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High Performance News #72 – December 2020
By Malcolm Ingham - Wed 23 Dec 2020 9:44pm

As we reach the end of troubled 2020 the main HP focus in December has been the Under 23 High Performance Camp in Nelson. This is reported on below with some additional information on fitness testing at these camps and what it may, or may not indicate. Also, plans for the 2021 NOL, an update on IOF news, and last, but not least, season’s greetings to all. Let’s look forward to a more productive 2021.

Malcolm Ingham


Under 23 HP Camp – Nelson, 6-11 December

After the last 3 years in the North island, at Palmerston North, Masterton and Pukekohe, the Under 23 Camp for 2020 moved south to the top of the mainland and (sunny) Nelson. Numbers for this year were well down on the last few years for reason that are hard to guess at, but work, late school commitments and possibly a lack of motivation deriving from the continuing pandemic, were all likely contributors. Nevertheless, an intense several days of training were in store for the lucky 15, plus 4 coaches and helpers.

Sunday was arrival day and the few (pre 10:30) early arrivals managed to acquire late entries into the Nelson Club’s Christmas score event – a 90 minute epic taking in the Grampians on the edge of town – and even subsequently enjoyed the local AGM! After the introductory talk in the evening and the first of several expansive meals at Paretai Guide Camp, the serious stuff started on Monday morning with the regular fitness session/test. With no local athletics track available for a 300m time trial as was held in 2017 and 2019, this took the form of the Intermittent Yo-yo Test, a variant of the Beep test, which essentially gives a measure of aerobic fitness. Top performer was Ronan Lee, who reached level 22.1, while among the girls Lara Molloy reached 17.2. An analysis and discussion of 4 years of fitness testing at these camps is discussed later.

The Yo-yo test under way

The afternoon and early evening saw two different sets of sprint training. First was series of spring intervals around Nelson CBD with legs structured to emphasise the importance of route choice in sprint racing. As was shown by the evening discussion on this session the planning was such that there were indeed multiple options on most legs, leading to detailed discussion of the best choices and the rationale for them.

Sprint route choice intervals in Nelson

After a short break, proceedings resumed at Tahunanui Beach for a 2-person relay planned by Matt Ogden. This took in the open dunes, with their multiple small tracks, and the surrounding parkland. After a highly scientific selection of teams this was won by the “The Two Ollies” (Bixley and Egan) ahead of Alex Monckton and Cameron Bonar, with Lara Molloy and Daniel Monckton not far behind. Thanks to Matt for planning this.

Tuesday saw the first of two long days with a drive to St Arnaud for training on Teetotal Flat and West Bay. The morning session on Teetotal Flat was done in pairs with one in each pair having only the odd numbered controls on his/her map and the other the even numbered controls. The aim therefore was to remain in contact with the map while following your partner to a control which you needed to be able to identify so as to accurately take the lead to the next. Thus map contact and relocation skills were in order. The 6+ k took in not only the complex vegetation on the flats but also a section of steep beech forest to the north – a terrain which is seldom experienced. This section in particular, as late revealed in the evening session when the tracking was replayed, caused many navigational problems.

Teetotal Flat pairs exercise – showing all controls

West Bay, scene for the afternoon, is one of the most complex maps in the country with the generally gently contoured moraine, scattered rock, and detailed network of light green and yellow, requiring constant contact. Here were two exercises here. The first was essentially a control pick with many short legs and multiple changes of direction. The second exercise used a smaller number of longer legs. This purpose here was to emphasise the need for a concrete navigational plan and how this is made easier in complex terrain by breaking longer legs down into shorter segments. Thus, the first exercise was the exemplar, and the second the test, both aided by Lizzie Ingham and Gene Beveridge hanging flags (something we don’t usually do on this camp) to identify the actual control features.

West Bay control pick

The second long drive of the week was to visit the rocks and depressions of Canaan Downs on Takaka Hill. Although not with the same complexity as the Nelson Lakes maps this fascinating area does lend itself to something we rarely get the chance to train for – route choice. Hence the day started with a series of route choice legs across the main part of the area, each presenting multiple options and with length ranging from 500 m to over 2 km. The evening comparison of routes and split times coupled with discussion, led by Gene and Lizzie, of how to approach such route choice legs was an important part of the exercise. The afternoon session gave a second chance to navigate in native beech forest with a middle distance course in the bush surrounding the track down to Harwood’s Hole, with most control sites on the edges of tomos. This was followed for most with a visit to view the famous hole itself.

Enticing the Canaan Downs weka to join in the tour de tomos
Route choices on Canaan Downs

The day was not yet finished, stopping off on the way back at Motueka High School for a short “map choice” exercise as is now a part of the knock-out sprint format. For 3 separate exercises, in groups of 4 or 5 participants were given 20 seconds to choose which of three intermediate control options they would take, before setting off in a mass start to test their choices.

