Fa’avae leads Nelson Orienteering Club’s winning run to Nationals
Nelson Orienteering Club’s Zefa Fa’avae had an outstanding national championship north of Auckland, winning the elite U20 long course and finishing second in the middle distance.
Fa’avae and first place are common words in adventure racing circles.
That winning legacy continues in the sport of orienteering with Zefa, son of world champion Nathan, who extended his list of national titles last weekend in a very successful weekend for Nelson. in all age and distance categories.
Nelson Orienteering runners completed four days at the New Zealand Orienteering Championships held at Woodhill Forest north of Auckland over the 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 Race of Champions on Saturday, the middle distance on Sunday and the relay by team on Monday.
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Producing an impressive effort of running speed and navigational skill, defending champion Matt Ogden won the elite men’s long course race, which he then followed up with a victory in the middle distance.
Zefa Fa’avae, 16, had an outstanding national championship, winning the U20 elite long course and placing second in the middle distance.
He has now won national under-12, 14 and 16 championships, but he skipped the under-18 category and went straight to the elite under-20, beating 19 other riders in his race.
The long run was at Karaka Swamp near Helensville; the 11.3 km route had 32 checkpoints on a technical map.
Fa’avae won by 17 seconds over Ryan Moore of Christchurch.
The middle distance was close to the dunes of Keretu, a course of 6 km. Fa’avae also raced the final leg of the mixed open relay, bringing her team home in 6th place in a very tough field.
Fa’avae’s achievements earned him selection to New Zealand’s team for the World Junior Orienteering Championships, consisting of six men and six women.
It’s the first time a orienteer from Nelson 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, which was to be held in Turkey.
Golden Bay’s Lani Murray won the long and medium courses for the U14 girls. Ian Holden, 88, won all 85 men’s distance and middle distance events.
The most remarkable performance in the Sprint was Fleur Murray’s 3rd place in the very 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 the training camps held last year.
Nelson are the host club for next year’s National Championships, which will take place over Easter.