Sunday, 24 August 2014

Rocky, O so rocky

This weekend was quite a rocker on the local orienteering front. I didn't do the Kloofendal event on Saturday but I was most definitely there for the Mountain Marathon event today. This was a new map for me as I haven't been to this venue before.

Rocky Valley is exactly that - rocky. It has some open veld (where we didn't go!) and a number of rocky ridges. The more open sections had small rocks underfoot (runnable). The sides of the ridges tended to have bigger rocks - grassy in some places. Most of the area has burned at some stage this winter and it is actually a blessing because you can see the rocks. And lots of cliffs too. The map looks boulder-cliff-contour feature crazy.

A Mountain Marathon has at least 600m of climb (I think that's the value) on the longest (Brown) course. We were in for lots of climbing today. Notable was the first climb up to Control 1, also to Control 6 and the climb from Control 12 to Control 13. Lung-busting stuff! The most runnable section (for me) was from Control 4 to Control 5.

Here's my route.

Route in yellow. Red circles? Blood! I took a circle of skin off the side of my left hand -  a graze from a rock. Fortunately it was only a thin layer of skin taken off - not a cut. But now that all the dirt is out it feels like exposed nerves. It ain't a good event if there isn't blood... 
I don't move very well over this very rocky terrain. Leaving Control 9 my clubmate Brian was with me. He blitzed down the hill and I kept expecting to see him fall on his face - but he just ran beautifully and didn't trip at all. I'm far more skittish and cautious.

My nav today was spot-on; I just lose time from not running hell-for-leather on this terrain.

So, let's see where I made errors today.

Control 15 to Control 16

Looking at options... First option was to run across the top of the ridge towards Control 10, where I'd been earlier. I knew the terrain here and it would have been reasonable to go from Control 10 and down the path, below the cliffs (continuous line/row of cliffs marked by thick black lines) and to Control 16.

Second option was to head down, below the ridge and the rocks - to the more open contours and land (solid black squares / rectangles / circles are buildings). Here it was probably very runnable. And then climb up from the building below Control 16.

I thought option 2 would be better... except I didn't end up doing it. I started descending and the the going was ok over the rocks so I decided to contour instead of losing height. I passed control 11, where I'd been earlier. Nice point of certainty as to my elevation.

I actually thought that I was pretty on track and hit the marked cliffs clearly. But Control 16 was actually far lower down than expected. I would have done better to come up from the building marked below it. I ended up bum sliding down steep rocky sections. It was a steep drop down to the control... but not as bad as what I'd encounter later...

Control 23 to Control 24
It is really easy to make mistakes on the last few controls leading to 'home' because concentration wanes. I'd been out there for almost 2.5hrs by then.

I hit Control 23 beautifully (coming from 22). The ridge looked steep straight ahead (steeper than indicated by the contours) so I dropped down and then contoured. Where I really screwed up is that I wasn't totally paying attention and hadn't quite realised that Control 24 was sitting in the same valley that I'd ascended going to Control 1 early on.

What added to me making an error here is that as I was heading for my first control from the start I'd seen my friend (on a different course) heading up before I did. So I kinda had that in my head that I wanted to take an earlier re-entrant ('valley').

*sigh* As far as I can recall I mostly went where I've drawn the yellow line. In short, I took an earlier re-entrant and almost got cliffed out. I bum-slid down a tight gap that wasn't ideal (definitely not ideal by orienteering standards - fine for adventure racing...) and then had to contour below the cliffs to get to where I wanted to go. It's nonsense to be playing silly buggers on the second-last control.

As for the last control - 25... I ran the path on the way back - towards the start. I reached the grass and realised that I hadn't seen Control 25. *sigh again* There were two controls flags (individual locations) that I'd seen along the path and although I hadn't looked at them I knew they weren't mine. But then I thought... what if they are? For the last control there are always two timing devices - and the ones I'd seen were singles.

I backtracked, reached the other controls, hadn't seen Control 25, turned around again, noticed the pool of water and from there nailed the crossing bridge, the final control and the finish. I just hadn't been concentrating.

The as-the-crow-flies course distance was marked at 8.6km. I an 9.86km. I was expecting around 12km so I evidently travelled pretty directly.

Officially the women's course was the Blue one; but I love the longer distance of Brown. I was the only woman on Brown today.

My thanks to RACO for presenting this event - it was a good one!

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