This event was held on a familiar map, home to Katoa Po a few years ago and the North Island Secondary Schools Champs last year. As we drove in it was obvious there had been some changes. The forested gully on the right hand side of the road had been felled and the broad valley that housed the finish (and the camping area for the aforementioned Katoa Po) had recently suffered severe flooding with logs and debris scattered all around, including an impressive mound piled up against a fence.
The first leg started off with a solid climb and I used the successful tactic of the last couple of days of navigating by the obvious trees and other vegetation features. It still took me 11 minutes to reach the first control. I was distracted near the control by the sight of Alice moving at pace from my left to my right and, thinking that she may have been exiting my control, I deviated down a gully even though I was fairly sure I was still a little bit short. The control wasn't there, of course, so I returned to my original course just as Jonty, who had started two minutes behind me, caught me up. He may also have been distracted by Alice because he didn't follow me and he wouldn't end up passing me until Control 16.
From the top of the hill just beyond Control 3 I could see across the valley to the ridgeline which housed controls 12 to 18 and was able to confirm my route choice to 4 as going around the hill to the right. As it turns out, the saddle behind 12 wasn't much higher than the one I was headed for and would have been a quicker route. As I headed from 5 to 6 to 7 I was caught and passed by Pete and then by an entire chain of Elite's who had spiced up their race with a mass start. I'm not sure they were going flat out - they certainly were having a great chat as they ran.
As I was coming out of Control 9 I could see Jonty descending the hill from 8, just as I thought I might have given him the slip permanently. He had made up good time over the last few controls as he had made a big error getting to Control 3 and hadn't been in sight when I had a last glance back just before the saddle heading over the ridgeline towards Control 4. I was so brassed off at the sight of him that I overran 10 even though I had been to the control earlier (it was a pivot) and it was visible as we descended the hill towards it. There was then a long slog up the hill opposite to get to Control 11. Here it was important to get the correct line as veering left or right from the saddle would result in unnecessary climb. Of course, I veered left and was still descending when Greg came over the crest in exactly the right spot.
The legs to 12 and 13 were downhill or flat and fast and then there was another hill climb, shorter this time, up to Control 14. A sidle around the hill to 15 was interesting as the slope got steeper and steeper but there were sheep tracks to ensure we didn't slip. Jonty was getting closer and closer. He finally got in front of me on the steep downhill to Control 16. Control 17 was supposed to be in the forest but it had been recently felled but not cleared and whoever had put out the controls had done us a favour by putting the control on the edge of the reentrant rather than making us force our way to the bottom for no reason.
The last couple of downhill legs were very fast but I was still surprised to see Jonty sprinting at top speed through these legs, easily outpacing me. It turned out he knew he had been out close to an hour and was determined to get in under 60 minutes. He achieved it too, clocking a time of 59:59. I followed with a time two and a half minutes slower.
After all that, all that was left was a five hour drive home . . .
Links and Results
All events this year: Jonty 10, Steve 7
All events since blog began: Steve 13, Jonty 11