[26-Aug-01] Warwick, PA [Red, 6300/125, 61:25, 9.75/8.14, 2/16]
Sometimes you make a mistake so stupid you just want to forget it, not
write about it. I managed to orienteer to the same control twice. I
was having a fast, clean run as the end of the course led into the series
of controls on the bland hillside, all the legs going basically the same
direction. As I left 12, I headed for 14. Ok, like a 180, that has
happened to people before. As the hillside was bland, and I was
ignoring detail, I didn't notice anything amiss except for the absense
of a big boulder I expected to see along the way. That's happened
before too, no big deal.
[25-Aug-01] Hillbilly Goat III, Dryden, NY [Gruff, 16080/605, 151:02, 9.39/6.82, 2/?]
So I end up at a flag, and the code is wrong, for 14 (as I prememorize
the codes of flags I'm heading for). I look at my punchcard
and realise I have not punched 13. I look at my map, and realised I
skipped 13 in my plan. I look at my punchcard again and see the code
of the flag I'm at matches 13, so I punch 13. The part of my brain that
thinks I skipped 13 wins out over the part of my brain that knows I'm
at 13, so I run back looking for 13, from 13. Of course I get
confused, relocate, and navigate to 13. Only then to I put it
I took splits even, the whole fiasco cost me 7 minutes
and first place. Otherwise a clean run with a couple of 5 second
hesitations. I showed noticable improvment at my loitering
at the controls problem.
I had trouble finding a place to stay due to a motocross race in the area
and ended up at a fleabag motel. My room backed up to a bar, where a
southern rock cover band was playing. I got about two hours sleep.
I had a decent, though slowish race on the second loop. I don't think
I would have had first place even with a clean, fast race. The woods were
as predicted, thick and bland, not my speciality, but there were
decent vegatation boundries to work with. The race was more physical
than mental, though I made a couple of mental mistakes. I love
goat-O, though I'm still not sure about following. It seems like
the best strategy, but I just don't like following as a general
rule. I got burned following in this race as the pack boomed the
first control. I failed to stay with the lead pack due to a queue
up to punch at the second control.
The bike option was interesting. The second loop was about 9k,
with an option of foot O or mountain bike O. I've never ridden
a mountain bike so I ran it. Charlie Leonard had the best time
on the loop, on bike; fortunately I built up enough cushion on the
first loop. Some riders had real problems though. It was really
a case of you had to take the mode that best suited you, even if
the other mode, in an absolute sense, was "faster".
My splits and comments are on AttackPoint
I'm starting to get juiced for the Hillybilly Goat this weekend. This
was the first goat race I ever did, two years ago. It took me 5 hours
and 18 minutes back then. Goat races are fun because they
are socialising with O people, talking about O, with a long O race
This one promises to be tough. The map is green, and it is August.
The bugs may be out. It doesn't look like it will be overly hot,
though. Thick vegetation gives me problems, as it compromises my
vision and ability to read contours, as well as "quick hunt"
This one will be 14-16K. That is a good length for me, I think.
I'm hoping to be up near the front of the pack, if the vegatation
doesn't get to me. I dislike following in Goat races, though I
may be tempted to. Its the one thing I always decide at the last
minute. I'll have to remember to take special care with the compass
if the map is as green as I remember it to be. A good race will
put me in the two hour neighborhood if it isn't too hot or too
[19-Aug-01] Mount Joy, Valley Forge, PA [Red, 7390/155, 50:55, 6.89/5.70, 2/17]
As usual on this map, this was a race I felt I had a pretty good
shot at. I have an unfair advantage in the fact that have been coming
to this park regularly for 30 years and know every inch of it inside
and out. I was there the very day President Carter declared it a
National Park. I expected a clean, fast run in the open terrain,
and was hoping to improve on March's race where I made a 1 to 2
minute mistake which may have cost me the race. The map reminds me
of Laramie, though the grass is taller and the air thicker, and
there is little rock. It is definitely a runner's map, and I hoped
my unfair advantage would compensate for the disadvantage I face on
pure runner's maps.
I had a clean run except for a 5 second bobble on #13 and another
10 seconds lost when I had to avoid spooking some horses. I
didn't see any chance for route choice improvement except for
perhaps on the first control, and then, not much. Mark Voit
had an excellent run and smoked me by about 6 minutes.
I was concerned about my speed after the race. No improvement
from March, despite cleaner orienteering. Last time I was up
against Mark on this map he got me by about 2 minutes. The
only external factors I could think of vs March was the heat,
and the fact that the grass was taller (waist high in some places),
and the race was about a K longer. I'm not sure if these factors
affected the other runners much. On the other hand, I've been
training harder since March. I have no idea what factors affect
the variability of running speed. Perhaps I should find out.
