Our transition was speedy, just over 47 minutes. As we headed out on the second loop
, we still had hopes for getting all controls; about 49 km of course remained for just over 13 hours, plus a little loop by the base camp, two controls we reappropriated from the first loop. I had warned Vadim that the first checkpoint on the night portion would be the most important one. Sure enough, about 70 m short of the control, I lose my left contact lens. We looked for it for about three minutes, then marched on.
Without the lens, I surrendered most navigation decisions to Vadim, only chiming in infrequently to correct the direction or moderate the pace. This proved to be an excellent strategy, as Vadim's precise bearing work turned out to be exquisite. After some problems following ridgelines and identifying reentrants in the middle of the night, we opted a lot for precise compass, and I dislike that job and am not very good at it. The three mistakes I can discern cost us about 17 minutes, nothing unusual for night conditions. There was a questionably placed control (#311) that some teams had difficulty with at night; it ended up protested, and teams that looked for it and did not find it received its point value. We had no problems with it whatsoever, and also nailed a few that involved really difficult sidehill approaches.
Around 3 am (as is usual), it became very clear that we wouldn't get all controls. We kept falling further behind the get-all schedule, and as sun rose, did not speed up whatsoever—we just happened to get into the worst woods of the whole course. Later on, we did hit some trails and ran, but this boost in pace came too late. We ended up dropping six controls in the western portion of the course, plus the two we omitted near the base camps, for our grand total of 48 controls.
As we jogged back to the base camp, we felt that our effort was deserving enough, and the amount of mistakes we made, low enough, for our 2420 points
(of the maximum possible 2810) to contend for the win. And as we saw the results and witnessed other teams stroll in, sure enough, we did beat our main competitors, UNO Duo and Two Guys From Queens. A team who we had never encountered, Goldmembers from Quebec, came second with 2300; UNO Duo, my perennial adversaries ever since the 1996 North American Champs, were third with 2270. Alar and Ernst were hurt deadly by their strategy; their loops covered most of the terrain but left out low-value controls, so when they were nearing the finish, 1½ hours early, there were no checkpoints within their reach to add more points.
The terrain ended up much too wooded for my liking, placing an undue, in my view, emphasis on the ability to move confidently off trail. The navigation was difficult. Combined, these two factors tilted the playing field significantly against adventure racer-only teams. I shouldn't complain, we got the most benefit with two orienteers on the team, but in the interest of the development of the sport, I think the deck should be stacked more evenly. I am 100% confident that Team BART that beat Roschi and me at the US Rogaine Champs in Oregon would not have fared so well at these North Americans.
It was steep, but no steeper than in Oregon
. The hills presented us with no difficulty. Vadim was faster on the uphills, but otherwise we were never at the point of testing each other's limits. Oh yeah, there were nettles, but none too challenging for this Muscovite and the Vilniusite (is that a word?). I even ran the first loop in knee-long pants, upon seeing which on the course Barb Bryant commented, "Let's see those legs! after the finish". I ended up more tired than after the Rogaine Champs in Oregon, but less beaten up—the effort was higher but the terrain, more forgiving. My feet finished in a really good shape with few blisters, I never got dehydrated or hyponatriated (I ate a lot compared to Oregon).
The course needs measuring; the climb from the Polar is believable, although Vadim's version
measures considerably less. Maybe one day I will eventually get to leg-by-leg analysis of my dozen-plus 24-hr rogaines...