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Varying priorities, September 16th 2015

WOC put a toll on me. Both physically and mentally I needed some kind of a break from constant optimizing of my every move. Thus I have had varying priorities and done differing things than in the months leading up to WOC.

Elite athletes seldom allow themselves to a tourist trip without considering the training facilities, dining options, daily rhythm, climate etc. In the middle of August, together with a couple friends we flew to Dubrovnik and headed east on a weeklong Balkan road trip. We did occasional runs, but experiencing food, wine, culture & natural beauty, without stress, was the main intention on this holiday. People were friendly, daily customs were odd and we found some hidden waterfalls & beaches, so the trip through Croatia, Montenegro, Albania & Macedonia seemed to accomplish lowering cortisol levels throughout. This was until the last afternoon’s easy trail run in northern Macedonia’s Mavrovo National Park. On descent from Medenica (2163m) I decided to take a longer route around another mountain back to the car. Running past a shed in a secluded valley I waved at the shepherds to whom a blond runner must have been a surprising sight. A couple kilometers further down the valley track I also came upon an unanticipated sight - a dozen stray dogs. They were a few hundred meters away, but barking loudly at me. My first reaction was to freeze and hope they’d forget about me. Nope, they started running towards me and my instinct was thus to RUN LIKE I HAD NEVER RUN BEFORE. I surely made my 1km uphill speed record as I fled, but the large dogs caught up on me. As they approached me from behind I turned around and slung a few rocks at the defying dogs. Every time I got a hit I could sprint away towards the shed I had remembered seeing earlier on my run. The barks came closer again and soon I found myself surrounded by aggressive jaws and fought off snaps with a stone as I was screaming at the dogs. I don’t think I could have held out many more seconds as two shepherds appeared from nowhere to chase off the dogs with their herding dogs and sticks. My skin was salvaged. Experiences are an essential part of life, but life itself is even more important.

It took another two weeks after the Balkan road trip until I was back running daily without pain I had suffered from since WOC. During this time I was working on my PhD Thesis and on an orienteering map with long days on my feet. I had the will to get back into training normally, but knew running in pain wasn’t a good option. My team of Shamans & physiotherapists worked on me frequently and now my body feels wholesome and ready to rumble again. As I get great pleasure racing I have ran some races even if I haven’t been ready to fight at the level I’ve been used to running. At the Finnish Long distance Champs 10 days ago I was still not myself, stumbling into the finish at 14th place, but at Sunday’s Swedish Long distance Champs I was able to get a good technical & physical race together finishing 5th. A striking fact is that I was not beaten by a single Swedish or Finnish WOC Long distance runner at either of these races! Takes time to recoup from a long distance in Glen Affric...

I’m in the midst of a strength training period with lots of hillrunning. This should serve as a buildup towards Lidingöloppet 30km & the World Cup finals in Arosa, both which will include loads of ascent & descent. So switching priorities again towards racing well in the races that I’m really looking forward too. Find the right attitude by clicking on the image below depicting a fearless night orienteer!


7 seconds away, August 10th 2015

7-6-5-4-3-2-1-0. 7 seconds - That’s the difference between reclaiming a World Championships title and losing out on medal glory. The Long distance has been my clear main focus for a mere year now, with the Scottish World Orienteering Championships the big goal. Up until a month before WOC most of my training was improving my endurance and persistence. At Glen Affric, the beautiful wilderness area where the Long distance was staged, I got confirmed that I wasn’t at the level I needed to be able to fight for the medals. I had broken a rib bone a week before WOC, but had not been affected by this in the previous races during the WOC week. Perhaps the pain killers had started to take a toll on my physics, since my legs felt sluggish already at the start. Figured that would be the case for all competitors in the tough terrain and focused on the technical performance. Came into the right aggressive mood at the first control, but then I fell. It was only the first of about 100 falls on the course, but I had shattered my magnifying glass! With the scale 1:15 000 map I use the magnifying glass attacking most controls and thus I was upset. Running up the hill to the third control my thoughts were not gathered and I lost a minute into the control. I thought the next long leg would give me time to reclaim focus, but that was not the case and I ascended too high in the slope which resulted in a major mistake at the 4th control. My race was destroyed, and it would have been easy to quit and just disappear from all results. It was not an option. I was able to restore my pace after I caught Olle Boström, who had started 6 minutes behind me. We stayed together until the end of the race and the company was surely good for both of us. I ended in 14th place at my WOC Long debut, almost 9 minutes behind Thierry Guergiou. If I want to become the best on the long distance I need to train differently - more & harder.

The Sprint distance was a totally different story. I won my qualification heat despite stepping on a cat along the course. The following days’ sprint relay was also good on my part, but our team’s legs weren’t fast enough to secure the medal we were aiming for. Having to race three sprint races in a row was precarious in my mind, but the national team coaches assured I would recover on time for the final. I was able to make my best orienteering performance of the year in the most important race, so that is very comforting. Physically, I felt like I was missing a gear already from the first controls and throughout the entire race. It’s hard to evaluate how much faster I could have run with fresh legs - maybe 7 seconds...


Moss in May gives juice for August, June 2nd 2015

May was in my calendar filled with lots of marking “Mosspass”. Since WOC2015 terrains are tough (as well a number of other important races) we have moved most interval sessions to the marshes to simulate the laborious stride needed on the moor. That has been a big move from the training I’ve done in previous years when the Sprint distance has been my main focus. Now the Sprints, in which I have performed reasonably well, have served as fine rhythm changers in between all the marsh sessions. May was still largely a month of intensive training, while the turn of the month now will brings on races serving as important stepping stones towards a successful 2015 summer campaign.

10mila showed that we, with the blue boys of IFK Lidingö, can challenge the best as a team, although this time we had some tactical errors in the decisive part of the relay. Finishing 4th is by no means as big as a disaster as our moods that day showed. Personally I got into the right attacking mood when I run into a whimsical creature during my warm-up orienteering at 5 AM - my first sighting of a wild boar in a Swedish forest! Physically I felt like nobody could stop me that morning. Coming out of the forest in 1st place in the relay with the 9th leg’s fastest time is a memory I willingly recall. Definitely a relay experience to bring with me to Jukolan viesti in Paimio in 10 days!

Tomorrow the Orienteering World Cup continues in Halden, Norway with a Long distance race. It will be a tough race with tricky control taking alternating long route choice challenges. I am going into the 2nd World Cup round ranked 11th and looking to advance through aggressive performances. Friday I will run the Sprint-relay at Fredriksten Festning and on Saturday the Sprint in Lysekil. These are the last races before the summer’s highlight, WOC in Scotland, where all the best will face off. Follow the action in the IOF Livecenter



Undulating April, April 26th 2015

Last weeks have included some ups and downs - both when it comes to orienteering terrains and my physical status. Fortunately this period ended on top notes with a 5th place at the tough World Ranking Event Swedish League long distance in Åmål this Saturday. A nice assurance to be able to technically perform well at this level after a week of training in hilly WOC2016 terrains.

