The event was held at the Joondalup Education Precinct in Perth’s north and competitors had a perfect sunny day for their speedy progress around the WA Police Academy, West Coast TAFE and Edith Cowan University grounds. With sloping grounds, many stairs and lots of irregularly-spaced buildings the courses proved enjoyable and challenging enough to interest dyed-in-the-wool ‘navigators’. In the Open men’s and women’s classes the fields were pretty small due to Rhys Challen and Ben Corry still being in Europe and others injured, but the competition nonetheless was pretty tight.
It was a classical contrasting sprinter-vs-stayer battle in the Men’s with Eoin Rothery the first starter — and in the form we’ve come to expect from his glory days hit his top speed within 5 seconds of picking up his map. Eoin has only been seen attached to his bike thus far this current season but obviously his fitness is on track for the Australian Championships carnival later this year. Conversely Craig Dufty gradually built up to his top speed in the last 5s of the course, using his less-than-renowned finish chute speed to pip Eoin by 2s for the State Sprint Championship. Craig later commented that “I was beginning to get warmed-up by the end of the course and it was only because you had the camera out that I ran so hard in the chute!” In a long-awaited return to the podium, Adrian Day managed to stay ahead of Craig Dufty to the 3rd last control and pressured him all the way home. Adrian, obviously in a last-minute bid for fitness to contest 21AS at the Australian championships then headed out immediately to check control sites on a bush map and then followed up with course and control collection on Sunday morning!
In the women’s race it was a stronger field with in-form Cath Chalmers, returning-to-form Rachel West, never-out-of-form Anthea Feaver and reigning sprint champion Sarah Dunnage going toe-to-toe over the same course as the men. In this mouth-watering battle royale Rachel West, who had planned a steady run, got caught up with sprint fever and blasted around the first half of the course but faltered with the uphill nature of the last third of the course finally accepting 4th place. Former World Cup runner Anthea Feaver ran strongly but on occasion a little erratically at controls, to eventually place third. In the tussle for the heavier silverware it was Dunnage’s speed that triumphed over Chalmers with both having good clean runs. Dunnage took the win by a substantial 44s to give her back to back State Sprint titles and a partner to her State Middle Distance Championship from earlier this year. Her time would have given her 3rd place in Open Men.
In the other classes Duncan Sullivan and Carol Brownlie each had clear wins in the Veteran classes. In the Junior classes Swiss exchange student Valentin Gafner had a 60s win over fellow speedster David Turner and Rachel Dunnage was well clear of her less-experienced opposition.