The terrain on the western side of the road, where most of our controls were located, was predominantly native bush or overgrown pines. It was difficult to run through and, where it wasn't, the terrain was so steep as to slow me down anyway. It reminded me of the Warby Ranges near Wangaratta in Victoria, Australia - only without the rocks. It had been a long time since I had run in this area of the forest. Eighteen years ago it was the scene of New Zealand's greatest ever orienteering triumph when, in the only World Cup event ever held in this country (an omission to be rectified in less than a year from now), Alistair Landels made the most of his home forest advantage to beat the best of the Europeans on what was a very non-European map. An old clip of that map (I'd marked the World Cup course in pencil on it at some stage) is shown below, you will notice that Control 2 today was very close to a control in that event.
I passed a number of people on the way from 3 to 4. They all seemed to be looking either too low or in the wrong reentrant / gully but, confident in my reading of the map, I completed this leg fairly quickly. By the way, you will notice the lack of control descriptions on the map. I suspect that anyone who headed off without a full control description holder would have struggled at many of the controls, including this one.
After climbing out of the gully, it was a track run most of the way to Control 5 and then another hill needed to be climbed on the way to Control 6. On crossing the major track between 5 and 6 we passed out of the native bush and into an area of pine with very a very thick cutty grass undergrowth. This should have resulted in me changing my approach to each leg and, in particular, running on a bearing from 6 to 7, relying on the track behind it as a catching feature if needed. Instead, I ran out to the road and around the track network - and I still couldn't find the control. A few minutes were wasted milling around trying to find the right depression. I took over eight and a half minutes on this leg while WinSplits shows that Jonty had the fastest time, taking just 1:44. His secret was that Matt had passed him at full speed just before Control 6 and he was able to hang on behind him for the entire leg.
The next four legs were in the forest to the north of Selwyn Rd. This was a beautiful area to run in with very little cutty grass and similar to the adjoining High Dam Rd map (more of which next week). Back across the road I still couldn't get this fixation with running tracks out of my head. In retrospect my exit out of Control 11 should have been south to the track rather than returning to the track to the west of the control. This was brought home to me immediately as I found myself running with Owen who had been a fair distance behind me on the previous legs but had taken the logical route out of 11. It brought me to my senses in time to allow me to cut across the forest to Control 12 (I'd originally planned to take tracks all the way).
No track vs forest decision was needed for Control 13 as the obvious route was to take the track and, once nearby, the control could be seen from the track. We were now back into the thick native bush and had added steepness to boot so it was back to the track for the leg to Control 14. I'd often seen this track as we'd driven down Selwyn Rd and had wondered where it went; now I knew. There were two basic route choices for this leg; either run the track or try to cut through the white. I took the track. Two stories from people who went straight are interesting: Jonty found himself climbing up a hill that got steeper and steeper, pulling himself up with arms and knees and, somewhere, losing his map in the process. He eventually made it to the top of the hill, stopped someone else who was milling about aimlessly, memorised the rest of the map and then completed the rest of the course without a map. Ionel found it just as difficult but managed to hold on to his map. He eventually found his way out to the eastern arm of the track just as I was running past and, not letting his experience put him off, promptly plunged back into the forest and beat me to the control as I completed the loop around the dark green.
Expecting to run the Red Short map next, I stopped off at the car on the way down to the start / finish area and rehydrated. I then collected my next map and made it halfway to the first control (Control 12 on this map) before realising that this course was basically just a variation on the course I had already run. I stopped, returned to the finish to punch (hence my obscenely long finish split) and called it a day. This was a fairly common reaction but most people had the common sense to stop at the end of the first map and not head off on the next one.