Okanagan Adventure Running Tournament

I teamed up with Pia Blake to write up a blog post on the Okanagan Adventure Running Tournament in Kelowna, BC.  Check it out on the Orienteering Canada High Performance Program blog!

Lake Country Hill Southern View

Looking south towards Kelowna just before race day.


UBC Okanagan Sprint #1

What are you still doing on this blog?  Go check out the full write-up!

Sprint Camp 2018 – Part 1

Friday: Travel Day and O-Tervals Training

We left Salmon Arm for Vancouver at around 9:30 in the morning, giving ourselves plenty of time to travel along the snowy highways and a quick stop at COSTCO (if such a thing exists) in Kamloops to pick up some groceries for the weekend.  The roads ended up being better than expected, and we arrived in downtown Vancouver at around 3:30 in the afternoon.  After a brief adventure involving a parkade and a roofbox, more suitable parking was found.  With time to spare before the first activity of Sprint Camp at 6:30, I settled into a public building with a wall outlet and finished an Organic Chemistry lab.

The terrain for the sprint was on the northern (far) side of False Creek, mainly around the two green parks visible in the center of the image.  Photo: City of Vancouver

Just before 6:30, and after some food (thanks for the amazing Cinnamon Buns Hannah!) we (Rachel May, myself, and my younger sister Lillian) made our way to Sprint Camp check-in and the first training which was an Otervals session around some skyscrapers and parks along False Creek.  Check out a map here.

This was my first time orienteering with SI equipment in around 5 months, although I had done some orienteering training in the snow without controls in Kelowna where I am going to school.  As such, the main goal of the session was to start slow and clean, easing back into reading maps while running, and hopefully get the speed up on the last couple of intervals.  I also have had limited night-o experience, so that added to the fun.

I mostly accomplished my goals, while making several mistakes on the first couple of controls, I tidied things up for the last three and also managed to speed up while running cleanly.  Very happy with this training, it was a blast!

Saturday: Main Competition Day

Race 1:  Renfrew Ravine

The race day started out bright and early with a FARSTA race at a mostly forested park map called Renfrew Ravine.  Check out a course map.

In typical Vancouver fashion, it was just above freezing and raining throughout the warm-up and race although it seemed to ease up slightly during the race.

I started the race poorly, getting caught up in the mass start and not reading my map enough.  As a result I got drawn off by a control just before mine, but checking the control code (and the fact nobody was following me…) I discovered my mistake and quickly corrected.  I was gaining back places throughout the rest of loop 1 which was clean.  Loop 2 was nigh perfect, and only one small bobble on loop three which cost me less than 5 seconds.  Then loop three hit.  I nailed the first control, but hadn’t read far enough ahead for the second – and ended up choosing a routechoice through some darker green.  I had committed the mortal sin of West Coast orienteering: avoid the dark green.


After spending about a minute thrashing through a thorny thicket (my old English teachers must be so proud!) of blackberries in which my map was ripped out of my hand, I proceeded to push the pace to the next control – not noticing when I picked back up my map I started looking at loop 1 again, not loop 4.  Realizing my mistake after almost arriving at control #2 of loop 1, I lost another minute or so backtracking to control #2 of loop 4.  From here on out little bit of the race that was left was clean, except for my bleading knuckles, and 4 parallel scratches along my chest.  But the damage was done in that one mistake: I finished well behind the leader’s time of 13:04, with a time of 17:50 – good enough for 11th place in Elite men (out of 32 starters, 10 of whom mispunched).

Race 1.5:  2-Person Relay at Confederation Park

The one race this weekend that doesn’t really matter – and I nailed it. First person back from loop 1 – admittedly I had a shorter forking, but other people did make mistakes on it.

Loop 2 was also very good, only one small ~3 second mistake as I got distracted by a control close to mine that I was running past, but that was not mine.

This relay was followed by another training session, a control picking session with around 29 controls in a 20 minute training.  Lots of good practice – felt like I really benefited practicing taking controls and knowing my exit angle (and double checking with my compass) before coming into the control.

Race 2:  BC Institute of Technology

Use a course map to follow along from the GVOC website!

Overall this was a fairly poor race, as well as being my first (and hopefully last) mispunch of the year on the second last control.  I was running fairly well initially, but had a routechoice mistake on #3 where I couldn’t quite figure out the multilevel stuff.  I should have gone back up the stairs, but didnt’ find that route in time (didn’t read ahead quite enough from #1 to #2), and didn’t want to stop to figure it out so ran around on a longer route.

