This blog is in recess. New contributions will still appear from time to time and new contributors are welcome. Check out and the facebook o scene for your regular online orienteering fix.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Ross wins Danish Sprint Series

Despite an amusing little mistake, illustrated below, Ross Morrison has won a prestigious Danish sprint orienteering series, showing he is in good form for the World Games next month.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Ross at Jukola

Finally an update from the Rocketman...

"just glanced at the map and folded it around the racecourse leaving a bit of room for the first control. When I started to get free of the stampede I searched my nicely folded map for the first control but just saw a line going straight off the page."

Sunday, 28 June 2009

All the excitement is in Italy and...

JWOC Squad blog here. and NORWAY. Tie for first in the mens race and waiting to hear how the kiwis got on.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Big maps or Big scales?

Don't you just hate it when you pick up a massive map at the start, so big its like a sail flapping around when your running....maybe its just me but I think I would prefer to run on a larger scale map (1:15,000 rather than 1:10,000) instead of having to deal with all the excess map folding all the extra bits on a map like legend, control descriptions and logos. All I care about when I'm running is the map and the course on it.

Overseas a lot of the long distance races are on 1:15,000 maps, no matter how detailed they are. If I'm not mistaken it is a requirement for World Championship Long Distance maps to be printed at 1:15,000. The reasoning being that you can view route choice options better, which I reckon is quite true. So why in New Zealand do we continue to hold National Champs races on 1:10,000 maps? I think in the past two years of Orienteering in New Zealand I have only had the chance to run on 1:15,000 maps twice, both on the same map incidentally. And both these times I have had trouble adjusting, so how to fix that? Run on more 1:15,000 maps?

It seems that often the justification for having the smaller scale is that there is two much detail on the map to run at 1:15,000. But the only detail that I seem to care about in a long distance race is the area around the circle, other places on the map and leg I simplify anyway. I can understand for the older age classes the reasoning for having enlarged scales, but for elites who a high percentage have aspirations to compete overseas it should almost be a requirement to run on 1:15,000 more often.

I would much rather run with a map that fits easily into my hand, doesn't flap around all over the place like a sail, and allows for a better view of route choices on long legs. Maybe I should just learn to fold my map better!

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Peter Oberg

I'm loving Ultimate Orienteering and this is a great interview with one of the worlds best 'technical' orienteers Peter Oberg. Includes comments on the World games, his recent good results and the new design of orienteering shoe from Icebug (hopefully more durable than the last one that made it to NZ!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Sprint Training Tour - Wellington 1st August

Hey people, at last official notification of the Sprint Training Tour to be held the day before the Winter Classic. I'm hoping for those of us in the squad, and outside, it will be an opportunity to get together this dark, grim winter and do some fun training...and then the competitive orienteering. I am also negotiating to secure the presence of one of the World Games team members to give us a run down on what happened (it will be history by then) in Taiwan!

"Sprint Training Tour....1st August

All keen orienteers, or other navigators are invited to participate in the "Sprint Training Tour" to be held in Greater Wellington on the 1st of August. When combined with the prestigous Winter Classic event, this year being held in the suburban bush close to downtown Wellington, it should make for a great weekend of orienteering.

The tour will start with two maps in the Hutt Valley, under the guidance of coaching guru Michael Wood, and move into the city where urban dwellers Magnus Bengtson and Jamie Stewart will rustle up a couple of challenges to "learn you'. Although perhaps not as much as you will be "learned" by the Winter Classic the next day!

The courses on each map will be short and focus will be given to specific aspects of sprint training. As the event is a designated training event, the only charge will be a small fee for map printing. Times may be kept, but people will be encouraged to use these runs as learning opportunities.

The Tour will finish at a cafe where there will be an opportunity to discuss the techniques used during the day, socialise and hear about a new initiative in Wellington region orienteering...'The Red Perils'. Want to know more, well come along! Pre-registrations are necessary to allow map printing, email your registrations to Jamie at". Further details will be sent to participants...

.....and remember to enter the Winter Classic, this year with an additional 3 hour rogaine style challenge if thats what you are into!."

Sprint Racing Tips

An interesting thread on Attack Point about sprint racing techniques, and a photo of our top sprint racer in his Zebra pants...

Antarctic Expedition

I just found this great old film on Youtube, it is a digital copy of the Commonwealth Transantarctic Expedition film of 1954, and features footage of earlier expedtions by Shackleton and Scott (yes film existed back then!). I think many orienteers and adventure racers share a lot in common with the restless spirits that voyaged to the ends of the earth in the age of exploration.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Being Prepared

Yesterday I had a horrible run in the local OY event. I navigated well, I ran well but my mind was elsewhere for the first 45 minutes of the course and as a result I ended up having a very average run. Afterwards I was a but despondent but then I saw this article on

One thing that stuck with me from the article was a quote from Thierry Gueorgiou:

"No matter how hard you work, no matter how great your talent is, your mind is the ultimate weapon" – says Gueorgiou, and adds wisely: “Most of the runners use it against themselves!”

