Thank you to everyone who has been so welcoming as I acclimatise to this role. As I begin to understand the breadth and depth of the sport, I am starting to hear about some of our sport’s personalities while learning more about our clubs. As part of this journey, I have introduced two new sections: Orienteering Legends & Club Spotlight. This issue we get to know Counties Manukau’s Robbie and have a look at OBOP. I welcome your suggestions for future issues.
When I started this role, I undertook to ease my way onto the sport through a couple of events. After conversations with several passionate people, I have set my sights on the up-and-coming summer series hosted by Auckland Orienteering Club. As I am mentally preparing myself for this feat, I am amassing an ever-growing posse of family who will be joining me – this currently sits at me, both of my children, my brother and our mother! …bring on the challenge!
I hope you enjoy this issue and I welcome your feedback.
View from the Chair
One of the perks of being Chair of ONZ is I have an excuse to call and talk to people from across NZ. It is really interesting hearing about the issues clubs face, their thoughts on the future of the sport, and how they see ONZ. And what I really enjoy hearing about, are the many great things people are doing in the different clubs. A great example is a conversation I had with a Southland Orienteering Club (SOC) member recently.
That person contacted me because they wanted to share some ideas they had around how we could do much more in sharing resources; for example training aids and tools which seem to be something every club does in its own way. What a fantastic conversation! The issues they raised were bang on – across clubs we are so often guilty of reinventing the wheel, and we don’t take advantage of the great resources and knowledge that resides across the whole orienteering community. They quite rightly questioned what ONZ’s role might be in this; could we find some way to enable this sharing of knowledge and resources, and how could we make it easier to access this – important for every club, but especially smaller clubs who don’t have the resources so easily available to them.
Whilst there will be some different solution options for this, one idea we are toying with is having a twice year club presidents meeting, which would be done via video conference, and be a facilitated session where club presidents can connect with others and learn about some of the practices happening across the country. What do you think about this? If there is enough interest, we will get something set up by the end of the year.
Another thing we need your input to is the business planning session, which the Council will be holding at the end of November, You can participate through completing a survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/63HBRBT where you can share your views on the issues, ONZ, and what you believe the priorities could be for the year ahead.
Around 10 people, including club representatives and ONZ personnel had a really productive workshop 2 weeks ago on major events allocation. There was some really great discussion, diverse views and debate, and the outcome was a proposal that we hope to take to clubs to get feedback on very soon. Whilst it is hard to find a perfect solution, we do hope to get to something that makes the system of major event allocation work better, so we look forward to sharing this with you and getting feedback and something finalised in due course.
Lastly, it has been great to have Christo Peters start work as the GM this last 3 weeks. Christo is settling in well, and been involved in many meetings and work groups, exposing him to the intricacies of the sport, which I am sure has had his head spinning at times! Christo’s professional knowledge and skills, and collaborative approach are already being noticed, and I am sure many of you will enjoy connecting with him in due course.
After a busy month with work and ONZ matters, I am looking forward to getting some competition time myself, notably the Australian MTBO champs in 2 weeks, shortly followed by the NZ MTBO Champs which OBOP are hosting. It should be fun, and I look forward to seeing some of you out there!
Legends of Orienteering
aka John Robinson
I first came in contact with Robbie through a recent zoom conference on major events. During the meeting there were a couple of moments when historical reasons were questioned and everyone would pause, waiting to hear the why, and sometimes even the when things happened as they did. The voice everyone was waiting to hear was Robbie’s. It is easy to look at orienteering as a relatively new kid on the New Zealand sporting block, but when you are listening to Robbie you realise that is simply not true.
Following the meeting I asked around about him and found that he was synonymous with Counties Manukau Orienteering, one person even said “him and Val (his wife) are Counties Orienteering”. …so he was an administrator. As editor, I decided that John would be the perfect first “Legend of Orienteering” for my first issue. Naturally I picked up the phone and called Robbie only to find out that he was on his way home after competing in Australia, so he was a competitor as well! Intrigued, I fired a series of questions at him from which I have constructed our first legend’s profile:
Name: Robbie aka John Robinson
Club: Counties Manukau
When you were working what did you do?
