The Queensland Badge event, set in the challenging Cascades, welcomed interstate and overseas JWOC competitors aiming to hone their granite skills prior to the challenges of Dubbo.
In the men’s 21 event (9.4 Km) Duncan Coombs (GB) burst out of the start to lead his fellow countryman, Douglas Tulley, by almost a minute at the 5th control and Ollie Mithchell of Queensland a further 3 minutes behind. Coombs had problems finding the 6th control in a complex set of boulders, which seemed to confuse many in the field, leaving Tulley in the lead for one control. Coombs reasserted his superiority on the long eighth leg and moved away to a massive 13 minute lead by the 16th (with around 800 metres to go) only to make the fatal error of missing the 17th and penultimate control and ruin a potential 9 minute/Km run in this difficult terrain. Coomb’s failure left Tulley with a comfortable lead over the consistent Mitchell. Look out for Duncan Coombs at JWOC he looks to have granite under control and it is doubtful that he will make the same mistake again.
The New Zealand men took the opportunity to run in M17 -20 and made it a clean sweep with Thomas Reynolds just winning from Simon Jager and Andrew Peat 3rd, just edging out the evergreen Geoff Peck (Queensland/UK via Hong Kong). This race was decided by small errors with Reynolds leading out only to be overtaken by Jager through the middle section but regaining the lead as Jager tired over the last few controls.
All of the competitive women ran in the W21 course over 5.8 Km. Bridget Anderson (Qld) began like a sprinter to lead by 20 seconds at the 4th control. However, she paid the price on the long 5th leg surrendering the lead to Vanessa Round (SA) and even 2nd place to the very consistent Ainsley Cavanagh (Qld). This leg determined the final result because Round moved slowly away from Cavanagh, to win by nearly 10 minutes and although Anderson made a brave attempt to recover she tired over the last few controls to allow Cavanagh to consolidate 2nd place. The only overseas runner to come to reasonable terms with the granite was Greta Knarston (NZ) who struggled with the longer legs, compared to the local runners, and finished 4th.
As usual Cascades and the course setter brought all orienteers back to the reality of tough granite country. On the day there were many long times, cuts and bruises, broken compasses, DNFs and assurances that we will do better next time. Thanks to the overseas contingent and the sunny Queensland weather it was great day to be in some of Australia’s most amazing bush.