The first 2015 MTBO National League event takes place on March 21-22 with 3 individual events being conducted just west of Newcastle, NSW. The long distance event on Saturday afternoon is based at Holmsville and the sprint utilises the same assembly area on Sunday morning. Then participants move to Pelaw Main for the afternoon’s middle distance event.
Courses have been set by Greg Bacon & Malcolm Roberts and Scott Simson is the controller. While the Newcastle orienteering club has a strong representation, there are also riders making the journey from WA, Qld, SA, VIC & ACT.
For the elites and M20’s these races double up as the selection trials for the World Championships being held in the Czech Republic in August. Angus Robinson is the benchmark for M20 having placed 10th at JWOC last year but Tim Jackson (VIC) has done equally as well domestically in the past. Then there is exciting new talents in Jack Allison (SA), Nick Cherry (VIC) and Fergus Mackie (NSW), all of whom are renowned mountain bikers but with little navigational experience. Their chances of upsetting the top duo are probably best in the long race.
The elite men has a large field led by previous WOC team members Chris Firman (QLD) and Ricky Thackray (WA). It won’t be a surprise to see Ori Gudes (WA), the wily veteran Greg Barbour (NSW) or locals Steve Todkill and Patrick Gunnarrson vie for places on the podium.
Carolyn Jackson (VIC) winner of 7 gold medals at the World Masters maintains favouritism in elite women. The NSW trio of Cath Chalmers, Jennifer Enderby and Marina Iskhakova, as well as WA’s Natasha Sparg are likely to be fighting for the minor placings.
The areas are relatively flat but with detailed track networks. Fire trails tend to have moderate ridability due to ruts, waterholes and fallen logs. The single tracks are described as tight and twisty. There will be lots of controls to be found over the weekend as illustrated by the men’s elite long distance being 26 kilometres in length, with 26 controls and 270 metres climb.