In general, June heralds the start of the major European events that New Zealand sends full representative teams to. The first of these, as a precursor to JWOC, was the European Youth Champs, an event which is increasingly being used to build-up to the subsequent M/W20 World Championships. Just over the horizon is also WOC 2023, with the New Zealand team currently training hard in Switzerland in advance of some pre-competition racing in Italy. At home King’s Birthday started the month, and now there is relative quiescence as attention turns to Europe.
European Youth Championships
In recent years EYOC has become something of a pre-JWOC event for may of those going on to the higher age class world championships. This year, in Bulgaria, 5 members of the JWOC team were competing, with two others there to run the accompanying public races. EYOC, at least at this stage, has only a sprint, a long, and a relay and has -16 and -18 age classes. Entry is only through Federation and cannot be made individually.
EYOC2023 began with the sprint based around the centre of Velingrad, using largely the park and open areas but with lengthy stretches of route choice through the connecting roads. As is usual in a European sprint, quite different from the New Zealand campus-based norm. perhaps reflecting this, especially as the younger age classes have yet to accumulate experience of this type of sprint, results were middling. Three of the W18 Kiwis, Anna Babington, Molly McGowan and Rachel Baker made the tip half of the field, with Katherine Babington not much further behind. Of the M18s Felix Hunt crept into the top half, with Jacob Knoef two places and 5 seconds behind, and Riley Croxford another 18s back. Eddie Swain was a dnf. There were, however, a couple of excellent performances from two JWOC bound Australians, with Nea Shingler taking 7th place in W18 and Cooper Horley 11th in M18.
The W18 sprint at EYOC
Both M18 and W18 titles were won by Hungarian athletes, and by large margins – 33 seconds in M18, and a whopping 51 seconds in W18.
M18: 1. Tamas Felfodi (HUN) 12:23, 2. Filip Jancik (SLV) 12:56, 3. Gratian Boehi (SUI) 13:03, 11. Cooper Horley (AUS) 13:20, 51. Felix Hunt (NZL) 14:37, 53. Jacob Knoef (NZL) 14:42, 61. Riley Croxford (NZL) 14:58, 75. Owen Radajewski (AUS) 15:37, Eddie Swain (NZL) dnf.
W18: 1. Rita Maramarosi (HUN) 12:31, 2. Eeva Liina Ojanaho (FIN) 13:22, 3. Elii Punto (FIN) 13:32, 7. Nea Shingler (AUS) 14:01, 29. Erika Enderby (AUS) 15:18, 36. Anna Babington (NZL) 15:31, 42. Molly McGowan (NZL) 15:42, 43. Rachel Baker (NZL) 15:50, 54. Katherine Babington (NZL) 16:21,66. Mila Key (AUS) 17:05.
The long distance featured lots of contours and green, with a steep sided valley running through the map from west to east. The men’s course in particular featured clusters of controls, with some long legs between with multiple route choice options. Felix and Rachel both had very good runs, featuring in the top 20 for quite some time before ending up in 31st and 34th places respectively. Katherine was a couple of minutes behind Rachel in 44th. The other Kiwis, for most of whom this was their first experience of a forest race in Europe and very much a learning experience, were further back.
EYOC long – first part of M18.
M18: 1. Tomas Kucera (CZE) 58:50, 2. Ludwig Rosen (SWE) 58:56, 3. Loic Dequiedt (GER) 1:00:05, 31. Felix Hunt 1:09:23, 66. Eddie Swain 1:20:06, 71. Riley Croxford 1:22:20, 73. Cooper Horley (AUS) 1:22:37, 79. Owen Radajewski (AUS) 1:25;27, 93. Jacob Knoef 1:37:31.
W18: 1. Eeva Liina Ojanaho 55:54, 2. Rita Maramarosi 56:31, 3. Vima Pellikka (FIN) 56:57, 34. Rachel Baker 1:09:45,43. Nea Shingler (AUS) 1:12:45, 44. Katherine Babington 1:12:46,52. Mila Key (AUS) 1;15:51, 57. Erika Enderby (AUS) 1:17:12, 59. Anna Babington 1:18:08, 61. Molly McGowan 1:18:14.
