Route Report

The following is Gerald Duffy's report on his adventure on the long course in Fota House.

Warming up at the start I noticed a few competitors tearing off down the road past registration - looked like a bit of road run to start.

Punched Clear, Punched start, grabbed my map and ran after them flat out like a lunatic sprinter without looking. Once I'd recovered my senses I looked a the map and noted control 1 was in a 150m wide isolated section of forest, seemed like a direct route in was perhaps possible. It was a long way down the road, so I had a look at the map to locate controls 2, 3, and 4. Four seemed to be on a sea wall corner (inside). After negotiating a border of nettles, I broke into the forest and ploughed on in the direction of 1, it popped up on cue, I punched and exited through a more runnable area in the direction of the road.

Looking ahead on the map on the long run up the road, 3 appeared to be 100m or so up the path from 2. 4 was on the sea wall corner (inside) and 5 way up the end, near the end of a right hand path, 6 was near the cliff near 3.

No.2 appeared to be the far side of a stream, or dry ditch, so I skirted the right hand ditch end and swung around and up the far bank, it was in plain view in the corner of the grass area. Back to the path and I pace counted my hundred metres towards 3, some competitors were coming out from the forest on the right at approximately the correct location so I popped in and 3 was there on cue. Back out across the path towards the sea wall, fell over some roots, up again - nothing broken - dash on, cross the path, had to climb down a rock face behind another competitor, being careful - if I slipped and fell I'd land on him. 4 was on the wall corner as expected.

Back out to the path for 5, almost made the mistake of going out the way I'd come in, but realised and recovered, rough pace count 100m up the path, checked the map for location of 6, saw the right hand turn for 5, ran in to the path end, map indicated it was just to the right in a hollow/depression, found a huge pit and heard someone rummaging around in it, pretty much fell down into it through a huge mound of mulchy grass clippings. Glad there wasn't anything else in this yucky compost heap!

Out the back of the pit, and direct route towards 6 through the forest, it seemed to be just beyond a cliff end, stayed close to the cliff top, met someone climbing up the cliff, peered over the edge and there it was just below me. Another quick drop, swing off some roots, more graceful this time, no grass clippings or other competitors to land on. Punched 6 and headed back to the main road I came in toward the house. Never thought of taking direct route through the fence and across the field.

Another very long road run back to 7, heart going 180+, feeling sick now, breathe...focus...control. Time to check location of 8, 9,10 and 11 on the map. Arrived at wrong building corner for 7, realised the minor error, and popped around the back to find the control. Straight out to 8 near the car park road where we came in, it was neatly tucked in behind a tree. Out across the big field to 9 for another odd tree, then on to 10/16 in plain view in the field, checked route options to get into the gardens for 11 on the way.

Off into the gardens to 11, hidden in behind some bushes near the path junction, checked location of 12 and 13 and 14 en route, 12 was nearby to the north, 13 was in the rockery, 14 beside the orangerie. Picked up 12 handy enough, but the rockery proved troublesome, luckily I spotted some other competitors in there near 13.

Mad straight line dash to the orangerie for 14, with a few tree/shrub avoidance deviations, dodging branches and eating a few leaves on the way, control description indicated north side, checked locations of 15 and 16 on map en-route, 15 appeared to be in front of the house, but the only path was thought a little side gate to the other side of the house. Got 14 clean, straight line high speed dash across neatly manicured lawn, cleared the 1m embankment wall drop clean (seems to be a lot of drops on this course!), out the gate, cross the front of the house (no time to admire the lovely architecture), into the bushes for 15.

Heart rate pounding off the scale now, out across the big field again for 16/10, planned the optimum route to 17 while running. Keeping left of the stream, back in toward the house, cross the bridge and into the gardens again for 17, got somewhat confused entering the gardens, but happened upon 17 further along the path, back out towards the toilet block at main Fota entrance for 18, overshot it a little and came in at the building from the North, back out the narrow path past the parked van onto to entrance road, then a mad sprint to the finish.

Collapsed exhausted on the grass, feeling nauseous and totally shattered.'Twas a good run, no major mistakes - delighted!