I was an engineer by trade for twelve years before converting to teaching. I taught technical / graphics until retirement.
How did you become involved in orienteering?
In 1974 I became involved as both a competitor and an administrator. I had already done ten years on the Waikato Athletic centre so already served my apprenticeship. Following the commonwealth games in Christchurch in 1974 John Davies invited Val and I to a meeting. I didn’t know it was to form the Pinelands orienteering club. One year later I controlled the NZ Championships!
Background as a competitor
I started competing in 1974, the same year we formed the Pinelands Club, some 45 years ago! I am not sure exactly what my best performance is – somewhere between 28th Scotland World champs and last week with three wins at Oceania in the 80 age-group! – It is always good to be able to look at the bottom of the print-out and see no mistakes! So with one mistake over the last week, maybe the best is still to come?
Achievements as an administrator
Wow where to start? 1975 Setting up the rotation system for major events which gave stability in programing for over 44 years. Returning from WOC 1979 and setting up the NZ elite squad and then being named national coach in 1979 would rank up there. Looking back at the progress that has been made since then is something to be proud of. Winning the World masters marathon in 1979 earned invites during 1980/81 and a Nike contract so national coach was passed on to John Rix. I returned to the position in 1989 and coached the team 1991 Czech 93 to America. Orienteering during this time went to a new level which I was proud of. Returned in 2000 Finland. Changing the club relays was also a major. It used to be “boys day out” when the top placings were all boys teams. By introducing a lady into all teams evened things up another tick. It is also good to see the trophies Val and I donated to the secondary schools in 1987 still in good shape and hotly contested for! Team selections is still an area to work on.
Which part of orienteering do you enjoy the most?
I like a challenge, be it competing, or admin. Orienteering is problem solving which fits into both categories. I have made 138 maps and set or controlled seven National Championships which must go close to a record. Setting or controlling is enjoyable, but you do miss out on competing.
What would you like your legacy in orienteering to be?
I would like to think the work I have done in orienteering has made the sport more enjoyable for orienteers and administrators.
Advise to future orienteers.
“You will make your biggest improvement by finding your most reoccurring error”.
High Performance Update
The 9-day Oceania Carnival moving from ACT to Victoria, and featuring the return leg of the Pinestars – Bushrangers Test Match. It started on Saturday with the Oceania Sprint Championships based on the Charles Sturt University campus at Wagga Wagga. Perhaps slightly unusual, the area used by the long courses also took in a boulder-strewn hillside which introducing not a somewhat non-sprint flavour but also a significant climb. Whether because of this or otherwise, the majority of NZL elites and 20’s were outshone by the locals. The only Kiwi victory went to Lizzie Ingham, who having returned from Norway to this side of the world only 24 hours earlier, made several small errors but still had enough in the tank to hold off Bridget Anderson by 7 seconds. Imogene Scott was the next New Zealander in W21E in 6th place. In M21E Tommy Hayes also had what looked like a winning run until it became clear that he had inadvertently omitted control 13. This left Brodie Nankervis as the winner ahead of Brit William Gardner. Gene Beveridge was the top Kiwi in 6th place just shy of a minute off the pace.
In W20 both Jess Sewell and Kaia Joergensen made the top 6 but not the placings in a race won in a very impressive 17:44, 9 seconds faster than Lizzie on the same course) by Ella Cuthbert. In the junior men Will Tidswell was the top Pinestar in 8th place in a race dominated by the Australians.
