Leaving the start I found it difficult to get in touch with the map. My route to the first control was along a fairly indistinct spur and without any strong features to find I was struggling to know exactly where I was. I dropped off the spur onto the steep hillside in what turned out to be roughly the correct spot but when I couldn't see the control immediately I turned the wrong way and lost a bit of time. I eventually reached Control 1 just in time to see Hayley falling down the hill to it. Luckily the hill is sand so it was probably more fun than painful.
I decided to take the more conservative route to the second control, using the track to climb up and beyond the control before contouring around and descending the spur. This gave me time to get my head around the map and to plan the next few controls. Control 3 was further around the hillside than I thought and tempted me down the hill too early to check out an earth bank that I had the top but not bottom visible from where I was. It wasn't there so I continued around to the next re-entrant and enjoyed an extra 5m or so of climbing as a result.
Looking at the map I was hopeful there would be some sort of track along the lineal train of clearings on the way to Control 4 and this turned out to be the case. Knowing when to leave the track and dive around the hillside was clearly going to be a challenge so once again I took the conservative approach and ran right to the top of the hill. From here a compass bearing lead me straight down to the control. Control 5 was found by returning back to the track and then sidling around the side of the hill.
The leg from 5 to 6 provided a classic route choice - left, right or straight? Paul had caught up to me at 4 and he was in no doubt, punching 5 and immediately plunging down the hillside heading for the green and the straight option. I suspect that was the quickest route but at the time it seemed very brave. I went right and found the running fairly easy as there were animal tracks most of the way staying just above the green. However, there were a number of steep climbs to be negotiated before reaching the forest and map edge. From here there was another chain of lineal clearings to follow (not much of a track this time but the clearings were obvious) and I had no problems choosing when to head off looking for the control. It came up sooner than I expected and I suspect it wasn't quite where it showed on the map. Certainly I wasn't able to manipulate my track in Quick Route afterwards to go through the control circle without completely distorting the legs before and after.
From 6 I enjoyed a very fast descent through some nice open forest towards control 7. I had aimed off to the right to get the green in view, probably aiming off too much. Controls 8 and 9 were found by running from feature to feature with the open land at the very edge of the map on the way to 9 being tempting but turning out to have long grass that made it much faster to run in the forest nearby.
I had trouble finding Control 10. I had successfully navigated to and crossed the stream but then couldn't find the control where it should have been. Of course, I had somehow made a similar bit of terrain match the map incorrectly and the control was to be found about 100m further on. Up a steep, slippery hill. I made two or three attempts to make it up the hill but I wasn't getting good grip out of my Inov8s and to make matters worse my heels were blistering again despite all the precautions I had taken. Eventually I got up to the control and then slid back down to the stream to start the second loop.
The leg to Control 11 had a couple of awkward fence crossings as a bonus and then I sidled around the hillside to 12. I had slowed down considerably now as my feet were hurting. I chose to run past Control 8 on my way to 13 and this allowed me to traverse terrain I had already run through so I climbed the spur to 13 with confidence, finding the control just where I expected it. I made it to the general vicinity of 14 no problem only to find a number of folk milling around aimlessly. I felt that we were probably too low down in the stream and this proved to be the case but once again Quick Route doesn't map out exactly with this control and it is possible that the area is not mapped perfectly and that the control was actually too high up the stream.
From 14 I began the longest leg of the race that would take me back across the map onto the hillside beyond the start. I started off well, heading up and along the spur before finding the set of lineal clearings that took me downhill to where I planned to cross over below the green and climb up over the hill, down to the stream and back up beyond Control 3. However, as I descended through the clearings I could see the hillside opposite and it didn't look promising. I came across a prominent animal track contouring north and stopped briefly to reassess my options. I knew that going uphill was going to be a problem for me so I decided to follow the track past 12 and down around the flat area between Controls 9 and 10 before climbing past Control 1. This cut out one entire hill. Whether it was a great decision to make such a big change in plans mid leg is an open question. I plodded up the hill past 1 to the track and ran up this. I was too late in making the decision to leave the track and, once I did, I was faced with trying to cross an awkward fence to do so. Eventually I got over that and descended into the basin to Control 15.
It was a combination of sidling around the hillside and descending on the next leg, keeping the swamp in sight to my right and choosing the best place to cross to the opposite hillside. I passed Ionel here, he had decided to DNF as he had been out too long. The next three controls were straight forward but my blisters had progressed to the point where I could only hobble on the flat as well as uphill and I was in survival mode. I overshot 19 slightly while following a bearing from the forest corner and suffered uphill to 20 and then 21. I didn't pay nearly enough attention to my map on the way to 21 and it soon became obvious that I had missed the control. The quickest way to relocate was to continue on until I saw the farmland ahead and I was then able to navigate back to the control. Downhill to 22 and then one last painful uphill to the finish. I had taken far too long on the last little loop and it was now obvious that the Inov8s just weren't working for me. This would be their final outing.