I set the courses for today, but after a couple hours doing registration and such, even with about 6 layers of clothing, I was getting C-O-L-D. It was time to have some fun and R-U-N.
So, after loosening up a bit and losing a few layers, I made my way to the start. Orunner
was just punching the start unit, and I yelled something about "I'm after you" as he headed for the woods. I watched him disappear, waited perhaps two minutes, and then initiated pursuit.
Going to number 1, it looked like Orunner had chosen to go a little to the right, going around a pine grove to take a faint indistinct trail that led by the control. I had determined to cut through, intending to save a little time and hoping to sight my quarry as he left the first control.
No such luck. I emerged from the pines and sighted the control on a pile of junk just ahead. I'm sure my split was faster, but the floor of the pine forest was junky with lots of deadfall, and I certainly was not fast enough to make up two minutes. Well, that's okay, that would have been too easy.
I diagonalled down the hill, struggling to keep upright on the slippery snow covered but solidly frozen ground. The spikes were just not digging in, and I wasn't quite ready to risk an uncontrolled plummet. I cut a diagonal through another pine plantation, popping out close to the control number two in a shallow ditch. Katie Drinkhouse, Sara Dallman, and her faithful companion Sally (woof!) were closing in on the control. And lo, target acquired, there was Orunner, just stepping away from it.
Not sure if I punched before or after Sara, but punch I did, and as I turned in pursuit of the fleeing Orunner, I hollered something (loud enough for him to hear) about running him down like a wolf pack on a deer. I suspected he responded with word or gesture, but I was too busy moving.
Orunner kept left below the spur, going up a reentrant to the next control. I climbed early, cutting across above the shallow reentrant containing control number 5, and dropping onto the control from above, a few steps ahead of Orunner. He shouted something about "You knew where it was", to which I did not disagree. Then I was off to 4.
Control 4 was a sharp dogleg, and Orunner was coming in as I was coming out. A short fast run brought me to #5, and as I punched, I couldn't resist letting out a long, loud wolf howl for Orunner's pleasure. Best howl I've done in years. OwOOOOOO!
Six was another dogleg, and again I met Orunner, coming in as I was heading out, but that would be the last I'd see of him. Somewhere as I left 7, near the bottom of a very steep hill, I thought I heard crashing and a curse from somewhere on the hill; doubtless Orunner descending that slippery slope.
As I headed for 9, a couple deer bolted off to my left. A short pause was needed to dislodge some branches caught on my face and collar (don't ask how, I don't know.) Anyway, I had probably gone another 20 or 30 meters when I realized I'd lost my hat. I considered leaving it, but figured it couldn't be too far behind, and it wasn't far back - right where I had fought the offending branches. Still, going back for a dropped hat has cost me a race before, so after that I kicked in a little bit extra.
The rest of the course was mostly uneventful. A fairly long road and trail leg from 10 to 11, and a blast straight through the start/finish/registration area before descending to number 14, then immediately having to climb right back up to 15. Doesn't that stupid course setter know about avoiding gratuitous climb? Uhm, er, wait a minute, uh... never mind !
17 to 18 was another run right back past the finish, to cheers (or was it jeers?) of the few chilly orienteers gathered around the finish. That was followed by a nearly 180 degree dogleg out of 18, and a final sprint to 19 and the finish. Fun, fun, fun!
Later, when control pickup was finished, we adjourned to my house, a few minutes from the park for celebration of Katy Drinkhouse's birthday, re-hashing of courses, and lots of good food and good friends. Ah, it was an exceptional day!