This tied into what I was talking about with my last post "learning from the Ghost of the Past" and I so I looked into how you could use your mind in a race so you don't wash out?

First of all I think the 6 P's explain it all: Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. This could also be 7 depending on what school you went to... Most sports have two key componets consiting of a Mental aspect and a Physical aspect. I like to think that orienteering has 3 key componets, a Mental, Physical and a Navigational aspect. The Navigational and Mental side are very closely related but are very different at the same time.

The Mental aspect is the glue that sticks it all together, keeping your race together. Training for Physical stuff is pretty straight forward, Navigation is slightly more difficult but still can be done fairly easily. Mental preparation for a race is often overlooked as some times it comes naturally to some people and sometimes not. To neglect it completely seems a little silly when you consider how much time you train physically and navigationally. As I mentioned previously everyone who is at JWOC can navigate well, they are (mostly!) well prepared physically, but being mentally prepared is generally what sets the ones who do well from those who just completely wash out. So even if the mental preparation doesn't come naturally you can train you mind specifically so like every other aspect of orienteering when you need it it will be there.

For a start you have to be thinking Orienteering. You need to know what you can control and how to control it as well as knowing how to deal with the things that cant be controlled. Confidence is a choice, you choose to prepare, you choose to be confident. It might sound all airy fairy but when you choose to think like a champion you eventually begin to believe this. Positive thinking reinforces positive thinking and unfortunately the opposite is very true also. Above all else you have to ask yourself what are you here for? Why are you doing this? For fun. Nothing more nothing less, because you enjoy it.

Race preparation for most sports it generally easy as the field is well defined, so to speak. Like 100m sprint its easy to visualise, every time you line up go through your process, head down in the start blocks, control your breathing, bang gun goes off, you explode forward, raise upwards, lift your head, face muscles all relaxed, continue to accelerate, keeping in your lane, lean forward at the finish line and race over. Not so simple for Orienteering, the field is less defined (obviously!) and there is a lot more variables. However you can still use these techniques for Orienteering, your planning just needs to account for the variables.

I found in my searching on the internet, a brilliant presentation written up by the Canadian Orienteering Federation which looks at formulating a Race Focus Plan - a written plan of action consisting of:

  • Warm up
  • Start
  • First 2 controls
  • middle of the course
  • Last 2 controls
  • Finish
  • Warm down
  • Refocus Plan
You can find the full presentation here:

You may or may not have noticed that in the analysis I did of my race at JWOC that it was broken up into nice neat sections. Being an engineer I have learned to think analytically so this systematic way of preparation works well for me. A lot of people do this sort of thing without realising, so if you dont think its for you then stick to what your used to and what suits watching "Two and a Half Men" the night before a big race....worked pretty well for Brent!

Friday, 19 June 2009

Adventure Racing Research

I was thinking the other day about the long term effects of Adventure Racing. We all know that Brent Edwards just hasn't been the same since he became an adventure racing specialist. He is much skinnier, less attractive to women and always has that parched look about him. So I decided to investigate.

Brent Edwards looking parched

I remember spectating at a Southern Traverse in 2003. There were a couple of teams that had been convinced by exercise physiologists at the University of Otago, one being well known adventure racer Jim Cotter, to undergo all sorts of traumatic experiences like fat tissue sampling. Really we're talking horrific needles when you have slept for 7 hours in the last 80. Your butt is so sore you can't sit down, your feet are so sore you can't stand up, you can't stay awake and someone is sticking a needle in you!

I investigated, and it appears this research is finally reaching its fruition, with Jim Cotter's team and students producing an array of papers. If you google around you can find references to these and the other research team producing adventure racing relevant research based out of the Astrid Lindgren Childrens Hospital in Stockholm Sweden. Imagine little Swedish kids running around the countryside for days on end and people sticking needles into them...well its not quite like that..

The paper that caught my eye was "The impact of 100 hours of exercise and sleep deprivation on cognitive function and physical capacities". I like it, it sounds like an advanced form of torture, you get to a transition, you can't keep your eyes open, there is a steaming mug of pumpkin soup waiting for you, and you have to do your decision making test first...

The test involved four blocks of 20 trials in which the participant responded by pressing the left or right arrow keys of a laptop computer. Each block became more complex. The initial two blocks measured response time to identify the word or colour of non-coloured words and coloured rectangles. The final two blocks required participants to differentiate between the „name of the word‟ and the colour that the word was displayed in, responding to the colour that the word was displayed in; thus creating a conflict between colour and word recognition. For example, if the word “GREEN” was presented in yellow, the correct response was “yellow”. If its confusing now whats it like when you are wet, cold, desperate and about to embark on a 100km bike ride? Then you have to do your vertical jumps...

