Orienteering race 16:29  ** 2.4 km (6:52 / km) +105m 5:38 / km
Round 4 - Shoreview Park
The overall goal was to make the championship heat (i.e. top five), which meant this was the decisive one. Heat included Adam, Graeme, Ian C, and Eric so it was always going to be a battle. Right off the start, someone (Graeme I think) went straight up the hill and of course everyone followed. There is an calculus that occurs in situations like this which works inexorably against the individualist. First, by the mere act of stopping to look for other routes before you commit, you've already lost X seconds on everyone, and without any guarantee that you'll find a superior route. If you do find a viable alternate route, it already must be faster than the group's to make up for the seconds you've already lost, and for the seconds you'll lose doing all your own navigating without benefit of the strength of the pack. Finally, even in the rare case that you immediately find a better route, spike it, and do it faster than the group, chances are low that you've found the miracle route that puts you more than ten or twenty seconds ahead, which then more than likely means the posse will have you in sight, smooth out your micro-inefficiencies and slowly reel you back in, and now you've exerted more physical and/or mental energy than they have for no gain. This phenomenon is most prevalent in cycling, obviously. All of this is to say that, yes, in a vacuum the long around trail route may have been best, but the risk/reward analysis advises against breaking away - especially on the very first control, when you can't win the race but can definitely lose it.
Anyway, at the top of the hill I went right around the track and dog park; the group went left which turned out to be ~20s faster. Briefly saw the other guys ahead once or twice but was basically on my own. I was lucky to glimpse Graeme just as he ducked into an unmapped trail that led almost directly to 5, then he popped into sight again a few seconds ahead just before the steep climb to 8. I went right to 9, he went left; hard to say which was better but I gained 11s on the leg and punched 9 half a step behind him. We passed Adam and Ian coming down on the way up to 10, but their 20-25s lead was clearly too much to hope to make up with so little course left. I took a poor microroute to 11 and had to duck under a railing, which in retrospect cost me my last reasonable chance to pass, because once in the forest the trails were too narrow and uneven. Graeme punched the go control first, then a balls-out redline sprint to the finish. I could see myself slowly gaining, and maybe if the chute was 75 or 100m longer, could have made the pass. As it happened I pulled nearly even at the end and we punched in a dead heat according to the computer, but he seemed to be a fraction of a second ahead in real time. In any case, the SART tiebreaker was total time at the go control, so I knew I had already lost that and needed to win outright.
So, really fun and crazy intense race. I ended up tied for 4th in the Round by time, but also fell to 4th in my own heat based on the tiebreaker. Couldn't help but feel wronged/unlucky based on the fact that only three were faster but five advanced ahead of me - especially when second place in the other heat was more than a minute slower - but such are the caprices of the bracket. Sometimes fortuitous, sometimes cruel. Sucks to be on the down side of it though and I felt I deserved to be competing for the championship.