It was a good day for the locals in the Easter prologue as Matt Crane and Shannon Jones took the honours in the first day of competition, a sprint at the University of Canberra.
It was a particularly impressive run for Jones, who has made only limited appearance at elite level in the last four years. For the first half of the course she and one of the pre-race favourites, Rachel Effeney, were only seconds apart, but Jones gained 10 seconds at each of two successive controls in a complex area of buildings, #11 and #12, to give herself a winning lead. She pulled away to score by the impressive margin of 41 seconds. In a meeting of two orienteering generations, junior Lanita Steer just squeezed out Jo Allison and Natasha Key for third.
Leon Keely set the early pace in the men’s event, but having lost 20 seconds on a parallel stairway at #10, there was always the chance that his time could be challenged, and eventually it was. Ian Lawford was the first to edge him out, by seven seconds. At the end of the start list, Matt Crane trailed slightly around most of the course, but was always close enough to be a chance, and it was the second-last which was decisive. Both Lawford and Crane lost a little time there, but Lawford lost a little more, and that opened the door for Crane to take the win by two seconds. Keely was third.
Steer was a comfortable winner in the junior women’s class over Tara Melhuish, while Matt Doyle turned the tables from the Melbourne Sprint Weekend to have an equally substantial win over Patrick Jaffe.
The Canberra Cockatoos took out both senior classes, but the Victorian Nuggets retain the overall National League lead in both. They also continue to lead both junior classes after taking out both today, the junior women edging out the Tassie Foresters by 19 seconds.
Competition continues, this time in the forest, at Isaacs Ridge tomorrow.