1973 50 years historic
Anne Audain 50 years historic
Snell & Marquita 50 years historic
South Auckland van 50 years historic
Team 50 years historic
Forne and Hubbman 50 years historic
Sarah O’ Sullivan | Chat with incoming ONZ Board Chair 
By Christo Peters - Sat 9 Dec 2023 7:39pm

Tell us what it was like orienteering from an early age and what it has led to?  Orienteering in Nelson 30 years ago we had the option of black and white maps or colour maps. Many of the controls were painted ice-cream containers with the clipper hung dangling inside the container. Club orienteering in Nelson led to attending regional and national champs through high school as well as national junior training camps each year where I made many great friendships and I still love going to different events and catching up with friends I’ve made over the years. 

What do you like most about orienteering? The best feeling is when everything just comes into line and you pick a route and execute if perfectly and as you run into the control circle thinking “it should just be over there” AND IT IS! Nailing a control is the best feeling – there should be a name for that feeling! I have always enjoyed the social side of it too. There’s something really nice about just hanging around in the forest for a day and that’s the focus for the day. 

What skills are you still personally mastering to develop your orienteering? I love the detail of orienteering so for me a skill I am continually working on is to simplify the map more so I can run faster (you also need to be able to run fast too).

Have you made a memorable mistake that could be a lesson perhaps for other orienteers? Ha! Yes, of course there are many but the most memorable one was my first time orienteering in Australia with the schools team in 2004 and I ran off the map on the way to number one, I think the rocks just overwhelmed me. But not only did I run off the map I managed to climb the cliff that was surrounding the map, then spent about two hours still thinking I was on the map running around looking for number one. Then I decided it was time to give up and luckily there was a road running through the middle of the map so I would just aim east and get on that. I had to climb back down this huge cliff, and then it dawned on me that I’ve run off the map. It was pretty epic being out on the course for two hours and finding no controls!

Do you have any other key advice for orienteers just starting out? Get to know your fellow club members, just talking about routes on the day after a course helps so much with improving. Also get some training if you can and learn the techniques. 

What other things do you think new members might want to know about ONZ and orienteering that may help them go further?  There are some amazing resources online for training. Also that you don’t have to be elite to go and enjoy large events within New Zealand and overseas. You get to see some really awesome places that you would never probably choose to go to on holiday but places like Nasbey down south or some neat gold mining towns in the middle of nowhere in Australia.

What future untapped prospects can you see for events in the future? I think getting more club members along to regional and national events, more people creating relationships with each other. The strength of the sport is in the people and their relationships.

In your opinion what is the ONZ Board’s key role for the sport in 2024? How may our priorities differ from other sports? As above our strength is our people – especially in a volunteer led sport. So ONZ’s role is to support clubs deliver events, training and development. The focus for training and development is not just for elites but club level orienteers, and also in other skills like event management, controlling and planning courses.

How is the external world changing in ways that are perhaps not reflected perhaps in our sport or organisation? Climate change effects will become more important to consider and plan for. Another aspect for us to consider as a sport is how to we as ONZ and clubs act as good Te Tiriti o Waitangi partners.

If you hosted your own TED Talk, what message would you share?  That when everyone contributes a lot can be done. For example if the control collecting was left to just the planner and controller it makes for a very long day for them, but when a bunch of people stay to help collect controls then everyone may only pick up 5 or 6 controls each.

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