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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Training Log Archive: CleverSky

In the 7 days ending Jan 12:

activity # timemileskm+m
  orienteering2 3:44:36 11.25(19:58) 18.11(12:24) 61631 /34c91%
  running4 2:15:02 10.57(12:47) 17.0(7:57) 216
  hiking1 1:55:53 2.81(41:15) 4.52(25:38) 34
  Total7 7:55:31 24.63(19:19) 39.63(12:00) 86531 /34c91%
  [1-5]7 7:09:01

» now

Sunday Jan 12 #

12 PM

orienteering 1:49:46 [2] *** 8.28 km (13:16 / km) +213m 11:45 / km
spiked:17/17c shoes: Icebug Spirit

Huntington winter training, Red, starting and ending at #3. Another nice warm day, this time with brilliant sunshine. I had to slow down quite a bit in deference to my toe. Good news was that my ankles held up okay, just one roll on the right and that was minor. Bad news is that the toe was not okay at all. I smashed it or caught it a few more times, every one of them painful. I was concerned that I was doing more harm to myself than good. I also started wondering about my shoes, and when I was done, I took the shoelaces out to remind me not to wear them any more, they're going in the poubelle. When they were new, I think they were fine, but they seem to have lost some of the structural properties that I look for in footwear to use in unpredictable rocky forests. I really don't want a shoe that can do this:

11 PM


And finally...
J-J's Eleven (plus one) Memorable Orienteering Experiences List, #12

Mt. Norwottuck, Massachusetts, 4/29/1990 (Billygoat)
My first Billygoat was in 1984, and I went overtime. The next year, I succeeded in getting a shirt, and I was pretty pleased about that. There was already a custom of using the initials of the previous year's top placewinners as control codes, and I wondered aloud if I might ever be good enough to get my initials on a control. Dave Bailey thought about that, and said that if the course were ever in a place with a lot of trails, that could require a lot of controls, and the results list would need to be mined more deeply, so maybe it would be possible.
The next year I went overtime again, then I got another shirt, then I missed 1988 because I was in Greece. I did a lot more orienteering when I got back, and got quite a bit better, so the following spring, when the Billygoat was at Mt. Norwottuck, I managed to pull off a 15th place, good enough to earn one point on the lifetime points list, as well as a likely control the following year.
1990 saw the event return to Norwottuck, back-to-back Billygoats, and PG decided to introduce a couple of twists, in order to reduce the following a bit. The first was that everybody was allowed to skip a control. The second was that one control would be forked, and you chould choose to go to either of the locations (or you could skip the forked control). Nobody had any experience with this, so nobody knew how it would work out. Mikell Platt initially thought that it would be a bust, that everybody would just wait and skip the last control.
For the first few controls, I was just in the pack. I made small errors on #3 and #4, I think because everyone else was, and maybe I figured out the errors sooner than most. During this time, I was thinking about the whole skip thing. The obvious choices appeared to be #7 or #8, because the course made acute angles at those controls, so there was a lot of distance to be saved. Skipping #7 also meant a trail run from #6 to #8, and skipping #8 meant a trail run from #7 to #9. But #7 was a water stop, so that was a less appealing choice. And in fact exactly half of the finshers skipped one or the other of those two controls.
But I was among those who looked further ahead. The leg to #12 was a nasty sidehill along the gully-riddled south face of Norwottuck, and then to the forked #13 you had your choice of either more of the same, or a steep climb to the summit of the mountain. However, by skipping #12 and going to the #13 at the top, the climb became a gradual one along the ridge trail. That was the choice that I made.
When I got to the water stop at #7, ten people had been through ahead of me, probably at least five were ahead of me who skipped it, and a bunch more came through soon after me but then skipped #8, so they got ahead of me as well. I had sent a 16 oz. bottle of my preferred sports drink to the water stop, which was manned by Peter and Gail. When I arrived, I quickly punched, grabbed my bottle, and slammed it all down without taking a breath, which earned me an astonished "Whoa!" from Peter. And I took off toward #8 without further hesitation. I was the second one to do that, after Steve Tall 2.5 minutes earlier. I made pretty damn good time over the next four legs, and when we got to the next water stop at #11, there were 19 people ahead of me (some were still at the water stop), but 18 of them had already skipped and had to face the nasty traverse to #12. I had cut a minute off of Steve Tall's lead.
I parted ways with the pack pretty soon as I headed for the summit. Along the summit trail I passed Steve, and continued charging up the trail, no navigation needed. The control description was "hill, western part", and I think it was hanging from the lookout tower. The event had been billed as part of the "Quad State Games", due to the four-state view from one of the control locations. I didn't have time to enjoy the scenery, but there wasn't any, because the summit was socked in with fog.
The drawback to the summit control was that you had to figure out how to get down from there. The next control was to the NW, and that face of the mountain is hellaciously steep and rocky. So I literally put my map and compass in my pocket and charged headlong down that slope, grabbing trees with each hand as I went by them to control my plunge. I made it to the trail at the base of the slope, turned left, started running hard, and did a total face plant.
I got up and started running again, and as I approached #14, I saw two figures up ahead at the control, who I recognized as Joe Brautigam and Rich Kelly. Pretty good company to be in near the end of a Billygoat. With the two of them to follow, I ran hard, and started closing the gap. At #15 (which had my initials, yay!), I had almost caught them. Then Joe headed off in some weird direction, and disappeared, losing a minute. Rich headed the correct way and I charged after him, getting closer by #16 and to within a couple of steps at the final #17. I punched as quickly as I could, and the finish chute was so short that the finish wasn't even shown on the map, no more than 50 meters. I went into an explosive sprint, and Rich responded by... cramping. So I blew past him.
I was by no means the first to arrive. Mikell Platt, Bill Spencer, and Dave Pruden had run most of the course together and had been back for about 15 minutes, and Paul Bennett was 10 minutes behind them. But I was fifth. To date, 97 people have ever finished in the top five in the Billygoat, and I'm one of them.

