Having spent the last few days in Ballarat, Sunday sees us looking forward to the Victorian Sprint Orienteering Championships, to be held at Ballarat Grammar School. Start times are between 10 and 10.40am, before the day heats up too much. Having packed away all our camping gear, we arrive at the venue early, changing into running gear at a leisurely pace for once.
Two sprint events the previous day had taken their toll on my supply of bandanas, the only one left being the Union Jack one. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Despite the heat, I need my compression longs, with my leg playing up after yesterday. The events had gone fairly well, except for a two minute hiatus at one stage, where my legs had run well ahead of my brain and had to stop to let it catch up.
Sunday, though, is The Big One, the Victorian Sprint Championships. This event is the culmination of the brilliant Sprint into Spring series, with 8 sprints in 8 weeks. There aren't many of us in M65, but everyone has credentials. Starting at 10.06, I set my compass and trot off with two hands on the map. It's worth having a good look at the map while I can. The map has many thick black lines (uncrossable) and will try to trip me up at some stage, no doubt.
The early controls pass uneventfully with the long leg from 7-8 looking important. I head south and follow the fence down to the opening, which is concealed behind a skip. Time for two hands on the map again. I realise only at the last moment that 9-10 means going around past 8 again. All goes well enough, but a tricky fence looms up at 11 and I need to concentrate hard to find the way in.
My brains are cooked by now, and I have no plan to control 12. Round to the left or the right? I hop from one foot to the other with indecision. Eventually, I go right, but 30 long seconds have evaporated. I discover later that Peter, who started two minutes behind me, will match my time exactly to 12. I leg it across the lawn to the tree by the tennis courts, then on to the boulder, around the buildings, across the carpark and into the finish. My bandana is soaked in sweat, but my eyes remain sting-free, despite only 16 minutes having elapsed since I started. To be accurate, 16mins 26secs for 2.1km (straight line) with 16 controls. Not bad for a bloke with a metal hip.
Peter crosses the line soon after and we compare splits. He is only 11 seconds behind me, but it looks like I may have done enough to win! Soon, all the M65's are in and it is confirmed. I'm the Victorian M65 Sprint Champion at my first attempt! Added to this, for my efforts in the Sprint Series, I get a free entry voucher for the Park/Street series, worth about $70, and a polka dot shirt worth, well, I'll let you be the judge of that . . . . . .