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.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Closing Time

I have always been someone to stay till the end of a party. Arguably this is to do with a lack of self-control, but I like to think there are also some positive virtues in there...still enjoying it and don't want it to stop, a fondness for those drunken conversations that can build real friendships... but anyway I have come to feel with this blog that the party has moved on, the bar is empty, I'm comatose in the toilet again and the bouncers are hammering on the door. I've got to get out.

The blog will stay up and who knows might be reincarnated again in the future (probably will be in fact judging by history). It has always been my goal to try and get a good number of regular contributors and comments, haven't quite managed it yet. I'm going to use this little chunk of time to contribute over at the new NZOF website and to do some more writing on my own blog, which has mainly been just family stuff over the last couple of years. Anyone who enjoys my writing is welcome to pop over there. I will definitely be writing more about orienteering.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


I thought I would write something about Fusilier and chuck up a map, but why bother when someone else "Arapito" has already done a good job. Nothing like learning from someone elses experience. And below is an image stolen of the web of Tove Alexandersson to help with your recreation of the experience. It is always great when you get the opportunity to watch one of the worlds best at work.

We will know this map pretty well by the end of the weekend!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Ross Morrison qualifies for Sprint Final at EOC - And finishes 41st.

(Ross finished 41st check World of O for maps and results)

Amidst all the local excitement around Nationals we can't forget about our representative on the other side of the world competing against the best in the world. Ross Morrison put in a terrific effort to finish 12th in his sprint qualification yesterday and qualify for todays final. Because of an issue with a wrong control in the middle qualification he will, like all other competitors, get to run in the middle final as well following a contentious jury decision.


Well Matt has got off to a good start in Sweden. Perhaps not the creme de la creme of Swedish elites, but when you beat 50 odd on your first outing you deserve a little bit of kudos.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Ohakea Sprint

Well start lists are up. 1 minute start intervals are risk encouraging. Take a risk early and you have your opponent in your sites. Get a good tow and gain a crucial 3-4 seconds per control for half a course and it could be a game changer for your result. I am stoked to have Jourdan (1min) and Duncan (2min) in front of me. Two reliable effective sprint orienteers definitely worth taking note of when you see them out there and not easily passed.

So what are the organisers saying:

The air base contains a diverse mix of urban forms including operational airfield facilities, office accommodation, warehousing, contractor yards, barrack accommodation, defence housing, formal gardens, recreational areas and several pockets of remnant native forest. There is no noticeable elevation difference across the competition area. There is a high degree of runnability within the air base, except in the forest areas. One building includes a raised running level accessed by external stairs. The following should be noted about the mapping of smaller features:
  • Building alcoves with open access are included on the map with the canopy symbol (no. 526.2), except in the housing area.
  • All fire stairs and ladders on 2-storey buildings have been ommitted for clarity.
  • Gates have been mapped to highlight crossing points through high fences, however gates into housing sections have been mapped as fenced although some may be left open on the day. Paths and driveways have been mapped for the first 10m or so where they extend into housing sections to aid with route finding.
Worth reading I reckon. You've got to think there are going to be many unpassable fences out there and spotting the route choice and gaps will be decisive in the results. Likewise an athletes ability to switch from open visibility to forest remnants with potentially vague detail will be crucial. Those forest remains are not particularly small either...

So the aerial, courtesy of the new LINZ service..See that building with the circular fence  in midde top watch for that trap. And where is the building with the runnable level? 

Looks good aye? Can't wait for Friday, lots of good sleep between now and then.

Friday, 11 April 2014

One week til take off!

As we hit 7 days until the first start at NZ champs 2014, orienteers all around the country begin their pre-nationals taper (or training...), and begin their final mental preparation!
It's gonna be a good'un too, with a highly technical middle on Waikawa*, a test of speed and endurance in the long on Fusilier, and the weekend rounding out with clubs battling it out for eternal glory** ever hotly contested Relay on Monday.

More of an unknown is the sprint, to be held around Ohakea Air Base on Easter Friday. Bulletin 1 doesn't divulge many hints on the area, but it does have a fantastic promo shot! How did I miss this?!

Nick goes for mission impossible styles (or a belly flop?!) while Laura actually looks like she's abseiling. But local knowledge wins out, with Tessa seemingly having us all beaten!
If you haven't already, have a look at the little blurbs that the Wellington crowd have given for each race - a mixture of quality advice and quality trash talking ;)

See you in a week!

* I've got my game face on just looking at the map, thanks Jamie >:/
* *not an exaggeration.

Hoodoo Guru

I was chatting (the online type) to none other than Lizzie Ingham today. She is coming right from her injuries and organising some epic training this weekend for those in Canberra (we miss her in Wellington still). I couldn't help asking Lizzie about whether she felt ready to overcome her pervasive Nationals Hoodoo, including whether this would be the year she registered her maiden victory in the middle distance. I have seen Lizzie on the verge of a top ten in the World Champs for a middle distance but I have yet to seen her charge down a Nationals middle finish chute with her game face still intact.

Lizzie's answer was underwhelming "anything can happen on that map".  Harden up Lizzie Ingham. Get your processes right and make yourself hard to beat this year. The map doesn't look that bad...

Sunday, 6 April 2014

More Butterflies

As if to validate Matt Ogdens classic course setting last weekend, the World Cup in Spain has a great little butterfly loop in the middle of a very long tough course. In this terrain you want to stay as straight as possible while wriggling through the contours. I'm not sure what their rough open is like, I imagine pretty rough, so overlay this with the scattered tree hash and you are looking at some potentially sapping terrain.

