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Big little stories for our 50th | Chris Forne
By Christo Peters - Sat 9 Dec 2023 8:26pm

The above photo was taken at the World Orienteering Champs 2010 at the Long distance event at the Granåsen Ski Centrewith Chris Forne & Daniel Hubmann battling it out in the finish chute. Chris says  “I had tried very hard in the previous high intensity events from the sprint quals, to the sprint and middle day after day, and felt I was not strong enough in the long event. Daniel Hubmann had caught me up and I had enough energy to stay behind him, but got in front in the finish sprint – it was a bit of fun!”

Chris started orienteering at 5 years when his parents brought him to PAPO events. He was a boy already infatuated with drawing maps. Chris did do the odd trip to Dunedin with club members and a junior camp, but mostly stuck to local events. Chris won the PAPO champs at 16, but was surprised later when a North Islander Jason Markum appeared at the PAPO champs and defeated him. Later in the upper high school and university years Chris didn’t do much orienteering and he discovered a new sport – ultimate frisbee!.  

In 2001 or 2002 Chris returned to orienteering with some enthusiasm. Even though he didn’t put his name down for selection, he won the 2003 sprint nationals and he was unexpectedly selected to go to Switzerland for his first world champs for the sprint and long events.

In 2005 Chris was again selected to go to WOC, this time in Japan. He  remembers it distinctly as a favourite event as he felt he was the most prepared. The NZ team had gone to Japan previously some time before WOC 2005 for a training camp. Chris was selected for several WOC years until 2010.  The year previous to this photo (2009) at WOC in Hungary Chris achieved New Zealand’s best ever result in the long distance in 17th place.

Chris and Emily had been living in Norway for over 2 years before the world champs in 2010. They had been looking to go to Europe for a snowy adventure and certainly got 100 days in a row skiing from their front doorway in Trondheim. The local club ‘Wings’ accommodated them in the club house, which required a walk or ski in through the snow. Chris and Emily said the club was very friendly and they included them both in training, dinners and local runs. Emily obtained a job at the local international school, and Chris started some research with the local university working on software development with a placement at a local engineering business working on maritime camera footage & boat movement.

There were many MTBO and ski orienteering events that Chris and Emily participated in during their time in Europe. Chris adds that “We were definitely surprised back then that ski orienteering was as small as it was, especially in Norway. It seemed to be that that Norwegians were more reluctant to do it as a sport, even though it is an obvious outdoor pastime. Kiwis just try anything for a bit of fun – even if you are not very good often we are not too serious about it.” At the end of the season we were about two thirds down in the field after competing for some time (above some other countries that were also not the most obvious places for x-country skiing). The courses were often in a maze-like area made with a snow machine.  

We also enjoyed the MTBOC in Poland, and the MTBO Euro champs in Lithuania, but also MTB orienteering events in Latvia and Slovenia. There were places with a natural network of tracks that were very suitable for orienteering by bike and fun to do.  

Chris says of this photo above:“We had lived in Norway for some time and had met quite a few Norwegian orienteers.There were a few people at the event that I knew, and so it had an exciting feel to it.“ The terrain was classic marsh and forest, and fairly physical. “Leading up to the world champs in 2010, I ran a lot of local competitions, and probably ended up doing too much high intensity training and not enough longer runs. I also decided to race all three events + relay, achieving my best ever result in the middle distance of 21st, but unfortunately was probably a bit overdone by the time it came to the long distance final.”

Chris’s route into the world champs level of orienteering was unusual as he had a big gap in his late teenage years. He managed to train-up to world champ selection after his university days, and he adds that it was for fun. Chris was motivated further when he found he was fairly good at orienteering – it gave him yet more confidence. He says ” I still consider myself more of an orienteer than an adventure racer. Orienteering is still my main focus”. 

WOC 2010 men’s long distance results:

1) Olav Lundanes NOR 1:32:41, 2) Anders Nordberg NOR 1:33:21, 3) Thierry Gueorgiou FRA 1:36:21, 4) Francois Gonon FRA 1:36:48, 5) Marcus Millegård SWE 1:37:33, 6) Scott Fraser GBR 1:37:36, 7) Daniel Hubmann SUI 1:37:57  24) Chris Forne NZL 1:45:56.

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