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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.