Thursday, December 27, 2012

Return to WOC 2011

Boy, time sure does fly by when you’re having fun!! Or rather, it seems to go by at super speed when you’re having a blast training with the best of the best while juggling class, exams, and other less entertaining things. With the snow comes the infamous volume training period dun dun duuuunnn... two hour long runs in the snow, training camps to the south of France to avoid the aforementioned snow, and lots of good times spent dreaming of spring competitions and warmer weather. These past few years I've always managed to injure myself around this time, but this year I have a very different type of plan up my sleeve!

But first, let me rewind… my winter training period started almost two months ago when I travelled to la Féclaz for five days with le Pôle and the likes of François Gonon, Baptiste Rollier, Monika Topinková, Oleksandr Kratov, and Nadiya Volynska. To say the least, it was a pretty elite crowd but one of the friendliest that I have ever had the opportunity to train with! I think everyone was able to improve their english, including me, since it was such an international group. We spent two days in Annecy on the Semnoz French World Cup map and the other three on the 2011 World Champs terrain. As per usual, there were lots of quality mistakes made but I think the highlights were definitely the improvements that I saw in my navigation between now and two years ago while preparing for WOC 2011. 
Unfortunately, my tour of Arith did not include control 2
I can still remember the first time that I ventured onto Arith totally unaware of the bottomless pits scattered across the hillside, the expanses of bare rock and the hundreds of cliffs strategically mapped so that you’re always second-guessing your exact location. That fateful training I managed to travel 2 kilometers in two hours and I don’t recall ever really knowing where I was or finding many of the controls. I was just a blubbering mess wandering through the woods when my coach happened to stumble across me while picking up the controls and told me that perhaps it would be best if I just ran back on the trails… Arith reduced me to tears twice that year so when Philippe told me that Sunday night we would be running a 5 kilometer course from the top of the map to the bottom, to put it lightly, I was just a tad concerned that this may be the last orienteering training of my career. When we headed out I was equipped with an extra battery for my headlamp, two whistles (in case I lost one of them…?) and some cookies so that I was sure to survive at least a few days if engulfed by a bottomless pit. Even with all these precautions I was flabbergasted when I headed out into the terrain and started doing some of the most spectacular orienteering of my whole entire life! Relocation at the best of times is impossible in that terrain, so before heading out my pep talk focused on always knowing where I was but more importantly knowing where I was going. No more of that bologna of “running-in-the-direction-of-the-feature-and-hoping-to-see-it”. I was in a life or death situation so if I was leaving one element I had to be 100% sure of the direction I was going if I wanted to hit the next one. As a result, I knew precisely where I was every step of the way… it was incredible; it was stupendous; it was unbelievable!!! It's trainings like those that really make you go; "Wow, is this real life? Did I really just survive that training?" That week I ran five night trainings in a row and this last one was definitely the pinnacle of challenging! But we orienteers live for these sorts of things; a spectacular training that leaves us on a high for hours afterwards and make us feel ecstatic to be alive and running through the woods!

Complete training with route
That week I trained a total of eighteen hours, with thirteen of those being high-technical orienteering trainings … a new record for me since I’ve moved to France. My fragile knees (for those who don’t follow my training on Attackpoint my knees have been my relentless weak point since August 2010) held up like real troopers, however, the rest of my body was running off the reserves. Recovery goes hand in hand with high levels of training and unfortunately it took me a good few days to get back to functioning properly. Symptoms of over training can include not sleeping well at night, loss of appetite, and in my case, going bat crazy! One of my tougher learned lessons is that you have to recover as hard as you trained which is difficult for someone who takes so much pleasure from training. As a result, I'm trying to get used to spending more time aqua-jogging in the pool and taking actual rest days. You know those days where you don't actually train?... Not even some core work? Nope! Not even some cycling? No Emily resting means sitting at home and catching up on writing your blog posts! Yes, yes I know that I have been scandalously absent from my duty of writing about my wonderful adventures but I promise that these next few weeks I'll catch up! Some highlights include volcanoes and riding an elephant so stay tuned!! 

In the meantime I would like to send everyone my best wishes for the holidays and soon to be New Year! Salut, until next time!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


For those who don’t know me, my name is Emily Kemp, I run for Canada, and orienteering fuels my passion for life. Two years ago I moved my life across the ocean so that I could train full time with the French in le Pôle France and I’ve never looked back since. There have been some absolutely fantastic experiences and some moments where life wasn’t the fireworks that I expected it to be.

I’ve wanted to start this blog for a while now and I have my brother, Eric Kemp, programmer extraordinaire, to thank for creating this absolutely fantastic page.
Since moving to Europe, I have had so many new and exciting experiences where I have learned... many lessons most frequently the hard way. I’m hoping that with this blog I’ll be able to share my adventures of my travels, competitions, and epic training camps so that everyone back home, and around the world, might be able to learn a few lessons the easier way.

JWOC this year took me from a super high of winning a bronze medal, to a super low of breaking my arm and not even being able to wash my own hair by myself. I took almost 3 weeks off training in the summer which I thought would be exceedingly difficult but actually turned out to be quite healing since my body was in dire need of a break (no pun intended). As soon as I got back into training though I was practically starving to regain my form and start preparing for next season. I had all this motivation but it was only the beginning of September when most other athletes were thinking about ending their season and taking a bit of a break. To say the least, I was absolutely over the moon when I got the email saying that le Pôle France would be travelling to Italy for a week-long training camp in the WOC 2014 terrain.

The perfect height for our accommodation!

We spent 5 days training on some of the most gorgeous terrain that I have ever orienteered in! As you can tell, you could see forever in the wide open woods but the rocky ground meant that you had to keep an eye on your feet. There were contour lines a plenty which either had your legs burning running up, or your eyes tearing up as you flew down.

We ran through some exceedingly tricky terrain but also some terrain with only larger movements where knowing which level of the hill you were on was essential. In the map sample on the right, would you have taken the upper route along the trail, straight across, or down to the field and up the trail? It's still a debate in le Pôle as to which would be the fastest during a race :)

I was able to do some pretty clean orienteering...

... but I also had my fair share of disasters.


I think two of the best trainings that we did during that week were the two night-os on a map 'just' above our accommodation. Philippe Adamski, Celestin Crespin, and I started on our 30min run to the start with almost 300m of climb and got to the top just as the sun was setting. We were able to look back over the valley with the mountains and all the twinkling lights of the village below and just be happy to be alive! Unfortunately, that joy was short lived since I ended up getting utterly lost quite a few times during the training... see last map image above... However, I'm not one to let a course get the better of me, so the last night of the camp we headed back up to re-run the same course but at "race pace" which was more "knowing where the heck I'm going pace" for me. The new flow was amazing!

According to Philippe, the goal is to now manage that the first time around ;)

The training camps that I've done in Europe have always held the best memories and it’s where I think I’ve advanced the most in my orienteering technique. There's something about living and breathing orienteering for 4 or 5 days at a time that give you a real boost! I was actually a bit sad to say goodbye to the mountains of Italy, to the delicious food, and the friendly people but at least I know I'll be back in 2014!