Saturday Jan 11 #

3 PM

orienteering 1:54:50 [3] **** 9.83 km (11:41 / km) +403m 9:42 / km
spiked:14/17c shoes: Icebug Spirit

Blue Mountain winter training, Red, In The Dim, basically. We got there a bit after 3 PM, at which point it was clouding up, but the temperature was just under 70 F! Three or four mistakes of note, the first being that I was headed toward #9/#15 instead of #2, and got almost all the way there before realizing it (there were so many lines coming out of that control that it seemed like you needed to go there from everywhere). On #4 I was too high and to the right and fumbled around there for a while trying to get solid identification on some feature. My route to #10 could have been better. And on #12 I got fairly close, but then wasn't sure where I was, so I went uphill a bit until I got locked in, then continued. The problem was that clouds had come in, making the late afternoon light pretty weak, and I was using the 1:10000 version of the map. It was around this time that it just got too dim for that kind of foolishness, and it became increasingly challenging. It was a good thing that the forest is predominantly hardwood or there would have been no hope. I considered bailing, or maybe going back to the car for my headlamp, but I soldiered on, picking routes that I could make out with limited visibility, like on the end of #16 where the strip of white that I was following was the only thing I could see. And the stone wall was the only thing that allowed me to make it to #17.

Rolled each ankle once (not too bad), but I also smashed my right big toe pretty hard, and that's more of a problem, it's noticeably swollen

I tend to think of Blue Mountain as an uninteresting place, except when I go there and am reminded of how excellent it is.

RouteGadget (I'm the anonymous one)
11 PM


J-J's TenEleven (plus one) Memorable Orienteering Experiences List, #11

You probably thought this was the last installment, didn't you? But if so, then you failed to realize that J-J can't count! So there's this one, about a race that I did not actually run, and then tomorrow will be the conclusion.

This is about a race that PG wrote about as being his best, and mine is a very different tale. It's mostly backstory, in fact, possibly (tl;dr) and if you want you can scroll down to the last paragraph and the map. It was 22 years ago, and I've related the story enough times that it has probably gotten corrupted in my memory, but at least by putting it down in words now I can keep it from deteriorating any more. I'd say it's at least mostly accurate.

