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Four hardy (or perhaps foolhardy!) Garingal members ventured to Cessnock at the weekend for the Australian MTBO Champs. Torrential rain midweek meant that already wet courses were by now underwater and/or muddy, which made for very slow going and a blowout in times. It was like being flogged on SAS Australia.

It is noted that our MTBO gun Michael Ridley-Smith showed his pedigree with 2nd in M50 in the Long on Sunday - his only ride for the event. Ian Jessup, riding in his M50 age class for the first time instead of a recreational category, managed 7/9 in Friday's Mass Start, covering 24km in just over two hours of hard work.

On Saturday morning Ian came 6th in the Sprint, which featured a fiendish track network in the second half of the course with several knee-deep creek crossings, and James Lithgow came 11th in M60.

That afternoon Ian opted out of the Middle to go wine tasting, during which James improved to 9th and first-timer Edith Chow (a new GO member) unfortunately mispunched on the non-championship Recreational 1 course. Edith only had the last control to go but noticed she was already on course closure time so went to the finish (I am sure if it had been better weather the organisers would have really chuffed that Edith did that!! it is such a relief to have everyone back), but she did not realise the organisers were allowing some leeway due to the slow going. (And that was after she had done the 3D SOS at Balgowlah in the morning.)

On Sunday Edith was determined to finish and - riding in W21 (Open Women Elite) - completed her course in 4 hours 16 minutes! Wow, what an epic. Bigger than Ben Hur! Our spies at the weekend put her stamina and endurance down to Edith's extra large helping of dessert on Saturday night to store much-needed energy. Also, she's a budding adventure racer so has some talent there.

Newcastle club had this event postponed multiple times due to Covid and we THANK them for the thousands of volunteer hours they put in to ensure riders from six states could compete. They have earned some rest, but the washing machines could be in for some punishment!

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What a booty! Garingal members won 12 of their age classes at the NSW Sprint Champs at Ourimbah on Saturday. The highlight was Barbara Hill's two-second win over Big Foot's Paula Shingler in W55A. GO also had four 2nd placings and four 3rd placings.

This made Garingal the most successful club at the event, ahead of Newcastle with nine wins. Congratulations all!

The event was conducted by the small Central Coast Orienteering club on the Newcastle Uni satellite campus - thank you CCO. A couple of reflections heard around the arena afterwards concerned the fact that not all olive green on the map was as obvious as those gardens shown close to Ken Jacobson in the photo below. There were areas of Out of Bounds which thwarted route choice, people realising at the last moment that the ground in front of them didn't look particularly like a garden, yet it was olive on the map. If it is mapped as olive OOB, then that is because the landowner wants it that way. And, Land Owners are those who MUST be obeyed! Or else we risk not being allowed to go back.

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Awards for Garingal club members for 2021 were announced at the Christmas Party last weekend. Many Garingal orienteers received ONSW Badges for overall performance during 2021; Gold/silver/bronze Orienteering Australia Badges for performance at designated Badge Events during the last two years (see here for details); and ONSW Junior Waratah Badges and certificates for participation. Congratulations to you all - the spirit of orienteering resides in us all coming together to give it a go. Without each of you, orienteering would not be as much fun.

Importanly, Garingal runs its own tally room under the excellent scrutiny of Jim Merchant. It does not matter what class you run, you simply have to be in it to win it. For the 2021 Garingal Club Champion, Ross Barr (M75) came out on top with 877 points, followed by Cooper Horley (M16) second on 846 points with dad Adam Horley (M35AS) third on 760 points. Great achievement you guys. See the next Newsletter for the full leaderboard. There are also two special awards for juniors: the Garingal Encouragement Award which went to Anneka Corry, and the Most Improved Junior Award which went to Nick Stanley. Congratulations!

However, although the competing side of orienteering is fun, without our club volunteers there would be no events! Garingal's 2021 Silver Hare Award donated around forty years ago by Moira Whiteside for the purpose of recognising a person who has given generously of their time to the club has been awarded to Johnny Petersen. Johnny is a very talented club member and has been the man behind the club website for many years and a critical SI Team member for many years. Johnny has also been event Organiser for events, including a major event at Hill End. Great work Johnny, the Silver Hare is well deserved.

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