The Silva National Orienteering League moved to Radford College this afternoon, with a mixed sprint relay providing head-to-head racing, and a chaotic brand of entertainment for the spectators.
Each mixed team had to complete four legs, with most teams opting to send out their women on the first and third legs. Each leg took 8–9 minutes, with the total winning time of just under 36 minutes.
The first leg saw Kathryn Ewels (Vic1) returning first, ahead of Jasmine Neve (Vic2) with a chasing pack of Allison Jones (ACT2), Shannon Jones (ACT3) and Vanessa Round (SA1) — all within 10 seconds.
With such tight margins, all were feeling the pressure, including Dave Shepherd (ACT1) who made ground on the pack but failed to punch a control. Instead, Matt Parton (NSW1) took the lead with second fastest time of the day on the men’s course. Grant Bluett (ACT3), Bruce Arthur (Vic1) and Chris Naunton (Vic2) were close behind.
The third leg saw Jo Allison (ACT1, unaware that her team had mispunched) assume control, with Tracy Bluett (NSW1) in official first place. After that, there were four Victorian teams, perfectly positioned to take team points for the day.
Unfortunately for the Victorians, Jasmine Neve (Vic2) missed the final control of the third leg, and Bruce Arthur (Vic1) missed a control on the final leg. Instead, Matt Parton (NSW1) took the honours, and Simon Uppill (SA2) stormed through the field with the fastest time of the day for second place. After that Rob Walter (ACT2) and Grant Bluett (ACT3) finished in close succession, ensuring that the Cockatoos took the team points for the day.
In the end, 6 teams out of 22 mispunched — a testament to the pressure of a sprint relay. All in all, this was one of the most exciting races of the Silva National Orienteering League, and looks like it will become a permanent fixture on the national calendar.