Thursday, November 7, 2013


A week ago, Sydney Summer Series aficionados' skipped home humming, and slightly aflutter, after Graeme 'Rack 'em, Stack 'em and Pack 'em' Dawson delivered a points bonanza at The Pid. Last night, by way of contrast, punters were on the receiving end of an old world political partnership putting the boot right squarely up the colonials. Nominated setter Pierre, out injured, called in Mel to complete his dastardly plan - in a trans channel partnership unthinkable in the days of Wellington and Napoleon. Mr Francois (of Paris) scattered the circles, and Mr Cox (of London) allocated the points, in what proved one of the toughest of SSS chain gang floggings in recent memory. They went north, they went east and west, they embraced John Howard, they went bush track, they liked the squeal of Tangara flange, they played with our minds (recently, very recently, in love with the tune of multiple dibber beeps) to put on a spare and spartan course that had us back to earth with a thud.

This was going to be low scoring, with ambitions needing to gamble with the clock.

Arriving punters (a record so far this season, with 213 entries plus another 25 or so embedded (like that? a touch of the war correspondent has crept over Pork Pie) in the Groups), at one of Sydney's most splendid assembly locations, were soon under no illusion. Mel, grinning, delivered up the A4, and was noted fingering the blade as he did so. This looked like a three (where last week had been a four and a half). Consensus seemed to be low fives at best, with the odd shilling on the tote for nobody over five. What a contrast to last week.

Setting a summer series event from the Greenwich peninsular start at Manns Point always poses a question. How to set challenges on both sides of the pinch point. North of the oil depot often finds us into the sniff of Berrys Creek and a bit or real estate dot com further east. The middle is also familiar, but rarely do we see the western flank. South of the pinch one can expect the splendid western bush track and some tennis higher up to add to the fun. The 'hour glass' section compresses the route options, with most runners working exactly the same out/back routes through here last night. Only the more able convicts made insertions at the extremities, and only one runner (Glenn) took on the full offering. His 56.30 minutes working off the pasta lunch a testimony to the toughness of the course.

Looking at the spread (in the car, red string in hand, and feeling a sense of foreboding), the peninsular 200 had to be bagged, with the real planning decisions only taken after #25. Most seemed to like the idea of doing everything but #13 on the way out, looping up to 22 and 2 from #12, before resuming service along the track through its triple thirty offering (# 13 was to be reserved for the long flog home). Once you went the beep at 25, mid packers could only find a loop east to 16,30(in-out),28(reverse) and then out via #5 to some central stuff would fit the tick tock. Those of a bolder persuasion pressed on south of #30 to 20 and an uphill return via 19/18/17 etc. Many would have regretted this decision, with the track south notably slow and of an upsey downsey nature. The flog back up Shirley Road needed plenty of steam - or that booked taxi.

Going even further east looked nigh on impossible, especially the bush track option to 10 and 29, with the north east tenners (8/9) laughing at us in our desperate twine twirling. If you did make it to the rail line, the scout halls added a link to the centre and the west - and to an anxiety sometime found in the summer series runner. Will I make it back in time??

Another option was to forget the east and work a parcel of western (mining) shares. This didn't seem to have too many fans as the points didn't match the Berry Creek aroma. The circle to 3,14(deliciously down the path), 15,26,27(forget that annoying #4), delivered 110 points and a fair bit of contour grunt. Probably not reward enough. One (unnamed) homeward bound elderly runner, having wobbled up to #27 from an eastern creek flog, and within time expectations, thought he'd add #15. With the puff-o-meter fully engaged on the return, the folly of this became all too apparent - as he joined the more than two thirds of nags who were back late. Possibly a record, with only 67 runners in on time. Yikes!!

Many of the control sites have featured before (11,21,24,3,5,16,30 etc), and many competitors routes would have replicated previous outings here. Despite this sameness, the beautiful evening was great for a run, and the mix of bush track and street/harbourside house stuff at Greenwich always rewards. Looking for a lonely pot seems to yield several sites that probably only saw Glenn. Numbers four, six and nine come to mind, with Pork Pie's nomination going to nine. Oh lonesome path (north west end), your time will come.

So, to round up a few circles. Mid three's did the peninsular, then went 25,16,30,28,5,27,3 and the long push home via 13. Some added 14 after #27 with a nod to Larry, while other added 14 and forgot to retreat for #3 - urged on by the downhill relief from burning calves, only to find they needed to climb back. Cruel stuff. Going better than this could have included the Shirley Road return pots as previously noted, or a sort of twirl north of #28 to nab 17/18 and maybe #8, and back over the bridge to 6/7 and points south. There seemed to be a bias east, with heaps following almost line astern from 25 into the creek at 16/30 and back out again at 28/5. Many recorded similar scores, with often the clock separating runners at the 'end of the day' as James would say.

Perhaps a small peek at the scoring?

520 the top, with Richard, Andrew and Steve heading the list, and all three being over time (Andy ran up 580 in his 50.57 outing). We then drop thirty points to Patrik 'The Gunboat' and James 'The Ink Bottle', and then follow at tenners so on and so forth. Gill leads our open women with 460, well clear of Lisa 'The Land' Grant on 420. 'The Roof Tile' and 'The Points Lock' shared excellent 450's in VM, with this score also showing up in the CV of one N. Hawthorne esquire - another outstanding run from the SVM star, and another big break from Wazza in the same category (380). Pork Pie is inclined to say Neil is 'On Fire'!!