The previous week I had not taken a single running stride. Medical tests showed it wasn’t anything serious in the end, but I am grateful I have a team of skillful professionals, who make me opt for cross training when I could risk getting injured. Smart to take a week’s break from running in April instead of a month in July.

If there would be (is there?) a sport called orientathlon I would at the moment be a strong contender. In April I have recorded double as many kilometers on the bike as running. Not ideal, one might think, but I believe it could be a winning concept to upkeep the aerobic levels as long as the training gets more specific towards the main goals of the summer. Now it’s time to sit down with coach Gärderud and make a smart plan to get out a couple more gears of these legs. The base is built to sustain a period of strength training and faster running.

Map routines from Spain, March 19th 2015

It’s not the one who has trained most who will become the World Champion in Scotland come August 2015, but the one who has the best legs and who can optimize the navigational challenges for himself. I know from experience that the more I orienteer the more critical towards my navigation I get - at the moment even a 5sec mistake leaves me feeling I have got space to improve. During the last 5 weeks I have executed 776 control legs in different parts of Valencia, Andalucía & Gran Canary. Fortunately I do not get tired of staying focused and on the map, but I have seen every single training as a new chance to excel. Not all sessions have been flawless, but it is a good sign that I did the best performance on the last hard session of the period. The numerous repetitions will lead to making decisions during the upcoming season’s races a matter of routine. For that to occur I first need to recover from all the physical stress I have made my body take. The tiring signs my body gave me during the last days, confirms me I have been close to my limits, just the way someone who is all in wants it.


Exploring Tasmania on foot, January 22nd 2015

My soul yearns for lighter grounds during the northern winter months. With the World Cup opener in Tasmania it was natural to spend a few weeks on that side of Earth, enjoying inspiring running conditions.

The World Cup round consisted of one race in each discipline over a week’s time. I was surprised to learn my running speed in the sprint was fine, but lost the fight for top spots in navigational errors. My navigation was rusty after the injury break and I ended up searching for three controls on the wrong side of fences. The resulting 13th place earns a 7/10 from me.

The middle distance race was expected to be tricky and proved to be just that. I think few runners had full self-confidence of mastering the unusual terrain type. After a good start I made a big mistake at control 6, but was able to pull together my concentration and complete the course in a decent manner. Seldom has so many mistakes be seen in a World Cup race and thus I ended up as high as 15th. A performance worth a school grade 7.

In the long distance I performed on a higher level, being able to execute my route-choices throughout the course. The only mistakes came in control taking in flat areas. I reached a state of calmness during the race, which I strive for in a long distance - there’s no hurry when the winning time is 80+ minutes. The 8th place was my best so far in a long distance World Cup race and honest measure of my current level. I give myself a 9/10 and take with me a bagful of self-confidence into the start line of the next battles.

After the races I continued to venture around Tasmania & Melbourne, mostly in my trainers. As I runners you get so many places and can experience a lot during a week. Without stressing it too much I logged 170km and 4156m ascent during the week following the World Cup. Jumped in to a 3000m race to record 8:48, which was a few seconds faster than a month earlier. Feels like my body is moving to the right direction.

I am truly grateful for all the hospitable people I met during my travels  - the other side of Earth isn’t as distant as it seems on a World Map. Rather a place I hope I get to return to one day.

Note: Just watched a complete a season of Vikings - thus this ravaging use of words.


Mapping among the wildlife of Kenya, December 28th 2014

The darkest time of the year was upon us, I had injured myself and I got an offer to head to Kenya to do mapping on the savannah. An offer which I wouldn't easily reject. This blog is, however, called the World Wide Måre.

The University of Helsinki has had research interests in Taita Hills for the last 2 decades and nowadays has a research station in the middle of the mountains at Wundanyi. This mountain region belonging to the Eastern Arc Mountains has a rich biodiversity which is threatened by population pressure. The mountains border renowned Tsavo East and West National parks in the north and two smaller Wildlife Sanctuaries - Taita Hills & Lumo Community - in the west. Wildlife such as elephant, lion, cheetah, giraffe, leopard, buffalo, hyena, waterbuck and other wildlife roam these areas freely, with only an electric fence separating them from the nearby communities. The wildlife is an important part of Kenyan identity and an important feature for the tourism in the area.

After a 4 hour night’s sleep on the plane to Nairobi my message about arriving at 7 AM was misunderstood as 7 in the evening which I found out after an hour of waiting, purchasing a local SIM-card and reaching familiar driver-Ken. I enjoyed my breakfast at the airport and headed into the 400km drive along Mombasa road to Taita Hills alone in the Toyota Hilux I would use for the coming 3 weeks. Driving on the left-side and overtaking circa 100 lorries on the way went smoothly. Having guys with machine-guns step out of the car next to me didn’t seem to astonish any other lunch-eaters at Mtito Andei - the current security tension can be felt all over the country. Some might consider the road trip through savannah landscapes itself an adventure of a lifetime - a few years back I wouldn’t have dared to do it all alone. Arriving to the Taita Hills research station is always calming. I have spent several months here in conjunction to various research projects, so the “Alps of Kenya” feels like a 2nd home to me!

The first day of the project was reserved for meeting the managers at the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary, Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary, Lion Bluff Lodge & Sarova Taita Hills Game Lodge. We agreed on practicalities and support during the mapping exercise. Not all cultures have as advanced an geographic sense of location as us Finns do - at least when it comes to understanding a map. In Kenya, the extents of one’s property or in this case the sanctuary are known through natural features like termite mounts, hills and prominent trees. This offers a challenge for mapping since the remembrance of the boundary features vary.

My task was to map Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary and Lumo Community Wildlife Sanctuary for the use of researchers as well as for tourists. Features I was mapping included buildings, signposts, water features, elephant tracks, vegetation and roads, some of which I didn’t know should be called roads before. I did the majority of the work driving around the savannah with a GNSS recording the roads. Got used to veering for elephants at dusk and spotted cheetah, hyenas and lion while covering all the roads and tracks around. I finished the maps using satellite imaginery and LiDAR data and believe my work will result in less tourists getting lost and more research projects getting started. This mapping project was a rewarding one and I would totally do it again. Let me know if you know of any safari park owners having too much work with relocating their stray customers!

