Monday, December 17, 2012

December 16, 2012 in South Umstead

We got lucky with the weather the second weekend in a row - it was unusually warm for December. Tanya and I went to Josef's traditional 6KM sprint in High Point on Saturday and then to an advanced meet in South Umstead on Sunday. Both courses were a lot of fun! High Point event is one of my favorite events - period. 26 controls with 1:5000 map scale in a somewhat greenish area - very unusual and interesting setting. Navigation is not hard there, but one must think and react quickly. I did well, finishing at 60 mins mark, but had doubts if I could run fast the next day. It's been a long time since I was able to do decent runs two days in a row...

But it worked this time! Ken designed a beautiful fast course with 4 long legs (3 in a row), without very steep hills; plus the weather was perfect - I finished at 60 mins mark again (on 7KM). It turned out to be one of my best runs in Umstead.

Here is how I ran:

#1. Up to the trail, used it a bit to go around the green area, then cut across. Noticed the top part of the big gully, went down, crossed the creek and went up to the control.

#2. Went around the hill by staying on the same elevation, observed re-entrant with control from the other side of the big re-entrant and went straight for it

#3. Kept my elevation when crossing the re-entrant, then aimed south-west-west to avoid the green stretch, reached it at the southern tip and went west from there to the control.

#4. Decided to use two big re-entrants in the middle as hand rails of a sort. So went down to the creek and then up keeping the first big re-entrant on my right (but not going into it). After reaching the top of the ridge aimed slightly more to the north and soon saw the second big re-entrant. Went diagonally through it because it was so open. Then crossed the creek and used compass to get across the next ridge aiming to be just south from the big re-entrants (creeks) junction. Ended up  right there, crossed the creek, went up, and used the top of the side re-entrant as an attack point.

#5. Again kept my elevation when going around the re-entrant to the south. Then went straight south until I saw the re-entrant forming. Ran on the east slope until I saw the control up on the hill.

#6. Very easy. Pretty much a straight ran, while using distant re-entrant on the left as a hand rail.

#7.  Normally I try to avoid running along creeks (due to vegetation and other obstacles), but this time there wasn't a good alternative. Going up hill and running there would have required crossing of multiple side re-entrants - and I hate loosing elevation unless I absolutely have to. So I ran along the creek, jumping across it several times and counting re-entrants on my right. When I reached re-entrant which was second from the control, I cut across the hill to the barrels and attached from there aiming to the right of the control (so I could use the re-entrant's top as a boundary). Reached the other side at the eastern gully and went west from there to the control.

#8. Went south-east, crossed the re-entrant, continued south-east, crossed the trail, crossed the next re-entrant noticing green area on my right, continued until I saw the next re-entrant, crossed it in the upper part and continued on its eastern slope until the control.

#9. Went west to #3, then proceeded south to the top of the side re-entrant, then went down diagonally, so I crossed the creek not too far from the pond. Went over the end of the hill by the pond, then crossed re-entrant close to the pond and went up. From the top of the next side re-entrant aimed for the control, reached the next re-entrant. The forest was open there, but I couldn't see the control because it was in a pit. So during the crossing looked for the rock, reached it and went to the pit from there. 

#10. Went north-west, crossed on re-entrant, reached the other one and stopped there looking for rock formations. Spotted them by the creek, went towards them and saw the control up on the other side.

#11. Went alongside the re-entrant, crossed it at the top and went east till I saw the re-entrant on the other side. Went down into it and to the control.

#12. Crossed the creek, went up diagonally, reached the dry-ditch and followed it east, then when it turned into trail, used it. When I saw the creek in front, made a cut to the control.

Then continued south keeping elevation to the finish.

(click on the image to enlarge)

Huge thanks to Josef, David, Ken and Terese for the great orienteering weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

September 9 in North Umstead

I was asked on Facebook if I used a MT bike during this event. I did not! :)

It was just a very good run for me, maybe the best I ever had in Umstead. I ran all the way, didn't make serious mistakes (there was one where I lost 50 secs or so and another where I lost 10 secs), but everything else was clean and close to optimal.

It helped that there were no major hills and the forest was pretty much open. Ken and Terese designed and set very fast, relaxing course, which nevertheless required some precise orienteering. All of that helped me.

