I've run on this map 3 times now and only managed 1 clean(ish) run so I was hoping this race would be different...but it was not to be.
I started off nice and slow...the first control was pretty easy (a spur not too far up off the track) but it was clear it was going to be a steep, slippery course. The route to #2 showed just how steep it was going to be and just trying to sidle round the side of the hill was pretty difficult. But navigationally it wasn't too bad. Neither was #3 but it was a little unnerving getting down to the control. Unfortunately #4 was where it all came unstuck...
I sidled round and got down to the river, crossing that, then debated going round the bottom of the next ridge but decided I'd go up and over...bad mistake number 1. So up and over I went, crossing over the track and what I thought was the next stream. I climbed up the next hill but couldn't find it anywhere and nothing was quite adding up. I spent so long (embarrassingly long) fluffing around wondering what was going on before finally ending up heading down to the bottom and stumbling over the track again which totally threw me and I wondered what on earth I'd done. Turns out I'd done a 90 degree error and crossed the wrong stream (turns out I wasn't the only one who did that either as one of the other girls never worked out what happened and ended up dnfing). I found the control fairly easily after that but it was terribly demoralising as I'd lost HEAPS of time. I stumbled through the next few...fairly easy navigation but the hills and slippery terrain were getting to me (the climb out from #5 was awful).
I passed Mum out there on my way to #11 and she said she was having a really good run...at least someone in our family was! I then proceeded to take the wrong track at the junction...silly me! But I realised pretty quickly and was able to bash up the hill to the correct one. #12 was a spectator control and I felt like bailing since it was right by the finish but that isn't me. The loop after this was pretty cruel with more steep, slippery climb. I'm not sure I've ever been so relieved to finish an orienteering race in my life (or had such a bad control)!
After the first two days which had gone pretty well for me I was pretty upset to finish the weekend on such a bad race but I guess that's just how things go sometimes.
Quite a few years ago we used to have these orienteering events called Short-Os which were 2 short races back-to-back with a chasing start in the afternoon where your time in the morning race affected what time you would start in the afternoon. The winner of the afternoon race (the first runner to finish) won the whole day. Anyway, we haven't really had races like this in years...until this weekend. Sunday was 2 middle-distance races back-to-back with a chasing start in the afternoon. Basically starts related to your results in the morning...if you took 29 minutes and 34 seconds then you started at 1:29:34pm. First running back wins the grade. Make sense?
This event was again held out at Woodhill Forest. Woodhill is a pine forest grown on sanddunes out on the West Coast North of Auckland city. It covers roughly 12,400 hectares. The morning race started out fairly averagely really. I would get to roughly the control circle but be about 100 metres out from the control and kind of fluff around a bit before finding it each time. Tessa caught me at #5 where we both got ourselves confused. I thought I'd come down the depression on the right. Turns out I'd come down the one on the left and Tessa had followed me. Then the control felt further over than it looks on the map.
We ran together from then, catching up to Frances around #7. We all mucked around too much at #9, finding another control first with Frances mispunching (she thought it was the correct one and kept going). It was pretty physical as we were all pushing quite hard especially when we were running as a group. I was quite happy with my pace but not so happy about my orienteering.
Most of the W21E times were quite close together (although not as close as the men's elites) and we were all pretty revved up for the afternoon although standing around for a couple of hours in the cold took its toll. I was pretty nervous. There was quite a gap behind me so I was pretty sure I wouldn't be caught up but I was feeling quite determined to beat Mace, the Aussie Bushranger starting 24 seconds in front of me!
We had to write our start times on the back of our hands then line up in order (all grades mixed up together). They would count us down then when it got to your time (for example, mine was 1:29:54pm) you punched the start control, ran to the box with your course maps in it (double-checking you got the correct course) and followed the tape up over the bank to the start control and then you were off.
