And so it came to pass….after a 9 month gestation the baby that was the 2020 ONZ Championships was finally born, and what a weekend it was. Even without the trimmings of split times, results boards, social etc. etc, the general feeling seemed to be that everyone was so glad to actually have a major event to run in that no-one missed the extras. From a personal point of view it was nine long months of preparation during which I went from simply controller of the middle distance to being inextricably involved in all three races. Now at least it seems to have been a job well done by all involved, so read all about it.
After a long wait the 220 ONZ Championships finally got under way at Labour Weekend, albeit with the relay missing from the programme. With the timing coinciding with the approach of end of year exams at both school and university level numbers were down a bit in the junior classes, and M21E also had some noticeable absentees. In contrast the W21E field was the strongest in several years, with only overseas based Laura Robertson and Kate Morrison missing from the line-up.
There were nevertheless some fascinating tussles in both the elite and 20 classes. Among the women’ both Lizzie Ingham(W21E) and Penelope Salmon (W20) scored a hat-trick of wins, albeit hard pressed in the forest races by Lara Molloy and Kaia Joergensen respectively. The men’s titles were shared. In M21E Matt Ogden and Joseph Lynch were never separated by more than 54 seconds and, after all 3 races, even had identical cumulative times. In the junior men Will Tidswell looked on course to match the women’s hat-tricks until Ronan Lee raced away with the sprint.
The first race up was the long distance – returning to Parewanui in Santoft Forest, which in its original incarnation as Scott’s Ferry was the scene for the National Championships back in 1988. In W21E, which was tracked on loggator.com, it proved an interesting race as both Lizzie and 2019 champion Lara Molloy made mistakes at controls 2 and 3 in a low visibility block in the north-east of the map. The early leader was Amber Morrison, continued to lead through control 22 by which time Lizzie had cut a 5 minute deficit to 50 seconds. Mistakes by Amber on 23 and 24 put Lizzie in the lead, saw Lara move into second and Georgia Whitla into third. Meanwhile Greta Knarston had been running steadily throughout and passed Georgia when the latter made a mistake on 26. Ultimately only 5 and a half minutes covered the top 5, the tightest finish to an ONZ W21E for many years.
In contrast M21E was a progression as Matt Ogden led from control 1 to the finish. At the first control Matt had a lead of 43 s over Joseph Lynch with Cameron de L’Isle, Duncan Morrison, and Tom Reynolds not far behind. However, that 43 seconds was the closest that Joseph got to Matt with both of them gradually pulling away from the rest of the field. There was a close battle between Cameron, Duncan, Tom and Aaron Prince for third, eventually taken by Tom in his best ONZ Champs result for some time. In M20 Will led from control 5 gradually easing to a nearly three and a half minute win over Cameron Bonar for whom this was the most impressive W20 performance to date. Ryan Moore was another 2-3 minutes further back. Penelope produced probably her best ever forest run in W20, taking the lead at control 6 ahead of the three JWOC representatives Kaia Joergensen, Briana Steven and Marisol Hunter who filled second to fourth in that order, Kaia holding out Briana for second by only 10 seconds.
M21E (14.5k, 150m): 1. Matt Ogden (NL) 1:31:04, 2. Joseph Lynch (PP) 1:31:58, 3. Tom Reynolds (BP) 1:40:12, 4. Cameron de L’Isle 1:41:50, 5. Aaron Prince (PP) 1:43:04, 6. Duncan Morrison (AK) 1:43:48.
W21E (10.8k, 105m): 1. Lizzie Ingham (WN) 1:31:05, 2. Lara Molloy (WN) 1:33:34, 3. Greta Knarston (CM) 1:34:33, 4. Amber Morrison (HB) 1:35:42, 5. Georgia Whitla (NL) 1:36:40, 6. Piret Klade (HB) 1:45:39.
