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Monday, 23 December 2013


It always motivates me seeing the Auckland Orienteering Training Cult goings on through Facebook.

WOC Selection Nomination and JWOC Trials Announced

This has been at the back of my mind, but I missed it. Nominations for NZ WOC Selection were due on the 20th of December. Quite why this is the case when the trials aren't until Nationals I'm not quite sure. Seems unnecessary. If you have missed the date, and WOC 2014 is even a remote possibility for you get in touch with the selectors ASAP.

I have heard through the grapevine that the JWOC selection trials are going to be at a renewed TONIC (North Island Champs) to be hosted by North West at Riverhead Forest in late march. That will be an event to remember.

Junior Camp 2014

Matt Ogden reports on the Junior Camp held recently in the orienteering paradise of Central Otago. It is not every day that you get to be coached by someone who has been there and done that. ...

"The Junior Camp was a huge success this year, in my opinion surpassing the camps that I have been involved with in previous years. This was largely due to the location, coaching team and organisation of the camp. The camp was based in Cromwell, which provided good access to a variety of maps and terrain. The first day we trained on Earnslceugh, where nationals long distance was held in 2010. This was a perfect map to open the camp with, as it facilitated coaching of the basic and most fundamental techniques. Nick and I prepared a 4-quadrant training, which emphasised a different technique in each quadrant. From rock only to corridor, the needs of every athlete were met.

The second day took us to two brand new maps, made by Fraser Mills. I dont think there has been a training camp in NZ where we have run on 3 brand new maps (on our first day we did a short exercise around Queenstown Gardens). The morning training was held at Hikuwai, just out of Wanaka, and is a map I am now calling the best non-urban sprint map in NZ. It was a truly inspiring map, stimulating those feelings that every orienteer lives for. New crazy terrain, with good runnability, mapped amazingly. The afternoon we had sprint camp champs on the local Wanaka schools maps. The race had full quarantine for all athletes and sport ident. The fastest times were run by Devon Beckman and Kayla Fairbairn.

The third day we had our longest drive out to the iconic map of Naseby (of Shamus, as it became well known as). The map has a little bit to be desired, but the terrain is absolutely fantastic. We focused on route choice and speed control in a longer session in the morning and finished off with the flying Shamile, in which the finish control was in the lake. 

The final day was the official Camp Champs. Nick Hann and I ran the course at night, 9 hrs before the first starter of the race. We had decided to use Bannockburn for the champs, as it was probably the most special and unique terrain of all the maps we had access to. This year (like in 2011 Junior Camp) we simulated a JWOC race, with full quarantine, warm up maps and a bulletin for the race the night before. Overall the camp champs were a fabulous showcase of top level racing, and the kids did not fail to deliver on their part either, running some extremely fast times. The champions at the end were Nick Smith and Kayla Faribairn; Nick only 10 seconds behind Tim Robertson who ran the course at the end (not quite at full speed, but enough to glorify the emerging talent that is Nick Smith). 

My role during the camp was head coach; I wanted to take a step back this year and try pave the way for future years by getting some of the younger guys to do the coaching. We divided the group of kids into 5 different sub-groups or countries (Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland and Denmark) and assigned two coaches to each group. We were extremely fortunate to have the coaches that we did. Each coach brought their own style of coaching which was imperative in creating a dynamic team of coaches, needed for the varying levels of the kids at the camp. The coaches were; Jean Cory-Wright, Lauren Turner, Rebecca Batin, Fraser Mills, Selena Metherell, Shamus Morrison, Tim and Laura Robertson and Nick 'Boss' Hann. 

I was really impressed with the team culture that developed over the week. One of the highlights for me was seeing all 60 kids sitting down together at dinner; everyone engaged in some conversation about the days activities. Everyone was part of the team and I think a lot of new friendships have been formed.  

This year we tried a number of innovations in terms of the coaching which I will fully support and advocate for future years. The first was a buddy system that we had between the various sub groups. The more experienced ('D-squaders or Seniors') were paired with the less experienced and after every training we got them talking together about the days training. This was a way of getting the kids to coach each other, which I think is a necessary activity in orienteering. The more discussion and communication between everyone, ultimately the better we can become. The second innovation was coaching of the coaches; Jean Cory-Wright offered to do a session with the coaches one night which helped us to improve the way we coached the kids. This was a massive learning experience, which not only brought the team of coaches closer together but also improved the way we offered advice to the kids. I wanted to have the more experienced kids as part of this 'coaching the coaches' session, so most of the D-squaders and Seniors (team Norway) took part. These guys will be the future coaches of the Junior Camp so I felt that it was necessary to get them thinking about coaching.

Overall, the camp was a hugely motivating and inspiring week. I think a lot was gained, not just in terms of the orienteering, but friendship, learning and awareness of what needs to be done in the future at school level. A huge thanks to Brian Buschl who organised the camp. I had not met him prior to the camp, but a week with him has put him up with the likes of Rob Garden, as one of those older guys in Orienteering who truly inspire me. Also thanks to the parents who helped out; they too were extremely supportive and encouraging, making for a relaxed atmosphere. Fraser and I are preparing a camp report, which will be made available, so that you can read about all the awesome things that we did at camp."

