I had a fantastic time, and fantastic results at the Australian Easter competition last year, and was super keen to have a second crack at it. Especially with Lithgow being relatively close to Canberra, and with the Blue Mtns on the doorstep to boot. However, this year NZ champs had a couple of persuasive arguments on its side: My home club Wellington were hosting, making it a tempting and convenient trip home to see the family. And, more importantly, given my broad plans to move to Europe next year, I'm not 100% sure when I'll be home to race the NZ champs next. Also, as Jamie likes to remind me, an NZ elite middle distance title is one thing missing off my CV. (Infact, even a podium placing is missing, having messed up all 4 attempts to date!)
And so, 3 weeks ago I found myself making the now familiar 8 hour Canberra-Wellington commute. With my ever enduring father picking me up from the midnight arrival, and Wellington greeting me with nostalgic winds and pouring rain. Ah. Home!
The trip and weekend were great. The results: Can't really complain. The performances: Not exactly satisfying.
The weekend kicked off with the Sprint, raced around Ohakea Air Base - home of NZ's mighty airforce. A pretty special area to get access to, and although the building detail wasn't hugely complex, the courses were well set and made the most of the map. Although feeling a bit flat, I had a steady race with no mistakes, just a bit of time loss on route choice exiting the forest section of the course. I took out the win, with Greta 2nd about 30s back. We also won the honour of being drug tested by anti-doping NZ. The bonus being that we had plenty of time whilst waiting for the fluids to filter their way through our systems to compare splits and plan our Europe trip!
|We weren't allowed near the hangars unfortunately.|
Security was tight around RNZAF's top secret new planes ;)
Saturday brought with it the big one: Middle distance, and a return to Waikawa, home of the first World Cup race last year. I knew that a highly precise race was needed - so messing up the first two controls was never a good sign to start with! My race did improve from there, if still being scrappy. But that, and the confusion with compulsary routes in the last loop, was enough to drop me down the field. 3rd behind Greta and Piret. Not the result I was looking for, but my first NZOC middle podium. Small consolation though.
Fired up and eager for redemption in the long the next day, I hit Fusilier with determination. And it worked. I felt strong through the forest, despite the amount of debris on the ground. Controls were turning up exactly where I expected them to be. And I was reeling in the girls that had started in front of me. And then it blew up. A short leg, 15-16, with 4 of us running near enough together. Such a short leg, and so many runners, I was lazy, assuming one of us would see the control and lead the others in. Nope. I then compounded my mistake with relocating wrong, not once, but twice. Before finally making 100% and nailing the control with a bearing and pacing. 10 minutes blown, which in any international field would drop me off the face of the results board.
It was then a huge surprise, to finish, utterly pissed off with myself, to then be told that I'd held on for the win! Not a title I can really congratulate myself for though I'm afraid. But it is good to see that my fitness and strength is there - I just need my brains to catch up!
|Logic defies how I could lose so much time in such a small area.|
Held in conjunction with the national champs were the NZOF (now Orienteering NZ) annual awards. I was proud and honoured to be awarded the Silva trophy for International Performance of the Year for my World Cup results. A tough call seen as we had a JWOC medalist in Tim Robertson! Once again, a huge thanks for all of the support I've received that has enabled me to get where I have. Be it the support coming from home in NZ, home in Canberra, or the many temporary homes I've had on my travels. Much appreciated, and hopefully I can do you all proud this 2014 season too!