I hope everyone enjoyed watching WOC. The TV coverage was amazing and the view given was probably better than that seen on the ground. As we now turn to JWOC in less than a weeks time, I have confined myself to a general overview. However, QB2022 is not forgotten and there is a brief report below and a presentation of the final results in the NOL.
WOC2022 – the wrap
As I write this, 5 days after the end of the first ever sprint WOC I am still trying to come to terms with what was, from the point of view of results a very mixed week, and certainly (at least from a managerial point of view) a hugely stressful week. Enough has been published on the website and ONZ Facebook page that I won’t repeat all the details but perhaps confine myself to a general recap and a few personal opinions.
The first hiccup was obviously when Lizzie test positive for Covid after attending Jukola in Finland the weekend before WOC started. The positive test was 5 days before WOC started (I was actually in transit in Sydney airport) and it is an enormous credit to the team that steps were immediately taken to isolate Lizzie that resulted in no-one else being infected. We were fortunate in that the choice of accommodation left enough room for this, while also, with a large garden, allowing Lizzie some respite from being shut upstairs on her own. For her, finally back at full fitness after 5 years since last running in a WOC sprint, it was a massive disappointment. Although she did manage to front up for the two individual qualification races any realistic chance had gone.
Along with the absence of Lizzie, missing Laura, whom we had written off with her UK visa problems, meant a complete reorganization of the sprint relay team. Even in these circumstances, to their credit Penelope, Joseph, Tim and Imogene would, had it not been for the mis-punch on leg 1, have matched our previous best sprint relay result of 12th. So we at least showed the potential to achieve, although I make no apology for referring to the result as a disappointment – a mis-punch is always a disappointment and, sadly, something that New Zealand relay teams seem to do all too frequently.
1. Sweden 58:39, 2. Great Britain 59:41, 3. Norway 1:00:20, 4. Switzerland 1:00:26, 5. Denmark 1:00:28, 6. France 1:00:31, New Zealand mp (1:03:37)
The KO sprint was a very long day. As was reported, Tim kept us on tenderhooks by only just qualifying by 1 second in last place in his group. In contrast, Penelope missed out by 1 second. Joseph, meanwhile, had a superb run, as he had also in the relay qualifying in second place in his group. The KO rounds were brutal, run in quick succession and all without any forking. Tim was magnificent in these rounds and his race in the final, where he led nearly all the way doing most of the navigation for the field, was an inspiration. He deserved a medal, but in such short mass start races what is deserved does not always come about. In the women’s final the other aspect of KO was clearly apparent with several runners barely looking at their maps as they concentrated solely on keeping up with the those at the front – certainly a new kind of orienteering. It remains to be seen if others will follow Denmark and have no forking in KO rounds. Personally, I think forking in at least one of the quarters or semis should be a pre-requisite.
Men: 1. Matthias Kyburz (SUI) 7:19, 2. August Mollem (SWE) 7:20, 3. Jonatan Gustafsson (SWE) 7:24, 4. Tim Robertson (NZL) 7:28, 5. Loic Capbern (FRA) 7:30, 6. Kristian Jones (GBR) 7:31.
Women: 1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) 8:09, 2. Megan Carter-Davies (GBR) 8:24, 3. Eef van Dongen (NED) 8:25, 4. Sara Hagstrom (SWE) 8:29, 5. Simona Aebersold (SUI) 8:30, 6. Lina Strand (SWE) 8:44.
Amidst all this we had also learnt that Laura had finally received her necessary piece of paper from the British Government. This led to a frantic 24 hours during which a flight was booked from Manchester to Billund, her IOF Athlete License was acquired, and the WOC Office was convinced to allow her to be accredited trough an emailed scan of her passport rather than having to present it in person. Laura finally joined the team accommodation at about 10 pm the night before sprint quarantine opened at 7.30 am! It is to her credit that after all this not only did she qualify for the final (just) but finished in 28th place. Like Lizzie, what might have been in other circumstances.
To the purist the individual sprint was much more satisfying than the KO, with good route choice in both the qualification and final, including many blind alleys which caught out several of the top runners, including both Tim and Tove Alexandersson. This time Tim qualified easily. Joseph was solid in his qualifying group and Penelope has her best run of the week to finish 2nd her in her group. With Laura and Tommy also qualifying the total of 5 in a WOC sprint final was the most NZL has ever had. Unfortunately, the final did not go to plan. As above, Tim hit a wrong alley and his chance of a third WOC medal was gone. Neither Joseph nor Tommy really got into their stride, and Penelope, after a solid start, had real problems. The best antipodean result came from Aston Key with a wonderful 5th place and a position on the podium.
Men: 1. Kasper Harlem Fosser (NOR) 13:56, 2. Gustav Bergman (SWE) 14:12, 3. Yannick Michiels (BEL) 14:20, 4. Havard Sanstad Eidsmo (NOR) 14:25, 5. Aston Key (AUS) 14:34, 6. Ralph Street (GBR) 14:36, 21. Tim Robertson (NZL) 15:15, 38. Joseph Lynch (NZL) 16:14, 41. Tommy Hayes (NZL) 16:31.