There was hope that the New Zealanders would be more at home in the Australian Long Distance the following day, run on open rocky slopes with good visibility. In fact the W20’s came into their own with an impressive series of results which saw 6 Kiwis in the top 10, led by Tessa Burns having probably her best result to date in a 9 second winning margin over Zoe Melhuish. Tessa was accompanied by Katie Cory-Wright (4th), Briana Steven (6th), Kaia Joergensen (7th), Marina Comeskey (9th) and Jess Sewell (10th). In M20 the Australians again dominated with only Oliver Egan breaking into the top 6.
In the elite grades Gene was again the top New Zealander in M21E finishing in 6th place in a race won by Simon Uppill. In W21E Lizzie took her second win in two days with a commanding margin of nearly 5 minutes over Natasha Key, with Imogene taking 4th spot behind Krystal Neumann.
Monday’s Oceania Relay saw Australia win 3 out of the 4 Test Match classes with New Zealand’s only win coming in W21E. With state teams also running there was always going to be stiff competition outside the actual national teams and in M21E New Zealand’s team of Gene, Cameron de L’Isle and Tommy were pushed into 3rd behind AUS and ACT well back from the winning time. In the elite women a tight first leg between Imogene and Natasha Key was followed by Krystal Neumann opening up a gap of nearly 2 minutes on Lara Molloy, before Lizzie caught and pulled away from the Australians on the final leg. In M20, although never completely out of touch, NZL never looked like taking the honours in a race won by ACT ahead of the Bushrangers team and New South Wales, the Kiwis finishing 4th. Things were much W20 from the Australian Long Distance Champs closer in W20 where Katie Cory-Wright finished the first leg only 12 seconds down on Australia, although also behind Queensland. Marina Comeskey the cut the gap to 7 seconds as Queensland fell away, setting up a last leg duel between Briana Steven for NZL and Tara Melhuish for AUS. Amid the splits in the complex rocks Briana was unable to overtake Tara and AUS took the class by 17 seconds.
With the relay counting in the Test Match as well as the previous two days, the current scores are:
M21E: NZL 41, AUS 93;
W21E: NZL 66, AUS 73;
M20: NZL 46, AUS 98;
W20: NZL 66, AUS 79.
With the scores to be normalized at the end of the week to 100 for winning a class, the Pinestars need strong performances at next weekends Oceania Long and Middle to preserve the lead from the home test at Queen’s Birthday!
World Cup Round 3 – Laufen, Switzerland
The third round of the World Cup, in Laufen, Switzerland, kicked off the day before Oceania with a middle distance. New Zealand was represented by only Tim and Laura Robertson. Unfortunately the weekend did not prove to be a roaring success. In the middle distance both finished in 93rd place in big fields (115 men, 98 women).
With WOC2020 a sprint WOC the real focus of World Cup Round 3 was perhaps, not least for Tim and Laura, on the second and third days. Saturday so the second ever appearance of the new knock-out sprint format at a World Cup. With 3 heats for both men and women, and only the top 12 in each heat to qualify for the knock-out stages, there is no margin for mistakes. Unfortunately, neither Tim nor Laura made the cut. A near 45 second mistake on control 6 was effectively the end of Tim’s race, while Laura, despite being as high as 6th near mid-race shed places over the final part of the course to finish 17th, 14 seconds from qualifying.
The final round of the World Cup for 2019 will be held in Nanhai, China and will consist of a middle distance (Saturday 26 October), a sprint relay on Sunday 27th, and an individual sprint on Tuesday 29th. NZL will be represented by Tim, Tommy Hayes and Devon Beckman in the men and Laura, Lizzie Ingham and Alice Tilley in the women, managed by John and Anna Robertson.
2020 ONZ Trials
Over the last few weeks the programme for trials for the various New Zealand teams in 2020 has been formulated. These include selection for teams for the Junior World Champs, the World University Champs, and WOC.