Franzen, Minnesota, 10/12/1997 (Veterans World Cup Final)
I was heavily involved with the organization of WOC93, and was very much aware of how much of a toll it took on USOF. So when word came down that we were looking at putting on another big meet in 1997, the Veterans World Cup (which in later years became the World Masters Orienteering Championships), I was against it. I even wrote a letter to the head organizer, Sherri Litasi, explaining why it would be best to back out of it while it was still early enough in the planning stages, but the event went ahead. Because I was opposed to it being held, I resolved to stay away from the event, neither competing nor helping, even though at age 36 I would have been eligible to participate.
But my clubmate Beatrice (Garzoni)(Zurcher)McBride was interested in going, and thus so was her husband at the time, Bob McBride. Bob was looking to drive to the event (from Colorado, where I was living at the time) and wanted company on the road, as Beatrice needed to fly in shortly before the event. There was a regular A-meet scheduled for the weekend before in the MSP area, then the VWC itself was somewhere in the boondocks near Lake Wobegon, and it was going to have regular “public” courses in addition to the VWC. I was willing to do that, so I joined Bob and we hit the road in my Corolla station wagon.
The A-meet was okay, though a bit disorganized, and my notes from the time say that the courses were very disappointing, much too boring and easy. One thing that it featured was a results system that had been devised by Angus Bond for the VWC, and this meet was its shakedown run. That appeared to be a complete failure. Although I have notes that I finished 15th each day, as far as I’m aware there were never any results published for the meet. In fact, when I arrived at Camp Ripley a few days later, the meet organization appeared to have gone into a panic. They had appealed to Mike Fritz to take over and come up with something that would work, which he did, but as a failsafe, he reached out to me. I had been handling results at the 1000-Day for five years at that point (with substantial help from Charlie DeWeese), and Mike got in touch with me to find out if he could get our system if needed. To do this, he called Mike Minium’s cell phone, and someone brought it to me – this was the first time I ever received a cell phone call. Our system was written in Lotus 1-2-3 (a spreadsheet that had at one time been dominant until Excel took over), and although in the end Mike didn’t need it, he at least had that option in his back pocket.
But before we even left the A-meet, a critical event occurred. Event Director Sherri Litasi came up to Bob and me and asked if we could do her a favor. I skeptically asked what it was. She said it was just a little thing, kind of a thankless job, but she needed somebody who could do some math. It seemed there were water stops for the VWC located at road crossings, and she needed somebody who could get the information from the course setters about how many people would be going to each stop, convert that to the number of gallons required, and drop off that many gallons at each stop.
Well, okay. We figured that wasn’t too bad, though it turned out to be one of the most misleading things anyone had ever said to me.
Tracking down the course setters wasn’t too bad, and they had their acts together and knew how much water was needed. Somebody noted that the meet had rented a few trucks for moving equipment around, and I could probably manage to use one of those – it was a big enough event that I wouldn’t be able to carry all the water in my Toyota. But when I asked Sherri where the water was, she said, well, you could try WalMart, or supermarkets…
Ack! Nobody had actually procured any water for this event!
Although I had been determined to not get roped into helping out at this ill-advised event, it was clear that there was a major gap here that wasn’t going to get dealt with unless I dealt with it. So I started out by stealing a truck. I asked around to find out who had the keys, asked to borrow them for a few minutes, and disappeared for several days with the biggest truck that the meet had rented. Bob needed to pick up Beatrice at the airport, so he took my car, and I went off to do what I’ve exaggeratedly described as driving all over central Minnesota buying all the bottled water available. In truth I think it was only four stores, but I bought all the water they would sell me, not just what was on the shelves but also as much as they’d pull out of the back. And a lot of paper cups. I eventually racked up over $1000 in credit card charges.
I needed help to put the water out, and Bob wasn’t available so I pulled up to the bus stop. There was shuttle service running to the model event, and Gale Teschendorf was sitting there waiting for the bus. I asked him if he wanted a ride, and said hop in, I’d give him a lift if he’d help me move a couple of things. Gale never did make it to the model event.
The water stops were supposedly at “road crossings”. That was a reasonable description for some of the spots, and Gale and I dropped off the water with no trouble. But some of these “roads” were jeep trails. I was warned that there were puddles on some of them, but that Peter Andersen, who had been doing a lot of work on meet setup, had determined that you could get through them okay as long as you had enough momentum. So when Gale and I were heading up one jeep trail and I saw a puddle, I stepped on the gas to just bomb on through. That did not work. I should have known better than to try to emulate Peter Andersen, because he’s crazy.
It had been fine on the smaller puddles, but on this larger one, I bogged down. I had Gale get out of the truck to see which one of the rear wheels was spinning, and he came back and said they both were. Oh, that was very bad news. This truck had a lift mechanism to get heavy items into the back, and the lift structure was hung up on the solid ground behind the puddle, so the rear wheels were just dangling in the water, with zero traction. I was an idiot, and we were cooked.
There was more work that needed to be done in terms of this water job than putting out gallon jugs. Sherri had also asked me to coordinate with the Army on the placement of some water buffalos (water tanks on wheels). I had an appointment to meet the soldiers assigned to that duty, and now I had no transportation. I left Gale with the truck, told him to see if he could come up with any ideas, and went off on foot for my rendezvous. I had decided that the water buffalos would be most useful at the start and finish areas, so I went with the soldiers to tow them around. At some point during this, I ran into some of the other meet crew (Judy Dickinson among them), told them where the truck was, and they went off to try and help Gale. And I described my plight to the soldiers, who couldn’t help me themselves, but referred me to their sergeant.
