orienteering race 2:33:53  *** 8.9 km (17:17 / km) +150m 15:57 / km
20c shoes: ASICS Gel-Kahana
Long classic distance
Klondike State Forest NY
Oh what could have been!
Of the 35 runners in my age group, I was the only one who missed a punch. The first few controls were fast compass runs through fast woods. On leg 4, I prepared for precision compass bearing but approaching target circle I was distracted by control from another course. Of course, in hindsight I should have reversed from #3 and ran the trails as I would eventually be doing. By legs 6 and 7 I was back up to speed.
From #7, I hit the trails, studied the many man-made features (trails and boundary signs) which I could use to significantly improve the rest of my race. Passing #10 and #9 en route to #8, I realised I was catching peers and I began to fantasize about a podium finish. In five legs, I moved up seven positions. Legs 9 and 10 were 8th and 4th fastest in the age group, respectively. I didn't know that at the time but I felt it.
So I decided to risk it all, plan the trail runs and run hard. From #11, the plan was SE to trail and boundary signs straight to #12 and then bounce off the trail system for the rest of the race. Approaching #11, I left trail early on the huge reentrant through very fast woods. However (in hindsight - again with the hindsight), I should have stayed on the trail to gain confidence of the exact placing of the signed park boundary and then backward to #11.
Because I didn't ever see the actual boundary beyond #11, I drifted far S and found myself lost in a maze of old logging roads, some mapped and some not mapped. We had been warned of such confusion in the course notes. My dream race seemed to have ended.
After an hour of relocating, I began visiting control 225 when I was actually seeking 217. With the clock running out, I eventually convinced myself that my description sheet was wrong. I punched 217 and went on with legs 13, 14 and 15 (slowly, as I was pretty tired) and those controls were exactly as expected.
Finding any kind of motivation, I convinced myself that I was right and control sheet was wrong and the officials would wipe out leg 12 and I better get my butt moving on the final controls in case it acually matters.
By now, the forest was emptying and volunteers were cleaning up water stations etc. My last six legs were probably as fast as the top twenty runners. However, my missed punch was a missed punch.
If I had run trails in leg 4 and if the boundary in leg 12 had been as visible as the boundary in leg 9, I would have been competitive.
I made the right decision. The risk was great. The reward was great.