Patrick and I had a great time vetting the course. It took us 6:46 to get through it. Before you start panicking, let me say that we did not have the advantage of those 11" x 11" orange and white orienteering flags to look for. We also made a few course corrections where we found the info on the map didn't match the features on the ground. Our goal is to give you a race map that can accurately lead you to where we will put the flags on the ground. Of course, you still have to be able to read the map and then find your way to the flags!
When you see the race map and plot the checkpoints, you will realize there are lots of options for how to go after this course. We brought portage wheels with us, and decided to use them when we portaged our canoe. Portage wheels aren't on the required gear list (they are on the recommended gear list). Having portage wheels just opens up more options for your race strategy. You will have to portage your boats - how much depends on your race strategy. Other options for portaging boats include just grabbing the handles and carrying them by hand, hoisting the boats up on your shoulders, hooking loops of webbing to the handles and slinging the loop over your shoulder like a purse strap, bribing another team to carry them for you, etc. Dragging boats along like a stubborn child is not recommended, and is prohibited if you're using one of the rent-free canoes (you know who you are).
There are quite a few new adventure racers doing this race. I'm not sure what your expectations are concerning how dry you'll stay on the course. I'd recommend that you expect to step in the water at least once, maybe more. You'll waste less of your valuable time if you don't hesitate when it's time to step out of the boat and go. The rest of you will probably be wet from sweat and dirty from playing in the woods, so why would you expect to have clean dry shoes and socks at the end of the race? :)
What are our predictions for top finish times? There are lots of variables involved, but I think several of the strong, experienced teams will probably clean the course in a little over four hours. There has been an explosion of foliage since we vetted the course, and that may slow them down a little. A fit team that can navigate ok should be able to come close to cleaning the course within the 6 hour limit. Time management is the key, making sure you don't waste too much time in the TA and making sure you leave yourself enough time to get back to the Finish by the cutoff time.
No matter how your team does compared to other teams, if you come to the Gleneagles Challenge with the goals of having fun, being safe, and challenging yourselves, then you can succeed! We're setting up a great event for you to come enjoy a day with friends while playing in the great outdoors - you can't beat that!