“How hard can it be?” we thought. Tracks, trees, lakes, bridges, gates, stepping stones, more trees. An early Hill Climb. A late Sprint. A quick loop around the park. Looked straightforward enough. Looks can be deceiving …
Course setter Toby Cooper used the lakes to good effect in the first section of the map, setting up some nice “right or left”, “track or stepping stone” “climb or distance” type route choices, before bringing us back into the generally open western section, for a series of very short legs with constant direction changes that had us dizzy. Some people weren’t reading their maps at the end, running to what they thought was the end of the Sprint leg to a control that was in plain sight – but was almost 100 metres south of where they should be. This caused some consternation – and some upsets in the Jersey points comp.
Brodie Nankervis, Kerrin Rattray, Patrick Jaffe and Bruce Arthur are the clear top four on the Mo Farah course, and they went into battle again. Brodie won in 15:03, but that was only a minute ahead of Bruce in fourth. Brodie was second for most of the race, but snatched the lead after Kerrin made an error on leg 22. It was very close on the Womens too, with Tash Key managing to hold off Liis Johansson by 5 seconds. Patrick has kept the Yellow for now with Bruce, Kerrin and Brodie breathing down his neck, while Tash is four points ahead of Liis, not far ahead to relax.
James Robertson won the dash for the Green jersey from Bruce and Shane Mallia; he moved half a point ahead of Shane in the points tally. Mel Gangemi again dominated the Womens comp for her fourth win and a three point lead despite not picking up any points last week. On the climb, there was a four way tie between the men so points had to be shared. Shane has a good lead over Matt van der Peet. Womens polkadot jersey winner Liis had to settle for equal second behind Mel today but she still has a few points more than Clare Brownridge.
It was a good day if your name was Brodie (or Brody) – junior Brody McCarthy claimed his second victory on the Sally Pearson course in 12:56, taking the lead from the second leg and never relinquishing it. He now has a clear lead in the Yellow jersey comp. Jensen Key was second, and Callum White had a series best third. So great to see such a competitive bunch of juniors! Sarah Davies was the fastest on the Womens course, ahead of Judi Herkes and Philippa Lohmeyer-Collins. Heather O’Donnell scored enough points to take the womens Yellow jersey and is three points ahead of Jenny Bourne.
Brody won the Sprint leg from Callum, and Callum has the Green jersey. Heather also won the Sprint from Philippa, who takes the womens Green. Will Davey was the quickest climber and he has a big lead in the Polkadot comp. Anne Robinson was fastest woman up the hill. Julie Francis had a mispunch today so will be looking to score points next week to keep her polkadot jersey.
I had my first go on the Usain Bolt course (recovery from illness) and found I needed to keep on my toes. Those tricky short legs in the final section were the undoing of quite a few, and a good reminder to keep reading the map and never lose focus. Peter Beggs was the winner today in 20:21, keeping cool where others came unstuck. Martin Corcoran and Ken Moore were second and third. Consistency paid off for me on the womens course, when faster runners also made errors. Olivia Moon and Kristy Flay took the placings. Peter took over the Yellow jersey – he is now tied with Ashley White for points, but Ashley has the polkadot. Daniel Kaman is only 2 points in arrears and has been very consistent. Pat Mews kept her Yellow but Luca Bogdanovits narrowed the gap to 3 points.
Ken won the sprint leg from Daniel, who moved into the outright lead in the Green jersey comp. Claire Adams made it three wins in a row and is now only half a point behind Luca. First time Angus Dalton made short work of the hill climb leg, but as mentioned Ashley claims the jersey. Claire also shot up the hill and scored 10 points, but Paula has managed to keep the jersey despite a mispunch today.
So … in a best of six competition, the next two races will be crucial in deciding who gets to take home the 2016 Jerseys. I’m not prepared to call any of them yet. It all hangs on the results of Race 6 at Bendigo South East College, and Race 7 at South Star in Eaglehawk, in next weekend’s Grand Finale. With two very contrasting terrains, the winners will need to be adaptable. Course setter’s tip for South Star – “full leg cover recommended”. That’s all the help you’re getting.
Don’t forget that entries for the Victorian Sprint Distance Champs close THIS TUESDAY on Eventor. This will be an unforgettable race next Sunday in the heart of Bendigo – whatever you do, don’t miss it!