Orienteering 2:50:38  11.92 mi (14:19 / mi) +1865ft 12:28 / mi
shoes: Altra Lone Peak 2.0 W10
Fudged the numbers a bit to account for the time around 10 (including a detour) that my watch stopped.
The Ultralong was the race I was really looking forward to all wknd. I felt it would be a decent comparison for how I stack up to with the rest of the field. I could definitely feel the multiple ankle rolls from the last 2 days with all the holes hidden under deep leaf cover. Legs were tired but intact. The Red had 21 controls, 15k redline. We were bussed west of Fountainhead to Wolf Shoals. I had never been to this part of the FH trail system. It was a mass start in the middle of the woods! We discovered that women's red had 1:15k maps, while Joe, Dave, etc had 1:10k for the same course. (Clearly the old guys need their maps magnified.) Chaos ensued at the start, 200+ ppl standing in a ditch in the woods. Head west!
I'm not afraid to follow others in the beginning as I get my bearings, but I'm glad in this case I only did loosely. I took a better route here, and punched ahead of the top3 women. Dusty and I were more or less together through CP5, where she took the trail instead of redline. Joe caught up to me at 5, and I stayed in sight of him to 8. I can't currently nav and run at his speed. I was feeling great, moving well, no mistakes. Through 9, I was essentially running the redline. To 10, I picked up a trail and stopped paying attention. I should have headed E along the creek; instead I continued on the trail and climbed the next hill. This was my only significant error of the day, but a big one.
Gave myself a pep talk to get my head back in it and headed towards the FH parking lot. From here, I entered the E side of the map, the MTB side. 13 to 14 was almost 2.5k, quite the haul. Trails zigzagged all throughout, but nothing good would take you there. I stayed for the most part on my bearing, using trails if they were traveling the same direction until I hit the main N/S horse trail. I was dead on for 14, which felt great. One thing I found myself using for reference points were downed trees. All of the major trees were marked and super helpful for me in terms of knowing exactly where I was along a reentrant etc. Used the trails on the E side much more than the W. Was really hungry by 18, but with no more water stops, I figured I would survive to the finish. Finished 4th behind women from Bulgaria, Russia, and Ukraine. They are so impressive to watch. Met a lot of new peeps. Awesome wknd in the woods!