The second day of the Aftermatch Northern Orienteering Carnival featured a long distance style race on the recently updated Slater Road map north of Parakai. The courses were set by Matthew Ogden himself and were extremely testing. I have run on Slater Road many times in the past 3 years and often find I can use my memory to my advantage but Matt’s courses had be thinking the whole way.
Initially the elite field was to have a chasing start based on accumulative times from yesterday’s 2 middle distance races but after a gentlemen’s agreement it was decided we would use an ordered start with small start intervals to add pressure and first across the line would be victorious.
The course began with 4 short legs in a small area of technical sand dune detail. I had a small hesitation at 3 but was stoked to get there ahead of first starter Tom Reynolds. Our partnership in this technical area was a bit dangerous for me as I am capable of running faster than my navigation and we started pushing each other quite hard. I noticed Nick Hann was also behind me at 4 which meant I was leading!
4 to 5 was a massive leg (totalling 1800m in a straight line) and presented obstacles like hills and dense vegetation and had many tempting tracks. My route, which I think may have been the best, is shown in red and there are many other variations shown. Click to see it closer. It was cool to see both Tom and Nick take different routes even though they were just behind me and could have easily put the map down their pants and followed me. Nick’s deviation from my route is shown in orange and Tom did something similar to the purple line.
The race ran into a pivot section which made good used of a very cool area of sand dune detail. There where a lot of felled trees on the ground as shown by the green stripe, but they were all pretty rotten and didn’t make anything unfair. I think this area was great for a long distance race as the rotten trees increased the physcality of the forest and made route choice decisions more crucial. I chose to use the track from 5 to 6. Tom caught and passed Nick and I through this section and had about a minute lead heading to 15.
Leg 15 to 16 features a massive slope. The elevation graph from my Garmin shows that almost all the climb during the race happened on this leg. Nick dropped me towards the top and my brain to jelly shortly after my legs contributing to the 3 small mistakes at 16, 17, and 18. I lost sight of the leading 2 but I had a big gap back to 4th and maintained good flow through the end of the course to finish in 3rd.