Monday, December 14, 2009

Score-O in the South Umstead (Dec 13)

As Ron nicely put it, when asked about the course: "it was moist" :)

It was indeed. And cold too. Let me tell you, after working in Mexico for the last three weeks, it was quite a shock to me. I was also completely out of shape (12 hours working days and a lot of real Mexican food do that to people :-)).

Fortunately, there was 45 min option for the Score-O - exactly what I needed.

My plan was very simple. First of all I decided to warm up by using the road and attack 4 controls north of it (66, 74, 75 and 69). Then take 72 and, if time permits, take 73, 77 and 68 on the way back. It worked fine. I didn't have time to take 77 and 78, but it was OK.

Here is how I ran:

#54, 55 and 56: took them during my warm-up run :-)

#66: went north watching buildings on my left, then reached the re-entrant and proceed without going to the bottom, but using the western slope. It got pretty steep around the control, so I was glad I didn't go down initially.

#74: crossed the re-entrant and walked up the hill. Then ran down the re-entrant without crossing the spur (because it was full of fallen trees) and went up the other re-entrant to the control.

#75: simply ran along the creek all the way to the control

#69: walked up the hill (as it turned up, too far), missed the re-entrant, but quickly realized it when saw the road gleaming further south, so turned north, down the re-entrant and to the control. Then went back to the road.

#67: there I checked the time. I had 22 mins left. It was clear that I wouldn't be able to take 67 as well as 73/77/68, so I had to choose. I chose 5 extra points :-) and went for 67 with an idea to take only 73 on the way back. Used the road till the bend by the control and took the control from there.

#73: Went back to the road and ran/walked up the hill using the road. From there turned south to the very top of the hill and followed it to the control.

#53: returned back to the road and raced to the finish. Realized that I had an extra minute and made a little detour to take 53, then finished with 44:17 and 114 points.

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.



Thanks to Artem for organizing the event! It was exactly what I needed :-)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Advanced event in the South Umstead (Nov 15)

Before I talk about today's event, just a few words about the Raven Rock one. Main reason I didn't post about it is that I didn't have Raven Rock's map, so I couldn't post a picture. I probably could easily obtain it, but I was also not happy about the event and just let it go. Raven Rock events are all the same to me: I always make at least one big mistake, there are always misplaced controls, I always struggle with the extremely dense forest and outdated map. And as a result I always spend much more time on the course than I would had liked and come back exhausted and frustrated. This time wasn't an exception:
-- I made a mistake of #4 (43) by stopping 50 yards before the control and spending 10 mins looking there.
-- #12 (57) and #13 (48) were misplaced. I reached supposed location of #12 cleanly, but control wasn't there. Unfortunately, second dry ditch almost disappeared, so I had some doubts about the spot and went around re-checking it from two directions. After I was certain that the spot was correct I thought that the control could be misplaced into a parallel dry ditch in the dark green area near by. So I went there and indeed the control was there. Spent a lot of extra time there. Then I went for #13. Again reached the spur without problems, but control wasn't there. Checked it from two directions - no control, but the spur was correct. I know that many people found this control, maybe it was just laying on the ground (I probably was the last one to be there)? Anyway, I didn't find it and moved on. That's why I got into Brown results. I should have been placed into Red results, because that's what I completed.
-- the map was even more outdated (surprise :-)) and even more dense (and I am not even talking about the trap I got into while picking up one of blue controls - I spent 45 mins going through 300 meters of presumably "white" area, trying not to stuck in thorny vines forever there...). #7 and #11 on Red were also brutal.

So as you can see I wasn't happy. At least it didn't rain :-)

Now, today's event was great! Perfect weather, interesting controls. Hills killed me, of course, so I ended up walking a lot, but after Raven Rock I didn't mind. Controls were not particularly hard, but not easy either and the whole course was very physically demanding. I ended up doing green because of it - Red would have been too much with all those hills.

I also had a pleasure to run/walk along Josef almost all the way. He caught up with me on #4 (which I didn't take optimally) and after that it was back and forth. We were still running independently but were meeting almost on every control. I finished first, but he spent two less minutes on the course.

Here is how I ran:

#1: through the parking lot and used the trail until I passed the graveyard and it started to bend; went into the forest, but soon realized that I am weering too far south; made a correction and soon reached top part of the gully; proceed down and soon found the control.

#2: to the road; then used it till the crossing with power line; from there went east east north and soon saw re-entrant on my left; went along it, crossed big side re-entrant, went over the hill and took the control.

#3: went along the slope gradually going down; then went around the hill till I saw the gully; went up to the control.

#4: I didn't want to cross the creek after so many rainy days, so I went for the bridge. As appeared it wasn't the best choice - the creek wasn't bad at all. Anyway I went up and down through a few hill to the Whispering Pines parking lot; from there I ran south down the flat hill weering to my right so I would hit the bridge. Reached the creek right by the bridge. Went over the bridge and used trail to get close to the control. Caught up with Josef there (he by passed me going straight across the creek). After the saddle went south east, crossed the creek and went a bit up the slope. Proceeded along the slope to the control.

#5: Over the hill, crossed the creek and reached the trail. Instead of going straight, decided to use the trail and then run on the flat white hill. So I did. I think it was a right decision as I again caught up with Josef, who went straight.

#6: We looked at each other and both said "Green" :-) Down the hill to the trail, used trail a little bit, then crossed two creeks while they were still small and went up the hill. Over the hill, down to the creek and up to the control.

#7: To the road and used it until the first bend. From there went through the green to re-entrant and up the hill; reached top part of the dry ditch and went a bit down to the control.

#8: I decided not to go around any of the big re-entrants and just cross them. So I went down to the re-entrant and up the hill; walked to the next re-entrant, crossed it too and went up. Noticed a small side re-entrant on the slope, so I knew exactly where I was. Proceeded to the control from there.

#9: followed the hill to south west until the re-entrant. I wanted to take the control cleanly, so I wanted a good attack point. I decided to use small re-entrant north from the control as one. So I crossed the big re-entrant and moved west west north until I saw my small re-entrant on my right. From there I took compass bearing and went straight to the control.

#10: down to the re-entrant and up the hill, crossed the road and soon reached trails crossing. From there aimed for the control.

#11: Up to the trail and used trail to go around the green area; when the green area ended, went down the hill to the control.

#12: down the re-entrant, up the hill (recurring, isn't it?), over the hill and there I saw benches along the trail; crossed the creek and went up watching side re-entrant on my left. Took the control and went pretty much straight to the finish (avoiding green though).

It took me 72:01 - not bad taking in account how much I walked during the course.

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.



Thanks to Nadya and Charles for the great event!

Mapping at Lake Johnson

This Saturday I finally was able to start mapping at Lake Johnson. Joseph told me to start from the northern tip of the map, so there I went. After 3 hours I came out with this piece.



And this is how it looked like with base map turned on :-)



Speaking about the base map. I am glad I have it (again thanks to Joseph for aligning it to our current Lake Johnson map!). Even with the base map, I found it difficult to draw realistic elevation contours - and that's where a lot of my time went. I am slow...

Maybe it'll go faster from now on, but I doubt it. I definitely not going to have everything around the lake done by spring time. But I'll keep going around the lake and increase our map, so we'll have some new areas to go next time we have an event there.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Orienteering at Woodfield Scout Camp

So, I did go to the Woodfield Scout Camp and ran two sprint courses there yesterday. It was quite a bit of a drive (1:45 in one direction), but I was glad I came. The forest was absolutely beautiful, the courses challenging (Orange level) and people I met there very friendly. I was surprised that I was the only BOK member who accepted Mike Moody's kind offer to let us run their new courses. Maybe it was too sudden and too un-official this time and that's why. I don't know. But I surely hope to have another chance to run there sometime in the future.

The forest there was somewhat similar to Birkhead, but less rocky. Mostly open with a few green areas. No thorny vines whatsoever, even in green! Not many fallen trees either. All in all, beautiful forest to walk or run through.

Mike asked me to provide feedback after I run, so I wasn't going very hard and tried to pay attention to the way controls were set as well as the legends. I did indeed find a few minor issues: map wasn't entirely accurate in two places and a few others. We discussed those afterwards. I also added descriptions to the course notes below.