We didn't see Aidan out for the JM 's (Kaj took points here with 360), but stand in awe of SJM Duncan 'The Whiff Of' Currie with his well compiled 410. Balmain's tallest son must have worked a wide route, with his 51.46 outing meaning seventy points were surrendered to Terry and the Machine (a new pop group). Still a very strong showing from The Dunk as he works back into the series. Michele (JW) pinged 410, but dropped four of them; Antoniya (MW) and Paula (VW) both bagged 420's; 'The Pants' took home 360 in LM to hold from 'The Woodpecker' and 'The Man From Moscow'; Karin ten less in SVW, and Andy Povah took home the walking men's prize with a mere tenner from Jim and Anthony (310 to 300's). In the Immortals, Ted Mulherin was in winning form with 310 points compiled in 44.59! Ted's one second denied Ken 'Of Rome' who put up 300 - and wished he was Carol. Once again 'The Fountain Pen' has been caught short - Heiko, like Kenneth, going 300. Getting closer in this hot contest, with Malcolm missing and Ron 'The Vegie' Junghans well back 'on the night'.

We seemed to be getting more and more group entries which is most encouraging. Many of these appear to be couples and interesting combo's. The Heywood-Mills Group led the pack last night with 320 points, a blue bank note from early musicologists John & Justin Murray. 'Jasmine, Jesse and Toby' were at it again (290) as were 'Maitland & Gugger' (260), 'Alanna, Kashi, Bezi & Luci' (170), and SSS stalwarts Angus 'Steak Cave' Van Schalk & Heidi (a modest 110, but, hey, are we enjoying ourselves!!). There are many more groups getting the hang of it, and hopefully spreading the word. As many might know, the various Melbourne Summer Series are getting increasing walking entries - with the Western Tuesday one filling half there spots this way.

What else should I note before finger fatigue sets in. Mmmm, one special thing to mention is Ruth Jacka (SVW) abandoning her course to assist Campbell Walsh (MM, and only two hours in the country!) who suffered a nasty gash to his head at #2 and had to be taken to RNS by ambulance. Big, big thanks Ruth from all at SSS headquarters for helping Campbell. It is appreciated by all.

Longest on course? How about the well named Jeremy 'Long Drop Lodge' Longworth (Big Foot VM) whose 66.07 takes the onions - in compensation for doctor time reducing his excellent 500 by a cruel 220 penalty points. I think there were a couple of other sixty minute fans - all hanging out for a Jana Wendt siting no doubt. Least time goes to Campbell for his fence encounter, although we see a few thirty minute engagements, and even a mis punch (from Dr Matt, and a very puzzling happening). Bev takes home forty points, and Caroline Jerrems eighty. Porkie is wondering if CJ is related to Garingal's founding President Ray Jerrems?? Mmmm, pedigree if true, pedigree indeed.

I'll go quiet on personnel this week, but hope for more 'probing' in weeks to come. Speaking of what's to come - strap on your afterburners for next weeks reprise of The Clay Pan. This all time classic up in Beacon Hill will see some of the most enjoyable and confusing SSS terrain ever mapped once again open for business! Ronald of the Opera Vegetable is assuming setting duties, giving Jim the mapper a run. Will he be confused by his own work? Join in the fun here as we find out, and discover much about our abilities to run and think at the same time. It will be another SSS classic.

Given PP will be across the ditch next week, there may not be an early race report. However the SSS spies will keep up the info flow, and something (telling) might eventually appear. In case there is silence, be also forewarned about the excellent return to The Kokoda Track on November 20 - with Helen Murphy and The Judge in charge. This is a long overdue return to a great south side harbour location, and well worth running on in club colours for. Make it a date!



the unknown runner said...

One had to be very careful not to come back late. Many tracks were very slow and once you were committed you had no choice but to keep going and watch the minutes tick away! Anyway plenty of bush tracks and good views.

Fly on the Wall said...

Love the bush tracks but - given that any score over 300 was going to involve at least 3 very steep climbs - this course was far too long and punishing. Once you got to #25 you were running at a loss. 8, 9, 10, 29 should all have been deployed west of #28 to add route choice and offer a much fairer return for everyone. To only get 16 controls in 53 minutes and 6.5km shows poor setting in my view. The fact only about 6 of the top 50 scorers were back under time further proves this. A great area spoiled.

Also Ran said...

It is disappointing to see such an unrelentingly negative post on this forum. To consider each of your comments in turn:

1. any score over 300 was going to involve at least 3 very steep climbs - it's a hilly area - what did you expect? A score of around 450 could be obtained with only one steep climb, that out of 16.

2. this course was far too long and punishing - several runners scored over 500, a sure indicator that the course was NOT too "long and punishing". If the fastest runners have to make choices (like everyone else), rather than simply joining the dots to collect all the controls, that is a good thing.

3. 8, 9, 10, 29 should all have been deployed west of #28 to add route choice - I disagree completely. These controls offered a wider route choice for the faster runners, and 10 and 29 were both visited by over 20 people. Moving them in with the other controls in the west would have reduced the route choice, not increased it.

4. To only get 16 controls in 53 minutes - "only" 16 controls? What is your problem? Many competitors dream of getting 16 controls. Do you expect to get exactly the same number of controls every week, without regard to the nature of the course?

5. only about 6 of the top 50 scorers were back under time further proves this - this has nothing to do with the length of the course, and everything to do with the individual runner's ability to plan a route within their capabilities. The isolated nature of the assembly point was the main contributor to lateness, not the length of the course.

6. poor setting and A great area spoiled - these gratuitously offensive comments do you no credit and add nothing to your arguments. If you have such thoughts about the volunteers who put the event on for you, you should not share them on this public forum.

Dave said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dave said...

I thought it was a well set course that provided plenty of route decisions and made great use of some of Sydney's best views.

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