M20A (10.8k, 105m): 1. Will Tidswell (HB) 1:19:42, 2. Cameron Bonar (NW) 1:23:02, 3. Ryan Moore (PP) 1:25:41, 4. Ronan Lee (HB) 1:25:43, 5. Aryton Shadbolt (PP) 1:39:22, 6. Braeden Kommeren (HB) 1:57:18.
W20A (7.1k, 75m): 1. Penelope Salmon (AK) 1:02:50, 2. Kaia Joergensen (PP) 1:04:19, 3. Briana Steven (PP) 1:04:29, 4. Marisol Hunter (PP) 1:09:34, 5. Anna Duston (AK) 1:16:10, 6. Emily Hayes (AK) 1:19:45.
Sunday’s middle distance was held in the far north-west of Waitarere Forest – not a new area but unvisited for some time and a mixture of mature open forest and highly intricate, low visibility macrocarpa. As at Parewanu, being a second growth forest the ground was very soft meaning that even the apparently very fast mature stuff was not quite as fast as it looked.
Once again M21E was a battle between Matt and Joseph. Matt set off at a cracking pace and was nearly 90 seconds ahead of Joseph after 14 controls. Unfortunately for him, number 15 was his undoing as he temporarily lost contact while cutting out into the faster running forest rather than take a more direct line through the low visibility. The minute and 47 seconds he lost to Joseph put the latter ahead by 18 seconds, a margin that increased to 35 by the finish. The rest of the field were a good 3-4 minutes further back with Tom Reynolds picking up his second 3rd place ahead of ever-green Karl Dravitizki.
Matt loses it at #15 in the middle
Lara Molloy, Rene.e Beveridge and Greta Knarston after the middle distance
W21E was a battle between Lizzie and Lara who, between them, filled the top 2 places all the way. A mistake by Lizzie on a shallow depression at #5 put Lara in front for 6 controls before Lizzie reeled her in and pulled away for a nearly 2 minute winning margin. Lara was comfortably ahead of Imogene Scott in 3rd, with Amber and Georgia again filling the next two places. In the junior men mistakes by Will Tidswell and Ronan Lee on their first two controls in the low visibility macrocarpa saw Ryan Moore take the lead. It looked like a 3-way battle right down to the wire until Ryan dropped over a minute on the penultimate control and Will eased away from Ronan for a 47 second victory. For the second day in a row W20 was dominated by Penelope and Kaia. Both dropped time at various stages but Penelope gradually pulled ahead over the second half of the course. Once again kaia ended up shading Briana for 2nd, this time by 15 seconds.
M21E (5.5k, 85m): 1. Joseph Lynch 35:01, 2. Matt Ogden 35:36, 3. Tom Reynolds 38:35, 4. Karl Dravitzki (TK) 41:01, 5. Cameron de L’Isle 41:44, 6. Scott McDonald 43:04.
W21E (4.9k, 75m): 1. Lizzie Ingham 38:35, 2. Lara Molloy 40:16, 3. Imogene Scott (AK) 41:33, 4. Amber Morrison 43:10, 5. Georgia Whitla 43:53, 6. Renee Beveridge (NW) 44:13.
M20A (4.9k, 75m): 1. Will Tidswell 37:41, 2. Ronan Lee 38:28, 3. Ryan Moore 39:45, 4. Cameron Bonar 40:24, 5. Braeden Kommeren 1:13:03.
W20A (4.4k, 70m): 1. Penelope Salmon 35:23, 2. Kaia Joergensen 36:37, 3. Briana Steven 36:52, 4. Tessa Burns (HB) 38:49, 5. Juliet Frater (AK) 39:58, 6. Emily Hayes 41:10.
The unavailability of Freyberg College in Palmerston North over Labour Weekend meant the sprint venue was changed to a new map in Levin. This had varied terrain ranging from the relatively bland Horowhenua College (albeit with a few traps for the unwary), into Levin Showgrounds with the multiple buildings with multiple animal pens, to the much more complex primary and intermediate schools where quick thinking was a premium and then back into the showgrounds to finish in front of the grandstand.