Competitors clearly must deal with more than the butterflies in their stomachs before the race....

Ross in Spain

Well he's not running like Shamus Morrison through an arena, but have you seen that course from yesterday?
The photo came through from Lara Molloy on facebook. Don't forget about Lara. She is another top Wellington junior, ala Nick Hann, choosing to do an exchange in Scandinavia, and apparently she is with a good orienteering family and doing plenty of good training. 

Some Big Efforts

The Rocketman managed to get himself around a tough course overnight at the World Cup in Spain. Great to see some epic long distance racing, wouldn't it be good to get this kind of goodness going again in NZ!
Check out the mens map on World of O, and plenty of analysis for your perusal as well.

Also check out Lizzies mammoth blog post. Heaps of good insight into the mind of New Zealands top womens orienteer, and good to see her overcoming her injuries ahead of a huge orienteering summer. I was chatting to Greta Knarston at TONIC, and these two friends and rivals have some fantastic plans for training, racing and potentially living in Europe

Saturday, 5 April 2014

What a Team - NZ JWOC Announced

Headlined by the magnificent threesome of Nick Hann, Tim Robertson  and Shamus Morrison the New Zealand JWOC team must be regarded as one of the strongest ever. A full team of 12 and a competitive selection process that leaves some great talent waiting in the wings is not standard place in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Hann and Robertson know that if they have good days then a victory is possible. Just the witnessing and the existence of this belief is going to be a huge inspiration for the rest of the team, and give them strength as they move forward with their Junior Elite careers. We will be watching with bated breath.

Ed Cory-Wright PAPO 
Nick Hann Wellington 
Callum Herries Hawkes Bay 
Shamus Morrison Wellington 
Tim Robertson Hutt Valley 
Cameron Tier North West 

Helena Barnes North West 
Rebecca Gray North West 
Kayla Fairbairn North West 
Sophie Harrison PAPO 
Sonia Hollands Counties Manukau 
Alice Tilley North West 

Non-travelling Reserves 
Matthew Goodall Counties Manukau 
Vida Fox Hawkes Bay 

Team Manager Anna Robertson 
Team Coach Rob Jessop

Thursday, 3 April 2014


Butterfly loops are an increasingly common feature of courses whether they are to provide separation in mass start situations, for spectator appeal or simply to make the most of a small area. The TONIC 2014 Classic had the interesting example below.  This was made more challenging by the 1:15000 scale and quite thick vegetation. With legs this long (or short) on 1:15000 you can simplify your plans to only a few key steps per leg. The first and most important being making sure you have a good compass bearing from the control each time (this is called your exit direction).  For example 13-14 my steps would be 1) good exit direction 2) confirm I am running up an open spur 3) make sure I stay on my compass and look for the formline shape funnelling me into the control. I wish I had followed this recipe in the race!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A Chasing Start

When I got hooked on orienteering in the 1990's chasing start middle distances were what hooked me. The pure orienteering challenge in the morning followed by the excitement on tired legs in the afternoon. I vividly remember Shaun Collins sprinting to his only National elite title on the limestone of Piopio and looking forward to racing this format as an elite.

Unfortunately fashions change and I have only raced this format a handful of times this century, but this one, the middle distance at TONIC 2014 was certainly one to remember.

I managed to ekk out a decent result in the morning race, more by good fortune than well executed orienteering. Mistakes at 3 and 5 where I drifted off my compass were made up for by the advantage of forming a pack with Nick Smith and Tom Reynolds. Their aggression through terrain gained me minutes I would otherwise have squandered. They boosted me to 4th place, an enjoyable lunch, with the top three within my reach. Brent Edwards with a rare elite victory was only 2 minutes up, while Tom Reynolds and Duncan  Morrison filled the gaps. With a group like that up front I was comfortable that no one else was likely to contend.

The JWOC candidates raced first in the afternoon, and I must confess to some trepidation watching their results come through. I needed to remind myself that while I seldom orienteer in difficult terrain I have and can do it. The accumulated lessons/scars of Japan, Australia and France  have given me some clues to green gully spur terrain. I lined up for the start feeling comfortable and focused. My only mental technique for the start currently is to focus on how eager I am to pick up the map, to read it, to make the first connection with the terrain. I want the map, I want the map, I want the map.

I was very conscious of the run to the start triangle, and how even a brief foray above an aerobic threshold can lead to bad decisions. So I took it steady and went the safe way using the track to the left and attacking off the knoll. This lost me 30 seconds to Duncan. He must have pushed hard.

No 2 looked harder than it was. Run hard on a compass and stay on the left of the broad gully as it nears the stream and you would be unlucky to miss it. I played it a little safer than this staying right on the white spur then cutting across left near the end, taking the time to read my way into the circle smoothly. No 3 I ran hard on a compass, the obvious backstop of the creek and the clear visibility near the control gave me a degree of confidence. No 4 proved to be a game changer. There are parallel hills both left and right of the control circle meaning that you had to very careful with direction as you entered the circle. Brent, Tom and Duncan all drifted left and spent time searching the hill above the control. I took a careful choice to approach the control up the white spur and was rewarded by hearing them crashing around like wild pigs ahead of me. They punched twenty seconds ahead, game on. Behind me this control also accounted for the majority of the chasing pack, a good hit rate for a relatively innocuous challenge.

