Billygoat, West Coast-style, @ Teanaway Forks. At the start line the prospective lead group looked to be Eric, Adam, Peteris, and myself; unfortunately no Kai and no other Canucks (Graeme, Nate, the Ians, Mantas, David, etc). I found an old Green Day CD in my car on the way, so I ended up having "Minority" stuck in my head most of the race - which was okay, because that's a damn great song.
Made a trivial error right out of the start, overrunning the first control which gave Eric a small lead, though we soon caught up. Mostly followed Eric and Adam to 2, Peteris right behind me as well. Took the lead to 3 and hit it first, but was then a little unsure on the way to 4 so settled back into third.
I then spent most of 4-5 at the back of the group looking at the rest of the course to figure out my skips, and decided my first one would be 6. At 5 the rest of the group stopped for water, while I decided I would forge on ahead; this was fine except for the fact that my brain somehow decided that since I was heading for 7 I must be at 6, so I left 5 in a direction some 90+ degrees off, heading south instead of west, jumping onto the trail nearby. My phantom plan for leaving 6 had been to head south to the trail and then turn west, and the trail I was on randomly happened to fit that plan quite well, so everything was making sense for the moment.
However, in my head I was navigating my way from 6 to 7 when in reality I needed to navigate 5 to 7; clearly not a sustainable situation. Soon enough I started becoming suspicious; the trail started not behaving as expected, and then contours around me started not behaving as expected, and then I came upon a large trail junction which made absolutely no sense. I said WTF is happening, stopped, and only then realized, hey idiot, you never were at 6 in the first place, you're skipping 6, remember?
I was then able to reappraise my situation quickly, and I realized to my relief that I actually had gone more or less in the direction of 7, albeit it in a more circuitous manner than ideal. I was now alone and had no idea where the other guys were; it turned out they had all skipped 6 as well, and the entirety of my delusional ramblings had cost me no more than about 80s. However I obviously didn't know this at the time, and I was quite discouraged to have made such a stupid error and, in my mind, put myself out of the race.
Hit 7 fine, then legs started to feel very tired on the trail run to 8, so I guzzled some of the Gatorade energy chews I had acquired at Safeway in Cle Elum on the way over that morning. Bobbled 9, still feeling very tired and pessimistic, then slogged up to 10 feeling slow. I need to do some hill workouts.
On the way up to 11, decided that I would skip 15 to take advantage of the road run 14-16. Bobbled 11 slightly, but started to feel better physically.
12 and 13 were excellent; that's the most scenic part of the map that I know of, and my spirits were buoyed by the natural beauty around me (and also by running downhill). My reverie was then rudely halted, as I bounded energetically down into the big green reentrant on the straight line to 14 only to run smack into an exceptionally thick wall of vine maple. However, fought my way through, spiked 14, and won the split with 20s, so straight was apparently great, as always.
I then executed my plan to skip 15, making with all haste down to the road and cruising along until the opportune moment arose to attack back up toward 16. It was a bit of a slog and I bobbled in the circle, as the vague reentrants didn't really seem to match up and the flag ended up being higher than I expected.
However, the notable thing was that I saw Adam here. I hadn't seen a soul since leaving 5, but as I trudged up the hill, he came traversing the hill some 2-3 contours below me, perpendicularly across the path I had just cut. I was confused, because surely he was too low to be either leaving or entering 16, and I couldn't imagine what else he might be doing, so I put it out of my mind.
Executed 17 nicely, won the leg with 23s. 17-23 were unremarkable; I generally seem to have been slightly cleaner and a step slower than Bonesaw and Adam, but overall about even time-wise.
24, however, was a bit of a debacle. It was the penultimate control, just a little gimme control down near the river. I duly arrived at what I perceived to be the right spot, looked all around, and didn't see the flag. Wandered inanely along the shelf above the river a bit, still nothing. Double-checked I was in the right spot, yep. Looked around some more, now thoroughly grumpy, and finally found it tucked down all the way down at the bottom of the bank. Felt like I undeservedly lost that three minutes due to the fuzziness of the map rather than error on my part, but so it goes sometimes.
Anyway, trundled into the finish well behind Eric but, surprisingly, ahead of Adam and Peteris. It turned out Adam had blown 16 spectacularly, turning a near 5min lead on me into almost 4min behind.
Really fun course, thanks to Nikolay for setting!