By arriving on the 23rd I gave myself 10 days before my first race which is on the 3rd of June. This time is important to allow my body sufficient time to adjust to the new time zone, adjust to the hot climate. These 10 days are also used to give me some time to get used to the terrain. So far I have had many opportunities to check out the terrain here in Alicante and enjoy some orienteering in very different to what I typically come across in New Zealand. I aimed to focus on terrain that is most relevant to what I will come across in the races.
This is the website WUOC but it is pretty hard to find things when you want them. Hopefully the results will be easy to find. http://sd.ua.es/en/orienteering-championship
What makes the terrain here so challenging for me the the stoniness of the ground. It is very hard on your ankles and I’m finding myself stumbling around a lot. Having to watch my foot placement is also making it harder to navigate at full speed as I have to watch the ground more than usual.
The organisers have put out some training courses for us which are very valuable for getting used to the mapping. The main points that I have had some trouble with are the small cliffs which are very small and often not visible from above. Also the vegetation is often hard to understand as the trees are is very inconsistent in height and density. There are often distinctive trees mapped which seem to be a tree that is slightly separated from the surrounding trees but from some angles this isn’t clear. And these trees are totally useless for navigation from a distance since they look exactly the same as all the surrounding trees. This wouldn’t be as issue is there were other features to use, but in a number of areas there are no other significant features in the terrain to use.
Here are 2 of the training maps we ran on. The vegetation is tricky to use but crucial if you want to maintain a good running speed. The contours are mostly very vague but in rocky areas there is some detail. The spiky bushes are also leaving their toll on my legs and I spend a good hour each day pulling out splinters and prickles. There aren’t any tricks to being awesome in this terrain. The maps area accurate, the green is green, and everything is stonier that is looks.
The Hogueras de San Juan festerval has come to an end now with the burning of all the Ninots on the 24th. This was all pretty crazy to see all the water it took to keep the fires under control considering how dry Spain is! We have also been treated to the biggest and best fireworks displays I have ever seen for the 5 nights after the 24th. This must be so expensive for just a regional festival and makes us wonder how they can afford it when the economy is supposed so bad.
Another bonus of the timing of this trip was the European Football Championship which is a massive deal for Spain. A quote from Manu, “Yea, the economy is bad and they are no jobs but our football team is good so everyone is happy”. On the night of the final Jourdan, Simon and myself went into Alicante from our WUOC accommodation to watch the game. It definately reminded me of Rugby World Cup in NZ last year. There was one event centre set up with a massive screen and was totally packed full of red and yellow. The first time we heard the crowd we assumed that Spain had just scored but it was probably just Spain regaining possession. When we did hear the first goal by Spain we were blown away by the noise. For the second half we moved into the area of Alicante with the bars, all of which had a TV screen outside. It was great to see Spain play aggressively the whole game instead of just defending once they had a 2 goal lead so congratulations Spain! The streets were crazy after the game with a cacophony of shouting, charting, fireworks and car horns.
More adventures to come…