Time for a rogaine! John and I really enjoy these 24-hour orienteering adventures, and we're hoping to go to the world championships in South Dakota next August. Last weekend seemed like a good time to get some practice and start training.
One concern was doing this event a week before the Vermont 100 run (just me, John is crewing for me and Kip). Yeah, not the smartest idea I'm sure, but both races are really along the lines of training for future events so if I could keep from doing too much damage I was hopeful it wouldn't bite me in the butt.
The jury is still out on that one (stay tuned)...
So the idea was to go at a steady pace and then call it a day if anything seemed to be jeopardizing my ability to run next weekend.
Per usual in these types of things, we didn't carry a camera during the race. Here's the one photo I took before we started. John is getting gear ready in the back of our truck. The main item of interest is that this is the first picture with all my teeth looking normal again - thank you to the dentist for helping with that!
The maps were handed out and we spent an hour and a half setting up our route. It looked like a fun course with plenty of interesting options and lots of contours (i.e. climbing and descending).
The race started at noon with a mass start, and we headed south with a few other teams. The trail was a bit rough in spots but it did help us locate #43 without issue. Heading toward #63 we came at it slightly to the north and adjusted to find a couple teams just ahead of us. The control was at the bottom of a steep ravine - John took off downhill and slipped and slid to the bottom ahead of everyone. I gingerly worked my way down and got there last.
Our 3 teams moved rapidly to #22 at the north edge of a pond in a bunch of vegetation, luckily we found half-decent pathways through it. Out on the road we jogged south briefly before heading back into the woods, suddenly alone. I thought I had a decent plan for #66 but we ended up making a few errors in succession including following something that looked like a trail but wasn't and thinking "hey that could be a saddle over there" a few times and leading ourselves off track.
We must be doing pretty well on the hill-climbing because we got almost to the top before figuring out that we were way, way too high...
An open field helped us reassess. We turned west, went downhill for 700 meters and ran right into the control (just after passing another team that was also looking for it). Not our finest hour, but I guess it was good to get that out of the way early. We considered how to improve on that, and I think it helped with some of the challenges later in the race.
From #66 we followed a steep creek downhill, not the easiest descent due to the narrowness of it and some slippery rocks. We were careful and eventually got to the bottom. #20 was up a steep climb on the other side, no problem.
We jumped up to a trail and ran around to #75 where a couple other teams were coming out. Very pretty area and wide open woods around the stream - nice. We could hear traffic from below, as we were at the southwest corner of the course which is enclosed on all sides by main roads.
For the next control we debated going down early to the creek (the easy way down but a long creek walk) but decided instead to stay high on the trail and drop down the long, steep side of the large ravine. John found half-decent ways to zigzag down the steep slope from tree to tree, quite the adventure! I thought we were heading down a tad early (on purpose) but ended up landing almost right on #57. That was a close one.
The other side was even worse - very steep and not a ton to hang onto. At least we were going uphill, always easier on the steep stuff (at least for me).
Finally done with that big ravine, phew. We followed trails around and down to the main road and jogged a ways northeast to get to the north end of the loop across the way. #36 had a bunch of water jugs but also a bunch of buzzing mosquitoes (our first encounter) so we grabbed a jug and brought it back to the road to fill up our Camelbaks. That helped a little, mostly we tried to be fast and get out of there.
We took a pipeline cut down to a creek, greeting Joe, Dave, and Molly who were climbing up - hi y'all! On the other side of the creek we climbed a little trail until it crossed a reentrant and then took a bearing and contoured toward #58. The woods in here were not too open, nor were the contours too obvious. We did some searching but didn't find the control. We heard voices below us and eventually descended until we found some contours that seemed to make sense. Finally we found the nose we were looking for, climbed it, and found the control. I suspect either we just barely missed it in the first pass or we didn't start from the same trail that is drawn on the map.
John took us on some nice paths around to #50 at a clearing. My annoyance with the trails and uneven mapping continued as we aimed for #60, finally giving up on them and just climbing the long hill through the trees. It was a long climb but at least the control was at the very top and easy to locate.
From there we aimed southwest and downhill to locate the park boundary and followed it down through a drainage and back up to a road. We were now at the very southeastern corner of the course. We followed the park boundary down again, pace counting and then cutting over to find #71. We tried contouring around to #48, happy to hit the reentrant pretty close to the point.
Back to the trail and another long climb up to #41 on a spur near the top. This section sure had its share of ups and downs! My heels were started to get aggravated from all the steep stuff. Back down the big hill and over to #61 with just a bit of overshoot before correcting and finding it.
We ran down to the road (with a brief moment of unclarity about the trail right at the bottom - weird) and took a short break so I could change the band-aid on one of my heels. The wetness from creeks and all our sweating in the humidity wasn't helping, but the new band-aid seemed like an improvement. Carry on.
Back in the Connecticut Hill park, we climbed up a long trail/road to #35 and refilled from a water jug. I had slightly miscalculated the number of Spiz baggies to carry so we were one short, but we weren't too far out from the TA at that point.