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Some maps

It has been great seeing the action on facebook, and talking to a few people who have been down at the NZOF camps over the last couple of weeks, what a fantastic opportunity for our up and coming stars to train with the likes of Matt Ogden and Nick Hann. Kudos to all who helped out and made these opportunities happen. Over the next few years we really need more keen parents and people who like working with young people to step up to the mark, this is a really big talented generation of young orienteers that we can help along the way.

Both the Craigeburn and Central Otago have some really magnificent areas with complex detail. Maps like Kura Tawhiti, Acheron, Bannockburn  and Naseby. Another highlight was running on new maps made by Fraser Mills in Wanaka. Wanaka schools is a good quality sprint maps, and Hikuwai on the banks of the Clutha near Albert Town is a maze of Manuka. Both areas have huge potential to be extended over time.

I will be after some contributions from some of gang that were there...

Friday, 13 December 2013

High Performance Camp

It has been good relaxing in Wellington this week knowing that down in the South Island high country a whole galaxy of talented kiwi orienteers have been training their butts off at the High Performance Camp. I hope to cajole someone into writing about it down the track, but I can't resist stealing some photos from Renee Beveridge's facebook page, and I'm sorry there are no sexy photos of Gene.

Timmy nominated for Halbergs

Good on NZOF for nominating Tim Robertson as an emerging talent for the Halberg Awards.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Kura Tawhiti

Orientation magnifique!

Some times Nick Hann seems to inhabit a different plane than the rest of us

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

World Cups and Oceania 2015

Book your leave can't miss this.

Here is the program

There is a small group of kiwis attending the Australian training camp in Tasmania this summer (thanks big brother). And I must confess to a little holiday happening there in a couple of weeks for Penny Kane and myself. It wasn't supposed to be an orienteering holiday, but I am lining up half a dozen little opportunities.

Here is a locations map the organisers have put out, Get on Google Earth, suss these places out and fire yourself up.

It would be wrong to miss out on Tasmania 2015

Plenty of New Squads in Aussie

Interesting reading from over the squad and coaching structures on the way. Worth thinking about in our context of a long term defunct National Squad (sorry to inform you young people). A D-Squad which has drifted a little but will hopefully fire up again with the camp this summer and a terrific array of talent coming through.

I have for a long time thought, that with the resources we have support needs to be focused on people (or groups of people) rather than squads. The standout group currently are our JWOC men, with perhaps another one on the horizon in a couple of years with our JWOC women. How can we encourage and improve their performances? (It is a given that they provide most of the talent and drive themselves).

Elite News Nov 2013- New OA HP Squad Sructure

Monday, 11 November 2013
Orienteering Australia has endorsed a new squad structure to operate from 2014.
 The aim of the new Talent Development Squad Structure is to support a diversity of athlete progressions into and along the High Performance pathway.
At the national level of the Talent Development Structure there will be a High Performance Squad (HPS).This will include committed, talented senior(+21) and junior (17-20) athletes. The consolidation of the senior and junior HP Squads aims to assist the smooth transition from junior to senior elite competition. From this squad will be chosen  a smaller Elite HP Squad who have achieved the benchmark of WOC representation.
Below the HPS will be a National Development Squad (NDS) which will comprise athletes aiming to achieve benchmark performances at Oceania Championships, Easter, Aus Champs and NOL events to be eligible for the HPS. There will also be at this level  a Australian Junior Development Squad (AJDS) comprising juniors who are progressing from the Australian Schools competition and who will be aiming for benchmark performances at NOL, Easter and Australian Champs events.
The base of the HP program will be a Targeted Talented Athlete Squad (TTA) to enable a smooth transition into the HP program for both senior and junior athletes. Assimilation into the program will happen through invitation to camps and activities appropriate to the age of the Targeted Talented Athlete.
This squad structure will be supported by coaching support  that will comprise a National Head Coach, a Talent Development Coach, National Development Coaches and High Performance Squad Coaches (WOC and JWOC coaches).
Squad  membership will be determined by eligibility based on benchmark performances. The number of athletes who reach the benchmark performances will determine the number of athletes in each squad. The actual benchmark performances for different age groups and talent stages can be found in the FTEM framework section of the HP Strategic Plan. This will be discussed at the OA Annual Conference in late November and will be featured in articles in the OA magazine in December and March. It will be made available also on the OA website. 
The squad memberships for 2014 will be announced by the end of November. This will be based on the information provided by the athletes who have completed the application form ( see earlier article on OA website).

Canterbury Champs 2013

Just back from the Canterbury Champs 2013. A good hit out on great maps. Two of the maps from this years Nationals, Tuhaitara and Kura Tawhiti, re-emerged and were accompanied by an old favourite, the legendary Acheron, which hasn't changed too much since its first use in 1997.

An expected highlight for me for these events was the likely competition between Nick Hann and Chris Forne...I wasn't let down. Hann blitzed an unusually clumsy Forne on the sand dunes, then confidently backed this up on the rocks before finally succumbing in the forest. Given that Hann was an Acheron virgin though you still have to respect his effort...and the two of them left the rest of us for dead repeatedly. With Forne missing the Super Series final at Rotoiti  because of the Adventure Racing World Championships in Costa Rica, we will have to wait until perhaps Sprint the Bay or the Riverhead 3 day in March to see the rivalry resume.