The sergeant turned out to be incredibly helpful. I got in touch with him, and we drove out to the truck in his jeep. This was a routine situation for him, he said some private would get stuck like this about once a week, so he kept a tow rope in the jeep. He was able to pull us backward and free the truck from the puddle. At this point, the water stops I had been trying to drive to had been supplied with water by people carrying the jugs the rest of the way, so we just needed to get the truck out. Once we were out of the puddle, John Harbuck, who had arrived in his tiny pickup truck, pulled out a chainsaw and tried clearing enough saplings to make a turnaround for the truck, but that didn’t work. We had to back the truck out. Judy was much more experienced at driving trucks than I was, so she took the wheel, and we made it partway, but then we came to the big downhill, and we had a problem. The truck had an automatic transmission, a foot-activated parking brake, and the ground was covered with slippery wet leaves. The only way to slow it down was with the regular brakes, and whenever you touched them, the front wheels would lock up and slide, and you’d lose steering control. Judy considered the situation, and wasn’t comfortable about it. The hill was fairly straight, but a bit tilted to the left. The only thing she could think to do was to just let it roll, stay off the brakes, pray, and try to keep it on the road and upright. I’m really glad she was driving, because I probably would have run off the trail and tipped the truck over on its side.
That didn’t conclude the water responsibilities for the day, I still had to drive back to Brainard to buy more water.
The sergeant turned out to be critical again a couple of days later, when he drove me to another of the water stops. We loaded the water in the back of his jeep, and went for a very wild ride. Road crossings my ass, there was no way that any normal road vehicle could have driven to that spot, the “road” was just a bulldozed ride through the woods, with some pretty steep spots.
I had been planning to sleep in my car, but Nancy was at the meet, helping out at the finish I think, and she had little baby Stephen with her. She had a room in one of the buildings on the base, and she offered to let me crash on the floor, which I accepted.
The next day was the opening of the VWC. I wasn’t running in the VWC itself, I was running M21A in the public event, but that used the same courses as VWC M35 for the two qualifying days. The difference was that there were no public courses on the final day. In the morning I put out more water, for the following day, with the assistance of Mark Parsons, then babysat Stephen for a while, and went out on my course very late. At this point I was exhausted, both physically and mentally. I was in enough of a fog that I was unable to recall my routes on a couple of the early legs, though the splits were okay, so I apparently didn’t have much trouble. But leaving #6, disaster struck. I mistakenly thought I was leaving #7, heading NW toward #8, and everything made sense insofar as I quickly plunged into the green. And I wandered in that green for a long time. Instead of going 400 m north through white woods to get to #7, I finally relocated over a kilometer away on a major dirt road, figured out what had happened, and had to go back though that green to get to #7, where I still had trouble. I finally got it when I stumbled across an easily recognizable feature: the puddle where the truck had been mired. My split for that leg was over an hour. Back through the green to actually get to #8, and the rest of the course went okay. About 10.5 km, and I was just over three hours.
Qualifier Day 2 saw me picking up water stops from the previous days before I ran, and I was still exhausted. Two errors of note, but not on the scale of the one the previous day, and otherwise quite clean. The course was a little longer, but I got around it more than 45 minutes faster. After my run, there was more water work, this time with Bob and Beatrice helping, and that went okay until it came time to leave, and the gate was locked. We were trapped in the woods.
The VWC was held on three maps all at Camp Ripley, an army base in central Minnesota. The maps were in the northern part of the military reservation, and the meet headquarters was on the base proper, at the southern end. Military reservations are locked up most of the time, and the meet organization had failed to come up with a plan to determine when all of the meet workers were out before locking up. Or at least, the water crew was not part of that plan. Fortunately, from my travels on the first day, I knew my way back to the base through the range (as opposed to around on public roads, which is what everyone was doing, a 25+ mile drive). So we drove the lonely dirt roads of the range until we got to the Range Control gate at the north and of the base. I left Bob and Beatrice in the truck and walked about two miles to find somebody to let us in. When we got back, B&B had company, there was a private who had showed up who had also gotten himself locked in.
We had all the water for the last day set up at that point (or close enough, I think there might have been a little more work that I managed to delegate), and there was a rest day before the final. Nancy suggested that we just get the hell out of there, and that sounded good to me. I spent the day as a passenger in her car as we drove up past Duluth, because she wanted to visit a couple of lighthouses, including the famous and spectacular Split Rock. That was the first time that we went to a lighthouse together.
The Final day had no course for me. I was surprised to find that, despite my horrible result the first day, if I had had been running those courses as M35 instead of M21, I actually would have qualified for the A final. I did show up at the event site, where Sherri spotted me, and asked if I could do her a favor.
What now?
Well, she said, there were a few boxes of meet merchandise that inadvertently got left behind at the base, and there wasn’t going to be any opportunity to sell them after today, so we needed to have them up at the event site. Annoying as it was, it was true, so I grudgingly said I’d make the 50+ mile round trip to get them. Just a few boxes, she said. I stole a truck again, and I had to stop to get gas for it on the way. When I got to the base and found the loading dock where the merchandise was, there were dozens and dozens of boxes, and had to load them all myself. Sherri had said that for helping out, I could help myself to a T-shirt or something – yeah, I took more than a T-shirt. When I got back to the event site, I drove the truck right out into the middle of the assembly area where it was completely in the way, tossed the damn keys on the dashboard, left the door open, and walked away.
And I went to my car and got a compass.
When I got to the start, things were wrapping up. I knew the start crew people, and I said to them, I’m not here, but I’m taking this map, and they said, sounds good, have a nice time, J-J. And with an M35 VWC map in my hand, I started my watch.
PG has noted that sometimes he’s had very good runs when he was pissed off for some reason, it helps with the motivation and drive. I was thoroughly pissed off, somewhat more well-rested than I had been on the previous two days, and had zero pressure on me. They had saved the nicest piece of terrain for the final, and I ran that course fast. Small errors on #9, #18, and #19, but I corrected quickly on all of them and didn’t lose too much time. I came tearing up the chute, with most of the people gone by that point, and Lex Bundschuh was working the finish. I stopped a step short of the line, hit my watch, said Hi Lex, I’m not here, and walked off to the side.
12 km, and I got around it in 1:53:49, which would have been good enough for 43rd place at this major event. The best race I never ran.

