The courses today was set by the Smirnova girls and immediately brought back memories of the epic courses they set on Mangere Mountain a few years back. "No", they assured me, this one is much easier. Confident that even they couldn't set a tough, difficult course at Western Springs - although a certain lingering doubt remained due to the 9.1km length of Course 1 -off I set. Straight away there was route choice, is it best to go left or right around the lake to get to Control 1. Tom Davis started a minute ahead of me and went right, I went left and beat him to the control. Controls 2 and 3 were straightforward and I elected to take the long way round to 4, crossing the bridge over the stream and following the track into the control. It does appear that those who elected to go straight here gained a lot of time at the expense of wet feet. Control 4 was at the top of a 2 - 3 metre cliff and took a while to find as I was convinced it would be at the bottom (as you can see, the control descriptions don't give this information). The first real test, however, was control 7 which was perched a long way up a steep narrow shallow reentrant on a hillside full of steep narrow shallow reentrants. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that the hillside was covered with debris, broken glass and twisted metal which made for very slow going. I went up a reentrant too far to the right, climbed up to the fence, along, down and back across into the correct one. All this took about 10 minutes and I had the opportunity to compare notes with some people on Course 2 who warned me about their Control 1 (which would be my Control 10). Many of them hadn't found it at all.
I approached the leg to Control 10 with some trepidation, then, and took it relatively slowly up the track from the south east of the control. Even so, I missed the control and found myself at the path to the west of it. i turned round and walked back in, checking behind every tree as I could see that it should be right beside the track. A glint of orange showed me where it was so I squeezed between two trees, scrambled over a log and clipped it while within metres of me others searched without success. I probably would have taken longer to find it if I hadn't been pre-warned and it probably wasn't a great control site to use first up ( as Course 2 competitors found out) but it was in roughly the right place although very hard to see.
From there, it was back to the glass infested hillside for Control 11, this one was much easier to find, and then more normal Summer Series navigating through the rest of the course, back into Western Springs proper and a last loop including a fairly big climb up by the Bullock Track to test tired legs. My time in the results looks terrible but actually many people who are shown with a faster time than me didn't complete the course with many opting not to do the last 20 minute loop and returning to the finish from Control 15. You won't find Jonty in the results, he was down in the Hawkes Bay on the National Junior Orienteering Training Camp along with about 10 kids from AOC and around 80 overall.