A short leg 5, chasing down the boys lead into a longer leg across the slope to 6. Heading up the track I saw the pack had split with Brent and Tom heading straight while Duncan stuck on the track looking for the route choice to the right. I took up the challenge of trying to run Duncan down on the track. My strengths are not in terrain at the moment and I thought the choice looked pretty even. Nearing the control flashes of colour in the forest below us confirmed that there wasn't much in it. Duncan and I hit the line of knolls and headed down hesitating when we bumped into Brent letting Tom get a little bit of a gap. I liked this long leg for a middle distance race, it gave us a chance to up the speed a little, and let the fit, aggressive runner get a small edge.

Heading out of 6 then I was running 3rd trusting Brents compass as we ran Tom down. This control could have been a disaster but the boys did well and we spiked it. We were clearly the fastest in the field for this split the advantage of pack running and sharing some risk around. Brent led through 8 and 9 doing especially well on the latter, exiting leftish out of 9 to save getting tangled up in the index contour gully and funnel us up the broad gully to the top of the ditch which was easy to follow down to the control.  Hitting the spur which hid 10 Brent headed right and I went left hitting the control and the lead for the first (and only) time. It was here I made my biggest mistake planting the accelerator down the spur towards 11. I read into the control comfortably and fast but didn't invest enough time into the next leg, one glance told me I could just run down the creek...a better look would have let me know that climbing out left onto the track was going to be significantly better. This look would have taken a few seconds, but not taking it ended up losing me the race. As I ploughed down the creek, followed eagerly by Brent and Duncan, cunning Tom Reynolds made the right call, hit the track and we never saw him again.

I should have used the easy running down the white spur from 10 to plan ahead and make sure opportunities like this weren't missed.

Passing through the run through Brent and I were still together with Duncan dropping off the back. We suffered together up the hill to 13, before coming to grief again at 14 where we must have missed the control sitting high in a gully by a fraction. Looping back I punched first just as Duncan appeared, and began my finish sprint too early promptly running into the white gully to the left of 15, a classic course setters trap (I reckon they deliberately made this gully small on the map to trick me into it). By the time I sorted myself out Duncan and Brent were gone on their extended battle to the finish which apparently ended with a spectacular dive to the line just taken out by Duncan. I was left to steadily pick off the last few controls making sure no challengers picked me up from the back.

All in all a reallly fun race, with lots of lessons learnt and re-learnt. This race was a highlight of a weekend  for me that was very motivational watching future stars thrash it out in the JWOC trial. Good to see Shamus Morrison and Danielle Goodall staring, as I'm sure they will many times again. I remember a few years telling Shamus then struggling miles behind Nick Hann and Tim Robertson in the local school scene (no disgrace there), that if he hung in there and got closer and closer his time would come. He has hung in and now his time is beginning.

Hopefully we have plenty more great courses and maps like those from the last weekend to test ourselves on.

Monday, 31 March 2014


A good course setters artwork - a scattering of reds, blues and pinks

Job well done Matt

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The Perfect TONIC?

Michael: Morning Matt and welcome to Jamie’s fireside.

Matt: This is Facebook, Michael.

Michael: Yeah well just pretend.

Matt: Could we leave the fireside chat for the pros like Darren?

Michael: He did look so comfortable there in front of Jamie's fire.

Matt: He won’t be looking comfortable after this weekend.

Michael: Good segway.  That’s what we’re here to talk about.  TONIC. You’re pretty confident in your claim that Riverhead is something special.  Why?

Matt: There is a simple answer. Challenge. As orienteers we are in continual pursuit of maps/terrain that challenge our technique to its very limits. Every time I run in Riverhead, I find new challenges. From the beautiful forest floor which saps your energy to the low visibility, head height, native vegetation which means that you can be standing next to a 5 metre hill and not be able to see it. The map is close to perfect as well, therefore you can have full confidence that any mistakes you make will be of your own fault. But in addition to challenge, another emotion will be invoked this weekend. Pleasure.

Michael: Nick Hann has completed the mapping. He's young but produces great maps?

Matt: Nick 'the mapping genius' Hann. I am quite confident that he is one of the finest mappers in NZ, if not the world. His eye for detail, and attention for the rules, means that he produces fair, legible maps which just look awesome! You can read about the Riverhead map at the back of the TONIC bulletin. The basemap was poor, due to the dense canopy, but the final product is close to perfection!

Michael: You've been up there doing plenty of testing of the map and courses yourself?

Matt: The map is perfect, the courses are perfect! I have put maximum effort into this event. There are some legs in the long distance with route choices I just have no idea which way I would run. I figure that makes them good route choices. The courses have been thoroughly tested; I have been to every control site multiple times. One session I was running the prologue courses as intervals. The challenge in orienteering is always, you versus the course setter. I wonder if anyone will beat me this weekend! The controlling of the event has also been thorough with Greg making sure that the courses are enjoyable as well as demanding.

Michael: You've anticipated my next question about the course setting. Sometimes it's hard to cater for the full range of courses but you think you've made the event enjoyable to the non-elites too?

Matt: Yes definitely, in organising a big event like TONIC it’s important not to focus on just the elite courses. Of course, I have spent the most time on the JWOC trial courses, but I have spent the rest of the time equally across the remaining courses. For example, I ran Red 6 to gauge its physicalness in order to deem it appropriate for the oldies. The white, yellow and orange courses have a spectator run through in the prologue, probably a first for orienteering! But I love each of my courses, and I think they have been set so that everyone will find some enjoyment in the forest!

Michael: The JWOC field probably has its biggest depth for a long time. As a previous winner what does it mean to have so many vying to follow in your footsteps?