Friday Jan 10 #

4 PM

hiking (sand) 1:55:53 intensity: (46:30 @0) + (1:09:23 @1) 4.52 km (25:38 / km) +34m 24:43 / km
shoes: Oboz Sawtooth II

Crane Beach Full Moon Hike with Nancy (and about 20 other people). A fair bit of standing still and hearing information that we had mostly heard on the previous one of these. Fairly warm evening (around 50F I think), but unfortunately the moon didn't come out from behind the clouds until after we had left.
11 PM


J-J's Ten (plus one) Memorable Orienteering Experiences List, #10

Happy Valley WMA, New York, 7/31/2011 (US Championships)
I started out running Red M21B at A-meets in 1986. Once I moved up to Blue at the last A-meet of the year in 1988, I stayed on Blue until I was past age 40, and then started running Red at meets where I was also working finish/results, because it got to be too much for one day. Eventually I migrated to mostly Red, running M40 and then M45, but after I turned 50 I thought about it, and decided that these five year age categories make no sense, and we should all be running M35, so that’s what I’ve been doing since. And there was the one exception that I wrote about last week when I ran Brown ecause I was sick.
But the year I was turning 50, I decided to give Green one shot at the US (Two-Day) Champs. Due to my autumn birthday, I wasn’t even actually 50 yet, so it was the ideal time to try. As it turns out, I succeeded, with no help from my awful Saturday run, but a pretty good result on Sunday. (Behind only PG, by four minutes, and at the time he was already ten years older than I am now.)
Since this was in the Attackpoint era, I wrote it up and you can read about it here.