Here is how I ran:

Course B

#1: to the trail and stayed on it until it started to go down steeply; then went over the hill to the re-entrant with control

#2: followed the re-entrant down to the creek and then followed the creek to the second junction with the control

#3: went up to the trail and thought about going straight through the green area. It didn't look that scary from the trail. But finally decided not to risk it and went around. Stayed on the trail till it turned and then went down to the creek. Followed the creek to the area where the control was supposed to be, but didn't see it. I did see earth bank on my right and lake forming up in front, but I didn't see the rock cliff. Finally, I found it - it was on the slope instead of the bottom. The map should be corrected there (I did fix it in the picture below). One other thing I noticed is that the steep slope right above the control was already damaged by feet. Boyscouts who ran the course on Saturday all went up the hill there and the earth got exposed. To avoid further damage I would suggest to move the control to the creek junction or maybe to the bottom of the earth bank on the other side of the creek. This way runners will have multiple routes to go up the hill and it won't be damaged.

#4: over the hill to the side re-entrant and down to the creek junction with the control

#5: followed the creek a little bit, then went up the side re-entrant to the control

#6: over the hill to another side-entrant, then over the next hill to the main re-entrant, followed it, then went left to the control. Not a easy leg, especially at the end, as the area gets flat.

#7: over the hill aiming to the left of the control, hit the creek and proceed to the right to the control

#8: this one proved to be the hardest leg on this course. It looked easy on the map (follow the creek up and that's it), but in reality it wasn't easy. The area was flat and there were multiple small re-entrants, creeks and dry-ditches crossing. I had to use compass several times to make sure I was still going along the right creek.

#9: over the hill aiming to the left, then I clearly was two parallel re-entrants and followed the south one up to the control. The legend wasn't entirely correct there. It should have said that the control was on the very top of the re-entrant.

And then up to the trail and to the finish. It took me 21 mins to run this course.

Click on the image to enlarge.



Course A

I had some troubles finding controls on this course, mostly because I tried to use trails as catching features, but was not able to distinguish trails from the forest! Maybe it's just an autumn specifics or the trails were not used for a long time, but in many places the only way to see the trail was to look at blue paint marking in trees around the trail (but I realized it only later).

#1: right from the start I missed the beginning of the trail and reached the second one. I knew it was the second trail based on the direction, so I soon left it and cut north east looking for the first trail. Didn't see it. Followed the slope looking for the control. Apparently missed the trail again and didn't see the control either. Reached the point where I could see the lake and turned back looking for some feature I could use as an attack point. Found rocks and took the control from there.

#2: down to the creek and followed it to the control

#3: initially thought about going along the shore, but there was no place to run, so I had to go up the cliff and go around. Crossed the creek and went north, again, looking for a trail. Didn't see it and realized that I should stop trying to find trails in this area. Went west along the slope looking for either control or trail or knolls. Found knolls. As soon as I found them I saw the trail too and noticed blue markings. Aha. went east, saw blue marking again and then the control.

#4: up the hill to the cutting and followed the cutting to the control. Apparently it went right to the control and even further. The map should be corrected there (I did fix it on my image, but not entirely sure how those three knolls should be placed around the cutting). One other problem with this control is the map edge. The control is right at the edge of the map and direction of the approach may very well lead people off the map. The only catching feature is a trail, but the trail is barely visible. IMHO, there is a high risk of boyscouts going off the map there.

#5: continued on the cutting to the main trail which went down to the creek. From there took the proper re-entrant and went up to the control.

#6: south west to the trail, then north on the trail and down to the re-entrant with the control

#7: simply went over the hill to the re-entrant not even looking for a trail

#8: over the hill and down the re-entrant

and then south west to the finish, went too far south, so had to re-adjust. This course took me 30 mins.

Click on the image to enlarge.




Thanks to Josef and Joseph for the map and courses design. And, Mike, yet again, thank you for the invitation - it was great!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 18 at South Umstead (Whispering Pines)

What can I say? The course was awesome. Very difficult area, very challenging controls, no easy legs. The weather was accommodating, cold, but not very cold, so I could run is a T-Shirt, and, fortunately, no rain. Also almost no spiders - finally!

I was choosing between Red and Green. With green having remote finish, the actual distance seemed almost identical, plus I had a chance to win Red while many hard runners were going on Blue ;-) So I went on Red (and indeed won). Having said all that, my run wasn't 100% clean. While I avoided making big mistakes, there were 3-4 controls where I lost time. Some of them were very well hidden and I missed them, some were result of me not approaching them in optimal way.

Here is how I ran:

#1: along the saddle, then instead of going further uphill, I kept my elevation, crossed the re-entrant and kept on on the same elevation will the control.

#2: walked up the hill and ended up by the north spur of the re-entrant; went to the other side of the re-entrant and then downhill; crossed the creek and walked up the re-entrant on the other side (I wasn't entirely sure if it re-entrant with or without the control, I thought it wasn't the one though); after I made sure that control is not there, went over the hill to the proper re-entrant and took the control.

#3: went down from the hill and ran to the control using the lower ground

#4: kept my elevation, then crossed the creek to the trail; used trail until I reached the top of the hill and went north there (the forest was very open there); used the hill as far as I could without risk of getting past the control and went down; then continued along the slope till the control.

#5: I liked that open hill very much, so returned to the trail using the same route; used the trail, then a little bit of the road, then cut down through the re-entrant; saw Mihai running down from the control (not sure why).

#6: continued up, then down and then went east to the lake shore and trail. Used the trail to go around the lake; walked over the hill, across the re-entrant and up the slope, but didn't see the control. Got confused for a moment, then decided to take another bearing and went to the trail, from there returned back and this time got the control.

#7: to the trail, then used the trail till the bend; from there went across the creek and north-east aiming for the re-entrant just before the control; apparently was going too south, so didn't see that re-entrant and hit the next one; from there continued looking for the control, but instead saw the trail; realized what happened and returned back to the control.

#8: to the trail, over the hill and down to the control looking at the power line on my left so I could judge distance from it. The control was down on the ground, so I put it back up.

#9: down to the lake and crossed the power line there, which was easier at that place; run on the elevation line, then crossed some unmapped trail and went up the re-entrant on the other side to the control.

#10: checked my decision to keep going in Red - I still felt good, so I went for #10. Simply went along the creek counting re-entrant on the right and then going around the cliff. Then used the opening to get to the control. Again saw Mihai running from it ;-) As the whole way was slightly down, I actually felt refreshed after this leg.

#11: not sure I made a good decision there. I decided to avoid the big hill and returned back to the creek via the opening, then used the side creek to get to the power line and further. The problem was that right after the power line the creek became hard to go along due to green area, so I lost some time there. Passed one re-entrant on my right and caught up with Roman. Followed Roman to #11. Or to be more exact crawled behind Roman to #11 - that steep re-entrant almost killed me.

#12: to the trail watching re-entrant on my left, then straight down to the control

#13: up the hill, then west, crossed the re-entrant and turned south keeping slope on my right, ran right by the control without seeing it... Continued till another re-entrant, realized that I was too far, turned back and saw the control.

#14: straight across the re-entrant, reached the dry ditch, looked left, looked right, didn't see the control (duh!); thought maybe it is not the ditch on the map as it was very shallow and went further, didn't see another dicth, so turned back; saw Roman running toward me and he pointed me back to that ditch where people were clustering around the control. Went there, it was very well hidden: not only down in this little ditch but also behind log, so no surprise I didn't see it from 3 meters...

#15: to the road and used the road; cut to the trail from the opening and used the trail until it started to bend down; left the trail and went toward the control, keeping re-entrant on my right, but went too far south and hit a set of gullies; found them on the map and used them as an attack point.

#16: to the trail's bend, across the creek and up the re-entrant

#17 (or #18): was looking at #17 from green/brown and choosing between two possible routes there; fortunately decided to use the trail, so when I finally realized that I should not go to that control, I was on the right path to my #17 (18). So I used the trail all the way, then passed the saddle by the start and turned to the control.

#18 (or #22): aimed to the bridge, from there went north along the creek counting re-entrants on the left, then went up the one with control (again my legs were giving up there...)

And then down to the creek and up to the finish aiming for buildings.
total time: 1:35:59

Huge thanks to Joseph, Ruth and Josef for making this event.