M21E gain proved to be a race between Joseph and Matt. This time it was Joseph who led all the way although the margin was never more than the final gap of 19 seconds. Duncan Morrison was also consistent in 3rd place nearly all the way through and only just over 30 seconds down on Matt at the finish, and a good 45 seconds or so ahead of Tom. M20 winner Ronan Lee was actually fourth fastest on the course, convincingly breaking Will Tidswell’s run of wins, with Cameron Bonar also on the podium.
In W21E Lizzie led from control 5, where Amber turned up a blind alley into one of Horowhenua College’s traps, and was never troubled thereafter. Amber regained second place on return to the Showgrounds, with Imogene Scott taking 3rd place. Penelope Salmon, winning W20 to complete her own hat-trick, was the second fastest on the course some 20 seconds slower than Lizzie and a minute ahead of Tessa Burns in second. Kaia rounded out a good weekend with third place.
Penelope Salmon in Horowhenua College
Lizzie, Amber and Georgia wait to start the sprint
M21E (4.0k, 0m): 1. Joseph Lynch 12:54, 2. Matt Ogden 13:13, 3. Duncan Morrison 13:46, 4. Tom Reynolds 14:29, 5.Scott Mcdonald 14:42, 6. Tane Cambridge (PP) 14:46.
W21E (3.3k, 0m): 1. Lizzie Ingham 14:28, 2. Amber Morrison 15:16, 3. Imogene Scott (AK) 15:28, 4. Georgia Whitls 15:38, 5. Hannah Lynch (BP) 15:40, 6.Greta Knarston 15:51.
M20A (4.0k, 0m): 1. Ronan Lee 13:55, 2. Will Tidswell 14:34, 3. Cameron Bonar 15:00, 4. Ryan Moore 15:19, 5. Ayton Shadbolt 15:25, 6. Braeden Kommeren 15:46.
W20A (3.3k, 0m): 1. Penelope Salmon 14:50, 2. Tessa Burns 15:51, 3. Kaia Joergensen 16:20, 4. Anna Duston 16:43, 5. Briana Steven 16:49, 6. Marisol Hunter 17:10.
So the 2020 ONZ Championships finally came to a successful conclusion. For those wanting to relive it the tracking of the women in the long, the men in the middle and a selection of both in the sprint, can be found under the “Events” link at loggator.com.
National O-League update
The culmination of the ONZ Champs means that there have now been 5 races in the 2020 National O League – January’s KO Sprint, the UCOC Ultralong and the three races at labour Weekend. With 2 more at each of the South Island and Central Champs to come, and 3 at the Auckland Champs that will give a healthy total of 12, with the best 8 scores to count.
Following the ONZ Champs the current leaders are Joseph Lynch (M21), Lizzie Ingham (W21), Will Tidswell (M20) and Penelope Salmon (W20). Lizzie’s lead of over 200 points is already starting to look unassailable, but in the three other classes the margins are 100 points or less and much may depend on attendance at the upcoming events.
The leading positions in 2020 are as follows (points in order of KO Sprint, Ultralong, ONZ Long, ONZ Middle, ONZ Sprint, Total):
To track or not to track that is the question
Another feature of the ONZ Championships was the use of “live” tracking for the elite classes. This was enabled by 10 GPS trackers that were in New Zealand as part of a one-year deal with Loggator obtained by Lizzie Ingham when she returned from Norway. The trackers were initially used, with great success, as a coaching tool on the 2019 U23 Camp, before having their first competitive outing for the KO Sprint Finals in Taranaki in January. Since then opportunities for their use have obviously been limited, although they made a reappearance at the UCOC Ultralong in September. The question now is whether ONZ should invest in keeping these units or even purchase more.
