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).

NZOC2022 – The Technical Breakdown

LiDAR post-processed layers used in the Canaan Downs Mapping Project.

50 years of New Zealand Orienteering Championships, we are now just one week out from NZOC2022.

Orienteering is a technical sport.  The maps we use are the most detailed topographical maps produced.  The navigational skills required to move through the terrain at speed whilst rapidly interpreting a pseudo-subjective 2D canvas loosely representing the complex 3D environment, under oxygen debt, take years to refine and master.  Many don’t, and even if you do, it is for only a fleeting moment.  Herein lies the challenge and beauty of this sport.

This post talks to the technical aspects of NZOC2022, from mapping to event organisation, concluding with some technical skills I think will be relevant to emerge satisfied from the competitions next weekend.

Maps are the foundations of our sport.  They are also the biggest assets to clubs, a substantial map being an appreciable investment usually funded through large events or community grants.  Without maps, there is no orienteering.

An orienteering map is a data-derived work of art constrained by a strict internationally accepted symbol set.  Whenever I compete, turning the map over and seeing a high-quality cartographic product is always incredibly satisfying – this to me is a win, even before I have started.  There are many maps that I have fond memories of, but for sure, the one that is still at the top of my list is Lunsen, Uppsala. 

Lunsen, Uppsala. Still my favourite map in the world (see a full version here).

We are spoilt in New Zealand with the variety of terrain that we have access to and therefore the diversity of maps we can compete on.  NZOC2022 brings to the New Zealand orienteering community the product of the Canaan Downs Mapping Project, which for the quality of mapping and the incredible micro-variety in the terrain I believe deserves a place on the 101 Orienteering Maps you should run on before you die!  You only need to look at the map from the first New Zealand Orienteering Championships to see how far we have come.

1972 New Zealand Orienteering Championships (Photo – Robyn Davis)

The base data for Canaan Downs is LiDAR captured primarily in 2020.  Luckily for NZOC2022 it was made available in September 2021, just in time for the detailed mapping process to begin over the summer.  The statistics of the project by Bryan were outlined in the previous scene setting post.  But from the image at the top of this post you can see the clarity in terrain forms captured by the LiDAR survey and how the various post-processed layers are used to construct the orienteering map. 

Canaan Downs, in my opinion, offers the authentic New Zealand orienteering experience and will be used for the Middle and Long at NZOC2022.  The Sprint and Relay maps have also been made using similar LiDAR data, so you can be sure of the mapping quality next weekend.

Organising an orienteering event, especially one that has the logistical and technical complexity of a nationals, is by no means an easy feat.  We recognised this early in the piece and swiftly positioned personnel to core roles, while keeping the top level small and focused.  This meant decisions could be made swiftly and the complexity managed appropriately.  In recent weeks the Fa’avae event delivery team has been mobilised and we have widened the volunteer base to ensure the event itself does justice to the beautiful terrain, maps and courses.

The Technical Director behind NZOC2022, Michael Croxford, with the Long planning team, Georgia and Brent.

To give you an appreciation for the technical scope across the four days, below are some numbers:

  • 4 arenas designed
  • 270 control sites checked, double checked and marked in the field
  • 40 individual courses planned (63 layout designs applied to cater for the different map scales) and 5 relay courses planned
  • 51-55 individual competitor classes to assign to each course, ensuring courses have appropriate physical and technical difficulty
  • 483 unique competitors yielding 1950 individual maps printed on waterproof Teslin paper
  • 52 pages, the length of Bulletin 2 (soon to be released)

And this is before we have spoken about the technology required to actually manage an orienteering event on the day. All the various software platforms through to hardware, now bare-minimums for national level events.

Talking to Nathan recently, I raised the technical risk that an orienteering event team assumes.  If you were to approach an orienteering event from a purely business perspective, you would walk away before you even started.  I am not sure there are many other sporting codes in which the organisers carry such a level of technical risk; usually the organisers would provide the venue but then the technical side is largely managed by the competitors.  But I believe, it is for this reason we have such capable people in the orienteering community.  For a concluding remark on organising orienteering events; it is saturated with skill and passion, but the financial side for the level of complexity (e.g. compared to trail running) simply doesn’t stack up.