EYOC2023 finished with a relay, in which New Zealand had M18 and W18 teams. In the former, Eddie, Riley and Felix recorded 21st place out of 27 official teams – a result that emphasises the level of competition at this event. Anna, Katherine and Rachel were a creditable 13th out of 27 in the W18 race, being as high as 11th at one point. Jacob and Molly ran in unofficial mixed teams, Jacob with the two Australian men, Molly with an Austrian and an Italian.
M18: 1. Norway 1:27:22, 2. Switzerland 1:27:44, 3. Sweden 1:29:18, 21. New Zealand 1:45:35.
W18: 1. Finland 1:30:42, 2. Czechia 1:31:57, 3. Hungary 1:36:54, 13. New Zealand 1:49:52, 15. Australia 1:52:36.
For many New Zealand juniors, including some on their way to JWOC, EYOC is often their first experience of European competition. These are largely in M/W18 classes. It is arguable that it would be beneficial for future performance if more of the top M/W16s could be encouraged to attend, and possibly go on to run spectator races at JWOC. Gaining first-hand experience, at a slightly younger age, of what to expect in Europe can only be good for future performance.
WOC, JWOC and overseas
With WOC and JWOC now only days away, here are the timetables, in New Zealand times, for those keen on following from here.
Tuesday 4 July: JWOC Sprint – first start 0130
Wednesday 5 July: JWOC Sprint relay – start 0130
Wednesday 5 July: JWOC Middle – first start 1830
Friday 7 July: JWOC Long – first start 1800
Saturday 8 July: JWOC Relay – start Men 1830, start Women 2015
Wednesday 12 July: WOC Middle Qualification – first start Men 2000, first start Women 2340
Thursday 13 July: WOC Long – first start Women 1900, first start Men 2045
Saturday 15 July: WOC Middle Final – first start Women 2030, first start Men 2215
Sunday 16 July: WOC Relay – start Men 2225, start Women 0030 Monday 17 July
While, as commented above, several of the JWOC team have been warming up at EYOC, most have headed straight to Romania to familiarise themselves with the local terrain and conditions. Kaia Joergensen, who goes to WOC after JWOC, meanwhile has been training in Switzerland with the majority of the WOC team under the eyes of coach Florian Schneider. Prior to that Tim Robertson, Matt Ogden, Toby Scott and Lizzie Ingham all ran in Finland in the Jukola/Venla relays. Tim ran leg 5 (out of 7) for Koovee 1 who finished in 5th place out of the 1400 or so teams in Jukola. Matt Ogden’s OK Linne 3 finished 75th, with Matt on leg 2, while Toby took on the last leg for the IL Tyrving 2 team which finished 33rd. In the women’s 4 leg Venla relay, Lizzie ran leg 3 for Halden SK 1 who finished 19th, again out of about 1400 teams. Laura Robertson (Rajamaen Rykmentti 1 – 46th) and Kate Morrison (OK Linne 3 – 86th) were also running and, like Lizzie, took on leg 3. Laura was also in a strong W21E field at the Race the Abbeys weekend in the Scottish Borders, finishing 8th Kelso in and 5th in Jedburgh.
Of the WOC team, Matt, Toby, and Lizzie, along with Gene Beveridge and Amelia Horne now hear to the Dolomites for the first 4 days of the Italian 5-day, starting on 1 July.
King’s Birthday 2023, taking in Waikato University and two days in Waiuku Forest, saw the resumption of test matches between the New Zealand Pinestars and the Australian Bushrangers. Unfortunately, whilst the Pinestars team was largely filled with those shortly heading to JWOC or WOC, the Bushrangers were essentially composed of those who had missed out on JWOC/WOC selection. This led to a rather unbalanced competition as after a lengthy sprint on Waikato University, the Australians, along with many others, found the extensive cutty grass at Waiuku a wholly unfamiliar challenge.