Thursday Jan 9 #

6 PM

running 38:15 [2] 4.78 km (8:00 / km) +67m 7:28 / km
shoes: Inov-8 Oroc 350

Across the street, In The... Moonlight. I only turned on the headlamp when I was on the road, it was bright enough in the woods to not need it, though sometimes under the evergreens it was hard to see my footing. Almost all hard frozen snowmobile/ATV tracks, and I took one fall. Coldest run so fa this year, I think, but still probably in the upper 20s F. In the interest of not repeating loops as long as I can, I picked this as a short but not that interesting route, although it turned out longer than I expected.
11 PM


J-J's Ten (plus one) Memorable Orienteering Experiences List, #9

Vasquez Rocks, California, 12/9/2001 (US Relay Championships)
I had gotten a preview map of this park, one of the old versions, and it looked pretty awful (I was later told that it was a very old version, rather than the previous version). But Day 2 was the US Relay Champs, and Mikell was interested in fielding an RMOC team (we had won in 1997 and 1998). I had gone to San Diego for a meet the previous weekend, and rather than stay out there for the week in between, I came home to Massachusetts and went back to LA a week later, traveling with Nancy, Deb Humiston, and Bob Lux.
On Day 1 (individual race), we got a pleasant surprise. The new map, fieldchecked by Clare Durand, looked nothing like the old one that I had gotten in the mail, and it was excellent. The terrain was also extremely gnarly. Very, very difficult stuff. The kind of place where a wrong move could leave you unexpectedly trapped above or below a cliff.
Our relay team was Neal Barlow, Orlyn Skrien, myself, and Mikell. I don’t remember exactly what position we were in when Orlyn tagged off to me, but I think it was pretty close to the front, maybe third or so. I don’t remember the early part of the course very well, but I was with Jan Urban, from the Cascade team. And later Mark Voit caught up.
What I’m pretty sure I do remember is making a small mistake around #10, and thinking that Mark and/or Jan had gotten ahead of me, then pushing as hard as I could to the finish. I didn’t think that I had lost too much time, and when I tagged off to Mikell, I specifically remember saying, Get him!
See my thoughts at the time.
It turned out that I was mistaken. Mark and Jan were actually behind me, but I didn’t realize that the BAOC team was out in front. But Mikell knew that, and he was hunting down Wyatt. There was a story at the end of the anchor leg, I don’t remember the details, but when Mikell popped out into the field, he didn’t realize that he had taken the lead until Neal, Orlyn and I joined him to run down the chute.

It was our third and final RMOC relay victory. As I started writing this up, I remembered (incorrectly) that it was the only time I ever appeared on the cover of O/NA, but that was actually our 1998 victory, where my smiling face… almost appeared…

Wednesday Jan 8 #

6 PM

running (trails) 39:14 [2] 4.47 km (8:47 / km) +96m 7:56 / km
shoes: Inov-8 Oroc 350

Oak Hill/Tophet Chasm, In The Dark. Another place where I used to run a lot 15 years ago. Chilly, but I was dressed appropriately. Footing mostly icy. Missed the turn to get back to the car, so when things started looking familiar, I crossed a frozen marsh to get back to the road.
11 PM


