Orienteering race (Rogaine) 13:00:00  **
Backwoods Girl and I teamed up for this rogaine in beautiful – and very hilly - Allegany State Park. She taught me to orienteer a few years ago, and I’ve done a number of overnight races in recent years, so I looked forward to blending our respective skills.
Thanks to the practice in our rogaining workshop, the route planning went very smoothly. We put the map on a board and used coloured pins to mark high- and medium-value controls, then wrapped a calibrated string around them to represent our route. We decided to go with a main route of only 50 km, thanks to stories we’d heard about the difficulty of the terrain. We had an optional loop we could add at the end if we got that far. This was by far the most realistic plan I’ve ever made for a rogaine, and that made things go more smoothly on the course. I madly calculated points per kilometer, and made small route adjustments to improve that measurement. Backwoods Girl reviewed the route for elevation gain/loss and made adjustments so the route made more sense in that department. Then we had a brainstorm and decided to do our route in reverse. We would travel through the roadless west side of the park in daylight, then follow a gravel road that would give us nice attackpoints for a series of night controls. Then, in a burst of morning energy, we would do a hilly loop in the southeast quadrant and return to the base camp.
It started out amazingly well. Backwoods Girl and I alternated jogging and walking along the road to get our first control, then headed up the ridge for a long, hilly walk in the woods. We didn’t talk about it – we just started working together efficiently. One of us would announce that we were pace counting, and the other would lead on the bearing, which both of us would take. We’d discuss the features we were seeing and whether we thought we might be drifting, and whenever we both got nervous, we knew we would see the control within 15-20 seconds. During daylight, we only made one error of any size. We were chatting and got distracted, then had to backtrack 6 or 7 minutes through stinging nettles that were so tall we had to lift our arms over our heads as we walked. The flag was right in the middle of them. Ow, ow, OW. Otherwise, we hit everything pretty well. Our goal was to push as hard as we could until darkness on the first day, knowing that our performance would be best during that period.
We got to the water control we’d expected to hit shortly before dark, but there was still so much light that we did another two controls and made it most of the way to a third control. Then we stopped for a break to put on warm clothes and take a half-hour rest. Unfortunately, Backwoods Girl had been hit with the Bash Rogaine Partner Curse, which causes anyone who rogaines with me to fall ill or get severe blisters. Her stomach had started to act up, and we hoped that a time-out would help it.