1: High along veg bndy to the north, cut in at reasonable
distance from the veg knob. The trail thru the woods looks like
a better choice, as it avoids 2 contours of climb and has a
slightly better attack point (just before the second bend). I
avoided this as it puts you in the woods for slightly longer,
and I know that those woods are trashy with pine deadfall.
2: Trail to parking lot.
3: Cut to open land as fast as possible and head towards
swamp, which you could see for miles.
4: North of woods rather than the more direct route which
requires a cut thru medium green, then southwest along copse until
cutting into woods to bag.
5: Bail to road off parking lot.
6: Road. Cut in just at right place past end.
7: Straight knowing the parking lot would be my attack point.
8: Straight to upper road then cut into super white woods
at right time to maintain contours.
9: Trail run to indistinct trail avoid green and aim off
high in reentrant, but hit bag. I agree with Nadim that the bag
10: Take water at 9 which I so rarely do, angle in off
trail/road junction at proper angle. I realise I am sort of
zenning my way thru the course, not really using the compass
at all, thinking with a short-o mentality that every second
will count, and using a compass slows me down.
11: Straight, the grass seemed very think to this easy
control -- try to find elephant paths.
12: I was losing it a bit on this leg. I rested at the
control, and rested a bit on the leg. Not good. I forgot my
watch, and wished I had splits.
13: Again feeling tired on the uphill leg. I feel perhaps
I pushed it too much in the beginning of the race. Missed ctrl by
5 sec or so to the right; saw Ron Bortz heading for 14.
14: Straight, excellent vis, know Ron will find it anyway.
15: Road. Ron is walking some and I still haven't caught
him. Need to investigate goo or something.
16: Know this block of woods very well. Finally get some
energy again and put on the jets and run there. Have to play a
game of find the best path thru the grass.
17: Toughest grass yet. Finish strong.
Then I did a training jog on orange to practice not loitering at
the controls, a terrible weakness of mine. I forced myself to
punch n go no matter what, and was fine with it. I was not using
a compass, though, as one is not needed at this park. Must repeat
training on harder map, such as French Creek, where compass is needed.
[Aug-01] Scottish 6 Days, Lochaber/Highlands Scotland, Fort William area
Lisa and I love Scotland. This is our third trip, though my first
for O. I had orienteered in Wales last year and expected similar
terrain -- open moorland and contour marshes, which, until you can
get used to them, are quite dissonate.
[11-Aug-01] Scotland Day 6 - Fersig [M35L, 9400/475, 82:35, 8.79/5.84, 39/70]
I entered M35L with a goal of running better than 75 minutes
each day, and running much better than in Wales. That was a year
ago and I hoped my technique and fitness had both improved.
Since the terrain was so different than anything in the States,
Wales was the only thing to compare to. The moorland is difficult
to run in due to potholes, grass, cow patties, and general wetness,
and those contour marshes are difficult for me to read -- you
have to either look for a slight change in the grass, or wetness
underfoot, and that is difficult if it has been raining, which it
often does in the Highlands. There is no vegatation or linear
features to work with, so it is all subtle contour reading --
imagine French Creek with only brown and rock features mapped.
Moreover, the bags are hung low -- you cannot see them until
you are at the feature despite the treeless terrain -- unlike
the way bags are generally hung at meets in the States.
Though I had a blast, I was somewhat disappointed with my results.
The scoring system was such that you could throw away your
2 worst days, and I ended up 31st out of 63 overall in M35L. After
the first 4 days, before any mulligans were tossed, I was 20th
or so. I ran only one day of 75 minutes; all other days were
80 to 89 minutes, with one turkey of 109 minutes, on by far the
hardest map of the competetion. I did orienteer better than in
Wales, though not substantially better, comparing best days to
best days. Comparing worse days to worse days though, my
consistency has improved dramatically.
Map available on-line here
[10-Aug-01] Scotland Day 5 - Arisaig [M35L, 8630/285, 109:35,
I was needing a good run after yesterday's disaster at Arisiag, especially
with the long flight coming tomorrow. The course was the longest,
with the most climb, by far, of any of the six days. I was looking
forward to a physical, longer, less technical course today after
yesterday's non-stop intricate fare, where I could seldom run full speed.
The course was "at my level", and challenging and fun. I was strong
and sharp, and only made about 4 minutes of mistakes -- 1 minute of
navigation bobbles, and perhaps 3 minutes of route choice. When I
finished, I was happy to have done such a course in a little over 80
minutes, and felt it was one of my better runs ever, especially for
Europe. I really needed to be a little sharper and faster though, as
I finished just in the bottom half of the field. 4 minutes cost
many, many places.
