O Log - Billygoat

[19-May-03] 

    Here is the map with my routes.

    Last two years I finished 10th. My goal this year was to get into single digits. With the Canadian team trials the same weekend, I figured I had a good shot at it. Ended up 7th, not too bad. Could have been 5th, could have been 9th. 2 minute boom on 22 cost me the two places, as I missed 5th by less than a minute or so. I could beat myself up about it, but I won't, I had basically a good race overall. Some of my route choices were a bit dubious, and I was slow, but my contact was very good. I thought it was a fairly easy course, but the bags were hung low. Fortunately, it was one of my better races of reading to the bag instead of reading to the circle, which is a bad habit I sometimes fall into.

    The Billygoat lets you skip one control. I think it comes down to #6 and #23. Some people skipped #4, but that seems like a dubious choice to me. I looked it over, and #4 and #6 leaped out, but #6 seemed to trump #4 right away. I looked over the rest of the course, and nothing leaped out at me, no skip of the long leg, and everything else seemed like short O. I only looked up to #22, tho, I did not see the bottom of the map, I think because the out of bounds hashing distracted me.

    #23 looks like the best skip now, but I compared splits with people who skipped it, and accounting for relative speeds, (doing the math in my head), I think I made money skipping #6 after all. That may have been because I was in a dogfight for places from #22 to #24, and perhaps I ran faster (and the orienteering itself is faster, but the distance is longer).

    Its been said that you should save your skip for the end of the race, because you are going slower and are mentally fatigued. To me, there is something fallacious about that logic, but I haven't been able to work it out yet. Perhaps another night. I do, however, believe that leaving the pack to skip is often unwise, unless the payoff is huge (in which case the pack should see it as well, so you are both betting against the wisdom of pack, and leaving the safety of it). That seems another argument against skipping #4, as you will be with a pack at that point in the race (at least I was).

    Its tradition to do a blow by blow account of the Billygoat. Since AttackPoint is down, I'll leave myself some notes here.

