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.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Sprint Auckland Day

Auckland Orienteering Club is hosting an Ultra-Sprint event at Cornwall Park on Saturday 1 Feb, but with a few twists this year.  There are no control descriptions. Instead there is a dot in the middle of the control circle identifying the exact location of the control.  There is an artificial (man-made) maze to contend with.  There will be some dummy controls to try to trick you and a mis-punch will not disqualify you, but will add 30 seconds to your time for each error.

Three races will be held to qualify for the finals each being around a kilometre long with runners getting to chose when they start and which of the three courses to run as long as all are completed by a certain time.  The final mass start race is for the top 4 in each grade to decide the winners.

On Sunday, marks the return of Sprint Auckland Day.  15 one kilometre races in one day as a group of self-supported orienteers make their way across Auckland’s parks and schools.  Will be excellent!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Tasmania - Keep it at the back of your mind

Check out the World Cup map from 1988 on the World of O

Sprint Canberra Maps

She's been doing a lot of orienteering lately.  Visit Lizzie's Digital Orienteering Map Archive (DOMA) for some interesting maps.  Including downloads from her new watch!

Embarrassing Mistakes

Yep. We've all done them. And this last weekend gave me another good'un to add to my list.

Coming through the spectator pivot for the first time in Sprint Canberra race 4, I completely missed the taped run through. Instead heading straight off to the next control. it was only 100m later that I suddenly realised, and not wanting to ruin the whole week of races, I did an about turn and completed the run through to the cheers of the thousands* watching. I lost 45s or so, but kept myself in the race. And as a complete surprise to me, and a prime example of why you should never give up, I still ended up winning both that race, and the series.

boo boo.
But why did the mistake happen? Were there warning signs? And what could I have done to avoid it?

I've given numerous talks to juniors about the dangers of spectator legs, and techniques to deal with the distractions. And up until now, they've worked for me (some people might disagree here - but previous mistakes for me have been post-spectator and have had other main driving factors). So what happened?

The first and easiest thing to do of course, is blame the course! ;)  Yes, the map is confusing, there's lines everywhere. Yes, the tape was poorly set up - starting a good 20m away, and well off to the right from the control and where I was running. And Yes, those who had the short butterfly first headed in the direction of the taped run through anyway, so weren't likely to miss it the 2nd time - so no chance of a dsq for them.

But. I'd read about the compulsary run through in the bulletin. It was there on my control descriptions. And the commentator had even mentioned it pre-race! At the end of the day, everyone is in the same position  (or should be, perhaps not here due to the butterfly and what order you have it). In any case, it's up to the competitor to remember, and get it right.

So what were my warning signs? I've identified a number of contributing factors:
1. I (thought I'd) seen Rachel Effeney ahead of me. We started together, so I knew she'd be ahead on time. Mistake One, worrying about someone else's race, not my own. (and it turned out it wasn't her anyway...)
2. I'd made a mistake on #13, (due to running faster to try and catch Rachel).
3. I hadn't checked my descriptions as well as I should, or normally do. Bit of a novel reason here - I had my new gps watch on, so my holder was higher up my arm than usual. Harder to use, so I looked less often. Watch will now go on my left wrist!
That and...
4. It took me an age to spot where #15 was on the map. I saw 18 first. Then the loop around 20. Where the heck was #15?!! By the time I found it I was half way between 13 and 14. So the route choice decision was rushed, and I didn't check my descriptions as there wasn't time - it was pretty obvious what was the pivot control.

So the mistake was actually prior to the control - I was rushed, and didn't take in everything I needed to plan the leg. What could/should I have done better?
1. The only race I can control is my own. On (not) seeing Rachel, I shouldn't have got flustered. This is where the mental aspect comes in, and getting yourself back on task after distractions.
2. Similarly with making the mistake on #13. Running faster isn't going to solve the problem!
3. Don't change your routine for the first time in a race! I never wear a watch when orienteering. But my new gps was so exciting, and new, and sparkly! My right wrist is where my descriptions go though. That shouldn't change. From now on, watch is on the left wrist, or back pocket!
4. If you're confused, slow down! Get the course/leg clear in your head. It's easier to deal with now than fix later!

