Thursday, January 16, 2014


On yet another balmy warm Sydney evening, a record roll up of SSS chefs in training chomped crostini, plundered panzanella, tickled tortellini, braved the brodo, slurped the spaghetti, and caressed their cantucci, during 'The Gumboots' gastronomic Italian sensation at Leichhardt. In a night when dinner and the post race points ponder was never far from the minds of race goers, course setter Currie added to the antipasti-like anticipation, with his excellent new map - shaped as a rectangular Roma pizza, and redolent with thirty toppings.

It proved to be a great night in 'Little Italy', a perfect evening of cunning running in a maze of mad streets, tiny parks, and the unique underground River Po - as panting punters pinged poles, beeped boxes, tickled trees, and went all points of the compass chasing the garnish, the glory - and a good seat at Bar Italia for the Fusilli Bianco.

Perhaps, before we further ravish the radicchio, let's step off the Lillyfield tram as it turns into Catherine Street and take the evening passeggiata through Soldiers Memorial Park. Here we can pay homage to the huge tree, admire the flags aflutter and evening wear of our dining companions - and check in at the Goanna. There was atmosphere in the atmosphere as foodies joined the queue.

The much missed Centomila Lire note from Banca D'Italia (the Caravaggio one), came close to the entry fee - the exchange across the bulging key lid resulting in an two dimensional pizza made in the Roman way. This is when the penny dropped and you realised you were about to experience two of the great aspects of the Sydney Summer Series - a spaghetti like course, and spaghetti afterwards! Legends licked their lips, and fingered the portrait.

First impressions of the 1:7,500 scaled offer was the even topping scatter - from onion towards Johnson in the east, to mozzarella along Norton in the west - and across north and south in a swirl of tomato (unknown in the time of the Caesars!). The east and west sides were heavily worked with ingredient - almost in two vertical lines - with the River Po claiming 230 points and the Norton Street strip (or Appennino slopes) almost the same. There was a lighter sprinkle in the mid ring, with an almost scoreless, thin crust, revealed in the centre. When coupled with the eight exit options, the intrigue was complete. Duncan had worked the course setting pizza wheel in brilliant fashion.

The older Glebe/Annandale map pretty well ended at Whites Creek (the Po), although 'The Watering Can' had extended west to Catherine last outing - but nothing was below Booth. Here was almost 80% new material, with the street shape, alleyways, pocket parks and winding Po, all contributing to what will quickly be remembered as one of the greatest of inner urban SSS areas. How to cope, how to win, how to connect? Diners quietly opened the Dolcetto.

Controls 22 and 30 in the north figured for many - perhaps with a 22,30,19,20 beginning before working down the western strip and eating back up the Po. Others began 19,20,27 and continued as above - all hoping the gap from the city west link was a path, as indeed it (and others) turned out to be. The easterners began 30,22,9,10,17, up river to a ristretto at The Forum and north along the Norton ridge. Those with more petrola, looped 14 and 16 after 22 - and noted the demand young Duncan had already placed on them. With eight starting exits, there were more variations of course - including ignoring Pioneers Park and working 3 (36th Battalion Park),24,12, the Forum, 6,25,1,23 and the Po. Perhaps the most difficult points to work into the tummy were the three twenties (15,11,18 - the Bologna triplets) that occupied the lower middle. 15 was a beginning or finish for some, so perhaps not quite the conundrum the other two represented to the circular (or Napoli) pizza runner. Classic course setting.

As we said in our title, Duncan, not content with a simple Napolitana, sprinkled his offering with tasty 'poles' - 14 of them in fact. The other ingredients of note were the tree (4) and the power box (4), with the tasty swing of Modena confined to the south western slice - and off the menu for the northern Po paddlers. Some great placements. 27 to 24 you were pulled via #5. 24-13 forward or back. #8 just annoyingly west of Norton. #7 ahhh - our lonely pot perhaps. 25,11,18,23 worked but ignored the Forum. #6, #9! 26 to 28 direct or via 4 drawing you off line, and 2 in-out losing time? Beautiful stuff, and appreciated by most judging by the post race parley.

OK, let's move out of the kitchen and check the chalk board.

210 actual entries with another twenty plus competitors in Group munch bibs - including 'Team Berko' (welcome back), 'The Turtles', and the impressive 270 point posting 'String Vipers'. This gives us a goodly 230 or so on the nibble, an excellent result. As well as welcoming the TB's back, also a big welcome back to Mal 'The BSA' Bradley - missing since the beginning after changing jobs. Malcolm has always been on the tail of Mike Burton in the Vets, and returns with the same fire in the bike leathers - recording 530 in a tidy 44.52. We are also now seeing Graeme Hill back, and working up the SVM boards (420 here, but keep watching), and Ian 'The Gladstone Bag' Cameron doing well in the same class - following several weeks of blocked stethoscope. Also, a big welcome to Freddy Burghardt from Dresden Post in Germany. 'The Burger', running OM in his initial SSS fry up, posted a tidy 500 after going five and a half over with his 560 pingarooneys. We hope Freddy liked what he saw.

