2006 (most recent are listed first, so to read in order you need to start at the bottom)

82. DVOA A Meet (Batona 500), Day 2 (part 1 | part 2), Pakim Pond, Brendan Byrne SF, NJ, November 12, 2006. M60 (Green-X course), 5.95 km, 60m, 36:36. Another good run, once again felt very good right when I finished until I remembered a couple of other little bobbles. Ran faster, but then the running was easier, a little more on trails, also less underbrush especially in the latter part of the course.

Mistakes -- A little off line going to 6, but mainly I didn't have a good sense of how the control sat, especially in relation to the thicker vegetation, so I had to spend some time stopped to figure it out. To 9, should have gone straighter. To 10, definitely should have gone straighter. To 15, this one was really bad, just not in control. Leaving 14 I was trying to keep up a good effort (I'd been pushing the pace all along) and was having a very hard time forcing myself to keep looking at the map and planning ahead. Took a couple quick looks, decided to take the trail to the left, when straight would have been fine. Then lost track of where I was on the trail, got back in touch crossing the next trail but then just sort of wandered over to the hillside, too far left as it turned out. Mainly just mentally lazy when getting tired, not good. It wasn't that I made a big mistake or was really in danger, just very sloppy mentally. And that will always get you.

Altogether maybe a minute or two. The rest I was sharp. Same as yesterday.

81. DVOA A Meet (Batona 500), Day 1, Batsto, Wharton SF, NJ, November 11, 2006. M60 (Green-X course), 6.35 km, 90m, 43:24.Pretty good run, one of those where you feel pretty good about it when you finish, at least until you start thinking back on the course and remember a few things that could have been better. Physically felt good until on the way to #12 -- perhaps the underbrush was a little thicker than earlier, more likely I was just getting a little tired and losing my willpower.

Mistakes -- got off line going to 8 and misread (or couldn't read) the contours, thought I was looking for a knoll on a gradual slope, only realized after staring at the map for a quite a while that it was on a low ridge. A little off line to 10, but not much harm done since I was moving the whole time. Off again to 11, didn't look carefully enough at the map to see my line was over the right side of the knoll. Got uncertain on the way to 14 so went down to the trail on purpose. And finally a bit flustered on the way to 17, missed the little trail. Altogether maybe a minute or two. The rest I was sharp.

80. Training, Batona 500. Useful to have a look at the mapping, although the area had more young pines (light green, less visibility) than the competition area.

79. Hudson Highlander

78. Wine-O (loop 1 | loop 2)

77. North American Champs Long

76. North American Champs Middle

75. North American Champs Sprint

74. CNYO A Meet Classic (part 1 | part 2), Lime Hollow Recreation Area, Cortland, NY, September 24, 2006. Blue course, 10.0 km, 230m, 83:34. Much better run. Different terrain, suited me much more. Felt like I got off to a bad start, not from making mistakes, just felt really slow, especially getting to and leaving #4, lots of muck and undergrowth. But I was hitting the controls and my routes were good -- the right hand swing coming in to #3 was just because that was where the running was better. I had a bit of trouble at #5, not picking up exactly which part of the high ground the control was on, but just a few seconds lost, then heading to #6 I went back the same way I'd come in -- up to the trail by the lake was a little faster I think, but at least this way I knew where I was going right from the start, no hesitating to figure it out.

And things kept going pretty well, including the rain starting which felt nice and cool, and my running/energy seemed ot get better. With all the trail segments, plus some nice sections of white woods, I was doing better than usual these days at reading ahead -- had a good image of the lay of the land around 6 and 7 and was very efficient there, ditto into 8, thick getting to the first knoll but then along the high ground and right to the control. And so on, most of the way. Took a windy route to 19, on the trail as long as possible, but my split was ok so I think it didn't lose anything. Only place I would do different was just before #20 -- thought I had reached the last cross trail when in fact my trail was just taking a right turn, so I kept going straight through abour 30 meters of crap, only to pop out on the trail right by the little building. Could have saved myself 30 seconds by running around to the right. Just before this I had taken a hard fall, and maybe that had something to do with.

Overall, couldn't have done much better, other than falling less and running faster.

73. CNYO A Meet Middle, Hope Lake Recreation Area, Virgil, NY, September 23, 2006. Blue course, 6.3 km, 215m, 61:29. Same terrain as the morning, just more of it. Not a good run at all. To #2, should have taken either the direct route or the lower trail. To #3 got through the thick stuff ok but was further right than I realized, then the forest got a bit thicker, didn't dawn on me that I was right f the trail and in the light green part until I popped out on the road. By the time I got to the control, Randy (started 2 minutes after me) was just about there. Hustled off to #4, good the first part, but meant to go straight downhill to one more trail, than follow it to the control, but somehow couldn't make myself do it, turned right, over to the small stream bed, stood there for a bit to be sure I was where I thought I was, then down the stream to the control. Then to #5, meant to contour across, but kept climber, just made the route hillier and longer than it needed to be.

Did I mention I got #1 just fine? Of course you could see it from the parking lot....

OK for quite a while, though I wonder about a couple of routes. To #7, there was a bunch of slash on the ground on the direct route (green diagonal stripes on the map), slows me down a lot, I think down to the stream and then up along the vegetation boundary might have been faster. To #12, I don't know what was best. The rough open was, well, rough, I was falling about every 100 meters, makes me wonder if all the way around on the trail and in the back door was better. Anyway, made it to 17 ok, then botched 18, came over the edge and unfortunately saw another control off to the right, went to it, was my #7 from the morning sprint (though I didn't realize it at the time), back to the left a little too high, then finally saw my control below me. And to 19, wandered a bit getting over there, plus hesitations along the way.

72. CNYO A Meet Sprint, Hope Lake Recreation Area, Virgil, NY, September 23, 2006. Red/Blue course, 2.5 km, 78m, 17:34. A weekend of three races, sprint Saturday morning, middle Saturday afternoon, and classic on Sunday morning. Ran M21 in all, seemed reasonable as long as I don't embarrass myself and gave a chance to see more of the map/terrain.

Sprint run left something to be desired. Botched the second control, didn't read the vegetation right and went too far, Also, didn't yet realize that the light green forest was better than the rough open (which was miserable if you had an early start time). I think the left route, down to the main stream bend and then hook a right was quicker. Got company in the vicinity of #5, catching up to Jonathan Campbell and being caught by Ross Smith. Kept Ross in sight until about #7 and Jonathan a little longer, but I should have pushed harder (and hesitated less) to keep them in sight longer. Have to take advantage of others when you can, because everyone else is. Overall, should have been 30-60 seconds faster, that's a lot in a sprint.

71. Farsta (loop 1 | loop 2), Sprint Finals weekend, Hickory Run SP, White Haven, PA, September 16, 2006. A little more excitement than I expected right off the bat -- the stream was flowing quickly after heavy rains the day before, and it swept me off my feet on the first crossing on the way to #1, took me downstream maybe 20 meters over the first of a set of rapids before I could get to the other shore. At least I hung on to my map!

Woods were thicker and rockier than I expected, especially in the first half of each loop. The format was two loops, forked, so you were not sure how long you might be with someone or if they were going to the same control. I got the first couple ok, but then forgot that it was a 15,000 map and miscalculated the distance to #3 and pulled up 100 meters short and did a search right and left. The contours didn't look quite right, but I took a while to figure out what I'd done. 4, 5, and 6 were in a tricky little area, then up to 7 the woods were wide open and easy, then to 8 wide open again, but rocky. All by myself for quite a while and wondering how far back I was.

At the map exchange I got to see the other forks, and glad to see I could do the stream crossing a little further upstream. When I got to 2, there were Ross and Greg, that lifted my morale, though Ross disappeared immediately. I hung on to Greg, more or less (doing my own navigating, but keeping an eye on him), as he slowly pulled away and out of sight in the vicinity of 7.

A fun event, lots of variety of orienteering and an excellent course, just a bit rockier, thicker (in places), and wetter than I would have cared for.

70. UNO Camping Weekend, day 2, Pawtuckaway SP, Raymond, NH, September 10, 2006. Blue course, 8.4 km, 85:58. Good run, no misses of any significance, only problem was really slowing down (physically) any time it got thick -- such as the first half of 5-6 and all of 12-13. But in control all of the way.

69. World's Hardest Night O'. Pawtuckaway SP, Raymond, NH, September 9, 2006. Blue course, 6.3 km, 135m, 1:48:43. Made it around without any panic attacks. Only one bad control, #6, quite lost/confused, saw Ross on his way towards 7 and went where he was coming from. Still not sure what I did. The rest was good, though it changed after #6, when I was no longer with a smallish pack of people running, and again just before #8, when I separated from a couple of walking companions and was on my own the rest of the way. Walked everything from #6 on except for the trail/road at the end.

Not a very competitive time, but I didn't expect one. Quite good fun for the most part, a little anxiety at times, but mostly just going slowly and checking off every feature.

68. UNO Camping Weekend, day 1, Pawtuckaway SP, Raymond, NH, September 9, 2006. Blue course, 8.5 km, 84:08. Decent run, no big problems, a few little misses (1, 2, 4, 5, 15) all corrected quickly. Good routes, most of the time on good handrails (either contours or along marshes), which makes it a lot easier.

Wyoming/Colorado (August)

67. US Champs, Day 2 (without my route | with my route), Buena Vista, CO, August 20, 2006. Red course (M45), 8.3 km, 295m, 73:03. Quite a different day. Really cool terrain, tough orienteering, a map that was very accurate but virtually impossible to read in places while moving. Partly because we (Red and Blue courses) were using a 1:15:000 version, partly because the printing was not good, and partly because of the huge amount of stony ground that was mapped.

The scale would have been ok if there hadn't been the other two problems. The printing was both not sharp, and also the yellow and blue were very light, very hard to see. And all the black dots for the stony ground just made it a lot worse.

The stony ground in reality wasn't a big deal. The terrain had a lot of pinion pines that you had to run around, and some rocks that you had to round around, but I don't remember every thinking, wow, the ground is rocky and I have to avoid the areas that are mapped as stony ground. In the terrain it just wasn't a big deal. But on map it obscured the contours, the stream bottoms, and the rocks and cliffs. What could have been wonderful orienteering -- because the terrain was really wonderful -- became an exercise in damage control and slow motion orienteering. Which was really too bad.

To 1 (more detail, blown up 50%), almost impossible to figure out what the contours were doing witout standing and staring at the map forever, so I took the small trail to the road and then up to the smaller trail and then spotted the pile of rocks. Really felt insecure. Out to the road to 2, a very careful look at the map discovered a stream and stream junction to use, and I spiked it. Due east to 3, left of the cliff, then swing to the right a little and there it was.

A long gradual uphill to 4, weaving around the trees, across the main trail then up to the flattish semi-open area, then up the spur to the control. A little to the right of the line to 5, both to check off the big cliff just after crossing the dry stream and then to approach the control along the back side of all the rocks. So far, so good, though it felt really slow and frustrating.

