Okay, so a write-up about the Billygoat. For me, it's difficult to write out a race report.
We started, I read the map, I ran, I finished. But I suppose I can add a bit more drama than that.
As soon as we started I could tell my legs didn't have any sort of spark in them to run fast. But I knew my base could carry me through to a win so long as I had a clean race.
I started off pretty far back, focusing on reading the first loop and seeing any potential skips there. Didn't see any I liked in the first loop. Once I saw that there was a "break" from 10 to partway past 12, I decided to examine the rest of the race there.
Going into 1, I had Jordan and Tomas right in front of me. I passed them at 2 as they swung too far left on the entrance. Held in front of them until 4 when I crossed over the trail and never saw it. Jordan wanted to keep climbing, but I stopped to read the map and realized we were on the right shelf.
Jordan passed me at 5 when I started reading rocks that were too high as the rocks in the reentrant. He held onto this lead until 9. I just couldn't push physically to catch him. But I stuck with my goal of a stable, clean race.
I lost sight of Jordan on the way to 10, but it took so long when I punched that I realized I had woken up the control. 10 didn't seem like a smart skip to me, so I assumed Jordan had made a mistake. Waking up the controls after that confirmed that assumption.
On the way to 13, which I had a crap route for, I decided to skip 20 because "it looked like the biggest pain in the ass" out of what was left on the course. Not very scientific, but it worked for me.
Leaving 17, my body reminded me that I had pushed my limits at a training camp only a few days prior. I shot back that there wasn't anything wrong with going to the well.
I continued navigating and enjoying the woods immensely until 22 when I heard some thrashing in the woods. Jordan came over the spur and punched 22 while I left towards the southern 23. He had better speed than me at this point and quickly caught and passed me. I picked up the pace but wasn't able to close the gap until 23 when I saw him leaving the control.
As I crossed the swamp and hooked onto the trail I saw him cut north too early and knew he'd have a lot of extra distance and climb to make up. I took a few seconds to make sure I had read the final bit correctly and went after it.
I was still thinking that Jordan somehow could have held onto his lead and was looking for him at the finish as I came down to the line. But he wasn't there and I knew I had won.
It was great to win this Billygoat. The Billygoat is an amazing American tradition and Blue Mountain is such an extraordinary map/terrain that this event was really something special. A big thank-you to HVO for organizing and to Joe for setting a really fun course.
Again, many people may not share this opinion with me, but it's certainly where I am at now: in general, Blue Mountain feels easy to me compared to a map like French Creek. It's so much easier to ignore features and only focus on what's visible than it is to try to see features that are hardly visible in thick woods. But Blue Mountain is certainly much more fun.
I made sure to do a loop around the Blue Mountain lodge to bring a younger Greg back into my memory. It's amazing how much things change over the years. That Greg certainly could have never envisioned himself ever being any good at this sport. Things can improve significantly for American orienteers. I hope to help my juniors down a road similar to the one I took. But my journey hasn't ended yet...