Fa’avae leads Nelson Orienteering Club’s winning race to national championships
Nelson Orienteering Club’s Zefa Fa’avae had an excellent national north of Auckland, winning the elite U20 course and placing second in the middle distance.
Fa’avae and first place are a combination of words common in adventure racing circles.
This winning legacy continues in the sport of orienteering with Zefa, son of world champion Nathan, extending his list of national titles last weekend in a very successful weekend for Nelson in the age and distance categories.
Nelson’s orienteers completed four days at the NZ Orienteering Champs which took place in Woodhill Forest in North Auckland over Easter weekend.
The Nelson Orienteering Club had 18 members competing alongside 350 athletes in the four-day event, which included the Good Friday Sprint, the Long Course Champions Race on Saturday, the Middle Distance on Sunday and the Team Relay on Monday.
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Producing an impressive effort in running speed and navigation skills, defending champion Matt Ogden won the elite men’s long course race, which he then followed with a victory in the middle distance.
16-year-old Zefa Fa’avae had an outstanding national championship, winning the elite U20 long course and placing second in the middle distance.
He has now won the National Under-12, 14 and 16 Championships, but has skipped the Under-18 class and gone straight to the under-20 elite, beating 19 other runners in his race.
The long course was at Karaka Swamp near Helensville; the 11.3 km course had 32 checkpoints on a technical map.
Fa’avae won by 17 seconds over Ryan Moore of Christchurch.
The middle distance was near the Keretu dunes, a 6 km course. Fa’avae also ran the final leg of the mixed relay, dropping his team to 6th place in a very difficult field.
Fa’avae’s exploits saw him be selected for the New Zealand squad for the World Junior Orienteering Championships, consisting of six men and six women.
This is the first time that a Nelson guidance counselor has been selected for the World Junior Championships since Sarah O’Sullivan in the mid-2000s.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 prevented the team from attending the event, scheduled to be held in Turkey.
Lani Murray of Golden Bay won the long and intermediate courses in the U14 girls. Ian Holden, 88, has won all 85 men’s long distance and middle distance events.
The outstanding performance in the Sprint was Fleur Murray’s 3rd place in the highly competitive W50 class. In the middle are Anya Murray’s victories in the W16 ranks.
Michael Croxford has also been recognized nationally for his contribution to junior development, including training camps held last year.
Nelson are the host club for next year’s national championships, which take place over Easter.