Since my workplace was inhabited by predators I opted for doing my running either in the employee sports grounds or outside the sanctuary. As I fractured a shoulder blade in November I was still careful in my training. Another fall could have resulted in starting the healing process from zero. By the end of my time in Kenya I was however already doing double runs and full-length long runs. The goals for the first World Cup round in January had diminished a little, but after the enforced break the body is for sure now hungry for some real training towards the summer of 2015. 

The New Year is the time of unfolding horizons and the realization of dreams - cheer for the simple pleasures that life has to offer and bravely face all the challenges that may come your way. Wishing you a lovely New Year!


King Midas, December 11th 2014

Every athlete needs to take a break during which gather strength for the upcoming challenges. Also from blog writing ;-) During the last weeks of the orienteering season 2014 it seemed like everything I put myself into I came out with gold. I became the Finnish Ultra-long distance orienteering champion in a field stacked with the best Finns. A week earlier we won the prestigious 25manna club relay with IFK Lidingö SOK and we can now confidently title ourselves the best orienteering club in the world. And again, at the season-ending Smålandskavlen we found ourselves on the top podium after a stable team performance. I believe that an important factor was the supportive atmosphere I was training in on Lidingö which called for relaxed performances at races. What an end to the season to reflect back on!

Since my body felt fresh I had the idea to continue running up until the 2015 World Cup opening in Tasmania in January. Until I fell. As so often when running recklessly around forests I went down during a night-orienteering session. Upon standing up I felt an odd pain in my back, but figured I need to toughen up and finished the race. Turns out I had ran the 2nd part of the course with a fracture in my shoulder blade!

After resting for a couple weeks and slowly getting into running I am now back on track. Maybe the fracture was the way my body made me take a compulsory break to get through 2015 healthy?


Is the season ending, or just starting, October 6th 2014

I have done what I enjoy most in sports - raced, a lot. My Long Distance orienteering project has lately included training camps in Strömstad & Scotland, Finnish 
Champs (3rd) and Swedish Champs (6th) in Long Distance and Lidingöloppet (6th). It has been a fun time finding lots of controls and as my hypothesis, the more 
controls I navigate to, the better I get at it. In between some grueling efforts at races I have put in work on building up a better running posture. Since I have 
seen improvements in the results over Long Distance I might not need to worry about not being punctually structured in my training lately. Now I need a plan.

The World Cup finals were run this past weekend in Liestal, Switzerland. It would be absurd to expect great things out of a middle distance in continental terrain 
without training for it. I was not prepared for the thorny detail-less challenge. Next year I will prioritize a few races where I want to get good results - and train 
on the abilities required for those. In the sprint I had the required legs after I got into the race, but didn’t make all the right choices (9, 12) nor execute without 
hesitation (2,19). But it was altogether a great weekend of orienteering in Switzerland. But for next years’ World Cup finals in Arosa I want to be better prepared 
and hopefully fight for top spots also in the total World Cup.

This orienteering season is shortly coming to an end, in the northern hemisphere. But since the 2015 World Cup starts in Tasmania in January, there’s no time to 
lose. My body feels fresh even after races such as Lidingöloppet’s 30km - the world’s largest cross country race - where I became the best European so do I need 
to take a break now? Or should I continue the season until January and cool down on the skis in the Nordics?

Laundry in Stockholm, September 19th 2014

Those of you who know me recognize if I say I'm somewhat addicted to exploring. I would't say I have moved, but rather that I do most of my laundry in
Stockholm since a few weeks back. There won't be many weeks in a row when you'll catch me at one place anyways. At least I have stayed on the same
continent for a while now (Göteborg & Strömstad, Sweden; Jyväskylä, Finland; Aviemore, Scotland). The cooperation with Anders Gärderud is making my stride
smoother and every time I go orienteering it's a new terrain for me. It's feels like a continuous training camp.

Don't know if it's due to the new environment change
and a different kind of social setting around orienteering in IFK Lidingö SOK, but I must have done something right in the last months when I've shifted my focus
from sprint to running Long Distance orienteering. I got my first Finnish Champs medal in the discipline 2 weeks ago and this weekend I'm running the Swedish
Long Distance Champs instead of the Finnish Sprint Champs. After being 1st and 2nd in Finland in the last two years sprint champs it's sad to break the straight
flush. However, one needs to change ones ways of thinking in order to find innovation. I'm not giving up on any dreams, just moving on.

Måre in Scotland

Alpine sweep, August 12th 2014

After finishing 5th in the World Orienteering Champs relay together with Mikko Sirén and Pasi Ikonen I trekked over the Alps to Zermatt. From there a stretch of
different races started with the Swiss Orienteering Week in magnificent alpine terrains up to an altitude of 2900 meters. Orienteering in the open landscapes at
the foot of Matterhorn undoubtedly ranks into my best orienteering experiences ever. Numerous punched controls and gondola rides later it was time to leave the
Alps and run the Huippuliiga Sprint and the Finnish Champs (Kalevan Kisat) 10000m on track back home. My performance in these races were hampered by
insufficient preparations, but the 7th place finish on the track made me eager for more track workouts next winter.

Only a week later I found myself back in the Alps running Sierre-Zinal - the historical race of five 4000m peaks. Most of the world’s best mountain runners were 
present in the World Series race in which 31km’s through woods, alpine meadows and stone fields is covered. The start is situated below a huge slope and the
course has a total of 2000m ascent! As a rookie in the sky running scene I decided to start out conservatively and was able to accelerate into a good rhythm
once on the top of the mountain and cruised along with the help of the spectacular landscapes and some Enervitene gels into an 8th place in 2:39.26 - that’s 7
minutes behind mountain legend Kilian Jornet. I did this race to get a different kind of challenge, and boy did I get one. Now I feel motivated to train on every
morning and evening as I enter a block of quantity training - with a map and a compass in my left hand.

If You are interested in winning a Suunto Ambit3 You should participate in this quiz:
1) What was my HR at the highest point of Sierre-Zinal?
2) My race time as I passed the altitude of the highest point of Finland?
The answers can be found from my Movescount
Answers should be sent to my Facebook Fanpage inbox by 13.8.

Summer & fun also at World Champs, July 4th 2014

Sport is not all that matters in life, altough it takes up most of my days. I have however been doing other things too during the start of the summer, but not
updated this blog in every turn. My twitter will be filling in the gaps.

10mila 2., Jukola 2.,... becoming number 2 at the World’s biggest orienteering relay, Jukola with my club IFK Lidingö SOK was close to a dream coming true. As a
team we performed better than the winning team, Kalevan Rasti, but our last leg runner Fredrik Johansson would have needed a bigger gap down to Thierry
than we were able to give him. As a club we have our future goals clear and can go on with some more confidence after performing well this year. These
clubmates will be a motivating bunch also as the nights get darker again.

