2009 Mt Gambier, South Australia

Sprint Results  /  Sprint Splits  /  Middle Results  / Middle Splits  /  Long Results  /  Long Splits

Mild conditions one day, torrential rain and hail the next. The weather gods really turned it on for competitors in the AUS Championships held near Mt Gambier, South Australia, over the June long weekend. Kay Haarsma takes up the narrative:

Although the event centre was based in Mt Gambier, two of the races were held just over the border in Victoria. This venue had the advantage of new areas never before ridden on, which made for fantastic racing. OASA is to be congratulated in taking the risk of mapping these areas and running the event some 450 kilometres from its main orienteering population in Adelaide.
The Championships had a great atmosphere with most people accommodated at the event centre, the Comfort Inn – Silver Birch motel in Mt Gambier. The Sunday evening social evening at the motel was a real highlight – 130 people enjoyed a three course dinner while warmed by a roaring fire, entertained by a photo slide show, and rewarded with their Sprint and Long Distance event prizes.
Three different areas, most people staying in the one motel, two days of riding without rain – what more could one ask in the middle of winter? Add 30 New Zealanders to the mix and it was probably the best MTBO AUS Championships ever. The Kiwis were there for the AUS v NZ Challenge in conjunction with the Championship events.
The Sprint event was held in the small seaside town of Nelson, with a surprising complexity of small tracks in and around the town’s caravan park, and along the banks of the Glenelg River. Being cheered on by the children resident in the park was an unexpected mid-race experience. Sunday saw us assembled for the Long Distance event at Donovan’s Landing, a small village on the Glenelg River. The large “Caroline Forest” map was gently undulating pine forest highlighted by a section of rideable grassy clearings where there were a number of controls. Near the finish there was a ride option for most through a bumpy farm paddock pitted with wombat holes.
Mt Gambier in June was always likely to be cold and wet ….. After two days of mild conditions we well and truly got hammered by the weather gods on the Monday when the Middle Distance event was staged at Mt Richmond, 75km east of Mt Gambier in Victoria. Torrential rain and hailstones doused most riders’ warm-up activities and left a white blanket in some parts of the forest. Steep coastal sand hills and very sandy forest tracks churned up by trail bikes added to the degree of difficulty and made for some times longer than intended. However the views over the Southern Ocean in between rain storms were magnificent!
The competition was fierce in the elite classes and most veteran classes. Kiwi pocket rocket Marquita Gelderman, (4th at the World Championships in 2008) stamped her authority from Day 1’s elite Sprint race with a huge 5min win over Thor Egerton and Melanie Simpson. Thor has recently moved from Brisbane to the colder climes of Melbourne. Melanie is concentrating on her internship as a doctor this year, so it was good to see her out and about. In the Long Distance the Aussies got a bit closer to Marquita (106mins) – just a 3min margin with Thor holding off Carolyn Jackson by a mere 4 seconds for 2nd place.  The sandy conditions of the Middle Distance obviously suited Marquita (72mins) because she took a 7minute win over Carolyn and Melanie, just 14secs apart.
Heath Jamieson, a 16 year-old from Gisborne (VIC) was often seen in a close huddle with Marquita after events quizzing exactly where she went. The M20 class he was riding and the elite women had the same courses so Heath was eager to learn what different route choices Marquita had taken or whether it was just quicker decision making. He was thrilled to claim a 29sec “victory” on the Long Distance course but had lessons to learn from her on the other days. This sharing of skills and methodology between competitors is what makes our sport so unique.
Queensland’s Chris Firman, also just 16 years old, must have shivered in the cold, but he chased Heath home each day, especially in the Middle Distance, where he was just 4mins adrift. Ben Davis, a local lad doing his first MTBO events, was thrilled to finish 3rd in the Middle and Long Distance and receive his glassware prizes.
The elite men’s class had 15 competitors but it was the foursome of Alex Randall, Paul Darvodelsky, Adrian Jackson and NZ’s Stu Lynch who shared the prizes and took most of the International Ranking points. Alex won the Sprint, 30secs ahead of Stu and a similar margin to Paul in 3rd.  Adrian (AJ) had to settle for 4th after a fall resulting in a broken chain. Fuelled by that disappointment AJ obliterated the field in the Long Distance with a 13mins win over Paul, with Alex 19secs back in 3rd and Stu a further 2mins behind. AJ had 4mins in hand in the Middle Distance, with Stu gaining silver and Paul the bronze.
Di Michels (NZ) in W 40, Kathy Liley (W60) and Aussie MTBO matriarch Joyce Rowlands were the other riders besides Marquita and Heath to record a trifecta of victories. Di and Kathy both triumphed in strong classes. Joyce was all alone in W70 but rode times that would have placed her midfield in W60, on the same course.
Many funny stories emerged from the weekend. One was when the serving staff at the motel restaurant assumed that the prize glassware was to be filled with drinking water and put on each table…. Another revolved around where to place your SI stick when its attachment to the bike breaks. Down the front of your knicks wasn’t a good choice for a veteran male. Unable to find it at a control he dropped his knicks only to look up into the befuddled gaze of an incoming female rider!
The appointment of Jenny Casanova as event controller was meant to motivate her to learn to ride a bike. As this skill remained unlearned by June, the process of checking control sites was undertaken by driving around the forest outskirts with her father as navigator (a sport hereafter known as Subarallying) and then running in to the controls. The organising committee had explained to Jenny the peculiarities of Mountain Bike Orienteering, including the start set-ups. A quick check of the MTBO rules convinced Jenny that they weren’t just making it up as they went along and then the only complication was matching up the regulatory requirements of the AUS-NZ challenge starts with the IOF rules for an International Ranking Event.
Despite the mud, hail and rain all competitors enjoyed themselves and were glad they had made the effort to visit the Mt Gambier region. Put the dates of Oct 16-17 2010 on your calendar for a 2-Day event there prior to the AUS Champs in Victoria the following weekend.
A big thanks to mastermind, mapper and chief organiser Andrew Slattery for putting this event together and to the squad of course setters who created interesting challenges. The unflappable OHOC twins Michelle Chamalaun and Jenny Bourne solved all things computer/ money / social, and many others who volunteered their time and didn’t even get to ride to keep warm.
Australia / New Zealand Challenge
The 2009 AUS/NZL MTBO Challenge was convincingly won by New Zealand: NZL 13 – AUS 7 over the seven age classes contested. Australia won the M21E class for all three races and W21E in the Long & Middle Distance races. However, the New Zealand M40, W40 and W50 riders won all three races to seal the Kiwi victory. The Australian M60 team salvaged some points winning the Sprint and Long Distance races, while the AUS M50 riders won the Middle Distance race. The next AUS/NZL MTBO Challenge is scheduled to be staged in New Zealand in 2011.
Victoria convincingly won with the State Championship Plaque yet again. Final points were: 1st Victoria (175); 2nd South Australia (68); 3rd NSW (25); tied 4th ACT (23) & Tasmania (23); 6th Queensland (17).

Sprint Results  /  Sprint Splits  /  Middle Results  / Middle Splits  /  Long Results  /  Long Splits

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