For the next bunch of controls I was clean, but then slipped on some loose rock coming out of 6 and hit a curb pretty bad.  Bleeding from a few knuckles (which had previously formed a nice bunch of scabs after the blackberries) and a nicely bruised shin slowed me down for the next few controls.  Was happy how well I refocused nailing the next 10 or so controls.

On control #14, I punched a control on from expert course (rather than the elite) that was one level below where I was supposed to be for my course. Technically, the controls shouldn’t have been planned that close together – as they were within 15m of each other, a contravention of IOF rules – but I made the mistake of not checking my control description and control codes in an area where I wasn’t quite certain.  Even if there had not been a control where I mispunched, I still would have made a significant 30 seconds mistake just by not reading my descriptions properly.

Ended up a MP, so very back of the pack which was rather disappointing.

This race was followed by another training session on the BCIT map, I opted to do the shorter course as I was starting to feel rather tired out.

Race #3:  Brittania

David Sprint Camp 2018-1

Racing on the Brittania map on Loop #3.  Photo: Robert Svoboda

This race was testing the new IOF format with a race on a brand new map called Britannia, so GVOC members didn’t get a home field advantage. Here is how the race format works from the Sprint Camp Program page 17:

This is a new race format being considered by the IOF for usage at elite sprint events. In the start lane (before your start) you will be shown an excerpt of the map with three possible forkings (A/B/C). You must choose which forking you think is the fastest to run. You will have 30 seconds to make your decision.
After making your decision (In this scenario Ben would choose B), you will be given a map with the full course on it. You will only be given the map with your chosen forking – you can not change your mind once you have started!
You will be starting in heats of 4. You will choose your forking in SECRET. You will not know which forking the other runners have chosen until you reach that part of the race. This is an exciting opportunity to understand a new race format through head-to-head racing practice!
Try it for yourself.  Take 30 seconds with this pdf, and decide what the best route is.  THIS PDF.
I was quite happy with how I ran this race – I picked the correct option in the pre-start, and didn’t make any mistakes other than first control where I didn’t see the correct routechoice in time.  For some reason, I was assigned a heat with the fastest people at Sprint Camp – Damian, Adam, and Graeme (who ended up finishing Sprint Camp in 1st, 2nd, and 4th overall).  While Damian was gone off the start (he took the correct way to 1…), I managed to stick with Graeme and Adam for a while.  They dropped me several times throughout the race, and I caught up twice, but the third time I got dropped for good on the last couple of controls as fatigue really started to set in. Happy to have read on my own not just followed blindly.  While I finished last in my heat, I had the 8th fastest time of 13:13 out of all 36 competitors across the heats on the 2.1km (straight line distance) course.  For comparison, the winner’s (Damian’s) time was 11:36.
End of Day 1, and part 1 of the blog!  Hopefully will find time to write-up day two this weekend as well, but might be waiting for the weekend after depending on how long I want to procrastinate chemistry labs!


Decided to resurrect the blog.  This felt more appropriate here than on Attackpoint in my Training Log.  This post has mostly been written as a mental self-reflection, where writing helps me to organize thoughts (and allows me to not study for my Statistics Midterm tomorrow).

Yesterday I received an email which stated the athletes selected for JWOC 2017 in Hungary.  I am not on the list of athletes currently selected to go, but rather on the list of four potential athletes fighting for the remaining two mens’ spots.

I would like to start by sincerely saying congratulations to everyone who was selected to the team.  I am not sure how much is public (nothing is posted to the Orienteering Canada website or Attackpoint thus far), and how much is private so will not list names, but everyone who was selected to the team demonstrated last year that they are simply put better and faster than I am and deserve to be on the team.  Once again, congratulations – you will do us proud.

Nonetheless, I will admit that my initial reaction to my not being named to the initial team was one of anger.  I deserved to be on that team.  I continued through the email to see the reasons behind why the selection committee has not yet decided to fill the remaining two spots.

  • Lack of head to head competition to differentiate between athletes;
  • In some cases, athletes results were not particularly solid or meaningful;
  • In some cases, results not being telling enough to rank or distinguish between athletes;
  • In some cases a lack of domestic (Canadian) races attended – e.g. only 4/8 men competed at COC, 1/8 at Easterns, and 0/8 at Westerns.

