The Sprint Bendigo weekend was highly anticipated for many reasons – it was the Grand Finale of Sprint into Spring, as well as the Victorian Sprint Champs. Three new maps, three different terrains and course setting styles, and the chance to use SI AIR, all attracted big numbers to Bendigo. Even the weather was perfect.
Race 6 was at Bendigo South East College, a small but complicated campus with its fair share of irregular buildings, stairs and ramps, fences, landscaping, and even a small lake and tiny patch of bush. Course setter Richard used a map flip to good effect. Lots of short legs with constant direction changes kept us on our toes, and we quickly adjusted to the swipe technique of SI Air.
Race 7 required a quick shift across to South Star in Eaglehawk. This was unlike anything we’ve used before at Sprint Into Spring, and was a great test of versatility. The terrain here was heavily eroded gold mining with not a building in sight. It abounded in small intricate gullies and mounds, intersected by narrow and sometimes indistinct tracks. Patches of thicker vegetation influenced route choice, and pure speed was less of a factor.
The Mo Farah men’s Yellow jersey has been a very tight contest between Patrick Jaffe, Brodie Nankervis, and Kerrin Rattray. Today there were a handful of interstate raiders itching to spoil the party, but Brodie had his eye firmly on the prize. He won Race 6 in 13:44, 8 seconds clear of Kerrin, with Ian Lawford claiming third and Patrick settling for fourth. In race 7, Patrick came within 6 seconds of Brodie’s winning time (15:52), with Angus Haines taking third in an ominous sign for the Champs. Brodie’s two wins gave him possession of the 2016 Jersey.
The Mo Womens yellow jersey had been a two horse race between Tash Key and Liis Johansson. Liis took the 10 points from race 6 after Tash DQ’d herself, realizing that she had crossed an Out of Bounds area. In so doing she wins our unofficial Fairplay award, setting a great example to other competitors. Noora Koskinen was second, and Lotta Kirvesmies third. In race 7, Tash was back in winning form, cementing the 2016 Jersey. Liis was second, and Belinda Lawford third.
The 2016 Green Jerseys went to James Robertson and Liis Johansson, while the Polkadot Jerseys went to Shane Mallia and Clare Brownridge. Shane was right in the mix for both Green and Polkadot jerseys this year, while Clare came from behind this weekend to repeat her 2015 victory.
The Sally Pearson course was hugely popular today – I have never seen so many people line up for the Sally! In race 6, the honours went to Mason Arthur in 12:59, followed by Torren Arthur and Jensen Key. Jensen needed the points from race 7 to claim the Yellow jersey, and he did that by winning Race 7. Mason had a strong finish to the series with a second place, followed by big improver Hadyn Tang, who has really come to the fore in recent weeks.
Jenny Bourne has been all class this series, and she won race 6 – but only just, with Heather O’Donnell hot on her heels and only 8 seconds behind. Carolyn Jackson came third. Race 7 saw Jenny win in 15:51, a comfortable margin over Carolyn and third placed Carola Ray. The Yellow jersey was Jenny’s to keep.
Brody McCarthy has been in great form all series, and was this year’s Green jersey winner. Heather O’Donnell has also been a very strong contender, and she also earned herself a Green jersey. Will Davey was unstoppable on the hill climbs, and now has a Polkadot jersey, as does Julie Francis.
The Usain Bolt featured some new names as Bendigo locals came along to give sprint orienteering a go. They took to it very quickly. Race 6 Men’s winner Lachlan Feuerherdt finished in 12:15, ahead of Felix Corcoran and Ashley White. Carol Coad, Claire Adams and Pat Mews were the top three Women. Lachlan was a dual winner, completing Race 7 in 13:24, with Felix and Ashley again the placegetters. Ashley was a very happy winner of the Yellow jersey (and may not have taken it off yet!) Pat won the Womens, and the Jersey, ahead of Dale Ann Gordon and Trisha Osborne.
Daniel Kaman was a newcomer to the series this year, and he performed strongly to claim the Green Jersey. Claire Adams overcame the disappointment of a mispunch in race 1, to take her second Green jersey. Peter Beggs won the Mens Polkadot jersey, while the Womens went to Paula Davey.
And so it was on to the Sprint Champs. These were right in central Bendigo, just up from the iconic fountain. With very little time to get into the map, we were thrown first into the Chinese temple and gardens, then into the fern maze, and up the hill to the school campuses and former jail before criss crossing back down the hill and into the finish. Small details were very important, and most errors were caused by the fences in the central section, and the single entry point into the maze.
The Mens Open race was incredibly close, with the first four separated by only 17 seconds! Brodie Nankervis emerged the winner to cap off a great weekend, with Ian Lawford and Kerrin Rattray claiming the places. Patrick Jaffe, running up an age group, almost pulled off an upset. With several years to go still in junior ranks, watch out!
The Mens Junior featured a very strong interstate field, and they showed the locals how it was done. Angus Haines was the winner, from Alistair George and Dante Afnan, with visiting Finn Jonathan Ray very unlucky to miss a place.
Other notable Mens results were Haydn Tang’s 6 second win over Mason Arthur, and Ian Dodd’s 2 second victory over Tim Hatley (yes they were in different age groups but the long standing rivalry continues unabated!)
The battle between Liis and Tash resumed, with Liis repeating her 2015 victory on Womens Open, in 14 minutes flat and a 12 second margin. Lotta Kirvesmies and Noora Koskinen were third and fourth. Lanita Steer held off sister Asha and WA rival Jo Anna Maynard to claim the Junior Womens title in her last race at that level.
Most of the other women’s classes were won fairly comfortably, but Judi Herkes was only 9 seconds clear of Ruth Goddard in the closest competition of the day.
And so another amazing Sprint Into Spring series has drawn to a close – maps and courses were discussed endlessly, jerseys were handed out, there were smiles and tears (mostly smiles!), and none of us can wait until next year. Already we have some potential new venues in the pipeline.
Highlights of 2016 were having 7 new course setters and 4 new maps; the ever popular Live results; and the fact that 120 people turned up to run in hail and gale force winds at Keilor Downs! On behalf of the SIS team I want to thank all of the venue owners who let us run round their schools or parks; the course setters who all did a superb job; the clubs, who are such great supporters of the series and ran the events smoothly and cheerfully; and the handful of additional people who gave us a little extra assistance along the way with advising, mapping, organizing, taking photos, or simply helping get controls out on time or doing mid morning coffee runs.
The SIS team is a small but incredible group of people, who dedicate 6 weeks every year to putting on the best series of events going. Ted as technical advisor has overseen the mapping and course setting, and has also been invaluable as a mentor to our course setters. Margi has looked after multiple aspects of the organization and has been across every detail. Jim and Ian have worked together on the IT side so that you can enjoy OLynx Touch and Live Results at every event; Jim also did a superb job of printing the maps. Registration, promotion and the website have been my area. As the series grows in popularity, the team would love some fresh faces, new ideas, and extra hands. If you want to be part of something great, just contact any one of us – we’d love to have you on board!