NZOC2022 – The Battle of Canaan Downs

Chris Forne and Georgia Whitla

50 years of New Zealand Orienteering Championships, we are now at the eve of NZOC2022. The calm before the storm.

It seems that making it to the start line for this year’s nationals is itself a challenge with many succumbing to COVID or the isolation requirements in the final week. The event though has seen some favourable movements, in phase almost perfectly with our national trajectory out of COVID. Event restrictions have been entirely removed and the weather is looking on point (might I say, as expected). Another omen, New Zealand moved to the “Orange” setting yesterday.

This post will be brief, as deployment and delivery are first and foremost for the Event Team. I wanted to conclude this NZOC2022 story by talking to elite sports, of course specifically orienteering. The pursuit of sporting goals has shaped a large part of my life and identity. The feelings, both highs and lows, are some of the most meaningful and rewarding I have encountered. It has formed a large portion of my value base, given the attitude an athlete must have to push their body and mind to seek improvement, to ultimately, an arbitrary end. But it is the pursuit of such ends, to derive meaning from a process of continuously improving, which I think is so fun.

NZOC2022 is the trials for the Senior and Junior national teams to compete later this year in Europe. It is a goal for many. Representing your country at the world stage is an honour and has a rich tradition in the orienteering circles, comparable to the history of nationals itself. To make the national team you must race well at trials, which brings us back to this weekend and some of my guesses as to who shall come out on top.  Note, these are not likely to feature at the TAB any time soon, as orienteering has not quite reached the size required or level of corruption that many other sports have. 

For the Women, Lizzie Ingham is still the dominant force in New Zealand orienteering. However, I think it might just be time that Amelia Horne formally announces her arrival to elite orienteering. Georgia Whitla is poised to upset, as is Amber Morrison. But there are many others who’s form I have not researched but could equally deliver winning performances; Imogene Scott, Marina Comeskey, Kirsty Coombs, Jenna Tidswell to name but a few.

For the men, I can’t help but entertain the idea that Chris Forne, The Adventure GOAT, will emerge victorious in at least one of the days but there are many who will challenge. First and foremost, Duncan Morrison, my fellow Oman, who’s eagerness for competition is as palpable as Nick Hann’s disappointment in not starting, relinquishing his own comeback to COVID. Gene Beveridge, Joseph Lynch and Tommy Hayes will all be in the mix. No doubt Brent Edwards shall be exuberating confidence beyond his levels of fitness, but that will just add to the theatre of racing.

And so it begins, it all starts with a triangle, the first competitors head out just before 2 pm tomorrow.

NZOC2022, it is now time to find your adventure.

The Battle of Canaan Downs is upon us (Model Map).

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