SO between Christmas and New Years, Orienteering Taranaki hosted 7 events in and around New Plymouth in the B4NY tour. 6 of these were short park-o style events held over three days, culminating in the 7th race, the Turkey Traverse on New Years eve. The traverse connected all of the 6 previous maps in a 21km race from the mountain (almost) to the sea. And I have to say, aside from the curious use of text speak in the name, i thoroughly enjoyed these events!
The first day kicked off with an open course on Brother's Farm. Angela Simpson showed her intentions for the year with an outstanding outright win. 2nd place was Magnus Bengtsson, closely followed by Mark Lawson, who may have been just a bit tired from his mission around Lake Waikaremoana the day before! That afternoon we all moved on to Audrey Gale, where the courses consisted of open park running, seamlessly combined with jungle bush bashing.
The second day of races saw us once again relocate, this time to the magnificent Pukekura Park, home of the festival of the lights. For both races the start and finish were located in perhaps the best setiing for an event centre I have ever seen, with a massive semicircular bank providing seating for a couple of thousand people. Unfortunately for us, the rain was pretty settled in, and there were only 60 odd people at the event, so racers had to instead settle for an audience of a couple of hundred confused ducks. Both races at Pukekura park provided plenty of practice at public dodging, mud sliding and bush bashing. All in all, great fun!
Unfortunately for me, by the morning of the third day of races, i succombed to the stomach virus that had been eating away at me all week, and finally conceded that racing probably wasnt the best idea for me. (up until then my race technique was to roll out of the car 5mins before my start, and promptly collapse back in bed after finishing). So for the final two days my role was reduced to team photographer, which i thought i did a decent job of!
Anyway sob story aside, i can't say much about the 5th race, as i spent the entire time curled up in bed. However i did crawl out in the afternoon to watch and support the crew at Hoeketanga West. Of the 6 short courses, this was definitely the most sprint like, with Karl Dravitzki setting some good courses through the parks and complex building systems. Aside from the courses, the cloud finally cleared for the first time in the week, revealing that there is indeed a mountain in Taranaki!
New Years Eve dawned bright and sunny for the climax of the week, the Turkey Traverse. Having dropped the survivors of our group off at the start, Lisa and I went out to various points on the 20km course to support and photograph. It was great fun, and certainly a new perspective for me to see the race from a spectators view. It was great being able to see the gaps widen and close and positions switch over throughout the race, and then having to hear the full stories later from tired but excited competitors! In short, local boy Karl ran away with the win, with Mark Lawson finishing 8 minutes back. Greg Flyn, Angela Simpson and Magnus Bengtsson were running together for a large part of the course, before some costly mistakes and tiredness after the final map change split the trio up. Greg finishing 3rd followed by Magnus and Angela. An amazing race especially considering she is still a junior! full results can be found here
With the main race over, all that remained to be done was to see in the New Year, or in my case collapse back in to bed and sleep of a stomach virus!
All in all, despite the sickness i thoroughly enjoyed the week. It was great fun to have a series of reasonably low key, social events which were very well organised and run by Orienteering Taranaki. A huge thanks to them, and also to Sarah Tessa Lisa and Magnus, for putting up with me all week. cheers guys!