Here's the first part of the Highlander, legs 1-6
with my routes.
1. Just following the crowd.
2. More folks seemed to be staying high/left. First of a number of times I went my own way in relation to those right in front of me. A little out of touch with where I was for a while, but a couple of folks up ahead, including JJ who set the course 15 years ago, so I just kept moving, figured out where I was.
3. Again, largely a feeling I was on my own despite quite a few people around. The direct line to the main trail involved a couple of serious drops down cliffs. After the main trail, up the hill, saw the Saeger train (Sam, Hilly, about half a dozen West Point groupies) just ahead on the little trail, that was nice, these days they are usually way ahead of me. They all went more right on the approach, I swung a little left, picked up the nice big reentrant, and then over the spur to the control. Got there just the same time.
4. Up the hill, the train ahead of me went a little left, I went straight, right on. Same time at the control. Another triumph, since they were moving faster. :-)
5. The high parts of the Surebridge terrain can be very slow going (it's a gamble, stuff has grown up a lot since the map was made), so I took the right route. Very easy to execute, picked up about 100 meters on the train.
6. A little tricky but no problem.
So far doing well, almost certainly running too hard, most definitely not a "lazy Highlander." But I was trying to stay relaxed.
Here's the next part, just leg 7
7. A bit of a strange route, but I was trying to avoid the crap in the last kilometer of the leg on a more direct route. Back the way I'd gone to 5, saw a few familiar faces, I remember at this point I had just fallen twice, which seemed quite remarkable. Out to the main trail, I looked over my shoulder and there was the train, about 10 folks, so I just stopped, let them go by, didn't want them to see where I was going, then cut to the right north of Surebridge Swamp. Got a good line, only company was Stephan Slutsky, he went left of the next swamp, I went right. Still good woods up the hill to the saddle after the swamp but then the last 400 meters were pretty bad, despite the white on the map. Got to the last 200 meters and there was the train coming in from back left, now over an hour into the course and I was still with the WOC stars!
Here's the next part, legs 8-15
8. At 7 I was punching in in the middle of the crowd, and for once, as I looked out over a sea of high ferns, I used some common sense and let them all go first. Had a nice beaten path, across the narrow swamp, a bit of trail, another trail to a junction, where there seemed to be short pause to consult, which let me catch up. And then I lost my common sense, got a little impatient, tried to zip by several cadets going down the steep hill, took a tumble, crunched my right quad pretty good on a fallen log, and fromall around calls seem to come, "Are you alright, sir?" Felt like an idiot, and was hurting pretty good too.
Took me a bit to pull myself together, and when I got over to the area of the point it was clear that no one had found it yet. I got pulled a little right by the crowd, saw the steeper sharper reentrant, back to the left and saw the control. Less than a minute lost.
Apparently Eric Nystrom was here at the same time and was quite bummed to see me (and therefore know how bad he was doing). Wish I had seen him, I would have been delighted.
9. Across the steeper sharper reentrant and the train was heading higher and a little right, whereas I was planning a left swing, in the company, more or less, of Pavlina, Dan Schaublin, Mike Lyons. Good route, executed it OK even though for a good stretch in the middle I couldn't have told you exactly where I was, but I was going the right direction, and the big amounts of laurel were off to the right. In control the last 300 meters, and delighted to get the word from Paul Bennett at the aid station that so far there was no sign of the Saeger sisters.
10. Except, just as I was leaving, he called out, "There they come." Oh, well, keep trying, doing good. #10 was slow and a little tricky at the control, Pavlina into it just ahead of me.
11. Down the hill, Daniel out in front, spiked it, moving well.
12. Took the straight route, only bad route choice of the day, never even noticed the trail route to the left. Not that my route wasn't fun. Daniel said something about getting tired of people following him, said in a very mild way, but partway along I figured I need to show I wasn't following him, so I went ahead. Perfect execution, but there were a lot of downed hemlocks and rather slow going and at the control, there was the train.
