Successful 2020 National Orienteering Champs
By Joolz - Fri 30 Oct 2020 7:52pm
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Happy Orienteering Wellington organisers

As a nation-wide event to celebrate high competition in a friendly environment Nationals 2020 ticked all the boxes. It was a very rocky journey to the start line for this event due to the global pandemic.

After every successful event there are key learnings. The organisers will do a thorough debrief over the coming weeks (once they’ve all had some rest) and are keen for feedback. But for now, below are some initial thoughts from some key organisers. The organisers are really happy to share key learnings from the debrief so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’d like more information here


Orienteering Wellington President  | Sarah O’Sullivan

A huge THANKYOU to everyone who came to the National Champs over Labour Weekend. We loved that our event could actually happen and we loved the enthusiasm and passion that radiated from everyone over the weekend. There was so much that went on in the background to make this event happen, including contingency plans for if any part of the country was higher than level one – the cases of COVID-19 in the week leading up to the event definitely had us on the edge of our seats, but it all worked out. To throw a few numbers around, we organised nationals twice, 17 people helped with detailed planning over the last year, our volunteer army over the weekend swelled to over 60 people who contributed over 300 volunteer hours in the weekend alone and over 400 people came to each of our events. Congratulations to all the place getters and thanks again to everyone who came along to run around in the forest, catch up with friends and to support this fantastic sport of orienteering.

A separate thanks to Interislander who came on board to sponsor some prizes. We are sure the recipients will enjoy their trip with Interislander. As ‘every journey has a story’ we hope they will share where their prize trip takes them -– hopefully  to another orienteering event.

Wellington Orienteer at the National Champs 2020

Long distance champs

Controller at Parewanui |Bill Edwards:

In general all the feedback was positive – I didn’t hear a single serious complaint about the courses.

The winning times were generally as intended in the classes where the winners had clean or fairly clean runs – in particular M21E was just about right. In some classes the winning times were on the long side, but this was generally where the winner might not have had a particularly good run (e.g. Lizzie in W21E). The run through worked well and we worked hard to ensure the right balance of distance before and after.

The area was very well mapped which meant that the planning phase ran very smoothly. One of the important bits of planning / controlling is trying not to let competitors get into areas where there might be questionable mapping. In this case there was little of that – probably less than 10% of control sites were rejected, which is in my experience a very low percentage.

It was great working with Orienteering Wellington, the organisation was very thorough. Everything was thought out well in advance and it all ran very smoothly on the day. There was enough slack that it didn’t matter that I couldn’t contribute to hanging and checking controls due to some of my pre-event adventures causing a bit of self-inflicted bodily harm.

Middle distance champs

Controller at OsgiliathMalcolm Ingham 

The long planning phase (thanks to COVID-19) at least meant that going into the events control locations had been checked and re-checked so many times that it was extremely unlikely that there would be any problems – and there weren’t. Nevertheless, there were some behind-the-scenes issues which re emphasises the importance of multiple checks right up until the first start. I’ll illustrate these with a series of comments from planning this event: 

Control sites were originally taped by Yvette (course planner) back in February. At this point there was an extra block of beautiful, runnable, white forest. Sadly, with the collapse of the export market for quality timber to China, as a result of Covid there, this was deemed expendable as low- quality timber for the local market and disappeared rather rapidly. Hence re-plan #1.

Draft courses were re-planned and new control sites taped. Then came the stage of test running of appropriate courses for correct length. This led to slight some adjustments or minor re-plan #2

Then came lockdown….

As soon as Wellington moved down to Level 2, allowing regional travel, site checks resumed. There was re-checking, and in some cases replacement, of tapes, more test running, and a few map corrections due to trail bikes not believing in lockdowns.

Prior to preparation of the maps for printing we introduced a few new control sites near the start to avoid too many people heading to the same controls at the beginning of their course, and so this was re-plan #3

All of the controls were put out in the week leading up to the event. On the day of the event we turned-on controls early in the morning. This also serves as a final check that the right controls are in the right place. To ensure an independent check, no-one turns on controls that they originally put out. At the middle distance it was in fact found that two control codes had been inter-changed. This was picked up by the independent check at control turn-on. A second problem turned out to be a single dead control box which once activated insisted on emitting a continuous high-pitched whine. 

Finally, I gave the OK to start and the event started Everyone seemed to enjoy the courses and their time in the forest catching up with friends at the event centre.

Sprint Finish

Sprint distance champs

Controller at the Levin showgrounds and schools | Alan Horn:

Getting the Sprint Distance Event off the ground has taken a lot of work. One of the landowners on the map we originally planned the courses on was not keen to host us for the rescheduled Nationals so we had to find a new area and map (huge thanks to Malcolm Ingham and Russell Higham who produced this map). And of course plan a whole new set of courses.

Other challenges included pop-up buildings sites. We discovered a new building site at one school that affected a control placement, and we had two other building sites come and go during the planning. The second big challenge was disappearing equipment. Three control stands and flags disappeared overnight. Apart from this it all seemed to go OK once we had sorted these issues. A passing police car took no interest at the crossing and all other niggles were sorted as the need arose.

📸: Top banner photo: Peter Woods. Article photos: Moore2It

#champsNZ #NZorienteeringchamps #orienteeringchamps #NZOC #NZchamps

About Contributor: Joolz

I call myself an adventuress (but not to godzone standard - OK?) designer, photographer and communicator. Challenging outdoors stuff makes food the other passion. I’ll always take the most torturous route to a control, you’ll only find me if you start looking off the map.

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