The weather has definitely been improving recently but the real sign that summer is approaching is always the first Summer Series event. Traditionally (where tradition goes back at least two years, possibly more), the first event is held at Auckland Domain. This map is of some significance to the orienteering community and mid 1970s version even features in the Alexander Turnbull Library's book of 80 important New Zealand maps. Despite this long and proud history of using the Domain for orienteering, and even the fact that the Domain featured prominently in Auckland City's bid for the 2017 World Masters Games (which we won), the Council were less than helpful in giving permission for this event with final approval only coming through on the day itself and featuring the bizarre condition that we were not allowed to stick any controls in the ground but must lie them down instead. This is apparently to avoid offending Maori sensibilities regarding items piercing the ground. What made this restriction seem all the more ridiculous on the day was the fact that the event centre was in the Cricket Grandstand and in plain sight of multiple games of football, all of which had various advertising banners and club signs with pegs hammered into the ground. The club is, of course, being responsible about this and several skilled and sensitive members are working with the Council to ensure that we comply with all their requirements while making sure that they understand our sport, the benefits that accrue from it and the practicalities of running it as a volunteer organisation. I, on the other hand, as an ordinary club member who doesn't sit on the club's organising committee or have any other position of responsibility can call it as I see it. And I don't like what I see. The requirements the Council have chosen to inflict on us are bureaucratic, anachronistic and unneccesary. They pay lip service to values of health, activity and increasing use of public parks but then act as if the parks are private sanctuaries that can only survive by keeping people out at all costs. Here ends my rant; normal service is now resumed.
I was working in the City and at the end of the working day enjoyed the pleasant walk up through the Domain to the Grandstand where I met the rest of the family who had driven in. Jonty took off on Course 1 while David and I headed to the start with a Course 3 map. The idea was that he would navigate and I would tag along and ask him questions about what he was doing and give helpful suggestions like "orient your map" and "what feature are you looking for?". Linda would also run Course 3, starting a few minutes after us.
From the start he strode off confidently in the correct direction, using the road on his left hand to make sure he knew where he was going. We reached the pond quickly enough and David started looking around for the control. It wasn't as obvious as it could have been as it was lying down on the grass rather than sticking up out of it but the delay in finding it was more about David's reading of the features in the circle. However, it didn't fool him for long and we were soon striding around the pond to the second control. We exited from that control in a great hurry as, glancing across the pond, we had seen Linda arriving in the vicinity of the first control and David was determined not to let Mummy catch up.
The third leg was one of the more difficult legs on this course but David coped with it admirably, simplifying his route choice by simply following the road around until he was very close to the control. From here a longer leg headed down the hill to Control 4. David got a little confused as to which path he should follow once he had crossed the road and an unexpected and unnecessary trip into the hospital grounds ensued but this error was soon spotted and he was back and heading down the correct path. Once again, he navigated quickly to the control circle but then bumbled around a bit, crossing the water course several times, before finding the control.
A steady stream of people in and out of Control 5 made the track into this control easy to find and then we had another more difficult leg. We found the right entrance into the bush and the track network and at the first junction David wanted to go right but I corrected him and took us left. Only, he had the map and I was going from memory and we'd entered the bush at the second more southerly entrance so he was right and I was wrong. This mistake allowed Linda to get ahead of us but we then made good time to the location of Control 6. Which wasn't there. A number of other people were milling around looking lost so I retrieved the map from David and discovered that we were at the wrong track junction. We ran another 100m along the track and found the control there.
Controls 7 and 8 were both located near the track that I walk along most lunchtimes. Control 8 was out of sight of the track up a watercourse and Linda would later complain that it was difficult to find but David had no problems. We exited the control up into the open and then took the slightly longer route choice of following the road and tracks to Control 9. The pond in front of the control had been emptied for maintenance which changed the look of the area somewhat and there was no shortage of distinctive trees in the area but we found the control anyway. By now David was feeling tired so we walked the next couple of legs.
We crossed the road and passed the Band Rotunda and found Control 10. We now felt we were on the home stretch. We chose to go around the right hand side of the Museum on our way to Control 11. On the leg to the 12th control we passed a group of people doing some sort of organised fitness class (with, I noticed, a flag prominently inserted into the ground). As we left the control they commenced a "bullrush" type run down the hill towards us. We sped up quickly to avoid being run over although it turned out we were never in any danger as they stopped halfway down the hill and turned and sped back up it. At least we were now jogging again and the sight of Linda jogging up the hill in front of us spurred us on even faster. There was no need to pause for Control 13 at the top of the hill; we had been informed at the start that not only was this control not stuck in the ground, it was in fact completely absent. Down the other side we went and sprinted off to the finish.