Matt: It is inspiring to see so many juniors coming through the system. It is a credit to the hard work and dedication of people like Mike Beveridge. I cant wait to see the next Junior World Champion from NZ! However, it is going to be tough for the juniors over the next few years as they head into battle in scandi terrain. The thing that inspires me most though from these juniors is the passion that these kids have for the sport! If you love the sport then you will be with it forever!

Michael: The Men’s JWOC team will feature a number of orienteers who have already competed at that level with Tim and Nick pre-selected. What do think the selectors will be looking for at this trial?

Matt: Clean, stable runs. The trials are not so important for them, however the setup will be very similar to JWOC with warm up maps, separate start times etc. So it will be good an excellent opportunity to practice 'big race' orienteering.

Michael: Completely agree. I think some selections will be based on recent results stretching back into late 2013. You note that JWOC is moving into the Scandinavian countries for the next few years. Any tips for those selected when planning their European trip? What helped you to success?

Matt: Plan and train in relevant terrain. For example, this year those who are thinking about running JWOC next year should consider going to Norway on a training camp. It is more relevant and can be just as fun, if you get a group of people, as competitions like Oringen etc.

Michael: Tell me about the sprint. Gene's planning. You've seen the courses?

Matt: I have test run the course. It is a fun sprint with some good route choices. The area is not that complex, but Gene has done a good job with the course setting. It will be an awesome opening to the TONIC weekend.

Michael: Any picks for the weekend? Who’re picks in the M20E categories?

Matt: I have a feeling we might see very different podiums each day. My picks for the three races are Cameron for the sprint, Shamus for the middle and Tim for the long with dark horses Devon, Matt, Tommy, Ed lurking in the background.

Michael: And for the W21Es? Hawkes Bay all the way or will the Auckland locals dominate on home turf or perhaps the lasses from Wellington?

Matt: I expect Kayla and Alice to dominate the sprint, but the middle and long will bring the field closer together at the top end. Behind Kayla and Alice there are a whole group of talented girls. It will be interesting to see how they handle Riverhead.

Michael: Well thanks for the chat Matt and best of luck for the weekend. The weather looks like it has joined the party. Looking forward to hearing from the event each day.  Wish I was there!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Race Report: Tom Reynolds on Godzone

Read it here on Sportzhub. Nice write up Tom. Good effort.

Len taught Tom how not to quit.

Canterbury Champs Preview

The Canterbury Champs will be held this weekend on that now familiar combination of Tuhaitara and Castle Hill. In a repeat dose of the last Canterbury Champs on these maps a few months ago expect Nick Hann and Georgia Whitla to dominate.

Hann's trajectory has been sharply up for a long time, and on his quest to emulate Matt Ogdens junior world championship there is no sign of the improvement rate dropping away anytime soon. On the other side of the coin his major rival Chris Forne is on old weary tired legs fatigued from the recent Godzone adventure race. Count other competitors Tane Cambridge and Matt Scott in this category as well. Whitla  is entering her prime as an orienteer, and a solid summer with plenty of hours under her belt should see her able to comfortably control the races ahead of Lara Prince and Imogene Scott.

In the juniors watch for Sonia Hollands, Ed Cory-Wright and the Harding boys for some outstanding results. With the small maps and the familiarity now of the areas expect the k-rates to be much improved.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Enjoy Your Soundtrack

I run in the early morning these days, by myself. This is one of the outcomes of starting a family, and like most of these outcomes can be unexpectedly wonderful. This morning I was on top of Makara Peak after 45minutes of tempo runnning with a thick sweat and a view to die for. The cyclone was far out to sea to the west and it had left the sky wrung out. What clouds there were left were creased and frayed and lit by a fiery morning sun. The familiar folds of the land were all lit different shades of grey and green. From Kapiti to the Orongorongas the day was coming quickly and below me near the harbour the city was starting to wake up.

I know when I am fit, both physically and mentally when I can truly enjoy running. When I can both build a sweat and let my mind wander and traverse new ground. When the soundtrack is soaring and varied, rather than a tired repetitive burp...mulling over work, or relationships, or whatever. Don't dwell on shit.

I have a poem that comes back to me at times when I am particularly at one with the trail, and with my surrounds. It is a lesser known poem by James K Baxter.

Getting Stoned on the Night Air

The long night fills the streets with fog
And the garages are wind-blown 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 the old sleep

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

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

I have even been known to raise my arms and soar down a hill when thinking about this poem. And  it is often followed  by a period shaking out  the legs and listening to my memory of Bob Dylans version of Knocking on Heavens Door and then maybe I will run hard up a hill just thinking about using my core muscles and then with an empty and clear mind perhaps something interesting will pop up for me to think about, or I will just think about how great it will be to get home and see my daughter who is always so stoked to see us after a long nights sleep.

Enjoy your soundtrack people. It is all too easy sometimes to let other stuff creep in there.

Beautiful Hills

Just noticed this lovely looking session from Gene and Matt on Facebook. Love the passion. But, really, there is LIDAR data right, when is someone going to map Beautiful Hills properly. One of the best native bush areas in NZ, close to NZ's biggest population, but unrevised since the 1990's. Come on!!!!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Urban Enduro

Preparation is going well for the Urban Enduro.  The new Wellington City map which will eventually see the entire ampitheatre of Wellington mapped to International Sprint Specifications is growing by the day. The latest addition is a remap of Victoria University of Wellington by Nick Hann which includes some highly intricate areas brand new to orienteering. The exciting possibility of linking this area to the downtown maps will be realised in Urban Enduro 2014.

