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.