In the womes elite it was all Georgia Whitla. Laura Robertson and Lara Prince ran her close at times, but Georgia was running strongly and seemed very in control. In the junior grades there were some good one off performances from Matt Goodall, Lauren Holmes, Lauren Turner, Ed Cory-Wright and Alistair Richardson. Alistair proved in the final of the sprint that it is possible to sprint and grab with shin splints.

Here is a snippet from the mens middle distance. The first six were all super easy, but then you were hit with 7. How to do this safely? Myself and Nick Hann both reluctantly went left to use 15 as an attack point, but the quickest split was straight. What would you use to navigate through here? And likewise with the long leg 16...

Here is the complete map for your perusal:

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Rock On

I'm getting that great feeling one gets when there is a minter orienteering event coming up in the weekend. Canterbury Champs will be memorable this year with a terrific line up of maps and some good competition. I am particularly looking forward to the battle between Chris Forne and the young guns. Nick Hann and Tim Robertson will be out to take the Fornicator down. It will be difficult, paint Forne blue and you could put him straight onto Pandora as one of the Na'vi - no need for a fancy avatar. He was born with the heart of a hippopotamus and the giggle of a giraffe.

The middle race will be another new format... a chasing start sprint event on the rocks of Kura Tawhiti. The ancient, sacred site of the Waitaha, the home of rock climbers and the often contemplated scenic vista in the Castle Hill Basin. In this place of zen, mastery of subconscious focus will be needed to navigate the fine line between caution and haste in a pressurised environment. The demons are inside, outside and around the corner.

Expect Course Planners Matt Scott and Lara Prince to err on the technical side. It would be rude not to. Watch for the pink lines that symbolise passages (read caves), and the gray areas of the map...this is generally not flat bare rock, rather rock you can run up onto. Black lines on one side mean that you can't get up that way...

Sprint rules in theory apply, which means that you shouldn't cross unpassable symbols, at Nationals though this rule was not enforced, so I say just go for it if you can, every second counts.

Wellington Champs Video

A mint little production initiated by Duncan Morrison and edited by Devon Beckman. Spot the old guy amongst the kids. Definite highlight is Matt Ogden in slowmo.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

NZ MTBO Champs

The NZ MTBO Champs was held over the weekend in Nelson on the Codgers Mountain Bike Park. The champions were Patrick Higgins and Marquita Gelderman, with Chris Forne blowing a big lead by missing a control at the end of the course.

Here is the Course 2 Map. Some goood route choice, though hard to calculate from a distance without a good gauge for the speed and steepness of the tracks.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013


A little map geeking ahead of next years Nationals middle distance race...courtesy of Nick Hann

Saturday, 2 November 2013

A Tough Middle Distance at Ruamahunga

And here is the elite womens middle distance from Wellington Champs. Sometimes you need to be able to follow a compass bearing mercilessly in rugged terrain...this was one of those times. Control 4 caused a lot of difficulties, how would you do it, how long do you think it would take from the open farmland through to the control? Try to visualise a few of these legs and look carefully at the control descriptions and the position of the control relative to other features in the circle.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Sprint Orienteering Lessons

Check out the sprint final map from last weekends knock out sprint at Rathkeale College.

There were six in each final, thats two doing each loop, with each athlete doing the loops in different orders. It is an interesting format. If you are lucky you have a slightly longer loop first and and on the second loop you can get towed through by someone just ahead. On this course there was one much longer loop (7-13), to break things up a little.

There was a 100m run to the start triangle and another 100m to the first control. Whats the strategy... You've got to get there first without going lactic. Stuff gentlemanly conduct, if you punch in 6th you are already 5 seconds down, especially when dicks like Duncan Morrison flick the control in your face.

So what had I read before the first pivot? Well I knew I was heading to the right hand loop (staying on the edge of the buildings in the open field. I knew no 2 and 3 looked easy and there was a possible route choice to 4. On the way to 2 I decided to go right on 4...(5 seconds down close to my biggest mistake on the course). Heading to 4 I got rough exit directions to continue the flow through 5 and 6. With 5 I wasn't sure whether it was inside or outside corner (9 times out of ten it is inside), so I relied on getting a visual of the control on the edge of the circle, and thats the first loop done really...

Second pivot and I had my exit direction sorted, turning hard back the way I had come, but half way to 7 I lost my location on the map and had to hesitate to get contact back, several seconds and Duncan Morrison an opportunity to get in touch. I also hesitated in the circle at 7, the confusion mid leg perhap eating the moment I  would normally have spent on fine navigation. Fast to 8 and 9, but the control at 9 is slightly hidden, up a level from where I was expecting. I can again hear Duncans heavy breathing. 10 could have been difficult because the terrain wasn't quite as expected, it was the caretakers yard, so a lot of stuff everywhere, 11 and 12 were easy (though perhaps there might have been a straight bush option on 12) and then it was onto the last loop.

