Gold Coast Orienteering Route Choices
South Australian athlete Zoe Carter won the National Orienteering League (NOL) knockout sprint competition on the Gold Coast in an upset victory.
Knockout races were held throughout the ANZAC weekend at Benowa State High School, Griffith University Gold Coast and Helensvale State High, with the final at Upper Coomera State College, a multi-storey high school with complex buildings, underground passages, obstacles, stairs and dead ends on an all new orientation map.
Carter was out of the blocks at the start of the race, which required each of the six finalists to silently choose from three different map layouts, called “runners’ choice”, to suit both fast runners and technical sailors.
En route to the first electronic checkpoint for all maps, Carter was running second to race favorite Nea Shingler of NSW, but once inside the school, Shingler took a sharp left turn, followed by the rest of the pack, as Carter turned sharply to the right.
It was the last time Carter saw his competition.
Watching the action from the arena overlooking the mid-term spectator check, Orienteering SA’s resident coach Evalin Brautigam said no one expected what happened next.
“There was an audible gasp from the crowd as Zoe ran alone into the arena halfway through, hit her control – and left just as the second runner, Milla Key, arrived,” said Brautigam.
“In orienteering, route choice is everything, and when it comes to sprints, it’s common to have a single second separating the ushers.”
Carter said she was slightly alarmed when she found herself running alone.
“When I ran out of the buildings at spectator control I had no idea where I was placed – I thought my second leg might be longer than the first, but I just stayed focused on the map and my race.”
Ultimately, the results show Carter was 16 seconds ahead at first check and took an additional 4 seconds to gain by 20 seconds – a clean pair of heels in sprint terms. She completed the 1.4 km course in 6 minutes and 10 seconds: “An impressive feat that would be impressive even without the need to navigate a complex campus,” said Orienteering SA President Robert Tucker.
Resident coach Evalin Brautigam said her fellow SA squad members couldn’t be prouder.
“For Zoe to win by 20 seconds is an incredible margin in a highly competitive domestic peloton like this. Her navigation and strategy had to be perfect to achieve this.
It was not the only victory for the South Australian cohort over the ANZAC weekend.
An elite team of Evalin Brautigam, Angus Haines, Emily Sorensen and Simon Uppill won the NOL Night Relay, while Angus Haines placed second to Victorian Aston Key in the Elite Men’s Final.
For Zoe Carter, the win made her think more about her future in the sport.
“I’m very happy to have a win for South Australia. It gave me the motivation to aim higher and I hope that will include representing Australia at international level one day.”
About Orienteering SA
Orienteering SA is the lead organization for orienteering in South Australia, a subsidiary of Orienteering Australia, the national body. The goal of Orienteering SA is to create a strong community of lifelong orienteers, each enjoying a sense of inclusion, well-being and fulfillment, regardless of age, stage lifestyle or physical condition.
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