The sprint at Waikato provided the only win by a Bushranger as Erika Enderby, the sole Australian JWOC representative running, took out W20E by 19 seconds from Zara Stewart. Both, however, were well behind both Kaia Joergensen and Amble Riddle, the first two in W21E, who were on the same course. Joseph Lynch was well clear in M21E with over a minute gap back to Zefa Fa’avae, although Felix Hunt was only 50 seconds behind Joseph in M20E. Aside from Mikayla taking W20E the Bushrangers were comprehensively behind giving the NZl Pinestars a 4-0 lead after Day 1.
M21E: 1. Joseph Lynch (NZLP) 17:23, 2. Zefa Fa’avae (NZLP) 18:27, 3. Kurtis Shuker (NZLP) 19:13, 4. Cameron Bonar (NW) 19:18, 5. Ronan Lee (HB) 19:56, 6. Duncan Currie (AUSB) 19:58.
W21E: 1. Kaia Joergensen (NZLB) 17:54, 2. Amber Riddle (DN) 18:57, 3. Renee Beveridge (NW) 20:43, 4. Briana Steven (NZLP) 21:11, 5. Niah Corbett (AK) 21:20, 6. Anna Sheldon (AUSB) 21:35.
M20E : 1. Felix Hunt (NZLP) 18:13, 2. Fergus O’Neill (NZLP) 19:22, 3. Riley Croxford (NZLP) 20:02, 4. Niko Stoner (AUSB) 20:58, 5. Riley McFarlane (AUSB) 21:13, 6. Eddie Swain (NL) 21:15.
W20E: 1. Erika Enderby (AUSB) 19:07, 2. Zara Stewart (NZLP) 19:26, 3. Rachel Baker (NZLP) 19:27, 4. Molly McGowan (AK) 19:37, 5. Katherine Babington (NZLP) 19:50, 6. Anna Babington (PP) 20:11.
Test Match: M21E (2 counting) – NZL 35:50, AUS 40:00; W21E (2 counting) – NZL 39:05, AUS 43:38, M20E (3 counting) – NZL 57:37, AUS 63:58, W20E (2 counting) – NZL 38:53, AUS 42:27.
In contrast to the sprint, to the surprise of some of those heading for WOC, the long distance on Waiuku South was relatively short. In particular, Joseph Lynch, wanting to use it as a trial for using gels found he had no need of them, and Lizzie Ingham, running M21E as physical preparation for the WOC long distance, found her time of just over 70 minutes well short of the recommended winning time for women at WOC. Joseph’s winning time of 57:42, less than half of that which Kiwis usually experience at WOC, was just under a minute ahead of local Kurtis Shuker, with Zefa, running up ahead of JWOC, another 90 seconds back in 3rd. Cameron Bonar followed up his useful sprint with a repeat of his 4th place. Kaia had no problems in taking W21E with a large margin over Renee Beveridge, and even larger one back to Briana Steven in 3rd. Nathan Borton, Riley Croxford and Daniel Wood, all representing the Pinestars were the first 3 in M20E, while Zara, Molly McGowan and Anna Babington filled the podium in W20E. The unfamiliar terrain led to a comfortable win for the Pinestars with the Bushrangers getting close only in W20E, where one of the favoured Kiwi runners suffered a mis-punch.
M21E: 1. Joseph Lynch 57:42, 2. Kurtis Shuker 58:40, 3. Zefa Fa’avae 60:11, 4. Cameron Bonar 64:35, 5. Liam Stolberger (NW) 65:05, 6. Paul de Jongh 67:09.
W21E: 1. Kaia Joergensen 56:20, 2. Renee Beveridge 63:03, 3. Briana Steven 71:13, 4. Anna Sheldon 76:34, 5. Kat Pett (WK) 79:24, 6. Tessa Ramsden (NZLB) 80:09.
