Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 21 in South Umstead

South Umstead is always tough. In my list of tough places it takes firm second place after Raven Rock. Raven Rock is far ahead of course, but still. I always have troubles in South Umstead, it's just too physically demanding. Hills, what could you do.

But this time I not only couldn't run at the end, but also made a big 6-7 min mistake on one of the controls. So I am afraid, my time wasn't any good (87 mins on 6 km course).

Tanya came with me again and she did good on Brown though. She planned to go on Orange and leave before me, but Artem ran out of Orange maps, so she went on Brown and was so pleased with her walk that stayed even longer and helped with controls pickup.

Here is how I ran:

#1: easy, trail and then along the slope and up to the rocks with the control

#2: walked up the hill, then down to the creek, followed it, went over the little dam and continued along the creek looking for the pit; missed it, but quickly realized what happened and turned back staying a bit upper on the slope; found the pit.

#3: here goes my big mistake. Classical "parallel features" one. First of all, I took imprecise compass bearing and reached the trail farther north than I thought. There I saw green area on my right and confused it with the one south. So I went around the green and then around the big re-entrant (which was parallel to the one south). I started to feel uneasy when I saw many side re-entrants on the northern slope of the re-entrant and then I saw bicyclists moving on my left. That confirmed my suspicion. So I went down the re-entrant, up (the extra) hill and to the control. 6-7 minutes wasted...

#4: down to the trail, used it until it reached the hill and then followed the slope to the control

#5: walked up to the trail, used it till the bend and continued in the same direction to the re-entrant with the control.

#6: crossed the re-entrant and walked up to the road. Used the road as much as I could. From the "yellowish" forest turned east down to the creek, reached it at the crossing and followed it down to the control.

#7: passed the re-entrant by following the creek, then walked up the hill, went around the first re-entrant and took control in the second one.

#8: proceeded up the hill to the cistern and kept going south on the hill watching the re-entrant on my right. I wanted to go down from the hill somewhere west from the control and managed to do just that. From there simply ran east and took the control.

#9: ran toward the bridge, but noticed some fallen trees in the river and decided to cross the river there and then. The only problem was that the shore over there had a form of 2 yards high cliff... I poked around, didn't find any got spots and tried to slide down holding a branch. Well, I lost a foothold, the branch snapped and I fell. Fortunately, I missed tree trunks and somehow managed to remain straight, so instead of getting full bath I only got waist deep into the water. There was no point in climbing to the tree trunk now, so I just waded across, climbed up cliff on the other side and walked up to the trail. Still shaking walked up the trail till the bend and to the control from there.

#10: went around the tough ground, reached the road and ran to the bridge, over the bridge and pass the bend until I saw re-entrant ending on my right. From there cut to the forest, went around the big re-entrant and proceed north until the hill end. From there turned left and down to the control.

#11: went over a little spur and stopped because of intense pain in my chest. Sat down and rested a bit, tried to ran again, but pain was coming back. Walked. Walking felt OK. So I walked the rest of the course...
Along the creek, up the south re-entrant, then west along the southern dry-ditch to the control.

#12: avoided both re-entrants by walking close to the buildings, reached the road and walked north to the control.

#13: walked to the trails crossing and followed the trail and later the dry-ditch to the control. Couldn't see the control from the top, but realized which small re-entrant I should go down to and indeed the control was there.

#14: skipped one hill and went up the second one along the dry-ditch. From the top turned west to the control.

and finish: made a mistake of staying on the same side of the re-entrant and had to walk over lots of fallen trees, finally crossed to the other side, reached the trail and walked to the finish.

Here is my route (blue - mostly running, brown - mostly walking). Click on the image to enlarge.

Thanks to Artem for the very challenging course!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Night-O at Bond Park

The event was an absolute blast. I don't know how Mihai fixed the weather, but it was perfectly done: a lot of rain before the event to make every creek and depression a fun to cross, clear sky and ideal temperature during the hour of the event.

This time Tanya came with me and we both had good runs/walks. Tanya walked and managed to avoid crossing deep water by skilfully choosing her route, and I was having great time running through all kinds of water obstacles.

In fact I liked it even more than Night-Os at Lake Johnson (though, those are also among my favorite events) and here is why:
-- huge amount of controls to choose from.
-- pretty much unlimited choices for optimal route. At Lake Johnson I never had to think much about the route and strategy. It was always something like this (with minor tactical variations): go across the road and take everything there, then cross back and take as many controls as you can before the time ran out, and don't go for the far away controls on the main side. Yesterday, there wasn't an obvious optimal route. In fact I am quite sure there were many routes which would work great.
-- I liked the possibility to be able to run under a street light from time to time and quickly analyze the map in relative comfort.
-- The only distinctive advantage for Lake Johnson was difficulty of the controls. At Lake Johnson I had to use terrain features to navigate in the dark. At Bond Park navigation was much easier.

I did look briefly at map right before the start just to see what it looked like and where high-point controls were placed. I immediately realized that there were so many controls and that distribution was quite even, so there was no point in even trying to design a definite route. So I simply decided to go south along the lake shore, pick up the south controls first and then work up from there making route decisions on the spot.

And here is my route:

#61 (3): Dashed across the field, jumped over the long puddle (the last time I did that on this course), reached the lake and took the little trail to the control.

