Orienteering 4:28:55  29.24 km (9:12 / km) +984m 7:52 / km
slept:5.0 shoes: 201304 Inov-8 Oroc 280s
This was my first Highlander, and about all that can be said is that I survived. I started out well, but due to a series of unfortunate events, I faltered throughout the race. The key lesson is to prepare well: get lots of sleep, have the mental discipline to focus (as needed) for the duration, and do some longer training runs leading up to the race.
The first map was a single very long leg (~5k); I stayed with Will, Wyatt, and Ken for the first half, then decided to take my own route, which was ultimately a little over three minutes slower than the leaders. I'm pleased with my decision to act independently, even if the outcome was not what I had hoped.
My orienteering was very sloppy on the second map; that the north lines did not line up with the control numbers really confused me. I lost about five minutes on control 2, 30s on 3, 2-3 minutes on 4, and 4 minutes on a mishung 8. I really struggled with the 1:15 scale and made stupid mistakes that should have been avoided. I navigated alone for most of this map - I ran into Joe, Alan, and Andreas a few times. I came through the halfway point in 2:02, seventeen minutes behind the leaders.
Despite my efforts to refocus, I continued to be sloppy. My map fell out of my map case during the trail run, and I didn't notice for about 200m. I then made a wrong turn - the trail map was drawn on a contour map, but it was not an O map and lacked detail - for a cost of 5 minutes. I cruised down the trail for another 2-3 km until 2:24 into the race, when my right hamstring (or adductor) viciously cramped. I stopped and stretched for a few minutes, but I was hobbled and jogged with difficulty. I found the last bit of trail - the streamered slog through the blueberries - frustrating.
I started the fourth map at around 3:00, but my muscles were cramping and my stamina flailing. I ran 14-15 at a steady albeit sluggish pace with intermittent stretching. I found only one gallon of water at 13 and left it for the people behind me, thinking to get water at 15. Unfortunately, all four gallons were already empty at 15, even though I was in 13th at the time. The King of the Mountain - a navigationally trivial trip up a prominent spur - was agony, and I walked the entire thing. After 15, I switched into survival mode and basically walked with rare bouts of jogging. I was briefly awakened from my reverie just after 16, when Alex came cheerfully bouncing by.
My greatest failing was in preparation. After racing hardish against Giacomo the day before, I didn't get enough sleep to be ready for the Highlander. The drive up that morning with Andrew, Andrea, and Alex was taxing - primarily because I had to concentrate to stay awake. My food was adequate - 3 Gus, a pack of shot blocks at the halfway point, and a 100 kcal bag of jelly beans - but the lack of fluids after 2:02 killed any hopes I had of mustering a final effort. Despite my difficulty, I regarded the Highlander with more trepidation than was justified; it was taxing, but within my abilities. If I had been better rested, brought a small water bottle, and navigated less idiotically on the second map, I think my performance would have been much stronger. Given how poorly I was doing on the last half of the race, I was surprised to be only an hour back of the winners.
Finally, I pine for Surebridge (Shoebridge if you're Kiwi). Thanks to everyone who worked to make the Highlander happen, especially Joe for course setting.