M20E : 1. Nathan Borton (NZLP) 50:22, 2. Riley Croxford 53:33, 3. Daniel Wood (NZLP) 53:57, 4. Eddie Swain (NZLP) 59:27, 5. Torren Arthur (AUSB) 63:33, 6. Niko Stoner 65:05.
W20E: 1. Zara Stewart 56:16, 2. Molly McGowan 57:17, 3. Anna Babington 63:48, 4. Erika Enderby 64:05, 5. Lianna Stubbs (AUSB) 87:53, 6. Katherine Babington 88:57.
Test Match: M21E – NZL 116:22, AUS 150:11; W21E – NZL 127:33, AUS 162:58, M20E – NZL 157:52, AUS 194:41, W20E – NZL 145:13, AUS 151:58.
Monday’s middle distance saw a move to Waiuku North. Although, starting a lovely clean bit of forest, the later part of courses including areas of indistinct vegetation boundaries and more cutty grass, again caused problems, with may of the times being close to those from the previous day’s long distance. Joseph, Zefa and Kurtis again filled the top 3 in M21E, in that order. In W21E Kaia was again at the top, but 2nd place was filled by Lara Molloy, on the comeback trail after having a baby in 2022. Renee was a comfortable 3rd. After a 3rd and 2nd place in the sprint and long respectively, Riley Croxford finished the weekend on a winning note taking out M20E by 3 minutes from Fergus O’Neill. In W20E Zara repeated her long distance victory ahead of Rachel Baker and Katherine Babington. Again, it was in this class that the Bushrangers got closest, but the Pinestars completed the weekend with another 4-0 result leading to an overall clean sweep of 12-0. The Australian Champs in September/October will no doubt be very different.
M21E: 1. Joseph Lynch 36:13, 2. Zefa Fa’avae 37:23, 3. Kurtis Shuker 40:35, 4. Carsten Joergensen (PP) 42:37, 5. Ronan Lee 43:46, 6. Cameron Bonar 44:09.
W21E: 1. Kaia Joergensen 38:24, 2. Lara Molloy (WN) 46:37, 3. Renee Beveridge 47:06, 4. Heidi Stolberger 52:11, 5. Briana Steven 52:39, 6. Tessa Ramsden 53:05.
M20E : 1. Riley Croxford 46:53, 2. Fergus O’Neill 49:54, 3. Eddie Swain 52:15, 4. Niko Stoner 58:14, 5. Nathan Borton 63:08, 6. Jacob Knoef (PP) 63:56.
W20E: 1. Zara Stewart 45:19, 2. Rachel Baker 45:37, 3. Katherine Babington 47:50, 4. Anna Babington 49:04, 5. Molly McGowan 49:31, 6. Erica Enderby 53:28.
Test Match: M21E – NZL 73:36, AUS 102:42; W21E – NZL 90:53, AUS 113:55, M20E – NZL 159:55, AUS 191:00, W20E (2 counting) – NZL 90:56, AUS 110:57.
In the elite classes King’s Birthday contributed to both the National Sprint League (Day 1) and the National O League (Days 2 and 3).
The main change in the NSL is that, with just the ONZ Champs sprint to go, Kurtis Shuker has moved into the lead following his 3rd place at Waikato University. The only one who can challenge him looks to be Felix Hunt who is currently just over 76 points behind but has only 4 events counting. Victory at Splash Planet might well take him past Kurtis, although the latter can also still improve on his score. In the women, Lizzie Ingham is unassailable and the race for 2nd and 3rd looks to be between Amber Riddle, Anna Babington and Kaia Joergensen.
Men: 1. Kurtis Shuker 465.9 (5 races), 2. Kieran Woods 431 (5), 3. Jonty Oram 423.8 (5), 4. Riley Croxford 410.1 (5), 5. Tyler McCavitt 406.4 (5), 6. Eddie Swain 402.0 (5), 7. Felix Hunt 389.3 (4), 8. Zefa Fa’avae 358.1 (4), 9. Daniel Wood 341.1 (5), 10. Sam Carryer 337.9 (4).
