After spending 3 days looking for my compass, I “competed” yesterday in an AR-OGAINE, which is like an orienteering competition on steroids. I was considering this a last-hurrah, since I’m 15 weeks pregnant and am only going to get slower, clumsier, and more confused in the next 5 months.
An OGAINE (which stands for Outdoor Group Adventure, and something that starts with INE…..) is very different than a regular O-meet. The fact that it was put on by Odyssey Adventure Racing and that the “sprint” was 8 hours long should have also tipped me off as to the difficulty level. I had volunteer credits so I was able to participate for free! The race was split into 2 zones, I had 3.5 hours for the first zone and 4.5 hours for the second. There were 10 controls (points to find, marked by a little orange flag and a punch, and no they’re not on a trail) in each zone, each worth a different amount of points based on distance from the start area and difficulty. Unlike a standard 0-meet, it was up to you to determine what order and what controls you wanted to get. The idea was to get as many points as possible. Another BIG difference was the maps – these were standard issue 1:24000 topo maps (not much detail compared to the 1:10000 maps at an o-meet) and we had to plot all our points with coordinates.
I was planning on tagging along with my friend Aaron and his racing partner, but at race start Ronny told me I couldn’t do that. I would have held them back anyway – they got 1st in their division and 2nd overall! So I was competing solo for the first time, but it was great fun anyway. I ended up 11th out of 17 teams and soloists.
I was really happy with how the day went – I took good care of myself, listening to the voice of reason in the back of my head (Wes would be so proud….), kept my heart rate down and food/water intake up (I just hiked…carefully), I found 4 points in each zone, I only got seriously turned around once, and I finished on time. Here are the lessons I learned:
1) Racing with Wes is so much better. In the start area, which was inside, partners were calling off coordinates to each other. I did not have Wes’ commanding voice there, and I kept hearing random “8’s” “3’s” and “6’s” so it took me longer than usual to get my points plotted (which was on race clock time).
2) Those controls are way farther off the trail than you think.
3) If you haven’t seen the control yet, just keep walking….uphill….for a long time.
4) Orange control flags are pretty hard to see against a backdrop of beautiful orange, red, and brown.
5) There are a lot more leaves/briars/thickets/slippery rocks on the east coast (duh).
6) I need to learn to memorize the map instead of looking at it constantly. I tripped a lot because of this.
7) There’s still something to be said for the satisfaction you get from finding the control exactly where you thought it would be, using only your pace count. Of course, that happened only once.
8.) It is really hard to eat a banana, walk, read a map, use a compass, and count at the same time.