|Following the pack down the trail, I noticed it's JJ way out in front. I wonder if he's read his map at all. I start yelling we need to turn left. Greg B. goes left early and I follow him, everyone is more is less with us though as we go up and over a bunch more stuff that I would have thought we needed to. Hit the E/W powerline 20 sec. behind the lead of the pack, and I choose to follow the powerline up, then the reentrant, while the pack's up on the spur. Probably not bad, but I couldn't see the pack well. Climb back up near the end and see the pack flying down, and Joe B. coming in from the left.
|Pack goes right, Joe B. goes left. I figure he did 1 as well as the pack, but on a different route, so he's good to follow. Plus he did great at the Sprint last week so he's got skills... :) After the lake, Joe cuts over to the pack early. I do so late. Comparable.
|Contour, drop, climb, repeat. Saw Gregory do his fall. Almost in slow motion, so the head wound didn't go deep. Passed him shortly thereafter as he regained composure, or something.
|Split est. More down/up/green. When I hit the reentrant I'm with Vadim, John F. and one other. The leaders are amazingly far ahead, and I'm awed at Will's split for this along the same route. I do hill intervals, but not many long hilly runs, so my hill endurance was unhappy. See Peter G. as I approach the control and I figure he's been finding better routes through the green and hilly stuff.
|Split est. See Steve G. as I exit. Had he skipped or had he just hung onto the pack well? I think it was the latter. Upon hitting the road, I saw Jon T. (I think) trying to scale a 3m cliff, so I climbed up the road with Vadim to better ground for contouring. I lost count of reentrants, and was disappointed when, after catching up to Kenny, see he was looking confused too. Contoured along climbing even higher than Kenny with 15 or so people spread out along the slope below me. At some point, a vacuum started sucking people away from one corner of the pack, and it didn't take too long for us all to converge. I was ~5 contours too high. I may have been 5th or 6th there, but I drank a lot and left well after the pack...
|Split est. But then there was this great line of people to follow downhill, Steve G. still right in front. As I punched and left, me and someone else yelled to Vadim that he'd just passed the bag...
|Had caught the tail of a pack of 8 or so. I could just see glipses of CSU suits far ahead, and Vadim and others close by. As the forest got a little thicker, Vadim got slowed and I was afraid we'd lose contact with Kenny & Boris. Fortunately, the trail we were on was windy and indistinct, so the followers (e.g. me) could cut corners, and see far ahead, and so we were slowly catching up to Kenny. After passing the big lake, I aimed a little right after Kenny went left. Apparently I dragged the remainder of the pack (that was still in contact) with me. Lots of up/down (probably more than needed) on rough compass, I kept pushing to try to lose some of the followers. I drifted further right near the end than intended, but then I had a stone wall to guide me to the hill-mass, which gave me a confident attack. Having Randy and others still following me gave me more confidence I was on track. I hestitated for only a few seconds on the trail/ridgeline to invert contours back to accurate from the incorrect initial thought (that host had to begin with) and as I dove into the control I was indeed surprised to see Will there.
|Left first but caught quickly just after crossing the dirt road bridge. Runnability was good around so I did that. I don't think I dropped at all, but the map did something flaky (I'm convinced it's the map, in retrospect as well) and so we hit the first NW/SE wall. I asked Vadim if this was the first or second wall and he said 'second'. Following the hillside, we then came across the actual second wall, and had to attack again, but that worked. I caught glipses of Jon and Will ahead, and Vadim and Boris were right with me (Randy and perhaps someone else were close).
|Long up/down vegetation-push. I was trying to aim to the right of the hilltops where it was mapped whiter, but I never quite got there. I read hilltop shapes and confirmed the little circle hill in the saddle 250m S of the bag. Coming over the next hill Will was looking confused. I'm prety sure I was leading the pack I was in at the time, so I'm not sure why Will calls it the Randy pack. Missed bag just a little right but Will sprinted in for it and took off hard.
|Exitted we didn't even have Will in sight, but we had seen him exitting on our way in. I yelled to Vadim to catch him and Vadim did pull in front of us a bit, but I was amazed that we couldn't even catch another glimpse of Will. I think we drifted left on exit/downhill. Coming up I looked hard for Will - but couldn't see him. We climbed, and started going up a reentrant, but the trail was too big and the angle a little off. I yelled to the pack that we were off, and bailed first (with Vadim right there). Randy & Boris went way around and we could have gotten ahead. But I didn't recover far enough, going to the wrong spur. I think I saw Jon T. on that spur (possibly leaving 10) so I kept looking on the wrong one until Boris came back in and then the light went back on and Boris & I climbed first we Randy and Vadim right behind.
