I was a little more prepared for this one - in that the alarm went off and I got up, had breakfast and went... as opposed to being woken by Lynne 45 mins before the start saying "were you going to do that race....?) so, bonus there.
The area around Totley is not all that familar to me. The fact that there are a number of bogs, lots of reed and rushes and an awful lot of turks heads is well known, so the going underfoot was going to be a little challenging, especially when still on the way back from injury. The idea of the day was to have fun, enjoy the nav, and maybe to put myself under a bit of pressure. If I lost points because I was late, that wasn't an issue. There is nothing riding on this race, it is a time for experience.
Somewhat excitingly, my navigation started off terribly. The first checkpoint was bang where I thought it was going to be - but unfortunately I had a bit of a crisis of confidence about 30 metres away from it, turned round, ran back where I came from for about 5 mins before telling myself I was an idiot, and then going back and finding the CP in exactly the place where I thought it was going to be. Lack of confidence and a little bit of inaccuracy as well. Ah well, thats 5 minutes down the drain, nevermind. Crack on.
So far the terrain had been track, track, turks heads, bog, turks heads, bog. So in order to give my legs a bit of a rest, I tried to make the next bit as smooth as possible by following some trods.
No such luck into the bombhole of my next CP. No, no turks heads, but instead heather, heather, reeds, river, reeds, heather.
Great, no rest for the wicked then.
By this time there were a number of others out on the course, and we battled through the heather to the nearest path to get down south on the Clockwise round that we had put ourselves on. There was a fairly decent path right over to within about 400m of the next CP, and once that track ended it was again, bog, bog, reeds, knee deep water and a fight through some bracken before getting to the sheepfold.
So far, so good. No-one was following me, I had a decent amount of time left, and my nav was getting me to the right places. The next CP was going to be a little more fun as it was "on the edge of the wood" with no real identifying features to attack it from, so a bit of accuracy and cunning was called for. Not only that, but it was across the way, through what can only really be described as a sea of heather.
Bash Bash Bash. Through another boggy river and a load of reeds, and through the trees I can see the kite. Marvellous. Punch, and onward over more heather until a lovely path going towards the next CP. Across to my left were a herd of deer running away from some brightly clad runners on the other bank, and I wondered if I'd see them later. (I didn't).
Up to the boundary stone, dib, and then a bit of a complex one to find my nemesis - "small re-entrant". I really hate these things. It took a while with me furtling about in various places, losing a good few minutes. To be honest at some points I was really confused about where I was, and now looking back on it, I was really too far north and didn't take note of the several changes in contours around me (and the big stones that should have been a clue....).
From there, Northwards and then west to the next obvious one in the sequence, and then North again along some really runnable paths - feeling good picking up the one between 2 boulders, and north again, taking some fun and complex paths in order to stay within the rules - not running on the road where it was hashed out.
2 hours gone. 1 hour left.
Choice time - go a long way out for a 50 pointer with the prospect of another couple on the way back, or go safe for a 40 pointer, but which takes me pretty much into a dead end (all the other points near it had been got...)
Now is the time to learn. Go big.
I set off to the other side of the map from the race HQ and as I was running there I was thinking "this is probably not going to work... run faster". It took an age to get to the vicinity of the CP and another age to find the damn thing. I must have lost another 5 mins rooting around in heather and rocks for it and nearly gave up. It was another of those which if you found direct, would have been fine... but faffing and having to find and re-find locations to get to it really ate into my time.
Got it. 30 mins to go. 8km direct to get home. This could be tight.... especially as direct wasn't going to be a possibility, and there were a lot of workarounds to do.
Knocking back a gel and some bloks I headed for home as fast as I could (which after 2.5 hours was not all that fast). At one point I worked out I needed to do an 18min 5k to get back in time, which wasn't going to happen. Eventually I got back 10 mins late, so a penalty of 175 points.
Had I played it safe and gone with the 40 pointer at that crux I would have been joint 9th. If I got there with enough time and I could have gone for one of the others a bit closer to home I might even have come 8th or 7th.
Ah well. Experience in the bank. Good to know.
It was a 30km day as well, with 900m of ascent, so a decent day out by any standards. Fabulous.