Orienteering race 50:06  6.12 km (8:11 / km) +92m 7:37 / km
spiked:6/12c shoes: Integrators Orange
US Classic Champs, Day 1 at Round Mtn. 5.3 km, 80m climb. Start time 10:33. 5 min error on #1 (couldn't see the pit though I was in the right place a couple of times), not too bad the rest of the way. Details below.
Got out to Round Mtn from Woodland Park plenty early. Not having had a great night’s sleep (still adjusting to the altitude), figured I’d take a nap. Instead, I walked a good part of the way to the start, just to see roughly where it was, and that didn’t leave any time. When I went to the start for real (.75 mi from the car), jogged the flat parts, but was feeling it on the hills so walked.
1. George Walker started 3 mins ahead of me, and I watched him head across the S side of the field, so I knew which way to go at the start. When it was time to go, my legs didn’t feel too bad, though my breathing was definitely feeling the altitude. Checked off the form-line hill in the woods to the left of the corner of the field, the boulder just before the first trail, then went between the two patches of rock just past the second trail. Looked (what I thought was) dead ahead and saw a bunch of medium sized rocks, and presumed that that was my destination. My Garmin track shows, though, that I veered a little left at this point. So, the rocks I wound up in were the ones just S of the trail junction (I neither looked for nor saw that junction); naturally, no pit. Must be in the wrong set of rocks, so headed NW crossing a broad reentrant, yeah, now I see where I was, into the next set of rocks, ah there’s a pit - no flag! OK, where is there another pit on the map? There isn’t one. (Rich Parker also came across this unmapped pit.) Oh-oh, confidence crumbling. Better head to the trail to relocate. Hmm, another set of rocks, closer to the trail, but still no pit. (Note: GPS track shows that at this point, 6:45 into the leg, I must have been within a few feet of the pit.) Yikes, out to the trail, go further NW, no more rocks, so that last group must’ve been the correct one - now what?? SE on the trail to the bend to be sure of where I was, back NW to that last set of rocks, so it’s gotta be the right location, still no pit - but, wait, is that a bit of hole? Flush to the ground, very hard to see and, finally, when I’m a meter or two away, I see the flag lying at the bottom of the pit. Had I seen the pit the first time (and based on the model event and previous events at Round Mtn, I was not expecting a feature that would be so difficult to see nor a bag that was completely hidden from view) it would have been a 1.5 min error, but instead it turned into a 5 min error (which is what I estimated at the time and what it turned out to be). I felt my shot at the championship slipping away.
2. Onto the trail, head NW, just walking because I’m deflated. Gotta put that error behind me: it’s the 2-Day Champs, gotta hang in there, you never know. Start to jog, but stay on the trail instead of going more directly. Had figured to cross the fence at the trail bend, but noticed the gap in the fence on the road to the N, and didn’t feel like scrooching, so ran parallel to the fence to the road. But I didn’t see how to open the gate. OK, no problem, there’s a big gap under the lowest wire. But I still don’t feel like scrooching, so I try to just duck under it. Ack! My shirt gets caught on the barbed wire. It’s my favorite O-shirt, I don’t want to rip it, so I spend 10 secs trying to get it loose, OK, forget it, I’ll just have to rip it, tug, pull, tug, 20 more seconds later I finally rip free, with a substantial wad of shirt left behind. This is not my day. Push those thoughts away! Get going! There’s still good orienteering ahead! Easy to see the hilltop N along the fence and then the next one to the W, so skirt the right side of that one, into the reentrant, across the road, see the marsh ahead, veer a little right, soon spot the top of the cliff a little further right and then the bag. Later, someone said that anyone who’d spent any time on a farm would know how to open that gate - hey, man, I grew up in the middle of a city! Worse: Sue K said that at the side of the gate there was a place between two post with no barbed wire where you could just squeeze through.
3. Had seen earlier that this was a long leg into bland territory. Think for a moment about swinging around to the left (which is what PG did) but decide I have to take a chance and go straight to make up for lost time. Emerge into a big clearing before the road and see the rocks in the woods to my left; see the finger of scattered trees on the other side of the road and go along the right side of that; boulder on my left, then rocks with a flag (not mine, don’t even think about checking the code) and then finally, ahead and a little to the right, the boulder I’m looking for. Good leg (4th, 10 secs behind Walter and Natalia, who were 11 secs behind Peter).