Explosive power was measured using a vertical jump tester (Swift yardstick, Hart Sport, New Zealand). Participants performed three standing jumps, with counter movement, with the highest taken as their maximum vertical jump. The vertical jump tester was standardised to stand-and-reach height for each participant before their first jump...and yeah did I mention needles

In the end though, and with much more detail than what I have alluded to the paper puts forward 3 key findings:

1) Only complex decision making was impaired by the race, yet the impairment was attenuated while exercising at moderate intensity (50% PPO);
2) Physical capability was only modestly impacted (all means <20%), at least relative to the extent of decrease in pace which occurs in these races, and
3) Strength and strength endurance of upper and lower limbs were affected similarly despite being used disproportionately.

The first point interests me, is consistent with my personal experience and has I think wider relevance to all forms of navigation. The authors cite a hypothesis from a guy Dinges..."the more dependent the brain becomes on the local environment to maintain wakefulness the more vulnerable it becomes to environmental monotony. Motivation and incentive can contribute to, or override, this environmental effect, but for a limited time". They sort of agree with this but also suggest that a slight increase in exercise intensity can lead to better decision making (in the experiments they used stationary cycles at transitions!). If you are at a low level of arousal (my word) and you need to make a key decision, this research perhaps suggests increasing the intensity of your exercise in lieu of making the decision.

I wonder in this if we can see the difficulty that many of us have navigating while walking/travelling at a lower speed than what we are used to? Perhaps it emphasises the need for travelling at the right intensity to stay on top of the game navigationally?

I think it is important also to understand the other end of the spectrum, desperation. Ten years ago now the National Orienteering Squad was involved in a study testing the aerobic threshold against decision making. Unsurprisingly the results were quite clear, mistakes often came during the periods of the course where people had suffered extreme physical exertion; after a big hill, after a hard track run, while trying to keep up with another competitor. In Adventure Racing, while you will not often exceed your aerobic threshold, the pyschological factor of desperation is a comparable boundary. Teams travelling intensly need to be able to identify the moments when their intensity becomes negative and results in bad decisions.

I haven't really been able to do justice to these papers so if anyone is interested, let me know and I can forward you some information.

Oh and to answer my initial question. It appears from the papers that competitors lose 1cm of standing height after a race, and 8cm of vertical jump. By my calculations that makes Brent Edwards about 10cm shorter than before he started adventure racing and unable to jump. It is clear his presence on the dance floor would have diminished as he himself has and make him less attractive to the ladies.

Team Prepares for World Games

Around the country and the world the New Zealand team for the World Games in Taiwan is preparing in earnest. The team is Darren Ashmore (Rotorua), Tania Robinson (Auckland), Lizzie Ingham (Wellington) and Ross Morrison (currently Denmark). I caught up with Darren Ashmore yesterday, and the conversation below is more or less verbatim, with an emphasis on the less. The terrain looks great aye! very blue...

Hey Dazza, hows the World Games preparation going?

Good, real good, last week was challenging training in Singapore, I popped over to do a bit of acclimatisation to the humidity and the food...a good week of 40-50 minute runs in the heat, I'm trying to get a little bit faster which I think I am...

So whats the plan?

Well the races are on the 17-19th of July, sprint, middle, then a four person relay: girl, boy, girl, boy. We are heading over to Hong Kong first to do some training on some sprint maps, then over to Taiwan a couple of days beforehand

So what are you expecting in the way of terrain?

It sounds very similar to the sprint distance at the Japanese WOC, urban forest, they are saying 4min km winning times, so there must be a lot of track running.

And are the best orienteers in the world going to be there? How prestigious is the World Games?

Yeah absolutely, one or two have even come out saying that this event is even more important than WOC for them, in terms of their goals for this year. The World Games is only every four years and there is a lot more exposure than with the annual WOC. All the big names are going to be there Khramov, Hubbman, Georgiou, its going to be a great event.

photo credit the gormeister!

Thursday, 18 June 2009


The famous D-Squad has been announced for 2009/2010. Congratulations to you all. It looks like a squad with great depth and talent. Always awesome to see the next generation of elites coming through....they will be coached again by James Bradshaw.

Men: Gene Beveridge (North West), James Brigham-Watson (Wellington), Ryan Cambridge (Dunedin), Sam Eames (Hawkes Bay), Jourdan Harvey (Counties Manakau), Simon Jager (Auckland), Scott McDonald (Hawkes Bay), Duncan Morrison (Hawkes Bay), Matthew Ogden (North West), Andrew Peat (Counties Manakau), Thomas Reynolds (North West), Toby Scott (Auckland)

Women: Sara Bailey (Hawkes Bay), Claire Dinsdale (Wellington), Rachel Goodwin (Hawkes Bay), Jaime Goodwin (Hawkes Bay), Greta Knarston (Counties Manukau), Jula McMillan (Hutt Valley), Selena Metherell (Peninsula & Plains), Kate Morrison (Hawkes Bay), Erin Paterson (Taranaki), Nicola Peat (Counties Manakau), Laura Robertson (Hutt Valley), Imogene Scott (Auckland), Angela Simpson (Rotorua), Georgia Whitla (Peninsula & Plains)

Senior member of the D Squad Greta Knarston, now emerging from the bushes of Italy.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

JWOCers off and Chris at Jukola

Over on the JWOC Squad blog, it looks like they are off. Kia kaha to you all. Give it heaps have the time of your lives! If you scroll down a bit there's an interesting article by Andrew Peat on "overtraining". That little understood phenomenom. I hope Andrews next article will be, and he would have plenty of potential interview candidates on the NZ elite scene (including yours truly), "binge training and its physiological, psycholigcal and sociological effects". But that will no doubt have to wait until he returns.

