Orienteering race 1:13:00  **** 5.3 km (13:46 / km) +155m 12:01 / km
shoes: Adidas $42 Cleats
Sprint Finals Farsta, RRRG variation, clue sheet says 4.38km. I saw some other maps on the internet, and they had a different first control than I had. After John Fredrickson handed off to me (which I find really funny), I took off, and it was really straightforward, until I crossed the two streams (and had some time to get used to the map). I realized my planned route really had no strong attackpoints. I wasn't making sense of the mapped boulders (I try to rely on contours in these situations anyway), and I was facing maybe a 300m bearing run (unless I could identify boulders along the way). Long story short---I ran into a clearing that wasn't on the map, and every boulder seemed wrong, so I got 1 head on after a 300m bearing up the hillside. 2 was basically the same, although I did identify a boulder along the way. At this point, I wasn't having any fun at all. It was too rocky for me to run (my cheap cleats don't work well on rocky ground), so I was slogging along. 3 was a little better---maybe 30 seconds error while I stared at the map and terrain and compass and then turned right and went 40m to the control. I was picking up little squiggles crossing the streams, but there really was no way to locate until I got to 3. 4 was fun. 5 looked really scary, so I aimed for a distinctive stream bend and then missed the control about 30m right. I saw the spur NE from the control and went right in (although someone was there...). The next control in the field I would have missed to the right a little, but I saw someone standing there. I ran a little right on 7 intentionally so I could run up the little ridges---I found it fairly easily, but it seemed farther away than I expected. I want to see the GPS track for that one---I think Valerie's lines up pretty nice, so it was probably just me. 8 was the last tough control, and I spent maybe 30 seconds on the ridge 150 or 200m south of 8 trying to see the dot knoll as a double check. I didn't see it. I think I was gunshy from my experience at 1 and 2---I was able to read the terrain at 8 without difficulty. I missed 9 left, leaving the trail too early, perhaps, and backtracked a bit as I zigzagged to take the trail coming back up to 10.
I walked (hard) probably 80 percent of the time. I just didn't seem able to run on the stony ground. I knew my weekend plans meant I was going to be tired for the sprints, so I was hoping for an easy 4.5k. Yeah, it's my own fault, I know.
My initial reaction to this course was really negative. As I was going to 1 and 2 the bingo bells were going off in my head, and I think I carried that feeling through the rest of the course. Having considered it a few days and having read some really positive comments (which might be related to having a G first leg, perhaps, or due to other people having a better sense of reality than I have), I've decided the course was just different to what I'm used to. I don't get out on complicated terrain very much, and when I can't maintain strong-ish contact it makes me apprehensive when I'm on-the-course. Maybe I'll get over it as I do more courses like this.
Night O' race 1:34:00  **** 5.6 km (16:47 / km) +160m 14:41 / km
shoes: Adidas $42 Cleats
Advanced course Night O' at Hickory Run, PA. Clue sheet distance is 3.96km.
This is without any doubt the hardest Night O' I have done. Now, I don't get to do many night O's. I've only done perhaps 25 or 30, but all of mine have been score O's. This is the first time I've run a course that would be appropriate for an advanced-difficulty daytime course at night.
It was really, really fun.
It appeared there was a start corridor, so I started off down the corridor, and peeled off to my course, and as I was ducking into the fight, warning bells started going off. North was wrong. I fought back out to the building, but nothing made sense. I aligned everything right, then turned around until I was pointing toward 1, and nothing on the map made sense to me. I saw someone running fast in that direction so I took off, and things started to look normal. (I later found that the start triangle was on the wrong side of the start building---It completely blew my mind. (GPS shows 3 minute error at the start.)
The first control wasn't a "let's-get-on-the-map-easy" sort of control. It was a standard advanced leg. I took it easy since I didn't want to screw up 1 more than I already had (see above).
I didn't see the wide right route on 2, so I did it in little steps, first to the fenced area, then around the right to some distinctive reentrant shapes, then straight south down a spur. I got a little left into the shallow reentrant, but knew it, and decided it was better. There is a spur shape about 75m short of the ditch bend that through me off. I stopped to look, not seeing a ditch, and saw a reflection. I ran to it, and found a thumbtack reflector stuck in a tree. I turned back toward the control, and there were four or five of the reflectors. I was thinking, "Oh man, this sucks." I saw some guys going in the right direction, and I followed them. I saw they were too far left, and I moved right, but they beat me there anyway. I ran to three just right of the line with no trouble, sort of sneaking out to avoid people seeing me, then I stopped to consider 4, about a 1km long leg. It seemed that Clem gave us a bridge and an easy spur climb, but the route up that spur just seemed treacherously weak with features. In what is certainly an oxygen-deprived state of stupidity, I basically went straight. I held right a little to the road, then left at the trail, down to the stream (which wasn't too bad to cross), up a long climb to the trail, past some stony ground, and up a very very weak spur. I found the depression, and missed the control a little to the right. I finally read the clue, and found it quickly.
4 to 5 is a neat story. It looked like a good bearing run, with a lot of features to keep me straight, so I took off. Maybe 150m into the run, nothing looked right, and as I started to turn around, I noticed my compass wasn't turning. I had set it directly on top of a staple I used to put my punchcard in the map bag, and my needle wouldn't turn. I went off on the right bearing, and when I didn't find it after an appropriate distance, I decided to go straight south to the hill, then back W to the spur. But as I was running south, I ran right into it.
6 was a a longer leg, but it looked fairly easy. I ran straight north to the road junction, but missed it left, and only realized it when the road didn't line up with my map and compass. It was a really satisfying relocation south on a grassy lawn. I looked at the short, scary route in, and decided to take the easy, long route on gravel roads. I went in a little early (30m), but found it quickly. It was only a few more controls to go, and I exited the control really fast. After about 100m, and no road, I realized I left the control 180 degrees wrong. It was a long 100m back through fight, and I saw Vadim and someone else with a big light pass me (I think).
I was dead last, and I really deserved it. Going straight on 4 probably cost me at least 7 minutes. I had errors of probably 15 minutes, not including the 3 minutes at the start, which I don't consider chargeable.
I didn't realize the map was 1:15000 until I was on my way to 4. I missed a fast route to 2 because I didn't look far enough around the leg. I didn't see a wide left route to 4, but I wouldn't have taken it because I'm slow and I wouldn't have added that much distance unless I missed it straight in the first time. The 180 exit from 6 was a real blow to my pride. As I'm getting faster, I find I'm starting to make these errors. It really makes orienteering more interesting.
The biggest problem with running this course was that it took so much out of me for Sunday. On the other hand, it was so fun, and so hard, I'm so glad I did.
Clem set a great course, with some really difficult legs, and some legs with subtle traps.