(First published in Lokation 51, August 1986)
Pick up the map, check first leg. 500m to a small re-entrant. Path, then follow wall, then another path and in. Fold up map, whistle goes, jog off with the bunch. Path is a bit odd, they must have felled here recently.
Look confident as I run past Sally. Still not really sure what’s happening. See a wall. Follow it roughly SE. Difficult to run here, thick bracken on felled. Cross and re-cross wall looking for good running. Too early for elephant tracks. Check map, watch for path to right of wall. Cross a stream, can’t see it on map but here’s a path. Not quite sure what’s going on. Run to left on path between two lakes. Check map. No lakes anywhere near where I am. Of course, they’re marshes, not lakes. Lots of marshes on map, too many to be sure which these are. Keep going. This could be the path by the wall. If so I need to cut right just round the corner. Looks alright here, run in, climb cliff. Only 3m, probably not mapped. Run on. Hit wall. Check direction. Wall runs NE-SW. Only wall on map runs SE-NW. Getting worried now.
Switch to Plan B : run SE and hit small lake behind control, then back in. Set off SE. Ground falls away to reveal huge lake through trees. Check map. No huge lake, but I’m near edge of map. Lake must be just off edge, under title. Keep going SE. Another wall, below that an open marsh and a pond. Can’t see any of this on map. Nothing has fitted for 10 minutes. Keep going SE. Major track with 25m cliff. Check map. No track, no cliff. Sudden inspiration. This must be tomorrow’s map. I am standing in the middle of a Norwegian forest and all I have to help me get out of it is a map of an area 20km away. Dismiss this as unlikely, even if the best explanation available at present. SE down track. House by lake. Check ‘map’. No house, no lake.
Unfold map. House, lake, cliff, track, pond, open marsh, wall, huge lake, wall, cliff, path and two lakes appear. I am 1km from the start and still 500m from control 1, but quite close to control 2. Set off NW on track. Cut up valley between two large hills. Obviously a good route choice. Other M21s are motoring down at full speed on the way to control 2. Not quite so fast going the other way. In fact quite slow going the other way. Cross a path, uphill through green into runnable forest. In the circle now, better concentrate hard.
Over a spur and into re-entrant. No flag. Wrong re-entrant. Run a small circle. Flag appears through trees. Run to it. Wrong control, on a ditch by a path. This later turns out to be control 1 on the D11 Novice course. Good attack point for my control. Take bearing. Set off, over spur into re-entrant. Uncanny resemblance to re-entrant I was in two minutes ago. Look up and down, see flag in bush. Run up, check code, punch. 27 minutes for 500m, only 7km left. Set off for control 2 remembering motorway down valley. Get stuck in green. Hit valley near bottom having missed all the good running.
Finally complete course. Brilliant second half to be a full 9 minutes under 2 hours. Ian, Dave and Rob have had disasters too. Results arrive to show us filling four of the last five places that day. Kind of the Irishman to keep us company.