After Jukola I have been focusing on gearing up my speed for the World Orienteering Championships. I have been the best in the world once and don’t feel a
need to prove anything this year in Venice. The setting for a great event is evident - racing for the title in such an alluring environment will be extraordinary. I feel
like I have been able to prepare ideally, so I will aim at enjoying the atmosphere to the fullest. I’ll run the sprint and sprint relay and hopefully I can also help the
Finnish team later in the week in the mountains in the relay.

Goal oriented, June 5th 2014

May swept by with a 2nd place in 10mila, a bunch of good training in this summer’s World Champs type terrains and with good legs at the 10km in Terwahölkkä.
It was great to be included in the IFK Lidingö SOK 10mila team but slightly bittersweet for me to not be able to finalize a well done job on the anchor leg.
Teammate Øystein Kvaal Østerbø tells our 10mila story

Seems like I have been close to my body’s limits as I got sick at the end of May. After a week of total rest I was not able to fulfill my potential at Team Finland’s
test race last Sunday at the Long Distance World Ranking Event in Asiago. Having been 2nd best Finn at the European Champs and now 5th Finn in Asiago chances to get to run Long at World Champs are slim. I have decided to skip the World Cup round in Kongsberg this weekend to focus on sprint preparations - one month to the WOC sprint today!

During the last month I have participated in a couple occasions where I have been able to share my thinking models at lectures. My topic “With a Positive Mindset to the Goal” includes ideas I have used with success in my athletic career but which can be deployed in any goal-oriented daily life activity. I find it rewarding to encourage people, of various fields, to go chase their dreams. Do You feel touched? Contact me and we’ll arrange a lecture for your staff/ team/ training group etc to get You going & stay motivated.

On Track to Step Up the Power, April 28th 2014

The orienteering season is here - with no doubt the most exciting time for an orienteer. Instead of frequent updates to my blog I have been enjoying a healthy body to the fullest which means lots of time out with a map. I did not make a big deal out of the European Orienteering Champs, because they aren’t a big deal in a year including the World Orienteering Champs. I was surprised of how well I physically matched up against the best in Portugal’s Palmela, being 11th in Sprint, 14th in Long and 6th in Relay. The time gap (Sprint 25sec, Long 4min 35sec) to the winners makes me feel confident that I can close it during the next months as I build up to the World Champs in Italy. I have basically not done any VO2Max workouts apart from short sections during orienteering, so my physical performance level should be better come July.

10mila is coming up next weekend, right after the start of Huippuliiga in Finland. For the Swedish clubs 10mila is the highlight of the season which means I am about to be a part of something new in my career. The first races in the IFK Lidingö blues have been fine and I can feel that the new stimulus is giving me a push forward.

Just like the effects of a new environment I think that one should introduce new aspects into ones training regime every year in order to prevent stagnation. My cooperation with Anders Gärderud has started off lightly, but already now I am trying to do some things a little better every day to improve my running form. After a break from the weight training prior to EOC I am back to the weights for a couple weeks in order to improve my power needed for effective accelerations & running fast. By the end of the strength phase my body should be ready to do the most effective workouts of the year. I am not at this stage specializing on any orienteering discipline, but will continue with a balanced program. If I manage to stay healthy a combo of both Long distance and Sprint spiced up with some relays at WOC seems realistic - and something I look forward to!

Long Thrill, April 3rd 2014

Spring is the time when orienteer’s do the most training in order to get confident in their technical level before the competition season rolls around. I have during the last few weeks done more o-time than ever before this time of the year. It has been luxurious to be able to perfect some technical aspects in my orienteering directly between AM and PM workouts. Physically I have been close to overdoing it all, but perhaps I am experienced enough by now to keep my horses back before I reach the edge?

The Suunto Ambit2 R Quiz I hosted in my SOME recently portrayed some of the views I have come across in February & March: Montecatini Terme, Punta Umbria & Quaios. Next up in my calendar is the World Cup Long distance race in Murcia on April 5th - I have’t done a Long distance race for my country in quite some time, but now with all the orienteering under my belt I feel fit & prepared to do them. Although Sprint will remain my main goal also in the future I enjoy the calmness which one should be enclosed in during a Long distance race. 16km and 23km on the plate in my first Long distance finals in the next 10 days. The excitement around is rising with European Champs awaiting us in one weeks time and 10mila being only a month away!

Tech Torture in Turkey, March 6th 2014

The first round of IOF World Cup racing included some twists I had not anticipated although you should always enter a new orienteering country with an open mind. The race was warned of having low visibility and stony ground calling for a safe orienteering approach. My orienteering was well under control in the Middle Qualification on what surprisingly turned to be a swift course through the semi-open slopes of Tekirova. My only moments of hesitance occurred inside the control ring on a few controls and my body felt ready for racing. When checking out in the finish I got the striking news that I was missing a punch from 4(!) controls. I had been punching as in all other races during the last 5 or so years in which I have encountered one (1) unsuccessful punch altogether...

Since the number of controls on orienteering courses are steadily increasing (now 28th controls in Turkey World Cup Middle) I consider the punching technique a crucial part of becoming a champion. For races utilizing Emit I have developed a technique where I don’t always get a backup pin mark in the piece of cardboard which is attached to the card. I have learnt how long to keep the Emit card at the control unit to get a succesful punch, but in Turkey all runners were distributed Emit cards without a chance to test them before the start of the race! These cards were obviously different than the normally used Emit-cards, slower. I find it quite mind-boggling that we in orienteering, which is known for utilizing technical innovation, still in 2014 relies on a punching technique which doesn’t provide confirmation for the competitor that his/her control visit is registered! There are a few other punching equipments used in orienteering which gives a signal/sound confirmation of a successful punch. The Emit backup card seldom stays on throughout the race of an elite competitor, which is the only Athlete’s right in this case.

Needless to say, I got disqualified for not having all the punches and no backup cardboard. Fortunately the punching industry is developing new systems, one of which we used in the World Cup Sprint Relay in Kemer. I enjoyed the format of the Relay, although the course setters hadn’t fully employed route choices where following a runner on a different forking penalizes you. Together with Venla Niemi, Fredric Portin and Anni-Maija Fincke we got a 4th place out of the 1st World Cup relay!

As I didn’t participate in the Middle Final a stand in a good position to put up some remarks on that course. Parts of it was not demanding enough for the elite level and particularly the fastest route choice to the 17th control should be reviewed. The video below shows the dangerous route choice which includes jumping down an approximately 10m cliff - is it fair to have health threatening elements on the fastest route choice?

