February 24, 2014

A Few Results and a Lot of Commentary

Advanced Course Control 14
We are always favorably impressed when we see a new young orienteer perform well on a challenging course. Such was the case when Mikayla Rose led the pack on the Intermediate Course. Congratulations, Mikayla! Mikayla is one of Ben Brock's crop of promising orienteers at Riverstone International School where Ben is the Outdoor Education Director. Ben is a very capable orienteer in his own right. From what we see of Ben's students it appears he's effectively passing on skills.

We appreciate Mikayla's performance along with all of the others on the Intermediate Course all the more when we appraise its difficulty. The course was designed to afford orienteers the maximum opportunity to exercise their navigation skills in series of re-entrants, some of which are very subtle. We see similar terrain in the spring and summer meets, but it is a rare treat to navigate in the hills during the months of rain and snow. For this pleasure and privilege we owe our gratitude to Lance and Robyn Teel, owners of all of the property on which the Intermediate Course was set.

It's always our pleasure to see the Morgan family with Nikolai and Alexsi bounding into the finish line. One day in the not too distant future we expect to see Dad tuckered out, but proudly trailing behind.

Dan and Ashley Abel come to us as adventure racers. Dan has been the secondary navigator on his team, but now with the retirement of the primary navigator wants to improve his skills. The Abel team proved to be able indeed as they logged a time competitive with some of our strong and experienced regulars on the Intermediate Course.

We've been seeing more of Jerry Stewart lately. He and Steve Fransen joined forces to tackle the Intermediate Course. Both orienteers reported into the finish with smiles and evident satisfaction. We hope to see more of you guys as the year progresses.

There is a list of reasons to explain why an orienteer can take a long time on a course, among them being lost, sustaining an injury, avoiding bears and anything else you might imagine. For Holly and Megan Peters the explanation was determination to find as many of those controls as they could. Holly and Megan took a quantum leap from their month earlier success on the Beginner's Course at Julia Davis Park to this Intermediate Course. And they did it without their partner of last month, Mark Holman. As stated above the course qualified as intermediate because of its length, not its navigation difficulty. They found most of the controls and now know a lot more about orienteering. We know they could have returned to the finish much earlier. Holly and Megan, especially, were having fun.

If there's one thing we share almost universally as orienteers, it's humility. A few moments of triumph might momentarily push humility behind a veil of pride. A thin and fragile veil it is. And that is the theme of the commentary on the Advanced Course.

Of the total of 28 controls only three were off the Teel property. And on those three controls not only hung a punch, but also a tale of hubris. Ever mindful of the worthy opinions and honorable desires of fellow orienteers at whose pleasure he serves, the course setter lengthened a course that already had an elevation loss and gain of 633 meters. That's greater than the gain experienced by Robie runners when they top out at Aldape Summit. Some consolation might have been mistakenly found in the shorter distance—8K versus 8 miles. The proud among the petitioners requesting more physical challenge dismissed the evident aggravating factors of navigation and terrain even after we regrettably informed them that provision of a motorcycle escort and aid stations lay beyond our powers. Men and women were on their own out there. We are pleased to report that all returned safely.
Advanced Course Elevation Profile Before Added Length

As for pride, read on and judge for yourself. There lingers a suspicion that any pride was seasoned either with a little humility or a dose of delusion. Michael Bading reported that his GPS recorded a course of 8 miles, not 8K. Reflection on the 60% difference brought to mind a man walking a dog on a leash. The man walks in a direct line across a city park. The dog, though restrained by the length of the leash, travels by his own agenda, sniffing a tree here and straining toward a squirrel there. We submit that, with the exception of the exceptional, as orienteers we are more like the dogs and not dog-walkers.

And Jeff Black, whose optimism is tempered by experience offered a caveat ( “I'm game for any of the options, all will expose my weak spots I expect.”), reported entering a time-space continuum at The Slump. Those of you who have never transited this slice of misplaced terrain have missed an exquisite jumble of basalt boulders and crumpled earth. That it might distort the dimensions of cognition does not surprise us. We would counsel Jeff that it has nothing to do with relativistic physics, but is very much a Newtonian reality, to wit, with position as a function of time all of those obstacles can deviate your vector and hold your first derivative in check. It's dx/dt, not E=mc2. (We really never were very good at calculus and we  only know of gravity enough to keep our feet on the ground, so we confess to having plagiarized and adapted in our effort to communicate with Jeff on his elevated plane.)

Bill Leahy offered no such caveat. He did note that our early start compelled him to choose between his two hour Saturday morning basketball game and our little orienteering meet. And Bill finished strong enough to claim the second fastest time on the course and the honor of first place. More about second and first a little later. Bill did say he felt strong enough to go back out and run the Intermediate Course, but would choose not to in light of the blisters he had acquired. We commend Bill to Proverbs with our minor amendment: “When pride cometh, then cometh blisters: but with the lowly is wisdom”. We will take credit for any wisdom that he might derive from Saturday morning's experience. And we offer advice to any subsequent meet directors to whom Bill's welfare is entrusted:  Arrange for him to start early at Saturday meets.

We need look no further than the first re-entrant control to be reminded of the basis for our own humility. It was there that the first orienteer out of the gate found a post without a control bag attached. Fortunately, Melanie Schuster consented to carry the delinquent bag and set it for us. Thank you Melanie for relieving us of the torrent of derision that otherwise would have come our way.

We have nary a word for Greg Davidson, who performed well and left happy. We too were happy that you came and were pleased.

You will observe a new participant category in the results table. Sergey has long been in a category of his own. For reasons spanning our long association with him and more particularly these two most recent meets we have created a new category. In the January meet report Jeff wrote about Sergey taking a control out of order, “By conventional orienteering rules this is a DQ and so he has been marked as such.” Sometimes justice is harsh. As harsh as Jeff and Dondi were, we honor their fidelity to the rules and so approve their decision. Sadly, we too have reached a similar judgment. At the start all orienteers were directed to follow the fence beyond the recently seeded lot. Sergey alone disregarded these instructions giving himself an unfair advantage and undermining directors' authority. Be assured that we were motivated in our decision not by the affront to our authority, but by our ethical responsibility. Although we followed Jeff and Dondi's precedent (Thank you, Jeff and Dondi for your courage in showing us the path of righteousness.), we believe that Sergey's performance must be viewed from a broader perspective. Hence, a category for Sergey alone, probably alone in perpetuity, to honor speed, efficiency and expedience. We know Sergey not as the dog, but as the dog-walker. Indeed, Jeff, who kindly supplied us with photographs for this report, was unable to capture Sergey's image because he was moving too fast. We do have one reservation as an anonymous source proffered us with a dubious report of Sergey walking. 
Sergey, the DQ is tough love because we love you. We duly noted that you brought Braunschweiger and crackers in a vain effort to compensate for the lost culinary inspiration of our departed and profoundly missed Russ Pilcher. (Some O club in Arizona is lucky beyond its wildest dreams and a little fatter.) Let it be known that in the case of one of our directors Braunschweiger is mitigation, not to be confused with a bribe, resulting in the establishment of Sergey's new special category.

Sunday, March 16 Karin Didisse directs our next meet at Ann Morrison Park.
David Murray
John Murray

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