Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Day 1 of the Big 5 O is done and what an afternoon! This morning was very warm with blue skies and by the time we assembled at the event 'arena' it was actually quite cooking with a good dose of humidity. You could tell the difference between the locals and the foreigner at a glance; locals with caps, sunblock and tops with sleeves and the foreigners with their pale skin exposed to the elements. Clouds above signalled the possibility of rain but what we didn't expect was the massive downpour complete with marble-sized hail stones!

Walking to the start
For me, a good course today. I haven't been to O for months so my objective was to run a nice, comfortable and clean course. I'm running in the women's elite category, which means that this is the longest and most technical of the women's courses. My course today was 4.8km as the crow flies with 45m of climb (ja, nice and easy going). According to my logger I ran 5.7km -  a bit of this, maybe 200m, includes the bit down the start chute and to the start control and then from the finish to where I remembered to turn off the logger. So, I ran about 5.5km. I'm not sure of my time but it would have been in the region of 45-50 minutes.

Runners at the entrance to the start chute, waiting to be called
Terrain: Pretty decent and mostly runnable. I've put my track in to QuickRoute and the colours show walking (red), slower running (yellow) and running (green). As the terrain was pretty friendly most of the yellow would have been more rough ground - like where branches cover the forest floor. Crunchy.

OK... so, the only control I took a really whacky angle on was control 3. Not sure how I went wonky but it was easy to fix and I didn't lose much time. Then, 7 to 8... I purposefully went high to avoid the more dense vegetation, long grass and swamp of the marsh area. Then a very easy run through to 8.

In the start chute. You spend one minute
in each of the three boxes.
It was around here that the rain really started to come down. By Control 9 it was really raining, plus hail. By 11 it was seriously coming down and by 12, in the open, we were pelted by hail stones - big, stinging ones. There is a definite benefit to running with a cap - keeps the rain off your face and the hail stones were bouncing off my peak. From 14 to 15 I could barely see the other side of the marsh because of the mist! Very, very exciting to run in these conditions ;)

Tomorrow we're in the town of Dullstroom for a similar distance course but in a more urban terrain. My club, Adventure Racing Club, is hosting this one so I'll be starting late and helping at the start area before my run. Cindy and Cobus van Zyl and Eugene and Michele Botha have done all of the organising and planning for this event. The four Jo'burg orienteering clubs are sharing the load at this first international event by taking turns to organise each day's event. Well done to the student club, WITSOC, for presenting a really superb course today.

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