Possum Trot V - Loop C comments
The map for the "C" loop at the 'Trot is at: http://www.geocities.com/okansas.geo/maps/pt01c.html Since it worked pretty well the first time: I took a cup of Gatorade, a couple swallows of Hammergel, and then another Gatorade before heading back out. I asked about what position I might be in, but they didn't really know. The pack took off SE towards the maintenance yard, I decided that was a mistake and headed NE towards 20. Gene was on my left and Ian, Jeff, and David C. were on my right. I was the first one to 20, and was confused that it said VP and not WP. I watched the others and while I tried to remember if we had been in the area earlier in the race. They eventually joined me and we agreed that this was the proper control. Things happened pretty fast after that. I think we lost Gene on the way to 21. Running the road to 22, it looked like Ian and Jeff were going to drop me, I was getting very tired. Jeff and I lost Ian at 23 by taking a gully too far south, but my route choice to 24 was best and by descending the large gully west of the 5 deciduous trees, I was able to beat Ian to 24. We arrived at 25 at the same time and tried to talk the other into going to 26. That wasn't going to happen! I arrived at 27 from the east, Ian took the smarter approach from the north. He crossed the creek right before me and then put it in gear up the hill towards 28. I knew at that moment I would not catch him, I didn't have the legs. Once he rounded the corner it was out of sight, out of mind. I walked the steepest part of the hill after verifying no one was coming up behind me. I was happy to learn I was 6th place, my best finish in 4 tries. So ended my Possum Trot V.
-- Eric S. (email@example.com), December 04, 2001.
Control 20 was labeled VP, instead of WP, reminiscent of the wrong code the day before at Clinton - but again all the experienced orienteers figured it out and shrugged it off - again. I was really debating of stopping after 2 loops. To be in the company of so many others at 20 was , well, encouraging. Or, suckering me in for the Loop 3 death march. When Spike offered me water on the way to 24, I had to ask him to slow down his walk pace so I could catch up. Every control was going to be the last one, but no, just one more. Going to 27 mean going on trails all the way. The uphill to 28 required several stops. Fritz encouraged me with the words, "remember nachos from '87." I forgot what that meant, but I finished... which was, from the start, the real goal for the day. -- Mean, but no so lean, Gene
-- mean gene (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 04, 2001.
Maybe it's because the line from 25-26 has a break in it when it crosses the field or maybe I was just getting too tired, but when I scanned the last loop I never saw control 26. Therefore, the candidates for skipping were 20, 21, 22, or 27. 27 was probably best, but as I followed Dave into the woods towards 20 it occurred to me that I could ditch Dave by skipping 20. This choice was also influenced by the fact that I mistook the rockface for a trail, so I thought I had a trail run the whole way. At any rate, given the existence of 26, the choice was so bad that dwelling on the details is rather academic. When I realized I was out of trail, I cut up to the field and then dropped down to 21. The road run to 22 went quickly and although I hadn't gained as much as I hoped, I figured I could still beat Dave if he made a mistake. I navigated well to 23, recognizing the features from my route away from 14. Crossing the streambed slowed me down a bit, but it was an OK leg. The leg to 24 was a different story. The fast route is to take the streambed, but for some reason that didn't even occur to me. Probably it's just habit. In St. Louis, the streambeds are almost always the worst place to be - we usually have good running along the banks and very few deep ditches. At any rate, I ran reasonably well until I hit the large north-south ditch (the source of my troubles on 12). After a bumpy slide down into the ditch I noticed that although I had a string around my wrist, there was no compass attached to it. I found the compass and noticed that the plate had cracked where the string attaches. I rethreaded the string hoping it would hold for the rest of the loop. I then ran the stream to the point where it bends north and climbed up the bank. Across the spur I found the control. Time for the 550 meter leg was a painful 8:45. Not as painful as the next leg, however. Although I knew the leg had been slow, I still thought I had a chance (hadn't noticed 26 yet) and was pretty sure that Dave was still behind me. I charged out of the control and then, well, I'm not sure exactly what happened then. I do remember starting to fall and noticing that my head was heading for a root that didn't look very soft. But as I was getting up I realized that I didn’t actually remember hitting the root (although my right temple was sending very clear signals confirming the event). I don't know if I actually passed out or not. At any rate I was back on my way quick enough and was able to run down the road towards 25. Here, I finally noticed 26 and that did nothing to improve my mood. Once off the road and climbing up to the trail