NAOC Middle Distance Race WRE
The course: http://www.powersoft.ca/files/results_centre/maps/...
What a disappointment!
This NAOC title was there for the taking for many runners from the US and Canada, and most of them blew their chances in a big way, myself included. I opened well, with a safe route to #1, and then had a complete disaster on 2. It was a very short leg. I attacked into the circle and saw a big boulder with a knoll behind it and thought for sure I was at the control. I saw no flag when I got to the control and I just panicked. I looked to my right and saw a bunch of small hills and decided that I must be to the left of the control, since the map showed a green nothingness to the right. I went right, and nothing made sense. I decided to go back to #1 and attack again. This time I came to the exact same boulder as before, but went further and saw the control sitting behind a much smaller boulder about 5 meters away. Mike Smith, who started 2 minutes later, punched the control just behind me, and I felt devastated.
I pushed hard after this and orienteered well for a couple of controls before messing up #5, where I just could not understand the vegetation. After a small bobble on 6, the race went better and I was clean the rest of the way, feeling good physically. I ended up 19th overall, 9th North American, 4th American, and about 2:40 from Brian May's NAOC-winning time.
Brian did a great job, and I am so happy to see him win the title and choose to go to WOC next year. I remember being inspired by him when he was my teammate, racing for Team USA at WOC 2003 and qualifying for the middle distance final.
I was so upset after this race. I went and talked to the course setter and the IOF controller, and went back out to look at the area around #2. I have never protested a course in my life, but this is the closest I have ever come. My second (third?) time around, I walked from 1 to 2 and again came to the same larger boulder that was not on the map. The control was in the right location, probably, but the mapping in the circle and to the east of it was terrible. There were many small hills to the east in reality in the featureless green area on the map. I asked the IOF controller about it, and he said "well, they told me that they did not fieldcheck anything to the east of the control circle and just left it green."
I find that unbelievable. I had such high hopes coming into NAOC this year, expecting it to set the standard for what a North American high level event should be like. They got a lot of things right - terrain, atmosphere, socializing, interaction with the host town, but unfortunately they got a very crucial thing wrong: the map. I don't understand why the organizers chose to do the map in-house for the continent's most high profile event in at least a decade.
I know that I sound like a sore loser, and I surely do not deserve to win anything since everyone had the same conditions and handled them far better than I did. Still, I am very disappointed by the quality of this map and the effect it had on my race.