It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
That sums up the opinions of the participants in this year's Blue Hills Traverse. The weather was the worst I have ever encountered, although admittedly, I was not out there to experience it first hand. Temperatures in the low forties, wind and heavy rain.
Perhaps the conditions served to keep the competitors close together, but the leaders contantly changed places. Only Peter Andersen seemed to be in control most of the time, finally winning this year after two hours on the longest Traverse ever!
After a short explanation of the oddities in the course under the pavilion at Houghton's Pond, the competitors drove to Ponkapoag Golf course for a quick hand-out of the maps and a "Go" next to the 10th green. There was no hope of warming up and the first control in six inches of water, (change control description from shallow re-entrant to shallow pond), insured wet feet for the rest of the course. The competition remained close as the leaders circled either controls 6 or 9, and thus insured a tight pack as they emerged from the woods to follow a streamered route under I-93 onto the next map.
Many declined the food station, feeling that even a moment's hesitation would result in hypothermia. After a short tour of Chickatawbut Hill everyone headed west to the hot soup and cider at the finish. The finish was the most uncomfortable for many as they struggled to get out of the wet clothes as quickly as possible. Many finishers called for "hot soup" as they crossed the line, but some were shaking so hard they spilled half of it!
Despite the harsh conditions, many termed the event an adventure run because of the conditions. It must have seemed inhospitable on the hilltops blasted by wind and rain and the trails which had turned to streams, but the orienteers proved how tough they were, everyone finished. Unfortunately, Mark Fenton twisted an ankle and was unable to hit the last few controls but still did the distance. The real stalwarts must be those who took over four hours in those horrendous conditions.
I truly tried to make the event easier this year, but got carried away with going to all those "nice" places in the Blue Hills, and I think the weather gods are doling out worse weather every year.
The workers wo suffered through these conditions Pete Beckwith, Ginger Fitzsimmons, Donn Springer, Tom Moore, Steve Baumann and Judy Karpinski allowed the meet director to do fun things like follow the competitors around, drink hot soup, put out water, drink hot soup, cheer on runners, drink hot soup and generally relax. I had a wonderful time. Thanks you all!