Third pivot and exit direction was easy. The girls had run before us so the basic shape of the course was known. 15 was easy, 16 I did well but there was someone on my shoulder. Dammit its Nick and he's trying to pass on 17. I went straight and fast but he slid in infront of me, the top two splits on the leg, but we had both pushed perhaps a little too hard and 18 wasn't optimal we went right of the building beside the tennis court, rather than the straightest route.

Final pivot and Shamus was just ahead of us, and Nick punched just ahead of me. And that was the order it stayed (with Matt clearly in front for first). A few interval sessions up my sleeve and I could have made it time.

Two lessons stick out to me from the race.

1. The amount of time (and navigational opportunity) I lost when I lost contact with the map on the way to number 7
2. The mistake that Nick and I both made after pushing just that little harder on 17. Orienteering, like biathlon requires careful management of your aerobic threshold, and you always must be conscious of the risk of mistakes after extra exertion, even within a 5-10 second window like this...

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Read it and weep

Thinking about investing (spending) money on a garmin. I don't think there is another training tool out there and will give you the same ability to analyse your navigation and grow confidence in your compass work

See this training session that Matt, Nick, Laura and I did today at Osgiliath. With Matt and Nick's tracks imposed. Thanks Matt for the courses and art work...

Wellington Champs Review

I'll post some maps if I get a chance tomorrow, specifically to have a look at a few different legs, but firstly a great weekend of orienteering with a great variety of terrain and courses.

It was good for a change to have a solid farmland classic, with enough detail to keep you interested. Unfortunately the splits on winsplits are incorrect, so don't go drawing too many conclusions. Nick Hann was streets ahead in the mens elite, he seems the complete package at the moment, while Lizzie Ingham was chased harder by both Laura Robertson and Penny Kane in the womens.In the Junior elite womens rising star Kayla Fairbairn was trailed home by locals Lauren Turner and Lara Molloy, while Callum Herries finally managed to hold it together for a whole race to win convincingly.

The highlight of the event for the elite fields at least, was definitely the knock out sprint held on Sunday. Eketahuna was more of a prologue, one for the cameras but it still accounted for Herries and Tane Cambridge as only the top 12 qualified for the final (with the elite and junior elite fields combined). Rathkeale College was the venue for the real deal and it proved more than adequate. Detailed buildings surrounded by nice forested grounds gave just enough challenge at speed.

The format was two semifinals of 6 in each gender, with the top two in each going through to the final along with the two fastest losers. In the womens first semi-final Lizzie Ingham disappeared off the radar early and required a great comeback to recover lost time and outsprint Kayla Fairbairn for the win. Penny Kane finished third and had an anxious wait to see if she would go through as one of the fastest losers. She just made it. It was Laura Robertson, Georgia Whitla and Piret Klade coming through in the second heat, and Lauren Turner just failed to upset Kane by 10 seconds. In the men the first heat had the most depth and the six were only separated by 30 seconds. Surprisingly though it was Jamie Stewart, Shamus Morrison and Devon Beckman who qualifed with Tim Robertson the one left crossing his no avail though...Duncan Morrison spoiled our top sprinters party finishing a strong 3rd in the second heat to Matt Ogden and Nick Hann to knock Robertson out.

The final was perhaps slightly less dramatic, but only because of the dominance of two athletes. Matt Ogden and Laura Robertson clearing out. In the latter case it was definitelty an example of the apprentice overcoming the master. Robertson's rival and coach Lizzie Ingham watching her glide into the distance.

After the sprint , the middle distance back on Hacione on the banks of the Ruamahunga River, had a lot to live up to and it damn well did. Tight, intricate and accurate courses with a variety of leg lengths and direction changes. Good, solid orienteering challenge, and back into Hann territory. Too easy for the lanky one after the maestro Matt Ogden made early errors. Lizzie Ingham wasn't expecting Sarah Gray to be her closest challenger...but she was, a morale boosting result for the DSquad Coach. In the junior women two different contenders came to the fore, Sonia Hollands and Rebecca Gray, dominating proceedings and demonstrating their technical proficiency. It could have been Gray's day, but a lonely and late mistake let Hollands through.While in the junior men Callum Herries tore it up, with some of his competition running elites, and Beckman still learning his craft in terrain, it was Herries to win and he had no mercy. Looking forward to Sprint the Bay and the competition for JWOC spaces next year keep an eye on these two guys from the Hawkes Bay.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Halcyon Days

For Jim Barr...landowner, controller, orienteer.

Not from successful love alone,
Nor wealth, nor honor'd middle age, nor victories of politics or war;
But as life wanes, and all the turbulent passions calm,
As gorgeous, vapory, silent hues cover the evening sky,
As softness, fulness, rest, suffuse the frame, like freshier, balmier air,
As the days take on a mellower light, and the control flag at last hangs
really finish'd and indolent-ripe on the stand,
Then for the teeming quietest, happiest days of all!
The brooding and blissful halcyon days!

(Walt Whitman)

What to expect tomorrow in the Halcione fields

Thursday, 24 October 2013


Mattias Ogden set a course on Halcione and put it on would you deal with each control...

And yes the length of the course as advertised is a worry, particularly with the form of Matt Ogden and Nick Hann. If the organisers are comparing the k-rate to the 2000 Nationals of Darren Ashmore and Jamie Stewart they are operating off some flawed assumptions!

