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.

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