    15:32 The field seemed to be jockeying for position for a run up the hill to the NW. I'd never been on the map before, so I had no idea what was where, but I wasn't going to bet against the smart money. My goal was to stay with or in sight of the lead pack as long as possible. It was sort of a paradox, as there were people I wanted to beat, and people I did not think I could hang with, yet I wanted to be with a pack, as it is a clear time saver. As we climbed the hill, I kept Boris and FF in sight. I also planned my skip on that brutal multi-line slog.
    21:06 Keeping FF in sight, but staying in contact. Field was already spreading out. Not sure who was behind me.
    34:12 The leaders are gone -- I'm with FF and someone who looked Scandinavian. I'm a little unsure of where we are, the only time that is the case except for my boom, and I ask FF if he is in contact -- he is so I hang on, vowing not to lose contact again.
    45:48 The woods are very open, and I see Boris ahead as I approach. Many others are around, but I don't remember who they are. In solid contact on the way into the control. Expected to see the Goods, Nadim, etc., but don't -- figured I'm running a fairly good race, in about 6th or so.
    55:51 See Boris disappear into the laurel out of 4; a couple of people right behind me, but as I emerge out of the green and down the hill, I am all alone. I press on (on my dubious route in retrospect), and not a soul in sight ahead or behind me. That shakes my confidence, so I stop at the top of the big reentrant to make sure I'm not lost. As I attack the control, J-J and Nadim are coming up from the south. They look like they are heading to #6, I stick with my guns to skip it, even without the benefit of a soul to run with. Lost time on the leg, both on route choice and the stop. The transition from pack to no pack did not go smoothly, not to worry, its a long race, I'm better in the second half, and I think I'm gonna make money on skipping #6.
    6-- Skip.
    77:55 Running alone. Not even the sounds of another soul. Did actually boom the control by about 5-10m.
    83:17 See Dan Walker climbing the hill ahead of me.
    95:14 Forked control. Decide on the left fork as left #9 to #10 looks trivial. Saw the trail thru the green, but didn't see the trail to the left of my route, but the white woods are fast. See Dan on the trail. He booms the control and I get there first.
    102:31 My control. Good thing its an easy one. Running basically with Dan.
    112:12 With Dan. Its nice to have company.
    123:09 Get ahead of Dan in the flat area. Take a Gu and yellow stuff at the aid station. Can't get the yellow stuff down, too sweet. Settle on water. Worker at the aid station asks me if they are supposed to be serving us, or should we help ourselves. I'm not really sure. Leave aid station as Dan arrives. Don't want to be in a footrace with him at the end for a place, so I decide to try to separate now. It amazes me that I think of all this strategy at this point. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. My guess is that thinking about places halfway thru a race is bad. I do go out of my way not to look at the split sheet the worker is keeping, I don't want to know what place I'm in.
    133:13 Easy control.
    141:25 Another easy one. Not a soul in sight again.
    152:40 I'm thanking the course setter for what seem to be a string of rather benign legs. I wonder if I'm pushing myself fast enough.
    165:39 This leg looks like run breaker, or at least trickier than some of the others. I think I'm happy with my route and execution on this one, tho I did slow it down a notch. Stuck with big, safe features and what looked like easier running than the alternatives. This was the kind of leg that can spell disaster for me, so I was happy I made sure it didn't.
    1711:54 Long leg. I didn't see the great simplification (trail run to the right), but I saw strings of handrails to work with, including an easy attack on the straight route. The straight route looked fairly simple to execute. Comparing splits, it seems the trail run is faster than my choice, but I think I was too tentative. I think if I executed the straight route with more confidence, it would have proven to be the better route (at least for me). Boomed the control by 5m or so.
    182:38 I hate these kind of controls. The veg is never exact enough to read. In this case, I didn't think it was either, but I found the bag with no problems.
    19:51 They tell me I'm in 4th at the aid station. I tell myself I have to concentrate on the race.
    202:12 I see Danny and the Scandinavian looking guy coming into #18 as I go by. I figure I have a 2 minute lead on them. I figure my route choice on the long leg wasn't a disaster after all.
    214:30 Another seemingly easy one. I guess they all seem easy when you're slow but spiking them.
    225:29 A seemingly hard one. Saw a hill with rock on other side of second trail which seemed too big for anything on the map. Went in anyway and was caught by the contour drop. Saw the stone wall and swamp below. Figured I was off right, but in reality, the circle covered part of the stone wall, and the swamp extended farther. Was in the right place, simply did not see the bag, and had to relocate. Realised my top 5 was down the drain. A posse of Danny, Mihai, the Scandinavian looking guy, and someone else, show up. Two minute boom.
    238:35 I'm last to punch #22. I figure there's no way I can catch Mihai on the mostly running stuff to come, but figure I'll race the others. Push it as best as possible. Mihai ahead, I'm with Danny, not sure where anyone else is. We hit the swamp at an awkward place -- you never know if they will be crossable or not -- it looks deep but I feel like risking it -- Mihai goes around to the right, Dan heads around to the left -- I decide not to risk it after all, and go with Dan. I say to Dan we should have skipped this one, and he agrees.
    245:25 I get ahead of Dan. I seem to be moving faster. I do no route planning, the O to this control is easy, at I don't want to waste time on planning, even if my route isn't the best, I just have to keep Dan behind me. I just play for the wall junctions and the big hill. Surprised to see Mihai stopped and checking his map, here is my chance, but he recovers. I get to the bag ahead of him, but realise he'll blow me away in the last part. See Ross ahead of me -- he obviously skipped #23.
    251:02 Mihai passes me quickly, and there is no way I'm catching him or Ross. I just go as best I can, hoping no one passes me. No sign of anyone else who was at #22.
    F:53 They owe me 8 seconds off my official time! I look around to see who has finished. I feel pretty good about the race -- less than 3 minutes lost, finishing in decent company.

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