At some point I had decided to take the trail to 6, so that's what I did, though I think think straight was faster. Was a little to the left of 6 coming in but saw it because of the good visibility. 7, 8, and the first part of 9 were easy, much less cluttered terrain. The last part of 9 I was stopping all the time to figure out what was on the map. Spiked it, just slow. Then south, across the trail, check where I was crossing it, down an intermittent stream, into the semi-open area, curve around to the right -- whoops, that's #3 I'm heading for. Corrected back to the high ground, then carefully worked my way down to 10 but still missed it to the left, more open areas there between the rocks and it took a bit to figure out where I was, maybe a minute or two.

11, 12, 13 ok, but really screwed up 14. Didn't have a good plan, came in from the right although the approach from the left was simpler (even if hillier), came down the hill a reentrant too far to the left, and then when there was no control in the rocks there, I wasn't sure what to do. Probably spent 3-4 minutes wandering, trying to read the map, never went more than 50 meters, things just didn't made sense. Finally went around a little more to the NW and there it was. Very annoying to end up a decent run (under the circumstances) so badly. Second on the course for the day, first in M45 by a good bit.

And think how much more fun it would have been with a readable map.... Because it's a great area.

66. US Champs, Day 1, Buena Vista, CO, August 19, 2006. Red course (M45), 7.2 km, 390m, 61:57. I run on part of the map last year, so I had an idea of what to expect, a mix of wide open areas and very rocky areas. As it turned out, the first half of the course was mostly new terrain, pretty simple, though I botched #2, just not paying attention. Even with very little detail on the map it was hard to see the yellow unless it was full open yellow.

7 to 9 were in the rocks, though they were all pretty easy to simplify. i.e. to get close to while still out in the easy-to-read open areas. I had no problem with 7 and 8 -- to 9 the feeling was, What am I looking for here, the map was just a black jumble. Tried to keep my line up through the rocks, came just about to it but didn't see the control, looked left, not there, back to the right and there it was. Was supposed to be a rocky dot knoll, sure looked like a cliff, but I had found it so who cares. (More detail, blown up 50%)

Around to the left to 10, trying to cut down on the climb up from the deep reentrant (we were at 9200' and I was really moving slow and suffering), that was ok even if not the fastest, then ok the rest of the way, just slow. A general discontent at the end for how slowly I'd been going, also a feeling that it was a pretty easy course. A number of people ahead of me on the course, though I was first in 45 by three minutes.

65. US Champs, model, Buena Vista, CO, August 18, 2006. A very small model map, printed at 1:10,000. Took a look around, then beat a hasty retreat up the hill to get back to the car just before the hailstorm arrived. Map seemed a little hard to read, combination of lack of sharpness and hard to see the semi-open yellow. Contours seemed fine.

64. 1000-Day, Middle Distance A Meet, First with the Most, Laramie, WY, August 17, 2006. Blue course, 7.1 km, 240m, 56:33. Blue course because it was quite short and to avoid another loss to the WOC stars (Samantha and Hillary). Not a good run (52-53 would have been good). Not too much energy and some bobbles, especially at 9 and 15. Had ok routes for both and good plans, but just didn't read the rocks right in the last 50-100 meters. Went out afterwards to pick up controls and to see where I'd been. I think I was just in tunnel-vision mode, both for looking at the map and looking in the terrain. Got to keep working on that, mainly I think it's just laziness.

63. 1000-Day, Crystal Relays, Antenna Hill, Laramie, WY, August 16, 2006. Leg 3, 5.0 km, 280m, 42:59. On a CSU team of Ross, Kat, me, and Boris, led from start to finish, no bad legs and very good ones from the other three. My only real problem was getting to #1, got caught in a deadwood jungle towards the bottom of the first hill, lost a couple of minutes. But I'd gone out with a lead of 5, so I still had a break over anyone behind. The rest of the way I was clean (it was pretty easy orienteering, no cmplicated areas) and energetic enough to give Boris the same 5 minute lead, which he stretched out to 10 minutes or so by the end. Excellent.

62. 1000-Day, Team Sprint Fundraiser, Gates of AMT Hell, Laramie, WY, August 15, 2006. Just walking putting out controls (not in the right order). Saw several deer.

61. 1000-Day, US Night O' Champs, The Lights of Cheyenne, Laramie, WY, August 14, 2006. Red course (M45), 8.8 km, 84:54. Not a good run, though I'm no fan of night O' so I suppose it wasn't really so bad, especially after I got past #2.

A cool evening, started just before 10 pm (when my body was ready to go to bed), new map (in part). I had a Petzl Duo for light, not terrible, no near so go as the headlamps made for night O'. I was struggling the whole time both with reading the map and reading the terrain. Old eyes....

Very uncertain going to #1, mainly just not allowing for the 15,000 map and thinking things would come sooner, plus I cicled a bit on the rocky knoll before I spotted the reflective control. So maybe a minute or two wasted. Off towards #2, went right by #8 (even checked the code to be sure I was where I thought I was), then worked my way over below the trees to the fence line. Thought I knew what I was doing after that, but I sailed past it and along the slope, peering into the trees, for longer (much longer) than I should have. Finally turned around, coming back the same way, still nothing. Not sure at this point if i would ever find it. Headed south towards the fence, the terrain looked rather flat, maybe even a form line knoll, maybe the one on the the map, I thought. If it was, the control should be to the NW. Headed that way and almost immediately saw the control.

Never saw (on the map or in the terrain) the distinct reentrant west of the control. Should have made contact with it....

Don't know I much I lost (6 minutes?), but time to get going. Ran hard to #3, had someone I'd met at 2 on my tail and wanted to shake him, moving good. To 4 I get too far left midway, just couldn't stay on my line it seemed, but was right on at the end -- coming up the last hillside I had the sense I was going to nail it, and there it was! To 6 was ok, though slow up the hill through the sage, and 7 was good. To 8 was also good, except for taking a swim -- thought I was at a good place to cross the creek/marsh, jumped, landed in waist-deep water, lost my balance, the only thing that stayed dry was my map arm and my head.

I was quite cold and would have been worried about my batteries (strapped to my lower back) if I'd thought about it, but the uphill to 8 took care of the chill and I spiked the control for the second time.

Almost done, I thought, but into and especially out of 9 was a pain. Going in was a perfect example of where a better light would help -- I was struggling to be sure I was staying in the right reentrant. And then going out, the woods were terrible, a combination of juniper and deadfall, thought I would never get out.

Mixed feelings overall. I'd obviously screwed up, but I have low expectations for night O' and I felt rather pleased that I'd hung in there and finished. Ended up 4th in M45.

60. 1000-Day, WS Champs, Day 2, Superfly Marsh, Laramie, WY, August 13, 2006. Red course, 7.4 km, 285m, 57:48. A better run, once again a little carelessness at the end though not so bad as the day before. Actually started off a bit shaky, went in to #1 not having a good idea of how it sat in the terrain. Hesitated a bit, but kept going and saw it. A left swing to 3 made it easy, just over the top of the hill, and I hit 4 perfectly, makes it easy if you have a nice uphill walk to study the map, and 5 through 7 were not perfect but good enough.

The middle of the course was mostly just hard work, lots of sage, no problem finding the controls, and by 14 I was getting rather tired. But I caught up to MC at the control and so I had to do 15 as quick and well as I could (there was a witness after all), which I did, but then to 16 I turned up the hill too soon and had to cross several reentrantrs/spurs -- staying low would have been better. Thought I learned my lesson to 17, stayed low, but stayed low a little too long. No real harm done, though, and overall a good run.

59. 1000-Day, WS Champs, Day 1, Twin Boulders East, Laramie, WY, August 12, 2006. Red course, 8.0 km, 280m, 62:11. A day of "normal" orienteering (no sprint, no chase, no mass start) on some new terrain. Had a good run up through #10, but then missed 11 and 14 and was shaky going to 15 and 16, and ended up down a bit in the standings. At 11 I was quite pleased with myself for running all the uphill but when I got to top I just thought that I need to go between the knolls and down to the point and I'd be all set. Except that I went between the wrong knolls -- didn't notice there was more going on, and didn't check my compass. Got down a ways, things didn't look right, figured out where I was, but felt like an idiot. At 14 I turned left at the end of the rocks, thought it would be right there, but I had turned a little too much, and wandered a bit before I saw it. Should have been looking around more sooner.

To 15 was a bit strange. I got scared off by the steep, rocky renentrant going down to the stream just left of the line and then the jumble of rock after the stream, so I planned to take a wide left swing on the trail (it looked better than wide right). Got down to the stream, saw this nice reentrant heading up and thought, what the hell, straight will be more fun. And it wasn't particularly hard either. Should have gone straighter in the beginning too. Likewise to 16, straighter at the start would have been better. And likewise to 17.

Looking at the splits afterwards, it was interesting that one leg I did well on was the long uphill grind to 10. Ran just about all of it and had one of the best splits. Whereas to 8 I was not too good, the low route at the start was faster.

58. 1000-Day Chase, Pelican Bay, Laramie, WY, August 11, 2006. 6.6 km, 180m, 43:24. Chase start, had Mark Everett and Andy Strat right in front of me and JP right behind. Mook was out of sight by the time I reached 4, and Andy was last seen leaving 6, but Tom and Ted missed a little early and Ernst a little at 10, and so there was a group of us together for the second loop (though we were almost one less -- an elk with a full rack came whipping out of the trees in the vicinity of the numeral "2" heading SW and crossed at full speed no more than 15-20' in front of Tom. I was about 10 yards behind Tom and had a good view, and also was quite happy (for both of us) that it wasn't any closer.

Anyway, the rest of the run was good fun, the same physical struggle as the day before at the Stampede to keep up, but with more interesting orienteering, which offered chances to get ahead. I took my own line to 15 and it was right below me as I came down the last slope, and that was just fine,

57. 1000-Day Prologue, Idonwannabe, Laramie, WY, August 11, 2006. 2.5 km, 65m, 17:56. Another sprint, this one to be followed a couple of hours later by the Chase, where the start order would be based on the results of the Prologue. A 15,000 map again, which doesn't make things easy, but it's not that it should be impossible.

I had an ok run, but not quite what I hoped. OK for the first 3, but not really paying attention to 4, needed to stay on the gentle slope but wandered to the right and checked out some rocks that I was hoping might be a knoll. No such luck. To 5 I was just slow, not getting a good line through the sage and rocks -- rounding the east side of the cliffy area I also had to skirt a fallen tree that just happened to be there. Not a mistake, but 10-15 seconds gone. To 6 and 7 I was really struggling with the map reading. Had a good line to 6, but was relying too much on spotting the control and too little on knowing where I was (a big boulder on a knoll to my right should have made things obvious, but I was running hard and just couldn't see it on the map). To 7 I got quite confused, partly because I was forgetting it was a 15,000 map, and so things took longer to get to -- so my pace wasn't so good, and then I stopped short at a smaller knoll. 8 was easy, then a little slow up to 9 through the rocks and to 10 through the sage, and then I was done, exhausted as usual after a Laramie course, even if it was only 18 minutes.

