The first thing that you'll notice is that for the second week running we had three maps to navigate between, although this week the scales were limited to 1:5000 and 1:10000. The next thing you won't notice so I'll tell you is that some of the mapping was, shall we say, open to interpretation and some of the control placements (particularly controls 15 and 20) were sub-optimal.
I wasn't able to get off work early so by the time I was lining up on the start line it was 6:33pm and I was aware that I would be running up against course closure at the far end of my run. I nailed control 1 and then spent a good five minutes ,illing around looking for control 2 - I'm still not sure whether it was bad mapping, bad control placement or bad navigation on my part (or all three) but I'm happy to note that I wasn't the only one caught out here; Peter Ware started a minute behind me and we eventually crossed paths as he was coming out of 2 - and I was headed to 12! Controls 3 to 6 were straight forward but control 7 was a bit of a challenge. It was easy enough to find and it was right where the map said it should be but it was on a very steep hillside just above one cliff and below another. I did a bit of community service here, scrambling down to it with an extra clip card for a competitor who was scared of heights. And then it was fast running through the rest of the controls on the first and second maps before toiling up the hill to control 15 only to discover it wasn't there. It was there, of course, but it wasn't on the earth bank by the swampy area as mapped but rather on another earth bank perhaps 100m to the west. I wasted a fair bit of time but enjoyed the view. Control 16 was in an area that has been known for its "bingo" controls in previous events on Hamlins Hill but today it was well mapped and well placed and easy to find. Likewise 17, 18 and 19 although the latter two may not have been exactly where they were mapped but both had elephant tracks leading straight to them. I was already looking to the finish and had concluded that an hour and twelve (eight minute kilometres) was beyond me at this stage but maybe I could manage an hour twenty one (nine minute kilometres). And then I got to the top of the hill where control 20 was placed and - you guessed it - it wasn't there. It should have been easy to find on the earth bank and relocating off the park seat and the fence corner should have both brought me straight to it. They didn't and so after a few minutes I concluded it wasn't there and headed off to 21. Pete Swanson was just approaching and he called out "it's over here". I responded that it couldn't possibly be but he assured me it was so and, sure enough, there it was, not far from the stile at the beginning of the bush track that lead down just below 19. After that, it was all plain sailing although there were a couple of big hills to grunt up to controls 23 and 25.
I ended up taking slightly under 1 hour 32 minutes, finishing at 8:05pm a mere four minutes before sunset according to the almanac. And gloomy it was too, I passed a couple of people during my last few legs over Mt Richmond who were giving up as they could no longer see their maps. My time was good enough for third place; times on the course were stretching above two hours today and several people ended up choosing to do a somewhat shorter version. This was my longest run for some weeks and it was good to get the chance to stretch the legs for so long.