2010 Chewton/Daylesford, Victoria

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See the Maps and Routes in Routegadget: MiddleSprintLong

The 2010 Australian Championships in Victoria was a fitting conclusion to the MTBO season. The scene was set with three races in the weekend; new maps; fields in the mid 130s; cool but good riding weather, not to mention the presence of 19 New Zealanders aiming to take a few trophies home.

Saturday saw us assembled at the Chewton velodrome (Wesley Hill Sportsground) with the Middle Distance event on Old Quartz Hill followed in the afternoon by the Sprint on Clinkers Hill. Old Quartz Hill had been used in the 2004 Worlds but this time it had been extended to take in the Chewton foot-O area to the south. Mapped at 1:15,000 it also utilised more single track than normal, adding another complexity to the navigation time and distance conundrum. Exit to the big roads as soon as possible was the lesson learnt. There was a remote finish out in the bush giving us a 3km warm down before downloading back at the velodrome. Adrian Jackson (AJ) simply rode too strongly throughout the course, being fastest on 16 of the 18 splits. However he seemed to choose the slower route choice on the long leg across the map (to #10), taking the southern route and losing 42secs to Alex Randall on this leg and being just a few seconds ahead of 4th placed Tony Clark. In the women’s race Marquita Gelderman (NZ) made a rare mistake on #1, losing 30secs to 2nd placegetter Thor Egerton on this leg but Marquita steadied to take 13 of the fastest 16 splits. Thor lost 2mins by taking the single track option on the way to #9.
The Sprint on the new Andrew Slattery produced 1:10,000 Clinkers Hill map was partly on the foot-O map of Wattle Gully Diggings. The one minute starts caused some confusion for the early starters as the recorded start instructions couldn’t be heard and some of us presumed that we were already at the start triangle which wasn’t so. The courses had a bush section, followed by two or three controls in a school, then a fast roadie section and finally had us sprint three quarters a lap of the velodrome to finish. Some of the 600 professional photos by Michael Brown at www.photoworx.com.au show MTBO’ers emulating track riders on the banked run in to the finish. Heath Jamieson (M20) adopted the superman position to good effect.
The contour channel which had a control on it had never seen so much traffic for many years. See the action on You Tube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Mz27x0yP_4) thanks to Thor Egerton’s head mounted video. Being a semi-suburban area most controls had their SI units locked to trees about 1 metre above the ground making ride-through punching a mite difficult.
The 64sec win by Steve Cusworth over reigning world Sprint champion AJ was a real credit to the increased training and commitment he has shown. At the 2010 World Champs Sprint Steve had been headed for a top-10 result before a mistake within sight of the finish, so the potential was obvious. The trio of AJ, Steve and Alex Randall all were leading at various times in the first half of the race but Steve powered through the long street leg in 4min 15sec gaining over 30secs on his rivals and was never headed after that.
Marquita again navigated consistently well winning 11 of the 14 splits, while Mary Fien displayed good form and speed to take 2nd. Foot orienteer Vanessa Round, making one of her first forays into MTBO, was an impressive 3rd.
The Long Distance was on a brand new 1:25,000 map just outside Daylesford, called Wheatsheaf. Jonathon Sutcliffe had created this from a Cyclic Navigator map made originally by Ken Dowling. We gratefully parked and finished in the beautiful lawn grounds of land owner Peter Rogers. The elite men had 35kms. After AJ’s recent win in the rugged Tour de Timor there were few betting against him despite the good form of the other leading riders. He did win by four minutes but didn’t have it all his own way winning just 5 of the 14 splits, with Alex taking 4, Steve 3 and Grant 2. Adrian took the lead at control #5, putting 2:30min on Alex and 3:11 on Steve on this leg. Many courses had the route choice decision of going around the eastern or western side of Babbington Hill. There didn’t appear to be much in it, with many, including AJ, choosing the slightly shorter eastern route. However this track was full of big puddles and several unmarked fallen trees making it the slower route. AJ lost 75secs to Alex (who took the western route) on this leg but the time loss for others was even greater. Hayden Lebbink recorded many very good splits and looked to be set for 3rd or 4th overall but unfortunately had one control missing on the read-out.