We followed park boundary markers down through a ravine and up to #62 and then contoured over to #33. We had been given information about clearcuts to the west and northwest, but when we tried to go directly north we ran into another large clearcut area. Oh well, we just need to cross it and get it over with, so we picked our way over the brambles and limbs.
Just before reaching the woods again, I felt a sharp sting at the back of my left knee - yowzah! What the heck was that?? I had been stung by something, not sure what. We kept moving in case there were others out to get us. That hurt for a while, nasty bugger!
John took over the nav completely for a few minutes so I could clutch the back of my knee and swear a few times. He did a nice job finding #77 next to a pond. OK, I'm good to go again.
We ran into yet another clearcut but this time we were able to skirt it to the right. We headed down into a ravine and John turned to ask me "what next?" while at the same time we both spotted #52. I suggested we head toward "that thing over there" and grinned.
We greeted a couple guys at the control and then I swatted at something yellow that was trying to sting my ear. My ear! The bugger managed only a bit of a sting - nasty! The two guys said they had been stung also, and other folks reported similar problems later.
Time to move out! We went east through forest and 100 meters of thicket that slowed us down before finding #21 near the road. We ran up and around to #27, with me getting side-tracked by some blueberries in the field. Blueberries, yay! Hey, we're a little short on food, it's a strategic stop...
On the road back to the TA we did a quick run in to #34 and back out. Nice first loop, just under 9 hours and beating the sunset. I took a few minutes to change socks and shoes and heel band-aids. John suggested changing our wet shirts, great idea! We loaded up on nighttime gear and plenty of food, ready to go.
We went down the long hill to the west, me going a bit gingerly while waiting for my heels to feel better. We found Abby and her teammate climbing a steep rock face and decided to look for another way up. We converged on #68, hi! They were going south while we moved east, down and up through a ravine and up a trail.
Through a field, we followed tracks from previous teams through the tall grass and woods to #53. Back to the trail and through another small field, we found long narrow clearings that weren't quite so obvious on the map. After following a couple clearings north and then south, we ended up in a deep dark forest of trees all in rows.
I stopped to study the map and took a guess at where we had come. We went north and came out into an opening. Seeing a clearing to the west, John went to check it out. He determined that it wasn't exactly a clearing at eye level, just a lot of small trees that we had to wade through. For some reason all this wading around made me giggle. Over the trees I asked him to check the northwest corner (the control clue was "clearing northwest corner") and there was #23. Bingo!
We found a good trail and climbed for a while, then headed into the woods to find #65 with only a slight circle around, that could have been worse. East to #30 on a small spur, then southeast toward #69. We found the long spur for #69 but didn't find the control right away. In fact, we must have passed it while climbing up the wide spur and had to turn around to go looking again. Not so simple in the dark, but eventually we did locate the control.
Back up the spur to a road intersection. What looked like a gate turned out to be a big logging trailer with reflectors, we thought that was kind of funny. We worked together well with bearings and pace counting to reach #79 near the top of a hill, then continued this pattern over to #59 in a little stream.
This "being slightly impressed with ourselves" thing ended as we tried to find #49. We got to the area fine but had trouble on another wide spur, searching down (we believe we started above it) and then back up again. Just as we were discussing coniferous trees, John looked over to see the control reflector. Thank goodness for that!
We made our way north through a big drainage and up the other side on a beautiful unmapped trail, one of several that we just happened to find that just happened to go the right way. We were finding about 2 points per hour and I was hoping the next 3 would be faster since they were closer together.
Well, that dream went out the window as we were thrashing our way through massive amounts of vegetation crap and vines and bushes on the way to a pond. We suspect this area would be a lot easier in daylight. Eventually we broke through and circled the pond to find #67. Back around the pond, trying to avoid wet (and stinky!) spots.
There was supposedly a trail system here, but we had been warned that some of the trails were cross-country ski trails and might not be easy to follow. Happily, we were able to decipher the little reflector dots on the trees and found a beautiful trail to run down to #45. That was really pleasant.
Not so pleasant was what happened next. We followed a creek for a kilometer and it was fairly surrounded by thick vines and vegetation. At least that's all we could see in the dark. John did his best to find a way through that wasn't too awful. The "slow" part couldn't be helped. Nor the wet feet part. We eventually came upon #73 and I was just glad we didn't have to search for it up and down the creek!
Through the woods and over to the water drop at #37. We sat for a bit and refilled our water bladders. Some road, trail, then bushwhacking down to a park boundary marker and over through some more brambles to #29. John did a great job getting us from there to the road without straying into private property.
At the road I needed to sit to check on my painful heels and decide what to do. Nothing was working at this point and we were thinking about the Vermont 100 race next weekend. I didn't want to mess up my feet any more than I already had. Too bad, because we were looking forward to hitting a couple 70-pointers next. So we got up and walked for an hour and a half back to the TA. That wasn't so easy on our feet either, but eventually we made it in the early dawn.
It was an excellent training day (and night), a lot of fun, and my heels are healing now. Thank you to CNYO for a fun series of rogaine events!