Saturday, December 22, 2007

The last event before the Christmas break was another excellent workout at Balmoral Beach. Terry Bluett was in charge of event #11 and added a small new area to the south of the existing map. This area, and the control groupings around these steep hill sections, tempted many, and proved essential if a big score was intended.

The weather turned out to be pleasantly cool and just under 200 fronted the starter. At first glance there was a nice low route to the north, this time avoiding Chinamans Beach, and a connecting run back mid hill to the curly stuff south of the finish. Many looped back to the finish via 13, 15 and 24 (or 15, 14, 3 and home), but the speedsters returning high went wider cleaning up 14 and 22 before encountering the high 'no-go' fence that would have yielded #12. The real power horses lifted from the nice #14 #22 alignment to capture the high ones and the new mapped areas and probably avoided the fence problem.

There were other runners that did the above in reverse, tackling the hills first, and returning along the Esplanade. Good time judgement was needed for this option as there was nothing to add if arriving back early (other than a stretch along the beach to #11). There were also some good scoring from just the hilly sections, and going no further north than #25.

The best score on the night appeared to be Michael Burton with 540. His strong run got everything except #22 and #14 to better clear the southern high stuff and was in on time (remember that only 490 points were on offer, with #4 going awol at the last minute). A brilliant outing, just shading Robbie Preston's equally impressive 530.

Christmas cheer now intervenes with the series resuming on Wednesday 2 January at Gladesville. The second half looks particularly strong with three new series maps on offer. Should be fantastic.

Also please note your 'correspondent' is on leave for much of January and may be irregular with the event updates.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A belated review of the excellent event last Wednesday at Rydalmere.

Around 175/180 runners fronted the rather soggy fields at Cowells Lane to find a tighter course than previous experience at this location. Steve Holloway deployed most of the mapped area with good points in the western creek line and a tempting arc to the south. It looked like low fives rather than 600, and with champion Andrew Hill on a spell, scoring was distinctly lower still. Many runners were late, being dragged 'off clock' by the widely dispersed 30 pointers.

There seemed to be three start options (via #2, #6 or #1), although few took the north east beginning. The loop via #1 and the south involved a tricky run to collect #21 and #30 where the high fences annoyed the unwary. Getting back from the map bottom needed a good plug up via #16 and the road crossing to #17. Many competitors were caught waiting at the lights near here and lost prescious seconds.

Another loop that worked well was via 2, 13, 5 and on to 25, 9, 24 and a road run to 22 before collecting the western creek and a mid map dash home via 27 and the aforementioned lights.

Many runners had problems with #29, generally agreed to be in a poorly mapped area. Those that persisted found it (higher up and to the west), but many gave up after thrashing around in the green - the bridge would probably have been a better option. Although these things happen from time to time, it is good to involve a little 'bush' work where maps have these areas. Despite this hiccup, the course proved challenging and enjoyable in a very runnable and open area. Look for more fun here next season.

And so on to this weeks pre Christmas blast at Balmoral Beach. This has become a favourite fixture in a tough but sensational area. The pleasures of the beachside promenade and the terrors of the Awaba Street hill!! Course setter Terry Bluett has added some new areas to the east which will add interest and probably means Chinamans Beach will get the flick this time around. Lots to look forward to - including the old tram line route up to the top. Classic summer series with fish and chips on the beach afterwards - a great way to see off our first half and share a bit of Christmas cheer amongst the SSS addicto's. Look for edition two of the famous and scandalous 'Pork Pie Form Guide', which should be available at Balmoral.

So, as well as saying 'see you there', this is also a time to thank all the runners and organisers this season and to wish everyone very best wishes for Christmas and the holiday break. Our first event back is on January 2 at the east end of the Gladesville Hospital map. A chance to experience a great area from another angle. It will be a cracker.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The NSW Stingers put on a corker last night at Blackman Park. Following a day of heavy rain, the evening turned out fine and cool for running, although the parks and bush tracks were very wet and muddy underfoot.