56. 1000-Day Stampede, Plutonic Pleasures (part 1 | part 2 | part 3), Laramie, WY, August 10, 2006. 5.7 km, 300m, 45:24. Mass start, 2 small loops (half the field in one order, half in the other), and then a common longer final loop. Hillier terrain, mostly pretty open, though the two little loops were in a more detailed area.

The usual chaos at the start, but I managed to not make any mistakes and found myself in the company of Samantha, Hillary, Ernst, and Tom Carr for most of the first two loops. The loops were quite similar, so on the first one there was the possibility, if you were alert, of checking out where the points on the second loop would be. Even so, the loops served to liven up the first part -- there wasn't just a long train of runners heading off over hill and dale.

I opted for the road route to #1 on the third loop, was by myself, but got to the control at the same time as Sam/Hilly/Ernst/Tom and also Ted Good, so it neither gained nor lost anything. Then it was just a matter of trying to keep going to stay with the group on the gradual inclines out of 1 and 4 and then the steeper climbs up to 3 and 4. I was a touch behind reaching 4, and then took a higher route to 5 than Sam and Hilly and by the time I saw them again on the open slope before 5 they were 50-75 meters ahead, a gap that only grew on the rest of the way in. But I held off Errst and Tom, and was quite surprised at the finish to find myself in 9th, only 3 minutes off the best time. A good improvement over the Stampede in 2004 when I was about 20th.

55. 1000-Day Opening Sprint, Diamond Bay, Laramie, WY, August 9, 2006. 3.0 km, 70m, 19:35. We had spent the two previous days in Boulder, but the thin air in Laramie (most of the terrain was about 8,500') was still a bit of a shock to the system. And running a sprint on a 1:15,000 map was a bit of a shock to the eyes. But it was still a pleasure to be back in Laramie -- good terrain, good runnability, and lots of fun.

Had an ok run, but made several small errors due to not reading the map well enough -- a little too low on 2, turned in a couple of boulders too soon at 3, checked out a knoll too soon at 7, stopped short at 8, and too far left/low at 11. But none were more than 15 seconds, and most less. Ran hard, until I started to fade on the way to 9, all of a sudden it wasn't a matter of trying to run fast, but rather just trying to keep running at all! Ended up 4th, 27 points in the Sprint Series.

Switzerland (July)

54. Swiss 6 Day, Day 6, Sunnegga, Zermatt, Switzerland, July 22, 2006. M60, 4.0 km, 120m, 38:26. Not a good run. Legs might have been a little tired, though they didn't feel bad, just did some bad orienteering. To 2, I confused which the big boulder was which I saw above me, so I was too high, but I also wasn't reading the rest of the stuff well. And to 5, just made a mess of it at the end, too low. Several others were a little shaky, not bad but not really smooth. On the other hand, I managed to summon up my willpower to run hard at the end (not that it mattered), got the best splits for the class for the last two legs. 3rd for the day, 1st for the week.

And a really fine week it was, right up there on the all-time list.

53. Swiss 6 Day, Day 5, Zermatt, Switzerland, July 21, 2006. M60, 3.1 km, 110m, 29:04. Supposedly something between a sprint and a middle distance, all I know is that it was really fun, and also really hard to run clean and fast -- so many decisions, so many turns, so many things to keep track of where you were at the moment and to also be thinking about with regard to where you wanted to be going. A really good test of O' skills.

I had a very early start, 8:08, which was mostly good -- cooler and less green in the terrain (pedestrians). The only downside was that the grassy slopes were still wet and slippery. I had it going pretty good at the beginning, but then spaced out for a moment on the way to 7. Suddenly realized I must have gone too far, turned around and managed to figure things out with any extra lost time. Across the river seemed to be where people had problems. I wasn't happy with my route to 11, it was very steep and slippery climbing up the hill, but I'm not sure what would have been better, maybe the low route to the right and then up the switchbacked path at the end? And towards the end I had trouble a couple of times remembering what I'd planned to do -- came out of 14 the wrong way before I'd realized it, left 15 and had to stop and look at the map again to remember that I wanted to go left to cross the bridge. The little things add up.

In general my plan was to stick to the bigger roads as much as possible, fewer turns, fewer decisions, could probably cover ground faster, and that seemed to work well. Also, there were little wooden fences surrounding most of the yellow areas, nothing to bother someone younger, but not easy for me to get over quickly. So here too I took sometimes a more round-about route, like the last bit to 12, down and then up on the road instead of cutting across the field.

I finished, waited around a few minutes, a handful of times went up, I was ahead by 4 minutes, with third a couple minutes farther back. I figured someone would beat me by a couple of minutes. Went and had breakfast, then a long hike, then came back to see that I was still in first, with second and third still the same, and a lot of good orienteers with pretty bad times. As I said, it wasn't easy, though some people might have thought it would be.

Zermatt to Platthorn via Trift, and back, July 21. After the city sprint. A long hard effort, with a rock scramble at the end, pretty cool, glad it wasn't any steeper.

52. Swiss 6 Day, Day 4, Schwarzsee, Zermatt, Switzerland, July 20, 2006. M60, 4.8 km, 290m, 40:31. Very good run, just one silly mistake on the last part to #10, misread the hillside at the end and found myself 2 lines too hign. But the rest was fine, and a good effort too on the long uphill from #5 to the finish. First in the class by about 3 minutes. Mostly good footing, usually just scattered rocks, and I'm sure that helped.

Schwarzsee to Hornlihütte and back, Zermatt, July 19. The rest day. A lot of people, a little exposure, still pretty nice.

51. Swiss 6 Day, Day 3, Trockener-Steg, Zermatt, Switzerland, July 18, 2006. M60, 4.8 km, 250m, 42:35. Back up high again, mostly around 2,900 meters. No trees, no bushes, not even much grass, just rocks and sand/gravel. But spectacular terrain. The only problem was they kept our course on the center/west part of the map, while most of the really cool stuff was on the east side.

Blew the first control for the third day in a row. This one was really stupid ­ it's a tough control unless you realize that a phone line runs just to the west of the control, with a pole no more than 20 meters away. But I saw the line/pole neither in the real world nor on the map ­ it just didn't register. So I was very slow going down the rocky slope, and checked out another control in a reentrant just up the slope from mine. When I got to mine, it was once again the feeling, I sure hope this is mine. Even as I left 1, going right by the pole, it still didn't register, though at the end going up to 12 the pole there helped a lot.

For the rest after #1 I was pretty much right on, orienteering well and running as hard as I could in the thin air. At 4 you were pretty much right at the edge of the glacier. At some point on the way from 6 to 7 one of the 21E runners went by on a similar leg, and he was moving a good bit quicker. I tried to pick up the pace, but, well, he was still moving a good bit quicker. That's why I'm not running 21E.

The end of the course was a struggle physically, up to 12, traverse to 13, then up a little more to 14 and the finish. At that altitude it isn't easy.

50. Swiss 6 Day, Day 2, Grünsee-Riffelbalp, Zermatt, Switzerland, July 17, 2006. M60, 3.2 km, 250m, 34:04. Lower down, around 2,200 meters, part in the trees and part on open slopes. Steeper and rougher than yesterday, plus it wasn't a downhill course, so the climb was about 8%, including about 125 meters on the leg from 5 to 6.

Started off a little shaky again, stumbling a lot on the short traverse to #1, then spiking the wrong control, but the recovery was easy. To #2 it was probably about the same, over vs. around the first spur, most important was to be sure where I was crossing the clearing just before the control. None of the controls were difficult, but the "running" up through #6 was pretty bad. Most difficult actually was the footing, especially going down ­ rocky and uneven, it took some nerve and some foolishness to really let go. After #6 the running got better and it was just a matter of keeping the eyes open and running as fast as possible ­ a whole lot more pleasant second half of the course than first half. Finished first again, the result of no one else having a clean run. It seemed that there were maybe 10 that could beat me if I had a semi-decent run, and maybe 3 or 4 if I had a good run, if they also had a good run. On pure running speed only a couple were faster.

Unterrothorn to Oberrothorn, then down to Blauherd, Zermatt, July 17. After my day 2 course. Gorgeous.

49. Swiss 6 Day, Day 1, Gornergrat-Riffelberg, Zermatt, Switzerland, July 16, 2006. M60, 4.4 km, 110m, 33:15. Up above treeline, make that way above treeline, got a good look at the terrain (and a few controls) riding the train up to the start at about 2,950 meters. I think we'd been told that the first part was very rocky and it was, just one giant boulder field. I took what I thought was a safer route to #1, up and around and then down, but I still got in the vicinity of the control and had no idea whether I was too high or too low, too far right or left, though based on the reentrant to my east, I ought to have been pretty close. Not sure how I found it, I think I got some help from others in the area.

#2 wasn't much better. Tried to get out of the worst of the rocks as soon as possible, but was having trouble reading the map, especially as I got closer to the control. I thought it was a broader hill mass ­ 2 dot knolls followed by a slightly larger knoll ­ but it was actually a very small spur and reentrant followed by a small knoll. Ended up being one of those controls that when you spot it you say, boy I hope that's mine. Not a good feeling!

After that things got better, as I tried to focus on the bigger features and look further ahead and pick up the pace. Pretty clean thereafter and good speed, enough to squeeze into first place thanks to everyone else having a bad control or two also.

One other thought. While this is a serious international event, there is little of the self-imposed pressure that I felt at the WMOC. I think that's mostly due to the fact that this runs for 6 days, with the best 5 counting, so everything doesn't depend on just one day. And therefore when a mistake is made, there's not the same sense of doom, the easy sliding into panic, that can happen so quickly at any moment at the WMOC final. It also may be that the competitive level is a little lower, so there's not the feeling that I have to run clean to do well. Here there is a little margin, don't have to be perfect.

Hiking/running, both for the sheer enjoyment, and also to get so altitude training:
Hillside above Saas Grund (up 50/53, across on 51, down 49, across on52), July 15
Spielboden (2448m) down to Gletschergrotte, across/up to Oberi Schopfen, down to Gallenalp and then the bottom of the lift (1798m), Saas Fee, July 14
Kreuzboden (top of the first lift) to Saas Grund (via the yellow marked trail), July 13
Eggishorn to Fieschalp, Fiesch, July 12, had a map, can't find it.

48. Grindelwald National A Meet, Grindelwald, Switzerland, July 11, 2006. 4.1 km, 100m, 42:10. 2nd in H60, 2 to 3 minutes behind Kurt Huber, an old friend and one of the top couple of Swiss in the class ("kurthu" on AttackPoint, he has a blog if you can read German, and lots of maps posted there even if you can't).

