Melbourne Sprint Weekend Day 1

Day One of MSW certainly delivered on its promise of high quality areas, challenging courses and exciting competition. The morning’s races at Monash Clayton tested all aspects of a sprint orienteer’s skillset. Geoff Lawford and Jenny Bourne’s courses had a mix of leg lengths, countless changes of direction, made excellent use of the irregular building shapes of the campus and all of this could still be done at a very high speed. There was much discussion post-race about which route choices were best and if you want to check if you got them right, have a look at the route analysis on our Facebook page:

Rumours were that the afternoon’s race at Caulfield Grammar would involve a whole new level of technical intensity and if anything that was an understatement. The combination of Mikkel Kaae-Nielsen’s highly detailed and accurate map with Dion Keech’s devilishly difficult courses made for a big test of all competitors’ technique. Maintaining contact with the map while weaving through the complex network of covered walkways, garden beds and fences would’ve been challenging enough but there were also difficult route choice challenges to solve here as well. Even the top runners in the elite classes lost significant time in parts of the course and it was an event where those who minimised the damage from any mistakes that they did make came out on top.

It was a very successful day for the locals with Victorians finishing first in 7 out of the 8 elite races. At Monash the pre-race favourite, Peter Hodkinson, delivered by holding off his British compatriot, Will Gardner. Brodie Nankervis and Kerrin Rattray slotted in next, followed by two young guns, Aidan Dawson and Matt Doyle. In the afternoon, the GB invasion continued, this time with Gardner turning the tables on his fellow coaching school, Hodkinson. Also at the top of the M21E field were Simon Uppill, Brodie Nankervis and Bruce Arthur, three orienteers renowned for their technical skills.

It’s worth noting that in one of the most impressive runs of the day, M20E local Aston Key, ran a time faster than the entire senior men’s field. He was followed by Patrick Jaffe with there then being a significant gap before a cluster of four runners (Duncan Currie, Joseph Dickinson, Angus Haines and Patrick Miller) around two minutes down on Aston’s time. Key also convincingly won the morning’s race ahead of Dickinson (who took out the Australian University Championships title) and Currie. At Monash, control 13 proved to be unlucky for many runners on Course 1 with Patrick Jaffe, Angus Haines and Dante Afnan all mispunching at this point among others, having a significant effect on the Junior Men’s results.

In W21E, it was very close at the top of the field in both races with Natasha Key taking out the first from Belinda Lawford and Lanita Steer (Bridget Anderson was clearly on a mission to disprove MSW facebook page’s predictions by coming fourth). In the afternoon, Lawford delivered an excellent technical performance to take the win, as did Krystal Neumann who was 10 seconds behind with Key, Michele Dawson and Tamsin Moran all around 1’45” down on Lawford’s time.

W20E featured some of the most consistent results of the day with exactly the same top four in both races. Asha Steer surprised everyone (including herself) by calmly and cleanly orienteering her way to two outstanding wins given her recent time out through injury. Fellow recent injury recovery, Tara Melhuish was second and in both races, Caroline Pigerre and Zoe Dowling were separated by small margins (one second, then two) in third and fourth. It was exciting to see some of the younger competitors in W20E stepping up with Ella Cuthburt, Joanna George, Abigail George and Emily Sorensen filling out some of the next positions.

There’s been much speculation as to what today’s results mean for tomorrow’s all important Mixed Sprint Relay. The Victorian senior team go in as heavy favourites but anything can happen in relays and Bruce Arthur has been talking up his courses and the forking system that he’s devised to cause carnage with any packs that form. Both of tomorrow’s maps are complicated school campuses with lots of small buildings, so if you didn’t cope particularly well with the mind boggling challenges of Caulfield Grammar, you’ve got two perfect opportunities to make up for it soon!

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