Women: 1. Megan Carter-Davies (GBR) 14:22, 2. Simona Aebersold (SUI) 14:28, 3. Alice Leake (GBR) 14:40, 4. Andrine Benjaminsen (NOR) 14:41, 5. Elena Roos (SUI) 14:46, 6. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) 14:51, 28. Laura Robertson (NZL) 16:03, 43. Penelope Salmon (NZL) 19:07.
So, what do we, NZL, take from this first sprint WOC? In the context of what we initially said was a 3-year plan towards Scotland 2024 I think it is fair to say that we have made some positive steps. Tim is clearly the stalwart of the team and should remain so for more years to come. Hopefully, Lizzie and Laura will both be able to play a much fuller part in 2024 and remain the similar mainstays on the women’s side. Joseph has now demonstrated that he can foot it at this level and with more experience will only get better. Penelope has also shown that she has the speed and ability, but future involvement will depend on how much athletics takes over as he heads to the US. In terms of requirements it is clear that the split between forest and sprint orienteering is widening. The speed at the top level of sprint orienteering is going up and many of the top athletes are using track and cross-country to help with this – something that perhaps needs to become a more regular part of our diet. With regard to race training the NSL obviously did make a difference to the preparation for such as Joseph and Penelope, but gaining experience at international level is also crucial. JWOC in a week’s time will start this process, but Oceania 2023 in January should also be a target and getting a full team to the European Champs in Italy in October next year would be hugely beneficial. Let’s work on it.
Queen’s Birthday 2022
The first day of Queen’s Birthday, a middle distance World Ranking Event, was always going to present the most technical courses and those planned by Jake Hansen did not disappoint, presenting a true world class challenge. It was perhaps no surprise therefore that in the 21E classes our two most experienced and proven forest orienteers were clear winners. In M21E Matt Ogden led from start to finish to win by over 5 minutes from ONZ middle distance champion Gene Beveridge. While Gene may well have had his mind on the upcoming sprint WOC this was still a very impressive winning margin. Another WOC-bound athlete, Tommy Hayes took 3rd place another 4 minutes down. In W21E Lizzie Ingham’s winning margin was even greater – a 10 minute gap back to Jula Mcmillan – with Red Kiwi’s Amelia Horne a solid 3rd. In fact, with the 20E classes sharing the same courses as the 21Es, the second fastest time among the women went to Rachel Baker, 4 minutes behind Lizzie and 2 ahead of Kaia Joergensen. M21E went to Felix Hunt, who’s time was a few seconds faster than Tommy’s and 50 seconds ahead of Cameron Bonar in 2nd and 61 seconds in front of Ryan Moore in 3rd. The top 3 in M20E would all have made the top 6 podium in M21E.
M21E: 1. Matt Ogden (NL) 31:12, 2. Gene Beveridge (NW) 36:51, 3. Tommy Hayes (AK) 40:43, 4. Scott Smith (PP) 41:30, 5. Jonty Oram (AK) 42:45, 6. Ronan Lee (HB) 43:32.
W21E: 1. Lizzie Ingham (TK) 39:29, 2. Jula McMillan (NW) 49:42, 3. Amelia Horne (RK) 50:25, 4. Tessa Ramsden (RK) 51:21, 5. Heidi Stolberger (NW) 51:38, 6. Georgia Whitla (PP) 53:41.
M20E: 1. Felix Hunt (PP) 40:21, 2. Cameron Bonar (NW) 41:11, 3. Ryan Moore (PP) 41:22, 4. Zefa Fa’avae (NL) 47:50, 5. Alex Jobbins (AK) 47:52, 6. Fergus O’Neill (PP) 52:29.
W20E: 1. Rachel Baker (WN) 43:45, 2. Kaia Joergensen (PP) 46:45, 3. Zara Stewart (AK) 51:51, 4. Katherine Babington (PP) 52:35, 5. Sylvie Frater (AK) 1:00:10, 6. Anna Duston (PP) 1:03:14.
Sunday’s long distance, also a WRE, used an extensive area of the map which was not used in the 2019 ONZ Champs. This presented a much different terrain with significant areas of very low topography, often with meandering blackberry making terrain recognition even harder. It made no difference to matt in M21E who had another win of about 5 minutes over Gene. There was a 10-minute further gap to Ronan Lee in 3rd, who posted what was possibly his best result yet in the forest since moving out of the junior ranks. Another producing a best-ever result was Amelia who had a 39 second win over Georgia Whitla. Imogene Scott, another tuning for sprint WOC, was 3rd after making a significant error half-way through the course.
Felix took out M20E ahead of Zefa Fa’avae, with Ryan Moore winning a tight contest for 3rd ahead of Fergus O’Neill. Katherine Babington survived a big error on the very first control to win W20E from Rachel, who was 10 minutes ahead of Anna Duston in 3rd.
