Orienteers Through on a Recount

Addition Error Relegates Adventure Racers

Jill Westenra and Al Cross, top team two years ago in the Lower Hutt Safari but edged out last year by Andy Foster and Greg Thurlow, seemed to have bounced back. But checking of the cards has revealed a mathematical error which gave them 100 points too much! So winners of the 2007 Metlink City Safari are orienteers Bill Edwards and Tim Wilson - by the slim margin of 15 points. Foster and Thurlow were way down the pack - in third place were multiskilled mountainbikers Andrew McLellan and Stuart Palmer.

The win will be even sweeter, as Edwards and Wilson failed to record one of the checkpoints they visited, a 60-pointer on the eastern walkway. Edwards who represented Ireland three times at the world orienteering champs is still in the top ten in New Zealand. He regularly wins afterwork rogaines in Wellington. Wilson is described as "a mate who doesn't mind a long run" - well look at what they did!

The Metlink City Safari is an urban rogaine with a difference. Teams score points as usual by visiting checkpoints scattered throughout the city - including its hills. Travel is on foot or... on scheduled bus, train, and cablecar services. The harbour ferry was even part of the picture, until 100kph winds prevented berthing at Seatoun! The winning team needs fitness and speed, but the way they use the transport links is also vital.

The concept has caught the imagination of Wellingtonians - especially families. Competition rogaines which last anything up to 24hrs have traditionally attracted mature athletes - even oldies. Secondary school rogaines are only now taking off - helped by the buzz of taking part in teams. But the big growth in the Safari, which over three years has jumped from 70 to 370, has been in families - some with babies in backpacks!

Edwards and Wilson had lightweight parkas not babies in their backpacks as they were set off on the 6-hour course by Green MP Sue Kedgley from Frank Kitts Park on the Wellington waterfront. Crossing Mt Vic they caught a bus in Hataitai Village to Domino's at Miramar. The pair hoovered up all 11 points on the Miramar peninsula, and bussed back to Kilbirnie. Along the southern walkway to South Head, then another bus from Lyall Bay all the way through to Karori! This enabled a traverse of the western skyline, through Wilton Bush, over Tinakori and home. Towards the end Tim was suffering quite badly from cramp, and they took the last hour from Otari quite gently, arriving with a minute to spare.

Cross and Westenra intended to head straight out east, but chose a #14 bus which goes via Roseneath! So checkpoints on Mt Vic were taken earlier than planned, and by Miramar the team was behind on the ground though 60 points ahead on the card. They did the Miramar circuit in a different order before a dairy stop in Broadway and the (right this time) bus back to Kilbirnie. With Edwards' recording omission this put them 120 points up when their routes diverged at Mt Albert. But while the orienteers were somewhere out west, the adventure racers only had time for controls between Owhiro Bay and Kingston Heights, coming down through Taputeranga Marae and bussing to the finish. With 15 minutes to spare, they thought about a sprint to the university - but passed up on 20 points which would have retained the slenderest of leads!

Meanwhile Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast was setting off 90 teams on the 3-hour course. Less serious, they included 26 pupils and parents from Northland school; three generations of the Ross family of Upper Hutt, including Angus (3) and Lachie (1); former world orienteering champion Yvette Baker with Olaf (2) and Rachel (1); 6-month-old Alison Power; New Years' Day baby Bevan Ellis; and team "Wun Wabbit Weturns" wearing appwopwiate costume! Different objectives were evident.

Nevertheless there were some hares among the rabbits (and according to the team names tortoises, mad dogs, monkeys, mooses, and platypi). None were faster than the father-and-son team of John and Tim Robertson (11yrs). Cleverly, they used the Stagecoach Flyer to get out to the east, finding Miramar the richest pickings even though high-scoring controls were well off the bus routes. They headed off another father-son team, Mike and Ryan Sheridan (9yrs) plus scooter; Mike is the mastermind behind the vigorous Wellington rogaine scene. And the top school team - Kieran Patchell and David Reynolds (Wgtn College) with Jordyn Mills from Wgtn Girls.

But results aren't everything. The Safari is an adventure, a game, a demonstration of just how good the public transport system really is. We quote: "Just to let you know, we had a great time on Sunday -- would never have done this without your encouragement. But it was a fabulous event, beautifully organised, but not to the point of taking out the fun. I suppose the first time is always a surprise, but we look forward to a second go, older and wiser!" From a Mum, Dad and 10-year old.

Results now include winners routes. Click on the photos at left for larger versions. Thanks to photographers Yvette Baker, Patrick Morgan, Kalle Pokkinen, Mike Sheridan, Graeme Silcock and Michael Wood.

  1. Rosemary Thompson plans for the 6hr. Rosemary and Alan are regular Wellignton rogainers.
  2. Unknown couple ponder the route choices.
  3. Team SQLServices.com use a highlighter to guide their strategy. Colin Slater, Barryn Westfield, Fleur Pawsey and Dave Hicks (not pictured) will do the 700km XPD Adventure Race in Queensland in July
  4. A crowd at #3 The Tree in the 6hr prologue. Unknown person is recording the code as Sarah Gray and Hamish McClurg arrive. P.C. Turner is holding the ribbon with son Matthew just behind; while Rosemary and Alan duck round to the ribbon on the other side.
  5. Tim Wilson (L) and Bill Edwards head for control 34 in Miramar Park.
  6. Hannah Morgan-Stone and Bartie Morgan plan the next move from their seat in a bus. Also in the team was Hannah's dad Patrick.
  7. Last year's winners Greg Thurlow (L) and Andy Foster head through Seatoun towards Point Dorset.
  8. Bruce Worsley is nifty with txtBus on the move.
  9. John Marshall (L) and Peter Bakos head up onto the Point Dorset ridge where control 48 was.
  10. Shane Ross (think that's 3yo Angus on his back) looking for graffiti at Stellin Park (#44).
  11. Rachel and Olaf Baker at control 41 in Ngaio Gorge. Amazing effort by both of them with mum Yvette - after this they climbed Tinakori Hill! This spot isn't far from the famous tunnel control in last year's event.
  12. Barryn Westfield and Colin Slater (L) discuss routes with mixed winners Jill Westenra and Al Cross. Westenra and Cross are also doing the XPD Adventure race, as Team Norsewear.
  13. Tim (L) and John Robertson, winners of the 3hr course.
  14. And Wun Wabbit Weturns after the course, on which they wecorded the number of camewa clicks. Maybe they should be added to their score???

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