But at the end of the day the purpose of NZOC2022 is to bring together the community for the pinnacle domestic event.  The variety across the weekend will demand a technique which is adaptable, especially amongst the ancient beech trees and rock formations of Canaan Downs. After 20 years of orienteering, constantly refining and evolving my own technique, learning all the way, I came to the “Master the Compass, Master the Map” approach which I try employ to this day. It is difficult to truly train orienteering in New Zealand, for here it is one of the sports where you spend most of your time competing opposed to actually practising.  But this just makes for exciting racing, especially under the pressure of a national championships, and the mistakes that people therefore make.  So, my parting advice for managing the technical demands of next weekend is to keep it simple.  As Timmy always says, “it all starts with a triangle”.

NZOC2022, it is nearly time to find your adventure.

Tim Robertson
WOC (2) (3) JWOC (1) (1) (3)

“It all starts with a △.“

NZOC2022 – A Half-century in the Making

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.

What have Neil and Michael conjured for the NZOC2022 Middle?
Georgia immersed amongst the ancient beech forests of Canaan Downs

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.

NZOC2022, Enter Now

NZOC2022 – Setting the Scene

Now we go, the 50th New Zealand Orienteering Championships 2022 (NZOC2022)! 

A major focus for me at present is the delivery of the 50th New Zealand Orienteering Championships which is being hosted in my home region of Nelson/Tasman.  The reinvigoration of this blog, I thought would be a great vehicle to share the project, from both a technical and non-technical standpoint.  This initial post sets the scene for NZOC2022, introduces readers to the remarkable team that has been assembled and provides sneak previews to the maps and terrain that competitors will face come Easter.

Setting the Scene

COVID has fundamentally changed the events landscape in recent years, and orienteering has not been immune.  Fortunately, the O-community has had two very successful national championships the last two years despite the pandemic.  This is the result of the tireless efforts of Orienteering Wellington (2020) and North West Orienteering Club (2021).  Again, this year we as organisers have had to strongly consider the risks presented by COVID, most pressing the timing of the “peak” of the Omicron outbreak.  We have reserved Labour Weekend should the landscape dramatically change for the worse, but with easing restrictions and controls we as organisers can put in place, we are confident that Easter is the best time to host NZOC2022, a decision now supported firmly by ONZ.

The New Zealand orienteering championships has a rich history, and like the sport itself, has been driven by enthusiastic and passionate individuals and clubs.  The first championships were held in 1972 hosted by then Auckland OA and since then every year has seen, in some form or another, a national championships.  This year will be the 50th.

For those who might have forgotten, Stuart Payne collaborated with numerous stalwarts of New Zealand orienteering, to produce “A history of orienteering in New Zealand” which celebrated 40 years of the federation, now ONZ.  Here you can read more on the nationals baton that has been passed from club to club, paving an enduring legacy bringing orienteers to all parts of our beautiful country. 2022 will be the third time that Nelson Orienteering Club (NOC) has hosted the nationals, the first being 2006 followed more recently in 2016.  I was fortunate to compete in 2016 which arguably sparked my love for the Nelson Lakes Region, a stunningly diverse subalpine environment.  My maps and routes from 2016 are available here.

NZOC2016 Middle
Nelson Lakes, Top of the South

I am truly excited to be part of the core organising team for NZOC2022, bringing Canaan Downs to orienteering at the mapping quality it so deserves, along with the iconic areas of Nelson College and Moturoa (Rabbit Island).  The vision of NZOC2022 is to showcase the stunning paradise for outdoor recreation and pursuits, that is Top of the South, through a high quality and memorable festival of orienteering.

The Team

To deliver NZOC2022, we have positioned none other than the King of Adventure, Nathan Fa’avae as the Event Director.  Michael Croxford, who has inspired orienteering in the region, is overseeing all technical matters, for which there is almost a mountain to overcome in organising such a high-quality national-level event.  I am working closely with both Nathan Fa’avae and Michael in a role that I can only aptly describe as the event workhorse (/project manager).  Alongside us is Jodie Fa’avae (People), David Mangnall (H&S), Daniel Penney (Tech) and Tracy Allan (Marketing). I am especially proud of the team of Planners and Controllers that has been assembled.  They will be profiled along with some of their thoughts on how best to handle each days unique challenges in later posts.  To host a national championship requires an army of volunteers, and with NOC having been the largest O-club in New Zealand in 2019, there is a large pool of talented and dedicated members to draw upon.  My goal is to bring as many club members as possible along for the fun ride that will be NZOC2022.

