The first leg was interesting. We started near a building corner, as is traditional, with a tape taking us some 20 or 30 metres around the building to the start triangle. There were a number of buildings between the start and the first control and it was important to read the map quickly and accurately while getting a feel for what the race would bring. Luckily there wasn't a huge amount of route choice on this leg, although it would have been very easy to make a mistake and head off in the wrong direction as a number of 90 degree turns were required at various points. To add to the confusion, a Samoan group had gathered in the narrow corridor between the two large buildings south of the first control and kids, dogs and balls were going everywhere and appearing from completely unexpected directions. I would use this route three times during the race and while I managed to negotiate it all three times without collisions, it was a close run thing at times.
I managed the leg to Control 2 without problems but ran into trouble on my way to 3. I took the route choice to the left under the building canopies. Many others went right and approached the control from the east but I worried about how easy the grass would be to run on, while it was a lovely day it had been raining for the last week and I suspected muddy conditions. As I came round a corner in the buildings I saw a control off to my right in what would have been roughly the right position if I had been one building further along so I rushed over to it and punched. As I did so I noticed that it was control number 172. I found this a bit strange as I was sure I was looking for 152 but because the numbers were so similar it was obvious that I had mis-read the number when planning this leg. Obvious for about five seconds, anyway. As I sprinted away from the control ready for the longish run to Control 4 I was surprised to see a building in front of me instead of the paved area that should have been there. I glanced back at my map, things started to fall into place and a look at the control descriptions confirmed that, yes, Control 3 actually was 152 and that it was Control 18 that was 172. Duh! Around the next building I went and corrected my mistake by punching the real Control 3. This had cost me 15 seconds that it turned out I could ill afford.
But I wasn't to know that at the time. Once back on track it was a fast run across the paved playground area to Control 4 and then a route choice on the long leg to 5. Sticking to my theory that the grass would be muddy and hence slow, I took the right hand route choice and ran down the road. After turning back into the school near the control I could see it less than 100m ahead and ran straight to it. On the map you'll notice a number of form lines and knolls in this area. It has been landscaped to make an interesting area for the kids; it is interesting for runners as well but not in such a pleasant way. The end result is a series of ridges with ditches one metre deep between them. These ditches were just wide enough to preclude jumping over them so it was a very jerky slow run through this area, reminiscent of running along mountain bike tracks in the forest.
Returning from Control 5 it was a no-brainer to use the deck alongside the classrooms instead. As I ran out the gate Allan was coming in. I confused him completely by exclaiming "You can't have caught up to me already" when actually he had started well ahead of me and was now on his way to 14. Controls 6 and 7 were found easily and then it was back around the building to 8. I was in a minority in deciding to take the south around route past 11 and the Samoans with most people going north around past 19. Comparing splits later it appears that there was no advantage either way.
A side trip to Control 9 was followed by my final traverse through the large group of Samoans, back past the start to Control 10 which was at the end of a narrow corridor. As I was already facing north I took the right hand route choice to 11 rather than what looked to be the slightly shorter left hand choice. Controls 12 and 13 followed quickly before the appearance of the race changed as we left the buildings and commenced a few legs in the playing fields. I ran back past Control 5, using the deck again and realising why Allan had been where he had been and tried to minimise my time on the grass on the way to 14.
The grass was in better shape than I had expected but it was still wet and heavy underfoot and the leg from 14 to 15 seemed to take forever. There was a little bit of track running near the end but the control itself was in a re-entrant that was extremely soggy and standing water surrounded the control. The leg up to Control 16 was uphill, starting off with a gentle climb but getting steeper all the time. Peter had placed the control so it was on the far side of a large tree and wasn't visible until I reached it. I had never been in any doubt that I was running to the right tree but it was still a relief to see the control appear. Jonty had taken the precaution of glancing up to sight and positively identify the control on his way to 15 but I had omitted this basic precaution.
If it was uphill all the way to 16 then at least it was downhill on the way back. I turned the fence corner and set off across the playing field trying to identify exactly where Control 17 would be. It became obvious that the map showed one to few walls sticking out from the building but by lining up the wall between the two larger trees I ran confidently to the wall third, not second, from the right hand end of the building. As I expected, the control was there. A number of people had counted walls only and, not noticing the total number was wrong, had run to the wrong place.
From 17 to 18 there was once again a route choice with most people taking the right hand route around the buildings. I was still sticking to my theory about grass running being slow and took the left hand route even though this meant negotiating a small fence / handrail at the gap between the buildings. There wasn't much in it but I think my route was two or three seconds faster. Back across to the southern school buildings and Control 19 and then what seemed a very long last leg for a sprint event. There was perhaps an element of route choice on this leg with another visit to the Samoans being a possibility but, like everyone else I spoke to afterwards, I chose to go left along the long building and then thread my way through the smaller ones to the finish.