Marquita again stole most of the winning splits (10 out of 14) and won by seven minutes, despite losing almost 2mins heading up a wrong track from the Bullarto reservoir. Mary Fien rode extremely well. She recovered her composure after a 4min error en route to #6 and lost little to Marquita over the second half. Of the girls only Mary, Marquita and Carolyn Jackson chose the faster route around Babbington Hill, with all the others being 5-6mins slower on the water sodden eastern track.
Marquita won all 5 races she contested in AUS this trip. How to interpret this? Firstly she is a fine navigator and has her own purpose built MTB tracks on her hilly farm in NZ. Then there’s her fine record at her last WMTBOC in Poland (2008), finishing an agonisingly close 4th in the Sprint, 5th in the Middle Distance and 11th in the Long Distance. So Marquita is certainly a class act to measure our girls (and junior boys) against.
This year Marquita’s parents, Yett and Chris, whom she had introduced to MTBO, were enticed to visit and race in AUS. 67 y.o. Yett has to race against the W40’s in NZ and didn’t realise how competitive she would be in W60. She emerged with two AUS Championships to her credit. Her answer to failing eyesight is to carry a humongous magnifying glass! Yett said, “I thought we were coming on a holiday but they had us racing or training every day. But all that hard work certainly paid off this weekend.” Chris Gelderman was amazed that he was racing against 19 others in M60.
The 10 day NZ visit had again been masterminded by “squad mother” Di Michels who had them racing in Mt Gambier the first weekend, then a visit to the Grampians, followed by training in Maryborough and the Creswick region.
The Kiwis had booked out the Hepburn Springs YHA which was convenient as a Saturday night dinner, attended by 90 people was held in the Savoia Hotel, just across the road. Presentations for the Middle Distance and Sprint events were held and photos and videos of the day’s events and also from the World Champs in Portugal were displayed on a big screen, making for a nice evening.
The successful overseas foray to JWMTBOC this year by three boys encouraged some new talent to successfully race the nationals. Jasmine Sunley took out all W20 titles, despite the presence of speedy foot orienteer Mary Fleming in the Sprint and Middle Distance. Four junior girls from Braemar College competed on Saturday in W16 or W20 but they had to study on Sunday with year 12 exams commencing on Monday. The timing of this event is a problem for older secondary students.
The M20 class had four very competitive riders but it was Tasmanian and JWOC foot orienteer Oscar Phillips who took the “gold” in all three races. For someone so inexperienced in MTBO his performances were outstanding and to substantiate this his times were significantly better than Marquita in W21 on the same courses. In the Sprint Oscar won 7 of 14 splits but James Robertson led for over half the course and finished less than a minute behind. Heath Jamieson, after receiving his map late at the start, lost 2 minutes on leg one but managed 3rd. In the Middle Distance Oscar won 11 splits and Heath Jamieson 6 but it was a close tussle that wasn’t decided until Oscar got ahead at the very last control. The Long Distance race saw Oscar dominate by winning 11 of 14 splits and he had an 8min win over Chris Firman who had been out of sorts in the earlier races. James Robertson faded somewhat in the second half of the course, but he could be well pleased with his shorter race results.
There were many great races and rivalries in the very competitive older classes. The “Handyman” of the year award has to go to James Lithgow who used fencing wire to successfully repair David West’s bottom bracket on his single speed machine!
Three events in a weekend is always a big ask. Many thanks to Event Coordinator Peter Cusworth for pulling it all together and also being a day organiser, as was Toby Cooper. Other key officials were: Course Setters: Dion Keech (Middle); Cormac McCarthy (Sprint); Jonathan Sutcliffe (Long). Controllers: Jonathan Sutcliffe (Sprint and Middle); Kathy Liley (Long). Event Treasurer: Ruth Goddard. Commentary: Blake Gordon, Blair Trewin. Bruce Paterson was the SportIdent guru with assistance from Greg Tamblyn. Bruce spent most of Saturday quite high up a gum tree – something to do with reception!! What we do in the name of Orienteering!
Kay Haarsma

 

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