Part 3 is a continuation of Albin Ridefelt's tips on orienteering on slopes. In the previous segment, Albin shared his strategies for approaching longer and shorter legs.
I believe that mastering orienteering on slopes and hillsides will be an important key to success at O-Ringen 2018 High Coast.
Here come two more tips for successfully navigating the tricky slopes that await us next summer.
The compass might not be the first tool you think of when you think about slope orienteering, but it is in fact extremely important and should not be ignored. Keeping the correct direction while running up- or downhill is significantly more difficult than doing that on flat ground.
My suggestion is to keep your head high and try to spot features in the right direction. Ideally, these features are as far away as possible and as unique as can be. But even more important (and simpler) than that is to simply take frequent glances at your compass. I check the compass often, usually with very quick glances that take no more than several tenths of a second each. This allows me to confirm that I have maintained the approximate direction I am aiming for.
This example from a course of intermediate difficulty shows a leg where compass is truly the key. The green route choice shows how the leg can be executed by running on a careful bearing the entire way. The blue options show how a perfectly good direction out of the control can lead to losing time after just minor deviations from one's bearing. This particular leg has a trail as a good feature before the control, so such mistakes should not cost much time - but these are unnecessary seconds lost that can be avoided with a few extra direction checks along the way.
Running uphill is hard. I never want to climb any unnecessary meters and try to avoid that as best I can. This aversion to climb is something that good courses setters are often able to exploit. They can try to lure runners into taking a worse route choice instead of climbing up and finding good stretches of terrain.
The leg shown here (taken from a course of advanced difficulty level) is an example of such a situation. Here, it is important to climb early in the leg (as shown by the green route). When you have tired legs, it is easy to try and avoid the climb and end up running along the blue line. It is likely that runnability on this lower part of the slope is worse, and you still need to eventually climb the same contours up to the control, just later in the leg.
Therefore, my advice is to climb the contours you need to climb even when your legs are tired. Running along the slope in the hopes of saving a few meters of climb rarely pays off.
– Look at your compass!
– Climb the hill even when your legs are tired!