Saturday, May 21, 2011

Orienteering at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park (Red Course)

2011 MNOC spring orienteering meets seem to be marked by water. It rained yesterday during the day, at night, overnight and this morning. It rained hard during the drive to Northfield and more rain from Northfield to the Big Woods. I hurried putting my O-gear on in the parking lot, unsuccessfully trying to dodge raindrops. I hurried to the shelter for registration and to the tent where I waited for my start. As I started the clock at 11:18 the rain stopped but I knew full well that this would be a wet one anyway.

The short jog across the parking lot should be one of the few dry areas I would encounter during this meet. As I dropped into the first valley, the runoff from the from the parking lot stayed with me. In spite of the steep grade there was standing water everywhere. Game trails and later park paths were worse, typically sporting ankle-deep water. I jumped the creek, from a high bank to a sandy area, delaying fording for a while. I hit CP1 square on the nose. Following the lead of an ROTC kid, I used a downed tree to delay fording some more. CP2 was not difficult either and CP3 didn't seem difficult either. Boy, was I wrong.

I had promised myself after the last meet that I would take the initial controls easy, but I must have thrown caution to the wind after success at the the easy CP1 and 2. Somehow I veered too far to the east and got completely turned around. I finally found my bearings again near the falls/dam on the creek. I made 2 extra kilometers and lost about 25 minutes. Major bummer, but as usually in orienteering I had only myself to blame.

Fortunately and as usual, things were looking up from here. I have a sense that the more out of breath I am the better my brain works, I have to put this to a test sometime, maybe by running a Yellow before my main event. The route I plotted to CP4 worked beautifully, following one of the submerged trails. I was on the right track to CP5 as well, aiming for the corner of a rectangular open area. I was looking for the ruined fence and thought I had to move a little further east when the fence told me by way of a deep gash that I had arrived. No further issues with CP5, CP6 through 11 were easy, too.The constant sloshing through water and muck were starting to take their toll on me, though. I made one odd observation at CP9, which was a fork in a stream: one of the arms of the stream had a completely dry albeit soft sandy bottom.

I think that going from CP11 to 12 I made the wrong route choice by returning to the trail and bridge instead of wading across and taking the direct route, using the edge of the plateau to move towards CP12. I did find it without difficulties and had except for starting to feel quite exhausted no trouble with CP13 and the finish either.

Running the course in 2:03:41, I finished 11th out of 25. My one major screw up on CP3 cost me at least 25 minutes and 3-5 places . Learn to live another day ... See results here.

Spent, at the finish. Photo courtesy of Andrei Karpoff
My Inov8 Mudclaw 330 did not give me any trouble this time in spite of constant immersion in water, mud and several waded stream crossings. They collected quite a bit of silt and sand on the way, which did not bother me. The deepest stretch of wading was from CP5 to 6, where the water reached up to my waist.  Despite the wetness and my poor performance from CP2 to 3, I liked the the course a lot.


iriharding said...

nice write up ... you lucked out on the 1st river crossing from CP 1 to CP2 ... I jumped in and it was up to my armpits and I had to swim. I found the very wet conditions hard work; it was rather like running in sand .

Hopefully WOBrien on June 4th will be dry !

mcarl said...

Nice blog, Christian, fun to read.