Sunday, October 9, 2011

Orienteering: Minnegoat at Mille Lacs Kathio State Park

I went to bed at a reasonable time but ended waking up at 1:30, tossing and turning till about 4:00. The 5 AM alarm chased me out of bed and after some coffee, a breakfast of leftover Thai and a banana/protein shake I hit the road. The farther north I got, the wetter it got. By the time I reached Onamia a fine drizzle was falling.

Start and finish were at the horse camp a few trailers were there and things were just getting going. The MNOC members who had spent the nigh were gearing up and others, like me, were arriving.The first guy I saw was Andrei, he was still in shorts and flipflops. He had don the day 1 races and warned me that the terrain was quite technical, but also that the woods were open and runnable.

The half hour between my arrival and the pre-race meeting went by fast. A couple of labs around the parking lot and some stretches and we were lining up at the start. Apparently the organizers were a little worried over having enough maps for everyone. Extra benefit of doing the online registration: getting in line first to get dibs on a map, welded into plastic no less.

But there were maps for everyone and when the countdown was over, everyone picked up their map and the mad dash for this mass start began. Even by CP1, the crowd had started to stretch out and there was hardly a wait to punch. Mass starts do invariably cause some small groups to form. I was with Todd Peterson, Pete Wentzel, Chris Svoboda from Chicagoland and another couple guys for a while. Pete dropped us at CP6 or so and a guy whose name I do not know fell in a deep mud hole between CP9 and 10. It was one of the very few stretches where one could actually gain some by following a trail for a couple hundred meters. For inexplicable reasons he was a few meters off the trail as we crossed what looked like a dry creek bed. He sunk up to his hip and followed up with a nice belly flop. Man, am I glad that wasn't me. I arrived at the map exchange together with Todd, a Canadian fellow and the Chicagoan. I took a few sips of water, a nip of nut bar and off I went, deciding to leave my hydration pack behind. I went with the Canadian for a while and lost him someplace. Todd and Chris passed me. I found myself alone, especially after I did the one permitted skip from 7 straight to nine.

By now I started regretting that I had not taken more time at the map exchange to eat some more and to take the water along. I was running low on fuel and I felt it. I reached CP10 together with Todd, who had skipped 9. Since Todd runs better than me, I assume that I made a good choice skipping CP7.

I did not even try to match Todd's pace and instead concentrated on not making any mapping errors. Everything went well till I was closing in on CP13. Somehow I misread the map thinking that the small wetland was on top of a hill. That's where I looked for at least 5 minutes, losing precious time. I revisited the map and finally noticed the depression indicators. What a bummer. I have to face the music and get the magnifier for my Moscompass. I saw Chris S waving his bifocal running glasses at me when they were fogging up and Julia, who wears flip-ups on a pair of racquetball goggles told me about the fogging, too.

The rest was a breeze, I am very glad I made it!

Some final thoughts:

I thought that the course layout was excellent. As mentioned above, there was hardly ever a way to follow trails, streams, even contours. The terrain provided handrails in form of the many wetlands, but they were varied enough to keep me on my toes. I do prefer the regular O format but I do understand that with a long event like a goat it would take forever.

Results: 9th of 15, 2:47:40, see also MNOC 2011 Minnegoat Results

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