Orienteering 4:47:02  *** 26.3 km (10:55 / km)
spiked:24/29c shoes: Inov8s
Well, I made it round. I generally found the Highlander a pretty depressing indicator of my present fitness, but there were some exciting points along the way. The start was cool, loads of people, just hung out mid pack. Things stopped making much sense halfway to 1, then I realise I was navigating to 6 instead. Going to number 1 luckily made way more sense! Nice leg along the hill tops to 2, then up and over to 3. At 3-4 we hit the green and the pack spread out bigtime, I lost sight of Sam and Hilly, but thanks to Jo B managed to take a great line through the green and emerge on the other side relatively unscathed. On the way to 5 Sam and Hilly suddenyl appeared from behind, having fared less well in the green, but I decided not to keep with them and stick at my pace. I think this was probably an error. Long leg to 6 was beautiful, but I missed my AP and had to hack through some green to get back on track. Cross the marsh to 7 where I see Bendover, who got very stuck back in some more evil green. With him to 8 but he's running much faster, and I fall in again with 4 guys from West Point "252 degrees to the next one." Drop to the road, catch up Mr B who's earlier route choice got him ahead, but he's turned his ankle and it struggling a bit down the slope. Along the road he picks up, and I chase him and the West Point boys into the map exchange.
After a quick banana it's onto the trail run. Slow and steady the whole way, feeling hamstring a little here, beautiful woods but generally a bit dull. Halfway through Jo's painkillers kick in and he's out of sight almost instantly. At the end of the trail run I manage to fall off the trail, nothing makes sense, am caught by Kevin & Hannah, and we stumble into the control. Then back up and over the trail, down a gorgeous spur with an incredible view, and into the woods. This is more fun, Kevin & Hannah both going well and spurring me on to keep going. On the way downhill to 16 though, Hannah decides it's an apt time to practice her commando rolls, and bashed her head across a rock in the process. We sit for about 5 minutes, but she seems fine and carried on walking the loop. I jog ahead, but the West Point boys are now way gone, I'm totally alone, tired, and I have some really long tough legs ahead. I spike all the rest of the controls on this map, but it's difficult not to at snail's pace and I know the other girls are together and running way faster. Not a fan of this bit of Harriman, and am dismayed when I see them running back out onto it for the final loop. Wanted to go somewhere nicer! Ali looks so fresh and I am already dead...
Have a long change over, chat with Will who had just finished, eat lots, and then back out on the final loop, thinking "I've paid for the T shirt, I'm going to get my money's worth!". Miss 22 thanks to following the West Pointies (d'oh) who I had caught at the end of the last lap. Spike the tricky 23, 24, get stuck trying to cross the river at 25, no problems with 26, 27 is easy. Just a case of making everything fit whilst struggling to move. Catch Giovanni on the way up to 28, then as I leave the green I hear an almighty yell behind me. Giovanni looks worried, and out pops Pavlina who has just scared away a bear that was right next to us all! After this I'm done, mentally through, I just sit in behind Pavlina who is still running like a mountain goat and desperately try to cling on.
And that's it! I can smell the burgers, see the happy smiley faces, and it's all over. 49 mins down on Ali, who ran a great race to be first girl. I'm calling it 39 after the few mins sitting in the forest and wasting time at changeovers. But it wasn't much fun, I was never able to push myself physically enough to make the orienteering a significant challenge. Still, today I "ran" for the longest I've ever run, which I guess is an achievement. Next year though, I want to be able to race Ali & Sam for at least the first 10km. Today even that was out of my reach.