Friday, October 4, 2013

Aus Champs Part One: the Long and Short of it.

Last weekend the ACT played host to the Australian Long and Sprint distance orienteering champs. The races were my first since WOC over two months ago, and I was stoked to even make it to the start line with an intensive physio and rehab period to thank for getting me in any shape capable of competing following my glute injury! As a result I had no idea what sort of form and races I'd be able to pull off, and in the long distance in particular, even finishing wasn't a given. I'm happy to say then, that the weekend was a success, with two podium finishes, and a body that's still working and should be capable of racing again this weekend in the Middle distance champs!

Sprint Distance

Held around the well manicured ground of Canberra Grammar school, the sprint champs were a technical affair, with the courses contained entirely within the complex buildings of the school. This suited me fine, as I suspected that my lack of recent training would tell more on open running long legs than on decision making short legs! Warming up I could feel a bit of nerve discomfort in my glutes, but nothing too bad, and once I had a map in hand, I didn't notice any real pain other than the usual oxygen debt! It was reassuring to find within the first couple of controls, that my brain could remember what to do in a sprint, and the first half of the course slipped by quickly with few hesitations and no slip ups. With the complex nature of the course, and plenty of in-and-out controls, I was catching glimpses of Rachel Effeney, who started 1min ahead, from early in the course, and it was reassuring to notice the gap getting smaller.

Sprint Map 1. No route shown, as that would cover up most of the map!
 A difference in route choice saw me catch Rachel at 17. Fortuitous timing, given I physically hit the wall around the same time! Having someone to race head to head with meant I kept my speed up however, and despite taking some different routes, we were still together coming into the penultimate control. It would seem that I haven't yet learnt from my WOC mistakes though, as I made a mess of finding my way into the finish arena again, losing 15s on the last control! Despite the late slip up however, I managed to take the win for the day, with Rachel 50s or so back, and Hanny not far behind that. A boost for the confidence after a couple of months out, although, despite being ok throughout the race, within 5 minutes of finishing I'd completely seized up and could barely walk!
Sprint Map 2.
In the men's race fellow Kiwi and Wellingtonian Tim Robertson took the win, giving him his 2nd Australian senior elite title, at the age of just 17! His win meant a clean sweep of the senior elite grades for the Wellington O-gang, which is bound to be celebrated in due course with a potluck dinner and copious quantities of garlic bread.
On a serious note though, a huge thanks to those who arranged permission to map and use this area, as it was something a bit special. Hopefully we didn't flatten the sacred grass of the quad too much! And a big thanks to my much loved 3rd home family, who all showed up to support and spectate, despite a big night the evening before at the geology ball! An awesome effort and most appreciated! :-)

W21E race splits.
Check out a video of the day's action, thanks to Graham Hammond!

Long Distance

Following a thorough physio-over (It's amazing how far back in rehabilitation a 15min sprint race can set you!), and a relaxing (?!) evening at the ANUWFC end of season soccer awards night, it was an early wake up on Sunday for the 2hr drive down to Slap Up Creek and the Long Distance Champs. The race served up the tough classic granite terrain that we'd been promised and more. More fallen logs and debris to battle through, more close competition, more snakes than anyone anticipated (luckily I avoided or was oblivious to them!), more high quality and entertaining commentary and more great results for both ACT and NZ!

As expected, I found the long course tough and painful. I started off the race fine, and strung together 5 good  splits on the beginning short controls to get myself into the flow of the course. Unfortunately though, my lack of fitness, and lack of strength in my left leg, started to show in the longer leg to 6. And that's the pattern that repeated itself throughout the course, with the short legs causing me little trouble, but leaking time on the longer legs. I struggled to fight through the numerous fallen branches and logs on the ground, with every lift of the leg seeming a greater and greater effort as the race went on - leading to some very wide route choices as I looked for the easier running. Having the last start, and with Hanny and Grace in impressive form, it was a long and lonely race for me, only glimpsing a couple of other women on the way around the course. Thankfully though, I also didn't glimpse any of the tiger snakes that we'd been warned about. In fact, I'm yet to see a snake out in the bush since I moved to Australia...I'm beginning to suspect they're just an urban legend, like drop-bears? (I'm bound to see loads this weekend now though, having tempted fate by writing that!)
Long Route - decided all the fence crossings weren't worth deviating from
my chosen route. Kiwi upbringing for the win!

All in all, I finished really happy with my race - despite some sub-optimal longer route choices than I'd usually take, I felt like I ran well and cleanly through the majority of the course (8 excepted - where I literally ran a circle around the control without seeing it!). Hanny had a stunner of a race, cleaning up in 73 minutes, with Grace 2nd in 77. I snuck into 3rd place in 80 minutes, closely followed by Kathryn and the remarkable Jo Allison (only just starting up again after a maternity break and definitely one to watch out for in the middle this Saturday!).

Video of the day's action (awesome work again, Graham Hammond!) 

Fellow Cockie Matt Crane took out the Men's race, ahead of Simon Uphill (SA), and Kiwis Tom Reynolds and Nick Hann. Whilst yet more Kiwis to watch out for in the future; Nick Smith, took out an impressive win in the Junior Men's race, and Sonia Hollands placed 2nd in Junior Women.

Unfortunately over the 2 races we (NZ) lost out to the Australian Bushrangers in the trans-tasman test match, but by a close 2 points! However, we (Canberra Cockatoos) did manage to take out the Australian Champs team's competition in both the mens and women's classes, as determined from the long distance results. My dual roles as a Canberra Cockatoo and NZ rep meant that I had plenty of reasons to celebrate various results throughout the weekend. However it also led to some entertaining, more than slightly embarrassing, and well commentated uniform changes throughout the prize giving ceremony! Um. Thanks Blair!
photos: Orienteering Australia

Master of the quick costume change - although I think the grin is just me being stoked I managed to put my shirt on the right way around!

So all in all, a pleasing weekend of racing. The body seems to have come through alright. Or as well as could be expected really. I've spent the week supporting the next generation of Kiwi and Aus orienteers racing at the Schools champs, a report of which is to come. And tomorrow brings with it more NOL racing. Hopefully the body is recovered enough for it! Bring it on!

Oh. And the post-long distance catering was as good as I predicted. :-)

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