Not a good run. Had trouble relating map and terrain, especially the mapping of the vegetation., plus very bumpy and rocky footing that I seem to have trouble in. Missed the first one, looking too soon while it sat down lower (as the clue said!!). OK to 2, 3, and 4, but then botched 5 (way too low) and 6 (too far right, wasn't reading the contours right). Wasn't bad the rest of the way, but still finding it more difficult than it should have been. I think maybe I don't deal so well with the rough footing.

47. Davos National A Meet, Drusetschewald, Davos, Switzerland, July 9, 2006. 4.6 km, 170m, 43:18. Rather shaky run. Missed #1 slightly (but correctly identified knoll above my point, so damage was minimal). To 2, well, I kept looking but it didn't seem like there was any good route, so I just kept moving NNW along a very crappy hillside. Figured out where I was after a while, ran a good route the rest of the way, spiked the control, except it was #5. Whoops! Fortunately I was not too far from 2 (and I ended up with the best split in the class on the leg anyway!). The next bunch went fine (including spiking 5 a second time), despite the rough/rocky footing, until leaving 13, where I kicked it into a higher gear in anticipation of finishing within a couple of minutes, and the next thing I knew I was hanging on to a very steep hillside overlooking the train tracks almost directly below me, having run over the trail without noticing. Climbed back up (descending would have been done at some peril), another 30-45 seconds lost.

First in H60 by a couple of minutes. A stunningly beautiful day, the first of 2 straight weeks of perfect weather in the Swiss mountains. Incredibly lucky....

46. Davos Sprint, Davos, Switzerland, July 8, 2006. 90 points in 16:22. Very fun event Saturday evening after a long drive from Vienna, despite steady rain. 20 controls, score/sprint O'. Time limit was 15 minutes, 4 points penalty per minute (or part thereof) overtime, point value of each control based on last digit (38 was worth 8, 40 was worth 10, 42 was worth 2), so max was 110 points. Started 4 people every minute.

Quite a challenge. No time in advance to plan a route, plus it became clear that going overtime was ok as long as you were still getting more than 4 points per minute. I started off not so good, was past 32 before I even thought to look for it, but then I got going pretty well. By the time I got to 46 (10:31) it was clear I would be overtime, but also clearly worth it. The real mistake was not going even more overtime, could have gotten 43 and 36 also (and maybe 32, and maybe maybe 41) in less then 18 minutes by staying high leaving 47, but by then I was just thinking about getting back as soon as possible. The normal pressure of a sprint, and then some!

Still, first in H60 by a good margin. Best result was one guy who got all 20 in exactly 15 minutes.

Austria, World Masters Champs (July)

45. WMOC Final H60, Witzelsberg, Austria, July 7, 2006. 6.0 km, 170m, 49:50. One of the things I don't like about the WMOC is that you are there for about a week and it seems like only one race really counts. But that's the way it is set up, and you have to deal with it. But it does mean that I am a good deal more nervous than usual -- screw up and there is no second chance, no second (or third or fourth...) day to try and move up the standings. And it was clear that the competition was good enough that it would take a very good run to make the top 3, and a mediocre run could put me 20 or 30 or more places down.

So I decided to stick with my cautious approach, particularly to start off. I absolutely positively needed to start well.

I certainly had a long time to think about it, as I was starting 3rd from last in my class, about 2:30 pm. By the time I left for the start lots of people in my class had finished, with the best time about 52. Though the predicted winning time was 50, it seemed like a good bit better than that would probably be needed. Up at the start the crowd of people waiting was diminishing rapidly, and by the time I went it was getting rather lonely. In comparison to the qualifying days, for much of the run I would see very few people. Also, they had warned us that there had been some very recent logging in the area within a few hundred meters of the start, and there was enough slash on the ground to make the running tougher.

Finally off. Managed to make sense of the trails and spiked the first control (many people would miss it), though not without stopping just before it to check the number on another control. Straight across the grain towards 2, the running was tougher than expected -- some slash, generally soft and bumpy ground with low blueberries, bits of thicker spruce forest -- and the reentrants/spurs seemed a little deeper/higher than expected, so I had already picked the around routes to 3 and 4 by the time I was coming into 2. The other thing I was noticing was that it was hard to read the details on the map, especially on the run. All this just reinforced my plan to take round-about trail routes whenever possible, using the time on the trails to plan ahead and making the taking of the controls as easy as possible. Hopefully, the extra distance covered would be offset by the faster running speed, easier navigation, and no mistakes.

The route to 3 was ok. I'm not sure about the one to 4, I think it was a little too far out of the way, but it made taking the control easy (the straight approach looked a little iffy). The main thing was that I had gotten off to a good start and was able to both keep moving and keep planning ahead.

The section from 4 through 8 was the only part we had in the "easier/faster" terrain (other courses had much more out there), even though these required some care too, especially 6 to keep a good line, and 7 to make sense of the contours (reentrant, spur, reentrant, and then the pit) on the run. But I was still clean, running well, and hadn't seen anyone who started ahead or behind.

From 9 to the finish was back in the harder stuff. Harder because the contours were more jumbled, the visibility and runnability were worse, and it looked like it would be hard to recover from mistakes. I took another round-about route to 9, mainly because it offered a much easier approach to the point (a pit, with the control down in it, in a junky bit of forest). Spiked the control, not easy even coming up the trail. Same approach to 10 and 11, around instead of straight, make the control easy. Even if I lost a little time on each, if I could run clean.... At this point I was tied for 4th, though of course not knowing it at the time. And a lot of very good runners had already blown it.

Then the problems started. I don't think my route was bad to 12 (I was 5:53, the best was 4:47), but I was a little shaky on the route, went to turn off the road in the wrong place, cost a few seconds, then at the very end I was farther along than I thought I was,, turned right over the little spur, and there was a control. Someone else's, I was sure, mine's down a little farther, so I went another 50 meters or so, but no second control. Damn, must have been mine, back to where I was and sure enough, it was mine. Can't remember the last time I've done that. That must have cost 30-45 seconds, so maybe the route was ok....

First mistake. I don't remember specifically loosing my cool, but the next leg sure was bad. The forest was crappy, had to keep a good line, I was heading a little left to pick up the trail, bounce off it and in. I came down the slope, hit a real wet area, and all of a sudden seemed a little turned around and couldn't make sense of anything. No trail, the marsh didn't seem to line up right, there was a steep hillside, where was that? I guess I just semi-lost it. Finally lined up the hillside/map/compass, figuring I just had to go up it, when along came two runners, one I recognized as Timo Peltola, a Finn who started 2 minutes after me, and the the other I realized a little later was Steffan Larson, a Swede who started 2 minutes after him, last in the class. Not good. Really not good, especially when you have had dreams of winning.

They were heading up the slope at about the same time I had decided that that was I needed to do too. I got up top, and everything made sense again, and I was to the control ahead of them. In a hurry to get going, I left in a little bit the wrong direction. We were sudden;y back in the semi-logged area again, and the slope and the brashings and not checking my compass all contributed to going way too far right, far enough right that it took me a moment at the road bend to accept what I'd done. My antics had confused Timo and Steffan enough so that when I looked up the road to the west I could see one of them checking his map, a little unsure, and then head off in the correct direction. Have to catch them, I thought, and as I headed west on the road I looked at my watch, 41+ minutes gone, shit, you've really got to get going (and you've really blown it).

Ran as hard as I could just to try to get them in sight for the approach to 14, knowing they would slow down on the approach, and I just made visual contact, so I could take the control at full speed and limit the damage. But by now I was 7th, with several others within the next minute behind me.

They headed straighter out of 14, I had already decided to go more right and then down, and I got a good fast line and spiked it, a little ahead of Timo who was coming in from the left. Fast again to 16, and down the steep hill and over to 17, Timo just behind me, Steffan a little behind him though I didn't see him. I went right to 18, got there just ahead of Timo who went left, then stayed a little ahead of him to the finish with Steffan a few seconds further back.

A really strong finish from 14 in, got in just under 50 minutes, and back into 4th, but the damage had been done.

Fourth was pretty good. I'd been 5th in Italy in 2004, 6th in Canada last year (and 1st in Minnesota and 1997 in M50), also much worse the three times I ran this event 15-20 years ago, maybe 40th-50th-60th or so, once each in Finland, Sweden, and Norway. So anyway, 4th is good. It's just also real frustrating, knowing I could have been third (but I couldn't have beated the top two, both about 4 minutes up on me).

A couple of weeks later I was waiting at the awards ceremony for day 4 of the Swiss 6 Day, chatting with Timo (he ended up 3rd at WMOC). I'd won all 4 days so far in Switzerland. "I'll make you a trade," I said. "I'll trade you my four wins here for your third place in Austria." He didn't have to think very long before he smiled and said, "Trade refused."

Split analysis for the WMOC final (my time on leg, best time, time behind, place on leg of 83 starters, my estimate of time lost due to execution and why, evaluation of route) (see above for link to map)

 1. 1:47 1:38  :09  2nd  :05

Time lost checking code on control just south of mine, otherwise execution good.

 2. 3:09 2:58  :11  5th  :00

Across the hillside, lots of ups and downs and not easy running, but hit the little trail and then the main junction perfect. Whole route at good speed.

 3. 2:19 2:01  :18 18th  :10

Time lost -- I thought I would see the control (in the pit) as I was dropping down to it from above, but had to search a bit.

 4. 5:42 4:23 1:19 37th  :20

Time lost -- when I turned from the main junction area, I needed to get on the little trail going due north. I read the contour there as a small knoll, so I was looking for it, plus pacing, but I was still very uncertain where I turned into the woods. Pickied up the little trail eventually, but only after a lot of indecision. Still, obviously, not a good route.

Note that the 2 best times were 4:23 by Steffan Larsson (eventually 2nd) and 4:34 by Timo Peltola (eventually 3rd). Timo missed the first control and got caught by Steffan at #3. They were together the rest of the way, with Steffan mostly following, why I'm not sure, Staffan is very good, won M60 at the O'Ringen two weeks later. Best time other than them was 4:47. I think if I'd gone straight I could have been about 5:00.

 5. 3:18 3:08  :10  2nd  :00

Caught the trail along the fence just right, was slightly to the right on my approach but saw the control and corrected, maybe a couple seconds lost, no more. Simple leg, scary control.

 6. 1:34 1:22  :12  9th  :00

Ran maybe just a little bit cautious, all by myself, didn't want to miss it and didn't.

 7. 1:08 1:05  :03  3rd  :00

Control was on north side of pit, not in pit, could see from the preceeding spur, so right on at good speed.

 8. 1:36 1:27  :09  6th  :00

A little bit of indecision partway (vegetation seemed different than map, so I started to think I was going wrong), maybe a couple seconds lost due to slower running.

 9. 3:48 3:33  :15 10th  :10

Control was in the pit in thickish woods, turned off trail a bit too early just to be on the safe side. Route was fine, gave me more time for looking ahead and made the control easier.

