We got there early to help set up and then Jonty helped Mike on the start while I manned the download computer. Jonty's task was finished earlier than mine so by the time I had handed over to Hayley and headed out for a late start, I had the advantage of knowing his time. I also knew that the winning time for Course 1 was sub-15 minutes but that I would be more likely to be in the low 20s. And I had a new bit of kit to drag around with me; I would be trying out my new Head Cam for the first time. I had asked for a Go Pro for Christmas but Santa had obviously decided that while I had been good this year, I hadn't been THAT good. The result was a $99 "No Rules Action Cam" from The Warehouse. It looked OK, claimed to take 720p HD video and, after I had replaced the supplied head strap with a more suitable one from my headlamp, it even felt comfortable.
I spent most of the first leg planning my route for the next few legs. There was a classic left / right decision on the second leg and I went left. This was perhaps slightly longer than the right hand option but more straightforward in terms of corners that required turns and features that required noting. The third and fourth controls came up quickly and then there was a long leg to the far side of the map with a couple of large, awkward shaped buildings in the way. Again I chose the left hand option around both of them although perhaps I could have shaved off a few seconds by also going to the left of Control 10 rather than the right as I chose.
The leg to Control 6 was a matter of micro-navigation through the smaller buildings and I would later have to put up with some severe criticism of my route as Jonty watched this part of my Head Cam video. I continued the theme of taking the left hand route but this time it meant negotiating a wooden fence between the two buildings to the north of the control which could have been avoided if I had gone right. A fast run across the field to Control 7 followed and then it was around the building to Control 8. Which I managed to overrun. As I ground to a halt, thinking that something was not quite right a swish of wind and a barely heard beep behind me gave me a clue to what I had done wrong. I turned quickly but not quickly enough to recognise the one lone shoe that was now disappearing at speed back up the corridor between the buildings having correctly read its map and found the control tucked into a corner.
I punched and headed off in pursuit. As I came out of the narrow passage between the buildings and into the somewhat wider gap between the buildings south of Control 9 I passed Matt running the opposite way shod in a shoe that looked familiar. I had a route choice from 9 to 10 of going north then west or returning the way I had come and going west then north. Purely on the basis that Matt had obviously chosen the later I followed suit.
The leg from 10 to 11 also offered a route choice although I wouldn't see this until I examined my map after the race. It looks like the left hand option to the north is quicker but I ran right and south. There wouldn't have been much in it but, again, this leg came in for some stick from a certain M18 with a laptop and the (literal) benefit of hindsight. A couple of short, quick legs followed. The leg to Control 13, in particular, has caused hilarity in everyone who has watched the video and I am being urged to put this part on YouTube as a salutary lesson to others on the value of looking at your map and correcting mistakes quickly. Or so they say.
What happened was that as I was running to Control 12 I saw out of the corner of my eye another runner leaving the control and heading to the building above it to punch another control. So I naturally followed them. I ran to the control and punched, noticing as I did so that it was control 80 and not control 70 as I was expecting. In such circumstances of course the first thing you think is "Silly Dwayne, he has made a typo in the control descriptions". To my credit, I only kept this thought for a few milli-seconds before the rational part of my brain reminded me that this wasn't likely. In actual fact, I was at Control 22 (see the second map below) but I didn't know that at the time. At this point most people would have looked at their map. Not me. As I turned away from the control I noticed another one behind me (not on my course so not on either map but in the alcove immediately to the west of Control 22). I ran to that one and discovered it was control number 60. Controls number 60, 70 and 80 all within a small area? What are the chances of that? It MUST be a typo, right? Luckily, at this point I somehow remembered I had a map in my hand and glanced down at it. There was the control circle and I wasn't in it. The control I was aiming for was around the other side of the building protuberance. I noticed that but I still didn't read it closely enough to see that the control was in an alcove so, once I arrived in the control circle I overran it and had to return again before finally locating the control. All this probably took less time to perform than it has taken you to read my explanation but, for anyone who ran the course and only took the 10 seconds or so a normal person would take on this leg, the video is apparently hilarious.
Finally leaving the control, there were then two longish legs to the map flip. Local knowledge came in handy as I approached Control 14 as the uninitiated would be tempted to thread between or over the passable walls near the end of the leg while the informed local knows that these are earth banks a metre or so high and spaced at just the wrong distance to jump from one to another and that it is much faster to run up the balcony on the building to the right. The next leg didn't require navigation so allowed me to flip my map and begin planning the last few legs.
I threaded back through the buildings to 20 and 21 and then it was time to revisit the infamous control number 80. Having already punched it once, I had no problems with it this time. As I reached Control 23 I was caught and passed by Kieran. He went north-about towards Control 24 while I took the southern route choice. Well, most of the southern route choice, anyway. The sensible orienteer, having chosen to go this way, would have stayed on the road until nearly south of the control, requiring only one turn and fairly easy navigation. I, on the other hand, cut north as if heading back to Control 15 and threaded my way through the buildings. This did mean that I got some great video of Kieran leaping a fence but it also slowed me down more than was necessary.
As I left Control 24 for the long, flat run to the finish I glanced at my map and saw that I had about 10 seconds to get the finish if I wanted to beat Jonty. This clearly wasn't going to happen and so I did not attack this leg as vigorously as I could have. This turned out to be a particularly costly decision as the result sheet would soon show. Yep, I finished 11 seconds behind Olav Lundanes. Now the chance to beat a world champion, even one who was clearly jogging slowly as a training exercise, only comes around about once in a lifetime and I managed to blow it by 11 seconds. That aside, this had been an enjoyable start to the Oceania season - bring on the forest events!