Meanwhile Chris has been at Jukola, helping his club to a great 19th place. There is an account of the final showdown between Wingstedt, Georgiou and Hubmann here and Chris's results will be here when I find some.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Learning from the Ghosts of the Past

With some of our JWOC'ers heading over to Italy very soon I thought it might be worth listening to some of my lessons learned. Over the years many NZ juniors have headed overseas to JWOC embarking on an Orienteering initiation of sorts. I have heard many many stories of the epic courses, epic races, intense heat, hot girls etc etc...and in my one JWOC I experienced most of these including possibly my worst race ever. The JWOC Long 2005 in Southern Switzerland. Hopefully you wont go down the same track as I did after listening to what went wrong for me.

Here is what I wrote about the race a few months afterwards:

Thursday, the day of the long, I gave up the opportunity to have my ideal start time so I ended up in the last group, starting at 1:30pm in the heat of the day. For me the day never started well, I had a long wait most of which I had to do by myself. I got ready and had a run on the warm up map, I had trouble adjusting to the scale and when I got back was really nervous. The race started with the start triangle about 10 metres from the start line, which meant I never had anytime to sort the map out before having to orienteer. I made a small mistake on the first control then took off to the second and took a route choice option that had more climb but to me seemed the safest option. Anyway I got carried away when I cut off a bend in the road and didn’t come far enough down before contouring round and got myself way too far up hill to the left of the control. After some rock climbing and about 10 minutes of mucking around I found it. I just totally lost confidence from then on and continued to compound and dwell on my mistake. I just plain forgot how to orienteer. It was really hot and it was starting to take its toll on me and right near the end I even contemplated DNF-ing but I pushed on giving it every thing I had, even managing a respectable finish split. When I got there almost everyone had finished and was ready to go home, I was really wasted and just wanted to sit down in the shade and forget it all, the others in the team were all there eager to know what I did. I couldn’t really be bothered talking to them and got quite angry with myself. I think they realized this (after I biffed a shoe at a bank behind the tent and unintentionally almost took out Martin in the process!) and they all left me to catch the buses home; some of them had been waiting around in the heat for 4 hours or more. It was good as I had some time to reflect on what I had done, I checked my placing before I left, 128th not great but at least I finished which about 40 people failed to do.

Im not so sure now that 40 people DNF'ed maybe more like 20...but pretty much everything went wrong for me in this race. In saying that I learned more from this race than I think I ever did in the 5 or so previous years of orienteering prior.

Here is some analysis of how I set myself up for disaster:

  • 1st off I gave up my ideal start time out of courtesy to a more experienced orienteer in the team. I wanted the second middle block and ended up taking the first last block - Bad mistake already reinforcing to myself that I sucked and was not worthy of taking my ideal start time as his race was more important than mine.... I was never going to do well with that attitude.
  • Taking a later start meant that I had to wait for ages for my bus and my start. I got really bored waiting around cause I wasn't able to get away from the racing mind set. So when I got to the start area I felt lethargic as if I had already run my race....because I had over and over all morning in my head! Ideally I should have had a way of being able to switch off before hand.
  • When out doing the warm up map I under ran one or two controls (cause it was 1:15,000) and got it into my head that I sucked and wasn't up to doing well. I got overly intimidated by the warm up map....which was stupid because that's what the warm up map was for....getting into the map. So instead of being focused I was shitting myself.
  • The next fatal mistake was that I expected the start triangle to be a good 100m run or so, and my orienteering up until then relied on that time and distance to get into the map and sort it all out. That was bad planning on my part and it stuffed me up for at least the first 2 controls. I now have a way of dealing with a short start to start triangle distance.
  • After making these stupid nervous mistakes I proceeded to run with the attitude that this is hard, and I need to run fast to make it to the drinks control as in the program it mentioned drinks stations at 15mins, 30mins and 1 hour. So after 10mins of fluffing around I needed to get to my target time for hitting the drinks control. Another lesson learned, dont set target times for yourself as when you fail to make them, it just reinforces the negative thinking and too much negative thinking = sucky orienteering = you suck!
  • After reaching the Drinks at 30mins I was already feeling like a failure and was just pissed off with myself. Unable to leave these mistakes behind I just kept dragging them along with me and it really screwed me over for the rest of the race
  • Another mistake was running super hard through the spectator legs...I have to tell my self time and time again to calm down and not run these too hard, make sure you do take that drink and squezzy cause with out it I turn into a dead duck wobbling along.
  • The last two controls or so I managed to Man up...probably because I thought the suffering was nearly over...And even that was a bad attitude cause at the end of the day why on earth was I there if I wasnt having fun. Having fun is why I do orienteering in the first place....normal people dont travel half way across the world to suffer do they?
  • After finishing I let it get to me...and when you do that you are already starting to further reinforce the negative thinking for next time. Everyone has there own way of dealing with having a crap run and for me talking to others who are all happy and excited makes me feel even crapper. So I did do well in that respect as I stayed behind and left the others too it. It allowed me to reflect on what had gone wrong so I could fix it for next time. And I think it worked as in the relay 2 days later I had my greatest run to date.

