The organisers (Duncan Morrison and Matt Ogden) had arranged for a mass start race for Stage 1. M40 was coupled with Senior Boys and Womens Elite on Course 2 and so there were nearly 80 orienteers massed at the start line. Ignore what Quick Route is telling you above, the start was not far from Control 20 and followed a chute past the finish and down the hill to the start triangle. I was running about 30th by the time we got there and so was in prime position to see the amusing sight of the first 20 odd runners (including Jonty) hare off up the track to the south instead of making a 120 degree turn off the bridge and run north. However, I didn't learn my lesson from that as I followed the people in front of me onto the southern most of the two parallel roads when a correct reading of the map would have shown me (and did, just too late) that the northern road would have been quicker. Still, the difference wasn't huge and I was still ahead of Jonty (who had corrected his inital error and then gotten his road choice correct) as we entered the school. After the race there was some discussion as to whether a morte southerly route was faster from 2 to 3 but everyone I saw at the time and spoke to afterwards all stayed on the paved areas heading north atround the building. Control 3 was the first pivot in a butterfly loop and my course variation took me straight through to the far pivot before looping round. I was out of the crowd by this stage. My biggest mistake of the course occurred from 5 to 6 where I failed to notice there were two sets of buildings next to each other and I hooned around the side of the first one only to end up in a cul de sac. This was easily corrected but I then followed it up by not reading my map closely enough from 7 to 8 and went the wrong way around the building. Luckily, both mistakes were fairly small and wouldn't have lost more than ten or fifteen seconds each. Running from 10 to 11 I cut down through the grassed area to the east and thus missed out on all the excitement that other competitors had as they tried to run through some poor lady's unmarked garden on the north side of the building just before the control. Apparently some people had to withdraw and run around, causing a fair bit of lost time.
The next major route choice came after leaving the cemetery, from 12 to 13. I choose to follow the track, concentrating on reading the map for the following controls instead. Straight down and across would have been quicker, perhaps by 30 seconds or so and I then compounded the error by running past control 13, seduced by the sight of runners dibbing at a control directly in front of me. Controls 14 and 15 passed easily but then the same errant control that had caused so much trouble at 13 struck again as I punched it thinking it was 16. I immediately realised my mistake as the control number didn't match what I was expecting so, apart from slowing down to punch, I didn't lose any time on it. From there it was a straightforward run to the finish - Allan Janes later tried to convince me that east about the building to 17 was faster than west about but I remain unconvinced - with the only drama occurring at the last control. As I punched, I was aware of the presence of another competitor punching at the same time and was dismayed to see Hugh Furlong-Ford accelerate away from me down the finish chute. I immediately accelerated as well, not looking where I was placing my feet and almost having the indignity of a face plant in front of 200 spectators. I recovered but couldn't catch him and finished two seconds behind him in fifth place.
I was relieved to see Jonty coming down the finish chute a minute or so later. First blood in that contest to me: Steve 1 Jonty 0.
A number of very good photographers were present at this and all the Sprint the Bay stages. Check out the album on Picassa here.
And for all the maps, not just mine, see the Sprint the Bay map page.
Also, as a special bonus, have a look at this video of the first minute or so of the race on Course 1 (Mens Elite).