NZOC2022 Event Team

The Terrain (and map samples)

When I moved to Nelson in 2019, I was blown away by the diversity of terrain the region has to offer.  It was not long before I dubbed it as the next meca of orienteering, extending the meca of adventure sports that it is already known for.  For NZOC2022, we went through 6 event configurations before finally converging on what we thought would balance unique orienteering experiences on world class terrain with the logistics to manage both COVID and event attributes to make it memorable.

NZOC2022 Map Samples

Friday 15th will be the Sprint Distance held at Nelson College and Braemar Campus. This icon of Nelson, visible from the numerous surrounding high points, was established in 1856 and is New Zealand’s oldest state school.  Somewhat fitting then to host the most recently introduced individual discipline of orienteering.  The map will have three distinct terrain types which will test all aspects of one’s sprint repertoire:

  1. Nelson College: multi-level campus with staircases, ramps, paths and walkways which weave between a mixture of building size, age and type.
  2. Braemar Campus: intricate network of paths and covered walkways linking a range of buildings on a rolling campus.
  3. The Woodlands: forested slopes with hidden glades and a network of paths constructed by students.

Saturday 16th will be the Middle Distance held on Canaan Downs South and Sunday 17th will be the Long Distance held on Canaan Downs North.  The vegetation cover is a mixture of open farmland, regenerating low viz scrub and native beech forest reminiscent of Waikaia at it’s best.  The landforms include fields of karst sinkholes, intricate marble outcrops, granite boulder fields and vague bush clad hillsides.  Bryan Teahan has done a truly remarkable with mapping, which I am confident does justice to the spectacular landscape.  I will cover the mapping, with input from all mappers across NZOC2022, in a future post.  But for now, some quick statistics about the Canaan Downs mapping project from Bryan himself.

  • Area: 10.3 km2
  • Time: 393 total hours – 35 hours prep, 204 hours fieldwork, 148 cartography, 6 hours finalisation
  • Longest Day: 10 hours, plus 2 hours travelling
  • Climate: 34% of all fieldwork days were very wet

Monday 18th will be the Relay held at Moturoa West (Rabbit Island).  This terrain form is more familiar to New Zealand orienteers, but more diffuse contours and areas of lower visibility, are likely to test everyone under the added pressure of intense relay racing.

We are now 40 days until the first race kicks off for NZOC2022.  Planning is well underway, and the excitement is building.  Hopefully our Event Director emerges from GODZone well rested and filled with fresh ideas.  The COVID situation is omnipresent, and I really hope, as we all, the situation does not deteriorate beyond the capacity society can adequately manage.  My plan is to release several more NZOC2022 posts in the coming weeks, to raise the profile of the event as well as providing insight to the challenges and rewards that come with organising a major event such as this.

NZOC2022, now we go.

NZOC 2022, Enter Now

WOC 2018

The last weeks have marked somewhat of a come back to international orienteering in which I have competed in my third World Orienteering Championships (WOC). After running in 2014 and 2015, during which I was living in Sweden, I have had a period of absence from the world champs. There were many reasons for this but largely centred on a touch of burnout from orienteering after a prolonged 2015 season and a desire to advance other aspects of my life. In this period I have been very fortunate to join an incredible Auckland based engineering consultancy, Tonkin + Taylor, through which I have met many talented and motivated people and made some great new friends. I have been able to transition my undergraduate mechanical engineering degree into the start of a geotechnical engineering career and in March this year, I submitted my Master’s thesis in civil engineering, specialising in geotechnical earthquake engineering. So for the most part, the orienteering has been on the back burner, but I have still managed a moderate amount of training and tried my best to compete at local competitions. After the National Championships earlier this year and with the Master’s completed I made the decision to have another crack at WOC. The objectives of this WOC project focused on seeing how an NZ based campaign compared to others I have done; in terms of the experience, the feelings, and the performances.