Basically I set myself up to fail and looking back it was an incredibly easy thing to do. What I should have done was set myself up to run an Orienteering course, just like any other race. At the end of the day everyone who is at JWOC can navigate well (some more than others obviously), being mentally prepared is what sets the ones who do well from those who just completely wash out.

Poetry of a Desperate Runner

C'mon you know the feeling. Your training has been average to non-existent so you can't sleep properly. Thoughts and dreams related to your sport and hopefully many other things have been arcing through your head which feels mashed against the pillow. Suddenly you realise the rain isn't beating on the roof anymore and you can hear other noises, a lonely car, a possum sifting through the bush, your partner breathing, the waves collapsing on the rocky shore below, the rubbish truck choking. You need to go for a run. Whether it is 12 midnight or 5 in the morning you creak up, and scrummage with your set of draws for running gear. You get out and its dark, its just you, the streetlights and the Iranian embassy. They are always awake watching for the Israelis. You run like you do in the morning, like a fat man, an old man, past the embassy and more quickly down the steps to the waterfront, and the waves that woke you are so small, but the wind is keen on the small of your back. You balance along the rocky wall to the penguin colony, full of vegetation, empty of penguins. All good intentions, no substance, sort of like your training. You creep like a creep around the waterside apartments hoping no one has put a new chain up over this path and pause for a moment to watch another plane take off from the airport across the dark bay.

Of course your experience is unique but you have done this before plenty of times in all sorts of places, and so have others.James K Baxter, New Zealands most famous poet, wasn't known for his running. He was known for communes, drugs, vagrancy and verse. But he too knew the desperate peace and glory of a runner in the early hours...he shadows you now a whisp of dawn light cartwheeled by the wind...!

Getting Stoned on the Night Air

The long night fills the streets with fog
And the garages are windblown tombs

Under the leaves of the plane trees where I run
Lifting and dropping my arms like a bird

This mad night - so peaceful, so dark and so open,
That the sea might easily flow over the land

Or the hills crumble like sand into the river
Since the town is a bed where the young and old sleep

In the sweetness of being, - man I don't need any
LSD to open the gate in the head

That leads to a land where men are birds
And Tanemahuta plays games with his children

Neil Orange Peel and Karyn on the Kar

Another squad member AWOL in Europe, read Neil and Karyn's blog here. They seem to have attracted the attention of google moderators either because of the close-up picture of a horse or that picture of Karyn lazing on the car. Or alternatively Neil may just have mucked up his spelling somewhere along the line...

The question now is what, if any, orienteering the wild man from Waitomo will get under his belt while living on the Isle of any case I am looking forward to more of their unique perspectives on life...

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Jobs and Babies

Not sure about the Brynnster but some New Zealand squad members are making it work in Europe. Chris Forne has recently secured a post-doctoral position in Trondheim targetted specifically at preparing for WOC 2010. Rumour has it that unless you sleep in the kitchen him and Emily only have room on the floor for 15 kiwi orienteers at the same time.

Meanwhile Aaron and Sara continue to use the having babies excuse to minimise training hours. The latest addition to the family shares sister Karins (and her fathers) eyes, while having the lovely smile of her mother. (to the best of my knowledge the new addition currently goes by the name "girl", although it is unclear whether this will stick).

Ranking a Mention

From the Forssa Games website:

The participants will be from Australia, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Great-Britain, Austria, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Hungary, New Zealand, Russia and Estonia.

There are orienteers from New Zealand after a long absence; four in the class H21A. The most renowned name is be Chris Forne, whose position in the world ranking is 132.

There will be 179 runners in H21A, and 79 in D21A.

The other Kiwi's are Todd Oatts(Wellington), Greg Flynn(NorthWest), Keith Agmen(Nelson), the event takes place today (Thursday 11th June 2009)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Superhero sightings

After some solid searching I have managed to dig up some photographic (and video) evidence of the superhero Thor (aka Carsten Joergensen) cruising around the streets of Christchurch on an appropriately wet and cold day.

You can watch a news report here

And there is a couple of photo's with this news report. (Click on the photo down the side that says "zoom" at the bottom)

NOC Reports

Lots of great reports on the Nordic Championships on both World of O, and Ultimate Orienteering. I always enjoy reading Minna Kauppi's reports for her honesty and the excuse to put up another photo from the Chris Forne collection which has somehow ended up on my harddrive.

