And it was Course 3 that I intended to do. I left David sitting at the finish enjoying the summer evening and picked up a Course 3 map. On my way to the start I ran into Gergo who showed me his Course 2 map. It wasn't much longer than Course 3, staying within the confines of the park for the entire race, something I hadn't expected. Back to the Campomatic where I exchanged my Course 3 map for a Course 2 one.
I started off fast, too fast. As I ran up the path towards the first control I glanced at my watch and saw that I had covered the first few hundred metres at 3:30 pace. I've never run this fast in my life and knew that I would have to slow down soon but I figured the first control would be soon enough. A quick tap there and I was off at a still fast but now somewhat more reasonable pace in search of the second control. And search it was. I navigated to the centre of the circle, nothing. I backed off, ran north a bit and poked around in the undergrowth, nothing. I examined my map closely and returned to my initial search area, still nothing. I continued into the undergrowth a couple of extra paces and there it was. I probably lost 15 seconds mucking around here.
The third and fourth controls were straightforward but I then made a route choice error on the fifth leg. It would have been best to just head up the fenceline from Control 4 to Control 5 but, put off by the gnarly ground conditions underfoot, I returned to the track and ran two sides of the triangle. This worked as a navigation exercise but the extra distance was unnecessary. I had learnt from this lesson and so the fence line would be my preferred route choice to both Controls 8 and 11.
The next leg of interest was the leg to Control 14. Here I chose to run up the southern side of the wood. This would have been the perfect route choice as the control was located not far inside the vegetation boundary in full view from the open. Unfortunately I was tempted by an elephant track into the trees too early and lost a bit of time skipping around various tracks, real and imagined. Once again, the fence line turned out to be the fastest route.
Control 15 looked easy on the map. On the ground, it was probably the most difficult control on the course. The difficulty arose from the fact that it was mapped as being on the boundary between firm ground and swamp land. Once there, this boundary turned out to be a most elusive beast and, even after finding the control, I couldn't honestly say I had absolutely located the exact boundary. Vanessa was already there looking when I arrived and between us we quartered the general area until we found it. Tigger, I have to say, was of no use whatsoever, having wandered off in search of something more interesting than the point at which his paws sank far enough into the ground to be deemed swamp.
With this enforced break behind me I was back off sprinting for the next control. I approached Control 17 from the road bend to the south and then ran the track to the north to Control 18, confidently (and successfully) leaping over the wide water filled ditch that separated me from the control. I was still running well as I approached Control 19 but my speed was put into perspective as Toby caught and overtook me. I ratcheted my pace up another notch and sat 20m behind him as we ran across the open field to Control 20. From there his Course 1 route diverged from my Course 2 one.
The next few controls were just inside the vegetation boundary at the south of the park on various rock features. This area is not particularly runnable and usually the best plan is to return back to the open between controls. However, 22, 23 and 24 were quite close together and I chose to navigate straight between them rather than run the risk of overshooting. It was a slow but ultimately successful plan.
From here just two controls remained on what was essentially a straight run back to the finish. There had been a visible reminder of the dangers inherent around Control 25 at the start where Dwayne had been sporting some very impressive lacerations as a result of his visit to that control. I approached from the side and didn't suffer the same fate. One last difficulty at the last control where the pit wasn't visible from the track as I had hoped and I actually hat to read the map to find it and then I was sprinting off to the finish. A good fast run, taking a little over 30 minutes for the 4km.