my head started to hurt a lot more so I decided to walk for a bit. I jogged easy on the trail and found 25. Despite the difficulties, my leg time of 6:59 for 760 meters wasn't too bad. The route to 26 was easy enough; I crossed the field on the earth bank, which was reasonably fast going. I drifted right climbing the hill and boomed the control, but not too badly, losing about a minute. Crossing the field to 27 I ran over a burr bush and confirmed an old adage: you really do get crabby when you get a burr up your, well, you know how it goes. My approach to 27 was a bit rough, probably losing about a minute because I dropped all the way down into the stream and then had to climb back up the spur. Leaving 27 I knew that I simply was not moving well anymore so I just ran the trail to the road, picked up the last two easy controls and headed in. My time for the 5.1 K leg was a dismal 55 minutes. 25-26-27 took me 15 minutes, but some of that was due to the fact that I really couldn't run well from 24 on. Subtracting out the difficulties at the control sites on 26 and 27, 12 minutes is probably a better estimate of the leg times under normal conditions. 25-27 looks like a 5 minute leg to me so the skip of 26 is worth about 7 minutes. By contrast the skip of 20 saved maybe 3. That’s still not good enough to put me in front of Dave, who ran an excellent third loop, but it was disappointing to give the game away when we were so close. An interesting skip was suggested (but not taken) by Sharon Crawford: drop 23. This gives you a road run to 24. It looks to me like you could do 22-24 in under 6 minutes. My time for 22-23-24 was 13:06 although this included a bad route choice and maybe a minute finding and fixing my broken compass. At any rate, 26 is still the one to skip, but I think this idea is interesting just because it’s not at all obvious. So, was it really a bad day? Yes. I gave away about 12 minutes in errors and another 5 in bad choices. My kilometer times after the fall at 24 were over a minute slower than the rest of the run and I hate finishing slow. However, I still had a good time and enjoyed seeing all my friends from KC. I seem to be running much better on even years in the Possum Trot (II and IV were really good for me, I and III were dismal). Hopefully, I’ll be back in form next year!
-- Eric (email@example.com), December 05, 2001.
For this loop I decided that I would skip 26. To me this appears to be an obvious skip. I know that Spike, at least, will tell you differently. Spike likes a skip at 25. To me, 26 is a much better skip. I can't explain Spike's reasoning, but 24,25, and 27 are right in a nice line. You can run routes between them that stay quite straight, in white woods, trails, clearings, etc. for most the the route. Skipping 26 saves a lot of distance. To 20 I was a bit right of the line, but knew I was that way once I got to the creek that runs nearby the control. The code was not correct here, but Bob Lane was right there and said he'd been all around the area and not seen another control. There weren't other features around like the one I was looking at so I punched in and left on a straight route to 21. On the way to 21, I did another silly thing. There is a creek to cross (one in a deep ditch). Once I'd climbed up the other side I was looking down into a parallel one. I was on the little spur above the ditch junction just left of the line! The worst place to cross. I crossed the second part of the ditch and continued on. Down to the road from 21, leaving it as I got past the large cliff on its north side. I was near the east end of the depression when I got inside the circle. Pretty straight to 23. Orlyn and some others on the B Loop were passing through. I climbed what I thought was the right ditch but found no control at the top. I found the right ditch a short ways to the west. They tell me that the creek bottom was the best route to 24, but I ended up going through the fields. It would be fine except for the now infamous ditches. I went down and back up two of them and on the third I decided to just follow the ditch down to the main stream. South to the road, along the road around the dark green and the fenceline. South again towards the field where I got on the trail. Straight to the control from the trail bend. To 27, I went SW towards the straight N-S running wide ride by way of the patch of 1-way runnable woods. To 28 I skirted around the dark green areas on trails and things, crossing the stream then on the gravel trail, the parking lot, and onto the paved road. I approached 28 a bit too far from the west, but not too badly. To 29 I tried to go straight, but was forced a bit to the left by thickets. Again the press box helped out at that control. By more than a minute, it was the fastest Trot ever run. My theory on Trots is that they are a race of attrition. There are always thorns. There are always iffy areas on the map. Everybody faces the same thing. Everybody loses a bit of time. When you do, you simply have to pick yourself back up and keep going. It isn't a race for people seeking tbe perfect run or trying to go faster than a certain time. Every Trot is different, yet they are all the same.
-- Mook (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 05, 2001.