Tempted to Train - Timeout in Turkey, February 27th 2014

Looking at a calendar it feels illusory to start the The World Cup in orienteering this time of the year. The most important races of the season are months away and in a normal winter most of Scandinavia would still be under a thick snow cover. The orienteering elite are however now gathered in the southeastern most part of Europe to get the season under way tomorrow south of Kemer on the Mediterranean coast.

I am strongly focusing on quantity in my training and during the last few weeks in Andalucía I’ve done orienteering more frequently than ever before. It will pay off at some point, but is the time? I tend to become more critical towards my orienteering = accepting less mistakes the more I orienteer so it should be good leading up to these races.

The weekend starts off with the middle distance qualification tomorrow and hopefully final on Saturday. The terrains are exotic in their stoniness, but there may also be some ancient stone coffins and ruins along my route choices. Sunday starts a new era in sprint orienteering as the first official mixed sprint relay sees daylight on the streets of Kemer City.

Please have a look at my Kiririnki crowd funding project at Kiririnki if you would like to see me maximize my potential. You can get yourself cool fan products with my slogan to get yourself going too!

It all starts with a dream, January 23rd 2014

As an athlete in an individual sport the hard work is done to improve oneself, for oneself. There is a strive to reach towards ones dreams, because if one doesn’t have a clear picture of where one wants to be in the future there is hardly enough motivation to push oneself out of the comfort zone. When an athlete reaches his goal it also feels good to get recognition from the outside. It was an honor to be voted 2nd in Finland’s Athlete of the Year celebrations last week - only surpassed by javelin thrower Tero Pitkämäki. This nomination was good for orienteering but it proves my gold has also touched other Finns. Thank You for the respect!

Each time I dress the blue-and-white national racing kit I am proud of being a Finn. Therefore wearing the blue-white-and-red kit of IFK Lidingö SOK from now on should feel natural. I have decided to switch to the Swedish club, based in Stockholm, in order to spark a new stimulus for development. A new environment and a change in coaching should have me focusing better in the races where it really matters and we should also have a good chance at topping the result boards at 10mila & Jukola. Switching from a club sounds to some like turning ones back to friends and being selfish. For me it just felt like the right time to move on and I hope Lynx dreams high for the future. For all the rest of you out there - get used to the sight below, because that's all you are going to see of me! 

Champions show the way with some support, January 13th 2014

Sports is a vital part of a healthy society. Growing up playing sports leads to a healthier population and better behaving citizens. I was recently selected the Athlete of the year in the Helsinki metropolitan area and have been top5 in a number of other polls. Therefore I am somewhat of a role model for younger people, especially for those who can identify themselves in me. The official “Athlete of the Year” in Finland will be selected on January 14th in Helsinki, but I am already honored by the respect the Finns have given to me up to now.

I am grateful for the support for my athletic career I have received over the years from various institutions - without them I could not have come this far. Now it seems like the Olympic Committee in Finland is setting up a system where the best athletes are not getting the most support. Instead those who have been within the support system before gets continued support even with inferior results and being a World Champion is not enough to get a full athlete scholarship. There has not yet been a published decision on how the athlete scholarships will be distributed, but some athletes have nonetheless already been getting  deposits for their scholarships. I am not the only one affected by these new odd rules and therefore, on behalf of all involved, I would like to start a conversation whether the criteria are fair? Whenever I feel like there is injustice it is healthier to open up rather than bury ones concerns. 

I have now wrapped up the high altitude training camp in Dullstroom, South-Africa. My training is no secret and all my workouts can from now on be easily accessed through the Movescount plugin on the main page of my blog. I got started with running again in the end of December and have now already been able to run some quality workouts, while the base building has been done on a mountain bike.

Anytime one comes to a new place the surroundings are usually unknown. For adventurous athletes this might be the perfect motivation to go out exploring the wild. I know most orienteers have an inborn need to find new tracks & loops. I have found the Navigation feature of the Suunto Ambit I am using an invaluable tool to explore new terrain without getting lost. It is possible to plan a route in Movescount on a Google Map and use it to stay on the right track while on the go. I did a hike atop the Table Mountain in Cape Town and would for sure have gotten lost without this magnificent aid.

Table Mtn Route on MovescountAmbit Route

Rally from Taita Hills to the Independence Day Reception, December 5th 2013

Since I don’t have much to report concerning training as I have just started a new buildup this post will focus on other aspects of life as it’s lived in a rural town in Taita Hills, Kenya. I am a regular here as I have done my Masters Research here in 2010 and after that come back for various research tasks through the University of Helsinki which has a Research Station here. Wundanyi town lies on 1400m above sea level and is surrounded by lush green hills where degraded dirt roads connect villages while most houses a reached only by pedestrian trails. As I return here this feels like my 2nd home since the staff as the Research Station is welcoming & helpful and the atmosphere around the hilly nature is soothing.

One of my great passions in life is to experience new cultures in their true form. Going places briefly as a tourist you just touch on the surface of the everyday vibe but going around doing everyday chores within a society for a longer period you get to appreciate the full array of feelings in action. Returning to your own culture you’ll see the daily customs from the outside and learn to appreciate some while you’d rather adapt some you’ve seen abroad.

This time in Taita Hills I got to experience The Classic Safari Rally, which went by the Research Station on the very same meandering roads I usually run on. The Rally called for some rerouting of my bike routes to my mapping venue at Mount Vuria, but it was not the cause for the 58km whole-day adventure I had on Sunday. It’s not every day you tackle 1400+ meters of gain during a bike ride on solely dirt roads and suffer a half a dozen punctures!

My mapping task at Vuria was successful in all the joy it brought to me and my research assistant Darius. While discussing everything from the Taita custom of stealing ones wife to corruption and the various school manners we’ve covered pristine cloud forests with endemic trees, amazing viewpoints of Mt. Kilimanjaro and even trespassed a scull cave. Now there’s a Land Cover map of this valuable biodiversity hotspot available for future researchers and hikers alike.

As I am grateful for this opportunity to do research at Taita Hills I bought a turkey for thanksgiving for the Research Station staff. Picking the turkey from a farm, bargaining and transporting it back in the car before it’s slaughtered in the backyard is part of the deal but providing this never-before-experienced treat to these people was priceless! The everyday good dead was easy to accomplish by every day I drove giving a peasant from the rural village a ride to the market town, but the smile on the Research Station staff’s faces received when donating 5 pieces of clothes a piece was truly rewarding.