Thursday, the final full day of the camp, started with a vis tot Rabbit Island. The emphasis here was on distance and direction estimation and feature recognition, starting with a window and corridor exercise planned by Lizzie. The most challenging part of this proved to be the changes of direction in an area of forest with multiple parallel low ridges running more or less west to east. A 60+ control pick in the afternoon was followed by the obligatory swim as the morning rain gave way to the sun.

The Rabbit island bunny

The Under 23 camp always finishes with both sprint and forest camp champs. The sprint champs was the culmination of Thursday taking place largely based on Waimea College in Nelson. The inability to use the adjacent Intermediate school led to a hasty re-plan the previous evening, with maps only being printed just prior to the race, but which ultimately probably led to improved courses. For the record the first 3 men were Ronan Lee (12-47) Dougal Shepherd (13-30) and Daniel Monckton (13-33), while Lara Molloy (17-52) was the fastest woman.

Liam Stolberger at the last control in the sprint champs
Camp sprint champs

Friday morning’s camp champs was on the steep terrain of Tunnicliff Forest. A kind planner sited the start at the top of the hill to minimize the climb for tired legs, although there were still plenty of contours to negotiate. Isaac Egan (38-03) was fastest man ahead of Cameron Bonar (38-40) and Ronan (40-00), with lara again fastest (40-22) on the marginally shorter women’s course.

So, again, hopefully a useful week of training, coaching and advice for those wanting/hoping to reach the top and after such an interrupted year those in attendance all deserve credit for the dedication in attending. Thanks to Gene and Lizzie for all their help, to Jake Hanson for also helping, and to Lara and Briana Steven for doing a large part of the on-site organization of cooking groups. Thanks also to Nelson OC for the maps and gear, especially Michael Croxford and Sally Lattimore.

Attendees: Ollie Bixley, Cameron Bonar, Isaac Egan, Oliver Egan, Sylvie Frater, Ronan Lee, Michael McCormack, Lara Molloy, Alex Monckton, Daniel Monckton, Amber Riddle, Aryton Shadbolt, Dougal Shepherd, Briana Steven, Liam Stolberger Coaches and helpers: Malcolm Ingham, Gene Beveridge, Lizzie Ingham, Jake Hanson, Matt Ogden.

Fitness testing at the Under 23 Camp

One of the key ingredients for any success in international orienteering, be it JWOC, WOC, World Cup or even Oceania, is a high level of physical fitness. Hence, for each of the last four years one of the first activities on the Under 23 HP Camp has been fitness testing. The purpose of this has been to obtain some gauge of the fitness levels of the cohort who attend this camp and, over time to try and assess if this is leading to overall improved levels of fitness. The fitness testing has taken two forms. In 2017 and 2019 the participants took part in a 3000 m time-trial on a track, in 2018 and this year, as reported above, the Intermittent Yo-yo Test was used.

The Yo-yo test has some standard relationships attached to it which allow the level achieved to be converted into a value for VO2max – a measurement of the maximum amount of oxygen a person can utilize during intense exercise, and a common measurement used to establish aerobic endurance. In 2018 the results of this were compared with measures of VO2max obtained under laboratory conditions for a number of the athletes, showing that the test is indeed a good indicator of this measure of fitness. There are also relationships which allow 3000 m times to be roughly translated into VO2max, although these values are probably a little less reliable. Even so, we now have 4 years of data and it is worth looking at this to see what it tells us about improvements in fitness levels or otherwise.

Before doing that it is worth stressing that results of any individual test depend very much on the on-the-day conditions and these vary from year to year. Thus in 2017 the time-trial was run on a synthetic track, whereas in 2019 it was on a grass track – likely to produce slightly longer times. Similarly, the 2018 Yo-yo test took place on tarmac, whereas this year, with no suitable hard surface available, it was held on grass. Another variable is, of course, the actual people undertaking the test. In particular, one might expect that as an Under 23 athlete gets older and stronger, all other things being equal, their aerobic performance will improve. To draw any tentative conclusions therefore we have to assume that the make-up of any cohort is, on average, the same. Whether this is valid or not is somewhat subjective.

Given values of VO2max derived from the tests there are various suggested ratings of these values in terms of indicated level of fitness. These allow for both age and sex. For the age range in question the one used here suggests the ratings shown in the following table.

Fitness ratingVO2max – Men (ml/kg/min)VO2max – Women (ml/kg/min)
Above average47-5142-46
Below average37-4133-37
Very poor<30<28

The graph below shows the percentage of participants in each year (men and women combined) who fall into each category. Although it is perhaps risky o directly compare Yo-yo test and time-trial results, and numbers were down in 2020, there does seem to be an overall improvement over the four years, with nearly 67% of participants in the top two categories in 2020, compared to 55%, 47% and 57% in the preceding three years. There is also a big increase in this percentage between 2018 and 2020, the years when the Yo-yo test was used.

Whatever the reality, we will continue to do this testing as, at the very least, it helps to show the aspiring elites what is required and expected for success at the top level.

