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NZ MTBO champs 2022  |  Rotorua
By Christo Peters - Thu 15 Dec 2022 11:20pm

Craig Steffens and Ricky Thackray wrote this article for Vic MTBO after competing in the NZ MTBO Champs in Rotorua held on 19-20th November 2022 (with top podium finishes inserted and our own NZ additions at the end) : 

Six Aussies recently travelled across the ditch to contest the New Zealand Mountain Bike Orienteering national champs events in and around Rotorua. Andrew Power from NSW, Ricky Thackray, Bill Vandendool, Carolyn Jackson and Peter Cusworth from Victoria and Craig Steffens from QLD flew into Auckland and made the 2.5 hour drive to the MTB mecca that is Rotorua. This was the first time w beee were able to travel there for MTBO since 2019. Andrew, Ricky and Craig enjoyed a few days of training in the Redwoods MTB Park, with the other missing out due to a delay from a cancelled flight.
The Middle Distance stage was held at Onepu MTB Park east of town. The private plantation pine forest had an established network of single tracks and firm trails which were fantastic to ride.
Middle results:
M Open – 1st Stuart Lynch 57:09, 2nd Matt Backler 1:04:27 (+7:18), 3rd Martin Peat 1:10:33 (+13:24)
W Open – 1st  Marquita Gelderman 1:09:31, 2nd Rachel Drew 1:14:42 (+5:11), 3rd Hannah Lowe, 1:28:47 (+19:16)
Results for the Aussie team were… Ricky 4th, Carolyn 2nd (W40), Andrew 3rd (M60), Peter 6th, Bill 7th and Craig MP due to taking the M70 map ☹

For the afternoon Sprint event in Rotorua itself, the forecast rain arrived and made conditions in the parks and sports ground very slow and muddy. The maze of paths, grassy lanes and ridable forested areas required high concentration levels to avoid a missed turn. Courses traversed a steaming thermal field, many flowing tracks and the rescue of a vehicle that slid off the road and into a ditch.
Sprint results:
M Open – 1st Stuart Lynch 23:25, 2nd Martin Peat 25:12 (+1:47), 3rd Matt Backler 25:17 (+1:52)
W Open – 1st Lisa Haycock 26:54, 2nd Hannah Lowe 39:34 (+12:40). Both Marquita Gelderman & Rachel Drew MP
Results for the Aussie team were… Ricky 6th, Carolyn 1st (W40), Andrew 1st (M60), Peter 6th, Bill 9th and Craig 1st (M50). 

The Long Distance stage was held at the Cougar MTB Park West of town on some constructed single tracks and forestry roads. The partially logged forest had some newer trails with jumps and berms that required considerably more effort to ride up as opposed to down. Mistakes or poor route choices were rewarded with an inevitable uphill push. Most tracks were firm and good riding with some older ones being quite narrow and greasy, requiring care and attention to ride.

Long results:
M Open – 1st Stuart Lynch,1:46.18, 2nd Cameron Jones 1:51.22 (+5.04), 3rd Matt Backler 1:57.35 (+11.17)
W Open – 1st Rachel Drew 1:52.09, 2nd Marquita Gelderman 1:57.18 (+5.09), 3rd Lisa Haycock 2:00.33 (+8.24)
Results for the Aussie team were… Ricky 7th, Carolyn 2nd (W40), Andrew 4th, Peter 2nd (M60), Bill 6th and Craig 1st (M50).

Our NZ friends certainly organised 3 great events in excellent areas, so watch for their next offering and consider joining the next travel group.
You can read more at www.mtbochamps.nz

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What did our NZ orienteers think?
“It is always nerve wracking competing in a new area on a brand new map”. Pete Swanson our middle MTBO planner goes on to say: “As a setter, it is easy to get a biased view of how great an area might be, so you hope that competitors’ experiences are also positive. Dennis and I were delighted to hear much positive feedback from all the riders on our brand new Onepu map, venue for the Middle distance event in the NZ MTBO Champs. Onepu is a local Mtb park close to Whakatane and Kawerau which proved to be an excellent venue for the Middle distance champs. The complex trail network provided plenty of route choice challenges, which along with the good single track riding and warm weather, made for a great event.”

Team Grant & Greg Flynn worked on the short sprint event. Grants says: “Having two distinctly different parks adjacent to each other presented an opportunity to set courses with a good variety of optimal riding speeds and navigational requirements. The Scion area can be more complex that it first appears and lapses in concentration can prove costly. We were relieved that the wet conditions didn’t cause any major ’temporary loss of traction’ incidents. Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback on the courses.” 

Cougar Park has been used twice before for MTBO champs long events, and we found many changes since then. Substantial tree and vegetation growth meant some tracks were a no go, but the addition of new tracks and installation of a bridge crossing point gave us a good opportunity to create some challenging courses with ample route choice. Jacqui Sinclaire and Chris had this to say about the long event: “This year we created a junior course out of the forest, using the sports ground, trees and buildings. This style of course seemed to be well received for those aged up to 10 years 

Course feedback was positive, and we were thrilled that the storm stayed away until the end. Big thanks to our intrepid control collectors who endured heavy downpours and thunder.

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