Going back to Finland I need to remember to drive on the right side, use utensils when eating spaghetti and not pick fruits from a tree when hungry but I promise I won’t just blend in and quietly feel sorry for myself on the bus. As I am celebrating the Finnish Independence Day at the President’s reception on 6.12. I will also remember Darius who on that same day goes back to his wife’s house to finally - after 7 years since the stealing - pay for his wife!

Recouping cuneiform bone & peroneal tendon, November 17th 2013

New York City Marathon was an awesome experience although I am still yet to experience finishing in Central Park, which 50,304 people in this year’s race did. After a confusing hours spent looking for my start-group at the start I got to the start line on-time and warmed up with Geoffrey Mutai, Tsegaye Kebede, Yuki Kawauchi, Bob Tahri, Meb Keflezighi and the crew. Right from the gun I could feel that my left ankle wasn’t functioning normally, but thought it might warm up along the way. Looking behind me as I reached the top of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in 2nd place I could see some 54,000 runners behind me! Soon thereafter I found a group running a stable pace and got through 10k in 33:52, 20km in 1:08:32 and 25km in 1:26:47 enjoying the full-packed streets of Brooklyn. I could feel my ankle wasn’t getting any better and as I reached the Queensboro bridge connecting Queens to Manhattan the street was quiet and I finally heard the pain shooting through from my ankle. My left thigh had been overworking as it tried to compensate and was already numb too. I tried to massage my ankle and calf, but running was out of the question after I slipped into my shoe again. Walking back through Manhattan & Central Park in the 6°C was quite confusing as I was cheered on as a winner, while I was freezing in my bare singlet limping around through police blockades.

A few days later I found out from an MRI that I have a small partial tear of the peroneal tendon and bone marrow edema indicating overload of the intermedial cuneiform bone, which means the bone is at risk of a true stress fracture. The problems started in early summer, but I’m glad I had access to quality healthcare during the season. The injury calls for a good break during which I will be refreshing my body & soul in order to be hungry at the start of a new training season. I will be starting the training with crosstraining & weight training - this way I won’t eat away the gain of strength by running workouts on back to back days. I have been working with an osteopath for a few months now and think I can improve my kinetic chain through a better posture and hopefully stay injury free while running more powerful.

Thank You for remembering: I received the Orienteer of the Year award as well as the Mika Kuisma -trophy during the season ending festivities by the Finnish Orienteering Federation. Unfortunately I was not able to be present at the festivities as I am in Kenya for a few weeks time working on my mapping research and conducting some GIS & Remote Sensing training for Kenya Forest Service personnel.

During the successful 2013 season I did 600 hours of training of which 270 hours was running, 170 h orienteering, 31 h xc skiing, 23 h biking, 22 h weights, 21 h circuit training, 63 h other. I managed to cover only 4500 km on my feet, due to a slow start after the surgery in September 2012 but did more orienteering than ever before. My training was according to Heart Rate Zones divided into 52% easy, 28% moderate, 9% hard, 9% very hard and 1,5% maximal effort. The outcome was good and I implemented lots of good elements, but I can still concentrate on better quality. However, my philosophy is that an athlete should not repeat the same practice too long if he wishes to see improvement. I hope I will find a physical coach/mentor soon who shares these ideas and can guide me on the way forward with some of his own.

Halfway Around the Globe to a Broadway Pemiere, November 2nd 2013

I have lived up to the World Wide Måre theme of this blog during the last few weeks. After having journeyed through Malaysia, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden and China I am now in the Big Apple getting ready to run 42,195km through the 5 boroughs tomorrow. Before the end of the year I still have plans to gasp some of Kenya and South-Africa. At times it have felt like I have had to switch currencies a little too often but I have definitely enjoyed every minute of each culture.

I have never been as inadequately prepared at the start of a marathon as I will be tomorrow morning. But getting a perfect result is not always the goal - participating and having fun while doing it is the main thing. The premiere of the Finding Strong movie on Broadway tonight should also pump my motivation quite a bit, especially since I’m starring in it. Any movie promising to unveil “a Journey to Uncover the Transformative Power of Running” would!

You are never alone, or you are lost, October 8th 2013

The explosiveness of my body was buried into the Trentino forests during the week spent training in next years’ WOC-terrains. Technically my performance in today´s World Cup Final was decent (including 2 subpar route-choices), but physically I was too passive, both at the start and at forcing through the parks. I suffered an injury in my jalkapohja in Saturday’s middle distance which was making me too careful in the bends. I ended up as 2Xth?? without ever having a chance to challenge today’s best, Mathias Kyburz. The middle distance was good throughout and I am really happy with my 20th place there. At the end of the season my name shows as 11th in the World Cup total standings. Far better than I dared to imagine after the start in New Zealand in January. It’s been a long season and I give credit to the top names - impressive to keep the flow throughout such a long season of World Cup racing!

If I remain healthy I will round up this year’s racing with Swedish 25-manna, some PWT races in China and the New York City Marathon. Plans for next year is naturally already in my mind and it is clear that orienteering will be my main focus, as the defending World Champion in sprint orienteering. Other than that a lot is still open.

The team I had built up towards WOC in Vuokatti included persons with various special skills which complemented each other. Physical coach Jari Ikäheimonen commanding the big picture as the captain was clearly unparalleled. He repeatedly reminded me that we are pursuing the level needed for a medal and demanded me to be all in, every day. Strength coach Atte Pettinen brought needed stimulus from outside the control circle while I had a row of people helping me find my strengths inside and between the circle. The support from my sponsors, the National Team, Lynx & Sjundeå IF helped me stay on the right track. Staying healthy throughout all training phases is crucial, but the people giving their input to that are too many to name here. Within the next few weeks I hope to find the puzzle pieces needed to give myself a chance to exceed future expectations towards a World Champion. If you have something to offer to make me better I would like to hear from You!

Måre's BBQ, September 7th 2013

I don’t want to sound all sentimental, but sports is all about feelings. My season continued with 10000m in the Finnkampen rivalry FIN-SWE at the 1912 Olympic Stadium in Stockholm. Times don’t really matter, but beating the odds and the swedes do. We put up a fight and got, as the clear statistics underdogs, the majority of the points. The atmosphere was good and even if swede Mikael Ekvall and Jarkko Järvenpää crossed the line before me I was happy with my performance and time 29:57.86. My tactics of fluctuating the pace at the 2nd half in order to drop the swedes worked for me, but Måre's BBQ was rough for others. There's a videoclip of a brave contender as a link in the image below.

