Today we were given two A3 maps from which to plan our route. This caused initial cries of dismay but it soon became obvious that there was a huge overlap between the two and that the East map, in particular, had only one unique control. Like many others, I chose to discard this control and concentrate only on the West map (which is the map shown above).
From the start I headed north west up the road in a fairly large group, aiming for control 41. From here most of the group headed for 132 while about half a dozen of us set off cross country to 131. I turned left towards 42 and found myself alone, the other five having gone to 132, presumably. I overshot 42 on first approach but the sight of Coast Rd looming ahead of me brought me around and into the control, just as the advance group of those who had visited 33 first approached from the opposite direction.
From 44 I crossed into the coastal strip and found 141. Although the coastal strip usually has less visibility and more dense vegetation than the main forest, this wasn't the case around this control. From 141 I stayed in the forest probably a little too long before climbing the sand dune and running straight across to 149. Owen and Carole were just emerging from the control as I approached it; they were competing in the three hour version of the rogaine.
Back across Coast Rd, I quickly swept up 159, 154, 43 and 137 before running up the road into a fierce headwind on my way to 143. The rough open in the block surrounding 143 was very rough indeed, comprising old cuttings that hadn't been cleared away. Crossing this area was slow going.
Back in the forest above 143 I headed for the highest part of the map, getting 155 before sidling around to the track to climb to 158. The climb, which was achieved at plodding rather than jogging or even walking speed, gave me a chance to replan my route for the remainder of the race. I pelted flat out down hill from 158 to 153 but then, rather than head to 134 as I had originally planned, I ran along Mushroom Rd to 146. I then took advantage of the track network to run to 132 but anticipated the track bend far too early and totally mucked up the control. I wandered around for a few minutes before I was able to relocate off Dwayne who approached from another direction and led me into the control.
Time was running short so once again I replanned, this time dropping off a few controls at the south eastern end of the map from my planned route. I ran up the hill and then down into the deep depression that housed control 40 before sidling around to 144. From here I had planned to run the tracks to 136 but at the bottom of the hill another glance at my watch convinced me to play it safe and head to 138 instead. In hindsight, I probably would have had enough time to get 136.
From 138 it was track running to 32 and then from there to the finish with just one small area of forest to be negotiated. I finished with nearly two minutes to spare. My final tally of 760 points was the same as Jonty. However his route, which was completely different to mine, brought him back to the finish two minutes late rather than two minutes early so I ended up well ahead of him on points. And this week, as I went up to collect my VitaSport sachets as the winner of M40, it was with a clear conscience knowing that I had actually won that grade.