Saturday Orienteering

I’ve eyed this series of events off before, but had been under the impression that they were for school kids and their families.  We recently realised they were open to everyone, so when one came up that we could make it to we decided to check it out.

This one was only 15 minutes away and we arranged with the in-laws to come out and have some fun with the girls while we ran.  There were three course options – a 45 minute score course similar to Summer Series; a short line course; and a long line course.  Our original plan was to run different courses, but on arrival we decided to do the long line course together, potentially splitting up if I needed to walk too much.

My Garmin took aaaaages to lock on to gps, over 5 minutes!  Then we were given our maps, beeped our starts, had our first look at our maps and headed off.  Skirted around some construction fencing, then along a nice clear track towards the first marker – which was at the far end of our map from the start…  We started seeing controls from the get go and made sure we checked if they matched up with controls we had to get later – this ended up saving us loads of time later on and making some good gains on faster runners.

Within 100m we hit the first descent – gulp!  This was actually a sign of things to come, the map scale might have been only 1:5000 on an A4 sheet, but the contours were 5m, and there were a LOT of them.  It was a slow walk, skid, scramble, clamber as we went down, down, down to the creek.  Then our first route choice which ended up being a good call.  Slightly more up, but then some road which made for good traveling. The first control was near a creek crossing and, as most controls were, was obviously placed.  The second control was back towards the start, but along the alternate route – much slower.  Several creek crossings, lots of mud, parts of the path fallen away and trees to climb over.  Lots of fun, but pretty tight when we met people coming the other way.

I said "wait", he thought I said "wet", result - a blur!

I said “wait”, he thought I said “wet”, result – a blur!

All the way back to the first creek we hit and a different crossing – very glad there hadn’t been any more rain or we would have been wading across.  Control 3 was across the other side of the map again, after being more used to score courses where we can pick up controls in any order we like, it felt terribly wrong to be passing controls that we would have to come back and get later on.  Some beautiful running along some very pretty trails, then some steps and some more steps.  A little worse for wear after recent storms too which made for slow going.  Past three more controls that we would have to get later on and we were finally at control 3 and almost half an hour in!  This was definitely going to be a lot slower than we had expected.

Then some lovely fast gently downhill firetrail and we overshot our turnoff, wasting a lot of time.  Back up we went, then found the right side trail.  A little way in a large stick tried to trip me up. And again, and again.  Damn thing was at least two metres long and had somehow twisted itself into my shoelaces and had me madly hopped along trying not to fall over.  I won the battle and disentangled myself from the branch, making sure it ended up well off the trail.  More trees to climb over and we were finally at control 4.

Control 5 was an easy find and not too far off.  Control 6 we definitely took the hard way!  We headed down to the trail we thought we needed to get to.  But the only way down was clambering down what was basically a cliff face.  With fallen trees.  And slippery.  Not our best effort, but we got there in the end and realised how easy it actually should have been.

Controls 7 and 8 we had already spotted, it was just a matter of retracing our steps and making our way down four contours we had previously climbed, then back up again and back down again.  The down was fun, but running the same track four times was definitely my least favourite thing to do!

Control 9 was a gentle run back along a previous trail and keeping an eye out for the marker we had previously spotted – having noted this one previously actually let us get ahead of a couple of runners that had overtaken us earlier.  On to Control 10 which was at yet another creek crossing, again, one we had noted earlier and proved no problem. Not far to control 11 and then it was the climb back up our original downhill from the start.  Oh boy that was slow!  Eight contours (40m of up in less than 200m) of elevation before we could finally move a bit faster than a crawl to make our way to control 12.

Next was possibly the hardest part of the entire thing.  Run past the finish to do a wide loop through the bush around the oval and pick up the final three controls.  This was all straightforward, easy running, our legs were getting tired, but we still found the energy to pick up the pace a little and then finally, finally, reach the finish.

Wow!  That took SO long.  Much tougher than we had expected with the terrain and the navigation was tricky partly because we’ve never worked on a map at that scale before, so kept overshooting our goals.  It was slow, slow, slow.  But on the good side – I had no issues with breathing, no pain, no tightness or pulling in my calves.  It was also my first test run with my new compression socks which I’d picked up on sale during the week.  They were awesome!  So comfortable and this was the first run since January that my calf and achilles haven’t given me any problems at all.  Big, big win!

Sexy new socks

Sexy new socks

So given that massive report, this must have been a BIG run – right?!  Well, here are the stats to show just how slowly we went.

  • Distance: 6.4km
  • Time: 1:24
  • Elevation: 100m

My garmin also had a spectacular fail, recording this run as over 140 hours long.  No idea what happened, but that’s definitely a best effort yet!  Added bonus – finding a leech on the way home.  At least it was on the outside of my shoe and was still a skinny thing, having failed to find a way through my new socks!

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