This is my first time ever doing race analysis (plural?) so I hope these are good.
2011 COC Sprint
This was a great race for me, but definitely taught me a lesson about focus. Looking at my splits, I was in second place until I heard the announcer, near the end of the race, saying that I was ahead of third by 13 seconds.
The first two controls I took fairly slowly so that I could get started without making any mistakes. I made sure to follow my compass, and followed the slight spur to control 1. I also found out quite quickly that the woods were quite open and so flags were easy to spot from a distance. Again with #2, I followed my compass and cut down through the major re-entrant.
For the third control, I followed the contours around to the west of the messy depression. Again the control was easy to spot from afar and so I had time to look at the next few legs.
Leg 4 was short and easy. I followed the re-entrant right up to the control.
Leg 5 and 6 consisted of following clearings. For leg 5, I contoured around the depression and along the edge of the clearing. For 6, I followed the long, narrow clearing and the control was visible from a distance so I didn’t have to worry about where to cut into the forest.
Coming out of control 6, I followed the re-entrant down to the path and then used my compass to cut south to the next path. I continued with my compass, keeping an eye on the contours around me, and saw control 7 from a distance.
Leg 8 was fairly straight forward and I used the hill as an attack point. So as soon as I hit the hill I knew I had to go a bit north to get to the tip (I seem to have missed that detail on route gadget.)
Leg 9 was the longest leg and I wanted to make sure I didn’t make a mistake. Using my compass and the fact that I could already see it, I cut out to the trail from control 8. Using the vegetation as a bit of a handrail, I cut across to the third major trail. At this point I started getting a bit confused with the contours. My plan was to follow the spur and I guess in the end, that’s what I did, but I dropped down into the second depression by accident and got confused about the contours.
Legs 10 and 11 were a lot of compass work, after I made sure to avoid the undergrowth in the field, and realization that the woods were white and I would be able to see the controls easily.
Control 12 was a bit frustrating. I didn’t end up doing what I had planned, which was to take a bearing and attack the control from the form line hill to the left of it. I didn’t follow my compass accurately enough and so ended up on the trail to the east of the control. I thought I had hit the trail to the west, but soon found out where I was because I saw control 2 from the trail.
After making that small error, I decided I would be a bit safer and follow the trails to 13. After 13, I took a direct route to 14, the spectator control.
This is where my big mistake occurred. My first mistake was to take in what the announcer was saying, which was that I was currently in second place, which would be quite a feat for me. This in turn blew my focus because I started thinking about my placing. Basically, control 15 was a bit of a disaster and lost me my second place finish. I hit an earth bank and thought I was north of where I should be so I went south and ended up hitting control 16. That’s always frustrating… So from 16 I successfully navigated my way to 15 and back again.
Control 17, 18 and finish were all mostly direct and straight forward.
All in all it was a great race, except for control 15. I did, however, learn a valuable lesson from that mistake and will, from now on, try to keep my mind on the map and terrain and not on the announcer when I am coming to a spectator control.
2011 WCOC Long
I would say that this race was a success for me, and considering that it was my first time running the 17-20 age category, I’m pleased with my placing. Again, I learned a valuable lesson from a making a mistake, which is that even though a leg may be quite short, it is still very important to stay focused on both map and compass.
The first leg was fairly simple navigation-wise, but right off the bat there was a lot of climb. I took the small path down into the depression and climbed back up the other side. Then I went down after crossing the path and then crossed the sand and followed the spur up to the control.
For the second control I still wanted to be fairly safe and use mostly major features, so, climbing to the path, I planned ahead for leg 2 and 3. Using major depressions and paths, I successfully navigated my way to control 2.
For control 3, I contoured around to the west side of the depression and easily found the control at the top of the open field.
Following the clearing away from control 3, I cut over the spur and went down maybe a few more contours on the other side than I should have, if I wanted to save energy. Following the path, and cutting into the woods at the major spur on the left, I executed my plan of using the thin open field as an attack point quite well.
I’m not sure if my route to control 5 was the most efficient energy-wise because I went down into the depression, around to the north of the lake and back up on the other side. A better option might have been to head north to the path so that I wouldn’t have to climb so many contours.
Control 6 was where I learned my lesson. I thought that since the leg was so short I could just take a rough bearing and run towards the control and it would be there. In the end I didn’t lose as much time as some of my competition but I did lose some time trying to figure out where I was.
Control 7 was fairly simple, mostly just following handrails and trails. Control 8 was also following trails mostly, but there were so many trails that it got a bit confusing. I stayed well in contact with the map after seeing the area of trails that I had to run through and it worked out well. Control 9 caused me no problems.
I think I took a different route than most people for the go control. I wasn’t super comfortable going down the steep hill, so I went all the way to the switch-back where people were coming up to get to the start.
This race felt smooth and fast, and I was quite pleased with my finish time and placing.
2011 Ottawa O-Fest Sprint
I thought this course was very well set and interesting because it had sections in the forest which is not a typical sprint setting, but it also had some of the more well-known sprint standards which is in an open field and controls might be more in the open.
