The Warburton cricket oval, surrounded by the winding Yarra river, looks a picture as we arrive at our assembly area for the Silva Duo, an orienteering Run-Ride-Run challenge. I prefer to keep my feet on the ground, while Peta enjoys the mountain bike form of the sport, so we enter the relay class. I am to start with a 4km scatter course, and then have a rest while Peta does 10km on the bike, and I finish with an easy 2.5km line course.
Thankfully, with soaring temperatures forecast for later in the day and a total fire ban in force, the start has been brought forward to 9.30am, with an expectation that we should be finished by 11am and ready for a paddle in the river shallows.
I have the task of visiting any nine controls from the 14 on the map, returning to the oval as soon as possible. I head west for my first control (14) on the bridge, then up the hill to 3. this proves to be tricky for several of us when we overlook a minor track between the roads. I get back on course by wading up through knee-high tree litter. Lilya overtakes me here.
I have to finish with 9-7-4, so I look for four more to make up my total. 9-12-2-5 is my eventual choice, the navigation proving to be easy, although the contours regularly slow me to a crawl. Number 9 is not immediately obvious, tucked behind a lower fence which I don't see straight away. I see Lilya again several times as we follow the same choice of controls.
I wheeze hard as we trot along the river bank towards the finish. A rickety bridge slows me to a mincing walk; I hold my breath and all is well. I hand over to Peta who heads off on her bike while I head for the car and a fresh application of Factor 50. A cold drink is welcome and a chance to discard my sweaty top. It looks like I'm first back in the relay class.
It is soon time to anticipate Peta's return, and I wait in the shade; it is heating up now. Peta arrives (in the lead) and I am off again. This is just a simple run along both river banks and two of the bridges. Some lucky folks have already taken to the water as the sun beats down. Tim is just ahead of me and I manage to keep up; he has just done the bike leg while I've been resting. A steady trot soon brings me back to the finish. We are first to finish but an examination of our split times shows that we are one control short. It doesn't matter though, since we have both achieved good performances in steep terrain and hot conditions.
We head for the river and sit on the bank, trailing hot feet in the cold flow. Brilliant! Every orienteering event should have this. Prizes are presented, sandwiches are eaten, then we head back to Melbourne with the aircon on overdrive. Lovely area, good courses, colour maps, electronic punching and a cold river on a hot day. What's not to like?