Despite this, I flew. For my route choice to the first control I ran up the road and by the time I was crossing the fence into the paddock I had run 700m at 3:45 pace. I raced through the control and over another fence before completing the first kilometre in 4:01, a pace I cannot usually maintain for that distance. I slowed down a bit as I reached Control 3, taking a few seconds to find the correct boulder. The stonefields in this area of the map have a bit of a reputation for being confusing, with usually the map or the control placement being fingered as the culprit but in this case I just didn't keep close enough contact with the map and ended up on a boulder cluster too far to the east. I found the next few controls easily enough, including the infamous Control 5 which was to cause all sorts of problems for many people tonight. In my case, I could see the control soon after crossing the fence and so ran straight to it; some people who navigated to what they felt was the control circle complained it wasn't there and that they had to search for it. Roger was approaching from the opposite direction and made an abrupt change of course as he saw me bend down to punch the control.
The legs leading out of the stonefields and back to the main park buildings were once again fast, slowed only by the necessity to cross fences, a skill I have never managed to master to my satisfaction. The complex area of small fields and out of bounds areas around Controls 12 and 13 caused me to slow down and pay more attention to my map as I considered route choices, eventually deciding to run back down the road to 13.
The traditional series of controls in the boulders and reentrants on the western shore of the park followed. Control 14 lead us into this section and was placed in a marshy area at the southern end of the park; an area I hadn't previously run into. Luckily there hadn't been much rain recently (tonight was another gloriously sunny evening although during the day storms and a tornado had flattened parts of West Auckland) and the marshes were significant only for their change in vegetation rather than any dampness underfoot.
With the tide closer to low than high, extra route choices opened up to and from Controls 18 and 20. I entered the island containing Control 20 from the south using a route I knew would keep my feet dry even at high tide and from the control could see that the muddy area to the east was completely dry making that an obvious exit choice. I ran the track to Control 19 and was planning on going the long way round to Control 20, having been caught out by the coast in this area in previous races. However as I ran it looked more and more likely that there was a doable direct route and so I cut across, bounding across the inlet on completely dry sand.
From Control 20 I could see Control 21 on the opposite hillside so I sped directly to it. A glance at the map above will tell you that this wasn't my control and I had to run over the spur and back out towards the point somewhat before I found the one I was actually looking for. I'd been targeting 35 minutes for the course for the last few controls and this was a serious setback, I probably lost a minute floundering around in the long grass. It was a long uphill run back to the finish but I found an extra gear and still managed to beat 35 minutes although with a little less of a margin than I might have expected. Somehow I still had enough energy left to go out and collect controls afterwards!