This mini track season was a good snack as I am sure a working on speed in the legs don’t hurt in future orienteering challenges. I concentrated on track workouts in August and have rested my orienteering brain, which got an overload of O-thinking leading up to WOC. This way I should be fresh for the rest of the seasons O, into which I go as a World Champion. Orienteering is a mind game and it remains to be seen if I can live up to the expectations from my title. I believe if I keep up my style and enjoy the challenges relaxed it will feel easy!

Digesting Gold in the Alps & Apennines, August 8th 2013

Living as a world champion of orienteering in Finland brings quite a bit more attention than walking around as a PhD student/ orienteering mapper. It’s not that I do not like the change, but it felt good to get away to digest the gold medal in peace. Trekking around Mt.Blanc for days with only dry clothes in the backpack was truly rewarding to my adventurous mind and wine tasting in Piedmont before getting back on the map was perfectly relaxing. The 5 Days of the Apennines fulfilled my orienteering needs, but getting used to the Italian way of life and running on WOC2014 mapmakers maps was the key point. The city O of Genova included dirty, seductive looks while the relaxed ambiance of the sprintO in Camogli is hard to beat.

The Engadin valley is one of my favorite places on earth and there, on the illustrious St. Moritz track I commenced my track workouts for the year. My stride on the rubber surface felt brilliant, despite bonking the day before on a 3+ hour trek on the mountainside. Perhaps I still have hope to slip on the Finnish track uniform this fall if I keep my stride fresh.

Relying in our own four wheels on the 2800km way home from the Alps permits stopping at appealing spots on the way. A day of driving was nicely split by a sprintO under the majestic TV-tower in Alexandersplatz, Berlin another by a run in Warsaw’s Lazienki Park, and a chain of culinary incidents made each days’ drive the more worthwhile. Returning to the daily life of Finland feels more meaningful against the backdrop of the 10 countries/cultures visited during this summers’ road trip.

World Champion, July 11th 2013

I definitely found my flow in my orienteering in the sprint final at the World Orienteering Championships in Sotkamo, Finland on Monday. I was able to execute my plan to focus on my orienteering and ignore any physical sensations along the course. The loud supporting crowd gave me a tailwind and with the course being extremely demanding my strategy was the right one. As I finished the race it felt like I had done a perfect race - a feeling one wish to have along the way to avoid any side thoughts. One has to decide on the next route choice without hesitation by the time one punches. The goal is naturally to constantly take the optimal route, but that’s a huge challenge on such a course. In this race I did the best orienteering decisions and had the fastest legs and therefore I crushed the field by 17,1 seconds!

I became the 5th Finn to win the World Championships in orienteering (held since 1966) and the 1st one in the Sprint Distance. Fulfilling one of my long time dreams is amazing, but doing it one home ground with the wildest audience (?!) in orienteering’s history makes it double the fun. The Gold medal feels well deserved, but I could not have achieved it without the team around me - coaches Jari Ikäheimonen & Atte Pettinen have designed the polishing of the diamond, my family has supported my choices and my club (Lynx), Team Finland, sponsors & colleagues have been sympathetic.

Thanks for all the support both along my athletic career and out there in Hiukka stadium. I believe this Gold is significant for the Finnish athletics folks, but before I celebrate any more I will try to fulfill these World Championships by representing my country in the relay on Saturday, together with Jani Lakanen & Tero Föhr.

There's a Day After Tomorrow, July 7th 2013

I have been able to keep an upward trend in my training up until WOC2013 in Vuokatti and now, a day before the Sprint, I feel relaxed and rested. Running in front of a large home crowd will make my heart throb even before I get the map, but I do not feel extra stress from it. This will be my 5th WOC (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), but the one I have been able to prepare best for, as I have had total focus on orienteering for more than a year.

The goal in the race is to enjoy the feeling - I know how to tackle the trickiest labyrinths in full speed.

Expecting a hot summer, June 12th 2013

The summer is well on its way and a good one it's been so far. I have been able to transfer the good winter & spring training period to quality races in the last few days - 2nd fastest in Nordic Orienteering Tour's final stage in Kuusisto along with stellar sprint performances in Stigtuna & Turku qualification. As I did not get up on the podium at a single race at this World Cup round I still have factors I need to work on. I have been selected to run the sprint distance at the World Orienteering Champs, but still contend for a spot in white & blue also for middle/relay. My orienteering performances have been extremely stable, which is a good starting point for development - but a medal run needs to incorporate controlled agressiveness. Physically I have reached a good level, but there is now room for developing sessions also outside of racing. It is nice to have WOC at home ground, since I may spend the last preparing period in familiar surroundings, and without taxing travelling.

I was recently named a member of the Athlete Commision at the International Orienteering Federation. The athletes in this forum aim at making the sport fair for everyone and try to prevent race formats such as that seen in the Finnish Huippuliiga final to gain ground. At Jukola next weekend in Jämsä - the orienteering family's highlight of the year - most participants will get an unforgettable experience. Some will win, most will not. From my last year's experience of running in pitch black forest in the lead of Jukola's 1st leg I advice: Danger is very real, but fear is a choice.

Testing... testing, May 7th 2013

Having methods to evaluate how the training has bitten in certain periods is important to find out which kind of exercises improve ones physical capability. The tests should be planned to specifically evaluate the physical capabilities needed in ones race day performance, they should be done repeatedly and in uniform conditions. As the physical part of the sprint distance in orienteering can be broken down into 12-15min running with corners/obstacles resulting in accelerations, the 3000m stop-n-go sprintertest (with a punch every 200m) and the 6x40m/3' are appropriate tests.

In the last few weeks I have done a treadmill test, blood count, doping test, lactate control test 6x40m/3' and spirometry tests for asthma. From knowing that my VO2max is 72ml/kg/min, my aerobic threshold is at 4'00"/km & 152 HR and my anaerobic threshold is 3'26"/km & 172 HR I can better control my daily exercise level. As my blood iron storage was low I have opted to take a regimen of iron and know nothing else referred to anything being wrong upon the most important stage of the training year. I will be using some medication by which my asthma should be healed, improving my maximal physical capability. From the 6x40m/3' I have learnt that I need to focus on transferring all the strength training I have done throughout the winter to my acceleration speed.

In the beginning of the training season I had plans to try to aim at both the sprint distance and the long distance for the World Orienteering Champs in Finland. As I won the 1st stage of the Finnish Huippuliiga series (which was a WOC test race) and was far slower than the best at the Silva League long distance races the following weekend the choice is getting clearer. I did however accomplish to run a 3rd fastest time on the 7th leg at 10mila starting in the restart, as the Lynx teammate Niklas Saramäki suffered a bad injury on the long night -leg. That shows I am capable of keeping a good pace also in the forest and the Silva League terrains were not anywhere near to those which awaits at Tipasoja WOC-long distance.

