A 95-year-old Canberra man won gold at the recent Australian Long Distance Orienteering Championships held at the property "Winona", 12 km south of Cootamundra.
Hermann Wehner, who took up orienteering at the age of 48, successfully completed his 2.2km hill course in 1 hr 38 minutes, winning the 90+ category.
In ideal Spring conditions competitors from 14 countries participated in two days of classic bush orienteering at Winona. The events were held as part of Oceania 2019, an eight day carnival spread across venues through the Riverina.
With unpredictable terrain and natural obstacles like knolls, tree roots and rocks proving tricky for even the fittest of competitors, Hermann said he's had to slow down over the years. It's now less running and more power walking.
"Naturally, not every time all is smooth sailing," he said. "Climbing is limited as much as possible, but is usually necessary, and undergrowth is often a problem.
"And at my age I must watch where I put my feet to avoid falling over, hence progress is slower. I just have to accept that my speed in the forest is reduced - often to my disappointment."
Hermann enjoys being in the bush and recommends the sport to anyone who wants to be "out in the big, wide world, getting some exercise and also lots of satisfaction of having succeeded in something".
Competitors as young as 10 enjoyed the championship.
Landowner Georgina Ward was equally amazed and delighted to see so many people enjoying the striking terrain.
"There was such a splendid atmosphere in the competition arena on both days," she said.
"It was great for my family and other locals to have a chance to enjoy the sport too.
"I was so impressed with the organisation of the whole carnival, and could hardly believe it when 1000 people had all cleaned up and left the property by 3.30 on the Monday afternoon as if no one had ever been there."
Notable results included wins in the men's and women's elite classes to multiple World-Orienteering-Championship participants Simon Uppill (SA) and Lizzie Ingham (NZ).
Uppill ran to 26 previously unknown checkpoints on his 14.2km cross-country course in 90 minutes 25 seconds, an average of 9.8km per hour while finding his way on a map, and Ingham to 22 controls over 9.5km in 70:36.
Brothers Grant and Blake Reinbott (Qld) took out first and second in men's 18A and three runners from the Convergence club in New Caledonia filled the top three positions in M21A.
It was also a trifecta, this time from the ACT, in the women's 40A class, helping that jurisdiction take out the coveted interstate challenge shield on the day.
The relays were a different style of event, with three runners tag-teaming to complete three slightly different courses through the bush.
Carnival director Stephen Goggs from Orienteering ACT explained that relay courses are structured so that the winning times for each team of three should total between 100 and 130 minutes.
That is exactly what happened when the representative Australian Bushrangers men's elite team (126:06) defeated the NZ Pinestars (146:34).
Roles were reversed in the women's elite comp with the Pinestars (122:38) besting the Bushrangers (125:00). In a surprise result in the U21 elite race a team of recent year 12 graduates from the ACT (108:50) pipped their Bushrangers countrymen (109:12) to take gold, both ahead of the NZ Pinestars team (113:35).
The Reinbott boys again teamed with Mason Arthur from Victoria to take out the M18 Relay, with other teams from Tasmania, Victoria and the ACT relegating their NZ challengers to fifth in that class. Orienteering is a competitive sport that combines racing with navigation. Participants follow a course set in a forested (and usually unfamiliar) area using a map and compass.