Friday, September 16, 2011

Orienteering Blue Spruce Park 2011

This was the first WPOC orienteering event I had to drive a significant distance to get to, and the first time I tried the red course (the longest and most difficult). This was the first time I didn't feel like "well,it's in the neighborhood, so I might as well go". It was also the day of the Pittsburgh Marathon, and Frances and I got up early to cheer on our friend who was participating.

The park is located a little north of Indiana, PA, home of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, whose orienteering club formed the basis of the WPOC. It's a county park centered on a small reservoir, which was brim full after heavy rains overnight.

The red course ran counter clockwise around the lake from the shelter on the south side. Highlights of the course included some very rocky ground. Between the soccer ball size stones and the fallen tree limbs I had serious concerns for my ankles. I lost my shoe in a muddy grassy patch. I found one control when I heard the bubbling spring it was hanging over. I made a wrong turn when I mistook an oil tank for a gas well. I wiped out a couple of times slipping in mud. I got turned around in a large open field and had to reorient to figure out which corner I was in. Another competitor passed me. I was totally exhausted and dragging when I had to get up the last big hill, but coming back down it I was able to get back up to speed and finished strong on last downhill and flat legs.

I was very happy with the day. The course was difficult but I got through it. I made some navigational errors, but nothing embarrassing. I got passed, but I came in very close to most of the other runners.

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