10. 2:43 2:08  :35 36th  :25

Didn't get a good line getting over to the main road, plus stopped at the trail just before it (confused), needed to just keep going. And then a little sloppy taking the control, didn't identify the little trail that turned into a ditch that led right to the control. When I didn't see it right away, just headed up the hill and was a little right of the control. Good route, bad execution in two places. (Best time was by someone who who spent 8 minutes on #9 and was obviously rested and pissed. Next best was 2:15, about what I should have done on my route.)

11. 3:03 2:35  :28  9th  :10

Got a good line over to the road (lust left of the fodder rack, but hadn't seen that there were two little trails, not one. Started up the first one for a few steps, checked, bounced over to the second one after some hesitation. Control was easier than expected, woods were open.

12. 5:53 4:47 1:06 33rd  :45+

Fine from the control to the road, but lost a few seconds on the road when I started to turn in one trail too soon. Botched it at the end, down the last trail, thought I turned in at the end of it where there was a little earth bank, but I was a little farther along by the little reentrant. Over the little spur and there was a control and I just assumed it wasn't mine, that mine was further to the east. No hesitation, just kept running, after 40 or 50 meters it was clear something was wrong, decided pretty quickly to head back. Route -- if I execute it right, I think it is ok. And it gave me time to look ahead to 13 and 14, even though that's where I had problems. Even running on the main road I was having trouble reading the details on 12-13.

13. 3:56 2:20 1:36 63rd 1:20?

I don't recall being upset after the stupid mistake at 12, but I never was in control on the way to 13. Left 12 on a rough bearing, woods were very junky, crossed the tractor paths but not sure exactly where, I was aiming for the combination marshes and bigger trail. Down in the low area I hit a very wet area, crossed it, and then nothing made sense. I'm still not sure why. Wasn't sure which wet area I'd crossed, couldn't read the vegetation, looked up and saw the hillside and it didn't really make sense, by now I think I'd gotten turned around a bit and had lost my sense of direction. Time to orient the map, and as usual when you have lost it a bit, it takes a little time to convince yourself that yes, that direction really is east (or whatever...). Finally convinced myself that I needed to head up the hillside, and started doing it just as Timo and Steffan came along. Top of the hill, there's the semi-open I'd identified much earlier in the run when looking ahead, saw where I was, control was easy, into it ahead of them, though I was coming into it heading NE and not the general northerly direction of the leg.

Just really lost it on this leg. Not reading the contours, big picture or small. Perfect catching feature in the hillside with enough details either on it or on top of it to correct for direction, but just didn't do it. I know that I had spent some time earier looking at the leg and was having a lot harder time trying to understand the topography than when I am just sitting looking at it now.

14. 2:52 1:41 1:09 60th 1:00

And it continued. Left the control in a hurry, didn't have a good check on my direction, junky forest, saw the road and took the line of least resistance to get to it, and the next thing I knew I was, well, where the hell was I. Took a few seconds to realize how far I was off. Headed up the road going west, just caught sight of one of the other two (who I'd screwed up, they'd been starting to follow me...), right on the trail heading north, running as fast as I could, trying to get back eye contact, could just see them as I headed in at full speed, counting on them to show me the control. Which they did, I was arriving just as they were leaving.

15. 2:13 2:13  :00  1st  :00

Now really in a hurry to get in and try to salvage something, and the rest of the run was good. Timo and Steffan went down first, then right and across the grain, I went across the grain to the right first, read the trails just right, and then down. Spiked it, very good speed and in control all the way. Picked up 20 seconds on them, got there a little ahead.

16. 1:04 1:01  :03  3rd  :00

Very good, down to the trail and then in. Got a little help by other runner(s) I could see coming out of where control was tucked -- this makes a big difference, you can just take the control at full speed. Only two to beat me on the leg were Timo/Steffan, right behind me a closing the gap a little, next best was 1:15.

17. 1:44 1:41  :03  3rd  :10

Good speed most of the way, including into the control (where I could see others leaving), just some hesitation as I crossed to road to be sure where I was. Again, only two to beat me on the leg were Timo/Steffan, right behind me a closing the gap a little more.

18. 1:10 1:05  :05  7th  :00

Pretty good, a little unsure at the end but trying to keep moving, not slow down. Timo/Steffan went straight, no difference.

19.  :40  :39  :01  2nd  :00
Fin  :11  :09  :02 17th  :00

Overall, I think that the only route that wasn't good was 3 to 4. The rest I would do just as I did, just hopefully with better execution. But even there, it was a tough course to run clean and fast all the way. One of the reasons for choosing my routes was to avoid any big mistakes, and that was pretty much successful.

Time lost to bad execution -- 4:25. Time behind winner -- 4:08. But it would have been very hard to do.

44. WMOC Qualifying Race #2, Bad Fischau, Austria, July 5, 2006. 5.3 km, 140m, 39:42. Second qualifying day. A similar approach for the most part, be careful, make sure to check all the codes. Another good run, just a small mistake at #8, a little too far left, knew I had gone far enough, guessed correctly which way I had missed. Caught up to an old friend, Anders Sellgren (he started 4 minutes ahead of me) at #5, that was a nice surprise, had him on my tail approaching 6, decided to take it at some speed rather than slowing down as it was a bit tricky, and nailed it, feeling very pleased. Eventually got away from him on the way to 9.

Won again by a couple of minutes. It made me a bit unsure of what tactics to use for the final. I thought I was being overly cautous, but it was seeming to work rather well.

43. WMOC Qualifying Race #1, Bad Fischau, Austria, July 4, 2006. 4.9 km, 170m, 39:41. First of two qualifying days. With about 420 entered in H60, we were split into 6 heats (I was in #4), with the best 14 from each heat after two days making the A final. In the final the best in the heats would start last, and since a course usually gets faster (more beaten tracks) as a day goes on, there was some incentive to not only qualify for the A final, but be in the top few in my heat. But mainly the goal was to be sure of qualifying, so "careful" was the word of the day.

Had a good run, though my legs didn't feel great and I walked a good bit up to 2, out of 3, and out of 4. A questionable route to 4, never saw the option of contouring out of 3 and then just following the trails to the control. As it was, there was some unmapped thick vegetation in the last 100 meters before 4 that left me less confident in the map and may have contributed to the round-about routes to 5 and 6. Or maybe I was just being careful. 7 to 10 were in more complicated stuff, also 11 and 12 after a long trail run in between. The goal particularly for the latter two was to get as close to the points while still on the trails, which turned out to be wise as they were both hidden quite well and having an attack point 10 or 20 meters away was very useful.

So I got around without any significant mistakes, but not pushing the pace, and was surprised to find myself leading my heat by about 2 minutes.

42. Training for the WMOC, Zisshof and Markt Piesting, Wiener Neustadt, Austria, July 3, 2006. Zisshof was adjacent to the terrain for the finals, so I went there first, just walking around. It seemed thicker and steeper than I cared for. Then to Markt Piesting, mostly very good runnability, still quite steep in places, walked first then ran the last few controls. In both places the detailed areas were quite difficult.

41. WMOC Park Race, Wiener Neustadt, Austria, July 2, 2006. 2.6 km, 15:41. I've done a bunch of sprints, but never one in a city until now. This was part of the WMOC week, though not an official WMOC event (a sprint championship will be added to the program for 2008), but it seemed like a good way to stretch the legs out after arriving in Europe the afternoon before.

It turned out to be really fun -- high speed, got to keep thinking ahead, and you sure notice every little mistake. Had a good run, finished first by not quite a minute, though there was room for improvement -- simplified (oversimplified?) the routes to 1, 2, 4, and 5 just to be on the safe side, although shorter/faster routes existed by taking a few more turns. Probabaly could have done that section 20-30 seconds faster, that's what the splits would say, though I always seem to start slow and finish well (or maybe it's that others start too fast and lose it at the end?), so maybe there was less to be gained by taking the more complicated routes. After 5 I was moving and thinking pretty well.

The city was a great venue. Lots of little alleys and out-of-sight corners, plus a bit of park with lots going on. The orienteers took over the place, with a big screen set up in the main square, that was quite cool. (Note that map is blown up a little more than I usually do to show the details.)

Finland (June)

40. Training, Virvik, SE of Porvoo, Finland, June 20, 2006. 4.6 km, 54:41. It turned out that the B&B I was staying at was run by a couple that had some interest in orienteering, and the place was on an O' map, site of the 1999 Finnish Night-O Champs. They had an extra map for me, complete with a course used at some point for a local meet, so I had to give it a try.

It was a hot morning, I was very dehydrated, and I was being very careful not to do something stupid (especially going down steep slopes), since no one was going to come looking for me if I couldn't get back to the car on my own steam. I started off at a decent pace, though by the way to #3 I was already feeling beat, and the woods were rough going (although the last 300-400 meters to #4 were beautiful woods, just wide open). At some point around 4 or 5 I started having trouble with my vision -- it happens occasionally when I run soon after eating, get a big yellow spot right were I'm looking so that I can't read a sign (or a map), usually goes away in 10 minutes or so.

The combiination of that, and feeling beat, had me walking much of the time after 5 until maybe halfway to 9. At some point in there I noticed that I could read the map better again, so I had a fun time running the rest of the way in, though still feeling very tired. In general my O' was ok. There were no controls, but I could tell at each one that I was in the right place.

I did take a stop just to the SE of #8 to admire the "boulder". A sign (both in Finnish and Swedish and I can read the latter), claimed that it was about 9 meters high, though it looked higher, and weighed maybe 500 tons. It looked to me like a somewhat bigger version of the really big one at Pawtuckaway that JJ used for three control sites at the mega. This one looked like it could have handled three controls very easily.

So an ok outing. I was glad to be done safely. And very glad not to be trying to race through the terrain at night. The map stretches to the north and west from what I've scanned, maybe three times as much terrain in all.

39. Local meet, Kokonniemi, Porvoo, Finland, June 19, 2006. 4.95 km, 45:10. First order for the day was a round of golf at Kytäjä's northwest course, which I was told was the best course in Finland. It's just two years old, designed by Canadian Thomas McBroom, and quite gorgeous. Also has the best map of any golf course I've ever seen, though it turned out to be better on looks than on accuraccy, at least as to where the bunkers were (must have been a preliminary map, not an "as built").

Then on to Porvoo for another weekday local meet. The area was immediately SW of the city center (I mean immediately, maybe 2 km as the crow flies). A little less organized that the Vaakkoi meet -- you had to copy your own course (though certainly not on the clock!) -- but Emit timing again. And a very friendly woman in charge, who managed to find me a place to stay (all the hotels were fully booked and I was wondering if I was going to sleep in the car) while I was out on the course.

I had a very so-so run. I didn't feel as bad physically as I thought I might, but several missed controls, my own fault of course, but the controls were much more hidden than any I had seen so far on the trip. The errors at 4 and 10 could be attributed to that, but at 7 it was mostly my own doing -- got off my intended line nearing the top of the ski hill, then spent a bit searching in the wrong bare rock area, then a little more at the right bare rock area before spotting the flag behing a tree. 1-2 minutes lost at a simple control just off the top of the hill. On the other hnd, it was nice to get out to what I expected was my last bit of orienteering before heading home the next day.

