Orienteering race (Foot) 2:32:04  *** 14.8 km (10:16 / km)
spiked:33/37c slept:6.0 weight:180.5lbs
QOC/SVO: Susquehanna Stumble XVIII in Prince William Forest, VA. We mass started near the Turkey Run Education Center. There were 2 loops. I got moving relatively quickly but as faster people passed me, I was torn between following the road a little longer or following the crowd. I hung with the crowd. Jon Torrance had been leading and Ken Walker Jr. got in front of me moving at what I figured was a comfortable pace for him. As we got to the valley bottom, I knew where we were but the crowd was going left and I followed. We passed the control so after coming back through greener than expected forest, I was already a minute and a half behind where I figure I should have been.
I went out to the valley early going to #2. I thought to cross the creek quickly even though the valley would have good running for a while. I didn't want to have to climb all of it at the end. The forest ridge route was again slower than expected even though I spiked it. Turner Leigh started falling into step behind me somewhere around this leg.
For #3, I missed the option to take the Burma Road for a way. Instead, I went straight through the green with Turner right behind me. That was 3 not so great choices or errors in a row so I was well behind others. My aim through the green was true and I hit the road at the reentrant needed. Victor Lin was there too. I started catching others getting into control A. I passed more leading and going straight to B, D, and C. I followed the stream to E. Turner was still with me though at times he sprinted ahead.
The leg to #8 looked ugly. It wasn't really bad bad going through the mottled green. Turner got ahead of me once across the road and we spiked it with Victor just ahead of us.
Going to #9, I went back to the road and stayed on it longer than Victor or Turner. Going on trails next, I approached from the north. Victor disappeared ahead. Turner paused so I got ahead of him. I was reading the terrain well so I pulled off the trail without losing a step and ran right to the control with Turner right behind me again. Victor appeared to miss slightly by not turning in soon enough.
Going to the next window, I intended to hit H first. However I also wanted to avoid climb by going high to the left, instead of up and down the whole way. I got too far left and wasn't careful. I missed the stream I'd been looking for so I ended-up north of G before pausing. I happened to see others to the south and then a control. Once I got to G, I took the next in order of F, I and H, spiking each. Turner got ahead on at least one of these but I caught him again. Some people looked at me funny for going backwards from the optimal route and I knew I'd again lost some time. However I was encouraged to see Andras Revesz and Istvan (Steve) Nagy as I was heading to H. I knew they were running the Short Stumble and the appeared to be taking it easy.
I got out of H fast and with Turner following, I bee lined toward #14. After crossing the stream, I saw Andras and Istvan running together. They inexplicably didn't cross the smaller side stream and were heading up the wrong ridge. I thought to give a yell--maybe I should have but the urge to compete and take advantage of someone else's lost time took over. I'd already made enough on my own. I went on with Turner to spike #14. Later looking at results, I saw that Andras and Istvan (both good navigators who beat me often enough) had a horrendous time getting back on track, so I feel a bit guilty about not saving them.
For finishing the first loop, Turner and I spiked #15 and closed in on Peter Nelson. We passed him somewhere before #16, even though I'd made a slight error coming off the trail correctly, but turning up the reentrant to the left. Turner was actually ahead here and he corrected us as I was just realizing the need. We only lost 20 seconds or so. Turner was stronger and confident enough about finishing up. He went a straighter route over the steeper hills and got ahead. I came in on the ditch to the left.
Turner was out of the map exchange not long after I got there. I took my time to drink a Gatorade that I'd set out, and eat a banana. My cheeks were stuffed actually, as I set out on the road, and I felt heavier with a quart of fluid in me. I left the road half way down it and hit the Burma Road north of the leg line, at the fields. I went to a stream bend, crossing on worn down cliff-like rocks but this turned out to be just a little early. I back-tracked a little to get to the next reentrant with the control.
For #2 on the second loop, I thought to use the trail but went straight. It was slower than expected for a while, then wonderful forest. After crossing the stream, I was still reading things well, including the ditches in the technically interesting area at the end. I continued straight, and spiked it. Going to #3 was easy; over the ridge and down the left side of the reentrant on the other side.
I ran straight along the leg line toward the next window. I cut right on the road for a little bit, then came in. I saw root stocks on the flat white ridge but wasn't sure which was which. A white reentrant on the other side clued me in to turn left. I had to go one more reentrant than expected but found J with no time lost. A safer route to N would have taken me around the green but I wasn't thinking that well at the time. I went straight toward it and had to do some adjusting when it got thick. I saw another person and the second time still attacking straight, I realized it was Vido (Videlin) Aleksiev. Vido didn't lead me there but seeing him encouraged me as I hit it happily! I saw Vido again and passed him at the saddle. I dropped in the right reentrant but pulled-up early. Vido passed and went to the control before me. The race was on, and we hit M well going straight. However, I lost Vido on the way to K. We hit the next valley and stopped. Not having checked the clue, I didn't realize the feature was a pit, and not the stream bend. The feature on the map seems extra small. Someone else was nearby (on Short?) and that clued me in a bit, with no time lost.
Vido and I ran toward #9 (on the second loop). We both pulled left a bit, passing Ted Good who was going straighter but mostly walking (to avoid cramps he told me later). At the next stream valley I realized we were too high and cut right, to get to the control in another pit that I could barely read (even now with glasses).
For the next window, Vido and I hammered on each other, doing O, S, R, Q, P, and T. Most of it was going straight, and not too technical. As we went for P, we passed Will Hubsch, who'd run hard early. I led going to 16 and hit that pretty well, again going straight.
For the last window, Vido and I hammered on each other more, doing Y, V, U, W, X. This was mostly physical, with steeper hills. I think I kept the lead the whole way though Vido was close at Y. I opened a gap at M and a bigger one going to W. I didn't hear or seem him again after that. I took the high route to X and was glad to find it, miss-hung a little, but in sight from where it should have been.
I walked/ran straight going to #22, over the ridge, and hit the big reentrant with no problem. I ran up a lot of that until the footing was too bad or too steep. I ended up left of where I thought I'd be but saw a figure (H. Culberg?) punching not far ahead. I was fickle about finishing. I probably would have taken the ride only my head wasn't thinking well. I was struggling to keep from cramping as I kicked my knees and ankles over the fallen trees. I stupidly ran straight through the light green too. On the ride at last, I got a cheer or to at the finish.
This was an enjoyable race for me. I had gotten some good rest for it. That was as much about my work being really busy rather than me trying to taper. I was happy to recover from the early errors and poor choices. Even when I lost time for poor route choices, I navigated well. I told Vido after the race that I feel I've lost my leg speed after back problems in 2014/15, but still seem to have some endurance.