Sunday, March 16, 2008

March 16 event at Umstead Park, Camp Lapihio

It was a great day for orienteering! Not too cold, not too hot, no rain and clear forest!

But, unfortunately for me, the course (green) was set in a way I always struggle with. And I struggled again. One distinct weakness in my orienteering is inability to perform good on courses with multiple consecutive long legs. I can handle two long legs in a row, but the third one usually kills me. I am getting very tired and starting to make poor decisions. And because the legs are long, every mistake is very costly. Long legs do not allow me to make corrections quickly and often lead to a lot of extra time and distance.

So, yeah. Today's green course had five (!!!) consecutive long legs, starting from the second control.

OK, here is how it went. The first control (#71) was easy, though I made an extra curve (don't ask me why, I have no idea how it happened). Then long legs started. I took the second control (#72) OK by going south to the trail, following the trail and making another shortcut to the south from there. But I felt "the long leg effect" even then: when I came to the area where the control was I didn't notice it and went west looking for it, while it was literally a few meters away from me. Such things happen to me quite often when I am tired, I wasn't very surprised.

There was another plausible route to that control: down the creek and up the river before making for the trail. But I remembered this creek from the training event and there were some nasty fallen trees, so I went other way this time. I think both ways are fine.

The next one (#74) I took nicely, avoiding a bunch of deep re-entrances by using the paved road. Then came #40. After a quick look at the map I immediately decided that I shouldn't go straight and need to use the paved road again. Though it was definitely longer, by taking the road I would stay almost on the same elevation. Plus it was the third long leg and I wanted to do it using a simple "non-thinking" way. The control would have to be further south to make me run straight to it. Anyway, my strategy worked, the result wasn't as clean as it could be, but it was OK. While running on the paved road I also made on the spur of the moment decision to use the power line shortcut, which turned out to be a good one.

Initially I wasn't going to use the power line and let me tell you why. The reason is that I am afraid of running there. Actually, I think, it is plain dangerous. A few years ago they cut bushes under the power line and left 10-30 centimeter long stumps over there. These bush stumps are low and sharp. It is OK to walk there, but if a runner trips and falls a serious injury may occur with a big probability. Seriously, I think, that we should take this into account while setting courses and make sure the controls are set in a way that there is no incentive whatsoever to use the power line in this area of the park.

But today, I did use the power line, it looked a bit clearer from the road than I remembered. But still it was very uncomfortable to run there, so I entered the forest earlier than I initially wanted.

After three long legs I arrived on my forth control (#40) totally exhausted and then made my biggest mistake of the day. Actually it was a double mistake:
-- firstly I took a wrong compass bearing leaving the control and ended up hitting the road further east that I thought
-- secondly I didn't correct my first mistake by running till the road curve
As a result I entered the forest two (!!!) re-entrances off. Ouch. I think I even went off the map for a while... I recognized that I was by the wrong re-entrant quite soon, but I couldn't imagine that I was two re-entrants off, not just one. So I went north one step and was still in the wrong area. So I was standing there, thinking where am I for a minute or two and decided that I just don't know. I ran south-west, hit the road again and this time took the control (#43) properly.

Needless to say, these extra legs didn't give me additional strength. The rest of the course I was half walking. But at the same time the course from that point on became a kind of "survival" adventure: two river crossings and a mountain...

Controls #46, 47 and 48 were very easy, but to get there... I went down to the river and there were no trees across it. I called out a hiker from the other shore if he saw any trees, he said no, so I crossed the river right there. It was knee deep. Then there was the mountain. I should have probably had strength left to run up the slope, but I hadn't and ended up slooowly walking up. I met Ruth at the control (#46). Nothing much to say about #47 - just two re-entrances away, easy find. #48 was also easy - hit the trail north-north-west, followed the trail a bit and then made a shortcut.

And finally, another river crossing to get to the finish! Awesome :-)

Here is my route (click on the image to see the full course). Blue are legs where I mostly ran, Greenish are legs where I mostly walked.


Mihai I. said...

My personal experience:

Even though it was a long leg, and with several reentrants in the way, #74 to #40 was very attractive for me to run straight because of the huge handrails. I believe I went slightly north-west to avoid the big reentrant close to #74, then joined the road in the saddle, then down through a reentrant to the river between the road and the electric line; past the electric line down on a reentrant to the river again, and then just a compass bearing away up the hill.

I did end up very close to #40 but was tricked by an unmarked boulder (or so I thought, it was probably the root of one of the downed trees) a bit South.

The red course had some extra controls that added a bit of variation to the succession of long legs.

Great course, with the surprise knee-deep river crossing at the end (on the red course you could use a log to cross the river between 7:#43 and 8:#44).


Gord said...

It was a nice course to run especially when parks back home are still waist deep in snow.
Leg 4 to 5 obviously had some great choices. I took the road as long as I could.
I think the consecutive long legs were a problem but for a different reason. They encouraged 'dog legs' on a couple of the legs and I took advantage of them. A dog leg is where a runner leaving a control retraces steps over the terrain used approaching the control. I had about 400 m dog legs for both control 4 and 5 on the Green and benefitted from a departing runner each time. The course setter could have taken that benefit away by adding a couple of short transportation legs just beyond each of those controls. Short legs were not needed elsewhere.
I parallel errored on a different spur. Mine was shaped a bit like a leg and foot.
I too had trouble crossing one stream but my trouble was I chose to cross on a fallen tree. It was wet, slippery and rotting. I was scared of falling face first in to the water but I am still here.

Vaskor said...

Thank you for the comments!
It looks like the big leg to #40, indeed, had many good routes and depending on a runner style and priorities different route was applicable.

Also good point about the 'dog legs' and transportation legs. I was always wondering why on big events a long leg is often followed by an extremely easy close by control. Now it makes sense. I am going to use it when setting my own courses :-)