4. Knew I had to get across the gulch and go to the right of the big rocks, but fumbled around a bit trying to get my map straight as I skirted the pond. Soon see the big rocks and start trudging up the hill. Seem to be a lot more patches of rocky ground than the map shows, but I stay on my bearing until I see one with a flag. 4th, behind Peter (:29), Piotr Z and Bill C.
5. Tried the obvious: up the hill to the rocks on the “corner” then contour. However, I drifted right while contouring: started seeing that I was too close to the rocks on my right and then, as my pace count was running out, saw mild reentrant on the other side of the hill, so made a 90-degree left and quickly saw ahead a knoll a little to the left and a large rock a little to the right. Looking for a 2m cliff, so it’s gotta be the rock to the right, and it was. Lost about :40, though a little of that might have been slow climbing early in the leg.
6. Knew from the past that a course starting and finishing where this one did would likely have a point where we’d turn E and be heading downhill. Clearly, this was that point, so time to start pushing the running, altitude or not. Had already figured out the route: between the patches of rocky ground, to the right edge of the stand of trees, look for the rocks in the next stand of trees. It was rocky between the patches of rocky ground, so that was slow, but otherwise ran at a good pace without looking much at my map. Once past the stand of trees, saw rocks ahead in the next stand of trees. But, hmm, there’s another set of rocks in the trees a bit to the left, and the map shows only one set of rocks. Keep going to the ones I spotted first, but when I get there I see there’s no flag, so quickly head to the other set, maybe 50m away, which I see is much more substantial and so must be the mapped ones. Around to the E side and to the control. Lost :20.
7. Run hard to the high ground on the other side of the road, without worrying too much about anything in between. Nevertheless, able to check off the rocks before the intersection and the intersection itself. Once near the top, see the bare-rock-topped knoll ahead but to the right - good - and continue on the control. Good leg, 4th, :09 from 2nd - but Peter did it in 20% less.
8. Had had plenty of time to plan this leg, so proceeded immediately on a bearing. The reentrant showed up at the expected pace count; soon saw the big knoll, and remembering that the cliff was around to the left, went there without looking at the map. My only #1 split of the day.
9. Tempted to get on the road and follow it around, but resist, and go straight. Hit the road at the SW end of the SW loop, so a drop too far right. Along the edge of the clearing, check off the lone tree, look left as I cross the road and see the knolls straddling the road, a little further away than I’d hoped: I’m clearly a little too far to the right. Try to correct as I go into the woods. See a narrow reentrant a bit to my right; sure looked like the one SW of the control, but somehow convince myself that it’s the one WNW of the control. Pace count hasn’t run out yet, but there are no knolls ahead, so I stop and look around. There’s a control on a knoll 40m to my left, but it can’t be mine because I haven’t gone far enough yet. But, hmm, look at the slope of the land to my right; maybe it is mine. Go there; it is. Lost :30. From the Garmin tracks, it appears that Peter made essentially the same mistake.
10. Bearing. Check the curves in the road, the boulder straight ahead; see the high ground on the left. Straight to the control. 2nd only to Peter, by :08, and :06 ahead of Walter in 3rd.
11. Really pushing the running now, despite starting to feel tired. Keeping first the rocks and then the hilltop on my left, get into the scattered trees and try to use the E tip of the yellow as an attackpoint. As I descend, see rocks ahead - but no flag. Check map: no other set of rocks. Hmm, unsure which way to go. Try to the right and quickly see a lot of rocks, so go there and to the control. Lost :25.
12. Run hard on a rough bearing, figuring I’ll see the control on the fence and the flagging to the finish. See cars ahead, which should have told me I was too far right, but didn’t. Keep scanning the fence, finally see the control and the chute well to my left. Lost :10.
After the initial 5 min error and the half-minute stuck on the fence, lost about 2:00 over the last 35 mins, good but not great. Felt like I should have run about 43, which was what I had hoped for based on the distance and climb. Finish the day 4 mins down to Bill Cheatum and nearly that much to Walter. Gonna be hard to make up that much tomorrow.