training on a new terrain.

Results, map

This weekend, it was finally time to face facts on the Estonian Championships in middle distance and the M21 relay. The terrain promised to be technical and physically demanding, which seemed very
appealing. On the warmup of the sunny and hot day, the status was neutral, which concerned me a little. After a few hundred meters into the race though, I felt that the feet were nicely loose and the movement was rather agressive. Reading the map was like child's play. On the long leg, before the marsh, I dropped my compass and the distraction caused an instant mistake. The extra distance gave me an extra 45 seconds to my total time. After that, I got the flow back and continued nicely without mistakes til the last control. I ran a few meters too far and had to come back, which made me lose another ~10 seconds. After such an intense race, I just couldn't run any faster to the finish. Oh the feeling when I heard I had won! A great return! Results, map

Photo: Rene Post winning his first individual Estonian champion title

Relay time! The same team in the same order as in 2007, when we got the silver medal. The same team in different order as in 2008, when we went out as clear leaders in the last leg, but unfortunately ended up 6th. The same 2nd and 3rd leg runners as in 2009, when we got the silver again. After my three years of gold hunt, it was about time to win already! The race itself: "Handicapped" Timo made a solid first leg and came 3rd-4th. The leaders were ahead by 3:20, which wasn't a surprise - It was Olle Kärner who came out first. The 3rd or the 2nd place runners were easy to take, I just wanted to catch Marek Nõmm from the leading team. And surprise-surprise, I caught g
limpse of him already in the 4th control. To the 5th, I took it a bit easier and kept 10-15 second distance between us. To the spectator control I made a different routechoice and wanted to get there first with a small gap, to avoid running together with Marek. Although I had the best time on that leg, the choice didn't pay off, since I just had to work so much more than the ones who ran from the right. So I arrived at the control exactly when Marek. On the last loop, we had no forking and I was no longer as fresh as in the beginning of the course. With the easy last control and long teeth-grindig finish, I managed to give Markus a ~45 second gap ahead of the runners-up. Now it was in Markus' hands and all I could do is wait and hope he comes out first! The result? Yessss, after four years, we finally did it! At last I am a real Estonian champion!
Results, map

Photo: Exchanging emotions with Marek Nõmm

Next: Baltic Championships

20 April 2010

Feeling about

Starting from two weekends ago: first there was a night competition on friday. The course was simple and consisted of a lot of road- and pathrunning. After a difficult run in the morning, I was surprised by how loose my feet were. The feeling was so light that I constantly had to remind myself to run faster. Technically, I managed without big misses but made some small unnecessary detours. On the long leg I took a wrong routechoice - I went from the right. Lost a lot on that leg, but some of that can be blamed on the snow on the narrow rides. But I probably would have lost on that choice without the snow too.
Results, map

On the following two days, there was another traditional spring competition called Peko Kevad. Already on the first day's warm-up I didn't feel any freshness in my feet. I tried not to think about it and wanted to run an ordinarily ok long distance race. I started rather fast to determine my situation physically. On the way to the first control it was already clear that te whole race emphasised running and when already reaching the first control, it was clear that my questioned situation stinked. A lot. The difficult feeling was probably caused by the very first warm day at a competition. Plus, the night event didn't help either. I also did a lot of small (and foolish) mistakes. For me it's ordinary to have an unsolid race when I'm unable to run fast. The technical and physical performances usually go hand in hand.
Results, map

Photo: Jonatan, our club's young talent

On the next day, however, the feeling was very different. The warm-up didn't indicate any big changes, but when finally on the course, I felt great! This time the course was technically more demanding, which suited me well. I had really good flow, until I messed up on a longer leg. I went on a parallel situation and lost a minute. I tried to continue well and managed to get the flow again. The rest of the course went without significant misses. If leaving out the one big miss, I can be satisfied with this race.

Results, map

Last weekend, the Jüriöö relay was held, which is basically Estonia's 10Mila or Jukola, but with mixed teams - 3 men and 2 women. Our team: Jaagup on the first leg, then Karmen, Markus and Vieda. I was running the last leg this time. Jaagup wasn't very satisfied with his result as he came out 8th, 4 minutes behind. Karmen was doing very well, until she made an almost 15-minute mistake with her 6th control. We had dropped 19th, already 23 minutes behind. Markus on the other hand, made and incredible race and won the 3rd leg with a big margin. He raised us to the 3rd place and now 16 minutes behind! Vieda was stable and came out also 3rd, 17 minutes behind the leader and 2 minutes behind the 2nd place. I wanted to catch the 2nd place, who was Kenny Kivikas. Unexpectedly, I saw him before the 4th control and had caught him by the 5th control. But then the biggest miss of the night with the 6th control. Though everything seems simple and easy, it was difficult to match the map to the terrain. And so we both made a 2:30 mistake and got caught by the 4th place runner Kristjan Trossmann. The next leg we all stayed together. Then I wanted avoid running side-by-side and tried to run my own race. So I made a small gap on the next leg and kept in all the time. It's very difficult to make a gap so long at a night race, that the runners behind just drop out of sight. While running in my own bubble, I sometimes just saw light coming from behind me. Fortunately I managed to keep that crucial gap til the end. Only then I saw that it was Kristjan following me and Kenny wasn't with us at all. He had lost his SI-card in the thick forest and had lost a minute, that's where his chance went. Too bad!
I'm happy with how our team's race turned out in the end! Everyone has their good and bad days...
Results, map

