Slok went to France last week for a training camp. We spent some time in Fontainebleau and finished the week on the worldcup terrain in Clermont-Ferrand.
We left Leuven at 6 AM on monday in our university-sponsored minibus, passing Paris already required some orienteering, but we managed to arrive at our first house in an acceptable time. The owner was away for some time, so we continued to Fontainebleau itself. Swiss orienteering talent Fabienne Stucki was waiting for us (well, "us" is not quite right...) at the railway station.
Later on, we went to our first map: "Bois-Rond 3" for the first training run. We did some exercise where the first one to arrive at the spot of the control had to play control and wait for all others to pass and punch before chasing the group. This gives nice effects when two people both think they are at the right spot. Making SI-sounds when punching is also nice.
The evening was spent on cooking and watching a movie about a sniper in New York, if you happen to see that as a short description, don't waste your time on it and find something else.
Our first training on tuesday was on "Larchant 3". Everyone went to put two controls into the forest and then continued the tour. This terrain was really nice, a large part of the map was almost flat, the way Flemish runners like it, but with enough rocks to make it feel like a game of Catching Features. Running speed was quite low, but there were some discussions about one of the controls, the 15th when going clockwise. After the training run, there was a little photoshoot in the rocks.
The afternoon training was a lot harder. We did chase starts on the northern part of "La salamandre 2". The girls started first with 15 seconds interval and the boys 45 seconds after the last girl. The red crosses on the map are points where we waited and started again. The last two legs where without the girls and it was already getting dark. No-one really wanted to drive back to the gîte, way too exhausted. This type of exercise is really good: you notice immediately where you lose some time.
Wednesday, we woke up relatively early, packed our stuff together and drove off to the southern part of "La Salamandre 2". It was snowing, and for us, that's about the first snow we've seen this year. Our exercise was quite simple: one of the two runners did the orienteering to the odd controls, whereas the other one did the same thing for the even numbers. Afterwards, you discuss how you both ran and why you took that route. Someone from the local club was also in the forest, preparing a club training. Apparently, the southernmost part of the map is now forbidden for orienteering. It seems like we knew that, since we didn't put any controls there.
That was the end of our stay in Fontainebleau and we moved on to Clermont-Ferrand, a 4,5 hours drive. We slept in two chalets near the lake of Aydat. Right on the map of "Aydat-La Cassière". Jochen Verdeyen, JWOC and CF-hero, had some maps of Thierry Gueorgiou on his laptop, so our first introduction to the terrain there was a really short loop (green) on the southern part of the map. It felt quite easy, but the vegetation is not as dense as in summer/autumn.
The last activity of that day was to visit the city of Clermont-Ferrand and find somewhere to eat. When you ask two boys where you can eat well and when they enter there and start working in the kitchen, you know that something is wrong, so you move on and find something that looks better. It probably also was better.
After these trainings and since this is about the only week off during the school year, we took some rest thursday morning, only preparing the afternoon training and going to the shop. Our afternoon training on Aydat was pretty cool. We were going to do a night-O that evening, so 5 of us started with putting those controls, the other 3 went to place the controls for our training run. Some runners took the green course, the others ran the red one. Miek and Fabienne mixed them a bit up, aiming for a shorter training. At the end of the first course, we had put some bread and water so we could run/walk onto one of the mountains there and enjoy the view around.
On the way back, we took the other route and some other people picked up the controls. One of them could not find one of the controls (the first one of the green route). Dennis wanted to pick it up after the night race, but when I decided to go along with him, we would do half of the night course (red) and try to find the lost control at night.
The maps there are already hard, at night they are a lot harder. We missed our first three controls, taking 8 minutes to the first and second control (although we passed there during the previous training, but in the other direction). Our third leg was even worse. We took 15 minutes to find it and we only found it because the others were also arriving in the area. Now, we decided to do the 4th one at a much slower pace and found it quite well. Now, the time had come for the really long leg. Carefully planning our route and walking half of the time, we entered the place where we thought the control would be, but could not see it. We had two possibilities: or we were really lost or we had to search harder. Option two was the right one, and in barely 20 minutes, we found the control.
The last day, we were going to run on the map of "Chateau de Montlosier". Jochen had the map of the worldcup relay, so we took that course, skipping the spectator control. This map is not as hard as Aydat, and the easternmost part was really good, with good runnability.
Then, the time had come to return to rainy Belgium. The maps and accomodation were really nice and are worth a visit if you haven't done so.