During the last weeks I have also tested exerting a mustache, but this test FAILED, based on the feedback I have received at home...

Complete Andalucia, April 7th 2013

It's been 6 pairs of Sauconys, 828 run km:s and 544 orienteered controls since I left Helsinki in February (Note: not all Sauconys were new upon departure, but the smile on a Taita villager's face after donating a worn pair of trainers to them is priceless). During the sprintO sessions, mainly over Easter I navigated to 247 controls, executing the fastest route 85,4% of the time. There is still desktop work to be done in visually identifying the best route for me, although the map does not always represent the whole truth about the leg. It feels like the sprintO routine for Mauri-towns of Andalucia has caught on, now I just need to transfer it to Finnish surroundings before the start of the season at eSprint 20.4.

Barbate's La Brena forests might be the closest snow free WOC2013 Tipasoja Long distance terrains at the moment, so my decision to prepare for the season here was good. Trusting the compass direction in featureless areas and staying in bearing are lessons I've learnt during these 3 weeks exceptionally good O conditions. In the forest I found the control straight in 86,2% of the cases, but reducing the big mistakes would improve my total time the most. Just like expected my mind does not tire from orienteering weeks in a row, but I did the best technical performances on the last day of the training camp. I will spend the next months in Scandinavia, but concentrate on Tipasoja-like terrains, with the first long distance starts in Silva League in Tibro 27-28.4. By now the forests should be accessible in southern Finland, but at least until today only in snowshoes...

Running up off Africa, March 26th 2013

The rainy season commenced in Taita Hills as I was finishing up my time there. The training regime we had planned for the period was fulfilled and the hills did not burden my going anymore at the end. Without trying to gain ascents I monitored with my Suunto Ambit that I did 4500m:s of climbing during one regular weeks running training. The first twenty days in Taita I was mapping indigenous forest patches around Vuria at 1800-2200m altitude, while the last 10 days passed teaching Kenyan foresters in GIS and GPS fieldwork. Some days I combined work with training quite effectively as I recorded paths while running around - who said it is not possible to combine running and work?

I have now joined the Finnish orienteering national team in Andalucía, Spain where I will be spending three weeks orienteering daily, if all goes as planned. We live in Caños de Meca on a map which extends 10km over varying sandy terrain, in addition to nearby tricky old towns for sprintO. Fortunately for my African withdrawal symptoms, we are so far south in Europe, that I can see Africa daily across the strait of Gibraltar. I cannot recall a time when I would have done this much orienteering so I have to be careful that I do not overdue it - usually the effect afterwards an O intensive block has been criticality towards even the smallest mistakes. In such an inspiring surrounding I have started analyzing my O technique with some new tools. My challenge is performance control throughout the course and in order to find where I get sidetracked I need to monitor my doing thought by thought on top of the GPS-curve.

Mambo vipi?, February 22nd 2013

I had planned to update my blog soon after returning from my last trip to Kenya. Two weeks in Helsinki flew by and now I'm surrounded by rainforest again - perhaps I've had too much on my table lately... The change back to tidyness, promptlyness, darkness and running in the snow as opposed to the blistering sun is motivating. I do appreciate the comfort of the snow packed paths in Helsinki but they are by no means ideal training conditions this time of the year.

On the way home from Africa I took the opportunity to do sprintO at Bergen Sprint Camp in early February. It was great to get another assurance of a succesful training program midwinter as I was fastest in 2/4 races against the norwegian national team. The weekend offered a set of excellent technical challenges and the streets were mostly firm.

My program cosists of much more orienteering specific training as opposed to having a pure running focus. For me, personally, it is important to have it clear in your mind what each workout serves in perspective to my goal - running well at WOC in Vuokatti in July.

Here at Taita Hills the wait for the rains continues as does my mapping of the indigenous forests in between runs on the hilly mountain tracks.

Getting around New Zealand, January 16th 2013

Running World Cup orienteering in January is something out of the ordinary, but doing it in the 3rd southernmost country of the world makes the image more acceptable. New Zealand boast with extraordinary nature, and experiencing that was personally equally as important as getting good routine from racing on the highest international level early in the home WOC season. Due to the northern winter athletes might not have exhibited their top physical level, but challenging terrains made all focus slightly sharper on the navigation.

Woodhill forest provided the best training possibilities for WOC 2013 long distance available at this time of the year, but our first week down under was mostly occupied by touring the north island in our Lucky Rental shag wagon. We ran into a 14m circumference 2000 year old kauri tree, ran on hot water beaches, kayaked through waterfalls and admired one grassy open sheep landscape after the other.

Soon after New Year’s we ventured southwards, away from the equator, to explore the geothermal wonders and breathe in the volcanic landscapes of Mt. Doom in Tongariro National Park. A long run along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing was enjoyable, but might have left the energy level in deficit for the 1st World Cup race on the dunes outside of Levin. My orienteering was not totally in control on the sandy knolls and ended up missing a control despite getting a grasp of the O later on along the course. I thought I had just orienteered sloppily and therefore found myself way of at the 11th control, but in the finish I found out I had somehow navigated straight from the 9th to the 11th without being anywhere near the 10th.

The sprint consisted on a qualification & final in windy Wellington. I was satisfied with the run around the Parliament house and even if I for the 1st time in 4 months felt like I was running with a good stride just barely made it to the final. Not even the 3 earthquakes occurring during the race could distract me from satisfaction of the heel healing process. The final offered tricky route choices, where the run distance was 3x the crow flies distance, right from the start and I lost lots of time. Also physically I had a weak day and ended in a 31st spot in the hilly, overlong race.

After a few days of recovery, wine tastings and excellent sprint trainings under the sunny skies of Hawke’s Bay it was time for the double middle distance World Cup Event 3. The hills behind Napier had trees far apart but dense contours. The prologue in the morning did not create too big a challenge, since I had already gripped using trees and fences for navigation. The loss to the best was purely physical. I was able to continue in the same manner in the final and advanced a few places to 24th in the brutal heat and the terrain offering no shade. Perhaps I had managed keeping cool lying in the nearby river better than most, since I didn’t hit the wall until in the last loop from the map change.

Overall I was happy with what I accomplished during the New Zealand trip and confident I can start running more now during the next two weeks while in Taita Hills, Kenya. There is lots of work to do but I'm getting to the stage where I have the legs to reach for where I need to be in a few months time. Even though it’s a long trip to far away I refused the offer of selling my southern hemisphere compass to a young fan. Rumors are there will be a World Cup in Tasmania in 2 years...

The races page has been hacked so I haven’t updated that – any hints in how to fix the bug there will result in a fan-pack from!

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