#WUOCForever

After a couple weeks off, it is officially time to update you all on the WUOC trip as a final wrap up for the teams summer travels!

Some team members started to arrive in Switzerland on August 13th to get in some training before going into the week of competition. We squeezed ourselves into a hostel room (that was honestly quite cool – a number of team members said the building reminded them of a climbing gym) and got out on some maps.

The first was a sprint training out the door of our hostel, through the crowd of people watching a band play, and around the city past a lot of confused people eating dinner. A lovely “shakeout” that wasn’t really a shakeout because we were all too excited and moving quickly.

The next day we went on an adventure on a 2014 map that had a 1:11,200 scale? Which we were all confused about until our lovely teammate Thomas pointed out that the name of the training translated to “And I say this training fits on A4”. Still weird though.

This training was AJ’s favorite memory of the week because he “orienteered for the first time in months which was fun.” We love seeing AJ orienteering, even if it isn’t at his normal pace.

Note the scale

We had a number more trainings over a few days and then moved to the official accommodations for the beginning of the actual WUOC (yes WUOC, never WUCO as they are trying to change it) week, and to meet up with the rest of the team who had gotten in a couple days later – so exciting! Julia, Kirsten and I (Bridget) had an adventure on the trains and up the cable car while the others decided to go with the boring option and drove…boo.

Cable Car Squad

We had a couple model events on the day before the start of races that were very telling for the type of orienteering to come (funny how that works, seeing as that is technically the point of a model event…).
This is how a couple team members described the terrain (from after the races hence the race mentions):

Danny – Nothing we haven’t already seen before. Only the undergrowth was unpleasant and to be avoided; even the dark green was runnable, just with bad visibility. The white woods that you could see at the finish of the middle and sporadically throughout the long and relay were of course fantastic, especially with their placement at the end of all the races for a speedy last few minutes.

Oriana - If only the rides in America were like this ….
Overall, I really liked the Swiss woods from my one venture into them. I HATE HATE HATE blackberry bushes, give me a course full of blueberries before you give me one leg full of blackberries, but the logging paths were beautiful, the streams were very readable and the white woods were epically visible and runnable. Also appreciated the sincere lack of rocky ground because I am always afraid for my ankles on them.

Jessica – Honestly it had lots of similarities to my home terrain (COC), the green was hard to go through and a lot of the vegetation looked similar. I would have loved the middle terrain if it hadn’t involved so much climb because having roughly the same amount of climb on the long and middle was brutal. In the long, it was almost always the best bet to use the trails, which I’m very used to at Cascade.

Eddie – Sometimes unforgiving, sometimes beautiful. It depends on how the course is going.

Diana – I liked the terrain, the middle had the best technical terrain, the long and relay had lots of trails. Overall there was too much climb.

Tyler – middle was more hilly than I had expected, lots of blackberry bushes

AJ – Kinda ugly. Like Greg.

Sprint Day – first day of competition!

We had the morning to chill, do a little shakeout, hang out with the team, and then had a cable car trip down the hill to walk to quarantine where we watched a gymnastics class and played hearts for too long.

I think it’s safe to say that the team enjoyed the sprint. It was a very different style than that of Portugal which was a good switch of pace for those of us at JWOC. Also, they were so efficient at stopping cars for the athletes – it was kinda crazy.

This was Tyler’s favorite race because he “really loved the tempo and the finish at the church in the old town.”

For every event they gave us a warm up and cooldown map, and I think that the sprint cooldown map was the cutest, tiniest map I have seen. Not quite sure why they didn’t just say go down these stairs and run between the barriers, but I’ll take it.

The tiny CD map

Women’s Results
Men’s Results

Long Day and so the early wake ups begin…

First start was 9:00 which meant really early buses – 6:20 for the runners in the first time block – and even earlier wake ups. The great thing about this meant we got to see sunrise.

The long race was mainly a trail race. You basically wanted to avoid all green and get to the trails as much as possible (this technique was confirmed by our swiss friends). But the hills and large trail network did make for some interesting route choices!

Women’s Results
Men’s Results

Eddie’s favorite race of the week was the long because “it tested [his] physical limits (which [he] met) and it showed [him] many ways to improve.” Diana also said it was her favorite “because [it’s her] favorite distance and compared to the rest of [her] races it went the best and [she] had the most fun on it.”

Because it was sprint relay the next day which started in the afternoon, we had some time to chill out together which lead to a lot of card playing. For Oriana, this was her favorite part of the week: “Even though I loved the orienteering, I feel like the US WUOC team had such a lovely group of people and just hanging around the accommodations and playing games with them was so special to me.” Eddie said a similar thing: “Playing cards and getting to meet everyone! What made the trip great was having a supportive and cohesive team.”

A game of Screw the Dealer

Sprint Relay – the name of the game was DO NOT MIS-PUNCH

Keegan was getting a lot of crap for the mis-punch on the JWOC relay, and so the emphasis for the team was to just not mis-punch. Julia led the team off, followed by Danny, then Keegan ran off [the map], and Oriana wrapped it all up. The rest of us got to watch the extremely exciting (but also quite nerve-wracking, at least for me) race.