Check out the latest developments on the Urban Orienteering website

Monday, 10 March 2014

Oxford Odyssey

I was out of the loop when this happened, an annihilation of a couple of New Zealands best mountain runners by a couple of the orienteering boys.

The Oxford Odyssey is a new event on a great bit of terrain that was one of my favourite runs when I lived in Christchurch. One to put in your calenders for early February.

It is a good gauge of the fitness of the National Squad when you see names pop up all the time in the wider endurance sport world. With Godzone currently, Avalanche Peak and a couple of the older squad members getting around the Tararua Mountain race in good shape at the weekend things are shaping up for some swift competition at the races ahead.

Coles Bay

The Tasmania World Cup organisers have posted the old map of Coles Bay (the terrain for the middle distance) to the website. This is a fantastic part of the world, I suspect though that the forest will not be as runnable as one might suspect at first glance. You will definitely want to be terrain fit for this challenge.

Check out the local area on Google Earth and familiarise yourself with what to expect. Print this map off and keep a copy on your wall, draw a middle distance course on it and make plans for how you would approach each leg and what you would expect to read.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Anatomy of a race - early candidate for course of the year?

Is this the best sprint course and map in New Zealand since at least the World Cups?  Given the wonderful course on Ferrymead at the Nationals and the stunning Queenstown Botanic Gardens maps it's a tough competition.

I think it deserves a breakdown to look at some of the more interesting legs involved.  As Jamie Stewart pointed out the first six in the top left are fantastic.
The genius of the first 6 is the high technical map reading required in order to determine the optimum route choice.  There are some dead ends and opportunities well hidden and Ross has made the most of a small area.  Just getting to number one there are a few options.  Going left, right or through the guts.  I'd probably go for the gap in the fence the staircase by 3 and come round the southern side of the building. 1 to 2 is not so easy given the uncrossable wall.  I'd be inclined to run the eastern side to give myself map reading time.  The next 4 require fine map reading to stay on top and without smooth technique it is possible to lose significant time.

We can see from the splits for this section that only Matt came close to nailing it.  I think though it's important to note the need for smoothness through the controls as is evident by Matt's running.  But as is evident by the gaps in the finish time - this part of the race wasn't the place where it was won or lost.

We now move onto the first route choice leg:  6 to 7.  Straight off the bat there's a choice of either left or right.  Left is more direct and steeper but with a technical exit from 6 to the road.  Right is open but longer.  Chance to read ahead?  Once at halfway there's another split.  Left will take you to either the gap in the fence to try to cut through by 9 or to run wide down the road past 10.  There appears to be an easier entry into the control by taking the latter.  Going right at halfway takes you on a long road run - although you need to be aware at the control to look for the tunnel under the road.

I'm not sure of the best route choice here but Chris and Shamus lose a good minute here and fall out of contention.  I'm guessing it is a case of pick a route and good hard.  Personally, although less enjoyable, I'd probably go right both times.  Matt meanwhile has lost 12 seconds to Tim on the long leg and is about to lose a further 21 seconds on 9 to 10.  Nick Hann is staying consistent and still in the hunt at this point.  The key to Tim's race is he now has the smoothness that Matt had at the start of the race.

 Below is the lovely little technical section at Napier Girls' High School.  I particularly like 7 to 8.
I want to focus on two last legs, 17 to 18 where Nick Hann makes his mistake and, after almost getting back into the race, falls out of contention. And secondly, 20 to 21 here Tim asserts himself on the race and recovers his small lead at a point in the race where Matt was chipping away at Tim's lead.

17 to 18 looks benign enough but it does have an interesting flavour.  It's a great little left or right route choice just after some fast running and just at the turn to home point in the course.  The return home can be point where your mind slips slightly.  It thinks ahead and loses concentration on the now.
The last little segment is a doozy with the now famous waterfall scene at 22.  Tim still has a 14 second lead at 20 but pushes it into number 21 gaining a valuable 5 seconds on Matt for safety over the last few technical controls.  To me this is what is so exciting about Tim as a sprinter.  He grasps the importance of certain legs and pushes through above what his competitors are achieving.

So finally, looking at the race as a whole, winsplits gives us a lovely little graph to show us where time is lost compared to the leader.  I think it shows the need to focus on a good clean run and the ability to just step it up a notch now and then.  As Nathan Fa'avae says, in adventure racing, when he's hurting he knows his competition will be hurting too if not more, he uses this to go harder to widen the gap on his opposition.

So well done to Ross on this one.  Excellent work.  I particularly love how the course was set to challenge a full range of skills for competitors and created some fantastic route choices.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Fireside Chat: Darren Ashmore

This is the first in what may become an irregular feature. The premise is simple, an orienteering friend comes to stay and we talk into the night about orienteering. They may or may not be world famous in New Zealand orienteering.

The first friend fits in the famous category. He is arguably the dominant domestic orienteer of the last two decades. A man who  let his navigation  dictate his speed and reaped the rewards. Having eased out of elite competition over the last few years he is now most easily found playing with his daughter in the forests of Rotorua. Lets have a chat to Darren Ashmore....

Darren, thanks for passing by, its good to have you by the fire.

A pleasure Jamie, a pleasure, always good to sit down and talk about the world of orienteering with you, among other things

Where have you been?

You mean recently, or in life?

We’ll get to life later..

Down south running the Get2Go series for my employer the Outdoor Pursuits Centre. It is year number seven of that project, its going well. (the Get2Go) is a junior version of the Hillary Challenge another of Darrens initiatives.