I cooled down sufficiently to think rationally, and realized that the selection committee has a very difficult task.  They need to compare athletes from across the second largest country on earth without the aid of selection.  Their rationalization for leaving spots empty for now is perfectly valid.  I have never even met or raced against two of the individuals who may be selected (well only 1 of them now after Vancouver Sprint Camp).  But I was confused as to why I was not selected to the initial team and only 1 spot left empty for the remaining three athletes.  After all I beat several members of the team selected for this coming year (who on the men’s side all attended JWOC last year, I was the only man to attend last year who is eligible for this coming year who was not selected) in several races last year at JWOC, and could not wrap my head around why I was not selected.

Sprint Camp 2018 at Simon Fraser University (Photo: Emma Waddington)

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I do not deserve to be selected to the initial team.  I attended relatively few high profile races – the only real major event was JWOC.  I made the decision last year (mostly on financial reasons) not to attend COCs and Easterns (I could not attend Westerns as I was at JWOC during that time).  While I attended Vancouver Sprint Camp, Sage Stomp, and the Seattle Adventure Running Tournament, these are more local events where the athletes with whom I am competing for the remaining two spots did not attend.  It makes sense that they are not valued to the same extent that national races are.  My training this winter has also been somewhat lackluster – I have had some difficulty getting out training, going to school full time, and moving out.  But these are just excuses that mean nothing.  Simply put, I have not demonstrated that I am among the six best orienteers under the age of 20 in this country.  And the selection committee was right to call me out on it, and not name me to the initial team.

So now comes the question of what am I going to do.

Step #1 – Watch Al Pacino in Inch by Inch:

Step #2 – Get my butt in gear.

The selection committee will choose the remaining two athletes by May 11th, with races and training from January 15th up to May 6th being the basis of the selection committee’s decision.  They suggest the following races as selection opportunities:

  • Vancouver Sprint Camp – Feb. 17-19
  • Southwest Spring Week (Tucson, AZ) – Feb. 17-25
  • California Orienteering Week Part 1 – March 17-21; Part 2 – March 23-25
  • Cincinnati Flying Pig – April 6-8
  • West Point National Meet, NY – April 21-22
  • Troll Cup and US National Junior Championships Holyoke, MA – April 28-29
  • Other Major European Races

I attended Sprint Camp, but do not think I will be able to attend any of the other suggested events.  A quick process of elimination rules out some of the events: Southwest Spring Week already happened and during Flying Pig I have exams.  Remaining race options, even if I was able to get the time off school or work (and organizing OART) are well beyond what I can spend.  The closest set of races would be COW, which is a 21 hour drive or some quick research shows a ~$500 expense for flights alone.  Flying out east costs even more.  Simply put – university is a higher priority than sport – so having enough money to go back to school in the fall is more important to me than the possibility of getting selected for JWOC.  So the suggested races are out.

This means that in order to be selected, it is going to have to be based on my training.  This means I need to train my butt off over the next two and a half months because what I have been doing over the past 4 months is simply insufficient.  Doing some quick math, I’ll have two local events hosted by Sage (which hopefully I can get other people to organize) that I can attend, and will probably also go to an event in Calgary as well.  GVOC doesn’t have a full schedule out yet, but might head down there once more as well if a tempting event comes up.  Basically, this means that I need to organize a lot of my own orienteering-specific training as well as organizing my own physical training.

Training Run Up at Larch Hills on the Snowshoe Trails over Christmas Break.

This shock at not being selected has made me stop and think about things, refocus, and hopefully come back stronger than ever.  Whether or not I do make the second cut of the team (I won’t publicly speculate about my odds), not being selected in the initial round is good for my orienteering season.  I was somewhat floating through life, but now have more of something to fight for.  That competitive, angry drive from the old XC skiing days is coming back – and Hungary (and/or the Yukon) had better watch out.



(With that off my chest it’s time to go do some stretching and go to bed so I don’t fail my midterm tomorrow!)

Helsinki Part 2

I’m getting a bit behind on blogging…

Saturday: no luggage, suppose to come on flight from Oslo this evening.

