This ranks up there as one of my favorite orienteering races of all time. After a overcast but dry weekend so far, the skies opened up - from drizzle to parking-lot-under-1-2" of water - in the 10-20 minutes before the race started. Shivering while maps were handed out and looking round at the other faces ready for the party in the rain was primal-scream craziness in waiting. And then we were off. Me feeling fit enough (at least for the first hour) to hang with the leaders, and/or lead the chase pack. And then splash, splash, splash down trails that were all-puddle. Pig mud going to be there today!
Too much crazy fun to write it all - a few highlights:
- Leading the chase-pack of ~5+ folks in sight of the lead 2-3 across a major reentrant, then up the stony, under-muddy-waterfall "Pig Stairs" in the stream, then, 'wait', this isn't right, and recovering in seconds...
- Coming in to a control to see Eric coming out "I think I broke my hand", "whoa - it's okay to bail", "no, I think I'll keep going"... oh-kay (and then just win the thing... :)
- Stuck behind some green for 20 seconds - oops lost 5 places... Pack!
- Run the lake bank confidently, and bail well - break-away into 4th.
- Cross of tough reentrant, cut out toward trail, see large pack - think it must be Red course - and then 'oh, ...' that's the Blue pack. Apparently the around route was much better. (splits say 1 minute!)
- For the rest to race, Clem & I were pretty close - and he was awesome - keeping each other going with sarcasm, and self-deprecating humor that became all the more real as we both fell apart - yet saw others doing the same. And we even enjoyed delusions of forcing the organizers to figure out what to do with a tie for 3rd US - only to find 3 folks from the 'pack' we though had fallen off the back already finished.... Apparently 2 had taken a more aggressive cross-reentrant route and pulled out of sight, and Maricel (who I'd just learned was the '96 JWOC winner
) who had disappeared ahead, and then we having though we passed him just a few minutes later - but twas another ChicagO bait-n-switch.
- Chasing "Maricel" to see him dead stopped looking over a steep hill for a way down, and then turning left for a way down I could do - with Clem, while he and the lead MVOC runner turned right - and then while race-climbed parallel spurs on the others side hearing an "aaaaaaa" - looking back, and seeing a little Zac Barker - at the bottom of the slope - with a line of mud behind him at least 4 time as long as he was...
Absolutely incredible adventure.