Saturday, January 7, 2012

Race 12-01 Los Gatos Street Scramble 3hr.

18.12 mi. - 3:06:30 - 5th/20
Garmin Tracking here.

For my first race of the year I attended the Los Gatos Street Scramble which is an urban orienteering race put on by Get Lost. The event was scheduled to begin at 10AM so I figured I would have plenty of time but due to lack of preparation the night before I was cutting it close. I thought I had cereal available for breakfast but it turns out all I had was some eggs and waffle mix so I made waffles which took a bit more time than I wanted to spend. Also, I fell asleep the night before without charging my Garmin or Iphone or preparing directions so I ended up packing my computer with the directions on the screen and charging my watch from the computer in the car.

I ended up not leaving until 9AM which was cutting it close. On the way there I took the computer out of my bag so I could look at it at the first traffic light after getting off the highway and for some reason it powered down. I restarted it, but since I had no internet connect I couldn’t get back to the page with directions so I had to find the race from memory. I knew it was at a church on Blossom Hill Rd. so I got off Los Gatos Blvd. from CA-85 and turned left on Blossom Hill. I drove pretty far until I was sure I had passed it and turned around. With the time approaching 10AM I figured if I saw it on the way back to Los Gatos Blvd I would make it and if not I’d just have to go home. Then I found it (how could I have missed it!).

Parking was very easy and I rushed to the start where race director Vladimir informed me the event wouldn’t start until 10:15. So I had plenty of time to use the restroom and come up with a route plan. I saw several other people I recognized including Greg Favor, Rex Winterbottom, Erika Kikuchi, and Steve Gregg. Rex usually kicks my butt but I found out later he was in the 90 minute event. I usually finish close to Steve and Greg and we were all in the 3 hour event. The weather was sunny and mid-60’s so I was optimistic for a good finish.

There were options for 90 minutes and 3 hours, and option for on bike and on foot. I chose foot, 3 hours. There were 35 checkpoints available ranging from 10-50 points each with a total of 1000 points possible. I decided to get a couple 50 pointers in the nearby hills and then go for downtown where the checkpoints were worth smaller amounts were denser on the map.

As we started there were a bunch of other people who went for the 50 pointer up the closest hill. The first guy was on a bike with a clear lead over me, then me, then a clear lead over the next person (Erika, I think). I got the answer very quickly and ran down the hill. I did the same for the 2nd hill, also worth 50 although it appeared only the bike guy chose the same route as me.

From there I weaved my way toward downtown getting some of the flat checkpoints. I came across other people, including Pat Gerimoni, a DSE regular that I know, who was part of a 90 minute team. Everything went according to plan as I got to downtown. I generally knew where I wanted to go but only planned specific routes 2 or 3 checkpoints in advance. I was glad there were hills because I find it much easier to plan a route going uphill.

For a while I had my eye on a 50 pointer on the Northeast corner of Vasona Lake Park in Los Gatos but decided only to get it if I had time after getting all of the points downtown. The checkpoint wasn’t hard to get to but it was a bit out of the way given the route I’d have to backtrack to get back over CA-17 which was easy to cross downtown. It looked like I had enough time to get it, plus maybe 3 on the way back to the start from there. I made it to the 50 pointer and left it with 28 minutes to go.

As I crossed back over CA-17 I got the first (40 pointer) fairly easily and got to the second with about 9 minutes to go. Then it started coming apart. I saw the playground at the church I was supposed to find, but could not find the sign that stated the ages the playground was permitted for. I spent too much time looking for it, wrote down notes from other signs hoping to get credit for having been there, and proceeded to the finish knowing I’d be late (late=penalty). The last checkpoint I wanted to get was on a building in a complex on the way back to the start. I cut through the complex looking for the sign on the building, couldn’t find it immediately, so abandoned it to avoid getting a larger penalty. I made it back 6:30 late so I had a 70 point penalty.

I ended up running 18.12 miles and climbing 1658 feet in 3:06:30 which was good for 5th out of 20 in the 3 hour/Foot. The scorers gave me credit for the non-answer at the playground where I wrote down the contents of every other sign. The first 2 (teams) were tied with 900 points so they were uncatchable, but the next 2 were individuals with 770 (Eric Rozenzweig) and 760 (Steve Gregg) points, so I should have been able to finish 3rd if I didn’t have the penalty. The next person behind me was Greg Favor with 680 points. This wasn’t good enough for any awards but it was still one of the best perforamcens I’ve had at an orienteering races.

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