With temperatures soaring, this was less Spring and more Summer. RMIT Bundoora was making its debut as a Sprint Into Spring map, with previous uses for Vic Champs and Melbourne Sprint Weekend. It has a series of smaller, irregular buildings on the southern side, a couple of large buildings in the middle which make for longer legs; some ornamental lakes to the east, and open or treed terrain to the west. Throw in some new construction fences, and you have a real mixture on your hands. Course setter David Knight threw us straight into the melee with a series of short legs, then some hard running around the periphery (where the heat became another factor) before finishing at the large, eye catching sculpture. Route choice was the order of the day, with the best tactic being “make a decision and go with it” (as is usually the case at Sprints – but easier said than done!)
The absence of jersey holder Brodie Nankervis opened the door for the Mo Men; Kerrin Rattray led the field for the first half, then Peter Hodkinson took over and stayed in front until the finish. Kerrin lost a bit of time over the final stages, allowing Aston Key to snatch second place. Brodie retains the yellow jersey, but Bruce Arthur is only two points behind, and Aston and Kerrin are also in contention. Jersey specialist Brody McCarthy once again cleaned up both the Sprint and Hill Climb legs; no-one will wrest the green jersey from him, and it looks like Bruce has done enough to earn the polkadot.
Tash Key was back to her best in winning the Mo Women, although it took half the race to overhaul nemesis Liis Johanson. Tash won by 11 seconds. Belinda Lawford worked her way into third after Lanita Steer faded a little over the later stages. Liis is looking pretty comfortable in the yellow jersey. Mel Gangemi grabbed 10 points on the Sprint leg, while Liis shared the points with Clare Brownridge on the Climb. No jerseys changed hands with Lanita in green and Clare in polkadot – but remember it’s best of five, so things are sure to change at the final race when lowest scores are dropped.
For the second time this series, Sally Pearson attracted the biggest field, and is providing some of the hottest competition. Jensen Key took the lead from control 3 and never let it go; Ian Dodd and Torren Arthur fought for second and third for the first two thirds, then Ian broke away in the final stages to finish runner-up. Mason Arthur ran very consistently for third, and retains the yellow jersey, but Jensen and Callum White are not far behind. A mispunch by Steven O’Connell allowed Callum to grab the 10 points for the Sprint; the green jersey now has four genuine contenders with 1.5 points separating them! Look out for some fast and furious racing … Rod Phillips won the Climb and has a handy lead in the jersey comp.
Meanwhile, the head to head battle for points on the Sally Women resumed, with Janine Steer claiming victory over Heather O’Donnell by just 7 seconds. The lead changed hands a couple of times, but by leg 9 it was going Janine’s way – though Heather almost grabbed it back towards the end. Sarah Davies ran very consistently to finish third and earn valuable points, but Janine took back the yellow and has a slender 1 point margin. Kate Francis took the Sprint, making it 4 from 4 and an iron grip on the green jersey. A four way tie on the Hillclimb spread the points around, but Heather is leading the polkadot race.
The Usain Mens was again dominated by Ashley White, who took maximum points for all three jerseys, with Thomas Caristo the runner-up. Evan Gavens still has the green jersey but only just; Thomas has the polkadot. On the Usain Women, Milla Key was never challenged for the lead, although big improver Annabelle Davey, and experienced campaigner Claire Adams, both took a number of individual legs. Consistency saw Eleanor Williams and Rebecca Neylon in second and third place; Milla reclaimed the yellow jersey. Claire won the Sprint and the green jersey is almost assured; Paula Davey won the Hillclimb and has the polkadot, but is being pushed by Hannah Adams.
If all this talk of jerseys makes you want one for yourself, you’re in luck – we have a limited-time offer to purchase a specially designed Blue jersey or singlet. You can order online through Eventor, or talk to Debbie or Margi. Pre-payment required by November 26 – the perfect Christmas present for yourself or someone else!
Next Saturday we shift to park terrain; with no buildings to guide you, it’s time to shift gear and take a different approach. You might think it’s all about speed, but not if you run in the wrong direction! You’ll still need to be accurate and on your toes.
Finally, don’t forget to get your online entries in for the Champs at Monash University – one of the best sprint maps in Australia, and a fitting finale to our 2017 Sprint series. Entries close on Wednesday November 22 – enter here.