Auckland Champs - Some Thoughts

(update: check the new link to Tane Cambridge DOMA for some Auckland Champs maps).

I really meant to convince Chris or Matt to share some of their technical wisdom with us, on this one. It is hard to offer anything of substance when you have been completely owned by a terrain. But here are a few lessons/thoughts. I have excluded my ponderings on how to switch between childcare and racing pyschology in the blink of an eye.

1. If you buy a new compass practice with it before you use it in a race, or at least check that it is designed for the right hemisphere. Penny Kane and I bought new compasses immediately before the Auckland Champs and both were MN.

2. It is fine to know that you should be running straight on a compass, it is hard to do without practice. What do the best athletes do to make sure they are able to do this: a) years of practice b) use of a garmin gps system to review performance c) use of exercises like corridor or night orienteering to build compass skills in an environment more difficult than a typical race situation.

3. Relating map to terrain, and particularly terrain to map is a skill which requires continued practice ahead of a big event. Particularly for forest orienteering. In sprint orienteering this is a much more black and white skill.

4. Start smart not slow. Several times in big races I have deliberately started slow, but slowly getting lost is no better than quickly getting lost. The start is about getting into the map. Making connections with the terrain. Sticking on your compass. Starting a race how you mean to continue.

Anyone, care to comment about how they approached  Control 16 below...I went right around the tracks which was a complete cop out (and I knew it). Is any variation from the line justified? Should one be in touch with the map the entire way, or more carefully relocate when crossing tracks...

Part of the mens elite long distance course

Wellington Champs Accomodation

Wellington Champs Accomodation information at the Tararua Country Retreat.

The website is here.

There are still a few beds available if anyone is looking for last minute accomodation. And campers welcome.

The location is here:

The kitchen is fully equipped with cutlery, crockery, etc. Pillows provided but not sheets.

The accomodation is available on Friday night. There are a few of the crew from Wellington orienteering club heading up then.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Auckland Champs Review

Georgia Whitla won the Auckland Champs middle distance last Saturday, but it would have been a hollow victory. The joy of orienteering comes from performance not results, and dropping 7 1/2 minutes to win an elite middle distance is not the performance to tickle a self-respecting elites fancy. She was hardly the only one plunging the depths of Woodhill forest though last weekend.

Auckland Orienteering Club put on three events over the two day weekend, with the Woodhill Middle followed by a Sprint at Farm Cove on the Saturday and a long distance at Woodhill on the Sunday. Everything was much as you expect, and much like many of us have experienced many times. The organisation was friendly and efficient. The maps were good (except the "maze" area which should not be used for serious orienteering), the courses were good (except the sprint distance which needed to use the detail more and provide spectator appeal) and the weather was pleasant. Entirely unremarkable and prodigiously unmemorable. I'm struggling for images and words to bring up in my head to describe.

The Auckland clubs are at risk of losing access to parts, if not all, of Woodhill forest. This is an opportunity, not a calamity. Give us some new experiences please, you live in a beautiful part of the country.

One athlete that is always remarkable though is the irrepressible Chris Forne. How a man who has barely run since his injury in the World Games can complete with the race sharpened Nick Hann and the maestro Matt Ogden on his own terrain is beyond me, but he did winning the middle before losing only in a very close and high level race to Ogden in the long. These three were a long way ahead of the other elites in their split times, brutal navigational efficiency and speed through the terrain. Tane Cambridge and Tim Robertson held on to their boot straps but the others were left eating their dust.

The stand out result in the womens grade was Laura Robertson win in the long distance. One early mistake, but otherwise very consistent, and well clear of Greta Knarston and Penny Kane.

In the junior elite men it was good to see Matt Goodall register a couple of wins in the forest, and Tommy Hayes take out the sprint. Devon Beckman was close every time and Callum Herries was leading both the sprint and long for significant periods before just not finishing it off. The junior elite women was dominated again by Alice Tilley, who has been proving hard to beat recently. Kayla Fairbairn was the next most consistent but only made second in the sprint with Sonia Hollands and Rebecca Gray having a good run each. Lauren Holmes wasn't far off the pace either, just looking for the next level of improvement to get her right up with the others. Good racing.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Auckland Champs Review

There will be an Auckland Champs review on the OSquad Blog, just excuse me while I gather my thoughts. Often orienteering is a good friend, but it still hurts when a good friend kicks you in the guts. I need a bit of time to absorb the splattering that my personal orienteering technique received, and hopefully will catch up with someone that managed to deal with some of the technical challenges.

The results are up on winsplits, here

Will update this post when someone chucks some maps up.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A Quick Exercise

I will hopefully do a final preview of the Auckland Champs once start lists are out, but we are on the road to Auckland as of early this morning, so it may be difficult. Here is a technical exercise for you though.

