50 years of New Zealand Orienteering Championships, NZOC2022!
The last post set the scene for NZOC2022, this post will take readers through a brief history, specifically the road which has brought New Zealand orienteers to this year’s celebration of 50 years of national championships.
1972, the year NASA officially launched its Space Shuttle Program, was also the year of the inaugural New Zealand Orienteering Championships. Peter Snell presented the trophies for the Auckland event which would launch the annual competition for the next 50 years. It is a privilege to be part of such a rich history that began some 20 years before I did. Fast-forward to 2006, and New Zealand orienteers found themselves for the first time competing towards national titles in the Top of the South region.
A thousand or more years ago Kupe’s great journey across the Pacific Ocean reached its zenith in 1642 when Abel Tasman explored the coast of what is now the National Park bearing his name. These words were part of Nic Gorman’s eloquent report on the happenings of the 2006 championships in the now lost New Zealand Orienteering Magazine. You can read the full article from the 81st Issue below and try guess who features on the front cover, they will be competing at NZOC2022. In 2006, Canaan Downs was used for the first time for orienteering during a long weekend of racing that featured household names at the top of the leader board in both elite classes. Chris Forne completed a perfect weekend of racing, taking 3 titles. He is now 16 years the wiser with multiple World Adventure Racing titles to his name and will be on the start line at NZOC2022. The big question for many is will his experience pay dividends this year against youthful energy and resurgent forces to consolidate his position as the most decorated New Zealand men’s elite orienteer? Tania Robinson, Penny Kane and Rachel Smith were the stars of the women’s field in 2006 and produced exciting racing that I am sure will feature again at Easter. I aim to share a post in the week before NZOC2022 to cover my predictions, albeit unlikely to feature at the TAB any time soon.
The second time that orienteers from around the country navigated for national titles in the Nelson-Tasman region was in 2016 which I wrote about in the previous scene setting post. I suspect the character of NZOC2022 will be comparable to the 2016 edition, bringing together iconic landscapes and fierce competition in the theatre of racing.
Which brings us back to today, 25 days out from the first race of NZOC2022. The planning teams have been hard at work, checking control sites and testing courses, and the weekend just been Gillian Ingham conducted her IOF controllers check for the Sprint, Middle and Long, all World Ranking Events. The terrain is pure, the courses absolute. The excitement is palpable as numbers head north of 300 just 3 days out from the entries closing. I recently took part in a radio interview on Fresh FM talking about NZOC2022 and orienteering more generally in the Nelson-Tasman region. You can listen to this here, should you need some soothing monotonous tones to put you to sleep – a crucial ingredient in anyone’s build-up to a successful national’s campaign.
I have now test run courses for all four days of racing. Each competition will offer a set of unique challenges which will need a composed and skilful mind to navigate through successfully. In the next post I will write about the technical skills required to achieve clean races; most importantly how to manage the ancient beech forests of Canaan Downs. This terrain is truly special, the pinnacle of native New Zealand orienteering. But as with any contest, you must first be in it to win it. So on the eve of entries closing, there is only one thing left to do.
NZOC2022, enter now.