The 2011 Blue Hills Traverse is done, and the event was largely a success. The weather was fantastic - even warm, with a high temperature of 66 F and an average of 58; the average wind speed was 15 mph.
I designed the course with the intent of making it differ from last year's course
. My objective last year was to minimize time spent on trails; I wanted the optimal route to be through the woods. The density of trails in the Blue Hills puts a soft upper bound on the length of a leg given the trail minimization criterion, so the distribution of leg lengths was very narrow. While I was happy with my design, I was disappointed to find that there was very little route choice on the course; the route gadget data and glancing at people's gps tracks revealed that everyone generally took the same routes. (E.g. Neil's route
; basically straight on every leg. Boring.)
So, I decided to expand the leg length distribution and incorporate more route choice, even at the expense of trail running. My assessment is that the result
is a much more interesting course, with considerably more variety. While there is more unavoidable trail running than I would have liked (especially on the competitors' loop, which I think is silly), there are many more possibilities. Controls 8, 10 and 15 were the most interesting choices, with minor decisions at 2, 9, 22, and 24. While there exist possible Traverses that are more interesting, I'm satisfied with my effort. I interspersed control pick-esque technical sections with the longer legs, and I experimented with loops.
Leg length distributions (lengths are convolved with a gaussian)
2010 vs 2011
- note the cluster of legs from 2010 with mean 450 meters
Comparison of 2010-2011 (Ian) with 2008-2009 (set by Ross)
|Year||Avg Leg Length||Stdev of Leg Lengths|
|2011||513 m||368 m|
I began planning the course in earnest in October - later than I had intended, primarily due to the stresses of the CSU A-meet. I designed three drafts for each map (west and east). While the west drafts used similar areas of the map, the east designs were widely varied. I spent a few days vetting in November, and based on that discarded some of my drafts and refined the legs and control locations further. Alex Jospe kindly agreed to design the recreational courses, so I was able to focus entirely on the Traverse. I solicited Ross and Neil for course critiques, and Jeff made some changes (including the addition of the 'competitors loop' - controls 12 and 13).
The course was basically completed on Friday 11 Nov - later than I had hoped, but with some margin for error. Jeff and I discussed a few other modifications, and I sent the final courses to Ed on Tuesday. He sent the data to the printers the next day, and we picked up the maps on Friday.
My familiarity with the Blue Hills after setting the event last year greatly simplified the work this year. While I would have preferred to be done at least two weeks in advance, everything was prepared with time to spare. Jeff and I set the Traverse controls on Saturday afternoon, which had all been streamered in the preceding weeks. I had hoped to run the Traverse early on Sunday to wake up controls and experience the course, but I needed to set a few rec controls and be at Houghton's Pond at 9 AM to deliver the cache of equipment I was carrying. With a little more foresight, it would have been achievable.