Monday, June 11, 2012

Ottawa O-Fest Middle

              Just a couple weekends ago was the Ottawa O-Fest, which is one of the biggest annual meets in Ottawa. It was a great weekend full of lots of orienteering and gorgeous but hot weather. There was the typical sprint, long, middle, and relay but my favourite and best race was the middle at March Highlands.
                I was a late starter and it was getting pretty toasty in the sun, but under the shade of the trees it was still manageable. My goals for the race were to take the straightest routes that looked good and to use my control description to ensure I knew what the control was on and what side of the feature.
               I started out feeling great but it took me a couple of controls to really get into the map. I had a couple seconds of hesitation on control 2 because I started looking for the control a bit too early. It was nothing serious though and I was able to continue with renewed confidence. Unfortunately, on my way to 4 I was running over a boulder patch and tweaked my ankle. It didn’t affect my race until after I got back but it was a good reminder that strong ankles are always important in this sport. Brushing your teeth while standing on a pillow anyone?
As I was running to 11 I saw the intimidating leg to 12 and had to pause for a couple seconds to see which route looked best. I decided to avoid the majority of the trails since they were mainly for mountain bikers and therefore went over all the hills and through the open bare rock areas. I decided to take the straightest route that wound in between the swamps. I was quite happy with my route since I had many prominent features that I was able to check off along the way. I just had to be careful to not mix up the swamps!
                Reading the control description carefully before you get to the control makes it much easier to have a clear image in your head of the control circle. If you know which side of the boulder the flag is on, or if it’s at the foot of the cliff, then you can save a few seconds at each control. It also saves you the panicked feeling that you get when you arrive to where you think the control should be but you can’t see it because it’s on the other side of the hill. For example, when I was running to control 10, I knew that it was placed at the foot of the cliff so I made sure to stay low on the hill to be sure to see that glimmer of orange and white.
                Overall the race was fantastic! We got to race some really technical courses in some beautifully runnable woods and I think that everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. The weekend was a great success and a big thank you to all the organizers that put so much of their time into it!

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