Street-O/Rogaining/Winter street orienteering is an intensely individual sport (except for the longer events, which they make you do in teams for safety reasons. You can’t just run off into the forest in winter for six hours by yourself). If you’re one of the top competitors then sure, you can hope for a win or top-5 finish sometimes. But otherwise, you’re just somewhere in the middle of the pack, and not even the same middle of the pack from week to week. It depends what neighborhood it’s in, where the rastit (checkpoint things) are, how meticulous you were about making sure the answer was right, and who else is out there on the course with you. In this sense, it reminds me of running cross-country in high school: you might be able to say you have a PR for a 5k, or you might have a good race on a particular day, but in the end your results depend on who you’re running against and often what kind of course it was. I have kept track of all my Street-O data for the past couple of years and while there has been an overall uptick in percentile placement (the most reliable metric, in my opinion, over points per kilometer or points overall or distance run), at any given Wednesday Street-O event there’s no clean comparison to any other Wednesday in the past.
Except for this season: I have acquired a nemesis! I started noticing her name pop up near mine - sometimes ahead of mine, sometimes behind - on the list of results each Wednesday night after Street-O. We have been neck-and-neck on the kokonaispisteet (overall cumulative score for the season) for the past couple of months. She’ll pull ahead, then have a bad night at the same time I have a good one, and then I’ll pull ahead. Or vice-versa.
It’s made the stakes a bit higher, to be honest - where once I felt a bit lost as to how to compare my performance to any previous week’s, now I always have a nemesis to try to beat. It’s a very helpful metric to measure myself by! Tomorrow is the last Street-O and at this moment in time my nemesis is a measly 17 points ahead of me out of more than 10,000 points. I had been ahead of her for a few weeks running but then last month I had a bad run - multiple wrong answers plus some poor route decisions - and I have struggled to make up for it since. That’s all it took for my nemesis to pull ahead.
What’s been fun is trying to imagine who this person is beyond just the name on the list of results. Is she a 70-year-old super-orienteerer? A 14-year-old girl? A semi-serious hobbyist like me?
Well, tomorrow I might find out. We’ve both completed every event this season so we will both be recognized for that. I don’t know if I’m ready to meet her! I’ve enjoyed having my foe be faceless. Can a nemesis be a nemesis without an air of mystery about her? We’ll see! And then it will be time for our final face-off. Mwahahahahaha.