The hazardous smoke haze shrouding Canberra for weeks dissipated enough for the first event in the new 10-event ACT Sprint Series to proceed as planned on Sunday morning at Kingston Foreshore. The smoke seemed to thicken towards the end of the race.
All 95 competitors hailed the event a success, with only a few minor teething issues. The Series was only made possible through the hard work of the initiator Tate Needham, who has put countless hours into learning the technology and setting it up at the event.
The insistence on only pre-entry avoided the hassles of taking entries on the day, and the limited Start window 9.00 am to 9.30 am, with course closure by 10.00 am, created a good social atmosphere. Noah Poland set a complex course of around 3.7 km (straight line; 4.7 km to 5.1 km running distance), which caused some competitors to make mistakes, including some straying into out of bounds areas and disqualifying themselves.
Both the men’s and women’s results had close finishes. In the men’s classes, Matt Doyle’s time of 18 min 38 sec was only two seconds faster than Martin Dent’s 18 min 40 sec. Doyle was fastest to the first control and while he surrendered the lead for five legs, he stayed ahead after regaining the lead at control 10. The women’s race was even closer, with Shannon Jones recording 22 min 22 sec to win by just one second from Tara Melhuish. Melhuish led through the first three controls, but a loss of 22 seconds on leg four let Jones take the lead, which she never surrendered, despite some impressive splits by Melhuish.
The next event will be at Jerrabomberra School on Sunday 19 January. For those without Season Passes, entries close at 9.00 pm on Saturday 18 January.