I breezed through the first couple of controls. At this rate course closure wouldn't be an issue. I ran confidently down the track to Course 3 and then for some inexplicable reason headed right when I should have kept going straight. I caught my error and circled back into the control but the confidence was gone. I chose to run down on the flat to the left on my way to Control 4 rather than stay up on the ridge. This was slower but took a little less concentration. I repeated the trick on the way to 5, taking advantage of the clearing to get my line right.
My first major mistake of the day came at Control 6 where I overshot it heading up the reentrant to the right. It soon became obvious I had overshot and a hesitant return down the spur led me back into the control. A fairly long leg over a fairly featureless hillside followed. Quick Route shows that I was following my bearing pretty well but the closer I got to the control the more nervous I became and I headed uphill to increase my visibility. When finally I was nearing the top of the hill it was obvious even to me that I had climbed to far and so when I came to where the hillside trended left, I ran straight down the hill and soon spotted the control.
We then had a small loop in some complex contour features down towards Coast Rd. I went way too far left on my way to 8 and finally resorted to running on top of the first ridge of hills to make sure that I found the control. This proved to be very slow but was eventually successful. Controls 9 and 10 were better although on neither of them was I able to run directly to the control the way I had planned.
The loop finished by returning to Control 7 which now became Control 11. A number of people commented later that they had more trouble with this control the second time but I ran straight to it. I was quite pleased with my leg to 12, I picked off the features as I went and when I drifted at the end some inner sense made me glance to my left and spot the control before I could overrun it. Controls 13 and 14 came and went without incident.
The leg to 15 was a different story. I was looking ahead and deciding on my strategy for the long leg and wasn't paying attention to the terrain around me. Suddenly I'm aware of a large ridge ahead of me, looking for all the world exactly like the ridge I expected 15 to be lurking just over. It wasn't of course, I was one ridge too early but when I got over the ridge and failed to see the control I wasn't sure whether I had gone too far or not far enough. My guess - too far - was wrong and cost me quite a bit of time before I figured out it was more likely I had stopped early. I ran on to the next ridge and there was the control.
For the long leg from 15 to 16 I chose to run along the road. This was probably not as fast as going straight up through the forest but gave me time to plan ahead. With an obvious attack point at the corner of the track north of Willets Rd, the control itself was easy to find. The next little loop through to 20 was fairly straightforward although I did do a little sideways shuffle on the way to 19 for reasons that probably seemed convincing at the time.
I didn't execute the leg to 20 very well. The control site was in a wonderful little area of knolls and depressions but even finding the area was a challenge. I'd drifted too far left and slowed down a lot trying to work out where I was. I did the same thing on the leg to 21, this time my drift to the left was caught by the track but I then had a bit of unnecessary climb back up to the control site. By now it looked like I would be under two hours on the course but the green stripe was ahead.
This area of the forest has also been used in OYs in the last two seasons and was horrendously slow then. It is an area where the forest has been thinned and pruned and all the cuttings left on the ground to rot. I was pleased to see that runnability had improved a little over the last year but it was still very slow and difficult. I succeeded in following features towards the control but left it a bit late cutting up onto the ridge on my right and missed the control by 20 or 30 metres. By the time I was certain I had missed it, Coast Rd was easily visible ahead so I ran out to the road, along it and back in along the track to relocate. This time I ran (or walked) straight to the control, kicking myself for how close I had got the first time around. Two hours was probably out of the question now.
Luckily, there was a path of sorts most of the way to Control 24 and another one, not mapped, took me most of the way back to the "normal" forest. Three quick controls and I was running into the finish just a couple of minutes outside my target of two hours and five or so minutes before official course closure.