Lets talk O, I was thinking the other day about your first WOC...1993 USA correct?

Yeah if I did make the team this year it would be 21 years since my first WOC…although it would be quite different running in a "sprint team".

USA must have been quiet a memorable WOC?

America is just like it looks on TV, the terrain was quite different, we had short (middle) and classic, no sprint. Alistair Landel, Rob Jessop, Greg Barbour,  Dave Farquhar and Me. Katie Fettes, Tania Robinson, Marquita Gelderman, Janine Brown and Alison Stone. It was a bit of an eye opener…lots of donuts, MTV (we never had that back then in NZ). Dave and I would train twice a  day, watch mtv, eat donuts, freshly squeezed orange juice. Prior to WOC we had a “summer camp” for a week or so. I remember it was illegal to swim in the lakes because there were no life guards on duty.

That’s right, you and Dave F were the young guns, for Dave it turned out to be his last WOC, for you it was the first of many, how many?

5: USA, Germany, Norway, Scotland, Japan

Interesting the way things turn out.

Yeah interesting

1993 was also the first year you won Nationals in Woodhill..

Yeah that was after WOC, Nationals were at Woodhill at Labour Weekend, Kaipara Knolls. The main competition was Greg Barbour and  Dave Farquhar

What was happening at that time, were you training to be a teacher..

Yeah, that would have been my last year. I took a year off to go to JWOC in 1992. (Finland)…that was the first real taste of it all, that was a three month trip, most of it in a ford transit van with Jenni Adams, Rolf Boswell, Al Landels…we basically drove from Borlange to Hungary, Italy, France and back to Sweden, O-Ringen etc.I had a stress fracture in my shin so couldn’t run most of the time. I remember the 3rd day of O-Ringen I forgot my shoes. I took it as a sign that I should take 3 months off running.

I was only 20, and I was in Europe and there were lots of hot orienteering chicks to look at, so I didn’t mind that much. When you are that young you can also learn a lot from observation. I also remember Al running really well in the World Cup races…that showed what can be done. Al was a phonemonal runner, easily the best NZ elite that we had ever had up to that point.

So following 1993...

I never went teaching fulltime, a lot of relieving , it filled the gaps between orienteering and teaching orienteering. I think I always knew a class of 30 kids inside a small room wasn’t going to work for me. It needed to be bigger…outside basically.

In 1994, we had the World Cup in NZ, how did that go for you?

I was 27th from memory. I was pretty satisfied. I knew a small part of the area, it wasn’t your typical woodhill. The event was bloody long and tough, the map was dodgy as. There were corridors mapped by the planners (Wayne and Trish). We all got around by the skin of our teeth. The next week we went on to a World Cup in Australia, Ballarat..

Any moments that stick in your mind?

I guess back in those days we didn’t have the same knowledge of the European Scene. We looked at the pictures of Skoggsport (we couldn’t read it). It was pretty cool going to events and having conversations with Mortennson/Salmi etc. There was a bit more mystery, these days the stars seem more boring, its almost like we know everything about them. All you heard back then was how hard these guys used to train.

Then you came back to NZ, How did NZ compare then to how it does now?

Ahh, now we seem to be relatively comparable to the rest of the world in our use of technology, back then the sport felt very small. Now it seems less small, but I wonder if that’s because we are more competitive now. We were definitely a B nation in the 90’s, now we are more advanced.

Really? Except for perhaps this year?

Ha, yeah, I guess you are always going to have bad years. Although our success is probably due to individuals, we are still not doing enough collectively…

You had a few good rivals though, during that mid 90’s period?

Yeah, it was a shame that Al moved to Sweden, as he was the guy that was setting the standard. After that it became easier to win races. I remember him telling me he judged his performance by how much he won by. He was judging himself against the best in the world, rather than against the best kiwi. 

We always had the older guys. Dave Melrose and Rob Garden. Rob Jessop was always tough, others included Greg Barbour, Bruce McLeod. Shaun Collins, Phil Wood, even Aidan Boswell started coming into it.

So of the next 4 WOCs, does anything stand out?

Japan, it’s the most recent, the best team, it was great fun. The terrain wasn;t too much to write home about but it was my best results at WOC.

 I remember racing the Scotland middle qualifier, I was having a perfect race. I was as fit as I had ever been. I was flowing through the race perfectly. Then I had a complete meltdown on one control (seven minutes worth). I only missed qualification by seconds. It would have been cool to qualify high, but I blew it. I think from memory I just got distracted by other runners. You can see your potential, but yeah you just can’t grab it.

You lived in Sweden for a while, you and Rebecca (Darren's long term partner is orienteer Rebecca Smith)

Yeah that was 1998, we did the World Cups that European Summer, that was a great European tour, the World Cups were fun back then: UK, Slovakia, Estonia, Poland, Finland. We stayed until after the World Champs in Scotland.

Scotland, that would have been an interesting year, on paper probably the strongest NZ team ever on realtively neutral terrain.

I think the difference back then, with WOC every two years, most people could make themselves available every time. We always got a strong team. Now its just too hard financially, and you end up with “substandard runners” going, people who can afford to go…and I don’t think its helped our presence internationally, and hasn’t helped our elite level grow. It sends a message you don’t have to beat the World, you just have to have the money.

You had a big greak between 1999 – 2005….

