There are four regional divisions in the Secondary Schools Sprint series with each having six races in consecutive weeks before the best six or so from each grade in each region come together for two races on a Saturday to find the overall winners. The first race in the Western division was held at Mt Albert Grammar. Twelve students from Green Bay had registered for orienteering but only seven turned up on the day. Before we left GBHS we gave them a brief overview of what to expect, showing them a map from last year's event at GBHS. This year I'll have some help in the transport department in the form of Tania who is no doubt relishing being able to turn up to orienteering events known only as "Caden's Mum".
There was the usual large group of students milling around at the start and I was suprised to see my nephew Alex there along with a crowd of his schoolmates from Rangeview Intermediate (there are courses for Year 7/8 Boys and Girls as well as Junior, Intermediate and Senior Boys and Girls). With Ken unable to make this event, Karen and I offered to man the start, freeing Allan up for other duties. The idea is that at roughly minute intervals we call the next eight students forward (one from each course), give them their maps and spend some time making sure they know what they are expected to do. It is a fairly hectic 30 or 40 minutes but we got them all off successfully.
By the time we had finished starting them, Jonty had completed his course but refused to tell me his time. I had seen him struggling around the playing field over the last couple of legs so I was under no illusions that it would be a fast, runner's course. Unsurprisingly, I had no problems with the first leg as I had just talked a couple of score of youngsters through the process of getting from the start to that same control. Controls 2 through 6 were outside the school and were generally best approached by running up the path / boardwalk until close to the control and then attacking from an obvious feature. The exception was Control 3 which was a fast, fun, awkward scramble down a rock strewn hillside. Back into the school I lost a few seconds at 8 as my running was outpacing my map reading and I misinterpreted the location of the control. There were also a number of runners, singly or in groups, who looked confused and I stopped to check on each of these. Exactly half were happy to accept my help while the other half were just as happy that they had it all under control and could sort it out themselves.
The ground around controls 11 and 12 was wetter than it looked and I had one leg caked in mud up to the ankle by the time I got back on the gravel road heading to 13. To the west of control 13 the terrain is mapped as "rough open" but actually consists of head high bushes with little or no undergrowth. I had originally intended to run along the fence but it was obvious this was not feasible so changed my mind and settled for track running instead. Halfway along, I spotted an obvious track through the bushes that went to the back of the building to the west of the control and I flew off down it, only just managing to halt myself before I followed it into a muddy stream that was much more distinctive than the map made out. So it was back up to the track and around; not the fastest of route choices but very nearly one of the more memorable!
I had a similar problem with 14 as I had had with 8, had a little trouble finding my way out of the maze of buildings and the then discovered that I was running as slow as Jonty had been as I circled the playing field from 15 to 16 to the finish. All told I took 20:08 and was delighted to discover that this was an entire five seconds faster than Jonty.
In official results, Green Bay cleaned up Junior Boys with Fergus winning the grade, Caden coming third and GBHS took fourth, fifth and eighth places as well. Jonty came fifth in Senior Boys (predictably won by Kieran) with just three local MAGS speedsters and Tane in front of him. And special mention should go to Alex, upholding family standards by taking second in Year 7/8 Boys in his first ever orienteering event.