Orienteering 1:38:49  6.67 mi (14:49 / mi) +410m 12:26 / mi
Wasn't as far behind AJ and Greg as I predicted, so I'll gladly write this one down as a solid victory. Even beating both of them on a single control keeps me very optimistic and excited to go orienteering in the upcoming winter months; this certainly wouldn't (and didn't) happen a year ago as a cadet. Granted, they were facing the bulk of the scummy weather, while I had a completely dry and calm go.
Aside from the expected difference in pace, I was noticeably slower than them on nearly all of the uphill controls (1, 6, 8, 12, 13, 25), which suggests that I should probably be spending more time dedicated to hills. In truth, I haven't been running or working out with the consistency I had during quarantine and over the summer. When I come home, I'll focus more on fitness as the season winds down.
As for the course itself, a quick miss right past control 3 shook my confidence a bit, but I quickly regained it with a drama free next couple of controls.
Control 6 shows me losing significant time despite not making any mistakes along my routechoice, so either the routechoice itself is the mistake or I was just a slower runner. Personally, I think the route was at absolute max a minute slower than the road; I don't think it's unreasonable to blame the vast majority of "lost" time on fitness.
Controls 7 to 15 were not far off pace from Greg and AJ, which by far the longest streak and furthest I've gone on a competitive pace with the top runners. Sure the orienteering wasn't that technical or physical, but they weren't gimmie controls, and I'm quite proud of that, especially 13 and 14 (where the GPS went a little crazy; I ran a straight line).
And then I hit 16, where I knew the name of the game for the rest of the course would be mistake minimization, which I kept repeating to myself even as I made mistakes. Upon further reflection I realize that the quickest route would be a much more direct bearing, but at the time, it made sense to take the trail down for the first part. I was looking for that non-green clearing just east of where I turned south. Once the rocks started really affecting my bearing, I realized I had gone too far south, but the question was how far. I remained calm, looked around, noticed that giant cluster of cliff-like rocks SE of where I turned NE, and made the adjustment. I wasn't confident that I read the map and situation right, so I slightly overshot while catching up with the map and making extra sure that I was where I thought I was, turned around and saw it, thanked my guardian angel, and moved on. Easily could've lost focus for 15 seconds and turned a couple-of-minutes mistake into a 10-to-15 minute mistake. Quickest route was to commit to a bearing directly from the start; I didn't realize that at the time, but I think I understand why now.
I had to turn around slightly to see 17, 18, and 19 (maybe like 5 paces past each). Apparently after 19 I was a whole minute ahead of Greg, which is just amazing to say. 19 was a case of going slightly off my bearing and overcompensating just a smidge.
I knew what mistake I made on 20 as I was making it but committed to running to the path just to make sure I knew what was going on. It wasn't strictly necessary, but it made me feel a lot better.
I think the initial mistake on 22 was an artifact of just being tired physically. I couldn't escape that thick cluster of giant rock columns and cliffs (even though I was supposed to) and it started to wore me down. I double checked that I was on the right trail real quick (it looks worse than it was time-wise), and headed back down to it.
Two last asides: to say that I ran 19 controls without letting Greg gain more than a minute on me is a huge accomplishment. Secondly, that was some insanely technical orienteering on terrain that I've never seen -- let alone ran -- before in my life. Looking back on the first couple of maps I started running competitively on, it brings me an incredible amount of satisfaction to finally see that I was able to grow from hardly being able to handle the comparatively very straightforward and easy maps of Chicagoland to being able to competitively run in this very foreign, very arduous terrain.
Although there were mistakes, I had a good weekend. Let me hype myself up every once in a while :)