Orienteering 5:25:08  25.0 km (13:00 / km)
Giant's Rib Raid with Mike Ball and Jim Miller
Distance just official off the meet notes; not really sure about it...
Out of start planned to do bb and cc on the way to #1 since it would minimize getting wet, ee being in the middle of a swamp. This worked to a certain degree, but getting wet was clearly going to happen regardless. As the course setters no doubt hoped, we got confused by the trail network as did much of the pack. We stopped to make sure we knew what we were doing, and got there, albeit at the back of the pack. Went clean to cc, but had a small bobble on the way to #1 getting caught on the peninsula and backtracking to avoid the swamp (boy, were we naive!).
Leaving 1, a number of folks headed E, presumably to get to the trail ASAP. We went NE, hit the trail at the first bend and were right with them even though they were clearly moving faster. We bounced off the bend and continued N to the trail stream junction. We were soon passed again by one of those same teams who seemed confused to see us. Crossing on the dam gave us our first clue that our calves would often be wet even when we took the dry route. We continued on to #2 where we encountered the Adventureheads (other American team) coming out as we went in.
They had about a 50m lead as we started the trail run to #3. They opened up a good bi on the road section, but gave back some as they turned in too soon, reappearing on the road not as far in front of us. We gave back some as well when we followed a team (Archipela Kinetic) into a clearing along the trail and lost our way. Archipela Kinetic went off in a direction that struck us as clearly wrong and we found the trail, following two other teams (one in a towing arrangement) along the trail. As we approached 3, we saw Archipela Kinetic coming in from the opposite direction! Apparently they found a different trail that let them out south of the aid station rather than north.
After refueling, we headed back up the road and took the Bruce Trail to #4 where we saw Waddington enjoying the Lass-O.
During the Lass-O, first I got confused about which circle we were at, then Mike did. We solved both of these - and caught the Adventureheads along with another team. The other team and we blew #8 coming out SW of the control and having to think a good bit to relocate. When we got there, we saw the Adventureheads planning their attack to #9.
We had the lead going out of #8, but early on the trail, both the other team and the Adventureheads passed us. It looked like they were heading too far left so we went right. At this point we said, for the first time, "we're already wet; let's go straight across the swamp" (which featured a good bit of standing water). We commented on how few of our non-orienteering friends would understand the rationality of our decision. We spiked the control, thinking (erroneously as it turns out) that we might have passed the other teams. Archipela Kinetic came in from the south and punched in at about the same time.
Archipela Kinetic quickly passed us as we both took the trail by the lake going north. Adventureheads came in from the west and also passed us. We cut up to the trail near #10 and attacked off the depression just in time to see Adventureheads hitting the trail NE of the control on their way to #11.
After the trail run around the north part of the lake, we more or less hugged the shore. Going was tough due to young tree growth, but otherwise fine and we spiked it.
S and a bit E to the road bend and then down to the land bridge which was covered in knee-deep water. So what? It's clear that this is just the way it is today. Wade across, take the short trail to the left and get a pleasant surprise when it continues across the small spur and two streams. We then saw the spur that was sheltering the pond and spiked it. We thought we had done okay, but later had to revise that assessment.
On the way to 13, between the pond and the lagoon at the south end of the lake, we found both Adventureheads and Archipela Kinetic standing around looking lost. They were clearly searching for #12 and presented us with a dilemma. At an O-event, you would never give help in such a situation. At a Rogaine, you might very well. Ditto for a classic adventure race. So what is the protocol here? We stated that we were pretty sure that there were no controls close by and that we thought we had a ways to go to get to ours. When asked if we were going to #12 or #13, we stated that rather than lie about either, we would simply not say. We hoped that this would imply #13 without being explicit, but apparently did not succeed. Otherwise 13 was boring and we spiked it.
IOU. No problem getting to A, but we overshot B. Even coming back, we probably were too far east and we hit the golf course sooner than we believe we were meant to. We went along its margin and got back into the woods in time to see photo C. Never did see photo D, but saw E1 quite clearly. Nearly instantly found control 14 without benefit of photo and climbed out of crevasse to trail which we took for a surprising distance to point F.
