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Race Evaluation

Hudson Highlander: Highlander


1. Under the influence of cough syrup and sudafed, I faced the course that I had set 15 years earlier. There was a time when I could have easily drawn the course from memory and showed you the best routes, but those days are long gone. This was the first time I had ever run the Men's course. There were no test runs before WOC 93 by anybody, and in fact nobody had ever run the long leg on either course before the actual competition. I did run the Women's course (entirely on memory) sometime in 1994, but this one was a first for me. I went a little low and to the right on the first part of this, to get away from the traffic jam, but I knew enough to go above the green at the end while a lot of other people dived right in.
2. I don't remember what I used to think the best route was on this, but to get away form the crowd again, I dropped down to the right as soon as I found a gap in the laurel and stayed to the right of the green near the control. Going too fast to really read the map, but things looked plausible, and the guy in front of me kept going. PG was behind me and asked if I knew where I was going, and I think I gave a noncommittal answer, but we got there just fine.
3. Bonehead move #1. This leg started out just fine, but about 2/3 of the way there I think I left the trail too soon, then managed to misunderstand where I was, then things didn't look right... I changed my direction to relocate, and suddenly saw a control... but I recognized it imediately as #4. Checked the code just to be sure, and then hotfooted it back to #3, having lost a lot of places.
4. Made good time getting back to #4, this area was pretty familiar.
5. Got to the trail in good time, having caught up to some people I had seen while running back to #3. They all headed right, I guess, but I had this funny notion that the cool route on this one was somewhat to the left. That was what I intended back in '93, anyway, but it's not clear that it ever was. So I departed from the crowd and went left, but I didn't have enough patience to go all the way to the saddle, and really went kind of straight over the top. I knew that area hadn't been burned, and it wasn't too bad getting through, just a bunch of blueberry. I reached the control just behind the crowd, having taken about the same amount of time.
6. "Ooh", I said, "it's the radio control, they'll transmit our split times to the finish!". I seem to recall that 15 years ago, the radio operator got hypothermic and had to leave early.
7. The great unknown. I had a pretty good idea what Mogensen, MÃ¥rtensson, and Thoresen had done, at least for the first half of the leg, and I more or less took Thoresen's route. Contoured high, dropped into the big reentrant, and up the Bottlecap Trail through the saddle (as others were coming the other way en route to #5). When I got to Surebridge Mine, I ran the woods SE of the marsh, because I remembered that it was pretty good in there, then hopped on the small trail at the junction NW of Times Square. That trail crosses a stream, but I left just before that and headed up the spur through the ferns. Glen eventually showed up off to my right. With 500 m to go, we worked our way around the N side of the marsh and then got up onto the bare rock. I headed SW, and it really started getting foggy, so I wasn't sure where I was, but I successfully navigated to a spot about 100 m E of the control, with the green marsh between me and the control. Glen showed up there, too, and we took different routes through the muck and arrived at about the same time, just behind Jeremy Colgan.
8. Bonehead move #2. This one also started out fine. Bare rock to the narrow part of the marsh, jumped across, got on the trail, missed the intersection, no problem, kept going to Bald Rocks Shelter, figured that I had a great route from there. Unfortunately, I did a very poor job of keeping track of where I was, and actually went through all that green stuff (which isn't so bad now), and popped out into the white woods much higher than I thought. Saw a big boulder ahead of me, found it on the map, ran to it, aaaand... nothing really made sense. Wandered around a bit, Glen was right behind me and I hoped he'd figure it out. Finally wound up on sort of an open terrace, and I figured that I had to be able to recognize that. We both scratched out heads, and then Glen said that he thought we were too low and headed uphill. I looked a little more, and suddenly realized that we were about 200 m SW of #13. Doh! The stream that I had been hoping to use as a backstop was that thing I crossed just before coming out of the green. I made haste to the control from there, no problem, just as Charlie, Tori, Dave Levine, Phil, Dean, etc. were leaving. Dean shouted my name in exasperation, and I just shrugged.
9. Glen arrived as we were heading out. Quite a different route than the WOC93 guys, but not a bad one. I kind of followed the crowd for a while, until we got to a cliff just right of the line about halfway (and I think we just about tripped over a women's control there). Tori started down the steep, decided it was too hairy, and went to the right with the other guys. I could see that it was way worse over there, so I went down (I'm good at descending nasty stuff), and Charlie followed. Stayed right of most of the green and the marsh, and then I was on the edge of more familiar terrain (stuff I had mapped) and had a pretty easy time going downhill to a control that I remembered fairly well. Stopped to chat with Paul and one of the O'Keeffe twins (breathing too hard to figure out which one) for a few seconds.
10. This was very familiar territory, where I could recognize individual cliffs. Halfway there, when I crossed the trail, I was dumbfounded to see the Saeger sisters running south, followed by a train of 6-8 guys. I asked the last one, "Where in the world are you people going?", and didn't really get an answer. Turns out they were in the process of making an enormous error on their route to #13, and I think I saw them just before they compounded it into a massive disaster (they took 25 minutes longer on that leg than I did). Anyway, even though I was heading perfectly toward #10, I failed to read the map at the end and dropped off the ridge (even though I knew the control was on top), and stopped just below it as Jeff Saeger, Tracey Olafsen, and Bernie Breton were coming out of it, and Jeff said, "It's behind you".
