The first thing I noticed was that the map was at 1:27000 rather than the 1:20000 or even 1:25000 I had been expecting. Apparently they had wanted to print it at 1:25000 but it wouldn't quite fit on a sheet of A4. The second thing I noticed was that there were 3 controls, the "C" controls, that were worth 75 points each - much more than the 20 or 30 points that all the other controls were worth. A good route would include at least two, if not all three, of those "C" controls. A realistic route, a quick glance at the map told me, would only manage to get two of them. I chose to drop CF and planned a route that would include CI and CD.
From the start it was tempting to collect AJ first but with no short cut from there to XH I elected to leave it as a possible extra control at the end and start with the 30 points of XH. From here I collected the small group of controls on the western side of the map, running across Lloyd Elsmore park, and then roads and tracks to AM. Heading back out of AM in the direction of XP I was running into quite a stiff headwind at one point. It was slowing me down noticeably and I was beginning to wonder whether I would need to rethink my route in the light of it but thankfully this was the worst it would get the whole evening. Around XP I caught up with a group of three who had previously got some of the southern controls; I would see them on and off for the next three or four controls.
From XP I ran to AG and then I made my first mistake of the evening. My plan had been to go from here to CI and then pick up AH on my way round to XL. Somehow I forgot this plan as I exited AG and I ran to AH instead. As soon as I was examining my map at AH I realised what I had done but by then it was too late and I was committed to a bit of extra dead running (into the breeze as well) to pick up the 75 points of CI. This did lead to a nice 2km run along the coastal walkway out of CI before another kilometre uphill slog on the roads to XL. At this point I was about 10km into the run with under one hour gone.
I ran a couple of hundred metres extra on the next leg as I was so busy reading my map and planning ahead as I ran out of XL that I failed to make the first right hand turn and ran on until I reached the end of the opposite cul de sac. I corrected myself and ran to AI, sticking with the roads (and two short tracks) and avoiding the temptation to take a short cut through the park. The presence of a rare 20m contour line on the map gives you some idea of how why I chose not to run straight at that point.
From AI I ran and walked a lot slower on the next leg, to XG. It was mid-run for me and I needed to reassess my plans for the next 50 minutes, working out what was and wasn't feasible. I also took the opportunity to take on board some gel and drink. Allan passed by heading in the opposite direction as I was doing this; hopefully, I looked like I knew what I was doing rather than just walking slowly with my head in the map.
As a result of my reassessment I ran straight from XG to CD, collecting the 75 points but missing out AB en route. I left CD with 36 minutes of my two hours still available to me but with the majority - although by no means the entirety - of the remaining distance downhill. I ran quickly to AD and then encountered some of the outstanding uphill on my way to XD. I made good time on both and was feeling confident for the run in to the finish.
The leg to XB was long. I had considered going to AC instead but XB gave me another 30 pointer. It also gave me a long uphill slog, although not before an exhilarating downhill run. I knew from previous events on this map that the view from XB was a stunner on a clear night and so I took the time to enjoy it even though I was now running well behind my required pace. As I blasted down the road I considered missing out AF and running straight to the finish but decided to get it anyway. It turned out that the side street to AF included a short sharp hill to negotiate.
From here I had another choice to make. By now it was obvious that I would miss the two hour cutoff and so would start accumulating penalty points. Because we had been late to the start I had missed the briefing that indicated penalties would be 10 points per minute or part thereof and so I assumed that it would be the standard 20 points per minute. My choice at this point was to run directly back to the finish as fast as I could, minimising the penalty points or slow down, collect AW and AJ and declare myself an early finisher in the three hour event.
I chose the first option and started running as fast as my legs would allow after two hours. I was crossing the bridge over the inlet as the two hour mark came and went and I eventually returned to the event centre just shy of four minutes late. Despite the penalty points I had still collected enough points to win the two hour event with Jonty finishing over quarter of an hour early and missing out on the opportunity to pick up a few more controls. Had I been in the three hour event and collected AW and AJ I would have had enough points to finish second. My 21.7km was the longest distance I had run in one go since the same event two years ago when I had managed around 23km.