Nelson-based elite orienteer Brent Edwards achieved two podium finishes against an impressive elite field at the South Island Orienteering Champs based at St Arnaud at the weekend. The men's race included six of the New Zealand team that competed in the recent World Cup as well as four top overseas runners.
The middle and long-distance events were run on maps described by New Zealand team-mate Chris Forne as one of the best orienteering locations ever. As well as the heat, runners had to navigate through dense manuka scrub in the flats around West Bay and Teetotal Flats.
In the middle distance, Edwards was leading for much of the race and by the first spectator controls he held a four-minute lead over Forne. However, mistakes in the last loop let Forne edge ahead to win by 52 seconds. Norwegian team member Oystein Kvaal Osterbo came in third making up time after a significant error on the long fourth leg of the 27-leg race dropped him into ninth.
In the long distance, Forne took control from Edwards early in the race with the physical yet technical nature of the course suiting them both.
By the end of the race Forne had made fewer errors in the manuka scrub winning the 9.2km course in an impressive 1hr 19min 21sec, almost 10 minutes ahead of Edwards in third, with Kvaal Osterbo finishing six minutes behind Forne in second.
The racing in the women's elite grade was less competitive with Canterbury-based runner Georgia Whitla winning the middle distance and Norway-based Great Britain runner Helen Palmer winning the long. Ex-local elite Sarah Gray returned to pip Palmer for third by 12 seconds in the middle distance at West Bay.
In the other age grades, Golden Bay orienteer Neil Murray won the M40 grade in the middle distance and came second in the long. While Nelson's Jill Clendon won the W40 grade for the long, Sally Lattimore won the W35 grade in the middle and Gaye Evans came second in both the W55 races.
In the junior grades, Waimea College's Hillary Challenge team competed in their age grades with Nathan Sturrock winning the U18 grade.
The event was a great success with the only negative being a young spectator with an eye injury being taken to hospital.
The Nelson club is now looking forward to offering their twilight park and school-based events to the public in the coming months.