Victoria Country have dominated rounds 1 and 2 of the 2010 Southern Cross Series with wins at Diamond Hill, Bendigo over the weekend.
The competition kicked off on Saturday evening with a 3.5Km forest sprint course in technical mining terrain. The Interstate Raiders provided good competition, with many South Australians making the trip to Bendigo for the weekend.
Simon Uppill (Interstate Raiders), Bryan Keely (Country) and Bruce Arthur (Metro) produced the 3 fastest times, but it was the Country team who won the team competition on the day with 14 points, from Vic Metro (11) and Interstate Raiders (9).
The Run of the Round prize was voted on by team captains for the best performance of the day. South Australia’s Lauren Gillis was the first recipient of the award (8 votes) after running the second fastest women’s time of the day.
Day 2 of the returned to the same map used for the event two years ago, Diamond Hill, for a 10Km two loop Hagaby. The mass start saw a large lead pack quickly form, but large splitting on the first loop meant it splintered and didn’t really form a solid group until the second loop. At the map change the lead pack consisted of Simon Upphill, Bryan Keely, Leon Keely, Chris Naunton and Evan Barr. The pace was high and there was no room for error. The leading five men remained within about 50 metres for the first half of the 7.5km second loop. The first casualty was was Chris Naunton who was dropped by the group on the long climb up to 7, at the post race press conference Naunton lamented that although he had had a good summer of training in New Zealand he simply hadn’t done enough steep stuff and today it showed. The rest of the pack was glad to see Naunton fade, but with knowledge of Naunton’s technical prowess in the local goldmining they knew that they knew couldn’t afford to become complacent.
For the next few controls the pack of four remained within a whisker of each other, but the runners knew this could only last so long. On the long leg the current leader of the pack Simon Uppill decided to sort the boys from the men. He led out of number 10 and delibrately took the steepest route he could see hoping to use his strength on the hills to drop any pretenders. The strategy worked and the youngest member of the pack Leon Keely began to fade on the approach to 11. However, this would not be the last of Leon, a small error on 15 made by the pack allowed Leon to gain back ground. However, Leon fell back over the next couple of legs and the pack was down to 3. During the latter stages of the race the leading 3 runners Uppill, Barr and Bryan Keely were all within 5 or 10 seconds of each other. A classic three man sprint finish was on the cards. However, for one of the runners an administrative error earlier in the day would turn the possible sprint finish into anticlimactic fade. Earlier in the day Barr was running late for the start and missed the briefing to do a late warm up instead. Due to this he was under the mistaken belief that there would be a second map change and hence a third loop. At the post race press conference Barr recounted being baffled by seeing Uppill and Keely surge over the last two controls believeing at the time that they had another loop to race. Saving himself for a third loop that didn’t exist Barr was dropped by the the others over the last 500m. But at the front of the pack the race went on. The titanic cat and mouse struggle between Keely and Uppill saw the lead change several times over the closing stages of the race but Uppill just pipped Keely by one second in a sprint finish for first. Barr trundled over the line 25 seconds down and junior boys’ winner Leon Keely came in a minute and a half down in fourth.
Once again, Victoria Country won the round (20 points), this time by an even greater margin. Interstate Raiders (11) were second from Vic Metro (7).
Bryan Keely and Laurina Neumann shared the Run of the Round prize after tying on 4 votes each.
Thanks to Jim Russell and Bendigo Orienteers for organising the BendiGo ToDay event.
Round 3 of the Southern Cross Sereis continues on March 27 at the Bendigo Orientshow.
Evan Barr & Bruce Arthur
Southern Cross Series Directors