13. Decision time. The train went right to get to trail, which didn't look so great to me, a ways to get to it and then it didn't help that much, so I went more or less straight, just looking for the most passable going (couldn't trust the map for the vegetation, a lot thicker than shown). Got through the first half OK, then tried to stay on the bare rock as much as possible, then perfect approach and nailed the control, even (much out of character) gave a yell to Pavlina who was 40 meters to the right.
And no sign of the train, never saw them again. I gather they got to the trail, went the wrong way for quite a while....
14. Down the hill, picked a really bad line and got caught up in some ferns and bad rocks, when I looked up Pavlina was 100 meters ahead. Rest was easy.
15. Easy, still more or less with Dan, Mike, and Pavlina (all nice company).
Here's the next part, legs 16-19
, plus it shows the route of most of the trail run back to the parking area just west of Kanawaukee Circle.
16. Four of us, walking up the hill, slight different lines, basically together.
17. Tough leg, got off too far left just at the end, saw the others, corrected, maybe 15 seconds behind, definitely helped.
18. Caught back up, leg was easy.
19. Across the rocks. and then out in the field to where the WOC '93 finish was, though, just to be picky, it was in a slightly different place. Time for the course was 2:37:21, winning time in 1993 was about 1:27. Better than my first goal of 3 hours, better then my second goal of twice the winners time. The forest is slower (underbrush growing up after some fires, also a lot of downed hemlocks as they are dying), but no way of knowing how much difference that makes. Regardless, very pleased with the time, but also wondering a little bit what I could have done 15 years ago.
Also found out here, no sign yet of the Saegers....
Here's the next part, the trail run
We got a Xerox of the original 1:15,000 map, hard to read, but the route was streamered. I was a little quicker out of the aid station, but then Mike went by me, then Daniel caught up and we ran the last part together. Very benign trail run, good footing, pretty flat. I wasn't complaining.
And here's the final part, legs 21-28
on the Pole Brook Mountain map, used for the WOC '93 short final.
Still no sign of the Saeger sisters as I started on this loop, 3:00 into the race. Six hours was in the bag, and a quick look at the rest of the course gave the impression that under 5 hours was definitely possible. And they had speculated that the winning time might be 4:15 to 4:30. Excellent.
21. Heavy underbrush on the approach, 2-3' high. Just 20 yards into it got a serious cramp on the muscle on the inside of my left thigh. Never had that happen. Suddenly the rest of the course seemed like it might take a whole lot longer. But fortunately it subsided by the time I reached the control and never flared up again. Missed maybe 15 seconds at the control. There with Daniel, Mike just in sight behind (he had stopped to change shoes), no sign any more of Pavlina.
22. Out to the road, jogged up it, then just a long approach to 22. In control almost all the way, walking the ups, trying to run as much as possible on the flats and downs.
23. Didn't use the road, probably should have punched out to it half way, might have been a little quicker, hard to say. In control all the way.
25. Headed for the road. Mike had caught back up, so me, Daniel, and him together, except I was fading, had to walk as the road tilted up just a little. Decided if I was going to walk I might as well take a straighter route (they were going around via the trail). So I cut it, found a reasonably OK route through the marsh, got to the control about 30 seconds after them, better than I would have done going around.
26. Caught up to Mike dropping down the hill, Daniel had gone further right. Found the white woods, across the marsh, not bad, though it would have help if my legs and back had been loosed and I could have bent over more easily to duck under stuff. Through a little more laurel, hook up with Daniel again, the rest is easy.
27. Pretty easy. And then, after a long time by ourselves, there are lots of people around, several on their way to 22 including Phil and Charlie, and 3 on the way to 28 just ahead of us, turns out they were two cadets and a fellow from SVO, James Rayburn. Daniel sped up to try and catch them (he couldn't), I didn't even try. Together with Mike at the control.
Finish. And then on the way in I told him to go ahead, not wait for me, but he was a real gentleman. Jogged all the way in, but definitely not fast. 4:27, much better than expected. Not dead yet.
After a very long dry spell, took some scalps today (where taking a scalp means beating a member of the men's standing team or the women's WOC team). Actually, I haven't had many opportunities as I've been just running the Green course this year.
Tentative count for yesterday is 4 -- Sam, Hilly, Pavlina, Jonathan Campbell. :-)
are the winner's route back in 1993.