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

October 11 at Bond Park

It was a good day to be outside and a great day for a run. And that's exactly what we had: a run. Very little orienteering on course B and no orienteering on course A. I don't know. Maybe I am just missing the whole point about sprints, but I do hope we'll come back to our usual more challenging sprint courses in the future. White/Yellow sprints we had today measured who can run fast on trails, roads and fields, but not much else.

At the same time I am thankful to Ruth for designing/setting the courses and to Sandro for running the event. If not for Ruth, we wouldn't have an event at all, because Crab Tree Lake park wouldn't let us use their wet trails again! The way the replacement idea was getting realized during the last 3 days, Ruth pretty much had to use permanent control poles in the park, which are all White and Yellow (just a few Orange ones), so the resulting courses ended up being White and Yellow. And while I didn't like them that much, it was definitely better than an alternative, which would be "no event".

How did I do? I think I got my "normal" times on both courses. 15:11 on A, while I was still fresh and ran fast and 20:13 on a bit longer/complex B when I wasn't running as fast as on A. I didn't loose a single second on A and I had two small delays on B: 20 sec worth lost of orientation when going to control #1 and untied shoe lace just before #4. Everything else was optimal. I ended up in eights place for both courses - which basically shows how slow (or should I say how fast?) my running speed really is.

Below are the maps with courses and my routes, but I won't be going into details this time. The reason is that there is not much to tell really - all legs were straightforward, I honestly don't think there could be better routes (except for #1 on B).

Sprint A



Sprint B

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sep 27 in Birkhead Wilderness

First of all, I want to apologize to everybody for being late with the controls this morning. Tanya and I miscalculated time to drive and left home later than we should have. As a result we came half an hour late and delayed the start... I am sorry.

But, as Joseph noted, it gave everybody a chance to socialize :-) In fact, Birkhead start/finish area is very good for socializing. The table rock virtually forces people to huddle together and talk. I like this place. And, of course, the forest is quite challenging.

This time I believe that two controls were misplaced. I got lucky with the first one, but to balance things out extremely unlucky with the second misplaced one (lost about 20-22 mins there). But at the same time I am quite happy with my performance. With the exception of the misplaced controls I was taking the rest of them cleanly, was running all right and felt quite good at the Red/Green switch point (so I ended up choosing Red), my knee held fine even after 90 mins. And I suspect that I was right among the leaders before my disaster at misplaced #14. All those are good signs for me: it looks like I should be able to come back to running Reds and be competitive there.

Fell down 3 or 4 times today (one time with a roll :-)) and got a few scratches - Birkhead forest is not as white as the map suggests.

All right, here is how I ran:

#1: used the trail, noticed an opening on the left and turned into the forest shortly after; crossed the re-entrant and proceed along the slope. Control wasn't there and I didn't see a knol either. But I did see a lot of people running in circles. I went a bit further and saw the re-entrant - I clearly was too far, so I turned back and checked the slope again - no control. Looked around and saw someone sprinting up the hill, correctly guessed that the person saw the control and followed. Indeed, the control was there, about 50-80 meters from the place it was supposed to be.

#2: continued up the hill and followed it north till the rock piles, then took a compass bearing and went for the control, saw re-entrant forming up on my right, went down there and took the control.

#3: easy, over the hill, crossed the re-entrant and followed the slope.

#4: walked up the hill, then ran to the big rocks and saw re-entrant on my right, crossed it, passed the top part of the gully and then reached the re-entrant with the control.

#5: aimed straight east, walked up the hill and down to the creek, then proceeded north to the control.

#6: used eastern slope for a bit and went up using the first re-entrant, from there crossed south to the creek and went up the re-entrant with the control

#7: tough one. Went east over the hill and then down at the top part of the re-entrant, went down to the creek while going north-east, noticed the creeks crossing, continued along the creek, past the cliff and up the re-entrant with another creek. Up and up, over the hill and to another re-entrant, went east along the creek to the trail, used the trail, then walked up another re-entrant and went east to the control using re-entrant to the south as a catching feature.

#8: west past the rocks and hit another old trail. It was somewhat confusing there, but I simply proceeded further west, knowing that in worst case, I'll hit the big creek. But I was still on the right bearing, saw re-entrant stating to form on my left and followed the slope to the control.

#9: up the hill and down to the creek, up another hill aiming south and watched two re-entrants on my right. Then went down past the knolls to the creek, and went east to the control. I felt really good at that point and decided to finish on Red.

#10: cut over the hill, and followed the slope, noticed dry-ditch, a small gully and cliff before reaching the control.

#11: along the creek and then around the green area, from there followed the slope to the re-entrant with the control

#12: north, over the hill to the re-entrant and further north to the parallel re-entrant, then followed it up to the control.

#13: south-east, crossed the re-entrant and walked up the hill to the top, then went down to the creeks crossing. Had hard time getting through rhododendrons there (should have gone around...), but went through and followed the creek up to the control. I was at 58:32 mark then.

#14: oh well. Just went south crossing everything until I reached the little side trail and than the big trail. Followed the trail until it started to go down and turned to the forest trying to stay on the same elevation contour. Saw rocks on my right and eventually reached the place where the control should have been. No control. OK. Continued further south till I hit the big rocky ridge and the trail. Used the end of the trail as an attack point. Still no control. Went north looking around until I reached the trail, followed the trail to the crossing and went south on another trail until I got to the knolls. From there I walked east very carefully and very straight. Found big double rocky teeth and used them as an attack point. Still no control. At that point I was certain that the control was misplaced (and not just hidden) and started to thing about moving on. It was a pity though, as I lost so much time there after such a good run. Then I saw someone running further north and figured that this person is either going to or from the control and moved north to the line he ran along. Looked both directions and saw Holly running toward me on the same line. Aha. I went up and saw the control. It was about 80-100 meters north from the place it was supposed to be.

#15: went down to the trail and followed it until the re-entrant on my left, then went west, reached the dry ditch and followed it to the control.

And then walked to the finish and more or less straight line. Result time: 97:46.

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.



And, of course, thanks to Josef for hosting the event! It was fun.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Results for the Sep 20 event

Published the results: http://backwoodsok.org/results-from-09-20-2009-at-south-umstead

Took me several hours to reconcile the registration cards with the downloaded results spreadsheet. At the end I still had 2 registration cards not assigned to any entry, as if those two people never started...

The event was a blur. This was the first time Tanya and I were doing the September event, when renewals are due and usually many people come. What can I say, it was the tough one. I can hardly remember anything from the first hour and a half. And I am so grateful to Artem, Eugene, Mihai and Bill for taking care of the controls pickup - you guys are great!

Controls wise, I was surprised that nobody complained about #44 - it was the one I had troubles setting correctly. The other one was #53 - which was indeed a tough one, I did checked it from 3 different directions just in case. #48 "the pit", well... you know :-) And, of course, #50. Actually, I didn't think much about that one - it was quite easy to find and get to from the top. But Tanya did tell me after she set the control that I was cruel to others by placing the control there. But it was fun, wasn't it?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ribbons are set for Sep 20 event

Spent last two days setting ribbons for the Sep 20 event. Had some troubles finding exact spots for several advanced controls. What can I say? Don't expect an easy run through a clear forest. The advanced courses shaped out to be rather "greenish" and controls not easy to find.

Also couldn't find a good way to put RGB courses on one map. So I'll be printing them separately. You'll need to choose a course right from the start. No switching.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Courses for Sep 20 event are approved

Sent Sep 20 event courses for approval to Umstead this morning and got a very quick approval.

Despite the approval, I am not entirely happy with the Orange course. While trying not to repeat old South Umstead courses, I am always bumping into the limiting number of controls we have available... And the Orange course usually suffers the most. This time I couldn't get many intersections between RGB and Orange (because RGB goes behind the river and the rest of the controls are quite hard too) and it resulted in Orange sharing two controls with the White course... So the course will start as an easy one (White - Yellow - White) and only after that will become a real Orange.

After I get the controls, I'll check how many are working. If I find an extra one, I'll replace one of the Whites with a new Orange one, but we'll see.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

August 22 in the Bond Park

It was very gratifying to see the Bond Park map finally used in an event. It was the biggest mapping project I undertook (so far) and I was glad to see the map being used.

