I didn't have much motivation to try and get PhD work done in between the weekends of racing, so thought I'd head out to the schools races, help out, have a run around, and keep a check on who my future competition is likely to be! And of course, being from both NZ and living in the ACT, I had two teams to support, meaning I could hardly lose!
|Kiwi team. Australian parliament.|
Anyway, with no complaints heard about the start draw, Tuesday saw the running of the Individual competition. The courses, on Wild Deer Sands, started off into tricky sand mining terrain, before emerging into some nice and vague Aussie spur-gully terrain. Concentration and tight navigation was required through the earlier stages of the courses, with accurate bearings and fast legs coming to the fore in the latter stages.
As they have for the last decade, it was the Kiwi team who dominated the results. No prizes for guessing who took out Senior Boys, with Tim Robertson leaving the field 5 minutes behind in his dust. Also at the top were Shamus Morrison and Nick Smith, with only Victoria's Matt Doyle able to break up the Kiwis at the top of the field.
|An outstanding week from Nick Smith. Including taking|
out M20E in the Aus Long distance
|Alice Tilley carving up the finish chute and taking 2nd|
in Senior Girls.
Meanwhile in the Junior Girls, Asha Steer made it two golds for the family, with Winnie Oakhill of Qld 1.41 behind in 2nd. Katie Cory-Wright was top Kiwi in 3rd, holding off a fast finishing Tara Melhuish (ACT) by 2s in the tightest finish of the day.
|Senior Boys course. Suffice to say, Tim smashed me.|
Wednesday brought with it the relay competition, held on the adjacent area ,Timber Tops, and using the same wind-swept finish arena. Again, it was a great day to be a NZ and ACT supporter. The Kiwi's showed their dominance in all grades, leading from start to finish in the Senior Boys and Senior Girls. An incredible come back saw the Kiwi Junior Boys team come from behind to take out their grade, whilst, although the Junior Girls posted the fastest time on the day, an unfortunate mispunch saw them dsq. A very harsh lesson in a relay, that a lot of us can relate to!
And from my ACT supporting side - 2nd place in both Senior Boys and Junior Girls completed a great day of spectating, with Tara Melhuish posting the fastest leg time of the day, but not quite enough to reign in the Qld team.
|Kiwi Senior Girls coming in to win the relay.|
NZ took out 3/4 grades, with a fastest time but mp in the 4th.
All in all, the week was great fun. And that was just from a spectator's point of view! It's been 3 years since I last coached on a NZ national junior camp, so it was awesome to get reacquainted with who the current batch of Kiwi junior talent are, put some faces to names, and realise just how far they've come since I was last a resident kiwi! I was impressed by the motivation and dedication that was apparent, not just within the team, but also from the number of juniors who hadn't made the team, but had still made the trip across to run the spectator races and Aus Champs.
The Australian Champs and Schools Champs is an awesome opportunity every year for both kiwi and aussie juniors to experience high level competition, as well an introduction to the atmosphere of being part of an international (or inter-state) trip as part of a team. It's done wonders for the depth of kiwi junior talent over the last few years, and it is one of the major reasons our JWOC results are constantly improving. So it was wicked to see the enthusiasm and drive of the juniors to get to the races, as well as the support and encouragement offered by their parents and club mates! Not to mention the organisers and all the team coaches and managers. I bet you're all enjoying a quiet, restful week this week!
NB: The NZSS manager and coach are notoriously hard to photograph, too busy are they with managing, coaching, photographing and keeping track of 16 school kids! A week long mission, and my cunning tactics of distraction, however, resulted in success. Seriously though, these 2 deserve a massive thanks and congrats for their multiple years of dedication to NZSS trips!
|Manager Anna. Tricked into a photo by Gelato.|
|Coach Derek. Distracted from camera by in depth orienteering discussion.|
If I was left with one disappointment from the week, it's that I'm not able to make it to coach on the NZ Junior Camp this year. On the other hand, it has motivated me to continue coaching within ACT next year... hopefully I can help the ACT once again become top state schools team in Australia...If not beat the Kiwis?*
*Just kidding! Honest!