Photo: Kristo winning the first leg

Next: another local 2-day event.
No 10Mila this year, Ilves 3-days instead.

8 April 2010

I can see the ground!

At last the snow has melted and the soft ground that lies underneath, can be touched again. The very first time I set foot on the soil this year, felt relly strange at first, but after a few training sessions I've already gotten used to the good old feeling.

Photo: First start of the season

I had no real expectations before this seasons kick-off last weekend. The competition consisted of
a 12,7 km mass start long distance and a 6 km middle distance race. To tell you the truth, on the first day I felt like I had runner's block - I was breathing through a straw and my shoelaces were tied to eachother. Furthermore, the map in my hand was quite useless since I didn't bother to read it very often and made several mistakes. I came out 6th, about 4 minutes after Peeter Pihl. It was good to see that my good friends and opponents are in quite good shape though, this only rejoices me. I hope to see strong races from them on this seasons big events!
Routes and results
On the second day, the forest was more friendy to me and so was my body, though it was still very difficult to move fast and tolerate the intensity. Surely, I was not the only one to experience this feeling, I am more than sure of that. Despite a small mist
ake in the beginning, I made a rather clean race and even won the stage. My overall place was 3rd, just 6 seconds behind Kenny Kivikas.
Routes (M21A) and results
When thinking of my past year's first starts, I wouldn't be worried about my condition right now. Springs have always been tough for me and afterall, it would be strange if I were in shape right now...

Photo: Finishing side first?

23 February 2010

1,5 marathons

I took the second week of the month easy and tried more alternative ways to train. What better way to end such a week if not taking part of my hometown's skating marathon? I had tried to skate a couple of times with regular ice-hockey skates, so I had some experience. Long-distance skates, on the other hand, were something new. With a week of planning ahead, I managed to equip myself with home-made skates, which could be fastened to regular skiing boots (the skates can be seen on the photo). The skates were notably heavier and had wider blades than the originals, but considering my skills, they suited me well.
Though the real marathon was 70 km, I chose the more popular 30 km event, which was enough for the first time. The track was a 3-5 meter wide and 3,75 km long prepared loop on a lake, which we had to pass eight times. Since I basically only ski in classical style, the skating movement is not very familiar to me. Because of this, the tibialis anterior muscle of my right foot was in a cramp during the first and a half lap. It was so difficult to skate in that status and I couldn't imagine continuing the whole race. But like magic, it got better and the rest of the distance was just fun! Out of 110 finishers in the 30 km event, I crossed the line right in the middle - 55th! The time was 1:38:59, with 31:48 behind the winner. All in all, I'm pleased: great emotions made this a memorable day!
Photo: At the start on lake Tamula

Last week, on the other had, was a tough one. After great trainings during the week, it was finally time to take part of the Tartu skiing Marathon for the first time. I had never skied as much as 63 km in a row, nor was my skiing preparation as strong as last year, so this promised to be a difficult task. After the launch of approximately 5000 marathoners, I took it rather easy and didn't fight for any positions, as it's still 63 km and not a kilometer less. The first time I could start skiing in my own pace was after 10 km, right before the first official refreshment point. My arms were a bit sore of the week's trainings, but 5 more kilometers later I felt quite loose and strong in the muscles and started pushing more. Though the glide of my skis wasn't that good, I started passing many groups, while flying solo. After about 25 km, to my surprise, I caught my brother, who had started with a faster pace, but now was also struggling with his ski glide. He didn't feel very strong, so I went my own way. I felt really confident, but was still afraid of the last 15 km. And basically that's where the real marathon started. My so-far-races had ended at that point, but now it was still a lot to go. Unfortunately the last part is flat and requires strong arms, which at this point, I didn't have anymore. Basically the engine was running smoothly, but I just didn't have the power to push myself forward. 10 km before the finish, I consumed an energy gel with caffeine, which hit in 5 kms later. I felt fresh again and with the last 3 km I passed three more skiers. The overall place was 53rd! An amazing result, especially when I imagined myself to come in about 150th. My time was 3:27:43, 28:02 behind winner Anders Aukland. I sure hope this is a good sign!
Matu - 00:38:19 - 109
Harmiägi (~20 km) - 00:56:36 - 85
Kuutse - 01:43:06 - 67
Peebu - 02:07:18 - 56
Palu - 02:31:00 - 56
Hellenurme - 02:53:33 - 56
Finish - 03:27:43 - 53
Course scheme