38. Jukola Relay, Maalu, Salo, Finland, June 17-18, 2006. 7.8 km, 360 m, 71:05. The main event. I went out around 5:30, running 5th of 7 legs. Had a good but not great run, but good enough that I was very pleased. Three mistakes -- the really stupid one, missing connections with Ross at the start, so he probably stood there for 20-30 seconds calling for me, then at #9, just a really tough area, low visibility, and then at #18, a really, really tough area, low visibility, thick woods, one big boulder field. Total maybe 3 minutes. I also was stopping a lot to be careful, and I think I lost quite a bit of time doing it, but the goal was no big mistakes, and if that meant being extra careful, so be it.

Very nervous at the start, got a little better once I was going, and much better after I spiked #1. Even by then it was already a strange experience -- lots and lots of other runners, going at different speeds (some much faster, a few slower), lots of beaten paths that were much faster than making your own path, especially in the low areas, and people going all directions, since the courses were forked a lot. Also, you never knew which leg someone was on, hard to know if the person zipping by you was on leg 4, 5, or 6 (or even 3 or 7). I had the feeling of being passed by countless runners. I was pretty sure by the end that I had dropped at least 50 places, and was totally surprised to find out I had gained 6 places. Perhaps all the ones passing me were on faster teams already on leg 6, or maybe they were making mistakes elsewhere,

Some interesting route choices, where I sometimes changed my plan based on where the beaten tracks went. To #2 I was just trying to follow a track through the green and then adjust accordingly when I got back in the better forest. To #7, I had intended to go to the SE of the big cliff halfway, but the main beaten path went along the vegetation boundary (and no path that I could see going where I had planned), so that's the way I went. The scary controls, in addition to some in the really complicated areas, were ones like 4 and 10, dropping down a steep hillside to a cliff, keeping my eyes open to what others were doing, each time a sigh of relief when I dropped right on it.

To #9 I was just a little too high, didn't see the control, saw the cliffs, went over to them to be sure that's where i was, then got the control. Tough area. Then most of the way to 10 I wasn't sure where I was, thick forest, low visibility. Popped out on the road after 10 feeling glad to have that section behind me.

11 through 15 were easy. I took a bit of a roundabout route to 12, don't think it was much slower than straight. 16 was ok, but I tripped coming down the cliffs on the way out, and in the process of trying to keep from falling head first I jammed my left hand on a rock and destroyed the compass dial and cut my thumb pretty good. At least it was towards the end of the course.

17 was easy, then 18 was a bitch. The last 100-150 meters were the worst forest I was in all week. I think staying lower and then climbing at the end would have been better, less rocks. As it was, I came to one other control first (#149), guessed where it was, and kept going to mine. Very glad to see mine next as I wasn't totally sure of where I was.

And then it was really fun to run down the hill, last control, in to the finish with at least a couple of CSU teammates cheering, then out again to the start area, get the map for Mikell, and pass it off to him. And then really enjoy the rest of the day. It was a great O' experince and a fine CSU team effort.

Jukola map of all controls, forking scheme, CSU results.

Some more comments on my training log at AttackPoint, also on the CSU/Jukola discussion thread there.

37. Training for Jukola, Tammenmäki, Salo, Finland, June 17, 2006. Just went out for a walk for 40 minutes on the model map for the Jukola (which was immediately to the east). Trying to train my eye and my brain in relating map and terrain in both directions (map to terrain, and terrain to map).

36. Training for Jukola, Lakianummi, Salo, Finland, June 16, 2006. 3.6 km, 35:20. Went out with William and Mikell on the map just north of the Jukola terrain. Walked around for 30-40 minutes in the area of 17 and 16 and then we split up to run some -- I went as far as 15, then decided that was enough and headed in. Hot afternoon, feeling tired, running was rougher than at Forssa, more knee-high underbrush.

I also had trouble reading the map on the run, especially on the complicated tops -- it was easy enough from 11 to 14, but going across the high ground towards 9 and also towards 15, I couldn't keep up with where I was on the map. Not that you have to, you can still navigate by simplifying the map and staying on a bearing, but it was still frustrating. Or maybe it's just that the 10,000 maps are as hard to read now as the 15,000 used to be, just an excuse to put more details on the map. Anyway, it was good training for the relay.

35. Forssa Games, Halinanvuori, N of Forssa, Finland, June 15, 2006. 2.5 km, 19:07. Picked up William, Clare, and Mikell at the airport and we hustled to Forssa for an evening national meet (WRE for M/F21), short distance. Fine course and terrain, and I had a good run, finishing 3rd in M60 out of 65, 37 seconds behind. All the time was lost in hesitations, the largest of which was on the way to #2, I passed the boulders, right on my intended line, looked out in front and could see no hill. I couldn't understand it, where's the hill -- in fact, the band of thick vegetation blocked the view, and I just didn't have the confidence to keep charging ahead. Probably stood there for 15 seconds before I convinced myself just to keep going, and as soon as I crossed the ditch everything was obvious. Other little errors -- I was reading the control descriptions well enough to usually know what feature I was looking for, but not what side (like #5, went to the right side, control was on the left, lost 5-10 seconds. These things add up in a short race.

On the other hand, I did do well, and it was really intense -- neat course, really had to fight mentally to keep planning ahead to try to keep any hesitations to a minimum. When I went out the best time was just over 20, and when I finished I thought my 19 might do it, but there was a guy who ran a few minutes before me that did 18:30, and then one more a little later who did 18:32. But third is still my best in Finland (had a 6th and a 9th in M40 at the Fin5 in 1985). Results.

34. Local meet, Vaakkoi, NW of Helsinki, June 14, 2006. 4.85 km, 46:42. Got off the plane and within an hour or two was out on a course, one of the series of late afternoon meets put on by the clubs around Helsinki. Four courses are offered, roughly 2, 3, 5, and 7 km, and the 5 km seemed enough. Despite the fact that it was just a local event, the maps were pre-printed (and you could look at the course in advance as much or as little as you cared to), Emit timing was used, and results were posted on the web that evening. And the organizers were very friendly to someone who spoke not a word of Finnish.

I had an OK run. I'd actually gotten about 3 hours sleep on the plane so I wasn't groggy, but it had been about 20 years since I had orienteered in Finland and about 5 years since I'd been in Scandinavia and I found it hard to read the map on the run (though I was getting better towards the end), even on the trails, which were rocky and rooty, even some that look nice and wide and flat, like the one I followed heading to #1. But finding the controls was not a problem, partly because they were hanging the flags high, in contrast to memories I had of Finland and controls hidden real good. In fact, I had a slight problem at #6, the forest in the area was thicker than mapped but I pulled up right to the bould, at most a meter high, looked all around it, and then spotted the flag about 5 meters away and about 2 meters off the ground. Got to keep the eyes open. Results.


33. Forest Park Sprint 2, Springfield, MA, May 27, 2006. 3.5 km, 115m, 27:32. Not so good, especially the start. Didn't look carefully enough at the map to realize that the trails down the hill out of the start went west, not north. Hit the bottom of the hill everything semi-flooded, straight ahead looked thick and wet, decided to take the small trail NE along the bottom, but it seemed to barely exist, changed my mind again, plugged on through the swamp and up a very thick and steep hillside, definitely not running, finally hit the trail at the top feeling like in 2 minutes I'd blown the whole run.

Got it back together again, and the rest was mostly ok, though my willpower on the ups was lacking a couple of times. At least I put in a good effort up from the last control.

Real nice courses by Phil Bricker.

32. Forest Park Sprint 1, Springfield, MA, May 27, 2006. 3.05 km, 100m, 20:48. Very good run, helped by familiarity with the park (I made the 1977 version of the map, some stuff has changed but I still have an easy understanding of the lay of the land). No mistakes, ran all the hills.

31. Team Trials classic (part 1 | part 2), Hawn SP, Farmington, MO, May 21, 2006. 13.6 km, 330m, 107:31. A very good run, still left a little time out there but not too much. And I felt better physically than I expected.

The first part of the course was in a gently rolling section, really nice terrain, where the goal is to run pretty straight, with just minor variations to pick up better checkpoints in the terrain or bypass thicker areas. That's not to say the orienteering was easy -- #2 really scared me, which was why I went right over the top of the hill through some thicker stuff, just to be sure where I was. And 4 was tricky, the form line in the south part of the circle needs to be pushed further north, showing the two reentrants more distinctly, the way the next higher full contour line does. As it was, it felt like you were looking for an unmapped reentrant, in an area where there was quite a lot of undergrowth. The only good thing was that I'd read someplace in the meet notes that controls would not be hung/hidden in areas of thick low vegetation, so I just kept going, and there was the control in a very nicely formed reentrant.

No problems at 5, 6, or 7, and the legs felt good, just trying to keep a moderate pace but running all the ups. Got confused on the way to 8, not in good contact after I lost the trail, not sure where I was after I crossed the stream. Took longer than I cared to figure it out. A little loose also in and out of 9, got more green crossing the valley both times than I needed to and my speed/willpower really suffered. Clem passed me at the start of the trail to 10, moving much faster (I checked my watch, I'd been out 43 minutes, 37 for him, 15-20% behind, not too bad, goal was to be within 20% of the best).

Took the trail to the north to 11, it just seemed like the straight route wouldn't be any faster, and would take more energy. Ran along at a decent clip. When I turned right just north of 16 (not cutting the corner, didn't seem there was much to be gained), I got a nice surprise, there was Spike angling up from 16, taking the south route to 17. This helped a couple of ways -- I knew which was he was going to 17 (though I had already decided to go left/north), and I knew what his time was, though I couldn't remember for sure what time he'd started. So I asked him (he was right behind me), it was 33 minutes in front of me, he'd been 95 minutes so far. And then I asked if he'd gone the same way to 11 (yes), and then we wished each other good luck and went our separate ways.

Hit 11 right on, also 12, though it was thicker than I wished on the approach and I didn't see the control until I was just about on it. I heard someone behind me and as I turned right to 13 I could see it was Swampfox. He was past me by the time we reached the trail (72 minutes for me, 60 for him, right on 20%). and way faster crossing the stream and up the hill, and out of sight. I thought I might see him leaving 13 but he was already gone.

For some reason at 13, maybe because I'd dawdled a bit getting there, I decided it was time to get going. Ran all the hill out of 13, and also all the ups to 15 and 16 except for a couple of moments to get a better look at the map. Passed Tom Carr, he looked not so good (found out later he was really sick). At 16 Eddie caught me (91 minuted for me, 82 for him, probably 94 for Spike, not so bad). He left going east, I thought he was taking the south route like Spike. I headed over the north part of the spur, ran all that hill ok, then as I was cutting down across the steep slope (and just nailing a rock with my bionic big toe, hurt like hell for a moment but no apparent damage), when I heard someone higher on the slope and there was Eddie, moving pretty well. I wasn't sure how he'd gotten there, but it hadn't been a better route. Follwed him down the rentrant to 17, lost sight of him going up to the trail. I took it a little careful dropping to 18 and spiked it, there was Eddie just leaving, the last I saw him.

