The morning race was set by Lauren. The first leg has to be one of the most exhilirating experiences I've ever had while orienteering. My route choice - which was shared by most people - took me down a wide smooth spur, losing about 60m of height over a distance of about 500m. I was running at faster than 3 minute km pace for some of this. Sadly, the bottom of the hill arrived all too soon and a short steep uphill brought my speed back to a more civilised pace. From the top of that uphill I promptly ran down the wrong spur so actually my time to the first control was not great. But still the memory of that first 500m remains.
I stayed too high up on the hill while running from Control 1 to Control 2 and so missed out on the better running conditions on the flat just below me; I also missed the temptation of sneaking through a hole in the fence as I was too far away to notice it. There was a fair bit of discussion after the event as to whether the fence was marked as uncrossable or not; the general consensus of opinion was that the "double tagged" fence symbol is deemed uncrossable only on maps drawn to the Sprint Map specification and that on ordinary orienteering maps, if I may call them that, the double tagged fence just indicates height. Well, who knew? Not me, before then.
We went away happy that the fence crossers had not broken any rules. However, in my unending search for the truth - or at least the truth as I define it on this blog - I've paid a visit to the IOF specifications to see what they actually say. Firstly, I had a look at the Sprint Map specifications (ISSOM). These show symbol 524 "Impassable Fence", a double tagged fence - which must also use a thick black line - as "forbidden to cross" (even when it is physically possible to do so) and that "Competitors violating this rule will be disqualified". Pretty strong stuff. But as I've already pointed out, this map isn't drawn to the Sprint specifications so it is what is said in the ISOM specifications that count. Here symbol 524 is also a double tagged black line but without the requirement to use a thick line. The specification calls it a "High Fence" and describes it as "A boarded or wire fence higher than ca 1.5 m, not crossable to the average orienteer, eg. deer fence." No calls for automatic disqualification here but I hope that I'm not the Controller who one day is called upon to make a judgement as to whether someone is an average orienteer and so is not permitted to cross the fence or is not an average orienteer and so is permitted to cross. I suspect some of the fence crossers today were pretty average orienteers.
I ran well across the paddocks to Control 3 but once I got to the spur above the gully leading down to the control I was tempted by an obvious track to descend far too early. The result was obvious, in hindsight, the track petered out and I spent far too long dithering around in the blackberry trying to find my way down to the control which, for much of the time, was sitting visible in the middle distance. I had problems with both Control 5 and Control 6 as well, both times leaving the open too early and not quite spiking the control.
The leg from Control 7 to Control 8 provided a myriad of route choice. I stayed high initially choosing to sidle around the hillside rather than descend to the track for easier running (but with an extra ascent). Then it was a fast run along the track through the forest. I hadn't read my map properly so I was surprised when the track ended at the stream and an element of stream running was required. Back onto the track, there was a steep, muddy climb to be negotiated before ascending into open forest where the control would be found by a rock. But which rock? There were more rocks in the forest than appeared on the map. It turned out the correct rock was by now behind me; both the rock and the control were obvious once I'd thought to turn around.
From there the remaining legs were fairly straightforward. And mostly uphill. All of them were well set in that the control flag was not visible until you had navigated to the circle (usually because the curvature of the hill you were climbing blocked your view) but were easily visible once you reached the circle. Hence you were rewarded for good navigation - and speed at hill climbing.