Pictured: Anthea Feaver; spectators at event 5, “The Slip” which featured mass starts of each class in typical hilly NZ farmland. Matthias Muller & Venla Niemi in their leader’s “yellow jerseys.”
Thirty one year old Swiss star Matthias Muller celebrated his time in sunny New Zealand this January by taking out the Sprint the Bay title. This was no suprise in that he has a World of O world ranking for the sprint of no 2, and has a gold WOC medal from 2010 and bronzes from 2011 and 2012 in his trophy cabinet. Tim Robertson from Hutt Valley in New Zealand demonstrated his great potential with a fine 2nd overall, less than 2 minutes down and a minute ahead of Denmark’s Tue Lassen. Tue started off 12th of the 80 man field in event 1 but improved through the series, even winning the last race narrowly. Junior Olle Poland was Australia’s top ranked runner at 12th, followed by Oscar McNulty 17th, Bruce Arthur 20th and Chris Naunton 21st.
In the women it was a Finnish quinella with the consistent Venla Niemi winning by 2minutes 33 ahead of Hanna Raitanen and another Robertson, this time Laura, was 3rd of the 44 starters. Venla also is somewhat of a sprint specialist. Although only 22 years old, she has a sprint World of O ranking of 10, and was on the WOC podium in 6th in Switzerland in 2012. She also was in the 5th placed Finnish WOC relay team last year. Susanne Casanova ran a pleasing 9th in the final race and placed 7th overall. Other leading Aussies were Aislinn Prendergast 9th, Lauren Gillis 10th, andBridget Anderson 12th.
The outstanding “athlete of STB” was Western Australian Anthea Feaver who achieved the double hat trick of 6 wins from 6 races in W50. Her class included Jean Cory-Wright, a multiple WOC team member for Britain. However it was the ACT pair of Toni Brown and Ana Herceg who made it an Aussi trifecta. Remarkably there were 8 Aussie women in the top 10 for this class.
Su Yan Tay had 4 wins and won W40 by over 6 minutes, while Karen Blatchford was 5th. There was an Aussie trifecta in W60 with Debbie Gale, Carol Brownlie and Jan Hardy.
In M40 Steve Doyle was 2nd overall and Rohan Hyslop 5th. Victorian Ted Van Geldermalsen snuck through on the last run to snatch victory from Jemery Day by 40 seconds. Jemery had won 4 of the 6 races but his 9th in the last event at Havelock North cost him the title. Nick Dent (M60) also led into the last day but rued some mistakes. These allowed Kiwis Mike Hampton (13 secs) and Michael Wood (3 seconds) to displace him to 3rd.
Asha Steer showed great promise in winning event 6 and placing 2nd overall in the junior girls category, while Tara Melhuish claimed 5th. Aidan Tay (Qld) was 4th in the boys and brothers Mason and Torren Arthur were 7th and 8th. In the senior category Lanita Steer was the 5th girl , and Steve Melhuish (4th) and Darwin’s Kelly Bertei (5th) did well in the boys.
ACT’s John Harding described the farmland terrain of event 5 – “There was a 1.5 km walk to the start up and over a mountain range and down to a river, with awesome scenery all the way. Then I had a 2.3km course with the same amount of climb as Mt Ainslie. On finishing, everyone sat on the edge of the escarpment watching the elite action below. In this the men had 2.7 kilometres with 210m of climb!!”
There were also jerseys awarded for King of the Mountain and Sprint leaders, based on split times from nominated legs on the course.