New IOF Anti-Doping Code

Following revision of the WADA Anti-doping code IOF have published new Anti-Doping rules which come into effect on 1 January 2021. These can be accessed through the IOF website (https://orienteering.sport/new-world-anti-doping-code-and-iof-anti-doping-rules-come-into-force/). They lay out the updated list of doping offences and, just as importantly, the list of responsibilities of athletes. These include (i) being knowledgeable of the Anti-Doping Rules, and (ii) being available for sample collection at all times. As ONZ provides a list of its National Squad members to Drug Free Sport New Zealand, out of competition testing may take place (and has taken place!) at any time. So be prepared.

Whilst on the topic of doping it will be interesting to see what position IOF takes with regard to the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s decision to uphold the ban on Russia for offences at the 2016 Olympics. Although media have concentrated on the ban from the 2021 Olympics and the 2022 Winter Olympics, in fact it applies to all World Championship events for the next 2 years. This therefore encompasses both the 2021 and 2022 versions of WOC. The issue for IOF is how they deal with the provision that individual Russian athletes who are compliant to the anti-doping rules may compete. Thus, although there will presumably be no Russian relay and sprint relay teams at the next 2 WOCs, how many individuals will be able to compete is unknown.

National O League 2021

Given the uncertainty that remains in the international programme for 2021 the National O League for 2021 will be extended beyond its normal concluding date of June. At this stage 5 rounds are proposed.

Round 1: 6/7 March – middle and long distances races –  Riverhead Forest, Auckland

Round 2: 2-5 April – sprint, middle, long distance races – ONZ Champs, Auckland

Round 3: 24-26 April – sprint, middle, long distance races – Southern Champs, Alexandra

Round 4: 5-7 June – races to be decided – QB 3-day, Canterbury

Round 5: 23-25 October – sprint, middle, long distance races – Bay of Plenty

It is possible that a further round including the Canterbury University OC ultralong may be added in September. Further details will be provided in the New Year.

With the possible continuing absence of the chance to compete at major events in Europe, ONZ is also to commence a discussion with Orienteering Australia on the possibility, assuming a trans-Tasman bubble eventuates, of a joint Australia/New Zealand O League at elite and junior elite levels.

HP Camps in 2021

The plan for High Performance camps in 2020 was to hold a series of weekend camps with possibly a more extended camp post-ONZ champs at Easter and prior to what were to be WOC trials the following weekend. Obviously Covid put a stop to everything. For 2021 the same idea is currently in mind – a series of weekend camps with possibly something extra in the week after the ONZ Champs. Hopefully we can carry through with this.

The present scheme is to use the weekends of 20/21 February, 20/21 March and 15/16 May with the idea that these take place on the various rocky areas around the country that will give the best preparation for WOC in Czech Republic should it go ahead and NZL based orienteers are selected. Further details will come in the New Year.

Selection Notice JWOC2021

The Junior World Orienteering Championships 2021 are scheduled to be held in Kocaeli, Turkey from 11-16 July 2021. In the present environment of the Covid-19 pandemic, although New Zealand intends to compete in this event, at this stage participation remains uncertain. However, despite this uncertainty ONZ is continuing with a selection process.

All athletes interested in selection for the 2021 JWOC team shall notify their interest, year of birth, and cell phone number to the Convenor of Selectors Al Cory-Wright (alistaircorywright@gmail.com) by 28 February 2021.

Selection Criteria

As per the Orienteering NZ G1 Selection Policy the 2021 JWOC team will be selected on the basis of:

  • the 2021 Orienteering New Zealand Championships, 2-5 April 2021
  • previous known form including performances at JWOC and other comparable international events

Athletes will be expected to:

  • have a structured training plan in place by 31 January 2021, and to work with a suitable coach/mentor to follow this.
  • demonstrate the technical ability and level of fitness required to finish in at least the top 50% of the field in at least one of the three individual races.

Information on the athlete contribution to JWOC2021 costs will be made available in due course.

Selection Notice WOC2021

The World Orienteering Championships 2021 is scheduled to be held in Doksky, Czech Republic from 6-9 July 2021, and will consist of an individual sprint, middle and long races, a forest relay and a sprint relay. In the present environment of the Covid-19 pandemic, although New Zealand intends to compete in this event, at this stage participation remains uncertain. However, despite this uncertainty ONZ is continuing with a selection process.

All athletes interested in selection for the 2021 WOC team shall notify their interest, year of birth, and cell phone number to the Convenor of Selectors Al Cory-Wright (alistaircorywright@xtra.co.nz) by 28 February 2021.

Selection Criteria

As per the Orienteering NZ G1 Selection Policy the 2021 WOC team will be selected on the basis of:

For New Zealand based athletes:

  • the 2021 Orienteering New Zealand Championships, 2-5 April 2021
  • previous known form including performances at WOC and other comparable international events

For overseas based athletes:

  • up to 3 nominated World Ranking Events (WRE) at any date up to and including 18 April 2021
  • previous known form including performances at WOC and other comparable international events

Athletes will be expected to:

  • demonstrate the technical ability and level of fitness required to finish in at least the top 75% of the field in at least one of the KO and individual sprint races;

Information on the athlete contribution to WOC2021 costs will be made available in due course.

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