The actual run through (or lack there of), I did as I advocate when I coach. I had my leg planned, I was reading my map (the end of the leg and next control), and I blocked out the crowd (so I didn't hear their 'ooooohs' as I missed the tape!). However, having my head up and aware would have saved me, rather than concentrating 100% on the map and where I was running.

But I didn't, so I didn't see any tape as I left the control, so I missed the chuted run. The tape I then saw, I took to be the finish chute. It wasn't until mid-leg, when I checked my descriptions that I realised I'd missed the compulsary route....shit. Turn around...sheepishly run back...

So yeah. A valuable experience. And a classic mistake. With orienteering getting more and more spectator friendly, it's important that we learn to deal with spectator legs/controls, gps tracking, and cameras on course. I've made some shockers, caught on gps, camera, and in front of people. Surely some of you have similar stories to share, to make me feel better? Or some tips for how you cope with spectator legs and/or turn it to your advantage?

*very slight exaggeration for effect.

Born again orienteer...

Jamie has kindly asked if I start contributing to the Osquad blog.  I think his term was that I'm one of the orienteering geeks.  Funny it fits.  Turns out I'm not the only one and checking through the list of other contributors I'm in illustrious company.  So, being overly enthusiasticly orienteeringly geeky, I agreed. 
But when I sat down to think what a middle-aged orienteer who didn’t run elites can contribute to the blog I was stumped.  That’s until I thought to myself – why did I never become an elite?
When I turned 21 I stopped orienteering.  It wasn’t a conscious decision, but being a late bloomer I had finally discovered girls.  Combined with other trappings of youth I lost interest in the sport I grew up loving.  But why was it so easy for me to go off course? – if you’ll pardon the pun.

For me it was partly to do with being a lazy trainer but more so it was mental.  Orienteering requires both skills equally.  You can be the best navigator in the world but if you’re not physically capable then you’ll win only through the failures of others.  I was a technical orienteer with match fitness and I only won sometimes.  But that was the main problem.  I focussed on the winning. 

Orienteering is an individual sport.  But unlike tennis or running races, it is just you against the map, the terrain and yourself.  You can’t control what others are doing, you can only control yourself.
Recently I was watching a YouTube video on how to start running.  I’m currently trying to establish the habit.  The guy in the video said that running is in the mind.  It’s getting out the door to train that’s hard. It’s getting to the top of that hill.  It’s pushing to the finishing line despite not being able to breathe.  And with that the penny dropped.  I didn’t like training because I wasn’t mentally tough enough. 

I’ve watched the rise of the likes of Lizzie, Matt and Nick over the last few years and I wonder what sets them apart.  In my opinion, it is their mental toughness with a detail to all parts of competing.  It’s achievable for others but it needs to be done consciously.

The last aspect that sets them apart from where I was at a young age (and I’m not claiming that I was in the same league as them) is that they focus solely on controlling their own race.  They have no control over others only over what they are doing.  Matt’s reaction at the end of the wharf after finishing the Rotoiti Classic last December wasn’t to be disappointed that he hadn’t beaten Nick for the series.  It was of elation of having executed a damn fine race.  Having returned to orienteering 15 years after giving it up that’s what drives me now.  Being the best orienteer I can be and enjoying it when I am.  It’s only now though that I’ve realised that includes running.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Wellington weeklys

We have just started weekly training sessions for Wellington orienteers. Plan is to keep them going as long as possible. Orienteers should do orienteering.

Brand new map in the heart of Wellington city for this occasion, with 20 odd starters.

Selection Announcements: World Cups 2014

World Cup Races selection 2014

Round 1 Antalya, Turkey
Round 2 Murcia, Spain; Palmela, Portugal 
Round 3 Kongsberg, Norway; Imatra, Finland
Round 5 Liestal, Switzerland

All athletes interested in Rounds 3 & 5 should notify the Convenor of Selectors, Peter Watson [ ], by 17 April 17 2014, with Rounds 1 & 2 requiring immediate notification by the 29 January 2014.

Selection for these events will be based on past results with all known form taken into account, but most weight will be placed on performances at the 2014 Nationals.

