SOME of Australia's foremost orienteers will not need their trusty compasses to find their way to Wagga for a weekend of a quality competition next month.
WaggaRoos Orienteers president John Oliver yesterday revealed entries were flooding in for the NSW Middle Distance Championships to be staged at the Connorton forest precinct on September 14.
Oliver said orienteers from Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra had already nominated for the event, which is a precursor to the Australian Orienteering Championships in Western Australia a fortnight later.
"We've got about 55 entries so far, and we're hoping to get to 150," Oliver said yesterday.
"They're (orienteers) coming from Sydney, Melbourne and the ACT, and we expect entries from Albury.
"We're just not sure whether we'll get any from Queensland or South Australia.
"There's usually a late rush."
The feature event of two days of orienteering action near Wagga, the NSW Middle Distance Championship will be proceeded by the Wagga Challenge and the Riverina Championships the previous day (September 13).
Despite the lure of the Wagga Challenge and Riverina Championships, Oliver is adamant the NSW titles are the real drawcard for the elite competitors.
Oliver said the top athletes would use the state competition as a perfect lead-up to the national event.
"Obviously it will be a chance to fine tune for the Australian titles in Perth," he said.
"Entries have been open for a fortnight and will stay open for another fortnight."
Competing on the championship courses is by pre-entry, but nominations will be taken on the day for selected courses, which will give Wagga participants a chance to savour the experience.
Oliver said WaggaRoos would have no senior competitors on either day, but several of the cities budding orienteers will hit the trails.
"There just won't be time for us to compete," he said.
"There will be so much to do to ensure everything runs smoothly."
Significantly, the Wagga and Riverina events will be held at Pomingalarna Reserve on Saturday before the NSW titles at Connorton on the Sunday.
The logistics of staging competitions in locations 10 kilometres apart will make life interesting for Oliver and the hard-working members of the Wagga Roos group.
Virtually from the time the action is wrapped up at 3pm on Saturday, Oliver and his crew will have to completely move camp for the NSW event starting at 9.30am on Sunday.
The change in venues will mean dissembling all the equipment at Pomingalarna and shifting it to Connorton as well as placing "controls" on the course.
Oliver said the top orienteers would complete the six-eight kilometres courses in 35-40 minutes on Sunday, navigating through bush and over tough terrain.
The orienteers will use compasses to ,locate a series of marked control points, registering their arrival and departure.
Although the older WaggaRoos members will be kept busy orchestrating the two-day festival, several young orienteers from the city will take part.
Fresh from finishing second in the NSW schools championship, Edward McDougal will compete in the under-13 division, while Kade Mavroudis (under 15) and Charlie Cheesley (under 16) will also be hitting the scrub.
Oliver said competitors will come in all ages, with the youngest 12 years old and most senior, Sydney's Maureen Ogilvie at 80.
"There's a broad range," he said.
"Almost every age group is represented."
Eight months of preparation, including checking maps and planning courses, has gone into ensuring the two-days will be stunning success.
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