It was an interesting map today. I had set the Winter Sprint event at Carrington last year and, from memory, had used the map at 1:4000 (rather than the standard 1:5000 map that we use at Summer Series events here). This year Gergo chose to use it at 1:3000 which certainly allowed him to put controls in little alcoves - Control 10, for example, that may not have been readily readable on a 1:4000 map. I thought that the course was set more in the "European" rather than "New Zealand" style, meaning that the emphasis was not so much on route choice (although there was plenty of that) but rather on the importance of keeping in touch with the map and turning (lots of turning) at the right places to minimise distance and difficulty. I've stuck my had up to set the Pre-Oceania sprint here later this year and, if I get the job, I'm likely to follow Gergo's example with the 1:3000 but stick to a more traditional "New Zealand" approach.
The run from the start box to the start triangle followed a tape, as is traditional. The tape ran up to the corner of the building and I powered around it only to find that the tape continued another five metres or so to the opposite side of the path. I resisted the temptation to just run straight to the first control and made the short trip to within arms length of the start triangle instead. From there it was back down the side of the building, with the control being just out of sight around a corner once under the canopy.
The first route choice of the race occurred on the next leg. The choices were to either continue in the same direction or return back 20 or 30m, both options being necessary due to the uncrossable wall blocking a direct route. I continued on more out of inertia than anything, I had not made a positive decision on which way was quicker. Another wall featured on the third leg, I didn't notice until afterwards that it was marked as uncrossable on the map; in real life it was just a series of steep concrete steps and easily traversable at speed. I ran up the wrong side of the re-entrant but the control was visible and I corrected quickly.
Back onto the road, Control 4 could be seen ahead, nestling in a bark garden. This didn't stop Allan from missing it completely and getting a fair way down the next (long) leg before realising. I had no such problems. The leg from 4 to 5 offered a number of route options. I chose to run south around the pond and then across the grassed area, using the bridge across the stream to return to the paved route. I then kept in close to the buildings as I turned the corner into the control. As I approached the control I could see Dwayne running down from the north and marvelled at the great run he must have had, starting one minute before me, to complete the short northern loop already. In reality, of course, he had stuffed up Control 5 and was approaching it from an unexpected direction. I followed him up to Control 6, catching him at the control itself and then moving ahead as he stopped to check his map.
Controls 7 and 8 were examples of what I referred to above as the "European" style of Sprinting. There was no real route choice - we were simply running around a building - but it the building had a number of decks, nooks and crannies and the skill came from recognising when you were about to round a corner into a control so that you could slow down early and not overrun it. From here it was back down the carpark to Control 9.
Another large building contained controls 10 and 11 with the key to the leg between them being to go around the dark green rather than try to push through it, as Jonty did. The next leg to Control 12 then offered a route choice with options to the left (east) or right (west) of the building. I went right, dodging between some new prefab buildings that had appeared on what was mapped as an open area to the south east of Control 11 and then past another prefab, also unmapped, that was loaded up on a trailer ready to be moved between the main building and the fenced out of bound area.
The next control was in the complex area of small buildings, decks and canopies that makes the south west of this map so interesting. My plan once I had entered this area was to run straight through the white wooded block between two of the buildings, emerging at the control but once I got there I chose not to vault the fence but to run around instead. This turned out to be much faster and I picked up nearly 20 seconds on those who went straight through.
Back out of the buildings, around the out of bounds construction area, back past the house on wheels and then it was down a slight hill to Control 14, sitting majestically in the middle of a mud patch. I crossed the road and ran the gap between the two long narrow buildings. Despite running on this map many many times over the last fifteen years this was the first time I had ever had a control in this area. I overshot the control due to a small hedge that I wasn't keen to push through and had to run around the end of it and back a few metres to Control 15. Control 16 was around the far side of a building; I didn't overrun this one but it was ideally placed to tempt people to do so.
Control 17 came up quickly, I had a good grasp of what to expect and ran at pace all the way, picking up a few seconds on Jonty who wasn't as closely in touch with the map at that stage. I then promptly lost those few seconds and a few seconds more by running out of the control directly towards Control 18, all the while reading my map to notice an uncrossable fence and out of bounds area ahead. I looked up, confirmed I was running directly at them, stopped, turned and ran around the way I should have gone in the first place. I didn't realise it at the time but this mistake would make the difference between beating Jonty and finishing behind him again.
Controls 18 and 19 looped us around this building complex again and then it was a straightish run back to the finish. The first control in this section was on a lamppost in the middle of the car park and as I entered the car park I could see Allan just leaving it. I picked up the pace in the hopes of catching him before the finish. Back into the complex building detail and Control 21 forced me into the undergrowth between buildings - no option to run around like Control 13! The control wasn't visible until I was standing right over it but I had been confident I was in the right area so I continued moving as fast as I could through the thicket.
Then it was out of the buildings and up the road to the last control which was on the far side of a thicket. A group of three teenagers emerged from the vicinity of the control laughing guiltily as I approached but the control was untouched (were they laughing at Allan, perhaps?) and I punched and sped off. I sprinted to the finish but despite this burst of speed couldn't quite catch up with Allan before the finish control.
I felt that I had had a good run but when Jonty arrived at the finish a couple of minutes later it became obvious that I was still a few seconds short of a truly great run - he beat me by two seconds!