Oh man, it was so hot before I'd even got to the start and I spent the drive down from Nelson drinking and trying not to get car sick again.
I felt like I hadn't done a proper orienteering course in ages (sprint races are different) and I really wasn't sure how my foot was going to handle it. The first section was in the farmland which was mostly okay apart from the second control where I wasn't low enough and the control was behind some gorse. I ended up near the end of the ridge before dropping down lower and heading back. It was so hot though which made it hard to think straight.
Once I got into the forest my feet started to really hurt so it was mostly walking by that stage and even that felt hard. It was really steep and the ground was very rough under foot (I think I managed to fall over quite a few times!). There was one control where we had to go up something like 17 contours only to have to come right back down a couple of controls later which was just ridiculous and all the sidling was causing my feet to blister (they have seriously gone all soft since my stress fracture).
The final few controls were out on the farmland again. It was pretty cruel to have to go all the way up the hill in front of everyone chilling back at the event centre but such a relief to get out of the forest!
I was so glad to finish the course and see Michael standing at the finish with some water. It was brutally hot, steep and rugged and I'd managed to get some wicked blisters by the end. This was not turning out to be my weekend!
After a training ride with our team in the morning which did a little to calm my nerves, it was time for the longest mountain bike orienteering course I'd ever done (rogaines not included here), and in another country no less! I think the distance (which is based on the shortest possible route I think but I'm not sure, unlike foot orienteering where it's based on the straight line) was 29 kilometres which seemed a long way for the first race!
Having no idea what to expect terrain-wise (everyone tried to give me helpful descriptions but there is nothing like actually being out there to understand) I was pretty anxious. I'm can navigate on the bike so that wasn't the problem. And I'm fit so that also didn't bother me. But it's my technical skills that are sorely lacking as well as confidence so signing on to this trip and getting to the start line was a big deal for me especially after my fall a couple of weeks before.
The course, for me anyway, was really easy navigation-wise (not that I didn't make a couple of really stupid mistakes especially coming out of #10 where I went in completely the wrong direction!). Also, being allowed to ride across the yellow (open terrain) was a bit weird to get your head around. Riding wise it wasn't too bad either and I was really happy with how I'd done. A good start to the trip.
This was the second to last OY of the 2010 season and I was really quite determined to have a good run.
Unfortunately I didn't get off the greatest of starts. Somehow I ended up running too far to the left and everything looked so vague in the cutty grass which must have been about waist-chest height. I certainly couldn't see any knolls. There were a few people, Cath and Andrew included (they'd started ahead of me) floundering around up in the general area so I figured it wasn't going to up there and headed out to the right, eventually sort of stumbling upon it. The knoll was naturally more obvious once I'd actually found the control.
I don't think my route choice was optimal to #9. Cutting back through the native bush (marked as white but was more like light green) took too much time and it might have been quicker to cut around the road. But I dropped down onto the control pretty much perfectly. To #10 it was about avoiding the climb so I headed to the right and to the main road running down the centre of the map. Pretty easy really.
From #11 to #17 was a series of fairly short legs which were pretty cool. I picked up a bit of speed and felt really confident on my navigation...until #16 where I was looking at the hills on the wrong side. I clicked eventually and managed to punch the control and run off before a few others in the area realised. Always good!
On the whole, my navigation was pretty good but I was just too slow getting through the cutty grass. Long sleeves might have helped 'cause by the end my arms were throbbing and my wrist was bleeding. But I bet Michael back (not that it was really a competition since he was doing course 1 and I was on course 2) and I was well in the top half of the field.
One more OY to go...White Lightning.
Oh dear, the OY series this year is not exactly going my way! I was definitely overtired after two really late nights and my knee was still not 100% (I had only run once this week...mostly cycling to keep up the strength as it doesn't seem to affect the knee much).
I started off okay, although a little shaky to the first control, but then I got completely thrown at #4 and I don't really know why or what happened. I thought I'd chosen a good route choice and everything seemed to be going right but I couldn't find it for the life of me so I ended up (after a bit of bashing around) heading out to the road and taking a bearing from the clearing back in again. I found it perfectly this way but it came up heaps quicker than I expected (I almost didn't check the code 'cause I didn't think it was my control!). Yeah, I really don't know what happened!
I don't know why it's dated 15 August since it was actually the following Sunday. Weird.
At #7 John Robbie appeared next to me and he seemed to be going the same way as I was to #8 although I knew he wouldn't be on my course but it distracted me way more than it should and I wasn't paying enough attention, ending up overrunning it and almost at #9 instead so I had to backtrack. Then all went okay again until about halfway to #12. I ran out into the cuttings and thought I knew where I was but the control never appeared where I thought it was going to so I headed up to the road to relocate, but worked it out on the way. Turns out I was way too far south. The terrain under food in the cuttings was absolutely awful and I pretty much had to walk. I think I cursed out loud when I saw I had another 2 controls to get in that area!
Once I got back into the decent forest I started going better again but was feeling pretty exhausted. It felt like quite a slog to finish. I don't think I stuffed up anywhere particularly there but to be honest I was so tired I'm not sure if I can remember it! But it turns out that most people doing my course had pretty long, exhausting races too so I guess everyone found it tough out there.