Orienteering (Commute) 7:10:58  15.42 mi (27:57 / mi)
slept:4.5 weight:200.5lbs (injured)
Rootstock Racing's Crooked Compass Adventure Trek, in Cunningham Falls St. Park, MD. Peggy had identified this mini-rogaine for us to do back in January or February, when I was making gains and improving my running. I've been hurt for more than a month (March 3rd or 4th depending on how it's counted), so it was really questionable that I go out at all. I'd been more comfortable going out in the soft forest, than running on either dirt trails or pavement, and with an 8 hour event over a mountain that I knew to be steep, I figured we'd be walking a lot anyway. In fact, I didn't even walk as the start got underway. Teams (Peggy and I were in the Coed category), were allowed to send one only person to do the Prologue loop. Since I would have just slowed us down, Peggy did that alone in 19:08 (1.153 miles) and I subtracted that time from our total (7:30:06, 16.574 miles) to get my own. To see my GPS track one will have to follow Peggy's since I'd woken up sleepy and forgot to grab my watch like I usually do after getting dressed. I was not happy about that and had to put it out of my mind as we were getting ready to start.
The format was much like the Stumble races that SVO started, only one had to get to a required control before getting another map with optional controls. Each group of optional controls became like the Stumble format's windows. This was an Adventure Race, not standard OUSA orienteering. Between some occasional verbal and non-verbal cursing, Peggy, I, and others used to OUSA orienteering mused that the Adventure was discovering many obstacles not on the map and other disconnects. I figured that most of the controls were marked on the map according to coordinates, rather than in relation to the features that were shown or not shown.
As Peggy returned from the Prologue, we both walked out with other teams walking behind us. Two of those teams had some excited happy dogs running back and forth. Experience over the last month of being injured proved it to be better for me to walk a while before trying to do any running.
Once leaving a paved road, I intended to follow a bearing to the first mandatory control but I needed to go a little left to get around deadfall. Once we hit a hillside the detail we could see was a little hard to match-up with the general contours the map showed. Peggy tried to navigate with the contours on the map and that led us much higher than we needed to be for where the control was set. We were also getting used to having to adjust for magnetic declination on this leg. With our first control past us we got our map with optional controls. It was 1:7,500 scale, instead of the slightly improved standard USGS 1:24,000 quadrangle based map that we started on. With the adjustment in scale it was another rough adaptation. I was still uncertain how long this event would be. 2 controls on this map were high and 2 were low, so we opted to skip the 2 high ones. I'm sure we could have gotten them but if other maps had controls this far apart, I figured we'd be in jeopardy of not completing enough controls later on. The first low control we went for wasn't that hard but again, even at 1:7,500, the contours didn't make it clear where it'd be. The clue (Peggy read it, not me) was the most help--an eroded knoll. I'd never seen one like it. It was like a small dirt replica of Sugarloaf Mountain in Brazil, and around 80 ft tall. We walked through messy vegetation the long way around to avoid dropping and scrambling up from the low point where there was a marsh. The next control was not good for our navigation either. The terrain had interesting contours but with continued vegetation issues. We saw Phil Bricker on the leg, going higher. I kept thinking we'd see 2 streams but when we hit a field with a road and houses just beyond, Peggy figured we'd gone too far. We rose up the road to where the hillside got steeper and started climbing it at an angle on a ride, since the map showed the circle centered above where the hill starts getting steeper. Looking back down, I saw it hanging really high on no feature. We took the road to the next control, climbing the mountain gently and much more happily after that. We took some pictures with a DVOA runner who was going solo and spiked the second required control.
We figured the next set of controls was more achievable. The one that was away from the rest was fairly straight up a reentrant that made the climbing easier so we did that. When we got to the cluster of controls around Cat Rock (there were several rocky ridge clusters there), we were fortunate to have others nearby, including Joe Brautigam's team. We got these controls efficiently, but some were in some gnarly boulders. With the bad maps, and without others there it'd have much harder to find some controls--Joe got lead away while trying to read it properly as an OUSA orienteer would. I started relying on bearings and clue descriptions much more. We enjoyed getting to the next required control which was mostly an easy trail run. By this point, I tried doing some jogging and Peggy seemed pleased about that.
