Newcastle's Coalfields Classic delivers a fantastic weekend of racing

Last Updated: Friday, 06 July 2012 15:44

Sprint at Newcastle UniversityThe best of Australian orienteering were ready for battle in the WOC selection races at the Coalfields Classic this weekend.  Starting with a Sprint event around Newcastle University it was Matthew Crane who took the lead ahead of Simon Uppill and Toby Scott in the Men's 21E.   In W21E Rachel Effeney was on great form taking 1st place over a minute ahead of Grace Crane and nearly 2 minutes ahead of New Zealand international Lizzie Ingham.  The JWOC team were racing with some fine performances from the younger elites with ACT's Oli Poland not far off the senior elite pace, Tasmanian Brodie Nankervis and NSW Alex Massey tucked in closely behind.  Nicola Blatchford has clearly recovered from her recent injury problems taking third just behind Lilian Sprint competitor SL#3 2012Burrell and Heather Muir.

But the Sprint and the weekend weren't just about elites. With all three weekend races also nominated as NSW State Leagues nearly 200 club athletes were also out to try their luck on the Newcastle maps. The high quality of the mapping allowed planner Karen Blatchford to set some really challenging courses. High control concentration and multiple changes of direction on an area where route choice really made a difference to times meant that those who got it right were within seconds of their rivals, and those who got it wrong found their results tumbling down the Sprint Results.  Michael Burton of Big Foot Orienteers won a very competitive M40A class and Malcolm Roberts (Newcastle Orienteers) had an impressive win in the M50A. Bruce Meder (Garingal) was nearly over 2 minutes quicker than second placed Rob Preston in M60A; by contrast the margin in the W40A  was 1 second between Barbara Hill, also Garingal, and Nicole Haigh, Newcastle.

Rob Preston NOL Middle DistanceFor most competitors less than 30 minutes running time out of their legs meant that they were still fresh and ready for the afternoon's Middle Distance event at Pelaw Main.  The site of an old colliery, Pelaw Main was mainly flat with intricate path detail requiring fast accurate running. Matthew Crane and Simon Uppill again took the top two spots for M21E but it was a real contest for the next five places which were only separated by 37 seconds. Lizzie Ingham, Vanessa Round and Aislinn Prendergast were the top three in W21E, the first NSW Spectator control WRE 14 May 2012elite girl, Catherine Murphy of Uringa Orienteers a little off the pace down in 12th.  Local orienteers Scott Simson, Glenn Burgess and Graham Fowler of Newcastle Orienteers will have been pleased with their 1st places in M40A, M50A and M70A respectively.  Nicole Haigh (W21A), Gayle Quantock (W50A), Toy Martin (W65A) also took top spots for Newcastle. Middle Distance Results


Sunday's Long Distance race at Kitchener was also the World Ranking Event.  With a steep ridge to the south of the map and undulating eucalypt crisscrossed with an extensive creek and trail networks for the rest,  both physical and mental stamina were required.  With the longest courses checking in at 18.1km competitors will have been glad of the cool, dry running conditions.  The best Elites results for NSW were in the junior ranks with Alex Massey and Kasimir Gregory posting 4th and 5th in the M17-20E and Michele Dawson 2nd in W17-20E.  Rob Preston and Tracey Marsh were NSW best in the 21E races scoring top ten finishes with a 7th and 8th place respectively. Runners who managed the trifecta this weekend were Matthew Crane M21E, Ewan Shingler M10A, Duncan Currie M12A, Daniel Hill M16A, Daniel Orr M21AS, Barry Hanlon M75A, Karen Wallace OpenC, Sophie Jones W10A, Felicity Barker-Smith W18A, Barbara Hill W40A, Luke Robertson EOD Moderate Long Distance Results

Wildfires play the Compass Parachute gameThese races were the first opportunity this season for the NSW Wildfires to get together for some fun as well as some serious racing. With a 'club' tent for meeting up with their friends, and brand new racing shirts the Wildfires were easy to spot. Wildfires leader Salme Fuller put on a string course and then ran a series of games for the under 12's after their races.

Wildfires playing map coordinates game'It was great to see them all getting together, really engaging with the games and having fun,' said Salme. Salme has a fantastic repertoire of orienteering games and the children were treated to some of her favorites including Jump the Creek, Orienteering Soccer, Orienteering Bullrush and Compass Parachute.  The Wildfires will get together again at the Queens Birthday 3 Days in Armidale.

Thanks to Russell Rigby for the event photographs.  Photo gallery