Patrick set two good (and unusual) courses in the south east portion of the map, so north west portion wasn't used at all (a part of it wasn't even printed). It means that the map is big enough to potentially handle two sprint events in one year! What was unusual about the courses is the way controls were hidden, Patrick did really good job hiding them :-) In fact, I don't remember such degree of "control invisibility" in any of the events we had. But all controls were set accurately. Josef had some valid complains about 3-4-5 "dog leg" on the course A, though, I personally used different routes on this stretch. The only other control I didn't like was #5 on the course B. This control was set right by hardly visible barb wire. Both Tanya and Michael got caught into this barb wire while approaching the control. IMHO, it was too dangerous a place to set a control in.

Anyway, I liked both courses, so thanks to Patrick to setting them up!

Just like 2 weeks ago I ran the first course significantly faster than the second one. 17 mins comparing to 20 mins. I suspect that I might have won the first course and got 4-5th place on the second. Again, I didn't have enough stamina for the second course and again I made a costly mistake on it. A pattern? Maybe.

Here is how I ran:

Course A

#1: used the road, cut a corner at the end, then ran by the shelter and went down to the creek; didn't see the pit (it was truly invisible!), went right a bit then returned back and followed the creek to the pit.

#2: straight, crossed the road and went up the re-entrant

#3: back to the road and used it all the way to the control

#4: back to the road, cut to the re-entrant with the dry dicth from the curve and followed the ditch to the pit, looking to the right so I wouldn't miss it.

#5: went south to the bridge, continued up the hill and saw the control on the right

#6: south to the field, alond the field and used the trail, then down to the re-entrant

#7: to the field and around it, cut to the trail and used it for a bit, then went to the cutting and from there to the creek junction

#8: returned back to the cutting and used it till I crossed a small dry dicth, then went south loiking for the dry dicth with the control, found it and followed it to the control

#9: back to the cutting and used it to get to the trail, used trail to reach the control

#10: used the cutting to get around the green area

and from there to the field and used trails all the way to the finish. It took me 17:21

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.




Course B


#1: through the forest to the parking lot and attacked from the corner of the parking lot

#2: to the field and to the control from course A, from there repeated my route to the #2

#3: used the trail until I saw creek on the right and went down to it

#4: did not cross the creek but somehow thought I did!!! so when I reached the cutting I thought the creek is on my left, didn't see the control and went toward the supposed creek to attack from there... Crossed the dry ditch and only then started to realize what happened. Returned back and ran toward the real creek this time, took the control on the other side. I think I lost about 90 seconds there.

#5: used the cutting to get to the creeks junction, crossed the creek there, went up to the dry dicth and followed it to the control. Did notice the barb wire because I was looking for it.

#6: went back to avoid the wire and crossed the creek again at the junction, went to the trail and used it to get to the eastern corner of the field, went up to the field and ran by its side and further on using the trail to reach the control

#7: basically retraced my steps from course A (now thinking about it - I retraced my steps several times on the B course, apparently the courses were too similar, it could have been avoided)

#8: down to the road, through the intersection and to the re-entrant

#9: this time it was easy, used the road until I saw a wide road shoulder in front and went south across the cutting and creek, then followed the creek to the pit

#10: up to the shelter, then used the road and the field as much as I could, then went to the forest to the control.

and straight to the finish. Total: 20:34.

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

August 9 in the south west Umstead (Showers and Spiders)

As Josef put it: "Showers and Spiders" :-) It was very hot and very humid - peak of the summer. I did very well again, but made a mistake of spending all my energy on the first sprint so I had nothing left for the second one and instead of making 18/18 mins I ended up with 16/20 mins splits. Controls were from the "advanced" category, but quite honestly it didn't make any difference for me. Both sprints felt just like regular "Orange" type sprints, I only made one mistake on the course B (on the first control). Other than that it was very straightforward. And the forest was very open, so it was easy to run through.

Tanya dropped me by the start, and had to go back home to drive Michael to the urgent care with flu symptoms. However, when she came back, Michael woke up rather refreshed and decided to wait till Monday. Which is good, but Tanya had to skip the event.. Oh well, maybe next time, in any case she wasn't very upset seeing what kind of weather we got. And yes, we are guilty of not un-registering late yesterday evening when we decided about that urgent care visit.

OK. Here is how I ran:

Sprint A

#1: straight over the re-entrant

#2: east, keeping on the same elevation until I crossed the dry dicth, then through the green area (jumping over fallen trees) to the upper part of the re-entrant; down the slope on the other side into the big re-entrant (all this time weering a bit south, to be below the control); crossed the big re-entrant and went north on the other side to the control.

#3: straight, noticing a pile of rocks and the first tree along the way

#4: going north north east so to appear on the right of the control; then went left on the slope, crossed a few unmapped dry-ditches and found the pit

#5: up the hill to the west west north till I saw the upper part of the small re-entrant; then turned north to the control

#6: straight looking for the re-entrant

#7: down the re-entrants and used creek crossings as an attack point

#8: gradually descendend the slope so I reach the bottom further south, went over the hill right there and then went up the side re-entrant

#9: over the hill and then followed the slope to get to the control

And up the hill to the finish.
Spent 16:09 on this course and felt really bad and dizzy after the finish. The last sprint up the slope to the finish was definetely not needed.

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge.



It took me more than half an hour to catch my breathing and recuperate. I even conpemplated on not doing the second sprint but at the end decided just to take it easy and walk more. And so I did. Suprisingly the time for the second sprint wasn't bad either despite my walking and making one 90 secs mistake. At the end I felt much better after finishing the second sprint comparing to my condition when I was starting it.

Sprint B

#1: went south instead of weering to the east a bit more and overshot; didn't see the re-entrant forming (ir was very flat), but finally noticed that I was going unexpectedly up, plus I hit a trail which wasn't of the map. Stopped and decided that I overshot, so turned back and indeed saw the re-entrant right there.

#2: simply followed the slope

#3: down the re-entrant, walked over the hill; then walked uphill to the control

#4: crossed the re-entrant and walked up the hill, then ran in the same north west direction till I saw the rocks and control

#5: north east to the upper part of the re-entrant, then to the eastern corner of the hill (it was possible to see how the hill shapes out)

#6: straight down and up

#7: used the upper ground for a bit then gradually went down to the creeks crossing; followed the re-entrant then walked over the hill, noticed dry-ditches and took the control from there

#8: followed the left slope to the control. The control was on the ground, but the pit was not hard to find

#9: walked up the hill along the tiny re-entrant then followed the slope to the control

And the went accross the re-entrant and up the hill to the finish.
Ended up with 20:28.

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.




Huge thanks to Josef and Joseph for making this extra event! It was great.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Results

Posted the results and short report: http://backwoodsok.org/07-12-2009-results-sprints-at-north-umstead

I guess I need to learn how to make sprints a bit easier... Don't know.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Preparing for the July 12 event

Everything is ready :-)

Two 2.4 km sprint courses got approved by the park and today I set the ribbons. 17 controls, 9 controls on each course. I designed them as two loops (in opposite directions) around the parking area, thus avoiding any camp areas we've had troubles with the park rangers about. And, indeed, the approval was easy (that is, no corrections were required). Also remapped the trail in the north west corner of the map below.

Here is the area where the courses are set in:



See you there at July 12!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June 28 at Lake Johnson

Finally, a sprint! Yay! I like sprints and I usually do well on sprint events. This time wasn't an exception. One strange thing though was that I felt that I ran course A perfectly (for myself) and I felt that I could have done better on course B. But I ended up winning course B and not A. Both runs were clean though and I am quite happy with the way I ran them both.

Heat wasn't a factor. Yes, it was hot (even at 9-10 AM), but for 18-19 minutes runs it was not such a big deal.

Here is how I ran.

Course A

#1: down to the trail, passed by two re-entrances and went up to the control

#2: back to the trail and used it as much as I could, then went up to the control

#3: went straight across the two roads, then used trail to get down to the creek and followed the creek to the control

#4: left re-entrant on my right and went up the hill to the road, took control from the road's bend

#5: went north a little bit as it was easier to run in that direction, then went down the hill watching for the peninsula to appear.