Here is my route:

#1: straight, had the parking lot on my right, continued in the same direction until reached the re-entrant with the control

#2: wasn't going to loose any elevation early, so kept on the slope until I saw the side re-entrant, crossed the big re-entrant there, used the trail for a little bit until I saw the earth bank, left the trail there, crossed the earth bank, went around the green patch and to the control  

#3: took compass bearing and went straight, hit the dry ditch and followed it north, but didn't see the control and passed it. Reached another dry-ditch, turned back and got the control (10 secs lost there)

#4: there was too much staff on the map before the control, so I decided not to micro-manage and went north thinking that I'll decide what to do later when I reach one of the major features on the other side of the road. Ended up reaching the trail north from the big re-entrant and decided to go around all the gullies using the trail. Did so - probably wasn't the best choice, though.

#5: was going to go west while staying on the hill and reach the powerline south from the control, but ended up on the wrong hill - north from the control... Naturally went north to the re-entrant looking for the control, but it wasn't there. Stopped and double-checked the map, realized that I could have made that mistake. Crossed the hill south and got the control. Lost about 50 secs there.

#6: went east, keeping the elevation. Then used the long gully and dry-dicth as a handrail to reach the stone wall - my attack point. From there went east and then north-east to the re-entrant with the control.

#7: north, around the green staff, then down the slope to the control using the re-entrant as a handrail.

#8: decided not to mess with vegetation by the creek and went up, proceed along the slope, used the field corner as an intermediate check point, proceeded further around the side re-entrant, noticed small gully, from there cut to the bigger gully and dry-ditch and used it as a handrail to the top. From there went north and then east to the re-entrant with the control.

#9: crossed the big re-entrant, went over the hill and then proceeded along the slope to the side re-entrant with the control

#10: decided not to go up and around and went straight across the big re-entrant, then across the top part of the next re-entrant and finally down alongside the re-entrant which went south. Used the open slope to go down, crossed the creek west from the earth wall, walked up, then south till I crossed the dry-ditch. From there saw the knoll and from there the pit.

#11: went south, crossed the trail and went around the mess with gullies. Didn't want to climb all the way up, so used top of the re-entrant instead of the stone wall as an intermediate point. From there went south, planning to hit the gully near the control and did so.

#12: took compass beating and ran down hill until I reached the road a bit west from the creek. Used the trail to cross the creek and then a bit more. Then attacked the control from the trail.

#13: east, crossed the road, then went around the first re-entrant. Then went down while continuing south-east. Crossed the creek at the bottom of the second re-entrant and proceeded along the creek on the flat surface until I saw the ground rising. The control was there.

#14: again avoided vegetation by the creek and went up, then ran south-west using the distant creek as a handrail of a sort. Crossed the other creek and continued in the same direction. Crossed the trail, then road and figured I was going to be on the left of the control. I was. I also got lucky and saw Tanya by the control, so I simply ran there at full speed.

#15: didn't go back down, but stayed on the hill and went straight toward the control. Crossed everything and kept going. Saw re-entrant on my right and then the opening in front of me. Took the control.

#finish: was rather tired and decided not to cross deep re-entrant before the finish, so went around using the trail.

Ended up with 1:05 on 7 km - very good time for me.

(click on the image to enlarge it)

Huge thanks to Ken and Terese for the great event!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

April 22 at South Umstead

Yes, we'll be orienteering in Umstead this year as well!!! Hard to believe it, I know. I am really looking forward to it though.

Got the courses designed and approved by the park already. Just to give you a heads up, I decided to try something different from I've been doing before. The advanced courses will have lesser number of controls, but several really long legs with lots of route choices. For example,

  • Red will have 12 controls and three (!!!) 1KM legs, 6.8KM
  • Green - 10 controls, one 1KM leg, 5.1KM
  • Brown - 9 controls, three 0.6KM legs, 4.1KM
If you can, try Red, it should be very interesting.

Another thing is that there will be a remote start for advanced courses, so people would be able to spend more time behind the river in the "juicy" part of the park.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Birkhead Map. Aftermath

And the meet is over. Feels weird. Empty. So much time and effort was put into it over the past 3 months, it's hard to accept that it's all over. Yes, we should meet and do some "lessons learned" thing. Even if just for the sake of a closure.

Meanwhile I did some reading on I almost wish I didn't - people tend to emphasize negative experiences, it was at times hard to bear. I know, most of the runners were quite happy about the event, but still...