The first leg almost threw me off track because I caught up to my mum who was on the same course and started a full two minutes ahead of me. This was a bit distracting, so I had to work hard to get myself back on track and focused on the task ahead.
The forest surrounding the first control was thicker than I was expecting, so I changed my plan for control 2 a bit to get out of the thick trees faster. My original thought was to continue south and go around the tennis courts that way, but I decided that I should go north so that I wouldn’t have to be in the woods for as long.
Control 3 and 4 were quite simple, I just had make sure that I could keep a steady pace.
The fifth leg was interesting because I had to choose whether to go north or south of the school. I’m pretty sure I made the right choice in going south even though I basically had to do a dog leg.
For control 6, I decided I would follow the path so as to be sure I didn’t cut onto the olive green out of bounds area by accident.
Control 7 and 8 were simple short legs using compass bearings and the fact that the woods were quite open.
Control 9 was in thicker woods but I had the rough open and the building as catching features so I could be sure to not miss the control.
During legs 10, 11 and 12, I could start looking ahead at the slightly more challenging legs in the woods. I started planning my routes for the upcoming controls, while still staying in contact and keeping up a good speed.
For the most part, control 13 was not too hard, but I had to make sure that I knew where I was when I was entering the forest from the path. I decided that I would attack the control from where the path goes into the forest.
The paths enroute to control 14 got a bit confusing because they were indistinct and the open field around them often looked like it could be considered a path.
Control 15 was a bit slow and looking at it again, I’m wondering if I chose the best route. I went direct, but the forest was thick and the ground was rocky. It might have been better to go around to the south on the small path.
For control 16 I went straight again and was wary of the rocky ground and kept track of which paths I had crossed. Luckily the white forest was fairly open so I could see the control and didn’t have to worry about the fact that there wasn’t really a decent attack point.
After cutting back out to the trail and avoiding the green forest, I used the boulder to know where to cut into the forest. Any rocky ground that was marked was not always the most reliable because I felt that there was a lot more rocky ground than was marked on the map. So I planned on using the open field as a catching feature for control 17 and was lucky to hit it without needing to attack it a second time.
Control 18 was interesting because it seemed like there was a long stretch without any features other than vegetation, which is often hard to rely on. So, using as much of the vegetation and small contours as I could, I successfully navigated my way to control 18.
Cutting straight out to the open field and spotting the forested hill where control 19 was placed, I had to decide where to attack the next control from. I figured I would go from the left where I wouldn’t have to spend as much time in the trees.
The sprint to the go control and finish was great and I was already thinking that I had just had a good race.
2011 COC Long
I was looking forward to this race since I first heard where it was taking place: the Carcross Desert. The only setback was the day was sweltering, and at that point, it seemed a bit silly to be running in a desert. I decided right off the bat that I would focus not so much on having a physically good race because it was so hot, but I would focus on the technical aspects of the race.
When I first turned over the map, I was a bit shocked by all the tiny details on the map, especially in the sandy, open part near the water. I knew that my decision to focus on technicalities was a good one. The first two legs I took fairly slowly so that I could get used to navigating through the small detailed contours and vegetation.
Control 3 started out on trails so that I could plan out my route once I got off the trail. I made it somewhat of a goal to avoid as many contours as possible while still keeping a smart route choice. So after cutting off the trail at the corner, I slalomed around the depression and the ridge.
Following the edge of the long, skinny depression to the trail, I was relieved to see that I would be able to run through some forest to avoid the sun for a bit. So once I hit the trail, I followed the edge of the flatish, white forested part on the other side until I hit the next trail. Again, I followed contours, to the open field and then contours again until the sandy ridge with control 4 visible on it. Throughout the last forested part, I was preparing myself to take my first ever gel. It did help, marvellously, but gosh was it nasty.
Leg 5 was nice because it was simple and a chance to recover from the shock of what the gel was like. I followed along the edge of the sand and then into the open field. I then took a bearing through the green forest and felt that it was a lot of luck that I hit the control easily.
I decided for leg 6 that I would stay on the trail for a bit so that I could pick up the pace slightly. Getting to the general area of the control was not a problem, but once I got close, I’m not exactly sure what happened. I can’t guarantee that the route I’ve drawn is accurate, because I’m still not sure what I did. I eventually saw someone else who I knew was on the same course coming out of the control, and so I figured I would head over that way, and look at that, there’s the control!
After that little mishap, I turned my focus up and tried to disregard that fact that I was back into the open, sunny, hot part of the map. Keeping close contact with the map, I followed the depression to the major path and then onto the indistinct path, and, using distinct trees and small forested patches, to control 7.
Control 8 was nice, just over the ridge with the indistinct path and through the very light green.
For leg 9, I cut out to the path as soon as possible so that I didn’t have to navigate through the super detailed part of the map any more. After retracing a few steps from leg 3, I cut into the woods and followed along the bottom of the contours, in the flat white forest. At times this proved more difficult than I would have expected, but it was successful.
Once I had cut back out to the path, control 10, 11, and the finish were easy to get to by following paths.
This race was a lot of fun and it was a very neat experience to get to run in such a dry area.