One thing that was really cool about the setup was the trail near
the start, were we could warm up, had an excellent view of the hill
across the glen, where orienteers could be seen crawling all over
it. It was really cool to watch them and try to anticipate the
route choice problems the course setter had set using that hill.
1: I blew the first control, coming into the first reentrant.
Recovered quickly losing about 30 sec.
2: Easy navigation using the white copses and the pond. I
realised what some of my problems were with the open moorland --
no vegatation at all to work with, and that makes it harder. I
need more practice on pure subtle contour navigation.
3: Powerline to marsh to trail. I felt that with this sort
of course setting, that I was going to have a good one. So was the
rest of the presumably faster field, and so it was.
4: As usual when I get cocky, I pay. Bad route choice on this
one. Rather than take the obvious route to the water stop, I saw hill
to avoid and the powerline as a continued handrail, so I cut
around to the north of the hill where the line was, then into the
village. This was my first time of "village O", and it was pretty
cool. On the other side of the village I cut around the swamp to
the hill, and navigated nicely on the hill where the flag was.
5: This was the sort of leg that can get me, but I was sharp
in reading the open moorland this time.
7: For some reason, this leg gave me trouble, though it was
very similar to 5. I couldn't read it well -- I had trouble relating.
There was no feature that stood out that I was sure of that I could
use for perspective. I don't know why this was harder than 5. I
tried relating the knobby hill southeast of the ctrl but wasn't
sure of myself. I relied on the marshes, which I hate doing, and
hit the stream high at the bend, and did identify the knobby thing.
Clean, but slow and shaky. Split analysis showed about a minute
penalty for taking it slow.
8: The hard part was over. Time to turn on the jets and
make this a clean run. 8 was easy, up and over the hill and then
down and in.
9: Cocky again. Bobbled it, which often happens after a
trail run, when I am really pushing it. Couple of elite runners
came thru and I was just amazed at how they blow thru the control
with no hesitation.
10: Trail runs to the white reentrant. Missed a little
right but no real time loss.
11: I wasted alot of time thinking about this one. I should
have been doing this thinking on the trail runs, but I am not that
good yet. These kind of legs often kill me. Down and around looked
like a trap (though the trail would be much faster than the rough
open for running) so I decided to go a little right of the line and
cut the steep part at the same contour level as the flag. Hit the
rock just at the steep part and knew I was in good shape. Then
found some elephant tracks that were much faster running -- going
around just as I wanted to, but I followed them too far and they
did not cut towards the flag; instead they eventually went downhill.
Cost me two contours for overstaying my welcome. No elephant tracks to
12: A little hesitant as I had to make sure I had the right
spur. Braken control would be tough. Control was buried in the
braken -- later runners will have an advantage.
16: Another bad habit rears its head -- turning my brain off
on the GO control. I usually look for a linear feature out of the
control and go for it. This time got trapped down at the uncrossable
fence and had to slowly climb out of the basin. Many people cheated and
climbed the fence, but the course notes specifically said crossing
uncrossable fences was grounds for DSQ. Wonder how many places this
cost me ... was disappointed to see cheating, and another runner
yelled at the cheaters.
Map available on-line here
[9-Aug-01] Scotland Day 4 - Strathmashie [M35L, 8750/270, 85:38, 9.79/7.48, 48/72]
Arisaig is on the west coast, about 15 minutes from the ferry for
the Isle of Skye. Lisa decided to come with me and we would catch
the ferry, and spend the afternoon there. I needed a run of 90
minutes or less to have time to catch the ferry. Seemed like a plan,
as I was running in the 80 minute range.
There was a hard, driving rain as we drove out there. I like orienteering
in the rain in the woods, but being up on an exposed moor in the stuff
was not appealing. And it was cold, and I hate the cold. But miraculously
it cleared, nothing but blue sky as we drove up to the assembly area.
The walk to the start was long and up a hill, but the views across
to the Isle of Skye and other islands were absolutely breathtaking.
This was the most beautiful orienteering venue I had ever been too.
As we were warming up, another nasty-looking storm could be seen coming
across the water. Everyone was hoping to at least get started before
it hit. I had 30 minutes to wait for my start time, but I got started
just before it hit -- it hit me on the way to the second control, and
lasted only 15 minutes.
This was possibly the hardest map I have ever been on, with the
possible exception of Surebridge Mountain -- it is certainly the
hardest one I've been on since I felt I had an idea of what was going
on in this sport. 2 blowouts and a handful of other shaky controls,
coming in at 109 minutes. So much for improving my place. On
the bright side, my orienteering on controls 8 and 9 was probably
the best orienteering I've ever done. Somehow I felt I learned
alot on the day, and I enjoyed the beautiful setting and excellent
map. Looking back, I think its more a case that my orienteering
skills haven't come far enough rather than 'I blew it'.