To give a few facts to begin with. While in use the tracking units communicate directly with GPS satellites and internally store their location. To provide live tracking, however, they must also be able to communicate with a cell phone network so that that information can be relayed to the web. For example, at the long distance at the ONZ Champs there was no cell phone coverage and therefore the tracking was not live and only became available after the units were able to later communicate with a cellular network. This is not a problem for use in training/coaching, where the utility is for providing post-training feedback, but is obviously a problem if there is a desire to provide a live service in competition.
So, what do we/ONZ need to consider? Firstly, it is already established that the use of GPS tracking in training and coaching is indisputably beneficial and, at a residential training camp such as the U23 camp, allows nightly feedback to be provided. The usefulness of tracking in competition in New Zealand is less clear cut. Although back in January we saw people at the KO sprint clustered around big screens watching events unfold, that was a relatively unique situation and type of event. More generally, the opportunity for people to watch live tracking of big events in New Zealand (other than those overseas such as Tim Robertson who obviously enjoyed the weekend show) is relatively limited, as the majority of those who might be interested are probably at the event in person. The non-attending audience is therefore small. In the event of providing live tracking there are also issues of people seeing the map/course before they themselves run (at the ONZ middle distance we relied on trust). One way around this is to put tracked classes at the end of the start list, as was done for the ONZ sprint, but in the case of, for example, a long distance M21E course, this would extend the entire day for everyone. Other issues involve how many people, and who, to track. Although 10 units covered most of the W21E field at the long distance ONZ Champs, in the middle distance there was a need to select from a much larger field for the M21E class, and there were only 5 men and 5 women tracked in the sprint. Such small numbers rarely give a real picture of what is going on as there is always the likelihood that a top performer is missed. Ideally therefore more trackers are required if a live service is to be truly effective.
From a personal (MI) perspective I think the training/coaching benefit of tracking is the most important aspect. Even there though a limit of 10 trackers is somewhat restrictive. My initial thoughts are therefore that ONZ should endeavour to at least keep the units we have and possibly add another, maybe, 5. Comments, suggestions are welcome.
IOF and the International scene
Traditionally Euromeeting takes place in the host country of the following year’s WOC and is an important training opportunity for the international elite. This year’s Euromeeting was therefore planned to be in Czech Republic in advance of WOC2021. On 7 October it was announced that it would go ahead with significant Covid-related restrictions including a reduced programme and a requirement to wear face masks at all times when not actually competing. Six days later and, as coronavirus cases in Czech Republic exploded, Euromeeting was cancelled. Now another 9 days on a complete freeze has been placed on all official training activities for WOC2021. Thus 2020 will conclude with there having been no major international orienteering events.
Following their latest Council Meeting IOF also announced that the decision had been taken to not allow over age athletes at JWOC2021 should it go ahead. This followed a survey of Federations as to their opinions on options as to how those athletes who missed out on their final JWOC year due to JWOC2020 being cancelled might be included in 2021. Although the official reason for the decision to not allow over age participation in 2021 was lack of consensus, reading between the lines it seems there is a fear that JWOC2021 might also fall victim to Covid, and 2 years worth of over age athletes would be too difficult to deal with.
Realistically, at this stage, it is therefore difficult to assume that there will be any international competition in 2021. If this eventuates it may require a rethink of the domestic programme to help maintain the enthusiasm of the elite and junior elite.
Still to come
As we approach it November does indeed look a busy month. All the following are part of the 2020 NOL still to come.
|Sat. 7 Nov.||Auckland Sprint Champs||Wesley College, Pukekohe|
|Sat. 7 Nov.||Auckland Middle Champs||Kohekohe, Waiuku|
|Sun. 8 Nov.||Auckland Long Champs||Plantation|
|Sat. 14 Nov.||SI Long Champs||Acheron|
|Sun. 15 Nov.||SI Middle Champs||Kairaki|
|Sat 28. Nov.||Wellington/CD Middle Champs||Foxton Beach|
|Sun 29 Nov.||Wellington/CD Long Champs||Hydrabad|
Then there is:
|6-11 Dec.||Under 23 HP Camp||Nelson|