This race was many peoples favorite of the week:

Oriana – The sprint relay was my favorite. Since I “mass” started with the Brazilian girl*, I had a rush of motivation to push myself really hard physically. And I was able to do so without it detracting from my navigation. Kind of felt like I was on autopilot the entire time and, all in all, it worked out pretty well.

Danny – Probably the sprint relay. It was a decently technical and somewhat trappy map; for my second ever European city sprint it was so cool to see just how usable the passages and alleyways were in a sprint setting. Plus jogging to the start with the rest of the leg 2 runners was incredibly fun, it was like being among a bunch of racecars on the lap before the start, there was so much energy.

Julia – Sprint relay because sprints rock and the mass start energy with the team there to cheer makes them even better!

“Cheering on the team during the sprint relay” was one of Tyler’s favorite memories of the week, as well as bridge jumping (more on that later…)

*editors note: the organizers put a limit on how far back teams could be from the leader on the start of the last leg, so when it had been 10 minutes from the leading teams last handoff they conducted a mini mass start of the remaining teams

To make the day even more exciting, we went to the Coop after the race and we all got some much needed ice cream.

Middle Day – the day of the epic finish chute

The middle was another early wake up day for many. The course was an exciting less than half of the long with basically the same amount of climb (10.7k with 280m vs 3.7k with 250m for the women) which was a little horrifying. And that reflected in the courses as we headed directly up a hill for the first three controls.

I honestly think that this was my favorite race. I had quite a nightmare on a bunch of the controls, but it was much more interestingly technical than the long or relay. I also got to run with a bunch of people for a number of the controls, and was leading the whole group through the last loop which was satisfying in a way as we hit them all dead on.

This was the race of the horrifying finish chute however – down a steep hill, immediately into an almost 360 degree turn to go back up slightly and punch. There were a number of wipeouts.


Women’s Results
Men’s Results

We had a lot of free time in the afternoon, and at one point we all received a text from Julia in the group chat: “anyone wanna go jump in a river.” After a number of complaints about having just showered, some of the squad headed down the cable car towards town. Diana had missed the messages, so we waited for her at the bottom, and made a sign to greet her:

DIANA

Apparently this was Diana’s favorite memory of the week so we win.

Then we made our way towards bridges we might be able to jump off. We found one that seemed possible, but the water wasn’t the nicest and we weren’t completely sure how deep it was so, after a lot of hesitation, we moved on. As we were walking to the next possible location a local started to talk to us about the US, and we realized he would probably know if there was a good jumping bridge. He did! Oh boy did this bridge seem really high at first. A bunch of us said no way am I doing that, but Tyler “bro come on” Wilson made the first leap, inspiring most to follow; turns out most of us would jump off a bridge if our friends did…sorry mom.

Here are some blurry photos:

And if you want, videos for your entertainment.

Relay Day – the name of the game was DO NOT MIS-PUNCH and, after the sprint relay, STAY ON THE MAP

This race was in the same terrain as the long so lots of trail runs (though maybe not as many as the long?)

We had three full US Teams: Keegan, Danny, and Eddie; me, Jessica, and Julia; Diana, Kirsten, and Oriana. Tyler had the fun opportunity to run on a team with a Belgian and our adopted teammate Canadian Graeme.

This race was Kirsten’s favorite: “… because [she] was surrounded by fast later leg runners which helped increase [her] navigational confidence and motivation to push. With exception of some bobbles, [she] found a good rhythm which made it really fun.” Also Jessica’s: “The long was my best race and the one I felt the most confident on. However I think the relay was the most mentally challenging (and I enjoyed that!) and had the fun aspect of team work and lots of ways to spectate.”

Then it was banquet time!!

The US Squad rolled up in denim on denim on denim with some beautiful face sparkles (we failed to get any photos of the sparkles though? Which makes me quite sad).

There were some other great outfits from other teams as well – here are the ones that our team members liked:

Oriana – I was a big fan of the Spanish team’s scuba diving fits. The wetsuits and goggles and scuba tubes. I’m pretty sure I even saw an oxygen tank, but that might be the banquet speaking.

Tyler – the swedes (lobster fisherman?)

Danny – Canada. I don’t know what Graeme’s actual outfit was but the band gave him their t-shirt so that was cool.

Bridget – I loved the Norwegians outfits – they had green and white almost zebra striped disco pants that were absolutely amazing. 100% would love to wear those pants.

Eddie – The Germans! They had black and white striped prisoner uniforms (with numbers) that looked very interesting.

Jessica – The Swedish team dressed up as lobsters and it was fantastic.

AJ – Americans duh. We had full denim on denim on denim.

Diana – not sure, I did like the lobster outfit.

And just like that the week was over! After the late banquet night they kicked us out at nine and we all went our separate ways. Some had smooth flights, others had adventures (ex. Eddie ending up at Tyler’s for Tyler’s younger bro’s birthday party because of cancelled flights) but we all made it back safely eventually.

And that’s it for the summer blog posts! Next you’ll be hearing from the team about

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