NSW ‘Ultimax’ Stingers Rob Preston wins inaugural Turkey Trot

orientmaster2005 Archive

Rob Preston of the NSW ‘Ultimax’ Stingers team had success yesterday in the inaugural Turkey Trot Orienteering Race in Sydney.
Based on the popular Turkey Traverse race in New Zealand, the 19.2km massed start race spanned 4 maps, starting at Castle Hill and finishing in Parramatta Park.
Peter Preston turned up the pace right from the start, stretching the small field of 19 runners across ‘The Graveyard’ map. Rob Preston led for a few controls, but when the course left the bush and headed into streets Adventure racer Simon Manson surged to the front.
The first major road crossing was also an intermediate sprint (similar to road cycling sprints), allowing the top runners to collect time bonuses. When the lights went green, there was a distinct group of 7 runners. Peter Preston became a victim of his own fast pacemaking and was first to be dropped in the intermediate street stage. Then onto the second map ‘Crestwood’, where a route choice to #10 split the field. Richard Mountstephens gained 100m on Rob Preston, veteran Michael Burton and Manson.
Mountstephens was finally reeled in at #13 on the ‘Winston Hills’ map. Burton then took a safer, but ultimately slower route to #14 via a bridge, while Mountstephens, Manson and Preston headed straight through the river.
The leading three stayed together into the last map, ‘Parabianga’ and into the Westmead Hospital grounds. Preston lead from #14 to #22 and picked up the pace as they neared Parramatta Park. The crucial moment occurred when Preston gained 10 seconds by quickly scaling a 2m high metal spiked fence, while the others hesitated.
Seizing the advantage, Preston punched the last control and held his lead over the final 500m to win by 15secs from Mountstephens and 30secs from Manson. Burton finished 4th closely followed by Peter Preston 5th, who made up places near the end of the course.
The easier navigation and massed start format allowed less experienced orienteers with running or Adventure Racing backgrounds to match it with the top orienteers.
The Western and Hills Club was happy with the race format, and is looking to make the 2006 Turkey Trot bigger, better, and maybe even longer…