In an impressive display, star Adventure Racing couple Robbie Preston and Kathryn Ewels won the SILVA DuO You Yangs event held on Saturday March 14. Over 70 competitors turned out to tackle the second race of the 2009 SILVA DuO Adventure Race series in wet and wild conditions in the plantation Eucalypt forests of the You Yangs Park. Whilst the run legs were relatively flat and the terrain quite open the twisty mountain bike single-tracks proved a challenge in the wet conditions.

The race got under way at 9am just minutes before the onset of rain that persisted for the duration of the event. At the first transition there wasn’t much separating the top 5 on the long course with Hayden Lebbink leading the way. Kathryn Ewels was in the mix, already way out in front on the women’s long course. Winner of the Macedon DuO, Jim Russell, was also in the leading group through the first transition, pushing hard for a series clean sweep.

The bike leg proved decisive on the long course, with Robbie Preston emerging well out in front at the second transition. He maintained his lead through the final run leg to finish 4 minutes ahead of Hayden Lebbink in 2nd place in a time of 1hr 34min. Hayden turned the tables on the Macedon event, beating Jim Russell by a further 4 minutes. Paul ‘Liggo’ Liggins was close to the lead on the long course before he came flying off his bike on one of the windy You Yangs tracks and used his head to stop himself on a tree – ouch! He cracked his helmet and retired from the race. A headache and shivering soon set in but was quickly cured by half a dozen or so snags from the BBQ!

Kathryn Ewels was in a class of her own in the women’s long course, completing the course in 1hr 51min. Carolyn Jackson, winner of the women’s course at Macedon came in second place.

On the short course Derek Morris won the men’s category in 1hr 53min ahead of Ian Mack. Dick Barker was happy to place in 3rd, especially because he came ahead of his long time rival Blake Gordon who has generally had the better of him for the past 30 years! Kathy Liley won the women’s short course.

The winners took away a swag of great prizes including compasses and map measurers from Silva, Multi-tools from Gerber and Outer Edge magazine subscriptions. We saved the best prizes – all from the Melbourne Bicycle centre in Clifton Hill – for the lucky draw because competing is more important than winning. Carolyn Jackson won an MBC bike Jersey and Paul Leicester won a great courier bag. The main prize – a $1,000 Jamis Mountain Bike – was won by Louise Hall.

Many thanks to Rob and Helen Edmonds and their great team of helpers from the Nilumbik Emus Orienteering Club for helping put on the race. Rob spent considerable time creating the maps for the day, which were excellent for this format of racing. Thanks also to Parks Victoria for use of their land and to all our sponsors for helping us develop the DuO race series. The DU-O race concept has been developed by a dedicated team of volunteers – Peter Cusworth, Peta Whitford and me, Dion Keech. We all love our sport of orienteering and want to share it with others and hopefully see it grow! We’ve developed these races not only because we like being active outdoors ourselves but because we see it as an opportunity to promote our sport and lift its profile.

If you are new to adventure racing or navigating and want to improve your navigation skills for next year’s series a great way to start is to come along to an orienteering event, a full list of which can be found at the VOA Website. Your feedback on the race would be greatly appreciated. Tell us what was good or bad and what we could improve for next year. Many thanks once again for coming, having a go and making it a great day and stay tuned for information about the SILVA DuO series in 2010, which will be back bigger and better!

Dion Keech, DuO Series Director