The start was a five minute walk (or very slow jog) from the event centre. Unlike last year, we would be running on the north of the map first and then heading down to the southern schools to finish. My legs were feeling sore, particularly in the thighs, so I ensured that I had plenty of time to warm up and stretch. This was an unusual feeling for me but then I don't normally run so many sprint events one after the other. The warm up was successful and I didn't feel any discomfort once I was racing. The problem would reoccur throughout the weekend but I kept it under control with jogging and stretching each time.
A feature of the early part of the race was the line of uncrossablel fence and olive out of bounds garden that formed the northern boundary of the school we started in. This came into play for the legs from 2 to 3 and from 7 to 8. I became aware of this early on when running from 1 to 2 I spotted Hugh, who had started a minute before me, trying, and failing, to find an exit from the school when running to the right out of 2. I used the obvious gate at the northernmost part of the school and then, while running down the road, was able to scan the fence and confirm that no obvious route existed. Coming back into the school from 7 to 8 I also used the northern gate; I would have anyway but as it happened a stream of cars meant that I was unable to cross the road until I was virtually back at the gate. A number of people did cross the fence or squeeze through gaps despite it being mapped as uncrossable, however it appears that the effort to do so cost them as much time as they saved from not doing the extra run. Control 8 is worth mentioning. The control description is a building corner and indicates that it should be approached from the south east but, like most people, I came in from the north west and had to double back and run right round the building due to the uncrossable fences in the way.
The long leg from 9 to 10 offered a route choice going either left (east) or right (west). I chose the western route, as did the majority of people although a significant minority went east. It turns out that east was probably marginally quicker although that depended to some extent on your skill at getting over the gate to enter the school. Dwayne, who went that way, reported that it was higher and trickier than normal but that it only seemed to slow down us normal orienteers with the elites taking it in their stride.
Last year, the equivalent of the leg from 11 to 12 had fooled a number of people with the gap between the buildings south of 21 and the crossable fence near 20 being missed, resulting in a long detour via the road. This year most of us knew to look for that route which was still the best choice; the road option being much more viable this year but still slower. The loops in the southern school would catch out a number of competitors who ended up going to the wrong control. I was checking control numbers carefully as I knew I couldn't afford to mispunch. The only legs of interest were those from 14 to 15 where a glance early on showed that the narrow passage between the building at 14 and the fence was passable and saved a run around the bottom tennis court, and that from 17 to 18 where a number of people failed to note that the control was only accessible from the south and so chose to go north about the building rather than south about.
I had seen quite a few of my fellow competitors during the southern loops but didn't really have a feel for whether they were running faster or slower than me. As it turns out, Brent, Rob and John all returned slightly better times with less than a minute separating the four of us. This consolidated me in fourth place, about a minute behind Brent, a minute and a half behind Rob and two minutes down on John. Jonty had also taken half a minute on me on this map and so our private battle was now scored at Steve 2 Jonty 1.