Get a piece of map - like this one snipped from the long terrain for this weekend:

Complicated right? Now pick a point, perhaps say the high point just north of the centre of the map. Imagine this hill in the terrain forget about the point knolls and depression, just the hill and the ridges going off in three directions. Smooth out the contours of the ridges, iron them like the crinkles in your shirt. Feel the re-entrants coming up between these ridges, put your hand out and carve their shapes in the air in front of you, don't worry about the slight undulations in their bottoms. Rotate your computer slightly to the left and peer up that eastern re-entrant that curves up from the track struggling over a broad saddle and then ploughs down the reentrant on the other side forgetting the U, the form line, and even the tagged depression. Put both hands out this time, tilt the screen back and starting with your hands together at the saddle push each hand out down the edge of the valley feeling its firm shape. Keep your thumbs in, and use them when you feel able to brush the detail on the valley floor. Flow the fingers out feeling the terrain, as the valley fades away and you hit the track.

You've got to be in the right mood.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Two Horse Race

Some interesting results coming through from the weekend, especially from Whangarei where Nick Hann and Matt Ogden had a butting of heads in the Akld double OY....and one former junior world champion came away with a very bruised head...

It was an America's Cup like duel. Two boats very much ahead (though no discredit to their competition), and like the America's Cup the individual races seemed to settle into a pattern, which in this case was Hann 1st, Ogden 2nd.  On this weekend Hann just seemed to have the edge. In the second race Ogden came out firing early, perhaps unsettled by the competition, but couldn't hold it together and the pattern reasserted itself for a similar result. With Ogden missing for the Auckland Champs this weekend sprint excepted) the question is whether the likes of Chris Forne, Tim Robertson or Tane Cambridge can rival Hann...given the terrain it seems unlikely.

Meanwhile further south, Hawkes Bay held an OY at Ranui Farm, and visiting Wellingtonian Shamus Morrison strolled to victory, after Duncan Morrison ran out of steam and Callum Herries was abducted by aliens.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Orienteering on Woodhill (a rough "how to")

The attention of the NZ orienteering world now switches to the 2013 Super Series and first up the Auckland Champs this weekend. to be held on Woodhill and somewhere "out east" for the sprint distance.

Here is a chunk of the embargoed middle distance map (I wish Wellington Orienteering Club would adopt the Auckland Orienteering Club policy of embargoing an area for two weeks before a competition).

This is typical Woodhill terrain: detailed coastal sand dunes, with a narrow open coastal strip backed by a denser pine trees with some vegetation detail, one or two soft windy motorbike tracks before Coast Rd itself. On the eastern side of coast road there are broad dune landscapes with a consistent amount of detail. The organisers have not stated how old the trees are in this block currently, so runnability and especially visibility will be determined on the day but here are some basic rules for Woodhill navigation.

Rule 1: Straight is great

There is seldom a good reason for varying far from the straight line in Woodhill (long legs in the thick dunes paralleling the coast may be a small exception). Look at the following map from Matt Ogdens DOMA

Every time you take a weak option, looking for a short cut that doesn't exist, or contouring around a hill you have to climb anyway, you are running further, and probably slower, than your opponent keeping tight to the line. Matt Ogden, and the likes of Toby Scott and Gene Beveridge, are the heirs apparent to the former masters of Woodhill, Alistair Landels and Darren Ashmore who first realised going straight was a good first golden rule for orienteering on Woodhill.

Rule 2: Exit is Everything

On Woodhill you must exit efficiently from each control on a bearing directly to the next control. Rough enough is not good enough. Here is a system:

- control spotted (or detail read so you know exactly where it is in the terrain)
- orientate your map
- check rough exit direction
- punch control
- take 3 steps in rough exit direction
- confirm direction and orientation with compass
- run straight

If you exit each control correctly Woodhill is now your oyster. The  detail that seemed murky to you before will roll out in front of you along the red line in crystal clear 3D. Starting on the right line is the equivalent of engaging auto-focus on your camera.

Rule 3: Leave the Line Deliberately

When you do need to vary from the straight line is when doing so will minimise your risk of a navigational error. The variation needs to be deliberate and planned. Consider the following snippet of map, again from Matt's DOMA

No 7. No variation from line. Tricky control but no detail left or right of the control to bounce off. Note double contoured knoll 220metres out that Matt ran straight over (200metres between the grid lines on a 1:10,000 map). The only handrail from there is your compass. Read the two depressions, run up the vague spur to the re-entrant just before the top.

No 10. Variation left through saddle to attack control from top of prominent re-entrant. Note how Matt slowed down in the re-entrant after the saddle to ensure he executed the final part of the leg properly.

No 13.High speed leg with two prominent stepping stones before Coast Rd, the big hill and the clearing, note how Matt skirts both. Attacking 13 Matt veers left to use the large open hill on his left to steer him into the control down the re-entrant.

......So get your exit direction right, and be deliberate about leaving the safety of the straight line. A small recipe for success on Woodhill...

Contributions Welcome

Hey all, there has been a bit of a break for the OSquad Blog over the last week or so after the enjoyment of following the Australian carnival from a distance day after rainy day (the break also coincided with some changed sleep patterns of one Mae Stewart). A fantastic post by Lizzie kept things going though and I hope a few people have taken up the offer of a Tasmanian training camp in January. Going forward to Oceania 2015 (amongst other worthy goals) we need to keep making the most of these training opportunities.

