Saturday, April 25, 2015

Orienteering In Needham Town Forest

I dove 40 minutes to Needham to participate in my second NEOC meet in seven days. The morning was sunny and cool so it was a perfect day to be in the woods. One thing I really like about these meets is that the course opens at 10am but you can start your race any time between 10am and 12pm. I took advantage of a later start and slept in a bit and enjoyed breakfast and coffee before hitting the road.

Course map with location of 11 controls.

The topography in Needham Town Forest was not as challenging as it was at the meet last week so I decided to jog the flatter sections instead of walking them like I did at Breakheart. I was making excellent time, finding the first three controls in less than eight minutes and beginning to think the course was too easy. Then, I carelessly ran past control #5 and had to backtrack to locate it. Also, in my haste to reach control #8 I misread the map which put me slightly off course. When I realized my error, I shot a bearing from my location on the map to the control and found it pronto! But these mistakes cost time. (After checking results, I was in 3rd place after 4 controls but fell to 8th place after 8 controls. Final placing was 12th)

Then the wheels fell off completely .

The race director had warned us there were many phantom trails created by mountain bikers that were not marked on our maps. Up until this point, they hadn't created a huge problem for me but that all changed on my way to the 10th control. I got totally confused by the number of unmarked, intersecting trails and was unsure of my location on the map. While I had located the first nine controls in 43 minutes, it took another 22 minutes to locate the 10th control. That totally blew the race for me. After locating the elusive control I quickly found the 11th and last control and jogged to the finish.

Can you locate control #7?

It's under the yellow arrow.

Although I was a little disappointed I spent 30% of my time on the course looking for a single control, I was pleased I didn't give up without finding it. Each race is different and I feel like I learn something that will help me improve at the next meet. Maybe you can teach an old dog a new trick!

“Truth lies within a little and certain compass, but error is immense.” - William Blake

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