Saturday’s national event at Ma’agarey Menashe was held in sand dunes on a sunny 24 degrees day – summer conditions anywhere in Europe, but about standard for this winter in Israel. It’s great terrain, especially when used properly, and the race was fun even though I was really tired towards the end. I finished the 8,370m H35 course in 1:11:57, good enough for 3rd place and with only a couple of small mistakes (3 and 8).
I’m really pleased with myself for keeping my level of fitness over the last couple of months, and not letting my weight creep back up too much. Since I started working full-time again I’ve also been teaching twice a week in the evening, so I’ve had only one day of running training a week (the other two days out of five my daughter Ayala is with me, so I usually don’t run), plus weekends. Next week I finish the course and I’ll be able to get back to my regular 2-3 running sessions on weekdays. My original plan was to drop down to H40 for the Israeli Championship (7-8th March), but the way I feel now I’ll stay in H35.
Last weekend I took a break from orienteering and took Ayala for a birthday trip to the Dead Sea area. On Saturday we visited Masada, which could be quite an orienteering fantasy:
Stage 1: Middle distance in the hills below the mountain – the picture says it all.
Stage 2: Go up the mountain by cable car (you can do it on foot as well, but it’s 350m climb), and enjoy a Sprint through the ruins. Most of the area is not out of bounds, and there are quite a few small mazes.
There’s not much chance of all this happening, of course. Basically, it’s in the middle of nowhere, which means that getting there is a long drive by our standards (2+ hours). But the main problem is that the site is maintained by our Nature and Parks Authority, and their attitude to orienteering in general ranges from dislike to obstructionism. I’m not sure about the hills below – they don’t appear as a nature reserve on the map that I checked, but I suspect that they are treated as such and we could have problems.
If it’s not just a fantasy, it’s going to be fun, and I’m sure a lot of people will come. I’d be happy to make the maps myself, but let’s overcome the other obstacles first.
And another point: the race in the hills below Masada would be the lowest ever orienteering event (in the world) – 300-350m below sea level.
The map of Saturday’s national event has an untranslateable name in Hebrew, so I’ll call it “Sumak ruins”, after the well-known ruins in the south-west corner (control 10).
We usually have only one or two brand new areas for national events each season – all the others are on old or re-mapped areas – and this is the only one this season. The map looks intimidating at first, but although the terrain is very rocky it’s not bad at all. Now that we’re in the LIDAR age, such areas can be mapped very accurately, and Uzi Schweizer did a great job, though I would have classified the vegetation very differently – in my opinion most of the two lighter shades of green is white.
I finished second in H35 again, finishing the 7500m course (with 315m climb) in 1:21:30. I missed only one control, searching for no. 12 for a couple of minutes. I started slowly in order to get a feel for the terrain, and then speeded up a bit on the way to 2, but decided that the ground is too uneven for fast running and kept to a safer pace for the rest of the course. I felt as fit as ever (after jogging 13 km on Friday to mark controls for the Rogaine) and if I can stay like this I’ll be running H35 till the end of the season.
Control 11 was blatantly unfair. It’s marked as a pit, but is inside a large rock outcropping and should have been mapped as such. If you were lucky you saw someone climbing out of it, and if not you could search for a long time. I was lucky, but I wouldn’t have lost much time anyway, as I knew exactly where I was. You can see it clearly in Daniel Griff’s headcam video of the course at 0:45:30.
There’s a really good picture of Roni finishing here. 17 weeks and counting, 3rd in D21C. This time she won’t be orienteering in the 39th week, but only because the season ends a few weeks earlier.