The course was in 'portrait' format with a seductive spread of points to the south and east, but slightly less tempting options to the north. It proved a difficult one to work a loop to at first blush, although the road stuff to the east/north east was mandatory - the question being when to 'attach' the southern bush, early or late in the proceedings? It seemed the majority began via 23 and the southern tempters, emerging mud spattered and behind time at #22 after the puzzle of #30 and, especially, #18. A good beginning from James Lithgow was 23,17,13 and 14 before 30 and the track - getting 17 and 13 on the outer loop proving difficult for many other competitors.

Numbers were a little below expectations - the threatening weather being largely responsible - although 190 punters still fronted the coin tray and enjoyed a great area and a fine course. Scoring into the 500's proved elusive with Dave Heagarty and Anthony Petterson looking the goods at 470 points, although there may have been a later and better score. Our 'get the lot' man, Glenn 'with an h' Horrocks took over the hour to work around a no doubt twisting loop, but ending up no too far shy of the winners.

A notable piece of navigation was from 'Legend' Lloyd Gledhil, who negotiated the cliffs and lantana from #5 directly to #28. Now we know why they are called Legends! There were other bush exploits reported, including many runners 'working' the green along the ill defined bounday near #30 - I gather to the annoyance of the property owner.

The lonely pot award would have to go to #3, well outside most loops, with Glenn as probably its only visitor. We generally call these lonely and annoying buggers the 'Andrew Hill control', in honour of our current champ (missing last night) who, despite these devious and dastardly obstacles, still manages to amaze us with his brutal pace.

All in all, a top event last night in a superb location. The bush track work really adds an edge to the series, bringing different navigation and distance estimation skills into play. We will return.

Next week sees us heading west again to the runnable parks of Ermington with Steve Holloway in command. The Kissing Point Road area is mostly good open road and park running and a chance to stretch the legs. Steve knows how to prepare a puzzler and I'm sure he will deliver on the 12th. Join us!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A belated catch up (the 'Pork' has been AWOL) with last weeks excellent event at Shrimptons Creek. A cracker indeed.

Bryony and Tim Cox created an exciting course that gave the runners a work out, but not before engaging the thinking department. The spread of pot sites included four distinct groupings of around 100 points - in each of the map corners. The fun was deciding which group to leave out and hoping it was the right decision. Many ran north and looped via #27 to #8 and #11 and points further south - the decision here being how to factor in #14. Others took off via #22 and took in the south west and south east groups. Lots of in and out work with the good spread of close in finishing controls giving 'texture' to every run.

The lonely pot award would probably have to go to #10 or maybe #3 - both being slightly off the pace value for ten pointers. A welcome biggie in the early heat was #25, on a tap, and generating many a pause in proceedings. Lots of good check sites with all well set and visible, although we did hear of a couple that had been knocked off - something that hasn't happened for a while.

Although rain had been forcast, the day turned out fine and the crowds rolled in for 217 entries. This is the biggest attendance at Shrimptons and another sign of the popularity of the series (already up 10% over last year). The big mover turned out to be Ben 'The Whaler' Rattray with an excellent 580 points - indicative of a perfectly set course. Wayne Eliot 'Ness' was close by with another withering run for 550. In the Open Women, Joanna Sinclair pulled on 450, while the old dudes in the form of Warwick 'The Singlet' Selby, managed the same. There were many other excellent runs with good feedback on the course and the area. We will do it again at 'The Creek'!

Tomorrow sees us return to Blackman Park on the banks of the Lane Cove River. The NSW 'Stingers' O squad are in charge at this great location and should produce a ripper. Expect to enjoy the mangrove boardwalk tracks along the river and the excellent bush areas with their yummy sandstone rock features. A bit of road will add relief to the bush shennanigans. A great location for what might be our biggest event yet. Be there!

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