I started the loop by drinking two cups of Gatorade and re-filling my water bottle. As I drank Gatorade, I glanced at the map and decided to skip 26. I also noticed, however, that skipping 25 didn't look bad (because it'd give you a chance to run on the road and the edge of fields -- always a good think when you're tired). At this point, I felt pretty confident that I'd be able to finish the Trot. At the end of the prior loop, Mary told me I was in 10th place. On the way to 20, I heard someone bashing through the woods behind me. I figured it would be Fritz. It was actually Orlyn. Orlyn looked tired, he was falling and stumbling. We reached 20 at the same time. The code was close, but wrong. The control was obviously in the right place and I didn't have any concern about mis-punching. Orlyn was moving faster than me. But, he was clearly tired and looked like he wasn't orienteering as cleanly as me. Maybe I could beat him. It would take Orlyn making a big boom that would allow me to get by. On the way to 21, Orlyn crossed the deep reentrant a bit too far up (meaning he had to cross an extra deep reentrant). Orlyn also stopped a bit too soon. I was able to keep up with him because of that. On the was to 21, Fritz appeared behind us. Orlyn ran up the road toward 22. I couldn't keep up; not a chance. Fritz was still behind us. As I got near 22, I could tell Orlyn was looking too early. Once again, I was able to make up some more ground and we punched at about the same time. Fritz was crashing through the woods behind us. Orlyn, Fritz and I all punched at 23 at about the same time. Fritz was clearly the worst off of us. He was stumbling along complaining about how he felt. He was talking a lot, not thinking about orienteering. I was pretty sure I'd be able to beat Fritz. I took the stream bed to 24. Orlyn went up through the clearings. I don't know what Fritz did. Near 24 I passed Gene. Gene was walking and looked tired. I thought he might have bonked, so I offerred him some Gu. He turned down Gu, but asked for water. I kept walking but took out my water bottle and held it up. I figured Gene would be moving faster than me and would catch me. But, he was actually going slower than me. I slowed down and gave him the bottle. Neither of us realized that 24 was a water stop. Orlyn and I punched just before Gene. Orlyn seemed a bit out of it (maybe he always seems a bit out of it?!). It gave me some hope that I might be able to beat him. He didn't look absolutely exhausted (like Fritz did), but he looked like he might be ready to make a big boom. I decided to skip 26 (though I still think skipping 25 isn't a terrible idea). Orlyn was ahead of me and when we hit the forest on the other side of the road, Orlyn ran away from me. I never saw him again until I finished almost 5 minutes behind him. I had a little bobble, but Orlyn must have run the rest of the course cleanly and been able to keep a decent pace. On the way to 25, I allowed myself a bit over a minute of jogging along the trail. I boomed 25. I was a bit too far east of the control. I'd guess I lost 30-45 seconds. As I was nearing 27, I saw Dave C. Cool! I was catching another person. I left 27 by heading west. Yes, west! I headed out to the ride and followed the ride back to the trail that crossed the stream. I'd been having so much difficulty getting down steep slopes, that I felt going around like that would be the best route for me. I'm glad I took it. As I was leabing 27, I bumped in to Fritz approaching it. I did a bit more jogging between 27 and the stream crossing. On the trail and road toward 28, I took a good look at Dave. Dave was tired. When he walked, I was gaining ground on him. Dave jogged a bit and pulled away. Then he'd start walking again. It gave me some hope that I might beat him. Dave turned off the road and headed into the forest at 28 too soon. He left about where the little bit of fence is. I went further up the road before I cut in. At this point, I figured I needed to spike the control, leave it as quickly as possible and look as confident and strong as possible (even though I wasn't actually running). I wanted Dave to see that I wasn't tired -- I didn't want him thinking that I was looking tired. I wanted Dave to give up any thought of trying to beat me and just think about finishing. I beat Dave to 28 and left as quickly as possible toward 28. I didn't look back (not wanting Dave to have anything to motivate him). I punched at 29 and kept going. I knew that a straight route (rather than touching the trail) felt faster. I'd also "saved" about 30 seconds of jogging. So, when I got out of the woods I began to shuffle toward the finish line. I figured this would be the nail in the coffin -- If Dave saw me begin to run, he'd give up and just walk it in. I beat Dave and finished 8th overall! I gained almost a minute on Dave in the last 400 meters. Walking the Trot was a very interesting experience. I was surprised that I could get a respectable result without being able to run. I wasn't a threat for the podium. But, I was ahead of a bunch of folks who were running. A clean race (I didn't lose much time) and keeping a steady pace go a long way. I walked at a quick pace. I wore a heart rate monitor and my heart rate averaged just over 150. That's equivalent of a bit harder than a jog, but well below a normal race effort. Because I kept a slow/stead pace, I didn't hit the wall. Instead, I got to see others running out of gas. Orlyn, Fritz, Gene and Dave all looked worn out. I'm sure that being tired was slowing down their orienteering. From just before 27 to just before 28, I didn't really gain anything on Dave. But, I was able to find 28 and 29 and get to the finish almost a minute faster. That has got to be a time gain based on navigating. That's a lot of time in a short period. Finally, "Thanks" to the organizers for putting on another great event. I'm looking forward to next year's Trot. I plan to be running by then!
-- Michael (email@example.com), December 05, 2001.