Anyway, I was mostly interested in their comments about the map. After all, I did spent something around 50 hours refreshing various portions of the map - I guess it was my "highest profile" mapping job so far. Here is what I found (combined with what people said during the meet):

  • In general the map was adequate, but not great
  • Contours were fine and usable with one exception (group of re-entrants on a side of a huge hill on Blue was down about 2 contours on the map - the re-entrants should have been drawn higher up. Apparently wasn't such a big deal - no one lost significant time because of it)
  • Our choice of representing rocks and rock formations was unusual. However, after people got accustomed to this style, they were able to take advantage of extra information conveyed by it. At least some people. There were two cases where we supposedly went against ISOM standard:
    • when using 202.0 Rock pillar/cliff symbol for medium size prolongated rocks - attempt to show an unusual shape of these rocks...
    • when mapping some of rocks under 1m as small boulders - it was indeed the case but only in the areas where no big boulders were around.
  • Green was mostly OK, but not consistent in some areas. Especially in SW corner where we updated green on some areas and didn't have time to do it on adjacent areas.
  • Amount and accuracy of various features on the map was OK.

How to take it? I don't know. From one side, it's hard to accept "not great" consensus after putting so much effort into it - feels like I didn't do a very good job out there. But at the same time I know that if I wouldn't done what I did, we'd have many more complaints and possibly courses thrown away. So it wasn't a waste. Plus we have a reasonably good map for our local meets now, where we could run without getting confused anymore.

I guess, positives should overweight and eventually they will,.. but not yet, not today.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Night-O at Bond Park (Feb 2012)

Night-O is among my favorite events and is probably the most anticipated one. We only do it once a year after all. So, yeah, I've been counting days :)

Also Mihai somehow always manages to add extra twist to the event, whether it is a flood or, in this case, bitter cold and wind. Seriously, it was the first and only really cold evening during the whole winter! After the finish, having crossed creeks a few times, I realized that my pants and shoes were covered in a thin layer of ice! Now, this hadn't happened to me before - even during winter orienteering back in Belarus.

I am not going into too much details about my route - you can see it below, but here are a few highlights:

1. I left the western part of the map for the end because I knew that I was bound to get wet there and I really really didn't want to run the whole course with wet feet in such cold weather. Also I wasn't particularly looking forward getting into thorns which were abundant on that side - and wanted to postpone it as much as I could.

2. I went for 46 right from the start, even though, I knew it was a good finishing control. Still it was on my way, so why not take it right away. I caught up with Brian on the very next control, so it was a right choice.

3. Despite not taking ideal routes from 57 to 58 and 58 to 62, I was able to keep up with Brian. We met at every control up until 56 where he went east and I continued north. I was at 17 mins mark there and figured that there was a high probability of taking all the controls, so naturally I was looking for a route which would include all of them.

4. And I got into trouble on the very next control! Couldn't find it from above, went down to the creek, met Tanya, figured the control got to be higher and more to the west and indeed it was there. Lost a minute or so there.

5. Next two controls also proved to be challenging. First I missed re-entrant with 55 and had to come back. Then I couldn't spot 61 on the hill. Kiwi helped me there! She ran to me and then back to Joseph who was at the control. I simply followed her :)

6. Met Tanya again at 42, then took the trail around the visitors center. Was running and thinking that I should have gone straight instead of going around (but looking at the map now, I could see that the trail was a good option).

7. Reached 44 at 33 min mark - plenty of time left, though, I rightly suspected that it'd be harder in the west part. It was.

8. Crossed the knee deep creek between 54 and 59, tried to climb steep bank on the other side, fell, eventually climbed the bank, ran to the control and realized that I lost the map! Oh, no! I thought it was all over and my map was flowing down the creek... Went back to the bank where I fell and to my great relief found the map - it was hanging on one of those thorny vines.

9. Crossed the creek again between 59 and 66 - being already wet I didn't care anymore :)

10. Couldn't find 68 for a while. It's a tough place without good attack points. I turned into the green a bit too early, but eventually found the control by walking east.

11. Crossed the creek between 65 and 52 and got seriously stuck on some thorny vines. Got scratched all over and managed to make a deep cut on my left thumb, so it started to drip blood to the flashlight handle and the map quite profusely.

12. I had 5 mins left at 51 - just enough to take the last control and finish on time!

All the controls in the bag and final time: 59.52 - couldn't have been better!

Huge thank you to Mihai for yet another great Night-O!