Teering race (Aus Champs) 15:57  3.47 km (4:36 / km) +10m 4:32 / km
shoes: ASICS DS Racer
Mandurah, Sprint Distance, M55, equal 1st.
Great area, map, courses, organisation, and really happy to get my third Australian Sprint title. But... when you are in a dead heat for the win inevitably your mind turns to the minor technical issues that influenced the result.
An unusual one. Pretty sure this was just bad luck, but the “random” draw happened to give one of the top ranked runners (me) the first start in the M55 start block and the other (Geoff) the last. We were both ranked no. 1 in 2010 – me in M50, Geoff in M55. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue but when combined with:
Position of no. 1
While you couldn’t see the flag for no. 1 from the start, you could certainly see the first runners punching it, if you were looking. It was 80m directly straight on from the map boxes, but below “ground” level on the beach down a couple of steps. Apparently James Lithgow (GON, M55) starting two minutes later was gobsmacked to see me just standing there frazzled before punching it after a 20 second time loss. Geoff on the other hand had Roch (3rd at Easter) starting a minute ahead and may have seen the punch (Roch also lost time). So, a 19 second advantage to Geoff.
Route Choice to no. 10
On the face of it a choice between left or right of the obvious curved impassable wall. Right looked a lot shorter, but had a massive sting in the tail – a locked gate and short impassable wall. A closer look should have told the story, but clearly many people didn’t see the potential trap. On the Attackpoint splits, 20 of the 46 person field are listed as making a mistake on this leg, by far the most on the course. In fact even Geoff chose right, but changed his mind before over committing. I put it down to a couple of contributing factors. The impassable wall blocking access from the right is only 2mm long. It “blends in” with a paving edge, building line and contour which are all parallel to it and joined up with it (the wall overprints the contour line and paving edge, but runs into the building edge and contour at both ends). This makes this impassable wall much harder to see than the obvious 20mm long curved one which created the “route choice” which is on its own in an Out of Bounds area. Setting a leg on which an obvious route choice has a trap which will cost significant time to those who choose it seems a rather heavy handed way to decide a championship race. Anyway, Geoff gained another 27 seconds here.
Flower Bed at no. 16
The route to 16 seemed to have only one option, unusually for this course, where most had two. On the approach to the flag the person in front of me ducked through a gap in the flower bed straight to the control where there was a traffic cone. Hmm. I looked at the map again, and didn’t see an obvious break in the flower bed, although there certainly was something marked there. One thing I was sure of on this event was that I wasn’t going to get disqualified through doing something like that, so I went around via the steps. All up that took me an extra 10 seconds, and Geoff got another 1 second advantage. Now looking at that area under bright lights and a magnifying glass I still can’t quite make out what’s going on – I think a canopy has been drawn in next to the flower bed, or it could be some internal paving or a step. I’m sure that was enough to cause people to think that going through was OK. Certainly the traffic cone didn’t help – that is the way the local association uses to mark the way to follow to the start, so anybody from WA may well have assumed it was OK. There was nothing in the instructions about traffic cones marking out of bounds. There was a physical gap in the flower bed there, but its fairly clear, with the magnifying glass, that the gap where the cone was wasn’t on the map. With the benefit of hindsight, given the number of runners who reportedly ran through, a far better control site would have been the base of the steps, 5m to the north.
In general, the map was hard to read in the detailed areas – like that whole NE most area, on course 5 particularly between controls 18 and 19, where even with the magnifying class I can’t distinguish what the map is trying to represent. On the day I looked up and saw a way through with no flower beds and a couple of steps, so took that.
So to sum up: Of the 23 legs, in my view there were three minor technical issues which cost me 48 seconds relative to Geoff Lawford. Of the other 20, I had 15 fastest splits for the course and I beat Geoff on one other. Geoff was quicker than me on only 4 legs for a total of 7 seconds (2:20 to 2:27). Funny way to win a championship.