23 May 2014

Things I'm Loving: Completing the Metlink City Safari Race

I wholeheartedly believe that no matter what is happening in your life, there is always something you can be thankful for..no matter how simple it is.

Last weekend we competed in the 3-hour Metlink City Safari Orientering Race around Wellington.

We had dithered a little bit trying to decide whether or not to enter, mostly due to the unpredictability of Wellington's weather and a degree of uncertainty about how Mylo's legs would cope with all the racing. There was a 6-hour option too but we were not THAT crazy. Having missed out on the 5K Colour Run earlier in the year, we figured this was our best chance of doing a family team event before winter really sets in here in Wellington. So we bit the bullet and registered.

Metlink City Safari

On race day, we got to the registration just after 11am and received our map and instructions for team who?! MNMs Adventures (of course!). We spent a bit of time poring over the maps and planning out our route, and quickly decided that despite the lure of free travel on all public transport around the greater Wellington region (buses, trains, cable car and ferry), we would plan a route that took in as many checkpoints (and therefore points) as possible in the shortest time-frame. It was also a route that we knew very well being right in our backyard around Karori, Northland and Kelburn.

Map of the region showing all checkpoints

Our detailed map showing all the points we were aiming to get

At 12.15pm we had a 10 minute prologue warm-up racing around the vicinity of the finish line to get to grips with how it worked finding the checkpoints and texting in our answers. Except in the melee and excitement I completely forgot to text any answers in - I'd only circled them on the question sheet - ha ha - I guess that's the whole point of the prologue - ironing out all the kinks before you actually get racing!

And after a quick welcome from the mayor to everyone at the event, before we knew it, 12.45pm rolled around and we were off and racing for real. I synced my phone timer with the official timer so we'd know exactly how long we had till the finish - and every minute mattered at the end! We made the decision to head straight out to Karori on Bus No. 3 to get to the furthest point possible (checkpoint 50) and work our way back from there. This proved to be a good decision and one that a lot of other teams had made too which also made it fairly easy to find the checkpoints as there was always another team or two in the area.

After looking in through the window of a closed bakery to find the price of a can of coke, we ran through the Karori Cemetery spotting the required words on a grave, the item a statue was holding in her left hand and bushwhacked for a bit down some fairly off-the-beaten track paths in behind the football fields where Noah played his Friday football to find the name of a person on a sign. This route meant we came away with a good 220 points in about half an hour.

Our route - start and finish at the orange stop button by following the arrows!

The race was not without a hairy moment though, we'd been running down a tarsealed path in the cemetery when Mylo went flying and I was sure we were going to be scraping all the skin from his hands and knees off the road. But after from a couple of minutes of very loud tears but no obvious blood, we pulled ourselves together and got going again. Phew!

After hiking up into Northland via the very steep Albemarle road collecting another 30 points down by a stream, we'd originally planned to take the No. 23 bus (to save little tired legs) back to the botanical gardens, but figured out quite quickly that this would waste a fair bit of our remaining time as the bus was still 15 minutes away and with a downhill walk to the botanical gardens we made the call to instead walk down the very steep and windy (but scenic) Orangi-Kaupapa road collecting another 40 points counting the 193 very steep steps down towards the gardens.

Taking a quick break on Orangi-Kaupapa Road to enjoy the views of the city

Suddenly we were at the gardens, with another 200 points on offer. We followed our noses again up some fairly off-the-beaten path tracks to the sculpture on Druid hill (60 points for finding the symbol inside the sculpture), and then wound our way up past the Met Service building to the Krupp Gun cannon to get another 40 points for finding the Latin words inscribed on top of the cannon. After a quick detour down to discover what bird was painted on the mural at the playground (a Kiwi - 20 points), we took the cable car back down to Lambton Quay, collecting the 70 points available for finding an answer on the cable car itself.

A nice break for the legs on a quick trip to the bus terminal and back again

With about 40 minutes left to go, we took advantage of the many buses that cruise along Lambton Quay even on mid Sunday afternoons and whipped up to the bus station terminal to collect another 50 points (how much was the can of Coke inside the news agency), before getting another bus back to Queens Wharf.

At this point we jumped back onto the more detailed prologue map of the waterfront and mopped up a good 80 points over the remaining half an hour. We enjoyed getting up close and personal with the HMS Canterbury frigate that was parked up (although I believe the correct expression is docked!) down at the wharf, and we were certainly dwarfed by its huge presence.

The HMS Canterbury dwarfing everyone on the waterfont

The very last checkpoint was one you had to get your feet wet for so we let Noah take his shoes and socks off and grab us an extra 5 points.

We made it back over the finish line with 1 minute 25 to spare, which was perfectly timed as every minute that you were late arriving cost you 10 points.

We handed back in our racing vests and swapped them for a filled roll, cake and a banana and enjoyed the buzz of the square as the other teams all milled around, everyone looking pretty tired and exhilarated at the same time.

After a few minutes the points were up on the live Leaderboard, and we were pretty stoked to see that we'd come in 20th place out of 70 family teams competing and 37th overall out of 120 teams (so in the top 1/3 of the pack!) with 640 points. A great result I reckon with a 7 and 4 year old in the team! The official results and maps showing all the individual routes the teams took are here which we enjoyed perusing after the event. The winners of the 3-hour event managed to get 1,000 points which was a great achievement!

Four happy and tired bodies with minds still buzzing wandered back to the car with a slight detour at Burger King for the boys on the way (which was their treat for being such great sports with very few complaints along the way!). I find it quite incredible that Mylo managed the course as well as he did (mind you he has surprised with his stamina on other occasions recently like our walk at Lake Mangamahoe). I do think it really helped that we stopped regularly for water, lollies and snacks and took the weight off our feet at every opportunity while waiting for public transport.

And with the boys into bed early to rest tired bodies after a little rub-down with Mum's massage oil, Mark and I sat down to a succulent meal of lamb shanks with minted mash and green beans that had been sitting in the slow cooker awaiting our arrival.

I'm so glad we took the opportunity to do this event, not only was it a fun family activity where we got to be physical, use our brains and work as a team together, it was another adventure and cherished memory for all the MNMs!

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