Hit the last three ok, still running pretty well, actually trying to push the pace to 20 and 21. Felt really good to end up on a strong note, 16 minutes off the best time (Platt), about 18%.

Three days of really good orienteering offered by Eric Buckley and SLOC, all different, all fun.

30. Team Trials middle, S-F Scout Ranch, Farmington, MO, May 20, 2006. 5.7 km, 115m, 40:09. An OK run, but a lot of little problems. I guess the good part is that none of them became large problems. At times I was in really good control of things, at other times way too loose. Lots of folks had problems, so I placed well (6th U.S.), but still should have been a couple minutes faster.

In control: to 5, first half was just stay on the line, then over to the trail (would have been better a little further to the right, green was quite bad), then on the trail until I could see the yellow/gray patch so I knew exactly where I was turning off, then past the top of a couple reentrants, came right to the green patch, stayed left/below it to confirm the clearing below it, then over to the next reentrant, making sure I went south enough so I didn't miss, good speed all the way. Likewise for 2, 6, 9, 13 among others.

Way too loose: To 2, lost contact immediately, just stayed on my compass, regained contact when I hit the tent platforms. To 11, up through the clearings, didn't adjust bearing after that, nor make contact with the contours on the way down to the stream. Was pretty sure I was left, but sprised by how far left. To 15, not reading the vegetation well, off on my bearing, went right by the first clearing/green and didn't adjust soon enough.

And a mix, both too loose and in control: to 17, quite confusing with the clearings/bare rock, just kept on my bearing looking for the best running until I hit the stream, then turned left. But didn't know where I was for the first part and had more anxiety than I care for.

29. Team Trials sprint, UMSL, St. Louis, MO, May 19, 2006. 2.6 km, 75m, 16:42. A good run, stayed ahead on the planning just about the whole time except for 14-15 -- first I didn't see the wall (almost covered by the red line), thought I could just angle NW down the slope, and had to make a quick revision. And then I hadn't seen that you had to go further north and then cut back to the control, which changed the effective starting point for the next leg. I had been planning to to head south out of 15. Don't know if either cost me any time, but when the footing is so good and reading the map on the run so easy, you really should be 100% planned ahead.

Only other problem was not pushing the pace more at the end. Need to treat it like a XC race.

28. Billygoat (part 1 | part 2), Macedonia SP, Kent, CT, May 14, 2006. 12.8 km, 450m, 1:52:48. Comments are on AttackPoint.

27. West Point A meet, Deep Hollow, West Point, NY, May 7, 2006. RedX course, 8.2 km, 410m, 78:31. Pretty good run, faster pace then yesterday, though I think that was because it was not as rocky, more places where you let go going downhill. Several small errors but none more than 30 seconds, maybe a couple minutes total. Legs felt good. Routes all seem reasonable in retrospect.

Leaving 6 the strange detour in my route was because there is an unmapped old jeep road heading NE from the mapped one. When I hit it, I thought I was on the mapped one just below the bend. Didn't take long to realize I had done something wrong, but still probably cost a minute. On the other hand, my approach to 7 was very solid, knew where I was all the way, which was just as good as the control was really tucked away between the rocks.

Another pleasant course despite the hills and a fun weekend. The good weather certainly helped.

26. West Point A Meet, Lake Popolopen, West Point, NY, May 6, 2006. RedX course, 6.2 km, 440m, 70:25. Not a bad run, but felt rather uncoordinated in all the rocks. And there was a bi of climb. But also a few interesting route choices, some of which I think I did OK on, and at least one that wasn't good. 1-2: I don't think going around to the left is any better, have to climb just about as much. 3-4: Seemed better to drop down sooner, less rocky/crappy. 8-9: not bad, but I think pretty much on the line would have been better. Cutting right sooner than I did, through the flat area, wasn't appealing as it looked thicker and rockier than mapped. 9-10: Better to stay left in the first part, less rocky. 11-12: Thought about going over the top. But others on my route were much faster, I just didn't find a good line along the very steep hillside. 12-13: Right of the line, picking up the small trail, would likely have been a good bit quicker. 13-14: Felt like I was going in the wrong direction at first, but it was definitely better to get to the road as quickly as possible.

25. Training at Paugusset SF, Newtown, CT, May 2, 2006. 3.2 km, 150m. With Michael Eglinski and George Walker. Started/finished at #1, ran the course once hanging streamers (not too successfully at #3, put the streamer on the spur mostly obscured by the circle) in 32:26, then a second time in 24:41. Pink line is first time, red line is second time where different.

24. U.S. Long Champs, Thacher SP, Albany, NY, April 30, 2006. Red course (M45), 11.4 km, 375m, 96:08. Another nice course, totally different character than the day before, as it should have been. OK run, no problems of any significance at the controls but one bad route and a couple of questionable ones.

The bad route was 3 to 4. Should have taken the right route back through Camp Pinnacle and the start, but I got scared off by the last bit though it's not hard (drop down one shelf, go past the reentrant bend, and then contour in). So I took the left route, up the crappy, muddy trails (which I already knew were there), then a bunch more climbing up the phone line. Lost a couple minutes to Pavlina on the leg, she went right.

Went out to the road to 6, think it was OK, likewise I think routes to 8, 10, and 14 were OK although others took the trail route to the right to 14. But to 16 was not so good. Would have been quicker to angle across the field (I was scared of catching some thick stuff), and then by the time I hit the first of the two gullies it was steep/deep enough to make going up almost to the top a good idea. But then I had another 75-100 meters of extra distance.

First in M45 again, and not as far behind the younger guys as I thought I might be. But Samantha got me by a little over a minute.

23. U.S. Short Champs, Thacher SP, Albany, NY, April 29, 2006. Red course (M45), 4.2 km, 140m, 37:20. Nice course, but a run that left a lot to be desired. I actually was pretty clean through #10, although there were several times that I wasn't really sure of myself, like coming in to #2, 6, and 8, but I escaped with a loss of no more than 30 seconds. The rest was terrible. Misread the map on 11, thought the cliff was sitting high up on the side of the broad reentrant, facing east, when it was actually on the other side of a small form-line spur facing west. So I checked most of the rocks looking to see which was large enough to be mapped as a cliff and hide a flag, and when I figured I'd gone far enough, I took a long look at the map, which still didn't make sense, but then I looked up and there was the flag swinging in the breeze as I'd gone far enough to see it behind me. Didn't figure out until after I was done that it actually wasn't misplaced.

Then to 12, my intended route was OK, but I thought I could save a few seconds by cutting the corner after dropping down the hill. It got pretty thick after a little bit. Just before I hit the trail again, it occured to me that my control was up on the hillside, so I turned and went back though a patch of unpleasant green. And then just as I was about to start up the hillside it occured to me that I hadn't even crossed the phone line yet, so I turned and went back through the thick patch for the third time. The rest of the leg was OK....

Then to 13, good route most of the way, angled down off the high ground to what seemed like the first shelf, followed it along, but instead of a reentrant popping up, it just dissolved into a really steep hillside. Must have gone too far, I thought. Turned and went back a hundred meters. Nope, must have not gone far enough. Back to where I was, and another 20 meters around a little spur and there it was. Don't know if the map was OK or not, but I sure didn't deal with it well. 14 was fine, then to 15, crossed the trail, went what seemed to be the right distance, no sign of a flag or a stone wall. How could I not even find a wall? Looking in all directions like crazy, finally spot the flag 50 meters up the hillside, then spot the wall when I'm most of the way there. Again, not sure of the map (the flag seemed awful high up the hillside), but you still have to deal with it.

So ended up missing 4 of the last 5, though somehow it was still good enough to win M45....

22. WCOC local meet at Five Ponds, Litchfield, CT, April 23, 2006. Red course, 7.7 km, 320m, 61:30. Good run on a miserable day, pouring rain and low 40s, but I was dressed about right and felt comfortable the whole time. Legs felt good, kept up a good tempo and doing a pretty good job of reading ahead so I didn't have to stop much. Nice course, nice area, though the map continues to be just a little off in places (and I did a teeny little bit of the original fieldwork, most done by my fether with help from Steve Tall). But it's still a pleasure to run there, especially in the dormant season when the leaves are not out.

21. NEOC A Meet day 2 at Wolf's Den (part 1 | part 2)(Mashamoquet Brook SP), Pomfret, CT, April 9, 2006. Blue Course, 12.7 km, 480m, 1:46:48. Another decent run, felt like my legs were not as good as yesterday, nor my energy as bad. I may have started a little too quickly, felt pretty good up to the map exchange but all the hills after that were a struggle.

Nice course. My navigation was pretty good, though there were a couple mistakes -- to 7 I was coming up the hill and spotted the set of cliffs closer to the trickle and headed there, should have seen that I needed to be a little further right. So I climbed up a couple extra lines before correcting. And to 13, I dropped down the hill to what looked like a nice little spur, with a nice little cliff at the end of it, but I was one spur too far north and a line too low. The rest of the course I was pretty much right on, though there were several controls that had me worried -- 20 and 24 in particular -- because there wasn't much nearby to go on. So the technique was to try and be accurate but mainly look as far as possible ahead and to the side.

I think my routes were ok. I stayed on the trail to 3 longer than I might have, but it made the leg very easy and I don't think I lost much. To 7 the slope looked not so steep that it didn't make sense not to go straight, whereas to 8 I opted for the high route. Another case of maybe not better, but not much worse if at all. Took a left swing to 11, seemed easier, a high route to 14, seemed to offer better running, and a left swing to 16, though it was rockier than I expected. To 21 the reentrant looked deeper than expected so I stayed left and I think that was fine. To 23 I think going low and climbing at the end was just as good given how tired I was (run all the way down and then walk up at the end). Lots of choices, as I said a nice course.

20. NEOC A Meet, day 1 at Wells SP, Sturbridge, MA, April 8, 2006. Shortiish Blue Course, 5.6 km , 175m, 59:04. Not too bad considering that I'd been sick much of the week. My navigating was actually right on most of the time, but the woods were quite junky so I was doing very badly at reading the map on the run. So lots of stops/walking, which given my physical state, would probably have been necessary anyway. Others must have had problems as I wasn't as far back as expected (best was 52+).

19. Flying Pig - Classic (part 1 | part 2), Batavia, OH, April 2, 2006. Red course, 7.6 km, 300m, 71:10. Didn't have much enthusiasm for the day's course, advertised as being steep and thick and then flat and thick. Managed ok. Biggest problem was getting out of the gully just north of 3 -- on my first attempt I got up about 15', grabbed onto a small shrub for help, and it broke off and I went sliding back down to the bottom. On the second attempt I just barely made it on all fours, just trying to dig into the clay/mud, just inching up the first couple of contours until it got less steep.

Basically flat after 7, ran pretty well, trying to avoid the worst of the green (greenbriar and multi-flora rose) in favor of the lighter green (slosely spaced saplings). Didn't lose too much blood, don't think I will scare the ladies at work tomorrow too much....