11. I knew this leg was the most pleasant running on the whole course, so I made the most of it, and caught up to those three.
12. I knew the WOC93 hotshots had stayed high to the right, but I also knew that it was a tangle of regrown burnt laurel and fallen hemlocks up there, so I went downhill with the trio. Jeff went all the way to the trail, but I talked Bernie and Tracey into following the stream. Attacked from the stream and had no trouble finding the most familiar control.
13. I knew the trail on the right was no great bargain, and I was afraid of the green and climb on the direct route. But I also knew that there was some nice woods on the left, so I wen that way and nobody followed. I also had a trick up my sleeve. I managed to pop out at Bald Rocks Shelter, and then followed my footsteps exactly as I had gone toward #8, but this time I knew precisely where I was when I hit the white and nailed the control. Yeah!
14. Wasted a little time taking the trail through the old camp area to avoid the barberry.
15. Lazy, false economy. Right, stayed below the hill, left the trail at the bendand came in from the west. Not a fast way to do it.
16. Mostly walking through here.
17. Paul said that he couldn't really find a knoll, and just hung the control on a rocky place. Yeah, it is a pretty lame knoll. He had it in the right spot.
18. Too far left, got caught in the green by the marsh. Didn't drop down when I got to the last buildings, but went up over the spur, which was probably slow.
19. This was one leg that I knew exactly how to execute, and if I'm reading this right, I think I had the third-best split (only 9 seconds behind feet). It wsa a controversial leg (among the setting team) back in '93, and I had to fight hard for it. It provided a route choice that the spectators could watch, between running across the marsh vs. traversing the boulder field. I finally demonstrated the marsh route (with the water level much higher, I think) for the other setters, and they agreed that it was acceptable. When race day rolled around, the water level was low, and somebody had mowed a path to the control that was totally obvious when you left the previous one. Yet at least 2/3 of the field went across the treacherous wet rocks, providing a great show for the spectators. I knew better.
20. The circle was in the right place, even if the control wasn't. I had kind of been hoping that I would have a better time than somebody from WOC93, and in fact I beat exactly one runner: Ian Bratt from South Africa, who took 3:33:12 (everybody else was under three hours). I had the advantage of better weather and a 1:10000 map, he had the advantage of better vegetation and maybe more youth (though I do recall that one of the South African runners was pretty old). And he wasn't pacing himself for the second half of a Highlander!
21. I stopped for a minute or two to chat with Judy, and I always take my time on these trail run things. Jeff caught me at the end.
22. Screwed this up. Too far right, and I wound up in the green.
23. Bonehead move #3. Jeff was already way up the road by the time I got out there. I cut into the woods just after the road junction and saw #27 on my way in. Everything was going great most of the way there, but about 400 m before the control I was supposed to go by a little clearing just past a marsh. I did, but it was the one about 150m W of the one I was looking at on the map. Things started looking funny, and eventually they just looked really wrong. I finally realized I had gotten to a stony flat area about 300 m W of the control, and headed in the right direction, but some people had gotten ahead of me.
24. This is interesting. Apparently I did pretty well over this last section, even picking up a minute on PG, which is pretty good, since I often fade near the end of these things. The other people seemed to be heading for the road, and it looked like a pretty obvious way to go, so I did too. There were quite a few people coming back in the other direction on the road, so I looked at the map, and got kind of bummed out because it looked like a pretty obvious way to do #25 as well. What a drag.
25. This kind of leg is why Pole Brook is such a nice place.
26. Well, back to the road. Except I hate legs like that. And I knew that the ridge from about #22 to #25 is about the sweetest running in Harriman, and I hated to miss out on that. So I had spent the last two legs trying to rationalize taking the direct route. And I did. Tried to keep running as much as I could, and somewhere just past #22 I had to force myself to climb, because I was down on the rocky sidehill, missing out on the heavenly ridgetop. I encountered Jeff, Tracey and Bernie up there (they had taken the road and I caught up), and we all got to the control at about the same time. Wound up with a pretty good split, over a minute faster than PG. The route was better than I expected.
27. I led the group on the first part, down to the marsh (and there were milk crates in there that it kind of looked like someone had installed as stepping stones). Pretty thick green for a while after that, and pretty lame spur that the boulder was on. We caught up to Shawn Soviak here.
28. Stayed a little left, and I went through a bit of the marsh while the others took a wider route. Slow going in too many rocks for a while after that, and around the end of the hill.
29. Shawn went straight for the road, then went down to take the route by the lake, while we stayed on Seven Lakes Drive. I misjudged the distance to the power lines and started to cut in too soon. When we all went into the woods, Jeff cramped and had to staop to stretch for a sec, and Tracey stopped to help him. Bernie and I got to the knoll just ahead of Shawn.
F. Everybody passed me on the trail. But I caught back up to Jeff and Tracey by playing a hunch and taking an unmapped trail from the building to the corner of the lake. As we started to speed up, Jeff cramped again, and I was able to get ahead of Tracey as well. Bernie started to head for the food instead of the finish, but I called him back. Thirteen Highlanders!

Total Time Lost - 00:00:00

Split Analysis

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