During the race, there weren't many who passed me - about 2 or 3 (not counting the beginning of the race). One of them flew past me with a good pace at about 43rd km. He was wearing a rather familiar green dress and I could tell that he was a foreigner, but unfortunately I didn't see him face-to-face. Later I discovered that it was three time JWOC silver medallist Tuomas Tervo and finished 1:38 before me!
Another interesting fact: I got beaten by one woman.

28 January 2010

Winter Xdream 6

As promised, I took part of this years Winter XDream, which turned out to be a lot of fun! The terrain and nature was beautiful, especially in -29°C, when everything was white and frozen. What made the day even more pleasurable, was the great company: I teamed up with experienced orienteers Andreas Kraas and Olle Kärner. Although we had agreed previously that it would be wise not to start in extremely cold weather, we didn't even think about the cold in the morning. The nature of the event is simple: (preferably) get all the controls using your own muscles. That means you can either run, ski, bike, use a sleigh, etc. We, as traditional orienteers, chose running of course. We had also agreed, that we would consider this competition as a good training, not a way to kill ourselves.
Our team in the start
The event centre was set in Jõulumäe ski resort, where Andrus Veerpalu used to train in his youth. In the start we decided to take the 5 controls from the north and hope that the first ones going south, had already made tracks in the snow for us. After one hour into the race, we had basically only been running on narrow skiing tracks and thought that the winners will definitely be skiers this time. But in the southern part, the odds of skiers winning, grew less and less. The southernmost controls were almost untouched when we got there and the tracks were basically non-existing. Things were starting to look up for us. With good decisions and a brisk pace, I was getting more confident in winning the race. Since I enjoy hard trainings, especially in soft ground, getting the controls in the moor was rather enjoyable.

In the moor

When approaching the event centre before our last control, there was a special task, which went really well for us. The task was to make one successful slide in a game of curling. Andreas was quick about it and made it on his second try. Then it was just one last control and back to the finish. Approaching the finish-arch, the speaker was introducing us as the first finishers. That was just music to my ears - we had won the race! Our time was 2 hours and 58 minutes and our distance was roughly 29 km. The 2nd place (ski-orienteers) lost about 6 minutes and the 3rd place about 10 minutes.
When looking back at the race, I'm amazed how well I lasted through the effort and how I didn't feel cold even once during the whole 3 hours we spent on the course. It was a perfect ending for a great week of training!
Photos by Anniki Inno

11 January 2010

And news it is

Since September I've no longer permanently resided where I used to. The reason is simple, I now study at Tartu University. Here's a map over the city's old town and Toomemäe park, where the EOC 2006 sprint was held. My school is also on this map and I don't live far from it.
For the past months I've been dealing with health issues, which I'd rather not discuss here. What I can say, i
s that the matter has been interfering with my trainings, so I can't really promise anything concerning the upcoming season. But I'm still actively moving, don't think that I've stopped preparing!
Since I live at a different location, my trainings have somewhat changed comparing to the previous years. I must say that I liked the training possibilities in or near Võru better, but the alternation will definitely do some good.
Comparing Tartu with Võru:
* training partners

* swimming pool

* alternative strength traini
ng program possibility
* poor running possibilities in or near the city

* closest great running locations ~20 km away
* closest considerable orienteering terrain ~25 km away
* closest considerable skiing tracks ~20 km away

Maybe I forgot to mention something, but these are the main aspects.

During the winter holidays, with lots of snow everywhere, I've ran and skied in various locations in Sweden, Latvia and of course Estonia. Running in snow up to the hips is not unusual. Last week I was at the national team camp, right where the Winter Xdream took place two years ago (
short article of it). The trainings went great and I really enjoyed the snow! Here's a fun night two-man-relay competition from the camp. The distance altogether was 1,9 km and my time was 19:14, can you imagine the amount of snow?

Photo: view from the tower of Valgehobusemägi (the one in the start on the camp relay competition map)

The week ended with two fun ski-o (training) competitions near Põlva. The sprint (
routes) nicely filled my active resting day and on the long distance (routes) I tried to push more. Anyway, a cool twist to the trainings. In the near future, I'm planning to take part of the above mentioned Winter Xdream. Also, with great opportunities to ski, the Tartu- and the Haanja skiing Marathon are also in my calendar; what kind of effort I will put in them, is yet to be determined.

I hope this gives some overview of my doings and whatnot.