Orienteering race (Carter Caves - Bat Cave) 1:25:22  **** 8.6 km (9:56 / km) +400m 8:03 / km
15c shoes: Icebug Ardor OLX
Team Trials Long, on the beautiful, tricky karst terrain of Carter Caves.
I got a little over-eager pre-reading the course on the way to #1 and as a result, my attack angle from the path above wasn't the cleanest (I veered a little too much to the left). Already, I was surprised at the amount of briars; there were considerably more than I had seen in the model area. I chose to take the safe western route to #2, following the paths and attacking from the bend just south of the control. This allowed me to decide on most of my route choices very early in the course (not the best idea, as I would later find out).
To #3, I followed a rough compass heading, watched the rock features on the northern hillside, and veered north as soon as I saw an area without rocks; the edge of the stony ground led me directly into the control. I then contoured out of #3, followed the path down to its first bend, then headed north, cutting across the white area on the large, broad spur (heading due north straight out of #3 turned out to be a faster route). The green in the re-entrant just below the control was slow; I probably should have stayed higher up on the spur and hit #4 from the south.
My plan to #5 was to avoid as much green as I could and head roughly northwest, aiming for the white patches on the second spur. Unfortunately, I veered too much north and ended up hitting the fence where it crossed the re-entrant. I quickly relocated and hit the south end of the large dry ditch. From there, navigation was straightforward, but brutally slow. I knew exactly where the control was; the stream junction was an obvious, distinct attackpoint. However, the woods were much thicker than I expected, with many small saplings growing practically inches from each other. After finding #5, I tried to contour southwest to the indistinct path but failed; the woods were simply too thick. I ended up bailing all the way west to the trail on the spur to avoid encountering any more vegetation. It turned out that the streambed running south out of the control was surprisingly runnable...
From there, I took the trail down to the road that contoured down into the large re-entrant. I followed the path towards #6 for a little while, but took a compass heading from just beyond the dry ditch-trail junction to cross the spur and hit the control. #7 was an obvious route choice; I took the trail that headed southeast, hit #3 from the path bend, and took a compass heading to the control from there. I missed it by 20 or so meters to the east, but fortunately, I slowed down to relocate instead of overshooting it. There was an unmapped terrace just south of the control that further confused me. I lost about 50 seconds here, mostly due to an imprecise compass heading.
To #8, I chose to go northeast, down to the re-entrant, follow the road to the path junction, and attack from below. This ended up being the optimal route choice, as contouring through the vegetation was quite slow. My route to #9, however, was far from optimal. I ran east from #8 to the trail junction, took the path that headed northeast, and attempted to cut the corner through some greenbriar-infested woods (never a good idea; I found out the hard way). From there, the path that led to the control took way too many turns, increasing the distance I had to cover. The best route was much straighter and involved roughly the same amount of climb; I should have run southeast along the road, cut the corner across the north-south spur to the sharp road bend, and headed straight towards the control from there.
To #10, I made another route choice mistake; the eastern route that attacked the control from above was clearly fastest. Instead, I chose to be overly safe and headed down to the path, which I followed all the way to the control. I had a ridiculously easy attack angle (the control was visible from the path), but I sacrificed about a minute's worth of distance and climb by taking the roundabout, western route. On the way to #11, I never saw the gap in the cliff just west of the control, so I ran all the way down to the path along the river and ran around the cliffs to hit the control from the south. The map around #12 was somewhat confusing, but I found it after searching the unmapped cliffs just above the control.
On the way to #13, I again neglected to see the gap in the cliffs (it was on the line), so I took the northern trail that avoided the cliffs entirely. From there, I headed northwest, across the white areas on the top of the spurs. I should have headed straight for the control as soon as I crossed the re-entrant, but for some reason, I dropped down to the path and followed it around to the dry ditch, from where I could see the control. This was my second super-conservative route choice of the day, and like the first, it lost me almost a minute. Attacking with a compass heading from the stream-dry ditch junction would have been a much faster option. From there, I hit #14 cleanly with a compass heading and successfully read the tangle of paths on the way to #15.
Other than a single blown compass heading (#7) and a slight overshoot (#12), I had few issues with technical navigation. My route choice decision making, however, was atrocious. Part of that had to do with planning out my route choices early, before I had seen what the terrain was like. After my experiences near #5, I should have known not to cut corners across greenbriar on the way to #9. After getting dramatically slowed down by a roundabout route choice to #10, I should have modified my plan to #13. I could have probably saved over 5 minutes by taking smarter, more strategic route choices throughout the course.