Sunday, 27 May 2012

Plenty River

I follow the SatNav half an hour north to the outskirts of Melbourne for the first MelbushO event of the season at Yellow Gum Park on the Plenty River. This is one of the principal tributaries of the River Yarra, which flows through the heart of the city. I turn west off the highway and follow dirt tracks for a couple of miles until I emerge at the Yellow Gum Park picnic area, complete with toilet block and orienteering gazebos.

 I am greeted with warmth and understanding, as I explain this is my first event south of the equator. Discretion is called for in unfamiliar surroundings, so I opt for the C course of 4.2km, 150m climb with 11 controls. I change and head for the start, clutching my UK dibber and Southern Hemisphere compass, lent to me by Robert Vickers many weeks ago. I start my course, running slowly through eucalyptus with little ground coverage. Raucous birds jeer at me from the branches above. A gentle downhill start is followed by climb to 3 and 4.

All is going well, until as I approach the 6th control, I spot a large kangaroo (with joey) cross the track in front of me and effortlessly hop over a four-foot high fence. Of course, I overshoot control 6 and lose time hunting for it. Tiredness is setting in now, and I struggle to negotiate several barbed-wire fences late in the course. I save a bit of energy for a big finish. The terrain has been very runnable although the contours remind me of my age and lack of fitness.

The results appear on the MelbushO website very promptly and I'm pleased to see my first foray has produced a satisfactory result. I am 3rd out of 35 starters. Next week I should try the B course perhaps?