With a new set of controls and another new map we were set. Going downhill in relatively open terrain was great. We moved well. I even passed some people running down the slope to an old dam near the road. I splashed through the water rather than cross on a log. We hit a control on a boulder next to a stream below an functioning dam for the big lake well. Peggy led us to the left and up a road. I think I'd have gone right and up a different road, but Peggy's way looked okay too. From what was printed, it seemed like we'd be able to cross the dam on a road. When we got to the dam, we saw a ranger walking by, and then a fence at the spillway. We could see the fence and a wall going a long way below the dam. It looked like we'd have to swim to go left of the fence (it turned out that Sandy Fillebrown, Barb Bryant, and even the DVOA guy we'd taken a picture with earlier crossed on the left side by easily splashing through. What Peggy and I did instead, was to go all the way around the lake clockwise. Another group came behind us and did it too. It turned out not to be that hard. After climbing high enough we could jog the road and there was another road on the other side of the lake that took us right to the next control. We lost some time (15 minutes) but not a whole lot considering the length of the race.
A few people including Joe Barrett and Joe Brautigam's team could be seen leaving as we had a brief break and got an a new map. We went through the Houck area near Cunningham Falls. The controls were all streamers instead of flags. We had no problem with them. Peggy, I, and others in QOC had checked out this area years ago for possible mapping. I still like the idea of doing that, though the club decided against it at the time--maybe I'll do it myself one day.
After leaving the next mandatory control, we had a long climb. We did most of it up a trail. Michael Dickey and most others we'd seen had used the trail less. Again, we may have lost a little time due to that but we also saved having to pick our way through the mountain laurel that was at the higher elevations. We departed the trail a little past the bend and hit a stream right where control Z was shown to be placed on the map at a change in steepness. The clue was at the end of a rocky ridge. We went past the stream to the foot of that rocky ridge and still didn't see it. A minute later, I saw it hanging high--about 70 ft up, on top of the ridge. Getting there was easier on the SE side, since that was less rocky. We'd thought about doing this set of controls counter-clockwise, but because of the rocks,we decided to go to Y next. That turned out to be slow--deadfall, rock an rhododendron. We debated the way a bit but we hit the trail at a bend about where I had hoped to. Leaving Y, I got a Facetime call from our daughter Samantha who was home alone. Strange days these are to be in a race on a rough mountain while doing video calls. Samantha gets anxiety when alone and my sister hadn't showed-up there yet. Peggy led us on as I talked to her and tried to reach my sister. We hit what we thought was Bob's hill and turned SW toward control W--the hill was the long extension of the ridge we were on earlier at Z. The ridge was rocky and unpleasantly thick. We were tired and Peggy again was putting faith in the map, feeling we should turn around. We did that eventually, even after I'd gone ahead to see if i could find it. getting near a trail, we knew we'd gone too far the wrong way. We headed back up the unpleasant Bob's Hill ridge. Ken Walker Sr. passed us walking along the bottom of the ridge in the better, but still deadfall ridden forest. He was actually going for a different control but led us to W. Peggy was still upset about the ridge so rather than go for U directly, we went round about leaving Bob's hill on the wrong side and crossing it where it was easier. Both of our feet were weak and aching at this point. I'd picked up a new ailment on my left foot--it felt like a stress fracture along the top of my foot to my big toe. We hit U easily and saw Ken Walker Sr. coming back from it just before we'd gotten there. Getting the next 2 controls involved a lot of thick forest and even some rock scrambling. We hit them well. Others coming the opposite direction were having a lot of trouble since they confused one ridge for another. The map just didn't show 2 there. Peggy found the last one before we'd gotten to the end of a ridge that looked like it might be the "overlook" in the control description.
From that last control, we practically ran the whole way down the mountain to the finish. We passed some groups while getting passed by others who were younger. We took the Blue trail when the trail forked and got ahead of one of the groups that'd passed us. It was nice to have finished the race, without my calf holding me up too much. We enjoyed pizza and drinks, and chatting with friends who were still there. Some QOC friends like Dasa Merkova and Alexis (all women team) placed and got awards.