To be honest, it was a conscious break. I came home in 99 and had too much debt on the credit card. I had spent the 1990’s as an orienteering junkie. I decided that I wasn’t going to get in debt for orienteering. It’s the coolest sport in the world but it doesn’t pay the bills. My chosen career path wasn't that lucrative, but I didn’t/don’t work for money.

Japan was close to home, and well supported. Likewisethe world games 2009. It was bloody hard sitting at home every year and watching the guys go off to WOC, knowing that I could have been in the team. But that is life and part of being involved in a small amateur sport at the bottom of the world.

And you watched a few other guys come through, the likes of Chris Forne…

Yeah, Chris, Ross. Yeah its cool to see people going through and going hard, putting in more effort and getting the results.

Do you think Chris has surpassed Al Landels with his results?

No. The World Cup series in the 90’s was really important. You focused on it for the year. They were like World Champs races. Al performed really well in those. I also think Al was a faster runner. Chris can do well when he focuses on Orienteering, he has achieved a lot outside of orienteering, but not to my mind yet inside orienteering compared to Al. I think if you put Chris and Al together in their prime Al would probably just have it...there wouldn’t be much in it.

How about the girls, you got a pretty good view of Tania Robinsons career?

She was dominant for years in New Zealand. Its hard to say whether she lived up to her potential internationally. Given our circumstances, yes she did amazing, if she was Scandinavian, then probably not. It is hard to imagine anyone in NZ orienteering ever reaching their true potential in NZ given our resources.

Any really talented NZ orienteers that never quite got where you thought they might?

Phil Wood, never ran a World Champs, he was there at a time when there was good depth. Dave Farquhar was a great navigator, so was Bruce McLeod. Who knows why it didn’t happen for them, it would have been good to see them go on and do more. Jason Markham was a huge talent as well.

So post 2005, it was really just a case of priorities, economic priorities?

Yeah pretty much, getting mortgages, doing some work, not dreaming about orienteering all the time.

Anything you’d do different?

I would have focused more on physical training, cross country, road, etc. In hindsight I would have trained more like a runner. Having started orienteering when I was 9 and coming up through the system I had a good technical grounding, and in NZ we have a good variety of terrain types to get a good spead of navigation skills.

Maybe in hindsight I would have invested in the Garden sports betting empire. Then maybe I could have afforded to do a few more trips to Europe. Also the Akld property market in the 90’s….

Apart from your competition, any character that stick in your mind in orienteering, people that have helped you on the way and inspired you.

Garden, he has helped so many, and is such a positive, encouraging force.

How about maps in New Zealand, where have you loved orienteering?

Anywhere that’s not boring rolling farmland. Sand dunes, Wood hill, Waitarere, the more complex the better. It’s a shame the epic areas aren’t around anymore; Tyger Country, Ngamotu, Crater Block, Mamaku.

Whats your plan now, you seem to hve got your head around running a bit of veterans

Ha, its just a recognition of the lack of training I have been doing. I don’t feel the need to kill myself in elite races anymore, but I will still be running elites races, it is still fun to beat you and Brent. I think we will be seeing more people in their 40’s win National titles.  Its almost becoming the norm, even sprint distance. (that needs the luck of the Irish...Ed)

How about these new guys coming through, how good are they?

They are certainly getting the results. They certainly have the potential to help lift us up another level as a nation. I expect they might head off overseas, if so, they may achieve great things as individuals but that won’t necessarily help the overall elite standard.

Any advice to the likes of Matt, Nick, Tim, etc…

Figure out a way to work 8 months of the year in NZ, and race 4 months in Europe. Matt has proven you don’t have to live in Europe to be a World Champion. Lizzie has shown that you can achieve at a really high level while living in NZ as well. The young guys are running better than anyone ever has for their age in New Zealand this is a tribute to their commitment, the system, the opportunities they’ve had and the people that have supported them. I would like to Mention Nick and Matt have both experienced the Hillary Challenge, that’s why they are so tough.

We seem to have a lot of depth at the moment…

Yeah well we definitely have numbers, and there are potentially more winners..its a good thing. The sport at the junior level has been doing well.

Any big ideas?

Nothing new, we need to keep focusing on how to develop a strong domestic competition and improving our transtasman competition. Certainly in the past the very top Australians were close to World Class in their own terrain, this meant we can get a World Class race without going all the way to Europe. We need to get tougher on WOC selection, but this may naturally happen with the new rules.

We need to keep on growing numbers in schools. We need to be innovative. There is no reason why there couldn’t be 10,000 orienteers doing urban races every week - without the expectation of doing OY’s. forest races etc. We have never encouraged people to do orienteering just for the love of it, in areas that are close to home and accessible.

Monday, 3 March 2014

The End of Summer

Geez its been a good summer. The OSquad have been going hard around the place, training for orienteering or getting into some wider outdooors activity. See Tane's previous post about the impressive line-up of the crew that are turning out for Godzone.

And good on Tane for not rubbing in his honourable 13minute victory over Tom in the longest day. But bad on Tane for softing out on Avalanche Peak, all the other South Islanders were there. Nick Smith beats Chris Forne to the summit, Chris Forne beats Nick Smith to the finish.

Back on planet orienteering though, the focused guys have been seeking perfection. Check out part of a recent Nick Hann training on Waitarere. 26.5km of epic map reading anyone?

A team led by Matt Ogden and Greg Flynn have been picking the eyes out of Riverhead Forest to bring us TONIC. A tense and challenging long weekend at the end of this month. JWOC Trials and a pre-nationals showdown. Get your entries in. TONIC along with the Canterbury Champs the previous week and the Nationals at the end of April make-up the newly announced Autumn Tour. An opportunity to get your big orienteering year off to a big start.

