Orienteering race 3:08:59  ***** 12.79 km (14:46 / km) +410m 12:44 / km
spiked:8/15c shoes: Luath Blue XTalon 212s
NAOC Long, Red X M45 8.4 k/360m
Meet 27, course 38
Wow, this was an interesting but brutally hard map, so many rocks and small knolls in the middle region. My skill set was clearly not a match for the challenge.
C1: not fast or a particularly good line but safe
C2: drifted terribly far W; saw the ruined car (a very specific item from the race notes) and adjusted finding the second control slowly but in control.
C3: Eep! Intentionally went downslope and then W but was still too far north. Brief motion south, got close to the control then lost my nerve. Probably had had 40 s of loose attention and suddenly I could match anything and everything to my map. Saw some F21 runners running back on me from the N; I tried to relocate to the N. Wobbled to an oval, cliff-ringed hilltop overlooking a distinctive marsh and felt confident that I had relocated. Navigated back to a location that was just NE of the circle and looks similar on the map and thought I was far enough. Make a stupid loop and come back to a cliff on the N edge of the hill that was the S of the circle. Didn't find the control so I thought I was just delusional about the map matching what I was seeing. Nearly gave up because there was very little that I felt would get me back on the map with 100% confidence. Retreated SE and found a fairly major trail. Followed S to a Y; there were some mapped rocks that looked good, back N on the trail to a place where it meshed with a stream, felt warmer. Climbed the hilltop with the control and even when on top I was still tentative figuring which of the many little reentrants would finally pay gold. Punch. Take a breath. Navigate confidently to 4.
C5: A longer leg (1.15 k). Took a longer but more safe root on an E-W trail to the N of the line; intersected a major trail. Crossed the broad reentrant and climbed the giant spur. Tried to use rock features on the spur (that was all there was). Crossed the trail on the spur, as it was 150 m N of where I thought I was, and ultimately drifted slightly N to a trail that was moving E-W. I didn't expect this and had felt good about my original line. Worked a bit further W until ultimately I bailed to the powerline and relocated. Lost time by not understanding what went wrong but the relocation was a bit of a save.
C6 was uneventful other than stopping a bit short. Saw Damien K leaving my C5 moving very quickly.
The longest leg was to C7 (over 2k). Trails to the halfway, creek and cliffs to 80%, then marshes and trails to finish. Lost 2 min mistaking the hilltop S of the circle for the correct one. This leg was very slow and grueling but I was satisfied with all but the end.
C8: The last big botch. Shorter leg through a region rife with small and some quite large cliffs. Slide down the cliff near the control to a tree, jumped to the ground and moved on apparently making a 90° error. Crossed a trail that was quite windy. Crossed it again, confusion; continued to a huge N-S cliff. Pretty certain where I was but I didn't know why. Used the trail to get back on track but with much trepidation.
C9: Looked at my watch. Realized that it would be close to an overtime but that most of the remaining controls moved me closer to the finish so I should try not to mp. This was the last long leg. My legs were getting a bit spongy so I moved to more of a rapid and focused shuffle, focusing on checking off collecting features every 100 m or less. Well done, if not fast.
Used the same approach through the end, seeing things on the map with much, much greater confidence and moving a bit faster as I got through the final five controls to the finish.
Thinking broadly about how this course went, I went home proud for finishing and not defeated. I definitely expect to be able to learn how to deal with dense map detail and convoluted terrain better! Probably the best US map that I have run on.