From F, we went SW skirting swamp to trail around quarry. Took it to the ridge extending SE from ii and attacked up the ridge. Quite easy, to our delight. Couldn't decide (and still can't - kudos to the course setters) if it was better to take hh next or to get it from the road on the way to #17. Decided to go for it. Actually crossed the swamp without getting wet (commented on how ironic that was given the day) and made it to the fields. As we approached hh, we saw another team coming in from the road and then returning out that way. We turned right to gg and in the field between the two passed another team doing just the reverse. From gg, we headed up to the fields near 15 which were a bit confusing. Fortunately we pushed on ("let's just look around this corner") and found the flag. We then went on to ff where we saw the water and the ruins and said "Must be on the far side of the ruin". From ff, just took the field to 16 and the aid station.
[Note: Talking to Adventureheads afterwards, they commented that they had had real trouble with ff, spending time in the trees. We had just gone to the center of the circle to find it. BUT, looking at the control descriptions, it now appears to us that the descriptions for ff and 15 are swapped. This was probably worth several minutes to us in our battle with them.]
#17 was easy though we almost overshot the turn onto the trail near the beginning.
Walk the line was pretty simple, but we hated the black, mucky, wet swamp before the second control. This was also the point at which we noticed that our dibbler would not register. ("Probably a problem with the unit; we know where this is and everyone will have the same problem." There were no back-up punches either to help us. The dibbler did not register at the third control either. "Uh oh; probably our stick. We need to think about this.")
21 might have been a tricky control, but we had learned from the start of the race. We decided to pay no attention to the trail network and go straight at it. We found the small pond and then the big one and were golden. Dibbler didn't register again, but we noted the not that someone had left for the "Beauty and the Beast" team and that the unit was on the knoll. (Only in the car home did we discover that this was the control description, not "pond" so that would be our "proof").
Leaving 21, we decided to go SE around the swamp to the bridge across the stream/river. We hit the swiftly moving river and began to work our way NW to the bridge. The outflow of the swamp was not flowing, but was often deep and two of us went in over our waists. At the road, we had trouble scaling the last bit and then go to see that the "bridge" was actually the rapids we had seen from below. Scarier looking than it was dangerous, we crossed through the thigh-deep rapids behind Archipela Kinetic (again!) and followed them down the trail until they were out of sight. We cut the corner at the cliff and went between the hill mass and the swamp only to see them now heading north on the trail. (Gotta love those cutoffs). We saw water to our left and thought we had missed the trail. We cut in too soon, but realized our mistake when we saw the cliff on the round hill and cut NW. We took our own path through the swamp; it was too wet, but nothing like it what we had seen, so... Hit the trail, took it to the junction and attacked from there. A boring finish to an overly stimulating leg.
From 22 to dd; attack straight, ignore trails. From dd to ee, decided to try trails. Knew we had gone too far, but found the yellow. But which yellow. One person thought the one S of ee; another the one ESE of aa. We took the "left" (why not use a compass? it's five hours in. don't ask silly questions) only to see Archipela Kinetic coming up the trail at us! Guess they blew it too. Continued and discovered a flag on the hill to the left. Yup, aa. We then took the trails very carefully to ee. And, yup, there's Running Free coming in to it from another direction. Now, this is bad. We have a 50 m lead, but they are clearly better runners than us. We try to push out of sight (at least make them think) and go back past aa again and try to find the finish. We continue to be confused but trust our compasses. Eventually we see the finish and ask for a manual finish time as Jim punches the final e-punch AND IT REGISTERS! Forty seconds later Archipela Kinetic comes in. They still had to go to aa when we saw them. Phew!
After a brief consult with Mark Adams as they looked at our splits, we were credited with a valid finish. Our dibbler shows us leading the race at many points; apparently we made it the first six km in 18 minutes! and all of our splits are screwed up. Fortunately, there is a record of all the punches except 19-22 and we were able to accurately describe the first three along with having "nearby" witnesses for the last. Unfortunately, we now need to reconstruct our splits and we were being very casual about taking them on our own...
Overall time of 5:25 is not great for us, but placement seems fine. Course was spectacular and weather could have been worse. Water features/crossings were unique and that's part of what makes it all fun. That, and watching Adventureheads cross the finish line as I was walking back to the main hall after my shower...