Written by Alex Jospe
This is a race that happens down in the Blue Hills, near Boston, every November, and it is the third race in the “triple crown” of northeastern long-distance orienteering events, the first two of which are the Billygoat and the Hudson Highlander. I was one of six folks who completed all three events this year, and the first woman to win all three since 2006 when Samantha Saeger took the orienteering world by storm.
In brief, it was the first truly cold day of the winter, leading to some major wardrobe decisions. Now that we’ve had a bout of sub-zero temperatures, I can laugh at that, but I remember being so cold I thought my face would freeze off! The temperatures scared off a lot of folks who’d been signed up ahead of time, but a hardy crew turned out for the start, huddling on a trail in the middle of the Blue Hills waiting for the command to start. I floated between packs for most of the race, trying to drop each one as I came through, and just not having the oomph to complete the job.
One of my close female competitors on the national circuit, Kseniya Popova, had shown up, so I knew I had to keep pushing the pace, making for a mentally as well as physically exhausting course. The Blue Hills are very physical terrain, just piles of loose jagged rock with a veneer of soil and some stalwart plants on top, so the X-Talons were my shoe of choice. The perfect combination of grip on the rocks and traction on the leaves, the only thing lacking was the ability to fit a second pair of socks in there (and maybe some toe warmers). In the end, I was able to hold off Kseniya, but I made a stupid mistake near the finish and lost five places among the men, finishing 12th overall. Between the weather and my general fatigue, this was definitely one of those races where I was very happy to be done!
Read the full race report here: http://alexjospe.blogspot.com/2013/12/blue-hills-traverse.html