NEW ZEALAND ORIENTEERING CHAMPIONSHIPS
April 10, 2009
THE “mystery man” at the New Zealand Orienteering Championships, Taranaki dairy farmer Karl Dravitzki, took the national sprint title in Auckland today – a remarkable achievement considering it was his first serious orienteering event in six months.
The 30-year-old went into the full-bore 3.3-kilometre dash around a tricky course through the Epsom College of Education campus, insisting that he really had no idea how well he’d go.
“I hoped I could win it. I knew I was reasonably fit,” said the New Plymouth athlete, who’s been concentrating on running in recent months. The lack of orienteering, he added, had been “a worry – going into an event like this.”
But his 13m 9s sprint saw him secure his third national title – finishing 15 seconds faster than 18-year-old Aucklander Jourdan Harvey. Waimauku junior Thomas Reynolds – Harvey’s regular training partner – completed the shutout of the more-fancied runners.
Reynolds, last year’s sprint champion and 14th in the 2007 junior world champs, is competing in the elite grade as a warmup for the junior worlds – “because, to win JWOC you’ve really got to be the best…you’ve got to be able to beat all the elites in NZ.”
Dane Carsten Joergensen, a 38-year-old former world champion now living in NZ, finished fourth while co-favourite, six-time national champ Darren Ashmore, missed the third-to-last control and was not classified.
Wellington university student Lizzie Ingham continued her dominant form to take the elite women’s title – thanks to being able to just squeeze through a narrow gap between college buildings on her chosen route. If it had been any tighter, the 20-year-old reckoned, she’d have been forced to back-track…and lose valuable time.
She ended up 11 seconds faster than a surprise second-placegetter – first-year orienteer (but well-performed track runner) Elizabeth Orchard. The 23-year-old Aucklander had been treating orienteering as “a fun, enjoyable way to keep up some fitness while I recovered from a knee injury.”
Another young Aucklander Greta Knarston – a NZ rep to the junior world championships – was third, ahead of 19-time NZ champion Tania Robinson. She was disappointed in her comeback from an injury-forced retirement, but promised: “Now I’ll have to get them on the muntier events!”
Auckland-based Hawke’s Bay runner Amber Morrison lost a good placing with a missed control.
Results: NZ Orienteering Championships, sprint – Epsom College of Education. Elite men: Karl Dravitzki (New Plymouth) 13m09s, 1; Jourdan Harvey (Titirangi) 13m24s, 2; Thomas Reynolds (Waimauku) 13m41s, 3; Carsten Joergensen (Christchurch) 13m54s, 4; Nick Harris (Mt Albert) 14m03s, 5; James Bradshaw (Auckland) 14m06s, 6.
Elite women: Lizzie Ingham (Wellington) 15m14s, 1; Elizabeth Orchard (Epsom) 15m25s, 2; Greta Knarston (Remuera) 15m44s, 3; Tania Robinson (Henderson) 16m24s, 4; Rebecca Smith (Rotorua) 17m36s, 5; Lara Prince (Christchurch) 17m39s, 6.
WHAT? NZ Orienteering Championships
WHEN & WHERE?
Middle-Distance: Easter Saturday (April 11), Old North Rd, Helensville
Long-Distance: Sunday (April 12), Woodhill Forest (Restall Rd entrance)
Relays: Easter Monday (April 13), Woodhill Forest