Raccoon Creek State Park
Raccoongaine Results
21 March 2010


It turned out to be a sunny, warm day with the temperature around 70.  The good weather was probably the reason that so many people who were not pre-registered showed up.  At least a dozen more than anticipated came to the event.  As a consequence, at the end of registration there were not enough maps for each person to have one.  Fortunately, there were enough so that each team received at least one.  After that, everything went well - no one had an injuries beyond scratched up legs and general exhaustion; no one had to be searched for; and all the controls were where they were supposed to be.

A total of 111  people participated in this first Raccoongaine.  They were about evenly split between the 3-hour (34 teams and individuals) and 6-hour events (27 teams and individuals).  50 controls were placed in the forest with values of 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 points.  Four controls (mystery controls) were not marked on the competition map; at four other controls (mother controls) that were marked, there were maps showing where one mystery control was.  Competitors could choose to go to the mystery control or not; all mystery controls were 20-point controls. The total points possible were 1370, with point values mostly determined by distance from the start and difficult in getting to them; we did not expect anyone to reach that total.  The overall winner for the 3-hour was Team Dole from Ohio with 320 points.  You can read their commentary below.   The overall winner for the 6-hour was Harper Forbes from Ontario with 1150 points.  You can read his commentary and see his route below.  The competition categories and team positions are shown in  competitions  First, let me provide a little statistical analysis.

For the 3-hour, control 4 was the most visited; it was also the closest control to the start.  But, there was wide diversity in strategy for the 3-hour competitors; only three controls (4, 6 and 12) were visited by more than half of the teams (not distinguishing multi-person groups from individuals).  However, none of the 3-hour competitors chose to go to the far southern area - none of them visited controls 18, 19, 23, 24, 38, 39, or 48.  Eight went to the 50-point control near the center of the map and half that many went to the 50-point control in the far north.  Controls 22, 26, 28, and 49 had only one visit from a 3-hour team.  After the finish, several teams were overheard admitting that they had planned to go much further than they ended up doing.  A reflection of this was that the only two 3-hour teams who managed to reach two of the 50-point controls were both about half an hour overtime in finishing.

For the 6-hour, control 4 was still the most visited.  There was still considerable diversity in the team strategies with some concentrating in the south, some in the north and a few covering both ends of the map.  There were 22 controls that were visited by more than half of the teams.  All controls were visited by some of the 6-hour competitors; but controls 14 and 37 were visited only three times and control 2 was visited only four times - my guess is that they were considered a cul de sac and few  chose to go there.  Two individuals (Harper Forbes and Randy Mitchell) managed to visit all four 50-point controls; in addition, they were the only two to visit all nine 40-point controls.

One very noticeable difference between 3-hour and 6-hour teams was in how they handled the mystery controls.  The 3-hour competitors very often went for a mystery control when they found a mother control.  Some of these teams found as many as three mystery controls (no one found four).  The 6-hour competitors seemed to regard the mystery controls as distractions that would take them from their planned route and consequently did not go to them.  The exception was when the 6-hour competitors found control 20; they all chose to go to mystery control 21 - they probably regarded it as "on the way to 28".  Generally, the other three mystery controls were visited only half as often by the 6-hour competitors as the 3-hour ones.

Here are the commentaries by the overall winners; I edited them a bit.  First,  Harper Forbes explains some of his strategy for the 6-hour and shows how he modified the strategy as he went along.  You can see his  route here

- I pre-marked my route with the orange highlighter as soon as I received my map, marking the entire course but leaving many near the finish in case I needed to withdraw from the far point of the course when time permitted.
- The blue highlighter indicates my actual travel, including a few mistakes and route choice changes.  The parts marked with red hash marks were in the original plan but were not used.
- I decided to run more trails than take direct routes/bearings.  All the thorn bushes encouraged me to take well-travelled routes too!
- I skipped 26 early and all the mystery controls other than 21...  given my intended route they didn't make any sense and required backtracking.
- I missed the eastern turn in the trail from 45 to 34, not sure how, maybe just suffering from dehydration ;) I was struggling with the heat and had been out of water for a while... lucky for me control 34 was a much needed water station!
- I made a mandatory rule to start back toward the finish at 3pm no matter where I was and take a few minutes to stop and re-assess my strategy to the finish from there, trying to obtain the last few >=30 point controls as possible without risking going over the allotted time.
- At 3pm, I was near control 36 and decided to take the risk of an out-and-back to 46 due to its point value.
- Skipped 35, 29, 1, 2 and 37 due to time constraints.
- Got a little 'lost' en route to 47 at 3:30pm, attacked the wrong peak (the one north) and when I couldn't find it, I decided to drop it and go to 30, only since I was already on the wrong peak my bearing led me to the ridge 300m north of 30, near the re-entrant...  at this point I realized my error, nabbed 30, took a bearing back at 47, obtained that and picked off 11 en route to finish area.
- Had just enough time to grab 12 then 3 then 4 before finishing with 2 or 3 minutes to spare!
- Fun race!!!

Here, Todd Pownell of Team Dole describes what that team did on the 3-hour.

- From the Start/Finish area we went a little too far S and quickly corrected NW to hit control #4.
- We proceeded directly to control #12 and then directly to control #3 which contained the info for mystery control #14 and we climbed straight up the re-entrant to get #14 and then went right back down the re-entrant to the N side of the steam bed and contoured W along the stream to hit control #2.
- Then we proceeded N to the gravel road followed it N to the junction and went W to the slight bend in the road and followed a bearing toward control #1 we wanted to come into #1  from the SW point to stay out of the undergrowth but ended up coming in from a SE point and really had to fight the thorns, but we knew we were in the right spot because of the undergrowth and hit control #1.
- We took a deep breath as we worked N through the thorns again and headed N on a bearing headed for control #9, spotted the re-entrant on our right and continued down the hill to hit #9 directly. Control # 9 had the info for mystery control #10, so we proceeded W to the footpath and climbed the hill halfway and contoured W to the spring at control #10.
-Then we went N down the spring and then E along the footpath passing 3 trail junctions and turning N then E across the bridge at the stream and at the trail bend we proceeded E on a bearing for control #47, we went steadily along carefully observing our bearing the entire time we left the trail and hit #47 with no trouble.
- From there we took a bearing for control point #29 and and proceeded swiftly into #29 with no trouble.
- From there we went E to hit the trail and proceeded N to the dirt road and continued to the junction just S of control #31 and went straight in to hit #31 (very cool control point).
-This was our high point, we then turned around and reversed our steps S along the road and onto the wetlands trail until we hit the second stream bed and went E along that and climbed SE uphill and then contoured into control #20. Control #20 had the map for mystery control #21 and we were torn between going for the mystery control #21 or heading for #42, but we decided to go for #21 and had to really fight the uphill to make it to the top of the spur to hit #21.
- We retraced our steps back to control #20 and went S for another grueling uphill to find relief on the road heading E then S on the trail to the junction and then E on the trail to hit the power-line clearing and followed that SW to hit control #27.
- Then back N along the power-line clearing to the trail and heading E we cut quickly SE to the dirt road and went directly to SE to hit control #13.
- Proceeding SW  and back onto the dirt road we ran down the hill to hit the paved road  went W along the road and quickly went NW on the wetlands trail and turned SW off trail into thorns and then getting feet wet through the stream  we plunged into our final control #6 and proceeded uphill to the paved road and walked fast uphill along the road toward the Start/Finish area and when we reached the top we trotted into the finish with about 40 seconds under finish time.

-Thanks for the great event.