The popular “Sprint the Bay” series of 6 sprint races in 3 days commences in Hawkes Bay, NZ on Saturday Feb 4th. Twenty three Aussies are travelling over and comprise 25% of the elite fields. There are 60 elite men and 38 elite women. All the Aussies, even the younger juniors, are competing in the elite races. Three of our WOC women are competing in Aislinn Prendergast, Shannon Jones and Mace Neve. Shannon will be competing shortly after the birth of her first child, while Mace is flying in from Samoa where she is working for 12 months. Grant Bluett, Bruce Arthur, Murray Scown and Bryan Keeley will be chased around by a lot of our young guns.
After the races most of the Australian contingent is staying on for a 6 day training camp, along with some Kiwis. Jim Russell is the head coach for this, ably supported by Hanny Allston.
Event one will be held on a brand new map combination called Koponga Ride. This includes public gardens, model train tracks, forested valleys, school buildings and a graveyard. Will be exciting stuff for any race let alone a mass start! Some events are totally urban while others have substantial forest / paddocks. All maps are at a 1:4,000 scale.
In the Men’s and Women’s Elite grades there are various coloured singlets available for the overall leader (yellow singlet), fastest overall junior runner in Elite grades (white singlet), sprint leg leader (green singlet) and the hill climb leader (polka-dot singlet). The overall results for each singlet are calculated after each race, and then the singlets are ceremoniously presented to their rightful wearers.
In 2012, the STB crew has really upped the ante by setting up a live video/audio stream to the internet. From the LIVE CENTRE on our website, keen orienteers from all over the world (especially the cold-winter-suffering Europeans) and your friends and family can follow all of the action from the comfort of their living room.
The Kiwis are even trying to psyche out their Aussie competitors, with event notes stating: “There are plants that can hurt you. The main hazards in STB are stinging nettle, and the more dangerous Onga Onga.”