M21E: 1. Matt Ogden 1:21:14, 2. Gene Beveridge 1:26:10, 3. Ronan Lee 1:36:59, 4. Aryton Shadbolt (PP) 1:39:24, 5. Tane Cambridge (PP) 1:39:50, 6. Jonty Oram 1:41;30.
W21E: 1. Amelia Horne 1:20:09, 2. Georgia Whitla 1;20:48, 3. Imogene Scott (AK) 1:23:44, 4. Piret Klade (HB) 1:26:12, 5. Kaia Joergensen 1:26:13, 6. Jula McMillan 1:32:57.
M20E: 1. Felix Hunt 1:08:10, 2. Zefa Fa’avae 1:09:39, 3. Ryan Moore 1:14:01, 4. Fergus O’Neill 1:14:52, 5. Alex Jobbins 1:17:16, 6. Cameron Bonar 1:20:51.
W20E: 1. Katherine Babington 1:01:09, 2. Rachel Baker 1:03:18, 3. Anna Duston 1:13:59, 4. Zara Stewart 1:15:46, 5. Sylvie Frater 1:15:55.
The second middle distance on Monday was almost a replica of the first with Matt, Lizzie (who had passed up Sunday in favour of football), Felix and Rachel all taking the wins. The 3 and a bit minute margin was the closest that Gene got to Matt over the weekend, while Georgia gave Lizzie a real run for her money being only 22 seconds behind. There was also a very close battle for 3rd in W21E where only 20 seconds separate Penny Kane, Piret Klade and Imogene. In W20E Zara Stewart produced her best finish of the weekend being 3 minutes down on Rachel but ahead of Kaia in 3rd.
M21E: 1. Matt Ogden 29:18, 2. Gene Beveridge 32:42, 3. Scott Smith 34:18, 4. Carsten Joergensen (PP) 34:37, 5. Aryton Shadbolt 35:09, 6. Simon Jager (AK) 36:36.
W21E: 1. Lizzie Ingham 31:32, 2. Georgia Whitla 31:54, 3. Penny Kane (HV) 33:23, 4. Piret Klade 33:34, 5. Imogene Scott 33:43, 6. Amelia Horne 37:02.
M20E: 1. Felix Hunt 32:48, 2. Zefa Fa’Avae 33:58, 3. Fergus O’Neill 34:46, 4. Ryan Moore 34:49, 5. Cameron Bonar 35:12, 6. Alex Jobbins 40:16.
W20E: 1. Rachel Baker 34:32, 2. Zara Stewart 37:51, 3. Kaia Joergensen 39:39, 4. Emily Hayes (AK) 41:11, 5. Sylvie Frater 47:50, 6. Katherine Babington 55:25.
While the weekend provided no pointers at all for sprint-WOC, it was good to see consistent performances from Felix, Zefa, Rachel and Kaia as they head towards JWOC in early July. Taking the longer term view (WOC2023?) there was confirmation (as if it was needed) that Matt remains a (the?) top force in New Zealand orienteering. Having missed the ONZ Champs due to his organizational duties, and, having test run the courses been slightly surprised at some of the quick winning times at that event, it was clear, as he conveyed to Duncan Morrison, that he was unsure where he stood in terms of fitness: “in the lead up to the races I was nervous, feeling like I had been out of the game for a while and wasn’t too sure about my shape”. No worries, Matt.
NOL Final Results
The final positions in the NOL have been determined following Matariki. The relatively small field, given the absence of many of the top athletes at WOC, and some having departed, or being in the throes of departure for JWOC, meant that there was essentially no change at the very top. In M21E, however, Ronan Lee and Jonty Oram cemented their 2nd and 3rd places behind the absent Gene Beveridge. Only Matt Ogden, who remained hiding in Nelson, could have disturbed this.
M21E: 1. Gene Beveridge 754.4, 2. Ronan Lee 690.8, 3. Jonty Oram 616.3
In W21E, similarly the top 3 positions held by Imogene Scott, Lizzie Ingham and Kaia Joergensen remained unchanged, although Tessa Ramsden climbed closer to Kaia in finishing 4th.
W21E: 1. Imogene Scott 757.3, 2. Lizzie Ingham 700.0, 3. Kaia Joergensen 618.2
Gene and Imogene, once WOC is over and they have had a tiki-tour of the Italian 50day and O-Ringen, now head off to Canada for a year where Imogene has a research fellowship in Vancouver.
The junior classes were particularly thin at Matariki and only Molly McGowan, with two impressive runs, moved up to disturb the top places.
M20E: 1. Zefa Fa’avae 789.8, 2. Ryan Moore 744.7, 3. Fergus O’Neill 708.4
W20E: 1. Zara Stewart 745.3, 2. Katherine Babington 735.6, 3. Molly McGowan 696.9
The full final tables can be found at https://www.orienteering.org.nz/national-orienteering-league/.