Orienteering (Foot) 1:15:52  7.0 mi (10:50 / mi)
QOC: Mason Neck State Park, VA. Mark Hicks setup a score-O with a twist. Besides normal controls, there were 6 required controls that were marked on the map, and several others with higher point totals (20 instead of 10) that weren't marked except in the forest. All of the higher point totals had something in common which one had to guess at--these turned-out to all be dot knolls. Rain showers were passing through with more expected late. It was in the low 50s F. As I got started it had just started raining harder so I wore a jacket. The rain stopped and I got too warm before I took off my jacket. Though I had been a course consultant, I hadn't memorized routes or control locations. My strategy had been to get the easier and closer together controls first and assess my time along the way. My route and comments are:
121 - I was a little tentative getting used to distances and too far left so I almost crossed to the wrong spur.
145 - spiked it going straight.
139 - spiked it going straight, though I used the trail intersection to be certain.
126 - via the road, and attacking from where the power lines crossed.
122 - spiked it going straight. Another younger guy was going there too.
133 - spiked it going straight. I also passed the water pit along the way.
124 - spiked it going straight, and reading the reentrant at the end.
130 - spiked it using the trail.
129 - I made an error jumping off the trail too early and going around the wrong large reentrant. I had to back track. I probably lost 3-4 minutes.
142 - spiked it using the trail and attacking from the saddle.
127 - spiked it going straight.
131 - nearly spiked it by going around the marsh at first. Eventually I crossed the marsh south of where is split--that meant I had to cross it twice but each was a small crossing. The ice helped mostly. There were dry reeds that were well over my head in height. On the second marsh crossing, while stepping on a 1 square foot patch of ice, my foot broke through and didn't stop going down until I was up to my knee. I got out of that careful not to lose my shoe. The control was just west of the small reentrant that I thought it'd be in. Peggy thought it was off too. I heard from others who'd crossed the marsh. Ted Good had been up to his hips on every step, and had taken a more direct route.
141 - As I'd gotten to #131, Kim Jepsen had gotten to it just behind me. The two of us double-helixed our way to #141. I had taken a straighter approach at first, with Kim behind me and further north. I kept on my route intending to go to the saddle as an attack point while Kim ducked further south on a straighter route with a less clear attack. I saw the control far off but had to push hard to catch back up to Kim. He got there just before I did. I was surprised to see it at the unmapped trail.
146 - The rain had stopped a while earlier and running harder with Kim, I was getting warm. I walked along the trail starting out so that I could pull my jacket off. Kim hadn't used the trail and went direct. After crossing the road, I was gaining in the forest and though I didn't use the trail, I could see a big bend when we were almost due north of the control. I ran confidently to the control, getting there just behind Kim, who was coming in from a little to my right.
137 - I was feeling confident so I left #146 quickly. I checked my location at the marsh edge. Kim was behind me somewhere and off to the right a bit. I continued on to just about spike it by going straight. I had been off about 20m to the left but stopped at the right place and was able to look over to see the knoll (the controls was not visible but was behind it).
134 - I started out by being off bearing for about 20m but I corrected and spiked it going straight. I probably rushed this one too much trying to get away from Kim, because I should have gone to #135 first. When I last knew, it seemed that Kim was going to #134 too but was behind and to my left. I never saw him again in the race after that point. I think I was around 50 minutes into the course at this point. I figured I'd have to make some choices and leave out some controls.
144 - Spiked it going straight.
140 - I went straight but was off to the right a little.
128 - I figured I would have just enough time to get this control if I didn't miss. I hit the edge of the marsh that is west of the control, and kept going after adjusting a bit. I didn't seen the rootstock, and my glasses were foggy making it hard to read detail. Most of the rootstocks that I could see in the forest had trunks going the wrong direction. I could see the vague wide curving reentrant off to my right and ran along the edge before curving back. As I turned and ran toward root stocks, I had really gotten off bearing. I gave-up, not wanting to lose too much time, and hit the trail.
#136 - this came up fast after hitting the trail and I was glad that it was visible from the trail.
#125 - I ran on the trail to the control but at one point I thought I'd gone far enough and the bends didn't seem to make sense. I passed Tom Nolan going the other way. I kept on and soon found it.
#123 - this was the last of the 6 required controls and I'd left it to get on the way back in, along with optional control #143. I ran along the road reading where the power line crossed, before cutting-off the corner to the big but shallow reentrant. I crossed and got on trails. Cutting across I ran a bit blindly and ended up at a huge dot knoll. My foggy glasses didn't let me figure out where I was from the small features--I expected this dot knoll to have been marked with a contour because it was so tall, but it wasn't. I figured where to go from the orientation of the big reentrant and the trail, but I'd lost some time. It could have been 30-40 seconds or more lost. I ran over to the rootstock on the other side of the big reentrant, and saw that I had only 3 minutes left before I'd be over time. Someone else was coming away from it as I got there.
Finish - I ran across the forest rather than go a little way back to the trail. I popped out in the light green area on the NW side of the road and had gotten ahead of the guy who'd left #123 just before me, since he was using the trail. I finished 52 seconds over time so I'd lost 20 points.
It was a fun course and people I talked with seemed to like the "Twisted" score-o format. I liked it okay too but that was partly since I was generally navigating well. I think I like a normal course format a little better since planning counts more in a score-o and detracts from navigation to an extent. For today, I had been so focused on time that I hadn't even seen the markings for the bonus controls. It just so happened that I'd gotten them all. I got 246 points but with the penalty it was dropped back to 226 points. Some people got all of the controls.