Lizzie also mentioned the fantasticness of contributing to the OSquad blog, and I can only encourage this wholeheartedly. I'm keen as to hear from any one who might be interested in becoming a regular "author" or contributing anonymously, or flicking me photos or links to put up, a "researcher" if you like. In the past Lizzie, Tane and Tom have all contributed regularly and they all seem to have become mighty fine can be done. Contact me:

These photos caught my eye from Anna Robertson. Worth clipping from facebook and placing into the OSquad scrapbook.

Steph Harding hamming it up for the cameras

Thomas Eatson hamming it up for the cameras

Thursday, 10 October 2013

World Cup 2015 Tasmania Training Camp

Hey Crew! Yep, it turns out that people other than Jamie can still post here (so if you want to help him keep the blog up to date, just drop him a line!)

Orienteering Australia is holding an elite training camp for it's HP group from the 2nd - 7th January, based around St Helens, Tasmania. This camp will offer vital training in relevant terrain for those aiming to race in the Tasmanian World Cup races in Jan 2015.

After discussions with Nick Dent at Aus Champs, he's kindly agreed to allow some of us Kiwis to join the camp if we wish. Preliminarily there's 5-6 spots in the accommodation open for us, although I'm sure we can negotiate or find alternative accommodation if more people are interested.

Bicheno Sprint Map. Absolutely Stunning map,
unbeatable on a nice day!
And not bad on a terrible day either!
The camp will be staying at good old Queechy Cottages, which many of us will have fond memories of staying at before. Terrain around the area varies from intricate mining to classic Aussie granite terrain. If you want an idea, have an internet stalk for pics from Aus Champs 2012 (the website has expired, lazy...or sneaky protection of clues on WC 2015?!). Anyway, the camp is bound to return to such maps as Little Child Creek, Lively's Bog and hopefully the awesome sea-side sprint map at Bicheno.

So if you're interested, drop me an email or leave a comment here, asap, let's say definitely by the end of October, and we'll go from there! The earlier we get onto it, the cheaper flights will be!

One tough tough map. Lively's Bog.
If you want to extend your trip and get more orienteering for your buck, then there's the X-mas 5 days to incorporate into your trip as well. This year to be held up around Orange 27-31st December, on some wicked maps like Kahli's Rocks.
One of the toughest maps I've been on.
8 yrs after my first visit, finally nailed it last year!
Another awesome Orange map, Gumble's Pinnacles
Not sure 5-days is visiting it. Probably a good thin,
 I'd just get lost again!

So yep, hopefully I'll hear from some of you soon, and won't be the only Kiwi in Tassie come Janurary!
Peace, Love and Orienteering to you all from over the ditch!
xoxo Lizzie

Monday, 7 October 2013

Australian Champs Relays

Well the Australian Champs carnival has wound up now, some relief for those of us back at home just dying to be fit and fast and running through the Australian bush, but a fantastic trip I am sure, especially for those venturing to Australia for orienteering for the first time. The kiwis again had some fantastic results, and isn't it going to be great to see some of these performers on home turf over the next few months as head into the Super Series, then Sprint the Bay and of course Nationals 2014.

Firstly, Lizzie Ingham, after a disappointing middle distance Lizzie turned on the afterburners and dealt to Grace Crane and the rest of the first leg field to set up victory for her Australian state side. She also pysched out Thomas Reynolds on the start line.

Lizzie looks worringly good in gold.
Secondly Nick Hann, the anointed one has been there and thereabouts over the last week, but in the relays he showed some more of his real talent overtaking David Shepherd to have New Zealand leading after two legs. A lead Matt Ogden would only surrender to Matt Crane.

In the Junior grades, Tim Robertson, the flying freak, could not quite gain enough time back on Ian Lawford to take the victory for the Junior men - with Brodie Nankervis taking 3minutes out on both it looks like there was plenty of opportunity, but not this time for Tim after Shamus Morrison and Nick Smith set a solid platform. In the junior women the kiwis again took second, to a consistent Tasmanian team, Kayla Fairbairn again was the star performer. As of all these kiwi women have plenty of time left in the junior grades it is hugely exciting to see the depth in competition and bodes well for future JWOC's should they continue on the right track. Oh, and did I say that the kiwi teams finished 1st and 2nd in W16...

Sophie Harrison saved her best until last, and Katie Cory-Wright continued her fantastic week. There are pros and cons of having famous orienteering parents, but Katie is perhaps starting to step out of the shadow of her illustrious family. May she have Jeans technique, Al's speed and Ed's confidence. I am not exactly sure with this, but it looks suspiciously like our B team, may have beaten our A team in this for the underdogs! Oh, and we won M16 as well; Tommy Hayes, in his best race for the week setting up Cameron d"Lisle and Ed Cory-Wright. Damn good effort allround. Congratulations to the whole team and special thanks to those over there in support, and especially Anna Robertson for her photographic and facebook skills.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Good day for the Aussies

The top Australian elite and junior orienteers defended their honour with plenty of skill and speed at the Australian Middle Distance Champs yesterday, the kiwis were close, but not quite close enough. The winsplits results are here.

