Rotoiti is a mysterious map. There is no other way to describe it. Virtually flat, so using contours to navigate is impossible. Thick kanuka and manuka scrub so you can't really see where you are going. Clearings that all look the same as each other. It's no wonder that no one who had run there before had anything other than terrifying stories to tell...except Michael who is clearly a bit crazy! So clearly I was pretty nervous lining up at the start.
It was all very well to go out there with a plan of attack but oh my god...you know you're off to a flying start when you get hopelessly lost trying to find the first control!! I pretty much walked (otherwise known as bush-bashed) my whole way round...round in circles!!! After finally finding #1 I was going along as okay as you were going to get until #4 which was really quite mysterious. Turns out I wasn't the only one thinking this which is always encouraging.
Then somehow I got #5 no problem (a miracle!). This was only to be followed by going round in circles for quite some time for the next control. #7 and #8 were easy which then lulled me into a false sense of security. With only 1 more control to go I figured not much could go wrong (hahaha!). Oh man. The first half of the control went really well and I thought I had my attackpoint but it just didn't seem to work out. Once I realised I had no chance, it took me forever to get back to the telephone pole so I could start again. Somehow the second attempt worked out fine but it was so frustrating because once I got to the control I realised I must have been so close the whole time but just never managed to find it. It felt like trying to find a needle in a haystack!
I will have to come back to this map some day and see if I can get it to make a little more sense!
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!
To make up for having to miss the North Island Orienteering Champs I decided to tackle the South Island Champs instead! These events were held out of Nelson which is up near the top of the South Island. We were driving up from Christchurch and got there with 2 minutes to spare before Michael was called up to his start and about 15 minutes before I was called up...so about enough time to get changed and try to get over feeling a bit car sick!
So I found the first control all right...or at least where I thought it should be but I couldn't see it so I went backwards and forwards around the fences wondering what was going on until I spotted the control in the first place I looked, rather camouflaged against the trees (it was a bit faded). Then I headed off to #2...except I was heading off to #3 instead and almost got all the way there before realising so had to go back again! And the worst thing was that I missed the good gap in the fence both times so had to go the long way round!
What are you doing taking photos of me? I'm trying to concentrate here!
It was about this time that I died! Man, my running fitness has gone out the window with the stress fracture. Sure, I'm fit and my bike fitness is really good at the moment but running is another kettle of fish. Anyway, navigation went fine for the next few controls up until about #11 at the far end of the map where I got confused about what they were classing as a building (I mistook this weird fence structure as a building) so fluffed around there a little bit and then again on #12. After that it was a slow, painful grind through the last few controls and on to the finish.
So basically to sum up...I'm slow and can't orienteer!!! Excellent! Oh, and it was ridiculously hot, even at 5:30pm. Summer is going to be a killer.