Back in 2008, "Family Randal" was born, out of necessity, on account of me taking a heavy spill off my bike the day before. My bro, Dave, joined Kaitlyn and I as a late addition to our team. We were awarded first in the six-hour family class that year, but a more careful analysis found another family team with the same points but who were home slightlier earlier, dropping us to second. We'd had a fantastic time though, and in both 2009 and 2010 we took top honours.
This year, we planned to participate in costume, something we'd not done before. But, the long range forecast was for pretty foul weather, and we held off. A few days out, we pulled the pin on that notion.
I spent Saturday pulling down a couple of walls at my usual rogaine partner, Simon's place, and even snuck a short ride in at dusk. But, well before my alarm going off on Sunday morning, I was woken by the sound of very heavy rain on my roof and against my windows... Eeek!
Eventually the time came to get up, and I talked to Dave on the phone about contingency plans. The forecast was for the front to move through and the weather to improve by mid-morning, so we discussed switching into the 3-hour event which wasn't due to start until just before midday. Nonetheless, we'd continue as planned, and make a final decision at 8:30am down on the waterfront.
At 8:08 I sent Dave the txt: "Stopped raining in Karori! Just leaving now..." followed by "Haha! Lightning! I should stick to my day job!" exactly two minutes later. The thunder storm was still in progress when Kaitlyn and I drove together through Karori. The rain was insane, and as we passed the Botanical Gardens, we couldn't help but stop to admire the water against the lamp posts adjacent to the road. A couple of times even!
|And more water!|
Dave was waiting for us at the registration desk. For a few minutes we hummed and hahed about whether or not to start the six-hour. In the end, we decided that we should at least grab the maps, and if we spent the first couple of hours sitting in a cafe hiding from the storm, so be it.
Metlink is a sponsor of the event, and as in previous years, there was a bus parked up in which we could sit and do our planning. The map included the Miramar Peninsula in the east, Karori in the West, and north through to Johnsonville and Newlands.
For the first time, Petone had been included as well, and we decided to head out there to start with. We didn't bother tallying up the points available in each of the suburban clusters, but instead looked for areas we were keen to explore. Dave had his iPhone, and we discovered we'd have only a short amount of time to get to the station before the Upper Hutt train departed. Awesome! We pencilled in Khandallah, and before too long, it was time to get ready for the prologue.
Prior to the main event, a short sprint event is held. The map area typically goes as far north as the Post Office HQ, and south to Te Papa. We'd gone north in the past, so were keen to go south this time. We'd have only 10 minutes, and no time at all to plan. When we were told "Go!", we could turn our map over but not before. Nervewracking stuff...
Soon though, we were running down the covered veranda of the Events Centre. We counted the stairs off the end for a few points, and then bollards half way down Frank Kitts Park. We made our way across the first overbridge, and around the WCC buildings before crossing back over the City to Sea bridge, back through Frank Kitts Park, and past Ferg's Kayaks.
A couple of minutes into all this I realised I'd forgotten to start my stopwatch, so had no idea when time would be up. The lateness penalties are steep - in all we collected 80 points, but would lose 10 of these for each minute we were late. With luck, I'd synched this watch with the organiser's at the Akatarawa Attack, and they were still in synch! We dared grab one final control on the wharf before running to the finish. I could hear Mick Finn counting down and sprinted with our answer card towards the table. I managed to not slip over on the wet tiles AND sneak our card under the 1-minute-late bin that was being placed on top of the "on-time" bin. YES!
With the toughest part of the day done, it was time to shovel a bit of creamed rice into Kaitlyn, and compose ourselves for the start of the main event. We reorganised our gear, and were ready to go when 9:45 came around.
