Competitors at the Wily Weka orienteering race at NMIT on Saturday. Photo: Barry Whitnall/Shuttersport.

Big turn out for Wily Weka race

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The organisers of the inaugural Wily Weka rogaine held around Nelson on Saturday got it just right, with the course presenting a perfect challenge for all the teams.

Two hundred and seventy competitors entered the teams’ event run by the Nelson Orienteering Club and one of the organisers, Brent Edwards, admits he was a little concerned that they hadn’t made the course challenging enough for the top competitors.

But after a few 11th hour additions, the organisers designed a perfect course that had the top teams covering about 50 kilometres in six hours and almost nailing all 65 check-points. The course started at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology in Nelson, and ranged from the Botanics, Grampians, Tahunanui and Port Hills to Walters Bluff.

Trevor Voyce and Ash Whitehead won the men’s six-hour race with 2400 points, while Ingrid Richter, Suzie Wood and Eloise Fry teamed-up to win the women’s section with 2300 points. Jacqui Keay, Brendan Carney and Mike Sheperd won the mixed section with 2240 points. “Trev and Ash only missed three or four check-points and it sounds like it could have been all on to get them all if they had planned their route a little better,” Brent says. “We weren’t sure if we had enough check-points so we did end up putting some more out at the last minute – I don’t know if it was good luck or good management, but we got it just right.”

Trevor agreed, saying “it was a great event and it makes you really appreciate where you live”.

In the three-hour race, Alex and Di Grigg won the mixed section with 1010 points, Malcolm Edridge, Nigel Kelly and Brad Wallace won the men’s with 1070 points, and Tracey Perry and Mandy Medcalf-Stephens won the women’s section with 1110 points.

Brent says the event went smoothly, although the start and finish for the two races were “mayhem”.

“The start is like dropping a bag of marbles, the competitors scatter everywhere and then you don’t see them until the finish three or six hours later and then it’s mayhem again. But it went surprisingly well for a first-time event so we’ll definitely look at running it again.”

The Nelson Orienteering Club’s next event is this Sunday at Tahunanui, starting from 10.30am to 12.30pm.