Orienteer race (Ultralong champs) 2:39:04  9.5 mi (16:45 / mi) +290m 15:18 / mi
shoes: Asics Speedstar 6
Was pouring down rain, so my prep consisted of taking clothing on and off to try to get the right combination of warmth and settled on short sleeved jersey only.... but suddenly it was start time. I wasn't ready mentally.
I was scatterbrained and at the back, so I used the strategy that worked for me in the past..... follow the pack, keep an eye on the map,pick a route and get dragged along to at least the first control and maybe the second.
Except.... this time the terrain wasn't quite as conducive to dragging; after entering the woods on the twisty indistinct trail, I couldn't see a string of runners. I did see a few just ahead of me.
After a while, I just didn't like the direction they were headed so I headed a bit more left. But then all around me there were red runners and no green runners.... I even asked a few to be sure. Shhht. I guess I had to fall back to reading the manual and paying attention. Figured it out and I wasn't really that far off, just panicked a bit early. Lost time, of course. I can see how lemmings end up jumping off a cliff and dying (but why does the first one do it?)
2 direct (and by now I was back amongst green people so while I did my own thing, I also had people ahead punching)
3 followed the trail, all the away around both reentrants. Saw my MNOC greens again (Mike, Molly, Julia) and maprunner, others too.
4. Bad orienteering again, and followed Bruce and Lenny from CAOC in the distance, maprunner near me, and watched where I was going with a planned route, and we ALL were too far south and hit the road. Took the long trail back towards 4 (I will get my map scanned and gps) and then Bruce (behind me) yelled we'd surely gone to far, and I listened to him, we went back to the road, then NO... back down the trail and got it. Stupid stupid.
5. Two Fig Newtons. Yum. Ate them quick before the rain could disintegrate them.
6. Road east to path, path to small pond, pond to 6. Spike. Wow? really? Did that one well.
7. Not too hard, except I got caught in pricker bushes a lot. Hit my catching feature (the road) but not too unhappy about that... another good leg.
8. Took the paths the whole way to the big re-entrant, passing both water stops and having Gatorade at the second. No problem here, saw the MNOC people so knew I was falling further behind, but maybe not as bad as I had feared.
9. Pretty easy and nice run. Used ditch on trail as attackpoint
10. Path back to the water stop, and then decided to traverse both (no three!) ravines and just mostly beeline it to 10. This is where I saw the lead blue runners. Biz always seems so casual and intense at the same time "hiya Erin, how's it going?" as he bounds by. Tom was blasting just behind.... "Which way did Biz go?!" and others quitely slipped down and then quietly escaped over the top. I mostly just oozed down the hillside and then had to grab limbs and slowly lift myself back out. Then 100m through brambles. Whole thing took a while, but made it to 10 at about the same time the path runners did and I had been getting a little tired of myself for taking so many trails.
11. This time I went AROUND the starfish re-entrants, attacked from vegetation boundary and spiked 11.
12 I could not believe how long this leg was. I kept looking at my compass, wondering if it broke for a few minutes again, kept looking to make sure map was oriented correctly. I must have gone 2 miles before finally hitting the path, about 150 meters off. Took a few minutes to figure out which way to head (figured it out by heading the wrong way first) but then no problem to 12, 13, finish.
I don't think it was my orienteering that got me the gold; I think that my strategy was really what nailed it for me.
Strategy for Winning a National Championship
1. Pick a niche sport
2. Pick a sub-category of the sport (Night-O, Maze-O, Ultralong)
3. Tell any runner who wants to run F21+ that that is a BRILLIANT idea
4. Tell any runner who is in F55 who wants to run down that that is a TERRIBLE idea
5. Get to the event and enter it and hope that you make less mistakes than your other competitor.
For me, I needed one final step.....
6. Finish and don't MisPUNCH!
I liked the course quite a bit. I thought it offered some challenges and some good route choices. I saw other competitors at controls, but not too much out when we were picking routes so we must have gone different ways.
The whole meet was a lot of fun. Thanks so much, to Mike and Guy and cedarcreek, and others I'm sure.