Saturday was the Israeli version of the Billygoat, known mostly in the USA as a mass-start race with the option to skip a few controls. We first held one 12-13 years ago, and now Modi’in O-Club has started a tradition of organising these events, that will hopefully continue.
I ran the longest course (10.5 km), where you could skip any three non-consecutive controls. In hindsight, I think the best option was to skip 9, 15 and 21, but I started badly with a parallel error at 1 and decided to skip no. 3 in order to regain some ground. This helped me at 5 and 8, but I miscalculated the size of the trap at 20-21 and wasted another skip at 9 in order to clear my head with some easy orienteering, during which I understood my situation (dire) and had no choice but to fight on. Analysis of the split times shows that I lost at least 5 minutes by having to collect both 20 and 21, and a few more by missing 20 and a bad route to 21. I finished 14th overall, which isn’t too bad, in a time of 1:48:10, but the pack that I should have been competing with was under 1:40.
The course was well planned but in my opinion the steep and slow terrain isn’t the best for a race of this type, which should be more free-flowing. Many of the controls, even when easy to find, involved a scramble into the bushes or over large rocks. I enjoyed the physical challenge more than the orienteering, but overall it was a very good event.
This weekend was our annual Winter Cup – two days of orienteering on a new map of Segev Forest, which I actually mapped back in 1993 but has since been mostly cut down and re-planted, and was now mapped from scratch by Davidi Segal.
On Friday I travelled alone to the event, started at my allocated time, had a good race (benefiting at some tricky controls from the presence of other orienteers), and finished with a better result than expected – 4th in H35. Despite this, I felt disappointed: the course (see the bottom map) lacked the excitement of a championship. It was a bit monotonous, lacking fire, if you know what I mean.
On Saturday we made it a family event. I started early, before the official start times, and was alone in the forest for most of the time. The course (top map) was longer, steeper, and trickier. I lost time looking for some controls, and a lot of time at control 17, where there was general agreement afterwards that the map was problematic and it shouldn’t have been placed there. I finished 6th, a long way behind the pack. And I really enjoyed myself, because this was definitely one of the best courses of the past few years (thanks to Asaf Avner for the planning).
When I finished I took Alon (4.5) in hand and Matan (1.5) on my back, and we set out on the family course, against the direction, while Roni ran D21C. After a few minutes we met my parents just finishing the course, and after that Ayala (almost 12) and a friend as well (as I said – a family event!). Just after a snack break Roni passed by us on the course, and Alon decided to run with her to the finish (this dropped her from 2nd to 4th in the category, but who cares?), so I walked back with Matan. The weather and the forest were beautiful, my legs were exhausted, and it was fun. This day was everything orienteering is supposed to be, and may there be many more like it.
I had no real hope of challenging for a podium place in H35, so I wasn’t disappointed. The 5-6 minutes I lost at 17 could have brought me into a really respectable time, fighting for 4th-5th place, and this is where I paid the price for starting early, but I’m still happy with my performance, especially physically. I’m ready for more…
I’ve been busy with some tragic family issues over the past few weeks, but now I’m trying to get back to normal and I have some spare time for blogging again.
After getting back in competitive shape quite quickly, I decided that my fitness is very important – as well as allowing me to enjoy orienteering races, it also enables me to avoid fatigue on normal work (and parenting) days and enjoy my time more. I’m trying to run longer distances, preferably in terrain, and I have a goal of running four 20+km single-tracks in the region by March.
Being fit enough, I also decided to switch to the Long course at national events, running H35 even though I have no chance of competing for anything. My first attempt was at Adi (the bottom map), where I first used a new compass with a magnifier, though not enough (see no. 9), and I really enjoyed the running despite some steep climbs.
Last weekend, at Massuah (the top map), the Long course was the longest and toughest here for ages – 10.2 km, and on tricky terrain as well. I was doing reasonably well until control 17, which was marked as a drinks control but was not. I decided not to take a risk and to detour south to the water on the path, and from then on my performance deteriorated. The biggest mistake was at 20 – I simply couldn’t make out the green (impassable cactus) on the map, due to a combination of my failing short-range eyesight and colour-blindness, and it took me ages to find a way through to the control. I still enjoyed the race, spent another couple of hours marking controls for a 123-control race we’re planning on an adjacent map, and didn’t crash into bed after the 90-minute drive home.
So my legs are now feeling 40, while my eyes are probably nearer 50. Meanwhile I’ll stay in H35 as long as I can finish the course respectably and read the map, or unless I get the itch to fight for a championship in H40 (which isn’t easy either).