Thats sensai Carsten Jorgenson in the background, and actually while I'm at it, I'll show you this...which I found the other day while trying to find image evidence of Carstens super hero marathon (Carsten recently completed a marathon dressed as the Norse god Thor, but was beaten by Batmans side kick Robin...what a kick in the guts for Norse gods.

Carsten and Antonia Wood in the 90's, no not the 80's!

And back to NOC, you wouldn't want to see your mistake exposed like this!!. At least they don't reveal the names of Norway 3 and Finland 2's final leg runners. And maps you want maps, the World of O map page is so awesome!

Monday, 8 June 2009

"Right" not "Might"

My calf is still keeping me out of action, so at the orienteering event on Christchurch's Port Hills on Sunday I was in the role of photographer and observor.

Squad members Lara Prince, Matt Scott and Georgia Whitla plan their routes for Sundays score event. Scott is also known for being North American Champion and Whitla for reading upside down

It was interesting lurking around listening to people discussing navigation (as lots of beginners were out there in teams). One common word which got me thinking was "might".

"Those rocks might be those ones on the map there"

It is something we are all guilty of from time to time... mmm that clearing could be that one there, hopefully it will work out...but this is poor navigation, and as you progress through the grades it becomes less likely that the consequences that befall you will be acceptable. One of the key differences between a top junior and a top elite is consistency, and you get consistency not from doing what might be right, but doing what is right....

"Those rocks are those ones there, and I have a plan from here

When you find yourself thinking "maybe" or "might be" it should ring warning bells. Your granny on your shoulder (see previous posts for the creation of this image) should be flicking your ear.

"I don't want to know what it might be sonny...I want to know what it is!!

Sunday, 7 June 2009


I borrowed another map from Oystein Kvaal Osterbo and the World of O is full of reports about this race, one of the years big ones, the Nordic Open Championship. It looks like established stars Daniel Hubbman and Minna Kauppi came away with the wins. The New Zealand connections at this race were Todd Oates and Greg Flynn, Todd just beginning an extended orienteering summer, Greg getting in some racing before WOC which he will return to Europe for in August. These two are both big movers in the New Zealand elite scene (Greg ranked 19th, up 7, Todd 21st up 17) finally coming to grips with things after difficult transitions from the junior grades. Its going to be great to watch how they progress in the next few months...go hard youse fellas!!

And if you look at Osterbo's blog, the previous entry is details of a sprint in Trondheim where he raced head to head with Chris Forne (or maybe really Chris's head to his backside:-)). I guess this terrain is quite relevant in regards to next years WOC sprint as well.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Orienteering to AR...its just a different scale

One of the highlights of the recent Super Series finale was the presentation of National orienteering squad stalwart and World Adventure Racing Champion Brent Edwards to a packed hall of competitors in Wharepapa. Brent outlined the incredible success of his adventure racing team "Orion Health Adventure" from novices to World Champions.

Its a great story. After failing to finish the 2005 World Championships in New Zealand, the team finished 6th, then 3rd, then 1st in the next three editions; Sweden, Scotland and Brazil. They will defend their title this year in Portugal. Brent went over some of the key lessons they had learned (as if I would repeat them to this audience:-)), some of the difficulties they had faced and backed it up with some incredible video footage from the World Champs and other races they have completed like the famous Primal Quest. The best footage isn't available on the web, but I found a photo presentation below from the Scottish race.

Alongside the JWOC team heading off to the Dolomites it must have been a great inspiration for the young people present to see some of the places and challenges navigation sport can confront you with. And Brent isn't alone, at least five members of the National Squad have podiumed in either the World Championship or Primal Quest, with Chris Forne (arguably our best orienteer currently;-)) also a key member of the Nike adventure racing team. There is no limit on this earth to the places orienteering can lead you to.

Chris Forne in the process of winning Primal Quest

Brent was asked a few questions after the session, including some on the differences in navigation, "quite similar just a different scale and different stresses", but for any that are thinking about having a bit of a practice at the longer stuff check out this earlier posting I wrote on topo map navigation, or just get out there on the hills with a map in hand, nothing beats a few lessons through experience!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Making Decisions at the Right Time

The map above is the beginning of the elite mass start event held as the finale of the recent Queens Birthday event. The terrain is a plantation of pine trees on top of steep ridge and gully systems. The bogs were horendous. A track system remains principally from when the area was farmland in a previous generation.

In this blog one of the themes has been making navigation decisions at the right time. Staying ahead of the game. Attempting to orienteer like Georgiou. You know 100metres in the future or whatever. So I thought I would reflect on where on this course I was making key decisions, feedback welcome if you agree/disagree or have any other ideas or course went 1-7-8-9-6-12-13-14-10-3-4-5-15-16.