Women: 1. Lizzie Ingham 500.0 (5), 2. Amber Riddle 453.4 (5), 3. Anna Babington 448.7 (5), 4. Molly McGowan 437.1 (5), 5. Alicia McGivern 427.4 (5), 6. Phoebe Hunt 397.6 (5), 7. Kaia Joergensen 389.2 (4), 8. Zara Stewart 359.9 (4), 9. Katherine Babington 358.1 (4), 10. Rachel Baker 350.9 (4).
The situation in the NOL is more complex, with the scoring system of the best 3 of the 6 early season races, plus 3 out of the 2 KB forest traces and the ONZ Champs middle and long, throwing up some considerable anomalies. For example, Lizzie’s decision to run M21E at King’s Birthday means that even two wins in Hawkes Bay in October will be unlikely to allow her to overtake leader Kaia Joergensen. Kaia’s lead of 55 points over the nearest of the rest of the field looks secure. In the men a similar situation exists as Joseph Lynch, having missed both labour Weekend 2022 and the 2023 SI Champs, can only make a maximum of 500 points. Likewise, Matt Ogden, having missed King’s Birthday, can also make 500 points, but is likely to fall short of Zefa Fa’avae.
Men: 1. Zefa Fa’avae 468.0 (3+2 races), 2. Joseph Lynch 400.0 (2+2), 3. Riley Croxford 369.9 (3+2), 4. Kurtis Shuker 341.6 (2+2), 5. Ronan Lee 325.4 (2+2), 6. Oliver Egan 305.3 (2+2), 7. Jonty Oram 302.3 (2+2), 8. Matt Ogden 300.0 (3+0), 9. Carsten Joergensen 298.5 (2+2), 10. Liam Stolberger 2986.7 (2+2).
Women: 1. Kaia Joergensen 446.5 (3+2) 2. Anna Babington 391.3 (3+2), 3. Zara Stewart 385.0 (3+2), 4. Katherine Babington 383.6 (3+2), 5. Molly McGowan 383.1 (3+2), 6=. Renee Beveridge 325.6 (2+2), 6=. Heidi Stolberger 325.6 (3+2), 8. Rachel Baker 311.3 (3+1), 9. Phoebe Hunt 307.1 (3+2), 10. Lizzie Ingham 300.0 (3+0).
Full tables are linked to from the ONZ website front page.
Oceania Sprint Championships 2024
Due to access restrictions for some areas, there have been some changes to the originally proposed programme for January/February 2024. The main one of these is that the KO Sprint Championships have been moved from Auckland to New Plymouth and will now take place on Sunday 28 January, the day before the Sprint Relay.
Bulletin 1 and links to embargoed areas can be found at www.oceaniao.nz.
Athlete Mental Wellbeing Programme
The Sports Performance Research Institute at AUT are conducting a study on athlete mental health and are asking for volunteers to participate. The text of the request received by ONZ is below.
“We are undertaking a research project where we are seeking to better understand the perspectives that high-performance athletes (i.e. athletes competing at national or international level) and their whanau have of the mental health support that athletes currently receive.
Currently, we know little about what athletes need from their own perspective. What we do know often comes from numbers of mental ill health services provided to athletes, to paint a picture of what athletes are experiencing. Instead, this research will give athletes, and their family/whānau, the chance to tell their lived experiences and perspectives and we will ensure that athletes’ voices can guide future athlete wellbeing initiatives.
The study asks participants to complete a completely anonymous 15-minute online survey. This means that answers will not be identified in any way and will not be shared with your sporting organisation(s) (i.e. your answers are anonymous).
If you would like to participate or would like to know more about the study, please click https://aut.au1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_71Zs2cHA9vJudwi
Please feel free to forward to this invitation to anyone that may be interested in participating. Additionally, please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to know more about this research or other research being conducted by this group.
Connor Silvester, Dr Liesje Donkin, Professor Patria Hume and Dr Trevor Clark
Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, Auckland University of Technology”