The Western Australian Championships were held for two disciplines on the weekend.
The Championships were held at Hill Park Dale, scene of the 2006 Australian Championships and the technical terrain made for competitive racing. Saturday’s Middle Distance race proved surprising in more ways than one. The event was held on what had been considered the less technical side of the map, but exceptional course setting by Carol Brownlie saw competitors tested to their limits.
The Open Men’s winner, Craig Dufty, had been expected to dominate the field but admitted afterwards that he did not feel able to fully open up the speed right through the course due to the need to maintain map contact and total concentration in the terrain. He was pushed hard all the way by John Toomey who was never far from the lead and finished just 41 seconds down on Craig. Steve Fletcher made a welcome return to the podium in 3rd place.
The Open Women’s race was difficult to predict beforehand, but Rachel West had a convincing and clear-cut victory over Cath Chalmers and Anthea Feaver. Rachel took the lead early in the race and never relinquished it. She finished almost two minutes clear of the others.
For the first time the Long Distance Championship was a single day event (previously held over 2 days). This time it was the Women’s class which saw tight competition with the lead swapping for much of the race. Rachel West had entered the race uncertain of her endurance over the long distance after limited preparation (daughter Amy was born in May). She took the lead early, but consistency through the early controls saw Cath Chalmers take the lead at control 4. She lost it briefly after a major error at 7, but built a good 4 minute buffer by control 15. From here to the finish Rachel was tiring but showed far superior concentration through the tricky final legs to take the lead at the final control and winning with a 15 second margin. Jen Graham-Taylor showed that she is fast gaining foot orienteering skills building on her MTBO World Championships experience by taking 3rd place.
In winning the Men’s event Craig Dufty conducted a lesson in perfection. He was fastest on all but 2 of the 23 legs, losing only 19 seconds to his competitors throughout the course. John Toomey was second and Steve Fletcher 3rd in a repeat of Saturday’s placings.