Any chance to run on a new map in New Zealand is not an opportunity to be missed. My motivation for doing focused orienteering training in Auckland has dwindled over the past few years, as the repetitive terrain is not challenging the skills I really need to work on. Take a local race from a few weeks ago, where I wasn’t all that focused but still managed to put together an almost perfect race. It’s better than nothing but the good visibility and runnability only challenge a small part of my skill set.
This is why Alpine O-Weekend was extremely appealing and extremely beneficial. The 3 races based near Castle Hill in Canterbury gave me a hiding day by day, control by control. The dense beech forest and steep hills are the total opposite to my speciality, and force me to up my game, or die, or both!
I started strong in the long distance (Map on DOMA), and was close to perfect until control 9, which felt too high at the time, and my GPS agrees. 10 was the first big challenge of the course and I failed to meet my expectations, losing contact early in the leg and unnecessarily running through multiple dark green areas before relocating off the river. I tried to salvage the leg by changing plans and getting myself to the track, but screwed up the approach into control 10 by hitting as much dark green as possible. All up I lost more than 2 minutes, but I refocused and got back into the game, executing 11, 12 and 13 well and moving aggressively into the long leg to 14.
Once again my lack of care around the dark green areas punished me duly, and I lost a minute and a half getting stuck in head high bushes descending into the large valley, despite the map clearly showing a clean way down the slope which I ran straight past. Here I was passed by Matt and Chris, making me 6 minutes off Matt’s leading time at this stage in the course, and a little deflated. I pushed hard and caught the speeding pair but shortly after this Matt made a big mistake and put himself out of contention leaving Chris and I together. I had the belief that I could drop Chris and knew that putting him under immense pressure to force a mistake was my best shot at winning, but we were too well matched physically and I never got passed him, nor did his navigation seriously falter. Another second place for me, but I remained disappointed by my foolish actions leaving 9, approaching 10, and descending through the dark green midway to 14.