Friday, 3 January 2014

Big 5 O - Day 4 (more good runs)

That's the last forest day done. Phew! Four days of orienteering are done and dusted and only the fast-paced sprint through the Botanical Gardens in Nelspruit remains.

My Polokwane bunch all had good runs again today. Unfortunately not a totally clean sweep as Mary and Tseke both missed the last control, which was located not much more than 10 metres from the very visible and tempting finish controls. This was an error made my more than a few runners. Very disappointing because all of their other controls were correct and yet they've got a DSQ.

I've been through Ephraim's course with him already and he had far less hunting for controls today - hitting more of them accurately or with just a little look around. He also seems to be correcting errors better - looking for fixed features nearby to work from.

When I came into the finish the people at the finish tent told me how one of 'my' runners totally blitzed the medium course. He started 39 minutes after another experience young orienteer and he overtook her to finish in 36 minutes. I definitely think speedy Lesedi should be on an age-category course next time.

Sitting with both Lesedi and Tebatso last night to hear their 'stories', both have superb recall of features and of exactly where they went and the tracks they used. I'd like to think that this recall would be extrapolated to the trickier courses where there is not as much road/path use. I think I'll be right on this one. Both very accurate in their telling.

I had another very fine outing today with a lot of opportunity for forest straight-line work, which I thoroughly enjoyed and I'm happy with my routes. I had two controls where I didn't hit them immediately - I've put them below to show you. I lost time, but a few minutes - not big chunks.

Control 17

I kept in controls 14, 15 and 16 just to give you a bit of an idea as to what it 'looked' like out there. The light green and dark green actually weren't too bad going. Mostly young pine trees so you can't see much ahead of you. It's just a bit of bashing through young branches.

Coming from 16 I had a good line on the ride (a ride is an open strip of forest - often very much like a broad path - often with short plants growing). My initial heading was ok and then I went down the side of a shallow re-entrant. I knew I'd overshot but wasn't quite sure in the terrain where the control was in relation to where I now found myself... I decided to head back to the ride to try again.

You can see some red on my route back to the ride. I saw a falled tree trunk and what looked like disturbed ground and thought it may be a good location for the pit feature that I was looking for. But I didn't want to randomly hunt - hoping for the best - so I stuck with my plan to return to the ride to try again. This worked like a charm although I would have lost a few minutes here.

Controls 22 and 25

22 foxed me a little. My heading was good and the description was 'between two hills'. They weren't really hills but more rocky knolls... I actually landed up on the second one but with all the green dense vegetation I couldn't tell whether the 'second' hill was to my left of right. I had a little wiggle first to my left (less dense vegetation) and realised that it must have been to my right. As I moved that way I saw Sarah - she'd just left the control which was barely 5 metres from where I'd initially landed.

I had a horrible time leaving 22 - just nasty vegetation. Loads of stuff to trip over. After the nasty experience of contouring to 23, I tried to use the tracks more. That was definitely more pleasant.

Sarah and I were just about together heading to 25 - she was just ahead of me. I got to the rocky cliffy area where I thought the control should be and saw Sarah below me looking around. She'd landed up in the same place and hadn't seen the control. It seemed like we were to the correct side of the spur... Sarah, being below the cliffs, spotted the control first, a bit more North than we had expected. And knowing what the forest is like we both headed straight up to the road instead of going through it to get to our second-last control.

Coming into the finish it seems there was quite a bit of attrition on our course today. Some women not completing the course or getting DSQs. I could end up with a pretty good placing (depends how many more runners still had to come in and what they did out there) although it is pretty depressing to see that I was almost one-hour slower than the winning Finnish runner... She definitely ran every one of those sections where I was walking!

My time was around 2h30 for 12km. It sounds slow in road-runner terms but in orienteering...things are very different.

I'm going out for dinner tonight - my first chance to play with friends. My buddy Tania is this side tonight - with the last event in Nelspruit in the morning. Looking forward to comparing routes with her.

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