On Saturday,  I was feeling pretty tired, didn’t sleep well, woke up at 5 and couldn’t get back to bed, so didn’t do all that much.  I spent much of the morning prepping for the jwoc sprint, going through street view of the entire terrain on ,you phone, while matching it up with the old maps of the area on my tablet. It looks like 1 great big hill that is half a forest park, and the other half narrow, mostly residential streets.

After that, I found an Orienteering map online for right near the hostel, and went for a run on a course there. I then came home to the hostel, had lunch and tried to figure out how to watch the WOC race (unsuccessfully), so had a nap. 

Walked around downtown for early evening, loud heavy metal concert in one park (where the 300 Porta potties were yesterday), and a pride celebration in another park.

A few more random though on Helsinki:

I absolutely love the bike network, and little design things that really make it flow. The bikes, pedestrians, and vehicles all have separate traffic lights, and the dedicated lanes and networks are great. 

Love the subtle brickwork separating cyclists and pedestrians. Granite not concrete curbs are also much nicer.

Is there a storm server system? I couldn’t find any drainage grills on the roads, and lots of rooftops just drained into the street.

Remnants of war. It was always subtle, but there were just random bunker entrances in various places as you would walk down the street.

Played some Jenna back at the hostel after dinner, but 4 blocks wide not three.

Sunday morning: 

Left the hostel around 9, started taking transition to airport where I was meeting up with the Blake family from the Yukon to head up to Tampere for jwoc training. The first bus was good, but then Google sent me on a nonexistent bus, so I walked in the general airport direction until I found a bus stop with a direct airport bus. Met up no problem after a brief detour into a train station.

Talked to the airline rep at airport in person, they couldn’t find the bag despite like half an hour of phoning around. So, still no bag. Getting pretty smelly. On the plus side,they gave me a free tee-shirt. 

Helsinki – A(n In)Complete Guide Map (Based on a 6 Hour Walk)

Here is a hand drawn summary map of Helsinki, with everything you need to know. Just give up on finding a bathroom anywhere. Probably to be expanded westwards tomorrow.

For the next time you visit! Tourist density based on number of seagulls, size of garbage cans(a direct correlation) and density of ice cream stands.

Day in a Nutshell:

My luggage has yet to show up, they havent found it yet, so I figured I’d just walk around Helsinki today. I started at around 9 am, and got back around 3, with a few breaks to people watch and have lunch. Checked world orienteering Championships, psychological results (way to go Damian!) and then had a nap before supper.

Harbour Access, with jurassic park looking zoo in the background.

Helsinki is decent sized, old buildings at the middle, and younger further out. Surprisingly large number of smokers, and cigarette butts everywhere. The waterfront is quite nice, public access is kept well, very little private access. 

Waterfront panorama. Referencing map above, $$$ boats on right, $$$$ yachts on left.

Land use: A few Greenspan especially, but most everything is 5-9 stories tall and made of brick. No skyscrers beyond 15 stories anywhere. Bottom floor almost always used for commercial purposes, with remaining higher floors residential or office space in downtown core. Business signage is understated, small which keeps the character of the town, but makes it a tad difficult to find things. One exception was a Mercedes Benz logo way up in the air above all the rooftops. 

Typical street. Tram, cars, parking. 1 level commercial, 4 residential.

Statues/monuments: all over the place. Especially naked copper turned green statues are a dime a dozen. Some monuments are only Finnish, others have 5 languages on them. 

The statue from the “somedays you are the pigeon (or seagull), some days you are the statue” memes.


  • In Salmon Arm: cyclists<pedestrians<smart cars<normal cars<pickup trucks
  • In Helsinki: cars<pedestrians<cyclists<busses<trams

Rent a bike and leave it in any other rack. Good idea, but rarely used, most racks full. Only saw 2 in use. Locals all have their own bikes.

A Day of Firsts – June 28 and 29

1. First time leaving the country by myself (and flying by myself).

Ready To Go!

2. First time I have seen 3 oceans in one day.

The pacific 

3. First time north of the Arctic circle (the sun never went down on my midnight flight!)

Greenland… I think? Maybe the Arctic ocean.

4. First time having the airline lose my luggage.

It was only a 50 minute layover, with the first plane arriving half an hour late, so not really a surprise.

5. First time in Europe. 

Little park near my hostel

Now off to explore Helsinki,  meet up with the rest of team Canada, and then off to junior World’s! 

Bonus First. First blog post not written on a computer (hence little text cause typing on touchscreens just doesn’t compare).