Saturday, 7 January 2012

Big 5 O - Day 4, Oh dear

So there I was thinking that I've had such nice runs with no blunders to type about... today changes that!

I was one of the first runners out of the starting grid this morning with a nice and early start time of 09h00; I've been starting at 10-ish. Good conditions too this morning after a hot night last night. We've dropped a lot of altitude from the Belfast region - from 1900m to around 1400m - to Sabie.

So, shooting out of the starting grid I got tangled in a piece of barbed wire lying in the vegetation... was it a sign of things to come?

Here's my full map.

I screwed up Control 1... I know, I know... my worst thing to do ever!

I'd been told that a lot of the forest conditions here weren't great so I decided to play it safe and to approach from the top - the road. Easier running. From the road I spotted a control and it turned out to be one on another course; I hadn't totally expected it to be mine but thought it was really cool if it was. I then went into the 'clearing' - within a circle of rocks, which is where I expected to find my control. Nada. So, I went around thinking maybe my direction was wrong and I spotted another control for another course. I headed back into the clearing, which to me looks like the dead centre of the circle. Nothing, I must have looped again and was heading back towards the clearing when I saw Sarah approaching - she started six minutes after me! Arrggghhh... Just then I spotted the control. Bugger!

Control 2 was an easy one.

Control 3... this was purely my own fault because I read some dashed black lines as a path/trail of sorts when they are actually cliffs! Doh!

Took me a while to realise that the overgrown forest road I was on was not the black dashes (see where the purple straight line is drawn) but was the road marked on the map. There's something a bit odd with this track because I didn't go through that light green vegetation area. Once I realised my error I went straight to the control. Surprisingly, on the bit of road just going off to the right, that's where I caught Sarah. She should have been way further ahead but she got trapped in that darker green band when she exited the control.

Control 4 was slow going through head-high lantana. I had initially thought of running around to the top but then decided that the vegetation boundary may work. There was another control further down from ours, which we found and the going was good. Then it got bad, and slow. Almost at Control 4 we saw Zigg on the other side of the marsh. She may have started behind Sarah? Talking to another lady after the run it seems that the better choice would have been to go from the top...

Controls 5, 6, 7 were A-ok - although I should have approached 6 from the other side. No biggie.

Control 8, I overshot slightly. When I first got to the correct rock cluster I took a look at where I thought it was but didn't see it. So, I thought I had the wrong cluster and went a little further to the next bunch before deciding that where I was had been correct. Turning around I saw the control... Zigg got there moments after me.

I really enjoyed the run from 8 to 9. I chose to stay higher and then enjoy the big downhill. Fabulous running!

Control 10 was fine... but I approached it from slightly higher but I still saw it on approach.

Control 11 - the bane of my day. I haven't anchored my track - I anchored the track at the control points at the other controls - wanted to see if this could show me just what happened!

The open ground marked is not really open ground - lantana everywhere - head high! OK, so, initial approach was ok, then up through the vegetation to the rocks. Didn't see the control where I though it was. There were runners spread all over searching. Standing on the rocks I checked out the vegetated rocky outcrop to the West - check. It was really horrible clambering over rocks and through fallen branches and lantana... I saw a guy I know - on another course - and asked whether he was looking for the same control. He was. But, on his map it was printed in a different place. I was really confused. Anyway, the minutes ticked by and I starting trying to extricate myself from this situation by getting more into the open. As I headed in the same direction one of the guys who had been searching found the control. Arrrggghhhh.... It took me 19 minutes from control 10 to 11. Awful, awful, awful. One of those controls that makes you want to bash your head against the nearest rock.

The rest of the controls were all fine but I was way out of sync. 13 shows a squiggle but it was just me going through a gap between rocks and then around the boulder.

So... definitely not a good run for me today. Although the majority of my controls were really good, the bad ones kinda override the good.

Still, a good day out; playing in the forest still beats most things. I covered 11.8km on this 8.7-kilometres-as-the-crow-flies course.

Tomorrow is the final day -  a sprint course through the botanical gardens in Nelspruit. The course is something like 2.6km, but with 24 controls. When you consider that the course today was 8.7km with 22 controls... ja, we'll be punching every few metres. It should be very exciting.

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