It is easier to read the map running or walking up hill. If you attempt to read the map on a sharp downhill it will affect your running speed and leave you vulnerable to making hasty decisions. Before the control 1 I had a good idea of the shape of the first loop. 7 was easy but the pack hesitated coming into 8, not knowing which way to turn. In retrospect the key moment here was the track crossing adjacent to the earth bank halfway along the leg. A few seconds here confirming our location and we would have attacked the control with a lot more confidence.

The next two loops followed a similar pattern investing time early, specifically when walking (it was that sort of terrain) up the hills and you reaped the rewards in preparedness for series of shorter downhill controls followed by route choice. There was plenty of planning time on the hill up to 11, and again immediately before 13. But you had to be two legs in advance because 14 was downhill and easy and there was time to be gained by optimising the route choice to 15.

Likewise the hill to 3 was followed by three quick downhill controls 4-5-15 and a crucial route choice to 16. The short controls would look after themselves with bearings so I used the hill to make my route choice decision (right). While I lost some time to the guys chasing me up the hill I am comfortable that it was time well invested.

I'm thinking when you are analysing your mistakes maybe don't look so much at where you went but when you made that mistake. Was there a moment you didn't master. A decision you didn't make at the right time? Or was there a part of the course during which you could have planned ahead more to give yourself a better chance? We had a quote up a few days ago which I quite liked "chance favours the prepared mind..."

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Finnish Productions: Queens Birthday Footage

Great video from the recent Queens Birthday races produced by Mick Finn. A who's who of New Zealand orienteering with Michael Smithson outsprinting Lara Prince to steal the show...

Landscape like Holistic View and Orienteering

The title of this video reminded me of the title of Borat..."Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan". Unfortunately the dialogue inside doesn't reach the outstanding heights of:

"My name-a Borat. I come from Kazakhstan. Can I say first, we support your war of terror! May we show our support to our boys in Iraq! May US and A kill every single terrorist! May your George Bush drink the blood of every single man, woman and child of Iraq! May you destroy their country so that for the next thousand years, not even a single lizard will survive in their desert!"

It does however point out that if you keep your eyes open and look around the broad landscape as you are orienteering you are more likely to do better than if you are staring at your feet. Quite rightly it reminds us that nature in detail is too chaotic to comprehend and we need to be aware of our lines of sight and simplify. It reminds me of an old orienteering saying with a cunning double meaning... "if you can't see squat"....

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Helsinki Snake Breeder back from the Dead.

Helsinki Snake Breeder, World record naked inline skate record holder, ex Australian and long time friend of New Zealand orienteering, David Brickhill Jones, more commonly known as BJ, is back from the dead with a 4th place in the Finnish sprint champs.

And while i'm on the Nopesport theme, they have some great new coaching stuff promised with the first installment a guide to setting up your training for the next season...

Riders of the Storm

Jamie asked me to do a bit of a write up of the Night Race at the Queen's Birthday event...I was a bit reluctant as I didn't want to come across as a bit of a skite, but after reading it through on Attackpoint I think its suitable to post! So here it is, this is my first hand account from the front end of the Night race. Also to make reading potentially easier you can find the map here .

Being part of the Southerly Storm, we felt that tonight we had to step up to uphold the honour of being masters of night navigation in New Zealand. There was a nice friendly Southerly blowing, it was raining solidly, really quite cold. Being later to the start than I would have liked I was all hyped up, well warmed up and all ready to race.

The start was right under a huge cliff and it seemed likely that there was going to be a split in the main pack at the gun. When we started, everyone paused for a moment figuring out the map and gradually making a decision where to go. Most people went to the right and I managed to get myself to the front of the pack with Brent leading. Second control I saw Brent go down the hill and thought he must have gone to a split, so I went to my control straight ahead and got it at the perfect height. it was about here I sunk into some serious mud and slowed up crawling my way up to the control, punching first, waking the control up, only to be engulfed by people coming into my exit direction from the control. I was all hyped and when Tane gets on a sports field he can some times turn into a psycho! So I barged the crowds out of my way, losing traction and falling all over the place, finally getting out of there!

3 was again a mud bath, and on the way to 4 I saw a field mouse scrambling up the bank as us mad orienteers passed by like some kind of lightning storm. Brent realised that 4 was a control (no. 8) from the middle race and let us all we had little trouble finding it again. By the time we had got to no. 5 the main pack had diminished considerably. 6 was a long leg, the sort of leg that Chris Forne would have gone straight thats what I intended on doing. After a bit of track running the pack had strung itself out, so I think it was Brent, Matt, Myself, Mark Lawson and Smithson out in front. I went up the hill at some point not really knowing exactly where I was which was quite silly. Brent went round the hill and after some fluffing about by myself and Matt we arrived at the control around the same time.