#6: to the trail, used it to get down to the creek, crossed it and went along the creek, passed #7, then another control from course B, reached the road, went to the fence and ran along the fence to the control

#7: went directly to the road, crossed in and move south a bit until I saw dry ditch with the control from course B, from there went to #7

#8: straight to the roads fork and down to the control

#9: now I think I made a mistake there by not going straight, but then I thought it was a good idea to get to the road as soon as possible. So I ended up with some extra distance there. Anyway, I used the road to get to the control and then went up to the finish.

Click on the image to enlarge.



Course B

#1: easy, the same as #9 on the course A

#2: to the road and after the road's bend to the re-entrant, went a bit too far down it, but not that much, so I could see the control from there

#3: aimed for the roads fork and avoided loosing any elevation. From the fork used road for a bit and went down to the re-entrant with the control after a small road's bend

#4: went along the creek to the control which I already visited during the course A

#5: again a dog leg from course A, simply repeated by steps

#6: to the trail and used it for a bit, from the trail's curve went south to the control

#7: just went north staying on the same elevation line, then when I saw the creek area, turned west to the dry ditch with the control

#8: started to feel tired there and wasn't running fast from that point on to the finish. Anyway, used the trails to get to the road, then cut across and went down to the big re-entrant. Surprisingly saw a trail there and followed it to the control

#9: used the same unmapped trail to get out of the re-entrant, then went to the road and uphill to the control. Didn't see the control and spend a few seconds looking around among the root stocks until I found it.

#10: to the road and used it as much as I could, then cut to the control.

and finish.

Click on the image to enlarge.



Thanks to Joseph and Ruth for setting up the event! It was fun!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

June 7 at North Umstead

Brian promised an interesting courses today, and, indeed, the Green course I ran was quite unusual. What added to the challenge is "unevenness" of the course. Normally, all controls on advanced courses have similar degree of difficulty and are similarly placed, so runners could mentally adjust to the course after the first few controls. Not this time. Some controls were very easy (maybe too easy), but others were of very high degree of difficulty. Also some controls were low and hidden, while others hanged very high above the ground. I personally found such mixture quite difficult to adjust to, and ended up making several (medium) mistakes on the course. Mercifully, the weather wasn't very hot for this time of the year, so I was able to run most of the time and thus finished with an "all right" time.

Here is how I ran:

#1: down to the dry ditches, through some fallen trees, across the trail and creek, then up about 15 yards from the control. The control was hanged very high and I didn't notice it, ran north east to the cliff to confirm my position - it was correct. Returned back and saw the control this time.

#2: across the road and up the re-entrant, then used a gully as an attack point

#3: ran on the elevation line, missed the control as it was lying on the ground, but saw big rocks. Turned around and saw the control.

#4: to the road, then used the trail to get close to the control. Noticed one re-entrant on the left, then turned into the second one.

#5: ran across two creeks, then noticed a trail going by the shore and used it instead of cutting over over the hill. The trail lead me basically to the very control, I just needed to watch the shore line and get down to it where the control was placed.

#6: climbed up the slope, ran across the re-entrant and walked up to the control

#7: very difficult control: in a pit, on a flat, without good attack points. Ran by the top of the re-entrant, then aimed to the right (west) of the control and ran across the hill (probably missed a bit), then turned left looking for the pit. Didn't find it and noticed some not very distinct re-entrants, realized that I must have missed the pit and ran back. Found the pit this time.

#8: another difficult one: no sharp elevation features, no good attack points (rocks don't count as they were separated from the control by the green area). Anyway. Crossed the creek and went up watching re-entrant on my left, then aimed to the eastern side of the green area and went over the hill there. Went down the slope a little bit and turned right to the control.

#9: made my biggest mistake there. Went across the re-entrant and aimed for the corner of the restricted area, but missed and hit the creek farther west than I thought. Crossed the creek and went west looking for the re-entrant with the control, naturally, didn't find it and ended up in the re-entrant west of the control. Decided that I was going west for too long, stopped and realized the mistake. Went back and took the control.

#10: went around the re-entrants and reached the road exactly where I wanted - by the re-entrant on the other side. Went down using the northern slope and turned right to the control.

#11: returned back to the road, thought about getting to the trail, but decided to cut straight instead. Aimed to the right of the control, didn't see the trail, but when the slope went down, turned left and took the control.

#12: used the road to get close to the control, but exited to the forest too early. Ended up traversing the northern slope of the big re-entrant, then going north over the green hill. There I wasn't certain whether I was right or left of the re-entrant with the control and decided to go left with an idea of hitting either the re-entrant or the rocks cluster. Found rocks and used them as an attack point.

#13: down to the shore and used the trail and road to get close to the control. Went up to the dry ditch and reached it right by the bridge. The bridge and new trail should have been added to the control's legend. Unfortunately, they weren't, so I didn't look under the bridge and instead went up looking for the control. Didn't find it, returned back and decided to look further down (though I was starting to think that the control was taken away). As soon as I went over the bridge I saw the control right there. Bummer. Lost 2 minutes there...

And then finish with an OK 1:09 time.

Thanks to Brian for such unusual and challenging course!

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

May 17 in South Umstead

The day which started with heavy rain turned into the perfect weather for a run by the time I started. What a pleasant surprise for the middle of May event! Unfortunately, the morning rain seemed to scare away some orienteers, but those who came didn't regret it at all. Not only the weather was good, but also the advanced courses Charles and Nadya designed were a real treat.

Tanya went on Orange (which was on a yellowish side today) and I ran the Green (as usual). I ended up with result I am very happy about: made just two small/moderate mistakes and finished with 1:05 time (which I think is a good one).

Here is how I ran:

#1: cut to the trail using the re-entrant as a handrail, then used the trails to get to the control

#2: went east to avoid a small re-entrant, then cut across the big one to the control

#3: avoided the green area by getting up to the trail, used the trail and cut down to the control

#4: up to the trail, used it to get to the road and went down avoiding the green area, saw "our usual control dry ditches" on the left and turned right to the control

#5: went around the big re-entrant and green area, reaches the ridge, ran north east, passed re-entrant on the right, went down the slope a little bit and ran along the slope to the control.

#6: It was very well hidden, wasn't it? :-) Anyway, I went down to the creek, crossed it and started to look for a gully. It wasn't there. I wandered around a little bit and then realized that the gully should be on the slope facing the river. Went there and noticed the control, which was indeed very well hidden.

#7: went down, hoping to use a route on the river bank, but it simply wasn't there. The cliff was going straight to the water and there was no place to walk underneath the cliff. So I had to climb the steep slope up. From the top I went south-east, crossed the re-entrant above the green part and went down the hill to the control.

#8: went south to the road and south south west from there trying to avoid loosing too much elevation in re-entrants. Miscalculated and ended up further west than I thought, went up looking for gullies, but they weren't there. Stopped and realized the mistake, turned left and ran to the control.

#9: simply went over the hill and across the creek, then turned left to the gully.

#10: went down to the shore, thus avoiding elevation gain and used road to get to the control area. Ran a bit over, climbed up and had to return back a bit to the gully with the control.

#11: made a stupid mistake. Instead of going south to the road I went north to the same road... When I reached the road I realized what happened, but wasn't in a mood to climb back up right there. So I ran north east on the road and cut across in the less steep and green part. Crossed the opening and very carefully found one rock and then used it as an attack point to get to the rocks with the control.

#12: simply ran along the river and then used the trail to get close to the control. From the hill went north west noticing re-entrant on the right, crossed the creek and found the control.

#13: went north east to the trail, used the trail a bit until I saw the re-entrant forming on the right and went down into it to the control

#14: returned back to the trail a bit north from the point where I left it. Went down toward the re-entrant, but didn't go all the way down. Instead ran on its right slope until I saw the gully which I used as a catching feature and an attack point.

finish: just ran north, spending the energy I still had left.

Thanks to Charles and Nadya for the great course!

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May 3 event results.

Posted results of the May 3 event on the BOK site.

Now I know how to download the results. Took me a while... Touch pad of the little BOK laptop drove me crazy... I wish I could plug in a real mouse to it, but there was only one USB port.

Oh, well.

