Orienteering race (Night-O) 40:26  *** 3.09 km (13:05 / km)
spiked:9/10c shoes: 200712 NB Absorb EX 11.5
CSU Night-O in Hammond Pond set up by the illustrious Ross Smith. I do not often Night-O, but I really enjoy the format; while Hammond Pond isn't the most difficult orienteering environment (my past experience there to the contrary), I find Night-Oing somewhat more intuitive than day-O because the central problem is acquiring information, not deciding what information to use. On a typical day-O course, there are so many ways to navigate and fix your position and course - compass, contours, features, vegetation, linear features, prominent elevations around you, and so on. During a night-O, you have the local gradient, your compass, any immediately visible features (i.e. if you're looking for them), and any linear features you are traveling along.
The particular Night-O was best accomplished - in my opinion - by using linear features extensively. I at times strayed from the path because of a silly notion that "good orienteers do not run on trails," when in at least one of those situations, the trail was by far the best route.
I tested my new headlamp (Energizer, from Target) at this Night-O to great effect. It's quite bright, and there were no ergonomic difficulties with its use.
I estimate that at my present proficiency and speed, I could have finished the course about 5-10 minutes faster had I not made several errors. Admittedly, my current level of orienteering is error prone because of lack of experience and suboptimal strategy, but there you have it.
I erred at 1 (60-90 seconds) by sticking to the trail for too long and choosing a poor attack point. Reading my map more carefully would have revealed this error. Alternatively, I could have followed Ross and Brendan - who were immediately ahead of me at the mass start - but I wanted to ignore everyone else as much as possible.
At 7, (90 seconds - 2 minutes) I ignored what were obviously cliffs and my attack while running along a trail, and ran ahead for perhaps 75 meters before realizing my mistake from the contours. I just needed more confidence here.
At 8, (1-2 minutes) I diverted far and wide around on a trail because I wasn't sure the smaller breakoff trail was in fact the one I wanted. I should have just taken a bearing from that point and ran to 8 by contour.
At 9, (2+ minutes) I left the trail because I felt I should. It was a poor strategy, both with poor route and a less than optimal choice of attack. After forcing my way slowly through some green, I diverted back to the trail and attacked from the obvious (and best) attack point.
Overall, I was pleased with my contact and performance, but it's easy to count the seconds (or minutes, in my case) lost. Brendan sprained his ankle, both injuring himself and removing one of my usual benchmarks. I'm reasonably sure Ross finished in under 30 minutes, but he also set the course. Once I learn his time, I will treat that as an "optimal" run.