The 24th[sic] running of the oldest orienteering event in the US
How boring it would be without . . . weather. In the years I have been directing the BHT the days have ranged from sunny 50 degrees, to ice storms, to torrential downpours (and 40 degrees). Mostly it's typical November in New England weather: clouds, breezy, and cool with a chance of rain. Actually, in my career as course setter for various events, I have been lucky to have most meet days be fairly nice; this is because the days before are frequently bad.
That's how it looked this year. The weather people were predicting blowing and rain Saturday, clearing on Traverse day. I usually put out the controls over several days, but Saturday looked so bad I decided I better put them all out on Friday. I did not look forward to hanging 15 controls over 13 kilometers in one day. Five hours later they were all up. Saturday was not all that bad actually; in fact, Saturday night my family (Judy, Samantha and Hillary) and I hung four of the yellow course controls in the dark.
Saturday night all heck broke loose. Wind gusts to 60mph were reported on Great Blue Hill. I hoped I hung those controls tight!
On Sunday morning the weather was as expected, still quite windy though. All the workers showed up as expected. This year I was particularly dependent on them as New England Sports Network was coming to film a segment for their Front Row program. Thanks to Mark Fenton, the film crew had a knowledgeable host. I had time to hang the remainder of the White, Yellow, and Traverse controls (ah, the virtues of compact and efficient course design) while Gerry Burnham and Peter Amram set up the recreational start/finish.
Then off to the Traverse start. Hand out the maps and a word to smile for those cameras and they were off. Peter Gagarin held the lead for the first half hoping to be picked up by the cameras out in front, but, alas, they were still filming Front Row's host, Kristen Mastroiamis, on the Yellow course.
The weather still had its way with the competitors as they searched for the fourth control. Everyone was circling in the same reentrant, but there was no control in sight. As the crowd swelled, Peter suggested they move on-Jeff has misplaced this one! A yell from Alar Ruutopold, here it is on the ground beneath a newly fallen maple! The falling tree had landed on the sapling the control was tied to and pushed the control to the ground, still tied to the sapling. Peter banged his eye here and eventually had to abandon driving home. I don't know how he managed to finish so well with such a handicap.
The final loop of the Traverse was the day's Green course. Which was really a relay loop from the New England Champs held in 1991 at Houghton's Pond! NESN caught much of the action, interviewed winner Ernst Linder, and put out a nice four minute segment on their show. Another time-consuming job after the Traverse is picking up all those controls, a job I didn't have to do at all this year thanks to Janet Ryan and Jim Baker and Karl Kamp. Karl's work was amazing; after spending too long looking for #18 and 19, he came in a DNF. Not to be beaten by those elusive controls he went out a few days later and picked up virtually the whole course! I went out a week later to get #'s 5-8 and someone, I know not who (Karl?), had plucked them also.
Next year is the 25th[sic] anniversary Traverse; be part of the history and start training early. If you can orienteer and keep moving for 2-4 hours you too can earn a prestigious Blue Hills Traverse shirt.
Thanks to: Samantha Saeger, registration; Judith Karpinski, food and putting up with me; Hillary Saeger, night-time control placement; Joanne Sankus, always there to help; Mark Fenton, TV personality and coach; Peter Amram, rec start/finish; Gerry Burnham, rec tent raising; Steve Baumann, split times and food stop; Brian Frawley, rec start/finish; Karl Kamp, Janet Ryan, James Baker, control pickup.