Selections will be announced by 28 April 2014 with the exception of Rounds 1 and 2 which will be announced by 30 January 2014.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Lizzie Ingham fresh from Portugal

Great interview with Lizzie Ingham from the Portugese Orienteering blogspot here.  The orienteering world now knows more about Lizzie's plans than her (NZ) club mates and probably parents did a day ago....but great plans they are...Go Lizzie.

Lizzie and her (NZ) clubmates

Monday, 20 January 2014

Make Sure You Recover Properly

Nick Hann reminded me today via email that pain is weakness leaving the body (and that route choice on sanddunes is weakness leaving the mind). I decided that I needed more pain in my life so went out and ran hard for 2hr 45min without food or water. By the time I "charged" up the path to home I seriously needed some good recovery foods. I was limited to powerade and peanut butter sandwiches, but next time I'm going to line up some other of the top ten recovery foods recommended by Outside. I'm particularly thinking Chilli Chicken...

Sunday, 19 January 2014

What determines who wins...

Self analysis can be painful in orienteering. Questions range from what stoppped me getting out the door to go training that day/week/month/season to why in that race did I do that (of all things). Is it in your DNA? Are motivation, priorities and confidence so confusing because they are double helix shaped?

What sets the creme de la creme apart from the rest of us? Why does Chris Forne not seem to feel pain, or what makes Nick Hann so calm when he should really be just another insecure teenage boy with zits? Why can Lizzie Ingham compete against the worlds best but not win a Nationals middle distance?

Begin your reading here.

Seeking Perfection

To be seen in the forests of Woodhill, some time after dark, Matt "maestro" Ogden and his sidekick Nick "steady" Hann, seeking perfection and whatever comes their way.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

World of O

I am a huge fan of World of O. The best orienteering website in the world. They currently have a series running called January Classics - it is worth a look if you are feeling slightly map starved.

I enjoyed having another look at the 1999 World Champs map in Scotland. New Zealand had a strong team at that event, and I remember following it keenly. Of course the next World Champs in Scotland is none other than the year 2015 and the long distance champs will again be held at Glen Affric...check out the site

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Auckland Sprint Weekend and more...

The calender is filling up nicely. The Matt Ogden inspired TONIC has been confirmed as the JWOC trials in late March, and now the Auckland Orienteering Training Cult is organising a training weekend the week before Sprint the Bay.

Not sure what is happening down south, but in Wellington we will have at least twice weekly orienteering through to around Easter. Wednesday runs are morphing into kick ass sprint orienteering training as of mid Jan and O-Max kicks in from February. I am also investigating training and event options post Nationals, so keep your eyes open for even more good shit happening.

Now is our hour

Hey! I hope all OSQUAD readers had a mint Christmas/New Years, a good mix of chilling and smashing it in the outdoors. I had some good outdoors time, but also plenty of sifting with baby time to reflect, so apologise if what follows is a bit deep for some.

I'm not sure if it was some drones killing some Yemeni's, but something got me thinking about my all time favourite movie...Bladerunner...and particularly the scene that follows.

The replicant (robot) Roy, played by Rutger Hauer, unexpectedly saves the life of Harrison Ford, just before his pre-programmed life, which he had been fighting to extend, expires. In saving his enemy he reveals the value that he puts on the opportunity of life, and challenges what it means to be human,

"I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe... [laughs] Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those... moments... will be lost in time, like [coughs] tears... in... rain. Time... to die..."

For me Bladerunner has always served as a reminder to try to live life actively, not passively, to not accept the status quo unquestioned and above all to be damn grateful for the time we have. 

I am feeling strongly now the limited time I have left as an elite orienteer. Matt Ogden, Nick Hann and the like have made that case strongly. I also feel the generations passing. While in my private life I have recently lost grandparents and gained a child, in orienteering I have seen old faces pass or grow weathered and new fresh faces come. 

It seems like yesterday that I was with Lisa Frith, Stu Barr, Matt Backler and Aaron Prince at JWOC 1999-Bulgaria. I can remember whole conversations, the way I felt, I can smell the place. Now another bunch of young orienteers is lining up a Bulgarian JWOC 15 years later, they are training for the trials to be held in the Riverhead forest in March.

Geez. Cherish it! Give it everything you have, right now and at JWOC, then get ready to fight me for a place in the World Cup team for Tasmania 2015.