Woke up a 4:30 and was at the event parking lot (which I found on the second try) by 7:30. Got ready and took the bus up to the top of the mountain. I was given a warmup map, but could not match up anything on that map with where we were. I guess we were supposed to run along the road for a bit to get to it. I ended up having to cut my warmup short to make the start on time, and I felt somewhat stressed at the start line.
Often I am able to refocus at the last moment and start well, but not this time. The downhill start through the open woods sent me flying, and I blew well past the control. I found two other controls and eventually relocated at a trail junction about 250m to the northeast (the whole leg was about 250m!). I ran down the trail, attacked, and missed again. I turned back uphill and finally got to the control together with Jon T, who had started four minutes later. Ugh.
I punished myself on the way to 2, eating a lot of climb on the road in order to take a safer route. That work, and I didn't see Jon again. #3 went ok, but after that I bobbled each of 4,5,6, and 7 (total of 2:45 lost in this section according to WinSplits).
I finally settled down for the next section of the course and was fairly clean from 8 through 17, with an exception of a wrong turn I took on a trail right after passing Balter. It's something about his magical aura...
I then completely blew 18 after attacking without a plan and lost another 3 minutes there, most of that spent standing on a rocky hillside scratching my head.
On the way to 20 Jordan passed me like a freight train, and I had no chance to keep up. I promptly screwed up 21 by trying to contour and picking up the greenest, rockiest parts of the slopes. As a result, i was surprised to see Jordan pop up again at 23 just in front of me. He disappeared again, only to reappear in front of me right at the last control.
Overall, about 11 minutes lost according to WinSplits, which I think is a slight understimation, but close enough.
Some things to take away:
1) I survived without hurting myself
2) I felt strong for most of the race despite running hard (race pace) the day before.
3) On the legs I didn't screw up, I was about 15% (or 1 min/km) behind Jordan and Greg. Given where I was earlier this summer, I am very pleased with that.
4) I seem to have run all the long legs (a traditional weakness for me) fairly well.
1) I did not bring the right set of tools nor the proper respect for this terrain.
2) My ability to run on a precise bearing was abysmal.
3) I was too afraid to climb and took riskier routes as a result.
4) Multiple times (1,7,18) I attacked a control on a vague downhill slope without any real plan and paid for it each time.
I have a week to come up with a better approach for the Classic Champs next weekend.
Finally, I thought this was a very well-designed course with a range of techniques necessary for success. Kudos to Erik Eddy and Eric Weyman. I am glad I made the trip up and down for the day.