The Canberra Cockatoos indicated that they intend to make amends for a disappointing 2007 by having the best of the opening weekend in the 2008 SILVA National Orienteering League. In Sunday’s long-distance race at Mount Beckworth, their senior men’s and women’s teams both won, extending their men’s lead and drawing them level with the Victorian Nuggets in the women’s.
Both senior races were decided by less than 30 seconds on a long, hot, steep course where endurance was at a premium, and both were taken out by Canberrans. Jo Allison took a narrow lead over Kathryn Ewels by the fifth control, and from there it was a remarkably consistent race; Allison never extended her lead beyond 39 seconds, but she was never headed and held a narrow lead to the end. There was another tight race for third, with Allison Jones impressing in her first major race back after childbirth, finishing strongly to just overhaul Tracy Bluett on the line.
The race between Dave Shepherd and Simon Uppill fluctuated more as they swapped minor errors early in the course. By early on the second of two loops Shepherd had edged out to a break of over a minute, and although Uppill was steadily eating away at that over the later controls, he could not make ground quickly enough to catch his rival. Rob Preston was in the mix, too, in an impressive performance, leading at times on the first half, but was marginally slower than the other two on the second loop and drifted back into third place.
Bryan Keely produced perhaps the most impressive run of the day, winning by 11 minutes against a decent junior men’s field in the event’s fastest kilometre rate. The junior women had a much closer race, with four within three minutes, including three Queenslanders; Rachel Effeney’s strong closing controls saw her score by a minute over Aislinn Prendergast, with Laurina Neumann and Bridget Anderson just behind.
The action now moves to Dubbo, where rounds 3 to 6 will be contested over the Easter weekend.