Orienteering 7:05:00  25.5 km (16:40 / km) +1005m 13:55 / km
shoes: Inov8 X-talon 225
I surprised myself with how many controls I actually got. With very limited training and very mountainous terrain, my plan was to get to the mandatory controls and see how my time was going. Brent laid the course out in such a way that the extra controls were begging to be picked up.
I only skipped 5 of the 26 optional controls and felt my pace getting from one mandatory control to the next was good. Three of them were in the last group where I was very unsure of how much more I could take. My knees were hurting, my left middle toe was killing me (nail is bruised at the bed and will probably fall off in a month or two), and I got a blister on the bottom of my left foot between the ball of my big toe and second toe where the skin creases. Descending to the finish was painful.
We started with heavy cloud cover and some fog, low 40's and every branch contained water droplets. The first two hours were a fight to be able to see thought my fogged glasses. When the sun broke and the humidity dropped those problems disappeared and it was a blast navigating through the wilderness.
My plan was to skip A and B - pick up C and D and get to M-2. My initial route to M-2 from C pushed me far west and I ended up getting A (which was a spectacular location that took some work to get to safely. I was pleased with my navigation from A to M-2 and popped out on the trail directly across from the control.
My plan was to skip E and grab the 5 controls at the mountain top. Not accounting for magnetic declination and heading up the wrong reentrant, I found myself at E. Headed to the summit with Tom as we discussed our approach to collecting those and he made me realize G should be left for last as it was right near the yellow trail which we needed to leave on. H threw us off and we split up, Tom going way low and I stayed high. The control was actually back farther off the ledges. I messed up going to I (again without accounting for M.D.) and was too far east. I decided to scrap J and go for F when I realized I was approaching I. This was another hazardous approach over massive wet rocks. M-3 was an easy trek down the yellow trail and up the orange.
I think I got here at the 3 hour mark. These 4 controls were straight forward, straight down the hill (~600' vertical) and up Hunting Creek. I debated getting back on the orange trail from M3 but decided to take the straight approach to K. Once I cleared the 100' rock-slide it was a beautiful hillside and easy to traverse. The decent from L to M was the first time I felt the strain/fatigue in my knees. I nailed this contour using the gap ahead of me and on the other side of the creek as a guide. After getting N I initially went back to the road but decided to stay north of the lake. This paid off as I found a utility clearing that took me to a park road. I did screw up finding the parking lot as I was not looking at the overall trail map. I did do this later and saved myself a bunch of climb on my way to M-5.
Control S and T were so close to M-4 I automatically went for them. After that, I was sucked into picking up R, Q, P, and O (at the falls overlook) It wasnt until I punched O and checked my map that I realized this section actually took me farther away from M5 :( But, I also realized that I didnt need to climb back up to the blue trail to get to M5 I could take the gravel trail and park road... simple, but I had no desire to jog it.
Event rules stated that you must reach this control within six hours or you could not continue on the regular course. I reached it at 5 hours and felt good about being able to pick up a few more optional controls before finish. The only thing standing between me and a piece of pepperoni pizza was... a mountain - 800' vertical climb and 1100' decent with a distance of 5 - 6 km. The extra map handed to me was not a blow-up. It was at 24000 which meant the controls were farther apart than they appeared. Nothing to worry about in the near-term as they were all after the initial accent.... the accent that would not end. I initially thought I was close to the top as the trail changed direction and the terrain flattened. It took me 30 minutes. With that I calculated that I could pick up all but one (U or Z - but I wasn't going off the crest by 150'v for each of them.
By the time I actually go the the Blue/Yellow trail intersection another 20 minutes passed. This severely shortened by plan. I tossed out going for both U and Z and felt lightened by the decision. 20 minutes later I approached the bend and drop in the trail where I needed to decide if I wanted to go for V (Bob's Hill summit) I knew it would be farther than I would estimate and the under-story seemed dense (not overly dense but I didnt feel like fighting anything at that point) I think I had 90 minutes remaining and I chose to skip it and head another 700m down the trail where I could pick up W and X. W seemed much farther off the trail than I expected and I was originally on the wrong rock spur. I shifted west to easier navigation and spotted the main ridge/knoll and saw the control right away. Picked up X and headed out the side trail to the main blue trail to the finish...still about 3km away and the full 1100'v. My left foot was killing me and my knees ached. Several other racers passed me but there was nothing I could do. I was only focusing on trying to make the next step and minimize the pain of it.
Finished with about an hour to spare but, like last year, I really had nothing left. Maybe if I knew I had an hour to spare I would have gone to Bob's Hill summit for V and sat there to tend to my foot in an attempt to make the decent easier, but you only have that luxury in hind sight.
Still, I really enjoyed the day and loved being out in the woods for that duration. Many Thanks to Abby and Brent and all their volunteers for all the work in putting this together.