Also look out for a good training week after Nationals. Wellington Orienteering Club is arranging the opportunity to train on the Nationals maps on the Tues-Thurs following the event. Marked control sites provided. And then a three day epic sprint event, the Urban Enduro, running from Fri-Sun.

And why are we doing all this training, well there is Nationals, there is JWOC and in January there is of course the World Cup and Oceania in Tasmania. Lizzie is thinking about it already.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Storm is approaching!

There is a Southerly Storm coming, brewing away, set to descend on Kaikoura in about a weeks time to coincide with GODZone, the adventure race. This year there is a large contingent of the Bivouac Southerly Storm and a couple of other Orienteers spread throughout the field. The Bivouac Southerly Storm is a regional Orienteering team encompassing the South Island clubs and compete at the National Orienteering Series around the country. Orienteers tend to fly under the radar a little bit, and practice their dark art in the shadows...but this may just be their time to shine if the navigation gets tricky!

In team Seagate there is the formidable Chris Forne with a passenger and Nelson club member Nathan Fa'avae, Stu Lynch is the back up navigator but I'm not sure where he is actually from these days, somewhere in the strange land of the North!

Brent Edwards will be taking hold of the maps for team Vida de Aventura, and Lara Prince and Jim Cotter in Chimpanzee Bar are set to be hot on the heels of Seagate. Ones to watch out for will be the navigator stacked team of Go 3.0 with Emily Wall, Matt Scott, Tim Sikma and Rhys John who have all excelled at orienteering and rogaining in the past few years.

Then there is a smattering of lone wolf orienteers, with Tane Cambridge in Team Osprey Packs, Tim Farrant in Next Generation, Tom Reynolds (another North Islander...) in Team University of Auckland and Joe Jagusch in Lost and Lonely.

So within the race there is also the race of being the best orienteer/navigator and you can watch it all unfold live at

Friday, 21 February 2014

Resilience: A Lesson From Sochi by Sydney Finkelstein - Updated for Orienteering


Resilience. It’s often the secret sauce that separates the highest achievers from the mass of people who are perfectly capable, but not exceptional.

The good news is that each of us has the potential to live a resilient life on and off the job, if we choose to. It may be difficult to do, sometimes even unfathomable, but that just makes it all the more powerful and important.

Here’s a quick test: if you genuinely believe the above paragraph to be true, then you’re probably more resilient than you think you are. It takes confidence to be resilient. But, and this is so true of so many leadership characteristics, too much confidence is a killer. Bouncing back from failure requires, by definition, that you recognize something has gone wrong, and you were the one who made it happen.

The complacent and the arrogant do not accept personal responsibility. For them, failure is someone else’s fault. We’ve seen plenty of this during Sochi as well — hockey players blaming errant referee calls, snowboarders complaining the snow was “too soft” and speed skating coaches attributing poor results to new high-tech suits selected for their athletes.

Open-mindedness in the face of mistakes is the single best thing you can do to improve results. Everyone fails. But not everyone recovers from failure. The key is to learn from it rather than get beaten by it.

Being open to new information — even better, going out of your way to learn what you wish wasn’t true — is the hallmark of a resilient leader. How else can we adapt and change if we don’t know what’s really going wrong?

In a disruptive and competitive world, the rate of failure is going up, not down. For example, when you track the makeup of the Fortune 100 over time, you find that the number of companies falling off the list has gone up at an increasing rate. That means that while 25 years ago some 20% of the biggest companies in the world dropped out of the top 100 after 10 years, more recently the 10-year rate of attrition has jumped to over 30%.

Resilience is not just about getting up off the floor, but also being ready for whatever comes next.

Failures, setbacks and falling down on the ice in front of millions of people are no longer unusual events, but regular features of a dynamic, competitive and highly demanding work environment. Getting up to finish your skate is no longer optional.

NZ Elite O Tour - Autumn 2014 - Dates Announced

Monday, 17 February 2014

Awareness and Routine

As most of you will have realised, in 6 weeks now Riverhead will play host to the Official North Island Orienteering Championships. The competitions will incorporate trials for the JWOC team to compete in Bulgaria later this year, but will also offer a demanding sprint, chasing start middle and long distance for the public. More details and entry can be found on the TONIC website. This will be an event not to be missed, and will be great preparation before Nationals.
Don't miss out!
In preparation for these championships I offer some words about orienteering technique, and what I have learnt thus far in my short orienteering career.  

On a recent training camp in Tasmania, Tom Quayle (Australian National Coach) emphasised the importance of having an 'awareness' of ones own technique. This is something that I think identifies your orienteering style and is characteristic of your training and thought processes. The one thing that is very important in orienteering is that everyone has a different 'style', due to different strengths and abilities. This is a consequence of variable running speeds, technical backgrounds and how one perceives or interprets the map. It is therefore imperative to identify how you orienteer and have this awareness, so that when you are confronted with a leg, you understand the best way for you to approach it. 

How would you run (1-2)? Identify your technique.
Routine is then used to optimise your orienteering technique. Routine is merely a structured way of applying your technique, so that you can perform it under stressful situations. Routine makes orienteering almost secondary, however can only be realised through hours of technical training. 
How would you run? Apply your technique, different legs and terrain.
Orienteering is a tremendously complex sport, but those that can simplify the problem, are able to thrive!

Awareness + Routine -> Successful Performance Under Stress

How would you run? Apply your technique to the most complex legs.