Kathryn Ewels completed a clean sweep of national titles when she won the Australian Long Distance Championships in the Warby Ranges today. After losing a little time early, she took the lead by half-distance on the physically and technically demanding course, and settled the race on the long eleventh leg, seeing off a challenge from Vanessa Round. Round was her closest challenger, in her best race of the season, and was the only one to get close to her, finishing two minutes in arrears in the end. It was a much closer battle for third, eventually taken by Anna Sheldon, who ran the fastest final sector of the course to gain three places in the last three legs.
Dave Shepherd also capped off an excellent week with what turned into a reasonably comfortable win. As expected, he was in a close contest with Simon Uppill early, but pulled out a minute on the sixth leg and was never headed again. Uppill ended up having to settle for second, after a close battle with Rune Olsen that was not finally settled until the Dane lost time at the third-last.
A third dominant figure of the week, Max Neve, also finished off the individual races of the series with a comfortable victory. It was effectively settled at the second control, by which he had already made up more than three minutes of the four-minute gap to Leon Keely. They were together by #6 and dominated the field thereafter to fill the first two places. Lachlan Dow never really looked like winning but was the best of the rest.
There was a maiden national title for Bridget Anderson in W20E. She had been competitive all week in the faster terrain without quite breaking through for a win, but the rocky terrain was more to her liking and she led for most of the way. Aislinn Prendergast lost time at the end of the course but it made no difference to her place, merely dropping her from a close second to a more distant one, and the remaining placing was settled at the end of the day when last starter Sarah Buckerfield, in her first race back in Australia, ran an excellent second half to squeeze Belinda Lawford out of third.
The two junior classes in the SILVA National League were settled today – or rather not settled because Prendergast and Lawford finished in a dead heat. Max Neve’s win saw him come from behind to take the title by seven points. In the team events, the Victorian Nuggets turned practical certainty into mathematical certainty in the senior women’s and consolidated their position in the junior men’s, but an excellent battle for second looms in the senior men’s between the Southern Arrows, the Nuggets and the Canberra Cockatoos, with tomorrow’s relay to settle matters.