Two days training and two days racing around a variety of urban areas.
Sprint Scotland - what is it? Should I give it a go? Is it for an old one like me?
These thoughts went through my mind in April and then a conversation with a friend (Jan) who was also thinking about it - and we were entered for everything (gets you a free T shirt!) and a cottage nearby booked for three nights.
Sprint Scotland training
The first two days give you the opportunity to train various sprint orienteering techniques. The training was available from 10am to 2pm each day; there was then a hour talk / discussion session. After a break you had the opportunity to put the learning from the training into action with a sprint race (informal, SIAir timing but no results).
On arrival Chris (Smithard) explained what options there were, you received all the training maps and headed for a corner to look at the exercises, discuss them and get ready. Each day there was indoor space for this and bags could be safely left there. The indoor area also encouraged everyone to talk to one another - catching up with old friends and making new ones.
Over the two days the exercises were varied, some you carried out at your own top speed while others were very slow speed, increasing this as you grew more confident. The exercises are listed below and some examples can be seen at the bottom of this article
- Corridor training
- Short loop
- Long legs training
- Starts training
- Route choice training
It was important to ensure that you took the time after each exercise to work out your learning from your experiences, rehydrate and recover. I reckon that I covered about 8km each day in the training - and the first day I only did a couple of the exercises!
The talks varied from an informal discussion to 'How I prepared for and won a silver medal at JWOC 2018 (Matt Fellbaum)'. These sessions added quite a bit to the training - after all, sometimes you need to sit down and recover!
Before the evening 'race' there was time to either travel to the new venue or to go off and explore locally. I had never been to see the Falkirk Wheel; it was close to Denny so Jan & I went off there for our coffee and scone - watching the wheel move from a window table was just the relaxing break we needed.
Who is the training for? It is for everyone as it is up to you to decide just how much to do (cut offs are suggested to shorten the exercises), how many exercises to do and the pace you do it at. I was walking round the exercises and all the races as my knee is still troublesome if I run on it. There was a full age range there - from those who are 16+ to over 70's. Some were from Scotland but there was group from Norway (their 'Next Generation' athletes), a group from Hong Kong, some from England, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark (I think!!). Quite a few had been previous years which I think says a lot about the quality of the training. As WOC 2022 approaches I would expect more to be taking advantage of the training - after all, Scottish housing estates are quite different to areas other countries have / use for sprint orienteering! Have a look at the map from Race 3 - a variety of different housing estates in just this one small area!
Sprint Scotland races
This was three races over two days. The first two races were in Bo'ness, quite close to our accommodation so we cycled there, between races and back up the hill to the accommodation. Again there was indoor space to leave bikes & bags; this does make a difference, how much extra does it cost in your entry fee to have this and the increased socialising opportunity (after all, the weather could have been wet and cold)?
On Saturday both races were sprint - short and intense, especially the second one where there was almost no climb at all and the finish was across the playing fields. Between races there was the Scottish Orienteering AGM and a talk from Oystein Kvaal Osterbo (Norway) - this was another interesting insight into sprint racing at elite level.
The Elite classes had a sprint on the Sunday while the rest of us had longer urban races (more value for money?). Times from all three events were added together to establish the class winners.
Was it worthwhile?
A resounding 'Yes'. I think it was very good value for money. It was intense, especially as Jan & I continued to talk / analyse / discuss techniques through the evening. It was good to go with someone else for this very reason. The atmosphere set is relaxed and no question is a stupid one, patience is shown by the coaches. It was a great opportunity to be coached in an orienteering discipline I know less about than forest orienteering (and hopefully replicate some of the exercises for Tuesday=O training for BASOC). I have all the training and competition maps I used if anyone is interested in seeing them.
Jan has written an article for the EckO website.
The date of Sprint Scotland 2020 are not set yet, I did hear it could be May or July? It will be mentioned in the BASOC eNews and also on the fixture list.