On turning over my map at the start I could see that I had an immediate route choice decision to make - left or right around the olive green. Left looked like a slightly longer route but right would involve more map reading and micro route choices en route. I went right. The paths linked up well and I even had a chance to plan ahead a bit. Again, the same left vs right decision needed to be made for the second leg, with the same trade off, and this time I went left. The next few controls were all about micro-navigation around the thickets before the next long leg out to Control 8.
For this leg I kept high initially and then descended down the right hand side of the obvious wide spur. I confused myself as I reached the pond as I hadn't read my map correctly and wasn't expecting the small bridge directly in front of me. I had to stop and re-orient myself before continuing on to where, much to my relief, the control awaited. For the leg to Control 9 I kept on the main path for as long as possible. I was starting to feel the effects of a fast run but kept my speed up. For both Controls 10 and 11 it wasn't immediately obvious where scattered trees ended and thickets began but contour, track and water features provided enough clues to keep me on track.
The last few controls were a micro-navigation exercise in taking the correct tracks and keeping out of the olive green and then there was a downhill run to the finish and a welcome rest and drink. I took a good 40 minutes to recover before attempting the second, slightly longer, slightly faster map.
Putting this behind me I quickly ran to Control 3 and then onto Control 4, taking the left hand route choice in this instance. I slowed down a bit as I navigated around the thickets to Control 5 but it wasn't so difficult that it precluded me from planning ahead for the next leg. The trick here was to head west early, just before the fence bend, as the alternative was a long loop southwards around the olive green. I spotted it, as did most people.
The next few legs required both macro and micro route choice decisions and then we were into the pivot control and a deceptive little loop. Firstly, the loop required a decision on exit out of and then entry back into the area around the pivot control. This was a straightforward decision for the exit but the re-entry had at least three options possible. I ended up heading south from 14 around the fence and then north back up the path but others either returned via 13 or followed the tracks further westward and it was not at all clear who had the fastest route. Meanwhile, there was some tricky micro-navigation in the vicinity of both Controls 13 and 14.
From the second visit to the pivot, a number of faster running legs confronted us. I mostly stuck to the tracks as this required less concentration but there were time gains to be made if you were willing to go cross country, particularly on the legs to 18 and 23. A last burst over the hill and the finish beckoned. All in all this had been an enjoyable afternoon - and an improving one as I went from 19th in the first race to finish 10th in the second.