Orienteering race 2:21:56  **** 12.4 mi (11:27 / mi) +557m 10:03 / mi
Definitely a Type 2 Traverse today. Heavy rain, low 40s, so actually, a day I could probably do well, if I could orienteer. Caught a ride over in a van, took my broken umbrella and stood under a building alcove, went to the bathroom, back in the van, and then we began the walk to the start. My umbrella went in a nearby trash can, having scratched my finger with some metal, so I drew blood before the start of the Traverse. Probably best.
The start was just in the woods, and likely to be north given where it was. They said go and we went running off. Not a lot of turnout this year (gee I wonder why) and I was running with a group of 5 to 1: two Swedes (father and son, Jonas and Tim) in their team kits, and two other guys, Neil, a CSUer who I had ridden over with and ran 18 miles pre-CIM before the Traverse, and a guy in a BAA raincoat.
2 and 3 were with a crowd, with the Swedes running ahead, I led the charge to 4 and fell a bit behind to 5 (slightly different route choice near the circle, taking trails rather than bashing, was a good choie). For 6 I took the north trail, which might have been longer in retrospect but had a nice attack. The trails were all flooded but everything was wet, so it was splashy. I was running in a long sleeve wool shirt, a short sleeve wool shirt above that and the CSU uniform above that; on the bottom a pair of spandex with O pants above, and it was just about right.
I began to realize that the other guys around me were fast runners but that I might be a better navigator, so after punching 6 (which I went to the wrong cliff for, for just a second) they ran out to a trail, but I was just going to run north. I ran through the end of a marsh and got ahead of them, found a trail, and another trail, and right on up the hill to the control (almost spiked, closer to the road than I realized; it was a water stop, not that we needed water). Then 8 I knew exactly how to run. Don't try to nav straight through the green, but go around on the road, around the hill, come down the trail, find the bench, go across the bench. I did this and went right to the control. Basically, good orienteering. And saw no one around.
I figured that the Swedes were long gone, but put real time on the guys behind me. So, down some greenbriar-laced rocks on a steep hill—I love Blue Hills terrain—the trail, a nice trail run to 9, more really good orienteering to 9 (find the reentrant, go up the reentrant, beep) and then crossing the road to 10.
10 was the worst control for me. The shortest attach was from the north, through a bit of green to some white, but Blue Hills, so meaningless. I tried this, and it didn't work. Green enough to be hard to read the terrain. So then I went to the trail and attached from the south as I probably should have (looking now, I should have run down Route 28 to the next trail and attacked off of that trail) using features, and found the control pretty easily, but by this point Neil had caught up to me, so we found it together. Also, it was on a path through the green other runners and the course-setter had set, so probably by later in the race there was a herd path.
11 was manned at a trail junction, 12 on a stone wall, and 13 near the highway on an obvious rock near a fence. Easy catching features, but nice to run it with someone else. 14 was more navigate-y. I chose to run the fence line to a trail to a road and then attack up a line of rocks rather than to go cross-country through some green and white, in an area I knew to be confusing. I did this perfectly. Ran the road, handrail the rocks, find the reentrant, beep. This is how most of the O went for me. Dropped Neil in the process.
On to 15. This was a trail run, mostly, in an area I was pretty familiar with. Three options around the last hill: right, left or over. I went left but then decided to go over. There was a great attack off of a curve in the trail: take a tangent off of the curve and it would go straight at the rock. And like the rest of the controls, it worked. Trail bent left, I went straight, right at the only rock around, and 1m at that and … no control.
Ah, this is how orienteering normally goes for me. So I went to the left attack from a trail junction. Not only an obvious one, but one on my regular running route, so I knew I was in the right place. Went due east on a compass. Bumped in to the same rock. No flag. Neil got there from the south. I said "this is the rock, right?" He said, I think so. I said that he'd attacked from the north, and I had attacked from the east and south, it had to be. We decided to run and look at one other rock, way uphill. It had a control. Strava has trails, and it is very clear that the flag was on the wrong rock. Only cost about 5 minutes, but kind of deflating given how good I had been orienteering, and that now I had Neil trailing me.
But, again, orienteering. We ran down and across the road and they had 16-17-18 in a great section which just has hummocky knolly terrain with open forest and intricate terrain navigation. I split off from Neil, got just ahead of him, and took the trail further than him to spike 16. Then ran across the short leg to 17, and it took a couple of tries, but I found the control pretty easily, and then a few seconds later saw Neil trailing in to me. I figured I'd stop and plan my route to 18 and 19, but also, that I'd make him think I was reading the map for 17, and I think he did. Devious! Then I started running, and curving away. I just wanted to get far enough ahead that he wouldn't follow. 18 I spiked, reading the terrain perfectly.
19 was up over Hancock Hill and I know Hancock Hill is a maze of trails which go every which way except the way you want them to and wanted no part of it. And that going north is nice running. So I ran. After 10 miles of O, maybe a little walking occurred, but I was on the right trail and again spiked the control and as I was leaving, saw that I was just behind Tim. Now it was a race. I had a few things in my favor: I am in good shape for long runs, I know the area well, I like this kind of weather and the next segment had a road run and I might be able to dust him on a road run. He had one big thing going for him: being Swedish. Who would win?!
We staggered down a bit of Skyline Trail—something steep there was unavoidable but this was the least steep to runnable trail—and then some very familiar trails headed down to the road near Houghton's Pond. I got to the road with Tim a few seconds behind me. Apparently he had injured his knee but seemed to have recovered, also, being good Swedes, they biked there. In the pouring rain. I knew none of this. I put some time on him on the road but cut into the woods too early, found the wrong ditch, but the the right one, and spiked the control, gaining a bit of time there. But then, I knew how god-awful running on the rocks on that side of Great Blue Hill is, and immediately ran down to the trail. He went across.
The trail was a stream, but fine, and I got to 21. Okay, up the trail, a cliff above two cliffs. Spike. Then 22. This is right where, in 2015, I sprained my ankle pretty badly, and then overran the control, so I was trepidatious. But the obvious route choice was to contour across the rocks until there weren't rocks anymore and a reentrant, so off I went. Rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, rocks, reentrant without rocks, control, spike.
Then it was just a run across the ski trails to 23, which I navigated fine, as the heavens opened and the rain poured down that much harder (but really). I was excited. I was yelling obscenities at the sky. I was having fun.
2nd overall, first non-Scandinavian :) But also, really some of the best navigation I've done. And looking back at it, the controls weren't really that easy, but I would just make a plan, and execute the plan, and not run so fast I got confused, and that's what I did. Navigated all but 1-5 and 10-13 on my own, and made no mistakes except 10. Orienteering is fun!