18. Flying Pig - U.S. Relay Champs, Batavia, OH, April 1, 2006. Green course, 6.0 km, 260m, 52:xx. A long and hilly, but also very interesting Green course, 3rd leg on CSU's unofficial 8-point team. Started out in 4th (maybe), finished in second (maybe). Good effort, but the uphills just killed me. No mistakes, though I was very shaky going into 5 (miscounted the reentrants on my left, thought I still had a ways to go, looked up, saw a control, Oh, it's mine!). Team ended up third, but unofficial.

17. Flying Pig - U.S. Sprint Champs, Batavia, OH, April 1, 2006. Red/Blue course, 2.9 km, 100m, 18:23. A slight bobble on the first control and then no problems, but didn't seem to have any speed. Not bad though. At least I ran all the hills, which are steeper than they look.

16. Flying Pig - Middle, Batavia, OH, March 31, 2006. Red course, 4.4 km, 180m, 35:53. Good run, for a while, but then made a mess of it. First error was not cutting down sooner to cross the river on the way to 8. Where I went down was dangerously steep and taken mostly on my rear. But the real problems were at 9 and 11. Got off my line on the way to 9, no make that way off my line, and then a bit more time was wasted figuring out what I'd done. To 11 , well, you really didn't want to go up the wrong spur, because they were steeper and more slippery than the map shows, but I did. Ran well to the end, but Pavlina already had me by a minute and a half.

15. US Team/Florida A Meet - Classic (part 1 | part 2), Paisley, FL, February 28, 2006. Blue course, 15.7 km, 1:35:06.

14. US Team/Florida A Meet - Middle, Paisley, FL, February 27, 2006. Blue Course, 6.2 km, 35:20

13. US Team/Florida A Meet - Sprint, Paisley, FL, February 26, 2006. 2.9 km, 16:10

12. Maze-O, Anza-Borrego Desert O-Fest, Borrego Springs, CA, Janauary 15, 2006. You could do 3, 5, or 8 controls in any order, your choice. I was feeling a little battered (my feet especially), so opted for the 3, figuring it would give me a nice taste of the amazing terrain, while getting me to the finish before it turned into a real struggle. A wild area, lots of fun, and I don't think anyone died. And what I discovered was that orienteering tactics still matter. Such as, instead of just focusing on the 30 meters of topographic chaos directly in front of you, look out ahead of you and it might just make things easier. And, even if the map is loaded with information, just using the compass can make things a lot simpler. By the time I was done I was cruising along quite nicely, but that's not to say I wanted to go for either 5 or 8 controls. 3 was just the right number.

Overall it was an immensly fun and interesting weekend. Fabulous orienteering, a wide variety of terrain and courses, great weather. Thanks to the San Diego and Los Angeles clubs for putting it on.

11. Anza-Borrego Desert O-Fest Day 2, Borrego Springs, CA, Janauary 15, 2006. Blue course, 10.5 km, 320m, 82:05. Some good orienteering, some bad, plus an excellent physical effort gave a result that was pretty good, but could have been really good. The terrain was much faster than the day before, no really slow sections and the first couple of legs and then from #9 to the finish were -- or should have been! -- real fast.

I got off to a good start, totally in contact all the way to 1 and running well up all the little hills, but then I blew #2. I was a little right of the line, heading for the high ground. In retrospect, it would have been better right on the line hopefully using the little knoll on the slope as a checkpoint. But anyway, I turned left at the top and went down what I though was the correct spur and by what I thought was the correct little reentrant, but no control. The problem was I thought I knew where I was, but I wasn't sure. And so I went further south, and then saw I was getting into the shallow bowl, and all the spurs/reentrants were very vague, and I thought maybe I was too far east also, so I headed up to the west and pretty soon I was on top of the ridge, and that wasn't right. So back to the east, still not sure, and all the time doing a lot of stopping and staring at the map. And then I think I saw someone run to a control in a wash about 40 meters east of me, and I went that direction and there was a control and it was mine. I think I'd been right by there, just I'd been looking up in the little reentrant and not down in the wash. Should have read the clue (reentrant junction), and should have known for sure where I was on the way in. Live and learn.

Well, that was what I figured was 4+ minutes gone, and now the course headed into tougher terrain, more complicated and aslo harder to read the map. A little more time lost over the last 200 meters to #3, one wash too far to the right, but I had good distance control -- and I was on high alert, I remember saying to myself on the approach, If there is ever a place for parallel errors....

4 through 8 all went fine, I was running good again but still having trouble reading the map, trying never to stop but I'd guess i stopped once or twice a leg for a quick better look. Then a questionable route to 9. The straight route look didn't look great, and the route to the right looked fine after you got around the first hill. The problem was that the south facing slope going down to the corner was full of small erosion gullies and rough running and it took longer than I thought to get to the turn. From there it was fine, and I even had a stiff tailwind that made running up the gradual incline feel like it was downhill. After 9 there was one drop and climb, and then the course got a lot faster and a lot simpler -- just go as straight and as fast as possible -- though finding the controls was not trivial. But my legs felt good, the wind (strong enough that you didn't want to drop your map for fear of it being blown away) mostly a tailwind, and my orienteering was up to the task at hand. Really enjoyed this part, just to be moving well.

10. Sprint at Anza-Borrego Desert O-Fest, Borrego Springs, CA, Janauary 14, 2006. 2.8 km, 120m, 19:35. Excellent run, helped by some company. Thorsten Graeve started 2 minutes ahead of me and I had him in sight on the ridges between 2 and 4, slowly closing the gap. I looked a couple of times at cutting the corners, but the gullies were deeper than they look on the map, and I'm pretty sure staying on the ridgelines was faster. By 4 I had just about caught Thorsten, and also Grant Staats who started 3 minutes ahead of me, and then the really fun part of the course started (up to #4 it had been pretty easy orienteering, just hard work trying to run as fast as possible).

The rest were either flat or slightly downhill, neat terrain, and with the map at 1:5,000, easy to read on the run at full speed. I got ahead going to 7, spiked it and 8 and 9 at full speed, and then got spiked myself by a cholla cactus on the way to 10. I looked down and a piece the size of a small cucumber was hanging onto to my left shin. Just ignore it, I thought, though it hurt pretty good, and for about 100 meters I did just that, but it was steadily hurting more, so on the last spur before 10 I reached down and yanked it out, using my map case for protection. And then right after that I cruised past 10, fortunately not very far before I turned back. I think either Grant or Thorsten said something, but I can't remember for sure. In any case, there sure is an advantage running in a group. If nothing else, the tempo is higher. You ought to be able to run as fast by yourself, but it usually doesn't happen.

#11 was simple, passing #1 on the way. By the time I got to 11 I'd caught back up to the other two, but I hadn't had a really good look at the terrain leading to 12. But I had been at the finish beforehand, and it was pretty close to the last control. When I turned right at 11 and headed downhill, I looked up and even though 11 was not in sight, the finish and a few folks standing there was obvious, as was the route to 11. Just a little thing, look out and far ahead, but it can make things much easier.

9. Anza-Borrego Desert O-Fest Day 1 (part 1 | part 2), Borrego Springs, CA, Janauary 14, 2006. Blue course, 8.9 km, 370m, 83:02. A so-so run. Figured I'd run the Blue course to get a chance to see more of the park, and it wasn't much longer than the Red course anyway. Handled the distance ok, but my orienteering was a little shaky. For excuses I can offer up that the map was hard to read (thank goodness they gave us a 1:10,000 for this day!), and that I busted my compass in the vicinity of #3, but excuses are useless. As the saying goes, you are what your time is.

Some interesting orienteering. I was very (overly?) cautious going to #1, in fact I was cautious the whole first part of the course, mainly because I was having a hard time getting a mental image from the map of what the terrain would be like. I expect that I spent a good bit of time standing still, time probably well spent but also time that passes without making any progress towards the finish. I was also having a hard time adjusting to what was or wasn't a cliff or earthbank. There were steep dirt banks everywhere. So about the time I decided that the terrain was more passable than it looked on the map, I found myself partway to #5, looking down a slope that looked a lot steeper and higher than I was willing to venture. So I backed out, looped around and got down an adjacent gully, though not without some trepidation there as well.

To 7 I went around to the left and up the wash, which was rough going the last 100 meters; my split on the leg was rather poor and straight must have beeen better. #9 was a really interesting leg. I headed south a ways to try to escape the worst of the cliffs. I thought about going all the way around, but at some point things didn't look too bad to my left, so I cut across to the ESE. Pretty quickly I wasn't sure exactly where I was, but I just kept going the same general direction, trying to find the best line through the gullies. Only when I reached the knoll about 150 meters west of the control did I know where I was, but then finding the control was easy. And my split for the leg was pretty good. Being cautious/careful is fine, but sometimes you just have to get moving.

The rest of the course was OK, though it would have been nice to have had a compass. But the sun was out and that gave me a pretty good line.

8. Model event at Anza-Borrego SP, Borrego Springs, CA, January 13, 2006. This was one of those times when it was a really good idea to get out on the model map to get an idea of what the orienteering would be like the following days. Learned a few things: the terrain was really subtle, some of the knolls were very small (less than a meter high), and the cactus was no problem as long as you were looking where you were going. On the other hand, if you were concentrating on reading your map, either running or walking, it would be quite easy to get nailed. But overall the terrain looked like it would be really fun. The only drawback was that we only got a look at the gentle terrain, with none of the ravines and cliffs that we would have on the weekend.

Jogged around the course, managed pretty good.

7. Training at Hilton Falls West, Hamilton, Ontario, January 8, 2006, part of the GHO Winter Training Camp. Here are a few photos taken near the finish:

My notes from a few things Mike Waddington said before we headed out:

Comments on my training run:

6. Training at Mineral Springs, Hamilton, Ontario, January 7, 2006, part of the GHO Winter Training Camp. Route choice exercise with Spike. I took right routes, he took left.

5. THOMASS race at Mineral Springs, Hamilton, Ontario, January 7, 2006, part of the GHO Winter Training Camp. Mass start, handicaps for the young the old, and the female. By being sufficiently old, I got to skip three of the lettered controls and then #2. Managed to finish 4th out of about 100. Quite a cool format, was won by 13-year-old Emily Kemp from Ottawa.

4. Training at Bronte Park (part 1 | part 2), Hamilton, Ontario, January 6, 2006, part of the GHO Winter Training Camp. Relay training.

3. Sprint at Rattlesnake Point, Hamilton, Ontario, January 6, 2006, part of the GHO Winter Training Camp. 2.5 km, 75m, 20:10.

2. Training at Ancaster Creek, Hamilton, Ontario, January 5, 2006, part of the GHO Winter Training Camp. Control picking course that I modified quite severely.

1. Training at Mineral Springs, Hamilton, Ontario, January 5, 2006, part of the GHO Winter Training Camp. 6.1 km, 350m, 57:39.