First up, we headed north to a 20-point control in the industrial park opposite the stadium concourse. As with all other controls, we'd prove we'd been there by answering a simple question - in this case "Shed #35 (large brick building). How many large blue doors facing the city?"
|09:51, 2M: 2! And here's Kaitlyn in front of the small blue door!|
|09:55, 1K: 5 heads, 2 on each gate, one up above|
|10:06: Time for a breather!|
|10:23, 23: 1870 was the year!|
|10:29, 11: 2 windows! Kaitlyn looking a bit sheepish...|
|10:37, 32: Abus padlock|
We saw another few teams as we made our way off the wharf, and more still en route to the Settlers' Museum. While it wasn't raining heavily, there were still some big puddles to dodge.
|10:47, 22: Aurora poking out the north side of the building|
|10:56, 12: 1927!|
|11:01, 10: white, green and maroon window frames! And damn, it is a big house!|
|11:07, 20: dark green fence|
|11:16, 31: 1918 was when William Bolton the younger died|
|11:27, 50: 2 horizontal rails|
|11:46, 30: Tennis club since 1893!|
We toyed with jumping off the train at Ngauranga - a plump 60-pointer near the station was tempting, but we were nervous about getting stuck out there. So instead, we stayed on until Kaiwharawhara, where we knew from Dave's iPhone and Metlink's Live Departure information that a 44 bus was 25 minutes away.
We had a walk up the bottom of the steep bridle path, during which Dave chatted to Mum and Dad, learning that their property had sustained another small slip in the wild weather. We were about done with our raincoats by this stage.
|12:19, 61: "Bridle 065"|
A few minutes later, we were off the bus, looking for a walkway to control 41. It wasn't this way, so must be that way. Sure enough, and it was a busy wee control!
|12:45, 41: white fence|
|12:54, 2A: purple letterbox|
|12:59, 29: seven slats on the gate!|
|13:03, 17: PO Box 22419|
|13:10, Lunch! No points!|
|13:21, 2B: eleven|
|13:29, 16: five timber posts|
|13:39, 28: 5 "Es". No time for resting, y'all!|
|13:48, 36: green chair and netting|
|13:58, 37: middle letter "R for Randal"|
|14:02, 18: grey-blue letter box|
Much to Kaitlyn's dismay, this involved a jog to Crofton Downs, 2 kilometres away, according to http://www.journeyplanner.org.nz/. We figured we "probably" have enough time to get there before the train did, and we'd pick up 50 points for our trouble.
It was on this run that I carried Kaitlyn for the only time during this year's event. The first year, I carried her up most of the hills, but as the years ticked by, Kaitlyn became heavier and had to rely on her own two legs increasingly more. I really couldn't do much more than a brisk walk with her up on my shoulders, and her weight was killing my core, but we were nearing the five-hour mark, and she deserved a rest!
Before the station, we had a quick excursion down into Trellisick Park. Luckily we didn't have to go too far.
|14:35, 54: two holes in the brickwork|
|14:57: Come on bus!|
|15:14, 2N: blue tiles|
|15:20, 1R: three flags and three Randals, one looking particularly buggered!|
|15:24, 1Q: three steps and three Randals, again!|
|15:30, 1P: red fence, which we couldn't quite make out from back down the path...|
So, instead we cruised back along Willis St, and before too long were back at base!
In previous years we'd probably pushed it all a bit too hard, but this year, apart from a couple of efforts to get to stations on time, had been much more sedate. The photos at the controls had helped slow us down a bit, and made sure that the little'un would be involved every step of the way.
So, when it came to find out who'd won the family division, we were shocked and thrilled to hear "Family Randal" over Mick's mike! Whoop whoop!
Nice one team!
Soon after receiving our Bivouac vouchers, Kaitlyn and I farewelled Dave. On the drive home, we stopped in on Simon and Sarah, both keen orienteers, and told them of our adventure. Before I dropped Kaitlyn at her Mum's, we talked about how sometimes you have to be brave and push yourself uncomfortably hard, not really knowing how well you'd recover from the efforts. I told her how proud I was of her, and how amazed I was at what she'd achieved during the day. She said she was proud of herself too.
And well you should be daughter, well you should be!