Have Dental Floss, Will Travel

Mapping the world, one waxy strand at a time…

I Coulda Been a Contender

After a week of dreary weather, stuffy noses, and lots of indoor workouts, Brent and I took to the woods this morning for the running of the 2012 President’s Cup.  Each year, the Delaware Valley Orienteering Association holds a special winter meet to shake out the rust and keep the compasses moving.

Though I’ve never participated in the event before, I woke up this morning eager to run around in the snow and excited to see if my navigational luck would hold.  After a delayed start (icy conditions kept the park gates closed), the course designer counted down to zero and a crowd of people took off for the treeline.

Generally, our orienteering meets have staggered starts – courses open at 10 AM and participants can begin anytime before 1:00 – so today’s mass start was a bit frenzied as I tried to stay oriented and remain focused on the map.

After the first couple flags, though, the group running the intermediate course began to thin, and I found myself smoothly making my way from point to point.

True, there were footprints in the snow, and I could always count on someone being nearby if I started to question my route choice, but even with the extra aids, I did my best to keep my eyes on the map and select my own route, ignoring the tracks and crowds.

And you know what?

It was working.

I cruised through the points, never questioning my navigation, always certain where I was.  By checkpoint 12, I was running with a small cluster of racers, but I still felt confident with the maps and enjoyed the long stretches through snow-covered cornfields, where I could run with relative abandon.

Since there were three courses running simultaneously, each flag was marked with a unique number so participants could be sure they were punching the correct one.

And for the first 17 of them, I checked and double-checked at each point.

Then came checkpoint 18, just twenty meters from the end.  I saw that the point was right on the outside of a treeline, so when I ran into a point just a few meters before the terrain change, I thought that must have been it.  Without looking at the number, I quickly punched before sprinting down the last hill into the finish.

I clocked in at 1:01:32.

Fast forward eight hours

After a near-heart attack during the Patriots game, Brent signed on to the DVOA website to see if the results were posted.

“I finished fifth,” he relayed about his performance on the advanced course.

“What about me?  How did I do?”

Brent scrolled down and his face fell.

“You mispunched, Ab.”

“What do you mean I mispunched?  I got every single point and I check and rechecked all the numbers.”

“You must have messed one up,” he responded.  “It says MP… But on the plus side, it looks like you would have come in third.”

I looked at the screen.  First place finished in 1:02:26.  Second was ten seconds after that.

“I would have won!” I told him.  “I finished in 1:01!”

The website broke down the events by splits, and when we clicked over to my route, it listed the mispunch at CP 18 – the very last one before the finish.

It seems that the advanced and intermediate courses both had flags in the same area – the intermediate just outside the treeline and the advanced just inside – and in my excitement, I punched the wrong one.

“Think of it this way,” Brent said.  “You did better than you’ve ever done at DVOA.  You had a great meet.”

“I guess,” I responded, feeling more defeated than I had been after my DNF back in November.

“But you still had fun, right?”

“Yeah… but it would have been pretty fun to win, too.”

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14 responses to “I Coulda Been a Contender

  1. kari w/ Running Ricig January 22, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Dangit! That would have been awesome!!!!

  2. misszippy1 January 23, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Oh that is such a bummer! So close and yet so far. I guess, if anything, you learned something, right? Try to focus on that next time. I feel for you!

  3. Sarah S @RunningOnWords January 23, 2012 at 7:07 am

    Oh man, that’s rough! Still sounds like you did great, though!

  4. Kate January 23, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Ahhhhh, that stinks! I mean, it’s fantastic that you did so great, but to be so close…and you totally could have had it! Still, what a great feeling to have flat out rocked the course. 🙂

    I referenced one of your “other” orienteering posts in my post last night. I had a pretty awful first solo outing, but hopefully won’t make the same mistake again.

  5. Kristy January 23, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    that sucks!!!

    last may, i ran a very, very small 5K with my neice (she’s 10). when i heard the overall female finisher’s time, i knew i could have beaten it and won. but i ran with my neice, had a great time, and wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.

  6. Angela K. January 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    D’oh, I’d be pissed too! Although if I ever had to rely on my orienteering skills in a race I can guarantee I’d be dead last.

  7. RunToTheFinish January 25, 2012 at 9:41 am

    look at that you navigated correctly all on your own!! next time you’ll win first hands down because you’ll be even more confident

  8. Johann January 25, 2012 at 10:08 am

    That sucks but you still did great! Well done Abby! Winning would certainly have been fun. 🙂

  9. Kavitha January 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    Oh Abby, I feel your pain! That blows! You did an awesome job, though, and you know you congratulations!!!

  10. Jill January 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    Oh man, no fair!! But that had to be a huge confidence boost and you’ll get that win next time! 🙂

  11. Kate January 25, 2012 at 9:46 pm

    Hey, I just tagged you in one of those questions posts…and borrowed your William Wallace post race video. 🙂

  12. Kara January 30, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    Oh man, how frustrating! You will dominate next time!

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