The hardest bit of the 2011 City Safari was getting to the start. The day started off with torrential rain. After looking out of the window, lots of teams particularly those with small children didn't even leave home.
Which was a pity, as participant Paul Bruce who works at the Met Office was confident that the front would move across Wellington by midday; and there would be a fine afternoon. So it was only the 6-hour teams that had to brave the stormy conditions. And the organisers who had to shout above the wind on Queens Wharf without benefit of a PA system.
The 10-minute prologue on the waterfront was all about keeping your map dry and writing answers on a soggy card. Mark Wallace, Kath Allan and Ben Sutherland, all Coast to Coast veterans, headed south, scooping everything except the Civic Centre. WCC councillor Andy Foster and Mark Hearfield, the NZ Vet mens rogaine champions, started with a couple on the outer tee and then tried the same manoeuvre; but 2 minutes lateness left them with exactly the same score: 80 points.
After a breather, Foster pressed the hooter for the main event. 80% of the controls were grouped into clusters as usual, with Seatoun less family-friendly this year. But this was made up for by Petone. There were fewer in Johnsonville, but there must have been more in Newlands, because the top teams headed there early, with the weather still boisterous. Then their routes diverged.
Wallace and team headed back to Khandallah, Wadestown, over the top of Tinakori Hill and through Kelburn, passing up controls on the western skyline and in Wilton Bush. Their result: 1160 points. Always one for a bold move, Foster and Hearfield headed out to Petone! After hoovering up the controls there, all the way to Island Bay! A great advertisement for public transport. And they still had enough time left for Mt Vic and the CBD. But when the scores were counted at the end they had 1060: 100 points shy of the multisporters.
By the time Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown counted down the 3-hour teams at midday the day was looking decidely brighter. The Quelch family from Palmerston North said their jackets didn't even leave their backpacks! Tim Stokes, who organised four teams through his meetup group Adventure Wellington said, "I didn't get wet one little bit, apart from soggy socks running through wet parks."
Previous mixed winners in the 6hr, Liam and Rachel Drew cleaned up the northern controls in the prologue, and only went as far south as necessary. Result, 100 points, equal top score. Their nearest rivals, Onslow schoolboys Calvin Standrill, Shamus Morrison and Simon Teesdale did well to get 95 on a southern route. Once on the main course, the two teams both chose Kelburn to get to Karori, climbing to the top of Wrights Hill at different stages to get #90, richest control on the course. But though not in top fitness, the Drews were able to traverse Te Ahumairangi (Tinakori Hill) and scoop up most of the Wadestown controls on the way back, whereas the boys only had time for some downtown ones.
Meanwhile other teams were all over town. Petone was popular, with two bus lines and a train to choose from. Khandallah had controls in the bush behind the swimming pool. Wilton Bush. the amazing Karori Cemetery. The new MTB track above Aro Valley (muddy!) Tapu Te Ranga Marae. Houghton Valley had a hut in the bush, the hardest control on the course. Miramar had a dragon at "The Weta Cave". Closer to town, the old quarry by the bus tunnel. Who knew that the Colonial Cottage had chooks out the back?
Other high fliers from the past were also in the 3-hour event. Last year's co-winner Yvette Baker took to the trains with Susan Edwards and 6 children between them: 2X3yr-olds, and a 5, 6, 7 and 8yr-old! Another previous winner Al Cross was there with children Aidan and Ruby. In fact the 3-hour family category was the biggest of the whole event. The Mitchell family from Ngaio earned the top score, while John, his daughter Kaitlyn and brother David won the 6-hour section for the third year in a row.
The 6-hour schoolies produced a most unlikely winner: two 11yr-olds! George Engleback and his friend Liam Stevens did the 3-hour event by themselves last year. This year, dressed as road cones, they placed 16th outright in the 6. Their route took in Khandallah, Newlands and Petone. We were concerned about these guys (and took some precautions); but they are GOOD. Watch out, college kids!
Back at base, with the sun shining now, teams compared routes over pizza. "...Another great adventure exploring tracks and trains..." "Wow, what a fantastic event you run..." "...not the most efficient for points but we got in some good off-road stuff" (team of trampers!) "...thanks heaps for such an awesome event..." "...looking forward to next year's event already!"
But there were some disappointed families. "We had to make a decision based on the weather at the time." Well you haven't missed out completely. We'll send out the maps and you can visit the control points in your own time. In fact even if you didn't enter, we have a few spare maps, the locations and questions are on the back, we even have some scorecards.
Welcome to the Permanent Safari Course!
Click on the photos at left for larger versions. Thanks to Metlink for these.
- Maps are issued: where shall we go?
- The 10min prologue: winning 3hr women set a hot pace
- Brian and Nicholas Hallinan warming up on the waterfront
- The 12:35 to Petone was a popular choice...
- ...where there was a control on the wharf.
- Scooters were used by many teams with younger legs.
- And a handbag is of course essential to hold the travel pass.
- Now when's the next train back to Wellington?
- You could also bus or even fly between the two cities...
- ... to get back to Queens Wharf on time. The winning 6hr women.
- There, a great feast awaited the hungry explorers.
- And to the victors, the spoils. The 6hr winners.
- And the 3hr winners
- And the champions of the future, 6hr school winners at only 11.