As to the event, I think, it went good. The "treasure hunting" addition was perfectly all right to use. The result proved that it wasn't about luck - instead it was about identification of potential control spots on the map based on the legend and optimization of the course taking in account these spots.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April 26 at camp Lapihio

It was indeed one of those extremely hot events we seem to have every year at the end of April and in May. Last year I nearly blacked out on a course, so this time I decided to be extra cautious, walk more and monitor my condition all the time.

Artem offered both regular and Score-O courses and I was in serious doubt which one to choose (Score-O or Green).

Score-O pluses were:

  • 1 hour time limit
  • possibility to run only short legs
But Green had pluses too:
  • Though it was unlikely that I could finish it in 1 hour, I would not have to think as much during the run, as I would have to in case of Score-O. In such hot weather simplicity was very desirable.
  • The course had several challenging long legs, but not in sequence, which was good for me. And I really liked the way the course was designed.
So in the end I chose Green, mainly because my anticipation of slow thinking at the end of the course.

My strategy for the run was as following:
  • I knew I wasn't going to run all the way and would have to switch to a walk sooner or later. I wanted to do it later, so I decided to avoid hills at all cost. Heat was enough to battle through, I didn't need hills to add up to the challenge.
  • I was going to walk up every hill I couldn't avoid - no running up, even at the beginning of the course.
  • I was going to monitor my condition in order to switch to a walk before it gets too bad.

Here is how I ran:

#1: along the green vegetation to the clearance, then used compass bearing to get to the re-entrant and used a small gully as an attack point

#2: down to the creek and ran along it switching sides till the big creek. Crossed it carefully and walked up hill to the trail. Used the trail to get to the road, crossed the power line. Went down to the re-entrant and used its northern slope to get to the clearance. The problem was that I didn't see this clearance on the map - I thought it was all white around the control. So when I reached the clearance I thought that it was the one north from there and instead of taking the control I went south east looking for it. Naturally, I didn't find it and stopped to assess the situation. And only then I noticed that the control was actually inside a clearance. Ouch... Returned back and took it.

#3: went down to the creek and walked up hill to the control watching re-entrant on my left along the way.

#4: was very difficult to get to. The area between #3 and #4 was so flat that the only choice I had was to take a compass bearing and hope for the best. So I took compass bearing to the top of the big re-entrant and fortunately hit it right where I wanted. From there it was an easy run to the control.

#5: crossed the re-entrant to avoid green and ran down to the creek. Ran along the creek and used its curve as an attack point.

#6: no way I was going up that hill, so I went around. Along the creek, used trail for a short while, then along another creek between two hills. As soon as the left hill ended I tuned west and ran on the same elevation till yet another creek, crossed it and went right to the control.

#7: walked up and across the power line and met Michael there. Together we ran west looking for the re-entrant but saw the control first.

#8: went down to the big creek, crossed it and walked up hill. That was my "switching" point. From that moment I pretty much walked all the way except for the final stretch. Anyway, after I crossed the second trail I went across the hill to the re-entrant with a small creek and swamp and used it as an attack point. Also saw the opening on my left when I was walking to the control.

#9: took compass bearing and walked uphill, then down to the re-entrant with the control

#10: with big difficulties (because of fallen trees and greens) went down to the trail. Used the trail to get closer to the control and cut north from the curve. Counted creeks and took creek #3 to go alongside to the control. Used rocks on the right bank as an attack point.

#11: walked up north and reached the trail. Then used the trail a little bit and went down to the control aiming for the cabins.

#12: ran all the way to the finish spending whatever strength I had left.

Ended up spending 74 minutes on the course - not bad for such weather.

Michael finished Orange and liked it very much. Thank you, Artem! Great courses.

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Summer has come

Went to set ribbons to the Schenck forest today. After two hours walk hanged about 70% - will finish on Tuesday.

It was hot today. After a walk I surely felt like after a long hilly run. Tomorrow event will be tough. Maybe I should walk it too? I still remember how I nearly blacked out in similar conditions a year ago. We'll see.

Some information about the May 3 event.
It will be a Score-O with 32 controls, but only 23 of them will be shown on the map. For the remaining 9 controls only the legend will be present.

Points distribution:

  • 5 points - 4 controls
  • 10 points - 12 controls
  • 15 points - 4 controls
  • 20 points - 2 controls
  • 25 points - 1 control
  • And all 9 "hidden" controls will be for 20 points each - a big bonus.
I am thinking about setting 1.5 hours time limit - a straight line with all controls on it is more than 7 km. Or maybe we'll do both 1 and 1.5 hours like Artem did in Birkhead.

Because of the absence of white and yellow courses, expect somewhat more difficult controls than you usually see in Schenck, though it is virtually impossible to make it too hard out there.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Orienteering in Birkhead Wilderness, Apr 12

Orienteering event was the last "point of interest" in our 5 days journey to South Carolina and Georgia. Tanya, Michael and I spent the last week on a "half-organized" family road trip, driving wherever we wanted, staying in cheap hotels, visiting all kinds of places and doing all kinds of activities (including getting into golf ball size hail). The orienteering event on a way back home capped it nicely.

Artem set up a Score-O event with an extra complexity twist. The sun was shining, the air was cool, the forest was quite open - simply beautiful. Plus I was able to draw a course avoiding big hills and ended up actually running most of the time. Tanya and Michael had a great time too. Thank you, Artem!

My overall strategy was:

  • take easy #18, 17 and 16 at the very beginning in order to warm up and get a feel for the forest and the "complexity twist"
  • go all the way to the 50 pointer #10, taking some controls on the way there
  • then return back taking the rest of the controls on that route
  • take #5, 4, 3 and 2 if time permits (ended up taking only #5 there)
  • don't go over 1 hour

I think the strategy worked very well, especially taking in account that I was able to avoid hills by choosing this route.

Here is how I ran:

#18: simply using trails to get there

#17: ran back to the trail, then turned into the forest right after the re-entrant

#16: went north east till the re-entrant with the dry ditch and used it to get to the control. Found the control, but thought that it was too quick, so went around the pond, found the decoy control; stopped and thought, went back to the correct control and punched it

#15: used the trail until I saw big rocks on the right side, then cut to the control

#14: went over the hill, but didn't see the control - it was well hidden; took another bearing from the small re-entrant and eventually found the pit

#12: went down the hill and continued to the creeks junction, crossed the creek and ran north west to the control

#11: ran along th slope without loosing elevation, noticed re-entrants in a right and left, then went up the hill to the control

#9: decided to go for #9 before going to #10, as it looked easier than going to #10 directly. Simply ran north (north east and then north west) crossing two big re-entrants till I reached the control.

#10: ran east, watching re-entrant on the left, then north east and eventually reached the trail, used trail to get to the control and used trail/re-entrant crossing as an attack point

#8: simply ran south west and then west, avoiding gaining/loosing extra elevation (not much thinking was needed there as I had a good catching feature ahead - the creek), then went down to the creek and continued west along it, crossed the creek and ran along it toward the control, used a bend in the slope as an attack point.

#13: crossed the creek, ran till the green, then crossed the creek again to go around a cliff; after the cliff crossed the creek again and took the control

#7: crossed the creek back and used low ground to go around the hill; had to cut the north spur because of the unmapped green area and went south west; again crossed the creek to go around a cliff, but this time didn't see the control from the other side. Stopped for a few seconds and double-checked everything - everything seemed to be correct. So crossed the creek and immediately saw the control - it was very well hidden.

#6: walked up the hill, then ran along the slope counting re-entrants till the control

#5: went south east, then over the hill, noticed the small re-entrant, but didn't see a control at the rock piles close by, so continued to the next cluster of rocks, didn't see the control there either, spent some time looking then decided to double-check the first cluster and sure enough there was the control.

After that I had only 5 minutes left so I ran to the finish avoiding the re-entrants and using the trails to full advantage. Still ended up 4 minutes late... (with total time of 1:04)

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Incomple Green

Just saw the results.

Ouch, my good Green course turned into Brown with 4 extra controls and bad time... Gotta pay more attention to the legend on the map...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

March 29 at Whispering Pines (advanced event)

This time we got a sunny event, though the forest was wet after several days of raining. Slopes were slippery and trails muddy. I expected the big creek to be swollen too, but, surprisingly, it wasn't. I had more troubles getting across smaller creeks with exceptionally steep banks on this course.

