After the NZ Linné Training Camp, I enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with my family. I also took part in a couple of really nice trainings with AOTC, including a “God Jul” special and boxing day O-intervals. The intervals were especially nice as the group was quite large. In Auckland we have not done many of these group o-intervals before, but they are especially common in Uppsala. I think they are really good for orienteering under pressure, and at a speed which is higher than your usual orienteering speed, therefore really stressing the technique.
I then packed my bags and joined a group of orienteers from Auckland to travel to Tasmania, primarily for the first round of the World Cups. I had been to Tasmania earlier in 2014 as part of the Australian High Performance Training Camp. It was a fantastic experience, and I really enjoyed the terrain so I was excited for this trip to Tasmania. The travelling group was mainly North West members, all enthusiastic and fun people, giving the trip the ingredients needed to make it a truly memorable one.
The first couple of days in Tasmania we had no races which gave us the opportunity to train and see some of Tasmania. As I wasn’t running the sprint, I had more time before my first race, so I wanted to have a mini-training camp to make the most of the wonderful training conditions that Tasmania has to offer. Included in this was a great run in the Ben Lomond National Park with Nick and Fraser. The terrain was surreal, both Nick and I describing it as “out of this world”.
All was going well, everyone was having fun, the training was good, the weather perfect…but then I was confronted with a rather unpleasant stomach virus which put me out of action for 3 days. I missed the New Years celebrations and was left in an exhausted, bed ridden state. The source of the virus could not be determined, and we became pretty sure that it wasn’t food poisoning as a few other people got the virus, but thankfully to a lesser degree. In some way I think it was a good thing to get sick, as it gave my body a complete chance to recover and I could lose some weight before the competitions, or at least that’s how I justified it in my head.
For the first World Cups (sprint qualification and final) I was just a spectator, but it was fun to see everyone race and made me hungry for my own races. It was good to see Cameron Tier have the best performance in the sprint, another North West runner moving through the ranks! The sprints were well organized, and it was nice to see that the organisers used the qualification as a chance to showcase Cataract Gorge, a place that the NZ team visited a number of times after the race.
After the sprints we moved out of Launceston, and shifted to the coast in a small town called Bicheno. It was really neat here as basically all the NZ orienteers stayed together in a collection of bungalows. That meant that there was almost 80 of us all within walking distance. One highlight from this arrangement was going for easy jogs, and being cheered on by the older members of the group. Tom and I found this to pretty motivating. Before my World Cup races started I had a chance to run the Oceania Relays. It was good to do a high speed O-session after being sick so that I could get my body back to working condition. The race was close in the M21E class, but Julian was stronger than me on the last leg, which gave Australia the title.
My first World Cup race was the middle on the 8th and then the long on the 10th. Both competitions were awesome. The terrain and courses were some of the best I have ever run in Australia, and it was really nice to see the 3.8km monster leg in the long distance. It takes a pretty courageous course planner to set a leg that long, but it was a nice challenge! Links to the maps can be found below, which have some specific comments about the races and the results. The best thing about the middle was running to the cheers of a big NZ contingent! I was satisfied with my 13th position, and really happy to secure a place in the WOC middle. The long was tough and identified again the difference in my abilities in the long versus the middle. There are some things I really want to work on to improve my long distance orienteering, like optimizing the technique to a higher degree and more attention to route selection. I find I don’t have the same focus in the long, that I can achieve in the middle. This is connected to my physical capacity at the moment, but also experience so bring on more tough long distances!
After the World Cups it was nice to have an extra day to visit Coles Bay, and run across to Wineglass Bay. Such a beautiful place, with insane geography. I have to say that this trip has been one of the best orienteering experiences of my life. I am really inspired by the level of motivation that is growing within NZ, and I think things are just happening now which will take NZ to a whole new level. One thing that is critical for development, as a small orienteering country, has been the appointment of Malcom Ingham as High Performance Leader. I believe that under his leadership we have a real shot at putting the systems in place to produce a self-sustaining development pathway and to re-ignite the super-series and ANZ test matches.
But the main source of inspiration from the trip was the group. Everyone got on so well, and the variety and number of characters in the group made it so much fun. I would like to give a huge thanks to Rob and Marquita who organized a significant proportion of the trip. Rob has been so influential in NZ orienteering, and his enthusiasm and energy is something that greatly inspires me. Overall I would give the trip 10/10, even getting sick couldn’t lower its score.
Now I have 1 month left in NZ before I head back to Sweden. I will be producing some maps in Tauranga and Rotorua to earn some money. The goal for training is to continue with a stable training regime. I will also be competing in Tour de Peninsula which is looking like a great competition. 7 races in 3 days, on some nice sprint maps! I hope to work on my Swedish in this period too, I really need to learn the language om jag är att trivas i Sverige. But we will see how far I get before getting on the plane!