Georgia Navigator Cup, July 2004, Bob Putnam

Runnin' with the Big Dawgs - Day 2

Approximate route taken is shown as a wavy red line on the map above.

Start to Control 1
I immediately bee-lined, not even thinking of the left trail route. I saw that strong index contour reentrant and went for it. Second reentrant very evident with trail and I kept bee-lining by skirting the right edge of the dark green expecting to go over the top and into the broad reentrant via the prong of white woods. Nailed it nicely and the green wasnít so bad.

Control 1 to Control 2
Contour to the trail. Said hello to my wife Janet on the trail and turned right up the big valley, noting the trend of its axis will aim me right up the hill at the split and into the control. I am passed by JJ at this point and he keeps a nice pace that I can tag along with, but at the split he veers right so I let him while I climb Good, because with my angle I can see the control long before he can.

Control 2 to Control 3
Although I punch first, JJ beats me up the hill to the water at the top. Gasp!

Control 3 to Control 4
JJ drinks but Iím carrying so we leave together. While he beelines to what Iím guessing is the same control (heís on Blue course) I go to the trail bend so I can both approach and keep him in sight to my left; effectively another pair of eyes. Good strategy but not needed here. We both spot it at the same time, between us.

Control 4 to Control 5
I see JJ shoot to the left and I figure heís skirting the green on its left flank, as I also intended. I lose sight of him but I keep after the edge of the green down the hill. I notice Iím trying too hard to be perfect and lose time, rather than just slamming down to the trail. When I do hit the tall-grass trail I fall in behind JJ and another guy making time. We all go to the junction and they head due east into the green. Not me. I go S 100 yards, jump the stream and go for the second stream. I see the ridge in front of me (where the control is) before I see the ride and am so happy at solid footing on the ride that I hypnotically follow it all the way to the ridge and lose maybe 30 seconds turning south again to the pit.

Control 5 to Control 6
I get real cocky here: I know about the good-footing ride, I see the big handrail trail to the right, and I see a no-brainer attack point at the dark green blob near the trial junction. So I slam to the ride, try to cut a little corner to the bigger trail and find myself wandering in the contour detail in the flat. I keep trending west I think, but so tentatively that when I do hit a trail Iím not sure which it is. Iíve been floundering now so have not pace-counted either. Nothing looks right. I finally find a rivulet of a sort crossing the trail so I head east and mercifully I hit a huge swampy marsh. At least I know Iím close, but the clambering is exhausting. I lurch to the east side of the marsh and head north to the control. Must have been 5 minutes lost via sheer confusion.

Control 6 to Control 7
Leaving 6 I just try to skirt the marshís N side but do this poorly, so more clambering and muck-sucking of shoes. When I hit the trail again Iím confident when I find the indistinct trail. Reading the map on the run Iím convinced Iím looking for a ridge approaching from my right, with the control at the pinch where the rise meets my trail. I feel so elated that I actually have the energy to run that I do so until I see a ridge-sort-of-thing and voila! - Iím at the paved road! Rats. Forgot to pace count again. The old seat-of-the-pants instinct I keep imagining I have keeps betraying me. Pace carefully back to the knoll and now see the true lay of the land. Probably 2 minutes lost.

Control 7 to Control 8
This looks easy but I canít decide whether Iím thinking clearly. So I go into the woods early, at the road bend, and sweep parallel to the road until I hit it, just to be safe.

Control 8 to Control 9
During a previous quick glance at the remainder of the course I thought I saw riverbed all the way. What a relief I felt: no more climb, just a brutal slog. So I grit my teeth and try to keep moving. Halfway to 9 I look more closely at map and see 11 is UP the hill. Heart sinks! But I get my mind back on this leg: my clever approach here is to follow left edge of field. Wrong. The woods at field edge are as thick as anything weíve seen and slows me down carving my own rabbit trail.

Control 9 to Control 10
Forget the field, I think; follow the stream. But waitÖ thereís an avenue of daylight out to the field and elephant tracks (previous Oíers), so back out there I go. Getting very tired now. Even the fields are hard to run in with the fresh furrows. The stream bank at the control makes this one easy.

Control 10 to Control 11
Early in the course I would have bee-lined this leg without hesitating. Now I think for just a few seconds, and decide on what, for me, is a way-out-of-the-way minimum climb route to the right, along the bottom of the all white big valley. Even if I canít find the indistinct trail I can follow the stream. I take the edge of the field out to the road and itís even harder to run in than the last field. Legs are really heavy now. Concentration is all on lifting knees in a steady churn. Cross the road and Lo & behold, the indistinct trail is ribboned. What a break. I blindly followed the ribbons to the end, but again I was careless in not pacing and Iím not sure Iím at the end of the mapped trial, nor can I find any of my attack points: no wet pit or ditches. So I simply head west looking for an edge of green and/or pair of pits. I think: ďBrain not working - I think!Ē Find one pit and check for the other and there it is. Simple. Later, I see that I saved only about 1 or 2 contours of climb with my extra distance route, but those who tried the direct route had a tough time reading terrain on the approach through the green, so Iím glad I did it my way.

Control 11 to Control 12
I was certain this was going to be easy. Up and over the saddle and only one or two reentrants to drop into. From the road I think Iím Ok so down I go. No flag. Go west to next reentrant. No flag. Go further west to check fenceline. Yup. Go east through both reentrants again, checking off marsh. No flag. Did I miss it? Back to both those reentrants. Up and down. Give up. Climb to road. Others are all further east. Go down the hill with them and we all find it. If my brain wasnít slush Iíd argue more strongly that the map was wrong here. ( I still managed to mention it as weíre punching, of course). Too many reentrants. At least 5 minutes lost.

Control 12 to Control 13
Road run to a short all-fours climb up to punch.

Control 13 to Control 14
400-500 meters running down the road, just trying not to fall. Mercifully, no one is beside me on the run in to make me go too fast. I can smile as Janet waits to take my picture in the finish chute.

ďOnlyĒ 67 minutes today and I donít feel as tired for some reason. But I figure: all those blown minutes, I can kiss my award goodbye. But I learn the fates have smiled. Bob Turbyfill, whoíd been 2 minutes behind me after Day 1 has nailed todayís course with a great 55 minute effort. Walter Siegenthaler, who had been just another minute back after day 1, effectively blew a possible win on Day 2 by trying the bee-line on 10-11, and floundering for over 10 minutes, thus finishing with a 2-day total time just seconds behind me. I got a second place at a Navigator Cup! I felt great!