There were 50 starters in the elite men's course, and the kiwi's three young gun: Matt Ogden, Tim Robertson and Nick Hann were placed 3,4,5. If only the course had ended at control 14 they would have been 1,2,3, but over the last part of the course it was experienced international competitors Matt Crane (GB) and Simon Upphill (Aus) that held their nerve. The decisive leg appears to have been the long leg 19, up until this point Robertson had dominated the lead but Crane and Uphill moved into first and second here,and once they settled in there, they proved impossible to dislodge. I will make sure to get some analysis of this part of the race when the guys are back in the country

Fantastic though to see these three young kiwis racing so hard and so well. They will be hard to compete with in the Super Series races they can make it to over the next couple of months.

The Maestro in ecstasy
In the women's elite race Lizzie Ingham was out of contention early, you can't give Grace Crane 5 1/2 minutes by control 6 and expect to win. Lizzie was the fastest over the second half of the course and clawed her way back to 3rd helped by a big mistake from the other favourite Hanny Allston. Greta Knarston also lost time early. I am not sure how Lizzie's steak sandwich would have tasted after this performance.

In the junior women's race Kayla Fairbairn was the standout kiwi with 2nd place, with Brianna Massie coming in 5th. Kayla also lost time early, but was consistent in the rest of the course. Looking at these results you see huge time gaps appearing quite quickly, the painful reality of difficult red course orienteering is firstly we don't get too much of it in New Zealand and secondly, sometimes you need to learn to walk before you run even if you have been successful in other terrain and competitions. Kayla's result shows solid technique, good mental application and bodes well for the future.

The Australian Juniors, and in particular Ian Lawford, reasserted their authority in the junior men's race. Lawford dominated from start to finish, winning by 2 1/2 minutes after a mistake free run. First kiwi home was Cameron Tier narrowly ahead of Shamus Morrison and Nick Smith who both blew potential podiums by making early mistakes. For Tier this is a great result, he just has to keep mixing it with these guys as much as he can, they are on the path to something great.

Conor Cleary wins M14A

Further down the grades there was a great performance by the kiwis in M14 (Conor Cleary and Stephen Harding producing a one, two) Katie Cory-Wright produced a 2nd place in W14 while Alice Tilley cemented her growing reputation with a 2nd in W16 (great also to see kiwis outnumbering Aussies in the top ten in this grade).

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Australian Middle Champs - The introduction of the Maestro

We are now on the last weekend of the Australian Nationals carnival, and my favourite race, the middle distance. This is the race I have been waiting for, firstly it is Lizzie Inghams best distance, and the one I think she cares most about. Secondly, today sees the introduction of New Zealands orienteering maestro into the play, Matt Ogden.

Lizzie with two of her biggest rivals: Grace Crane and Hanny Allston

While Tim Robertson is the efficient, and brutal, speed machine and Nick Hann the intuitive smooth and assured athlete, Matt Ogden is the maestro. He has the rhythm, the attention to detail, the ability to build his race into a crescendo of well pitched decisions. He is the conductor of his own performance and a leader to his peers. That said it is going to be a huge challenge to come into the middle of this carnival and win. Today my money is on Hann. I'm not sure about Matt Crane in this terrain, so perhaps Simon Upphill is the Aussie to watch, though if any of the old timers like Dave Shepherd or Grant Bluett are running they have the ability to win.

The Maestro

Lizzie's race is in her own hands, she can win it if she wants it enough, and keeps on wanting it right to the end, and by that I don't mean wanting it so much she runs hard. I mean she wants it so much that she makes disciplined decisions and manages the risk that this technical terrain will create.

In the juniors, it will be interesting to see if Sonia Hollands can replicate her classic form. Those who raced the school races are possibly at a disadvantage as they will find it harder to pull their speed back a few notches for this race. They would be wise to orienteer before they run. I would love to see a close tussle between Nick Smith and Shamus Morrison, two outstanding orienteers, and if either of them can get up on top of that podium it would be a huge achievement.

(If you have been doing your recommended reading you will know that Lizzie was looking forward to the catering today - unfortunately that catering has fallen through and she will have to make do with a steak sandwich provided by the "Blue Lightning" the ACT juniors...I'm never a huge fan of franchise names, but the "Blue Lightning" surely wins the prize for the one that sounds the most like a toothpaste).

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Victory for NZ in Southern Cross Challenge

For the umpteenth time in a row New Zealand has cleaned up in the Southern Cross Junior Challenge. Exact results have not yet been published but the New Zealand manager Anna Robertson has confirmed that with three victories and one mispunch the title has been retained.

The senior grades were a walk over with both kiwi teams leading from go to whoa. Great starts were rammed home by the final leg runners Tim Robertson and Alice Tilley. They probably could have walked to make things interesting.

The Senior Girls relay team celebrate

The junior grades were more interesting. Lara Molloy had a great run to be right up there, then Katie Cory-Wright sadly mis-punched, a harsh lesson for a young orienteer who has been flying in this competition. In the boys the start was slow, but Stephen Harding running 2nd pulled one out of the bag. His run was matched by Cameron d"Isle, result: see you later Aussies.

Stephen Harding - no sweat

A fantastic, consistent performance by the Schools team, orienteering within their ability and doing us proud. The coaching/management team of Derek Morrison and Anna Robertson remain undefeated.

Proof of victory - hands on the trophy