For those who were there during today’s torrential downpour at the end – check the photos to see how many people can fit under a tent! Heartfelt thanks to the control collectors who came back looking very soggy but cheerful.
Every year we like to throw something different into the mix. Park sprinting is a different ball game to campus sprinting, and you need to adjust tactics accordingly. Royal Park is a Melbourne icon, famous as home to the Zoo. The new map featured trees – hundreds of them. Not to mention thickets and vegetation boundaries. It was all about keeping to a line, staying confident (but not cocky), then making a snap decision about which way to hit the flag. Several longer legs broke things up. While the map looks deceptively simple, there were plenty of tales of woe. High visibility, fast terrain and direct sight lines all lead to errors (see flag, run to flag, wrong flag!)
On the Mo Men, Will Gardner led from start to finish, winning in 13:53. Kerrin Rattray was second, and Bruce Arthur third. This was enough to give Bruce the yellow jersey, after main contenders Brodie and Aston were absent, but Kerrin is only three points behind, and is one race in arrears so is looking like the favourite.
The Sprint leg was a dash along a path, making sure you didn’t go astray at the 5 way junction (was that only me??) Brody McCarthy made it five wins from five, and will take home a green jersey next Sunday uncontested. As for the hill climb, it was short, but steep! There was an unprecedented 7-way tie for the minor placings on Mo. Brody took the 10 points, but Shane Mallia was second, which was enough to have the polkadot jersey handed across to him. Shane will need to barrack for Bruce to hold the yellow next week.
A small error by Liis Johansson on the second leg of the Mo Women opened the door for Tash Key, who kept the lead until leg 9. Liis drew level, then drew fractionally ahead. Tash was in front again at 18, but couldn’t quite hold on to it. The 10 points for Liis saw her take an unassailable lead in the yellow jersey competition. Lanita Steer was third, and great consistency in her first senior year will see her runner up overall. The sprint leg points were shared between Tash and Mel Gangemi, bringing Mel into green jersey contention; current holder Lanita will have to throw all her eggs in one basket next week and hope to score maximum points. Mel won the climb today, but Clare Brownridge will almost certainly keep the polkadot jersey.
On the Sally Men, Jensen Key was back to his best, winning by over a minute from Patrick Bradfield Smith, with Felix Corcoran third. Jensen is back in yellow, but needs to ensure he scores enough points next week to stay in front of Mason Arthur and Callum White. Fifth place on the jersey ladder, Ian Dodd, has asked me to point out that he is older than the top four put together. Moving on … Steve O’Connell and Will Davey shared the sprint points, leaving Steve marginally ahead in the green jersey comp – but with Will, Callum and Rod Phillips all hard on his heels, Steve will have to sprint for his life next weekend. Rod took out the climb, and has only been beaten once this series, so the polkadot jersey is all his.
The Sally Women has seen a tug of war between the two contenders, Janine Steer and Heather O’Donnell, with the yellow jersey changing hands weekly, and the margins between the two down to seconds. Janine made a couple of uncharacteristic errors this week (see flag, run to flag, wrong flag!) giving Heather 10 points. They are tied overall, but Heather has three wins to Janine’s two. If Janine wins next week and Heather is second, for the first time we’ll have to invoke our fallback tiebreak rule (I’d better look it up …) Sarah Davies was third, and she is another junior who has shown great consistency across the series.
Kate Francis mispunched today so could not claim points on the sprint leg; however she has enough up her sleeve to hold onto it – unless Janine ends up winning the yellow, then the green will revert to Heather – see how complicated it is? I blew my chances by veering left at the junction en route to 15. Nuff said. On the climb, Heather and Sarah shared the points; Janine is in the polkadot jersey.
There was an upset on the Usain Men’s course, when Dale Taverna overhauled Ashley White half way through the race; it won’t have any impact on Ashley’s iron grip on the yellow jersey. Jack Sweeney was third. Ashley won the sprint and the climb; Evan Gavens is only half a point clear of Thomas Caristo in the green jersey comp, and Thomas is a point ahead of Evan in the polkadot comp! Both youngsters have been out there nearly every week doing a great job.
No surprises on the Usain Womens though, with Milla Key taking her fourth win, ahead of Annabelle Davey and Jemima Bradfield Smith. The yellow jersey comp is not over yet though, with Milla, Annabelle and Claire Adams all vying for it in the final race – there has been some great competition amongst our junior girls this year. Claire will take home another green jersey after winning the sprint today; however a four way tie on the climb did not help resolve the winner of the polkadot jersey, with Paula Davey only a few points in front of Hannah and Claire.
And so we are down to the last weekend, with the final SIS race on Saturday at Latrobe Uni, and the Sprint Champs on Sunday at Monash. Danish coach in residence Mikkel updated the map and set the Latrobe courses, to give us something to remember him by. From all accounts, you’ll need to keep your wits about you.
The Sprint Champs require pre-entry, so look for the entry link on the website, and have your entry in before Wednesday. Start lists will be published on Friday. See you for another sensational weekend of sprinting!