J-J's Ten (plus one) Memorable Orienteering Experiences List, #8

Lake Lanier, Georgia, 8/8/2001 (US Canoe-O Championships)
Aims Coney and I were the dominant team in canoe-O for a while. Neither of us was a top-notch orienteer, and we were mediocre at best as paddlers (in the few canoe races that we entered, our results were awful), but we were better navigators than any real canoe racers, and better in the boat than the rest of the orienteers. Aims was also big on strategy, particularly when to get out of the boat and maybe portage it. And we trained for canoe-O, pretty hard. We’d get together one morning a week to practice paddling, turning, getting in and out of the boat efficiently, portaging, etc.
Aims had participated in the US Canoe-O Champs (put on by the USCA, not USOF) a number of times before, both as a solo and with a partner, and had done well. The first one that we did together was in Georgia, at the venue where the canoe events had been held at the 1996 Olympics. We flew down rather than driving, so although we brought our own paddles, we had to arrange to borrow a boat. There was a We-no-nah AR available, which was not all that different from Aims’s race boat, but it wasn’t set up for specific orienteering use like his, so we had to make some modifications like adding a temporary center seat and a way to attach our map holders. It was also a challenge to get the boat trimmed properly, because I’m a lot lighter than he is, and this didn’t have the custom mods to allow us to put the heavier paddler in the rear seat. But we managed.
Canoe-O is a little different from regular orienteering in terms of being able to preview the terrain, since most of the other competitors had been training and racing on the lake for at least a few days. We didn’t have that advantage, but we did know where the event center was, and we looked at where the course might go. Then we drove around on the public roads in the area the afternoon before and scoped things out. In particular, we took note of a couple of prominent peninsulas that might be interesting to portage across, and found good spots to do so, even picking out access points that avoided poison ivy. And there was a place up north where an arm of the lake came near the road, with a driveway that we found that led to an abandoned barn covered with kudzu.
Race day came (that’s when we first got to see the boat and set it up), and we drew the last start. I think we had to get the controls in order, but I’m not sure. Aims was convinced that we had to pull out all stops to get an advantage on the faster paddlers, so he had me do a couple of controls on foot early on that might have been false economy. Then we were disappointed to see that #4 was up in a cove that was a dead giveaway to our “secret” portage. But although it seemed obvious to us, I think only one other boat went up and over, the others all paddled around, adding over two miles to the route.
Aims sent me off on foot again to #5 while he waited (that was definitely a bad move, slow going on shore), and we had a tiny time loss on #7 because it was slightly misplaced. Then came the real pivotal move on #8. It was a “dry” control, up a stream beyond the last point where it was navigable, so it had to be approached on foot (and it was a bit further up than shown). Before I got out of the boat, we made a plan, and it involved my probably not coming back.
That control wasn’t far from the kudzu-covered barn we had spotted the previous afternoon. And if I could make it through to that barn, I’d go up the driveway and run back to the finish. Aims would be waiting in case the vegetation was too thick, but it wasn’t, and I did the last mile and a half of the course on foot. I think the organizers were expecting that a few intrepid participants might portage the last little bit through the parking lot, but I definitely took them by surprise when I came running in from a different direction, with no boat, yelling FINISHING!
The rules in those days required only that you get the punchcard back, not the boat, and not the whole team (we successfully got that rule changed in later years). At the pre-race meeting, we had specifically asked about that, and it was entirely clear that running the punchcard back was okay. They did ask where my partner was, and I said he’d be back eventually. He had waited at the place where I had disembarked long enough to be convinced that I wasn’t coming back, then took his time paddling home.
We were the last to start, and the first back, and won that race by 33 minutes. We won three more national championships after that (and were course setters for several more, both individually and together), but we never again won by such a large margin. On the way back to the airport, we were proudly wearing our medals when we stopped at Taco Bell, and they were so impressed that they gave us free desserts.

Tuesday Jan 7 #

7 PM

running (trails) 34:17 [2] 4.3 km (7:59 / km) +13m 7:51 / km
shoes: Inov-8 Oroc 350

Fractal Trails (Four Corners), In The Dark. I used to run here 15+ years ago, when I lived nearby, and it was the first place I ever encountered the kind of MTB trails that have since become common, where it looks like they've tried to fill the entire area with one long trail that twists and turns so much that if you were to leave it, you'd hit another part of it before you've gone more than a few feet. I'm pretty sure there's a lot more out there than what I ran on tonight. Got fairly well disoriented, and when I hit the power line ride I had to think a bit to figure out which way to go in order to get back to the parking lot. (But I did it correctly.) An inch or two of hard-frozen snow everywhere. GPS track is clearly flaky, because it shows my route crossing itself (didn't happen), and when I was at the end going back on the same trail I'd come out on, it shows are pretty far separated.
11 PM


