By Keegan Harkavy
Thanksgiving Weekend I went to a orienteering training event in Harriman State Park in New York. This park has some of the most technical orienteering in the world and is one of the best places to train in the country. I went with members of the junior and senior national team.
The event consisted of three days of 14 to 16 km training every day. The second day (I was not there for the first day) started with a control pick. A control pick is a training with short very technical legs that are supposed to help with flow and navigation. Then there was a long legs course, meaning each leg was a kilometer or two. Finally there was a speed change, meaning that the controls switched off from being technical and short to easier but longer.
At the beginning of this day I entered the training very enthusiastically--and a little carelessly--not knowing just how hard it would be. I did the control pick first with Dave Yee shadowing me. The control pick took me a good 2 hours; I got lost multiple times and managed to fall at least five times. The control pick, however, did teach me how to pick up smaller clues and to take my time to really make a plan and not just run off. Even though it was hard it was also really pretty and fun, and I had a great time running the course. After the control pick I was wet, tired, and hungry, but satisfied with the work I had done and what I had learned.
After the control pick I had a quick drink of water and then went out and did a one-on-one training with Isabel Bryant instead of the long control race. Izzy taught me how to take a more precise compass bearing and how to not drift off of that compass bearing. This was very informative and helpful. While we were out we also saw a deer that was just five feet (realistically 15 meters) away from us. It stood there watching us and us watching it for a good 20 seconds, and then it went back to eating like nothing happened. It was amazing to see a deer that close and in the wild.
(This was the actual deer)
Next it was time for lunch which consisted of trying to find dry clothes and eating turkey sandwiches. This lasted about an hour and then it was back to the woods.
I did the speed change with Barb Bryant. The speed change was every bit as difficult as the control pick, but I had learned to take my time, so I made far fewer mistakes. I did sometimes think I was lost, but even that was cool because I was alone with just the forest surrounding me. I finished in good amount of time and felt very proud of myself for doing the training so well.
Finally it was time to head back to the Bed and Breakfast. I was exhausted but really proud of myself for how much I learned, and for being able to persevere and finish both of the courses. When we got back to the Bed and Breakfast we--the nine people who were staying there--played board games, ate, and relaxed until it was time to go to bed six hours later. This was also really great because it was a lot of fun just relaxing with these other really good orienteers and making friendships with them too.
The next day I woke up before everyone and just basked in the dim morning light across the lake. I was well rested and ready for another hard day of orienteering. The morning went by in a flash and before I knew it we were back in the forest.
(Sunrise over the lake)
The third day there were three exercises: orienteering intervals, another control pick, and a contour-only course. The orienteering intervals were short courses with five or six short bursts of controls that you are suppose to do faster than race speed, and then rest before you do the next set. The contour only course was exactly how it sounds: a course with only contours and controls on it. The the control pick was the same idea as yesterday’s control pick, only a bit shorter and in a new place.
I only did the intervals because I had to get home to cambridge which could take a while. The intervals were a lot harder than I thought they would be, and they were a lot closer to a race than the other exercises. While running the course I got lost a whole bunch of times but always found my way to some control.
All in all the training camp was fun and extremely helpful in getting my orienteering to a much higher level.
-Sincerely Keegan Harkavy