7 and 8 were straight forward. Nine I was a bit wayward and started to feel the stitch coming on (note to self: avoid apple juice before a race) by this stage I could sense someone else on our tails, Mark came into view and apparently Smithson was close behind. 10 Brent suggested going round which we were happy to do, while Sneeky Smithson went up the spur and round the top. We got there just before him and nailed the next few controls. At 12 I did a bit of a double back as I realised I couldnt get up a little cliff to get the control and confused Mark slightly I suspect. I punched and ran of with Matt and Brent. Mark punched the control (maybe?) then followed us off round the hill to the next control only to get halfway and question whether or not he had punched he went back and we never saw him again.

13 I took the lead, smashed it up the hill only to spot a light off to my left which I thought was Matt but it turned out it wasnt as he was right behind me. Further behind was Brent who now seemed to be struggling. I was first to 14 through some nasty blackberry, Matt got ahead of me at 15.

Then came the hill at 16. This was where the race started to heat up. The pack of three, Tane, Brent and Matt where back together again. We struggled up the hill, I punched first and took off fast around the hill cause I was in the lead. Matt was close behind, Brent dropped off the back and it was a two horse race.

I gained a very small lead on Matt out of the hill control, struggled through the worlds most difficult fence, Matt arriving just as I was through. Then it was a flat run. I knew Matt could out run me but the angry Tane came out to play again and I started to wind up the motor and flew across the paddock spotting the control a long way off. I knew I needed to be smooth with the punch and I was. There was a patch of mid green in front of me and the last control, I risked it all and went straight into the middle of it, got through no problem. I could sense Matt behind me, but not as close as before, still to close for comfort. I ran hard down the track to the last control, feeling a little apprehensive when the control didnt come up as soon as I would have liked but still with the gas peddle on...(like Andy J and the rock in the middle of the road we encountered on the way to the Aramiro race) Matt apparently hesitated a bit here, which saved me a bit from being sprinted off. After punching I sprinted hard, there was no way in the world Matt was going to get past me. I finished solidly as I like to do and excitedly went to download.

First Super Series Victory ever for me. I good one to win, Southerly Storm 1st, 2nd, 4th. Maintaining our Night Navigation dominance without Chris, Aaron or Carsten.

Thinking about Rock...

Thought I might gradually go through a few of my navigation lessons from the weekends events, which were among others things the final of New Zealand's Super Series for another year. The Super Series was dominated and won by Lizzie Ingham in the womens and Darren Ashmore in the men.

The first race of the weekend was on rolling farmland punctuated by outcrops of ignimbrite rock. Making for some fast running and some detailed technical navigation. The first six controls are on the map excerpt below...

No 1: My map is orientated, I am at the start triangle, jumping a fence (not marked on the map of course) and contouring down to the cliff. The obvious attackpoint is the white triangle of vegetation directly below the cliff.

No 2: When navigating in rocky areas the most important map features are the brown ones, the contours. I was stoked to see the control description for what looked like a potentially detailed circle read "gully". Attack from above and its easy.

No 3: The terrain was looking too fast to veer off to the track, and again reading the contours I could see the control was on the rock outcrops on a spur. Coming in slightly from the right, no worries.

No 4: Quick decision to the left, it looks faster on the ground. Make sure to go back up after the first patch of green.

No 5: Same as above but a water tank to give the control away. Sometimes people stop reading things like water tanks/tracks/fences etc. Your only goal is to get the control the fastest and safest way possible.

No 6: Bearing, track, second line of rocks (rocks often sit in lines or clusters that you can simplify to aid navigation)....and off on a longer leg...

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

NZ Route Gadget

Lets get behind this initiative! After lots of campaigning we have a second chance to make route gadget in NZ work! Its a great tool for race analysis and making the most of the electronic technology we have invested so much in. It is a tool that has been established in other orienteering countries for a long time and that we have missed a trick by not having...however the benefits to you are reliant on you and your peers getting in there and drawing your routes. Make time to make it happen. NZ Route Gadget is here

Ross wins again

Ross is proving himself the equal of any sprint orienteer in Europe, most recently defeating Klaus Boch in a two sprint show down as part of a Danish National Series. Check out the report here, and the second race map below.

Ross's writing upholds a long Kiwi tradition of laconic understatement. Not taking ourselves too seriously is one our strengths (as well as one of our weaknesses). I especially enjoyed this quote...."It would've been a good route choice if I was a midget (I mean a real midget)."

What was the best thing about Queens Birthday Weekend?

Today a majority of the New Zealand O Squad Blog readers return to their little hobbit holes in various parts of our fair land having braced the perils of the South Waikato. It was another extremely succesful long weekend of orienteering that saw the generational revolution of orienteering in this country tilt further on its axis. Young is now dominant (although in the guys the old elites keep winnning;-)) and the schools competition was a huge success.

At 29, this author is feeling a bit past it (he finds himself increasingly hanging out with the gray haired and bald bastards) so in the next couple of months the O Squad Blog will introduce a couple of younger more "with it" authors. (in the junior grades and like writing about orienteering get in touch!). But in the meantime though and before we get some maps scanned to discuss some of the great navigational challenges of the weekend....we are keen to get your thoughts...

What was the best thing about Queens Birthday weekend 2009?