The weather in Auckland had been atrocious today although it was not quite the "weather bomb" that the Herald had trumpeted about and, somehow, the Black Caps v South Africa ODI still managed to go the whole distance (not a good thing for us NZ cricket fans). However, by the time the sun set and we were headed to Ambury Park for the Summer Series Night event it was looking fine with the remains of the cloud in the west glowing pink and orange. A couple of years ago this fixture had been memorable for a course set to take advantage of the low tide with controls set on the islands to the west. Well, perhaps it was the mud that was most memorable.
The first leg seemed to offer a route choice but everyone I spoke to afterwards had run down the road on an eastern route with the possible straght line route being unused. The reflector on the control was a welcome sight as the usual small Summer Series controls were in use and they tended to hide in the longish grass. Speaking of which, the ground underfoot was solid and easily runnable but my speed was kept down a bit by the length of the grass and the knowledge that some rocks lurked to catch out the unwary runner. The third control was in the rocks, on the coastline between two small cliff faces. It would be easy here to lose a lot of time if you don't stay in contact with the map as small cliff faces abound.
When this map is being used for a common or garden variety daytime Summer Series event, the quickest and most scenic route from 3 to 4 is along the coast. Tonight, however, I chose to angle off to the track inland and then used a sight of the fence junction as an attack point to head back into the control. This turned out to be much quicker than the straight line route. I did manage to stuff up control 5 by running to far and too far to the right; I took the opprotunity to ask the flock of sheep cowering nearby if they had seen it and they were good enough to take off en masse in the correct general direction.
After heading down the hill to 6 it was time for the long leg right across the map to the pivot control. Most people did a variation of the same route as me, the only question being at what point they left the road and headed into the control. I navigated may way down past 14 to near the fence junction, sidled around past the pond (which was noticable by its absence) and followed my compass down to the pivot. I spotted someone punching the control ahead of me and was in and out quickly. At this point it is probably worth showing a blow-up of Quick Route for the controls down this end of the course:
At no time did it occur to me that the pivot control was in the wrong place. In my defence, Dwayne went through virtually the same experience but without ever actually locating control 11. I'll return to this discussion below.
Control 14 was in a pit. I had run past the knoll which housed the pit on my way down to 7 and had glanced at it but hadn't been able to locate the control. This time I ran up to the top of the knoll and found the pit and, at the bottom of it, the control. The pit was well over a metre deep and it was necessary to climb right into it and bend down to reach the control. The long leg from 14 to 15 offered a route choice. Many runners chose to run straight as the paddocks were firm and fast underfoot but I decided to head south and use the track, attacking off the fence junction to the east of the control. This had the advantage of less fence crossings (I am hopeless at fence crossings; they always take me far longer than thet should) and the chance to plan ahead for the last couple of legs through and around the buildings and out of bounds areas while running. After leaving the track and keeping the fence to my right, the control was easy to find. I followed the road and farm tracks to 16 and then cut through the buildings to the finish.
A few minutes after I finished, Jonty came in complaining about the misplaced pivot control. There was a sizable crowd comparing routes and none of us had noticed anything wrong. The only support for Jonty came from Hayley and there was no way any of us would conceed that two juniors were right and we were all wrong. And so the matter seemed settled until Toby arrived at the finish ten minutes later announcing that the pivot control had been in the wrong place but not to worry, he had now moved it to its correct position. I was reminded of the legend of the gathering of the great and good of the cricketing world, said to be "the greatest collection of cricketing talent in one place since Don Bradman dined alone". Eight to ten seniors might have the advantage over two juniors but Toby trumped the lot of us.
The next day Quick Route confirmed what Jonty, Hayley and Toby had already told us, the pivot control was significantly misplaced. Amazingly, I was able to find it all three times without even realising there was a problem. And even the problem it did cause, on the loop through 11 and 12, I just put down to my own error. Lesson of the day: It doesn't happen often but sometimes it really is the map that is at fault.