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