The course, yes, the course was very hard. I ended up doing Green and it was probably the most difficult Green course I've ran (or rather walk) so far. Not a single easy control, tough crossings and crazy elevation. And all that in seemingly very well known area at Whispering Pines. What can I say, Josef designed a magnificent course.

Right at the start I knew that I'd be in trouble because of the elevation profile of the course and the first two legs confirmed it. I consciously slowed down and walked a majority of the course, preserving strength. I think it worked out well: I was able to do Green with a decent time, didn't die and even finished with a short run :-)

Here is how I ran/walked.

#1: used the trail as much as I could, then went down to the creek and crossed it not far away from the trail (thus avoiding an extra hill). Walked up the trail till I passed a re-entrant on the right and cut south to the control.

#2: went south south east to the creek and crossed it close to the re-entrant on the other side, then walked on the slope to the control.

#3: crossed the creek and walked up to the green area - it was very distinct, used the green area boundary as a trailing feature to get to the re-entrant (also avoided loosing any elevation by doing it), Went down the re-entrain using the north slope, walked through the area with fallen trees, across the creek and used the big gully on the other side as an attack point.

#4: thought about going all the way around that big hill, but chosen not to and walked up the hill, around the re-entrant so not to loose elevation and north to the control.

#5: used the trail as much as I could, then ran along the creek until the curve, crossed smaller creek and followed the big gully up the hill, used the man made feature as an attack point.

#6: didn't like the look of the steep hill on the right, so decided to go left. Crossed the big creek, then had big troubles crossing the smaller creek, as it had banks about two yards high. Finally crossed it, walked up the hill and north to the control.

#7: thought about finishing on Brown, but I still had some strength left and the Green circle looked very interesting, so I continued on Green. Went down to the big creek and ran along it until I reached the proper re-entrant, then walked up the re-entrant on the left slope. It was very difficult, I was afraid I would get injured there, but the only alternative was to go all the way up that hill, so I somehow managed to get to the control just navigating that slope.

#8: that dangerous slope exhausted me, so I ended up walking all the way to #8. Up the hill, then north north west, noticed a shallow re-entrant on the left, then saw the gully and turned up to the control.

#9: went around the gully, across the re-entrant, then navigated around the green area and turned west to the re-entrant with the control.

#10: decided that I don't need any more slopes, so went straight up the hill and ran down south east noticing green areas till I reached the control.

#11: tried to avoid the steep hill by the big creek and as a result made costly mistake (5 mins or so). Went down to the creek, crossed it with difficulties, walked over the hill and crossed the second creek just a bit north from the spot I thought I was. So when I reached the trail I thought that I am further south and went even more north, then cut east looking for the re-entrant with the control. I found a re-entrant all right, but it was too shallow, so I stopped and re-assessed the situation. Realized what happened and went south to the control (had to go around green area too).

#12: crossed the creek and went up to the control.

And then I RAN to the finish :-)
Total: 74:25 (not bad for mostly walking, I think)

Thanks to Ken and Terese for running the event and thanks to Josef for designing such an awesome course!

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Snooker-O at Schenck Forest

It was raining for the second meet in a row. In fact it was raining for several days, so the forest wasn't just wet, but completely filled with water. Every trail was overlaid with puddles, every slope slippery and the creek, well, let's just say it was a Snooker-O with elements of Swimming-O.

Again, surprisingly, many people attended, there was even a family with small children on one of the courses. Though both Tanya and Michael decided not to go with me because of the rain.

Anyway, Snooker-O experiment was extremely successful. Huge thanks to Mihai for suggesting this format and to Ron for using it at Schenck! I had some reservations before, but now I am all for this format and would love to see it used quite often. Comparing regular event with a Score-O event, one thing that stands out is that Score-O requires good map strategy and time/strength management skills. Apparently Snooker-O doubles these requirements. Even now, several hours after the finish, I am not entirely sure what strategy was the best for today's event. Based on conversations after the finish, I suspect that Brian won the event without crossing the creek, but I still kind of like my choice of taking #71. #68 seems like another good option, especially, if the creek would be more crossable.

One downside of Snooker-O was overabundance of dog legs. As you will see below, I used the same road and the same trail multiple times. It might be just the way Schenck forest is, but I think that we should try to model Snooker-O courses keeping this in mind.

And here is how I ran.

Just like everybody else, I designed my whole course before the start. It included one control behind the creek (#71) and excluded the corner #66. Everything else was there and I was able to stick to the plan with small deviations (I had to skip #67, 44 and 53 because of the time limit). One strategy decision I made during the planning was to use roads and trails as much as I could. Schenck forest has many of those and I was going to take full advantage of it. I think it worked out well, I was able to take a lot of controls despite my inability to run fast and run uphill.

#46: the beginning was standard - I bet everyone went this way

#65: along the fence, then straight to the re-entrant and down to the gully; had some problems getting out of it quickly...

#49: went around the green area and ran to the control on the open

#63: used trail to get out of the dark green, then cut west, noticed a beginning of the gully, crossed the trail and went straight to the control

#45: back to the trail and walked up to the road

#61: used the road to get to #61. From that hill observed the swollen creek and paused to think if I really want to come back there and cross it for #71. Finally decided, that I would regret missing an adventurous opportunity to make such crossing and ran back to the road.

#50: used the road and then trail to get there

#71: yet again, used the trail and the road to reach the creek, briefly looked for a good place to cross it, didn't see any and just jumped into it. The creek was knee deep, but it became chest deep in the middle and the current almost swept me downstream. I held my map, compass and cell phone up and forgot about car keys - now I know that the car keys buttons are waterproof :-). The barbed wire on the other side was so close to the creek, that I had to cross it and then cross it back a few yards further, as I didn't want to go uphill there. So I went around the hill, crossed the barbed wire one more time at the small creek entering the big one (the wire was down on the ground there) and walked up to the control.

#51: returned back to the same opening in the barbed wire and went further down to the big creek. I didn't like the look of it at all, so I ran along it looking for a better crossing place. I found one almost at the curve. The creek was broader there, so I guessed it wasn't as deep. Indeed, this time it was just above the knee, much better. Then I used the trail to get all the way to #51, saw the re-entrant and went up to the control.

#60: used the same trail to go back to #60; went around the hill to avoid gaining elevation

#43: again went around the hill and used the trail for a bit, then cut across the swampy open area to the cut on the other side, used it and then a small trail to get to the opening and then to the control. There I checked time, I had about 18 minutes left which meant that I had to choose between #62 and #67. I decided to stick to the plan and go for #62 (I also remembered the nasty green area around #67 and didn't want to get stuck there).

#62: so I ran to the south west corner of the opening and cut straight to #62 across the re-entrant and getting advantage of a small trail on the hill side.

#42: cut straight to the trail and used it to get to the control (had to walk quite a bit uphill there)

#48: it was indeed too late to attempt #67, so I just used trail to collect "red" controls. Ran to the trail curve and went up to the control

#41: on the trail

#52: after the green area, cut straight to it

#47: ran until I crossed a small creek, then crossed the creek on the right and used the slope to get to the control

#54: on the trail (and spent some extra seconds to re-tie my shoe laces...)

And finish in exactly 61:00, so I got 1 penalty point. Of course, I didn't have time to visit #53 and 44 as I initially planned, but I was still quite happy with the way I ran this course.

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Had to use different colors because of dog legs.


P.S. Official results are here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Night-O at Lake Johnson (Feb 28, 2009)

As some of you may know, end of February is not only a time when BOK has an annual Night-O event, but also a time when Russian speaking community celebrates Maslenitsa.

Maslenitsa is a Russian religious and folk holiday also known as Butter Week, Pancake week, or Cheesefare Week. Maslenitsa has a dual ancestry: pagan and Christian.
In Slavic mythology, Maslenitsa is a sun festival, celebrating the imminent end of the winter.

The most characteristic food of Maslenitsa is
bliny (Russian pancakes), popularly taken to symbolize the sun. Round and golden, they are made from the rich foods: butter, eggs, and milk.
Maslenitsa also includes masquerades, snowball fights, sledding, riding on swings and plenty of
sleigh rides.


So that's what I was doing all day prior to the event. Feasting: making pancakes and consuming them in a company of good friends. And then I got my share of masquerades, mud slides and belly rides in the night woods around the Johnson lake.

