Good Weather predicted for Saturday

A spell of fine weather has dried out tracks in the city's bush surroundings, and a fine day is predicted for Saturday. The courses are final now with 55 control points to choose from for the main event and 18 for the prologue. There's a fascinating mix of points easily reached from the bus/train network, and points in the bush and on the tracks surrounding the city. Of course the buses go all the way to Eastbourne and the various arms of Wainuiomata, encircling the bush around Lowry Trig and the firebreak tracks of the Eastern Hills.

The prologue on the other hand hardly gets more than half a km from the start point in Andrews Ave. There's no planning time in the prologue - as in orienteering score events you can see the map only when the gun goes, and have to make a quick decision which way to head.

With 120 entrants, top prospects for the 6hr competition would still have to be Al Cross and Jill Westenra. Cross has won the Lower Hutt Crazyman multisport race three times and he was in the winning Safari team last year. he is currently preparing for the Southern Traverse in November which is the 2005 world championship in adventure racing. Westenra is managing Cross's Traverse team and is herself an accomplished sportswoman. She has won the Coast to Coast three times!

Cross's partner last year Nigel Corry is also back, this time partnered by Christie Smith. Both teams will be challenged by Auckland's Phil Wood and Ally Davey. Wood grew up in the Hutt Valley and as a top junior orienteer has run most of the bush tracks that will be part of the course. Since then he has moved over to adventure racing and he will also be in the Southern Traverse.

Davy is an adventure racer too, and is the founder of "Girls On Top", a club to encourage women to challenge themselves with outdoor pursuits in a supportive environment. The concept has spread to 6 other groups in NZ including Wellington where it is called "Girls in the Capital"

Not to be discounted are Rob Harrow and Jo Forbes. Their Mainly Tramping" team was fourth in the last Southern Traverse, and they were first mixed team in last year's Safari. Forbes has also represented New Zealand in MTB-Orienteering. Due to their experience, these teams will challenge even the all-male teams, which besides Corry and Smith include Wgtn City Councillor Andy Foster, an accomplished endurance runner.

Wellington events promoter Arthur Klap is leading a team - perhaps he sees the potential for this to grow into a longer and larger event covering the greater Wellington region:-)) At the other end of the scale Shane Ross is leading one of several family teams on the 3hr event. But he's bringing wife, 16mo child, mother and father - making a team of three generations.

Tessa Ramsden just back from the Junior World Orienteering Champs in Switzerland is leading a team of college students from Wanganui. Tim Farrant and Daniel Barnfield, also college students, are coming from Christchurch for the event. Farrant has already tried something like this on the Christchurch buses, and wants to develop it back home. Barnfield who is in the NZ Orienteering Development Squad teams up with local squad member Kate Rea, who has just been named in the NZ team to contest the Australian Schools Champs in Tasmania.

Paul Bruce the Greens candidate for Southern Hutt is taking part with transport lobbyist Brent Efford. And last year's 3hr winners, the Angliss family of Lower Hutt are back to try and keep their title. The family did the event last year to gain credits for Claire's Duke of Edinburgh award.

If you're an entrant you should have had a browse through the details, which supplement the info on the entry form. If you're not an entrant then (a) be one, or (b) come down to Andrews Ave on Saturday for a look. There will be a lot of activity from 8:45-9:45 as the 6hr teams arrive, do the prologue, and then head off on the main course.

And again at 11:15 to 12:15 for the 3hr teams. The finishes will be at 3:15 and 3:45. While there's nothing to see in between, why not try the prologue, there will be spare maps and you can check whether you're as good as the teams:-))


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