And the map looks easy. All that open land -- just look for a
feature and run there. Some open maps are like that, but this
one was not -- for me anyway, on this day.
1: I was fast and sharp and had the advantage of the confidence
that comes from seeing how the runners ahead of me headed for the
control out of the triangle. Spiked it and was feeling good.
2: Stayed high and on top -- as I counted the big spurs.
As I crested the third on the other side of the fence,
I experienced something I never have before orienteering --
one look at the terrain and I was a deer in the headlights.
Simply a vast ocean of endless moorland, with nothing standing
out for perspective. Rock everywhere, much of it not mapped (as
noted in the course setters notes), and just ripples and bubbles
of little knolls of moorland. Grass everywhere, I could not distinguish
the marshes. Almost every knoll of any size had an orienteer
standing on it, just looking around. I think that spooked me
more than anything else.
I did not have a good plan to get to the control. Since I don't
pace count I rely on map reading and features to lend
perspective. I decided to look for the stream that came halfway
up, then the contour marsh that fronted the knoll complex where
the control was. I found neither, and then found how difficult it
is to relocate in this stuff. All told 13 minutes wandering
around the moors, joining the crowd in finding a hilltop to
stand on. 27 minutes total on the leg. Another runner spent
65 minutes -- now that is persistence. I wish I could say I
learned something -- I guess concentrate and go slower.
The boulder to the west seems the obvious attack point,
but I did not see that at the time. Get a plan.
3-4: Solid orienteering here -- reading the map better.
5-7: Shakier orienteering on these, but no disasters. As
soon as I tried for any speed, keeping contact was near impossible,
and there was no chance I was going to risk losing contact again.
8: Oh my -- deer in the headlights feeling again. I had
no idea what to do. I decided to just take it slow, one feature
at a time, using the stream as a handrail for the beginning of
the leg. Keep contact even if you have to walk. As I gained
confidence, I went faster and faster until I found I actually
could keep contact with this stuff at competetion speed. It was
a sweet feeling. Cruised in and spiked the control while several
runners were treasure hunting in the circle. Had 18th best split
on this one, and felt it was one of my better orienteering legs.
Caught up with a runner who blew by me from 6 to 7.
9: Out orienteered all the runners to this one. Had the
8th best split and was reading the detail of the map very well.
Perhaps my best orienteering ever on these two legs, all things
10: After leading to the last two controls, I feel an
urgent need to stay ahead of the field, and of course I'm thinking
of this, instead of the map. Its a hard control, and I blow it.
I do learn, thru all this, that I can orienteer at speed in
tough terrain if I concentrate, and cannot if I don't. I still
need more work in tough, unforgiving terrain, with tough course
setting, though. I realise that American terrain and orienteering
seems much more forgiving -- you can afford to be sloppy because a strong
feature will often bail you out if you miss. The trick is to know
the difference and adjust your orienteering.
11: Worn out an demoralised, I fail to see that you should
stay high, and I get low and take a long time slogging to the control,
banging my knee along the way.
12-16: I orienteer fine to 12, but am sloppy in the circle
of each of the remaining controls. That happens to me after a
tough early race, especially when I am hurt and tired. We barely
make the ferry to Skye. The field had tremendous difficulty on
this course as well. It was hard, but I feel I learned alot about
this sport today. I'm not sure what yet, except that I love it ...
Due to the foot and mouth fears, this was the second day on this
map as they could not get permission for the area they had originally
planned to use. I expected a good run, as I already had a good run
on this map, and the mixed woodland was more what I was used to in
It was raining and cold. I do not like the cold. I did have a
decent run, though slower than I would have liked. I bobbled
a couple of controls and had one bigger error that cost a boatload
of places. I cut my hand really bad when I took a fall and that
slowed me down. One 700m leg (pointlessly) climbed 19 contours, only
to come down the hill over the next two legs, and I think that took
alot out of me. One thing I found odd was that they reused controls
from day 2's courses a few times -- they just came at them from
The biggish error I made, on the second control, was really odd.
It was a case of not reading the control description, but usually
that isn't necessary for me, except in a real technical area, and
this was not. It was a case of which boulder -- there were two
in the circle. I mistakenly navigate to the wrong one (the far one,
and usually its the far one), but don't see the other
one when there was no flag at the one I navigate to. There is
a nearby clear area to use for relocation, but that is where
they are staging the start people for another course, so
I cannot use that.
I wonder what is going on.
Turns out the other boulder is a contour up, even though it looks
"next" to the one I'm at, and that is why I miss it. I look at the
control desc and figure out what is going on, and feel like an idiot.
No concentration. Second control syndrome. I've had such a problem
with the first control, that I concentrate and don't have first
control problems anymore -- I have second control problems.
Will add map from day three in the next few days ...