I caught Mace fairly quickly but I was so determined to get ahead of her that I made heaps of stupid mistakes. I slowed down and switched my brain onto orienteering mode after running straight past #5 but by then Mace had got ahead. Oh well. I just concentrated on having a clean run from there which went pretty well. Obviously heaps of the girls stuffed up somewhere too as I saw Kate and another Aussie near me and Angela raced past (despite having started a few minutes before me). Other than #9 (where I saw a few elite men standing on the tops of the ridges looking a bit confused!) the rest of the race was good. Just frustrating about the first half! I can run faster in this terrain than Mace so I should have beaten her if I'd be concentrating properly. Oh well, hindsight is a wonderful thing!
On the Saturday night we had a fun night relay at the Muriwai Golf Course before the social. It reminded me a bit of last year's Halloween score event on the golf course which was truly hilarious and an awesome event despite the fact that I am literally terrified of the dark (I'm trying to conquer this by making myself do these night events whether I want to or not). The relay format was pretty simple. You were in teams of 2 (I was in a team with my mate Michael who I did TWALK with) and either started on Leg A or Leg B. The first runner in the team would head out and do their leg then hand their map to the other team mate. Then once they'd come in the first runner would head out on the second leg then hand the map to the second runner to do. Make sense?
We were on Leg B first and I made Michael run first. He was racing against his mate Matt which was quite funny. You could see the trail of lights out on the course as you waited around, freezing cold, at the finish. They came in together, much quicker than I expected and I was off before I knew it. Lara (Matt's relay partner) started just ahead of me and she had awesome reflective strips on the back of her tights so if I wasn't totally sure I was going right I could just look up and see where she was!
A couple of Aussie girls started a few seconds behind us so were chasing us the whole way and we formed a little train (we must have all been Leg B starters) which grew in numbers as we went along (picking up other runners who'd started before us). It was actually really fun but we were going incredibly fast and I was pretty knackered by the time I got back to the finish to tag Michael.
Loop A - our second leg
I was hoping the second leg might be a bit longer not 'cause I felt like running for longer but more because I really wanted a bit of a rest before having to run again but Michael finished it in no time. Lara had already set out (turns out Matt forgot the last control so mispunched on the second leg hence coming in a little bit before Michael) so I was on my own and I stumbled on the first control despite one of my mates saying to take it easy 'cause it was a tricky one. I did exactly what he'd done! After that it was pretty simple and basically just a matter of keeping my legs moving as fast as I could! It's such a weird experience running off road in the dark especially on this golf course map...the terrain is really bouncy. I can't really describe it but your foot never lands quite how or where you think it's going to.
Anyway, turns out we were the first New Zealand team (beaten by a couple of Aussie teams...they took it pretty seriously though whereas we were all out to have fun). Awesome!
It seems that all my long weekends are taken up with orienteering and Queens Birthday Weekend this year was no exception. No travel required this time since all the events were taking place in the Auckland region with the first 2 days on my local stomping ground, Woodhill.
I've been getting quite nervous before events since moving up to W21E. I'm guessing this will slowly pass as I get used to this grade which would be good because nerves make me panic and make stupid route choices. The first race was a long distance race at Woodhill on the Saturday morning. Long distance is probably the event I like the most. Anyway, it's your lucky day 'cause Dad was standing at the start taking photos of me...
Nervously waiting at the start box with about a minute to go.
And we're off...trying not to trip up whilst attempting to locate the first control on the map.
I actually found the first control fairly okay which is always a good way to start. Things were going mostly okay (abet a little slow and cautious) until #15. From #14 I bashed out of the sanddunes as quickly as possible because it's crappy terrain and difficult to work out exactly where you are. I thought I could relocate once I was back in the forest but it felt like a bit of a dead zone and nothing was fitting. I ended up nearly at the road before I worked out vaguely where I was.
I then promptly stuffed up #16 as well. I got up to the depression to the left of the control which I knew was wrong so I went right into the next depression but it didn't look how I imagined it would (it was much broader). I fluffed around for a bit too long before nearly stumbling on the control! Frustrating. The rest was okay and I came in with an alright time especially considering the field...I even beat one of the Aussie bushrangers! Yeah!