This map usually lends itself to either a clockwise or anti-clockwise loop and I've done both in the past. This time I started off planning anti-clockwise but then realised that if I ran clockwise instead I would have the option to cut down from 18 to 14 controls if it all got a bit too much whereas doing that in an anti-clockwise direction would hardly save any time or distance at all. In the end only two or three of us set off to XK as our first control.
The steep track up to the road-end near XK never seems to get any easier and I was huffing and puffing at the top but the gentle downhill from there to XL saw me quickly revived. I then picked up XM before being faced with the question of whether to get XN or leave it as one of my two dropped controls. I chose to run back down the hill and around to it, although the climb back up to and beyond XN was steeper and longer than I had hoped. Returning back up to the ridge I turned into the road containing XP to find a couple of people with headlamps bent over clipping a control where no control had any right to be. Yep, XP was on the chicane at the top of the road rather than the one 100m down as marked on the map.
If I had had time to think at this stage I might well have decided to run back along the main road to XR but as I thought I was going to be further down the side road at this point I had planned on going down to XS first and I continued with this plan. From XS I continued up to Ponsonby Rd and along to XR; this was probably not quite as fast as retracing my steps slightly and making the most of the park but I didn't spot that until afterwards.
From XR I ran the side roads down to XG. This was the first time I had ever been down these side streets. They are on a fairly steep hillside and I was dismayed at all the height I was losing, knowing that I would have to gain it all back on the next leg. As I ran back up to the Ponsonby Rd ridge I could feel a strain in my lower right leg reminding me that arriving at an event just in time for the start doesn't allow time for a decent warm-up. I reached Ponsonby Rd directly opposite The Franklin, where Loren's 21st had been held on Saturday night. I got XV in a side street and had now clipped 9 of the 18 controls I needed. Timewise I was running a bit behind if I wanted to get back in an hour, I had been 33:47 up to this point and I was looking at about one hour ten for 18 or I could cut back to 14 and do just under an hour. I decided to keep going for all 18.
I started passing people running clockwise as I ran to XW and then I enjoyed a long straight downhill run to just before the turn to XE. I had been considering giving this one a miss and going straight to XX but I was glad that I didn't. I did go to XX after XE, running through Grey Lynn Park and noting, as my route above suggests, that the map is not entirely accurate with the tracks here - the track I ran that exited the park directly opposite the street XX was on wasn't even mapped.
Leaving XX I ran to the top of the road, turned a couple of corners and promptly staggered over an unexpected bump in the pavement. I managed to catch my balance before I fell but Allan wouldn't be as lucky on the same obstruction and would sport an impressive series of wounds after walking back to the finish from here. XG was at the bottom of the steep hill here.
From XG I ran the track through the park. The quickest route would then have been to turn right up the road but I had decided on taking the track through to the next road as well. This particular track has always been difficult to find and this year was no exception. So, for the benefit of my future self preparing for next year's event, the entrance is down the driveway on the right hand side of the Cox's Bay Pensioner flats. If running from the opposite end it is directly below the street light.
I chose to run out and back to XJ so that I wouldn't need to get XD later. I had a couple of problems with this control. The first problem was finding the end of the track opposite the end of the side road I ran down. When I got there I couldn't see anything that looked like a track entrance so I ran the short dog-leg on the road instead. I found the entrance to the main track and stairs and, noting that the control description was "Pole, Street corner", as soon as I burst out onto the road above I looked round for the control. It wasn't to be seen. Looking carefully at the map I saw that it was mapped not at the corner but 50m to the right. I ran down a couple of poles and there it was. Two other groups of people were milling around the corner looking for it unsuccessfully so I pointed them in the right direction before returning down the track. From this end I was able to find the track extension and ran back onto the side road amazed that I hadn't seen it the first time round.
You'll notice a strange diversion in my route on the way to XI. I accidentally turned down the road into the Countdown car-park (not mapped) and by the time I realised my mistake I was virtually at the control anyway. As I left XI I saw that I had been running for 59 minutes and I considered heading for the finish with 15 controls under my belt but I was still feeling strong so decided to go for the remaining three.
It was a tough uphill slog to XH but once around the corner, it was downhill to XC. I had the choice of returning back up the road I had come down but chose instead to cut through the park behind me and over a bridge into the next street. This didn't help with either time or distance but did add a bit of variety to my run. I now only had one control to go. Control XB seemed to be a long, long way further up the road than was mapped but this is probably because it was uphill whereas XC had been downhill. Certainly, as I returned back down the road it seemed to take no time at all. A short bit of road and track running followed and then I was back at the event centre and finished in a time of 1:11:55. This was good enough to take second place on Course A but then there were only two of us who completed this course.