J-J's Ten (plus one) Memorable Orienteering Experiences List, #7

Mike’s Maze: Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Can (sprint), Massachusetts,10/20/2010
The first CMOUSA Champs had two races, just a Classic and a Sprint. I got pretty thrashed in the Classic, not dealing well with the scale and getting very lost early on. There were two entrances to the maze that year, the normal one on the east and another on the north side. The Classic had us going in on the east and the last control was near the north exit, and from there we ran around the outside to the finish.
For the Sprint, there were only four controls, and I went at it aggressively, getting through the 610 meter course in 3:36. There’s a note on the back of my map saying “no hope of remembering my route”. But I do remember one important thing. The last control was again near the north exit, or so it seemed. But there were a number of zigs and zags required to get to it, and I saw a better way. After coming out of the dead end where #4 was located, there was an open corridor due south to the curving top of the soup can, and that led straight back to the entrance. I think it was that route choice that made the difference, and got me my only 1st place finish in a corn maze event (not counting the corn maze trail-O a few years later when I spiked all of the controls with a drone).

Contemporaneous account here.

Monday Jan 6 #

10 PM

running (pavement) 23:16 [2] 3.45 km (6:44 / km) +40m 6:22 / km
shoes: Saucony Guide 8 Powergrid

The Woodlands, including the side roads, In The Dark. Connector out to Gilchrist was hard-frozen snow with a dusting of fresh powder, making for some delightful twkinking in the headlamp. Temp still in the mid 30s F, I guess (phone says just below freezing, thermometer is probably on the fritz), and I was a bit overdressed.
11 PM


J-J's Ten (plus one) Memorable Orienteering Experiences List, #6

Pawtuckaway State Park, New Hampshire, 8/30/2003
[Many of these memorable races occurred before the Attackpoint era, and I had at most a few sentences in my paper running logbook. This is one of the ones where I did have some comments on Attackpoint, so I was able to refresh my memory. I consider myself to have a good memory, but it's well known that eyewitness testimony is unreliable, and the more times you recall something, the less accurate your recollection becomes. I was surprised that some of the details that I remembered about this race were completely wrong. That raises the possibility that a lot of these accounts of memorable events are actually a lot of hooey.]

This was a sprint knockout tournament. The first race was a mass-start, and the results were used as a seeding list for the single-elimination rounds that followed. There were some big names in the field, but herd mentality got the better of most of them, because just about everybody sailed off into oblivion at a few different controls. I somehow kept my wits about me, and took my own path, which was the correct one, and I was the third one back, not far behind Marc Lauenstein, and just steps behind Balter.
See my notes

So, that set me up in a good position; as a high seed, I’d be facing someone in the next round who had been one of the slowest. Specifically, it was Jeff Lewis. I didn’t know Jeff, but it appeared what he lacked in the way of navigational expertise, he could make up for in terms of speed. With the two of us starting together, I was doomed, because all he had to do was to follow me around the course and outsprint me at the end, and I think his friends (Nova Scotia crowd?) were even advising him to do just that.
People sometimes talk about orienteering tactics, but in reality, that’s rarely a real concept. In this case, I had to invent some or there was no hope. Notice that the route on the map between #2 and #3 is missing. That’s because when I got to #2 and Jeff was stuck to me like glue, I just took off fast in a random direction to try to shake him. He waited when I paused to look at my map, and when I stopped to tie my shoe, but then we encountered some people who I knew were on the other course (there was a Red for Masters/Women), but maybe he didn't know that. I followed them a little, knowing they were not heading for our third control, then when he started following them, I quickly hid behind a tree. As soon as there was a little space between us, I took off as fast as I could possibly run the opposite way. I kept it up for as long as I could, and got myself completely lost. But that meant that I had probably gotten him completely lost as well. I relocated and found my way back to #3; my split for that 250 m control was 16:37. I was then in a situation where he had either latched onto another pair of Blue runners, or else he was toast. Once I got to #4 without him, there was no way he could follow me even if he found me. So I jogged around the rest of the course, and as I made my way leisurely down the finish chute, Jack Williams saw me and said, believe it or not, you won your heat. I just smiled and said, I know.
See notes

The next round had me up against Sergei Zhyk, and that was the end of the line for me. But those first two courses went very well!

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