#78 (4): ran back and to the corner of the vegetation, saw the control and literally a part of the lake between me and the control. Thought "here we go", jumped right into it and waded almost waist deep to the control. As you can imagine, I didn't care about crossing open water after that.

#79 (10): I noticed that this control was singled out from the rest of the seventies, so I decided to take it now before I go south along the shore. I think it was a good choice. So I ran to the trail, through the parking lot and cut to the control from there. It wasn't easy to spot, but finally I saw it on my right.

#62 (14): Back to the parking lot, to the opening with the trail and then along the creek down to the control.

#63 (15): Back to the trail and used it until I saw the sewer entrance, cut to the creek from there and followed it to the lake. Didn't see the control right away and waded into deep water, then saw it from there.

#64 (20): Back to the trail and used it until I saw an opening on my left. From there I cut to the control, but missed and reached the lake 50 yards east from it. So I had to go through extremely green and thorny area along the lake shore from there to the control.

#65 (20): And back though the same green area, around the swamp and to the control.

#66 (23): To the trail and used the opening for a bit, then went parallel to the creek (at least I thought so), but somehow missed the control. I realized that I've been running too far and when I saw the dry-ditch I knew where I was. So turned back and took the control from there.

#67 (22): Ran east and up a bit, then traversed the slope until I reached the re-entrant with the control.

#68 (20): Went north east aware of a hidden fence. Reached and recognized the fence and followed it to the control.

#70 (14): Went around the deep creek to the trail and stopped to think about the next step. I could go for 69 or 70 from there. 69 was closer but I didn't want to loose a possibility to use trail between 69 and 74, so I decided to leave 69 for later and went for 70 and 71. At that point I was glad I already took 79. So I went up to the field, went around the corner, down to the creek and followed it up to the control.

#71 (13): To the parking lot, then used the trail to go north and cut further north from the junction.

#69 (16): Now it was time to go back to 69. I used the road all the way and cut through the forest from the corner of the parking lot, reached the trail, saw the field on the right and went for the tree.

#74 (13): Simply followed the trail, noticing parking lot and fields on the left.

#73 (12): Briefly thought about taking 72, but decided to stay on the trail. Used the trail and went down to the control from the bend.

#43 (11): Went across the creek and up the hill parallel to the re-entrant, then went down to the re-entrant and up to the control.

Reached the road and stopped to think under the street light. I had 32 mins left at that point and had to choose what to do next. Should I go for upper forties or not? I decided not to go there, but take the rest of the controls in the middle and push hard for the western part of the park where high points controls were located.

#42 (8): Took the road and then trail, then cut down to the re-entrant.

#72 (11): Used the road and went up from the bend. Didn't see the control from the distance, so kept slowly walking up and finally saw it.

#75 (8): Crossed the road and to the re-entrant

#76 (6): Down to the trail and went west from the trail bend.

#77 (4): Down to the creek and followed it for a bit, then crossed it and used the opening to get to the control.

#41 (6): Crossed the road and went up the re-entrant to the control.

#40 (3): Lost a lot of time there. I reached the trail and feature without problems but couldn't locate the control. I was flashing all around, but nothing would reflect. Finally I despaired and decided to leave, ran away looked back and saw the control. It was hanging so high, that I was doing my "flashing around" staying right under it!

I went to the parking lot and stopped to think again. I could go for 60-59-58-57 or go straight to 57 and go from there. I decided to leave 59 and 60 for a possible "go back to finish" route and went straight to 57.

#57 (8): Across the field, noticed the bump in the field and used it as an attack point.

#58 (9): Went through the green area to the trail and ran north until the bend. Took side trail to the control.

#56 (12): Returned back to the trail and used it until another bend, then cut to the creek. I knew I was further down the creek from the control, so I flashed into north-west direction, saw the reflection and went there. There creek was quite scary. I wasn't sure how deep it was. Waist deep? Head deep? Fortunately it was only waist deep there, so I could cross all right.

#55 (12): Went along the dry-ditch, then switched to the other dry-ditch and followed it to the control.

#54 (13): I didn't notice the trail south (thought it was an elevation line...), so I went straight looking for the south-north trail. Didn't see it and kept pushing west. Finally I realized that I was getting nowhere and went north to the field. There I found a good attack point and took the control from there.

#53 (14): Ran along the field and used the opening to reach the control

#52 (15): Used the opening to get close, then went up and over the spur, up the hill and north to the re-entrant.

Stopped there and checked time. I had 7 mins left. Unfortunately, not enough to go for high-points 51 despite it being so close now. Fortunately, I had a good way back to finish via 49-59-60.

#49 (12): followed the creek to the trail, over the bridge and down to the control. It wouldn't beep... Tried again and again, but it wouldn't beep... Well...

#59 (10): used the trail, then used the building as an attack point. No beep again!

#60 (4): To the road and followed it watching the fence on my left. Cut to the forest when I saw the end of the fence and to the control. Again no beep! I thought my finger stick got broken or something. In reality what happened is that the finger stick could only hold 30 punches and I took 33 controls!

And from 60 I went up to the parking lot and cut across the green re-entrant straight to the finish. Ended up with 60:26 (a little over time). Also plotted my route in Condes and realized that the course I chosen (straight lines between controls) was 5.1KM - very good speed for Night-O.

Here is my route (click on the image to enlarge):

Huge thanks to Mihai for the great event!