The first two legs were uphill. And wet. But the fun really began with Control 3 which was placed supposedly at the foot of a cliff, on a steep, slippery hillside that abounded with boulders that might or might not be accurately described as cliffs. In the end I entered the boulder field and sidled around until I found it. In retrospect, if I had been willing to cross the fence on the northern side of the road rather than deviate to the gate, the control would have been easily visible as I approached. I exited out of the top of the boulder field and ran across (wet) grass, through a gate, down a road, through a gate and across more (wet) grass to reach Control 4 which was located in a mostly underused part of the map. As I was exiting Control 4 back the way I came I passed Jonty running into it. While I wasn't sure how far behind me he had started I was pretty sure it was more than the 20 seconds or so he was behind me now.
I mostly ran the road to Controls 5 and 6 with Jonty overtaking me on the (wet) hillside as I returned to the road after Control 5. There was a bit of route choice to Control 7 with some small decisions being made on the run as the fences (which weren't on the map) appeared ahead of me. I'm notoriously bad, meaning slow, at crossing fences and I will often minimise crossings by running extra distance to cross at a fence junction or gate. The walkway beside the road just before Control 7 was one long linear lake and much of the ground near the control was similarly underwater. Somehow I overshot Control 8, mostly due to not concentrating and not relating the map to the ground. My route choice to Control 9 was again dictated by the presence, or otherwise, of fence crossings.
If the area around Control 4 is underused for control placements, the location of Control 9 is not. It seems it is a very rare course setter who can resist placing a control at the top of this tiny hill. It is referred to on the Cornwall Park website as "Folly", suggesting it is manmade but it could just as easily be a tiny spatter cone, I suppose. Either way, I have climbed it more times than I care to remember but this time there was the added bonus of doing it in the rain.
It was tempting to climb too high on the way to Control 10; I resisted this temptation and felt quite smug as I caught up to a number of people who were descending into the control. But smugness has its price and so it was me who was too high to Control 11, running past it and having to descend and return to find the control. I don't think the control was in exactly the right place on the map when approaching from 10 as most people missed it first time.
We were then faced with a small loop back around the eastern side of the map with a lot more fences and temporary lakes and mudholes to negotiate. I was feeling pretty stuffed by the time I faced the hills up to Controls 16 and 17. But it was mostly downhill from there. Control 19 also seemed to be in the wrong place but asI could see all of the hillside where it should have been from quite early on in my approach, the only place it could have been was hiding behind a fence a lot closer to the mapped hedgerow and this is exactly where it turned out to be. This left a small climb up to the gate in the stone wall and then a flat out run down the road to the finish, with just one ankle deep lake at the bottom to remind me that it was a wet day.
It was no surprise to see Jonty waiting for me at the finish, all told he took 8 minutes off me. I think my fitness level is actually tailing off as I'm doing a lot of orienteering but not a lot of actual running. With the end of the Summer Series I'm likely to get out on the roads a lot more in the mornings from now on.
Links & Results
Summer Series FINAL RESULT: Steve 7 Jonty 4
All events this year: Jonty 13, Steve 7
All events since blog began: Jonty 14, Steve 13