Both JWOC and WUOC will have 2 sets of trials which will cover all distances. These will be:
- Saturday 21 March 2020: Middle Distance – Auckland
- Sunday 22 March 2020: Long Distance – Auckland
- Friday 10 April 2020: Sprint Distance (ONZ Champs) – Palmerston North
- Saturday 11 April 2020: Long Distance (ONZ Champs) – Scotts Ferry
- Sunday 12 April 2020: Middle Distance (ONZ Champs) – Waitarere North West
As WOC in 2020 is a sprint WOC there will be an extended series of trials which will include a focus on KO sprint. These will be:
- Saturday 25 January 2020: KO Sprint (Lonely Mountain Sprints) – new Plymouth
- Friday 10 April 2020: Sprint Distance (ONZ Champs) – Palmerston North
- Saturday 18 April 2020: KO Sprint – Manawatu
- Sunday 19 April 2020: Sprint Distance – Manwatu
It is envisaged that there will be a HP sprint training camp in the week between the ONZ Champs and the weekend of 18/19 April 2020.
Calls for availability will go out in due course – somewhat earlier than usual for WOC, and as per usual previous international performance and known form will also be considered.
U23 Camp 2019
Preparations for this are in full swing. For the first time applications have exceeded the number of places available and some hard decisions have had to be made. It is worth remembering that the U23 Camp is a High Performance camp and, as such, is not a simple follow-on from Junior Camp, but requires a relatively high degree of previous achievement. Successful applicants will be notified through ONZ and more detailed further information will be sent out towards the end of October.
ONZ High Performance Leader
Acronyms often divide those ‘in the know’ from those that are still getting there. OBOP is a case in point. As GM I attended my first council meeting and the conversation bounced from PAPO to OBOP and I sat listened trying to put meaning to these expressions. After the meeting I found a suitably humble orienteer and got things clarified. Imagine my relief when I realised that OBOP was Orienteering Bay of Plenty and not related to the rather catchy mmmbop song from late 1990s!
Fresh from this relief I set out to find out more about OBOP:
OBOP grew out of the Rotorua Orienteering Club (ROC) in the late 2000’s. In its heyday in the 80’s and 90’s ROC was one of the stronger clubs in NZ, with some of the best forest maps on its doorstep. Sadly, the loss of many of these maps due to 2nd and 3rd generation forest planting (and infestation of weeds such as blackberry), and loss of club members saw the club decline. So the rebirth of the club as OBOP, initially driven by people such as Darren Ashmore, Rebecca Smith, Ian and Raewyn Simpson, signalled the start of a new era.
Since then the club has grown from strength to strength, with several keen orienteers moving to the region, supplemented by many new and emerging orienteers who have come from other sports locally, especially adventure racing
and mountain biking. Today OBOP is thriving, with good growth in membership, healthy attendance at events (events such as Great Forest Rogaine now attracts almost 600 competitors), and increased confidence and ability to host major events. Whilst the club isn’t big, it has held major events every year for the last 4 years, including NZ MTBO Champs, Central Districts Champs, and Middle Earth events in support of the World Masters Games with over 1500 competitors!
Part of OBOP’s approach to build this capability has been in consciously building its volunteer base, and really working hard to involve people new to the sport, getting them setting and involved in the committee early on. They have recognised that relying on the same people for too long to do things results in burnout and isn’t sustainable, so having this new blood coming in has been important.
OBOP has also had to adapt the type of competitions it runs, with a higher number of rogaines and MTBO events run than is typical in other clubs around the country. This is really a reflection of the local terrain and the interests of many people locally, and for them, seems to be working as the numbers continue to grow.
In other news ….
Map making course
Russell ran a superb course for our club in September. The two day course covered creating a basemap, fieldwork and creating the map. The eight participants had diverse backgrounds in orienteering but all now have a deeper understanding of the work that goes into making a map. It was a great opportunity to upskill keen club members in making maps and we plan to continue to use these skills in our club.
“I found it fascinating and quite an eye-opener. I guess I had never classified maps as a form of communication before.” – Sarah O’Sullivan – President, Wellington Orienteering