Friday, February 12, 2010

8. White's Corner - Doncaster

Well, that was an experience. Thunderstorms in Melbourne during the afternoon persisted throughout the evening. They stopped for brief periods, but it was hard to notice. Greensborough was light drizzle compared to the conditions tonight. Not surprisingly, a relatively small turnout of just 43, and only 5 runners doing the C-course. It also kept the streets free from annoying obstacles like non-orienteering walkers and associated animals.

From seeing the map, I decided a route starting in the south-west corner would be best as this would give me options of how to finish once I worked out the rest. It was really good to see 3 controls out there and all providing a good route heading out to the north. With only 9 controls to find, that took care of 1/3 or the course. And #12 was a logical 4th control to get.

By this point, I’m completely soaked and not able to do a thing about it. The rain came down heavier and in order to finish with 11 – 6 – 10, I had to decide which other two controls to get. I contemplated 2 – 20, but thought it best to stay clear of the park as it would be mostly off-path running and completely waterlogged. Plus the path from 20 – 4 wasn’t direct before heading home. So I headed east straight to #4 and then #17. This was probably the hilliest part of the course, having to run across contour rather than along, and by this point there were very few sightings of other runners.

It’s generally around this midway point where I begin to doubt my progress. I start to more walking, mainly on uphill sections and I don’t take out a watch so have lost track of how long I’ve been running for. At this point, I was a little annoyed at not getting #2 earlier as it meant I could skip #10 at the end. Finishing with #11 would’ve been a natural finish with it being so close and accessible, and I had to run further away to get both #6 & 10. It probably didn’t add too much distance, if any, as I would’ve had to find another one to replace #6 with. I’m always conscious of spending too much time plotting a future course and so hadn’t fully planned the final controls until it was too late. The stretch from #10 – home seemed to be longer than indicated, and although I was determined to finish this section without walking, I didn’t manage it. The run took 40 minutes, but seemed longer than normal. I ran 5.9km at a faster speed than normal. The flatter conditions obviously help there.

I was pleasantly surprised to find very few people finish before me that were running any of the courses. It could have been that the rain had sent those finishing to the protection of their cars, but I soon realised that everyone had found the conditions tough. It even took until close to 8:00 before the majority of A & B-course runners returned, so they probably found it even tougher with having to enter the park. I finished in my best position of 2nd, although there was a smaller number competing. There are a couple of competitors who could overtake me in the standings if they manage to run 6 events during the series. I'm happy with the progress so far.

Usually, there are descriptive clues to the exact location of controls. Tonight, the clues were in the form of photos. As the dots on the map are very accurate anyway, I didn’t really have a use for the photos, plus being on the back made it difficult to easily reference them anyway, particularly in the wet conditions. I know there is a lot of effort in setting the courses each week. There’s clearly a lot of skill and planning involved and so it’s easy to see the effort in the final result.

I’m hoping for condition to be more pleasant next week. The Westgarth map looks like it will be mainly streets and very little parkland or reserves. This means very little shortcuts and careful route planning.

I'd love comments on how others found the course, and the decisions they made in planning a route.

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