New Zealand Tour – update 2

The New Zealand O Champs were held in the central Otago area, between Dunedin and Queenstown. All the areas had once been mined for gold and the terrain was completely different to anything in England.

Day 1 (Easter Sat) was the middle distance race at Cromwell. It was very hot and sunny and pupils were continually drinking water and slapping on the sun lotion. The races started with a steep climb out of the valley into an area more akin to Utah then NZ. Vegetation was very sparse – a few scrubby shrubs and fallen trees. Underfoot was baked earth with few rocks. The distinctive features were huge free standing monoliths and steep sided ravines that we did our best to avoid. The course planner made good use of these features with legs running across the slopes, over the ravines and around the monoliths.

The best result for UVHS came from Nathan who finished 3rd on M 16a. Collette (W16a) and Will (M14a) came 4th, while Max (M16a) and Jess (W18a) finished 5th. Lydia (W16a) had a fast run only to mis-punch near the finish. Janet and Paul (parents) had a very successful first outing on an orienteering course finishing 2nd and 1st on the novice course.

M14a M16a W16a W18a
Will (9) – 4th Nathan (11) – 3rd Collette (10) – 4th Jess (12) – 5th
Patrick (9) – 11th Max (11) – 5th Kelly (10) – 8th  
Jonathan (9) – 14th Ben (9) – 9th Meghan (10) – 12th  
    Lydia (10) – mp

Day 2 (Easter Sun) was the long distance race and was held at Earnscleugh, near Alexandra. This time the terrain was very fast runnable pasture, but the area was covered with huge boulders and rock clusters. There were so many boulders that anything smaller then 1m high was not mapped and to make it more difficult nearly all the fences had been left off the map. This proved very confusing and if you didn’t keep track of the gullies and main rocks it was almost impossible to relocate.

Meghan had a far better run to finish 3rd on W16a. Will maintained his form to finish 4th (M14a) while Max also moved up to 4th. Unfortunately Nathan and Collette found the area very difficult and dropped several places.

M14a M16a W16a W18a
Will (9) – 4th Max (11) – 4th Meghan (10) – 3rd Jess (12) – 8th
Patrick (9) – 11th Nathan (11) – 10th Kelly (10) – 10th  
Jonathan (9) – 16th Ben (9) – 11th Collette (10) – 13th  
    Lydia (10) – mp  

The last day was the relays held at Naseby. The area was a mixture of farmland with rough scrub and gorse bushes, and low undulating hills covered in knee high gorse which shredded your legs if you ventured through. There were only 2 classes – long and short. Each team had to have at least 1 female runner and certain age groups could only run certain legs.

UVHS entered 3 teams on the long course. With over 80 teams against them competition was fierce. Team 1 and 2 were neck and neck all the way round. Max beat Iain by 6 seconds on leg 1, while Meghan increased the lead to 10 secs on leg 2. Will came to the final control clearly in the lead, but failed to find it first time. Richard overtook him and led him into the control only for Will to burn him off on the run in for the 2nd team to finish 16 seconds clear. Overall team 2 finished =26th, team 1 were 28th and team 3 competed well to come 44th.

In the short race UVHS entered 2 teams. Lydia and Collette went through the spectator control together on the 1st leg, only for Lydia to pull 2 mins clear at the change over. Paul extended the lead to 5 mins after leg 2 handing over to Jonny. Unfortunately, he mis-punched and Miss Evans (walking round taking photos) brought team 5 home to win the mini competition. Overall they were 16th.

With the championships over UVHS tour group moved on to experience some of the adventurous activities and stunning scenery that NZ has to offer.