|Split est. Boris suggested downhill and the runnability seemed right. Rough compass and vague map to the trail, to the flooded bend, up the reentrant, around the hill, eventually seeing the East reentrant with lots of encouragement from the gallery behind/beside me. I don't know who punched first.
|Contoured along the path of least resistance. Came out at vague marshes and we all stopped and turned left. Somebody behind was complaining about the hill (Randy?) and someone else said 'it's the same for everyone' (Boris). I was too tired to join that. I read the map on the way up trying to decide on a skip and dropped to the back of our little pack. From the top/saddle, we contoured in a bit. Vadim & I went right around the lake, and I intentionally looked and saw 14 on the way to 12. A blister was starting to hurt so I didn't feel like pushing up to 12. I think I was last into that (Boris & Randy had converged at almost the same time.)
|A little right of the line. Vadim and Boris were well ahead, but swung all the way to 14. Randy was ahead and hestitant (seeing Vadim & Boris, I think), but as I caught him I said 'I'm with you' or something and we dove into 13, going over a green hill we didn't need to. I drank a lot, of all the colors.
|Straight, catching back up to Vadim (but I punched after him - not sure why the split looks otherwise...)
|I had decided to skip 18 to enjoy the trail run from 17-19, Randy announced 'skip?', and others were undecided. I went to 15 and Randy to 16 (we were all together around the mountain.) But the pack stuck with me. I took a rough compass/least-resistance path down from the saddle, and Boris was getting nervous, and making me nervous, but we hit a bridge where the major trail cross the stream and everything came back into focus with easy nav. from there. From the trail/reentrant, we fanned out down the hill, covering the whole area from the reentrant to 100m west, but we didn't see a bag. We went all the way down. I saw the road/stream crossing to the East and decided we were on as Boris went a little further to confirm. Vadim decided to search further west while looking up, and there was the feature, probably 150m from the reentrant. Something odd on the map.
|Very close to the line. Boris caught back up.
|Vadim and Boris climbed more early, I used a bit of the trail and the spur as a sharp attack, which I think was better, but Vadim was ahead and Boris right behind. My blister was slowing me, and fatigue was starting to set in.
|Skip. In retrospect this looks like a poor choice. 15 being better, and 9 being even better.
|Vadim and Boris pulled away on the trail w/o a blister I could probably have been much closer by 19, but as it was I was 15 seconds behind, and handing the punch to Randy, who was coming in from 19. It looks like by our skip we had just passed Kenny (who we never saw), and that Joe was just barely out of sight behind us at 16.
|Boris and Vadim started flying away down the hill and it was no longer my blister, but fatigue that was slowing me down. After a few repeated leaps over vegetation, my R-hamstring began to cramp, and I stopped to stretch it as Randy went by. Started up 10% slower with Randy in the lead, but the timing was good as he cleared the briars in the power lines (a few at least.) Randy held us contouring reasonably high through the next two reentrants, and we came out by the building with Boris & Vadim just ahead of us on the road. They charged up the hill and I was resigned to 6th place with my cramps, but walking uphill wasn't bad for them, and Randy wasn't pushing the pace on the uphill either.
|I knew though, when we hit the flat, that I'd be screwed because my hamstrings wouldn't work fast at all. But Randy wasn't passing me, so maybe he was tired too? I just did compass work and looked for the clearing and spur crossing as an attack. Saw Boris & Vadim flying across toward the finish. Wow I didn't have that kind of gas left. I climbed what I thought was the spur in the circle (it was) but I couldn't see the clearing (it was far away - map issue.) I looked from the spur toward the bag and darn it, there was Randy - probably punching 7 seconds ahead. My odds at 5th had dropped dramatically. As I turned around I saw Kenny coming in, probably 20 seconds back. And my odds for 7th went up. Damn it!
|I was motivated by the sight of Kenny, and so was Randy, but Randy was ahead and had to navigate a little, and all I had to do was run toward him along the clearest route. He had gone to the clearing and I popped out there much closer to him that I had been at the control - thinking I might have him. And then I saw the banner, while he was still looking off to the right. My chance for 5th opened up again, and I took it. Randy did see me and chase me in for 6th... It's actually pretty nice that we were both out of gas, as it kept things interesting between us until the very end. (3rd and 4th overall (top 2 from our long-time pack of 4) seemed set by #19.) Overall a fun goat again, and with an even larger long-time pack than last year. Last year it was Vadim & I. This year, before the start, I suggested that Vadim follow Boris, as I thought Boris would be faster than me. That turned out to be good advice, but not until the very end did Vadim need to even decide between following me or following Boris...! Plus, wtih Randy there too, we had another very independent navigator (including leaving all of us to skip the better choice of # 15.)
Total Time Lost - 00:06:30