Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Sheriff - Earth Day AR - Elite 18hr

We got a big multi-day race later this year in September, so we've started ramping up our training last month again.  Earth Day AR was a nice long race where we could iron out a few things and enjoy the some night CP hunting.

Trek 1
The race started with a choice of running or biking, so we chose running.  We took a clock-wise approach to this route, starting with CP22 and ending with the far CP25.  Not too much drama to this section, except going from CP22 to 17, which I thought had some trails leading to it with the way the map was illustrated.  It did not in real life, so we carved our own trail to 17 (green circle in map below).  Nate was always bang-on with his CP sniffing.  He's been involving himself much more when it comes to navigation, which always helps offload some of my work and improves our accuracy with double-checking.  Both Greg and Nate were always great at helping me spot distinctive features in the field to help us confirm our positioning on map--things such as topology, faint trails, vegetation changes, etc.  These are very crucial things to do as a team, as the race goes on and my mind gets a little more dazzled.

can never avoid bushwhacking through palmettos in a FL race

Bike 1
I measured out every leg of this small biking section and it seemed to pay off pretty well, as some of them could have been pretty hard to nail sharply if you wing'd it.  We didn't have much issues here at all.

following a faint trail in a field of bushes

I think we're still on the trail

not sugar sand!

trying to find a CP off the trail

Trek 2 A/B
This was a very unique challenge of the race.  I started as the map commander, while Nate and Greg followed my directions on walkie-talkie to gather some controls in Juniper Springs Recreation Park.  Every control they visited had a set of UTM coordinates written on the checkpoint, which they would relay back to me to plot on map for their next control.  I just had them straight bushwhack from one to another on a few of them.

Once they picked up a handful of them, it was now my turn to go fetch some controls under their walkie-talkie instructions.  We had watched several Sport AR teams do this earlier in the day amidst some frustration, so we took it very step-by-step-like to keep it all slow and accurate.

Again, very interesting section that allowed us to rest and fuel up, and it adds more tools to our belt.

Paddle 1
There were only two controls on this paddle that took us 4.5hrs to complete.  I was able to turn my navigating mind off on this leg, and it was nice.  Greg did an awesome job communicating turns from the front as usual.

All I can think of was the middle seat for this section.  It took us about 12 minutes to attach the middle seat onto the canoe properly.  We met up with Team Disoriented here, where they gave us some tips on how to attach it.  The sun was coming down as we struggled to pilot the canoe through the narrow bends of the river with a 3-man setup.

The first time we side swiped a log in the middle of the river, the seat was literally kicked out from underneath me.  My ass instantly dropped to the floor of the canoe in a rude-awakening.  The seat, which took us so long to put on, was now so misplaced that Nate had to kick it multiple times to get it back in place.  The second time we brushed up on a corner after turning too late around a bend, my seat popped off again and rammed into Nate's shins.  This occurred so many times with our crazy maneuvering of the canoe that I don't know who was more traumatized--me and my falling into the floor of the canoe or Nate and his skin-scraped shins.  Every brush we passed by was seemingly just low enough to grab a hold of the center seat and pop it off underneath me.

our recorded GPS route

Once we got out to the giant Lake George that the St. Johns River flows through, we pushed hard against the current.  It was fully nightfall by that time and as I looked out into the vast lake and the distant port lights, I was envisioning what paddling in the ocean could be like--quite surreal.

As we neared the finish of the paddling portion, there were a bunch of boats just fishing and chilling in the channel that lead to the Boat TA.  Looked like they were just having a chill time, living the life of relaxation deep into the night.

Trek 3
This was a fairly straightforward leg that had us collecting two controls on route to the next transition area.  I had one mistake here after picking up CP45 and heading west, but in all fairness, the map had a connecting trail at (A) that we never saw in real life.  I should have counted paces here to perhaps bushwhack through across the road, but I didn't and we ran much further than we needed to.

Bike 2
This section had several control points that were located on the perimeter of a pond that was deep in the woods.  We loved it.  There was one pond that had so much life in it, you heard all types of loud frogs, crickets, alligators and who knows what else lurked beneath the surface of the nightly marsh.

There was another pond we had to find where we overshot it on the trail by about 120m.  After trekking into the woods about the distance needed to land on top of the pond and not seeing any hints of a pond (marshy grass, a clearing, etc), we used our hearing senses to hone in on the nocturnal frogs.  It was an incredible method that led us precisely to the CP.

Much of the controls on here were on pretty nice single track trails or hard gravel.  It was rather cool and pleasant for most of it.

I don't know how Craig, the race director, finds some of these controls, but the "illegal house" was very creepy, almost witchcraft-like, deep in the woods, in the night.  It was also one of those where it could have been really tough to find in the night too, but we found it almost on first try.

On the way back to the finish, I couldn't find the mapped short route to the Main TA, so we took the FL Scenic Trail back, which added 7min to the route.

We finished the race in 15hrs 40min after finding all but 1 control point, the 'hunter's stand' that we found the wrong one at (CP46).  Much easier to find in the daylight, I suppose.  We ended up 2nd in the Open Division.  We didn't stay for the awards, but that might have been 3rd overall, behind the speedy "Team Disoriented" and friendly "All Toe-Nails Go to Heaven".

We got a few back to back to races coming up and I feel the team is getting back into business again.  Much thanks to everyone who helped put this race on!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

FLX - Navigator Holder Mine, Elite 8hr

Race director Ron Eaglin hosted an 8hr orienteering event, where legendary Gord Hunter designed a marathon of a course at Holder Mine.  Gord was of great significance in our humble beginnings.

course 1

We got there a little later than we thought and had about 5 minutes to plan the route.  I chose a clockwise route starting with the lower left quadrant (the start/finish is in the middle of the map).  The first course was flowing with most control points deep in the woods.  I had full focus and held sharp bearings.  After CP116, my knees were getting torn up and you can see I was making route choices based on not having to bushwhack (going to CP204 and 115).  I was noticeably slower during the bushwhack because of it.  Once I put long pants on for the 2nd course, I was able to bulldoze through the brush, but then I was feeling the effects of the heat.  There's always a trade-off with going shorts or long pants.  You can see the temps make a jump to 97F during the 2nd half below.  I finished the first course in 4hrs 6min.

course 2

On a rogaine race, you are penalized one point for every minute you're late, so time management was key during this second half.  Up to the half-way mark, I was giving myself 10minutes for every control point, but during this second half, I was falling behind.  There was no way I could keep the speed and efficiency of the first half.

I don't know what happened to me after half-time.  I had a series of mini-mistakes until CP240, including running out of the transition area and then back to click the "start", and then doing it again--running out and then back to get more food.  Usually my teammates help me do all that other stuff, but today we were all solo to brush up on navigational skills.  Once I got to CP240, I had to tell myself 'that's enough, concentrate!'.  This course also had the same clockwise route, starting with the lower left quadrant.

Overall, it was great exercise in many areas--physical, mental, contour reading, on-the-fly route planning, and pace setting.  I finished the race with 5 minutes to spare, good for second place overall.  I also literally ran a marathon in the woods today.

FLX - Turkey Burn AR, Sport 4hr

(awaiting race recap...)