We had five 600 all ingredient runners, with three retaining full topping cover (Richard, Steve and Andy - with 'The King' again the best in 42.02, and 'The Hoist' only just making it with his 44.58), Glenn working two and a half over - and MM's 'Irish' Stu Deane stirring for 69.07 minutes, forgetting it was spag night. Thirty four runners posted 500 or above, with three quarters of the hungry above the plimsol line. Great stats. We had ten runners posting equal scores in 390 and 280, and nine biting 410 and 400. Meredith 'Gwen' Dodds (MW) was one of the 400 chompsters, neatly devouring her several slices in precisely 43.00. Emily 'Paddling' Poole (OW) another, as was winning walker Anthony 'The Knee' Petterson.

No minus scores this week, no Ian McKenzie either - although we note Chris Arnison (VM) taking a long time over his tandoori crust (55.24) as owner Peter Cama paced the tables, hoping to add another sitting. We only had one perfect 45.00 post, with Fedor Iskakov (OM) disposing of 450 helpings dead on the money, and only a couple of the dreaded '.01's' - but none at the critical 45.01 end. The other stat that always pleases and amuses is the 'phew' post of 44.59, with three runners shouting a round following their good fortune. let's hear it for VW Sharon 'The Sunday Roast' Lambert (410), Steve 'The Log' Holloway (SVM, 380 and we know somethings in there Steve!), and Matty 'Obviously Can' Hackett (MM with a handy 430, and in equal 62nd place).

Some interest in the age winners, with a classic three way tie in Immortal Men, another two way in the Opens, and yet another double win in the subs. The IM's are really getting down to business, with Ron, Heiko and Teddy all carding 390's after taking their morning espresso in the square at Castell'Arquato, and making this one of our most competitive classes. Not to be outdone by 'The Kingston Trio' above, Ken, Bruce 'The Stanley Steamer' and Tim Cox (back and in top form) all posted equal 350's to sneak from the Gledhill's and further complicate the betting - and orders for Parma ham. I've mentioned Andrew and Steve again going equal in the Opens, but with course setter Dunk getting rewarded in other ways, we see Hugh Petterson and Toby Wilson both taking 100's in SJM with their 310 point scoring - 'Little Sir' Hugh a minute faster than the 'Jug', and catching the eye of Maddy Prior.

A couple of strong wins noted - Wazza Selby (SVM) clearly running away from the field with 490 and fifty in hand, and Linda Sesta (VW) putting on the pace with thirty over Sharon, and a 440 post. The Dawson's are at it again in the Juniors, with a hundred points separating Aidan and Michele - and a hundred clear for Aidan from his JM silver medalist Luke Petterson (510/410). Excellent stuff, as is the SJW win from 'The Shunter' - a 270 point post for Tshinta, and another result well clear of the next runner (in this case Sophie 'The Suds' Jones and Ellen 'The Prosecco Must Wait' Currie, both with 38 minute kitchen clean up scores of 190).  June wins IW (Sue not with us, but hopefully again soon), and 'The Trouser' puts up a Diecimila over Steve Flick in LM. Mmmm, this is adding to intrigue here, with Rosscoe walking last night and Ted tucking into Tiramisu on Lake Como, and absent from the table - without permission.

Gill, Antoniya, Karen, Michael and Emmanuelle also win, as did everyone who enjoyed Little Italy. There are many great routes, many great scores. We dined in style, and owe heaps to the great team from the Garingal dining room (Ross at download is a treasure to behold), and our course setter young Duncan - and his family of Italian chefs of course. As a final aside, I see Glenn and Andy Hill followed exactly the same route (working west from 19/20, south across the foot, the Po etc) before going 10,9,16,14,30,22 home (Andy) and 10,22,9,16,14,30,22 home (Glenn). Hard to pick the better option, with the last couple being awkward (and beautiful) SSS settings.

Next week sees us move way up the coast to North Narrabeen and the Turimetta Head map. This excellent Jimmy 'Wake Up Little Suzie' Merchant map hasn't seen a SSS shoe upon it's fantastic parks, headlands and coastal bushy bits for many a moon. Possibly not for nine or ten years, rendering it another 'newie' for those recently of a SSS persuasion. Course setter Ian 'The Saucebottle' Jessup is starting at the NN SLSC (Ocean Street) to maximise the 'dip after' attraction. I'm presuming we will get both headlands and a bit of hospital north, but not sure if the south will feature. The intrigue will be Birdwood Park and the crossing to the rocky baths at Narrabeen Head. Could be a bit of sand in the Volley, but reward aplenty from Mullet and Cockle lookouts - as you gaze eastwards to Kiwiland and ponder 'should I enter Sprint the Bay'!! Join me and do both! It promises to be another season 23 cracker.          


1 comment:

the unknown runner said...

I think Duncan did a great job- it was well mapped and the setting was great, plenty of route choice. Too bad it was so hot!

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