I stepped out from the feast to participate in the event and when I returned back soaked and muddy, one of my friends asked me:

-- How many people where there?
-- About 30
-- Wow, I had no idea there so many crazy people in the area! Was is successful?
-- Oh, yes! No one got injured, which for this kind of event means it was 100% successful!

And that sums it up pretty well, I think. The event was an extreme fun (with emphasis on extreme).
Cold rain, swollen creeks and slippery muddy slopes - you get the picture. Surprisingly it wasn't pitch dark. As Charles mentioned in his email, the city's lights were reflecting from the low clouds, so the visibility wasn't bad at all. I ended up running more that half of a distance with my flashlight turned off (this way you can distinguish elevation features much easier).

Mihai decided to make a life of advanced orienteerers even harder by making them follow odd/even control routes. I knew I wasn't going to take all controls anyway and opted for the "middle" class, where I could take controls in any order. But Mihai still succeeded in adding extra difficulty to the course by making a few "killer" controls as well as by misplacing two others. But it was perfectly inline with the weather and overall event atmosphere, so I won't grudge, it was fun.

Here is how I ran:

#43: my plan wasn't very original. I was going to take everything on the other side of the road, then return back and take a few additional controls if time permits. So I went down to the parking lot taking #43 along the way.

#66: that was one of the "killer" controls... I got injured last year on this one and was very lucky not to do it again this time. The control was down by the creek, well hidden and runners had to go down/up a very steep and slippery slope to get there and back. What can I say, one a way up it took me 3 attempts to get there - I was constantly sliding back to the creek...

#75: I ran back, crossed the creek and followed the slope to get to the control

#74: continued on the same slope, then realized that the control is actually on the other side of the creek; crossed the creek, noticed the road on the left and took the control

#73: took compass bearing, went up the hill and down to the re-entrant with the control

#68: continued down the re-entrant. The area around #68 had too many features, so I couldn't quite figure out how to attack it. I ended up decided just going there and looking around. I remember crossing several swollen creeks along the way as well as some trails. Then I saw flashlights in the area I was going too and ran straight - there was indeed a control.

#69: reached the trail and followed trails until #69. It wasn't hard to do. At #69 I noticed a small depression on the road and used it as an attack point.

#70: easy, back to the road and up the re-entrant

#71: used the road for as long as I could, then caught a glimpse of the control using my flashlight, crossed the creek and took the control

#72: took a compass bearing, watched a re-entrant on my left, reached the trail and saw the control from it.

#67: I was going to take it, but couldn't find it... Spend several extra minutes there. From #72 I cat straight to the trail and used trails to get to #67, but didn't see it (apparently it was well hidden), then I continued down the trail and checked another re-entrant on the left just in case (of course, nothing was there). Finally, I decided to forget about #67 and get across the road.

#41: I reached the parking lot with 25 minutes left. I thought about taking controls along the shore till #51 and then return back taking controls along the road. I clearly didn't have time to go to the far side beyond #51. Well, I ended up doing exactly that except for missing #42 and #47... Which I partially attribute to the fact that #41 and #42 were misplaced.
Actually, I found #41. I just took a trail up from the parking lot and the control was there. I didn't realize it was misplaced.

#42: So I took a compass bearing from #41 and went for #42. I reached a re-entrant with #42 thinking it was a re-entrant north from there and proceed south to the next re-entrant without looking for #42. Ironically, I would surely found #42 anyway, but it was also misplaced and was positioned closer to the shore than it should have been, so I didn't see it from the top of the re-entrant.

#47: So I reached the re-entrant with #47 thinking it was the one with #42. Of course, didn't find either one and decided that I am sufficiently lost and need to re-group. Went up the re-entrant and reached the road close to the start.

#48: I was still kind of dizzy at that point and ended up taking wrong road to #48 and spent some time figuring up what has happened before finally correcting the mistake.

#49: another "killer" control with steep slippery slope going down to it...

#50: went back to the road, wanted to use a trail to get down to the control, but turned left before the trail, it wasn't hard anyway

#51: followed the trails to get there. There I checked time. I had 10 minutes left. Thought about taking #52 but was afraid of ending up late and decided to simply turn back.

#46: followed the road

#45: again followed the road and went across the creek and into a deep gully. Apparently it wasn't the correct one. Got out of it, went further east and took the control.

#44: back to the road and took it. Then used roads to get to the finish. I had an extra minute at the end, but didn't think I can take #47 in one minute, so stayed there.

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Three colors represent three stages on the course.

Monday, February 23, 2009

February 22 event in North Umstead

It was raining in the morning, so Tanya and Michael decided not to go. Too bad for them. Rain stopped and orienteeres were rewarded by beautiful sunny weather. A bit too cold, but still pretty good.

Ken and Terese designed interesting courses, especially for Red runners. They got two great long legs in the middle of the course. Unfortunately for me, I wasn't running much lately. I knew I couldn't handle Red in such shape and decided to go on Green. During the course I realized that I wasn't fit even for Green and cut to Brown, which left me with the easier part of the route. But anyway, it was good.

Here is how I ran:

#1: used the trail, then cut down to the bridge and used indistinct trail on the other side to reach the road; then followed the elevation line to reach the control. I think I would have been better of running higher or lower, as I had to cross very deep gullies along the way.

#2: had to go over the hill to avoid fallen trees; then went up the re-entrant and to the control on a right side (it was visible from far away)

#3: again ran without loosing or gaining elevation, noticing top parts of dry ditches along the way; when reached the western slope turned right to the control

#4: made a small mistake when exiting the control but quickly corrected it and followed the creek all the way to the road (without crossing the creek); crossed the road and went east till I saw the dry ditch, followed it and cut south to the control

#5: just ran south, reached the road not far away from the building, continued south and followed the hill down to the control. Was very tired at this stage and decided to cut to Brown.

#6: walked back to the road, then used the road and trail to get close to the control; cut north-north-east, saw the control from far away. I think it was about 20 yards west from the point on the map, but not 100% sure about it.

#7: walked almost to the field, then ran on the field and then used the trail to get as close to the control as possible; cut across the creek, walked up and around the hill, then ran north to the control

#8: ran down and across the creek then made a mistake. For some reason I thought that re-entrant on my left was the one by the road, but it was the middle one (of course). Anyway I ended up walking up all the way to the building, where I realized what happened. From there I simply ran down all the way to the control.

#9: went down to the creek and walked up on the left of the platform, then used trails to get closer to the control and took it

#10: tired, walked up to the trail and ran to the finish.

Time spent on the course: 43 min 55 sec

Here is my route. Click on the image to enlarge. Blue - mostly running, yellow-brown - mostly walking.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 25 event in South Umstead

Back in Belarus I participated in orienteering events when snow was knee-to-waist deep, marshes were covered with a thin and easily breakable layer of ice, freezing mixture of snow and rain was falling. Yes, I've been through some cold events. Well, today's event took it rightful place on my list. Though it wasn't snowing or raining, 7 hours in near zero (Celsius) temperature with 5 of them mostly standing still made the trick. Brrr...

Apart from that the event was a success. Surprisingly a lot of people came (including a big group of 30 kids and parents who went on Orange). There were a lot of rented sticks and many people attended the class (thanks, Ken!). Many new faces, the club is visibly growing.

Also Mihai brought new and shiny big Umstead Park maps for sale. It is amazing how much work BOK put into it and it was gratifying to see people buying them. We plan to have them on some of the future events as well.

As for the courses, there were only two complains. One was about Red being unusually long and another one about Red having a confusing "cross" between controls 6 and 7. Several runners mistakenly took 7 before 6 and had to visit 7 twice as a result. What can I say... I really wanted to have this 1KM long uninterrupted leg and making the course cross itself was the only way I could achieve it. People who ran it "properly" ended up likening this challenging leg :-)

Finally, I want to thank all the helpers. As usual many people helped and I appreciate it very much.

  • Ken Hanson and Terese Camp - beginners class and controls pick up
  • Michael and Tanya Stemkovski - controls setup, pick up, registration, start and finish
  • Bill Eberstein - controls pickup
  • David Seibert's family - controls pickup (I hope I remembered the name correctly. I apologize if not..)
  • Joseph Huberman and Ruth Bromer - courses review