Tuesday, March 9, 2010

12 - Gilpin Park - Brunswick

A busy workload and a long weekend has meant a delay in posting this week's report, but here it is at last.

Tonight’s course in Brunswick featured flat terrain, but a number of major roads and a train line to negotiate. Plenty of laneways dotted the course, but these were paved with cobblestones that made it hard to gain any rhythm. The weather was humid and threatening with rain, but I was sure it would hold off. I was right, no rain tonight, and not too hot.

I quickly scouted for the best route that covered 11 controls. Heading east from the beginning and heading in an anti-clockwise direction meant there would be a number of ways I could finish the course and still be close to the finish. I headed to #14 and then decided not to cross the railway to get #8, but instead continue north to get 18 –13. As some of the controls to the south of the map were well out of the way, this meant I needed to collect all of the northern section. Had I picked up #8, I could easily have skipped one and not have to wind my way up and down streets to collect 3 – 17 – 7 – 12. I probably would have avoided #7 this way.

Heading in towards the final, I still needed 4 controls so had to decide between #5 (across a major road & tram tracks) and #9 (heading away from the finish and having to backtrack to the end). I chose #9 because I already had to finish with #6.

I walked very little of the way, but still thought a few had beaten me back in the C-course. As it turned out, I had come second only to a runner who hadn’t raced on a Thursday before and so bridged the gap in the overall standings to hold a share of the lead. I don’t know how far behind the leader I finished, but there were a number of ways I could have shortened my route and they all stem from decisions I made early in the run.

Based on the blank map at the start, I had decided to head north from the park and then east along Victoria Street. I knew this would give me options as I looked for ways to finish the course.. Seeing the control locations convinced me to head east immediately to get #14. What I should have done is head south to #6 and get 6 – 19 – 14 – 8 before continuing with my original route. I’d have to ignore the fact I was crossing the railway 4 times, but with those being so close, I could get momentum in my run going, while being able to avoid winding my way around to get #3 & #7. It would also have provided an easy finish route directly from #15.


So, I guess I need to take more time to plan the beginning of my route. For the second week in succession, I have had to go out of my way more by getting a particular control at the end rather than at the start. I will try to take more time on the map when I first receive it. There is a very fine balance, though, between studying the map at the beginning and moving forward on the run. You can’t take too much time before actually biting the bullet and heading out towards the first control.

In other news, I’ve been learning about overlay in Google Earth. I’ve managed to overly the scanned map from the event directly onto the map, this making it easier to plot my own route around the course. Things don’t always line up (I probably haven’t got complete hang of the function) so the path seems out of alignment when the overlay is hidden, but it looks good, particularly with all maps overlayed into Google Earth.

At the end of the season, I will try to publish a file that you can download and see the locations of all maps from the season.

The next event is definitely on home ground based around my kids’ school in Eltham North. I know that some parts of the expected course have particularly steep inclines so I’ll be aiming to stay to one half of the map. Hopefully, controls are located in friendly positions to enable this to happen.

Friday, February 26, 2010

11. Warralong - Yallambie

The most notable point about this map is the lack of river crossing at the south end. There were only 3 controls on the eastern side, but I thought they were worth getting first and then worrying about coming back home along the west side.

I started off the run very flat. I had trouble deciding whether to get the slightly out of the way #1 first before heading over the river, and decided not to. Then I lost track of my location heading through the thick vegetation towards #8. Then a lonely run heading north towards 20 -- 12. Trying to work out which 8 controls to get on the way home, I just couldn't seem to find a good route. Controls 4 -- 16 -- 7 -- 2 were too tempting being along the river in relatively flat conditions, but in order to get the other 4 controls, I would have to head up to the road and back in between.

I didn't want to venture too far into the streets as I wanted to avoid as much uphill section as possible, so after #16, headed up to #15 before heading back to the river and 7 -- 2. That left 3 controls to get and I still tossed up which ones to get. At this point I was practically back to the start and having to find a small loop.

I considered 6 -- 17 -- 1 but went instead for 13 -- 6 -- 1. At this point each of the 3 remaining controls required a degree of double-backing, which wasn't ideal. I also wished I had taken #1 at the start so I could finish directly from #6. This would've saved me about 400m as it turns out.

I have since noticed the two bridges directly south & north of # 16 that may have saved some distance and enable me to get an extra control on the leg heading north. However, the route to get there from #20 is a bit of a detour as it is, so I was probably right to take the long way to #12. My route took in a total of 6.5km and 50 minutes, a slightly slower effort than recent runs.

I certainly didn't run as well as I have in recent weeks, mostly because I wasn't confident with my route choice. Results for the event aren't available yet, probably due to the absence of the organiser all week, but I certainly don't think I was near the top of competitors for C-course.

I expect the Brunswick course to be quite flat next week, although it looks like there are more cut-through reserves than last week's Fairfield map.