Geography prof is Canada's rep at World Orienteering championships
An associate professor of geography by day, Waddington spends the early mornings, evenings and weekends training as an elite orienteer for the biggest race of his atheletic career. He has been selected to represent Canada at the World Orienteering Championships in Denmark in August.
For those unfamiliar with the sport, orienteering involves running and navigation. Participants are given a detailed map with checkpoints all of which must be visited in the order they are listed. You can take any route you like between checkpoints using a map and compass; the fastest around the course wins.
"I train on average 10 hours a week or 12-13 in the winter," says Waddington, who is a three-time North American champion, and placed first in the 2005 U.S. Team Trials Sprint. "I also participate in National Team training camps once or twice a year. It means training early in the morning or after work. On weekdays I train at 6 a.m. a couple of times a week with Mark Tarnopolsky [Health Sciences]. We're on the same adventure racing team. On other days, I run from work directly to our club training."
Waddington first discovered orienteering when he accompanied his father, a professor of physics, on sabbatical to Norway. After a year, he was hooked. During that year he also got hooked on peatlands, and Waddington has since been able to combine both those Scandinavian-based discoveries into his life. Waddington, who did his PhD in Sweden, is currently on sabbatical there where he is fitting in weekend orienteering training with his research into peatlands with researchers at Queen Mary in London and
Uppsala in Sweden.
The trails around McMaster, however, are prime orienteering terrain, says Waddington.
"McMaster is close to many orienteering opportunities, including the Dundas Valley, which offers excellent trail running and training opportunities," he says. "One of Canada's top junior women is coming to McMaster to study next year because of the proximity to this terrain. And one of Canada's top junior men transferred from the University of Manitoba last year to McMaster so he could train more in the Hamilton area."
"I live in Westdale so it is close to the Dundas Valley. I have no idea how many km I run. Time and pace are what is important. I don't run directly from work to home. Usually, I run to the escarpment for hill and woods running training, then back to Westdale."
Waddington says Canada normally ranks about 20th out of 50 countries in the world. Last year, Canada's top woman placed 9th, the best ever for a person from North America.
"My goal for the World Champs is to have Canada's best ever result in the men's middle distance race," says Waddington. "That would be a top-40 result. In the relay event, we are hoping for a top 15 result."
Waddington maintains that the running is beneficial to his research.
"You have to be very efficient with your time but I get a lot of great ideas for research while I'm doing the long runs."
To learn more about the World Orienteering Championships visit www.woc2006.dk