The championships this year were held in Latvia for the first time ever, with the forest races being located in Sigulda, a small town north-east of Riga. I had never been to Latvia before, so I was also quite keen to see a new country and experience some eastern European culture again.

The Preparations

As mentioned above, work and studies have taken priority over the past while but I have still managed an ok level of training. At the National Championships, I think I found myself in good form after a pretty solid summer of training which included a really nice trip up north for New Years. However, as winter set in and a few of the projects I was working with started to consume much of my time and energy, I found that my training dipped. Despite this, I remained fairly confident that I would not lose a great deal through this period of reduced training. In hindsight, I think it did take its toll as I was training too little for too long and missed some of the key interval and longer sessions. I am not saying that I would have changed the build-up prior to leaving New Zealand, especially given my priorities and motivation, but I think this was one of the reasons I lacked any real physical edge at WOC this year.

I had set my plan for the weeks before WOC quite some time ago and it included a week training camp in Latvia to acclimatise and familiarise myself with the terrain, followed by a week in Sweden with mum to find some good feelings by meeting up with friends, running in some really beautiful forests, and distracting my thoughts from WOC for a short time. This was then to be followed by a few days back in Latvia with NZ team before the races started for me on the 7th of August. These weeks went perfectly to plan (not quite the same for Gene) and I really enjoyed all the different experiences. From driving a legit Audi down the back roads of Sigulda to an exquisite dinner with the Ridefelt family after a pure orienteering session in Lunsen, I arrived back to Latvia feeling fresh and primed both mentally and physically.

Rental Car

Sick ride for the training camp in Latvia before WOC.

linne crew

Dinner with the Linne crew at the Ridefelts.

The few days before I started racing, we witnessed orienteering history with Tim Robertson taking a silver medal in the sprint, narrowly missing gold by 1.1 seconds. This result is a reflection of a talented athlete who has matured into one of the best and most consistent sprint orienteers in the world. We knew, as did Tim, that he had the capability to achieve a great result, but to handle all the pressures and conquer the demanding sprint course, is a testament to his ability to handle the big situations. For me, I found it rather emotional and perhaps raised my own expectations which contributed to what transpired in the middle distance. The days before also included the sprint relay which I spectated and the model event for the middle. I enjoyed the model and felt comfortable in the terrain, which boded well for the race itself.


Tim Roberston taking the first ever WOC medal for NZ (Photo – WOC2018).

WOC Middle


Performing at the highest level is about mastering the pressures; from within, from others, and from the event.

The middle distance race was a lesson in how things can go horribly wrong in a race and emptied my confidence after I made the biggest mistake in an important orienteering race to date. Reflecting upon the day I have identified a number of factors which led to the implosion of my target race for the year. This included:

  • Getting too worked up about the race and letting the internal pressure get to me;
  • Not racing since June and having to go through all the nuances of preparing for a big race during the day of the race;
  • Not warming up enough before starting and hence feeling a touch on the lethargic side;
  • Starting way too fast, sprinting out of the start blocks and never gaining control of my orienteering; and most critically
  • My compass breaking at some point during the course without me realising, losing the ability to maintain a good bearing.

I think the last point happened very early on as my parallel mistake to the third largely happened due to an off bearing out of the second control. I pride myself on my ability to run straight, so this must have been the reason why the shit hit the fan. After this, my race was over and I struggled on a number of the subsequent controls without my compass. A hard pill to swallow and a race to forget but at the same time a valuable lesson. I have always maintained that we learn more from our failures than we do our successes.


The worst mistake I have ever made in a major competition.


A look that says it all about the race (Photo – WOC2018).


Difficult slog to the finish (Photo – WOC2018).

WOC Relay


With the middle race knocking my confidence I had to find the strength to put it behind me and re-focus for the relay with Tim and Gene. On paper, this is a very strong team, but the past few years have seen some disappointing relay performances. This was not the case this year, with Tim having a solid first leg undone only in part by one small mistake and a route choice error. I started in 17th position but with some teams close enough to hunt down. Leaving the start triangle we had a very easy first control, but I struggled to make sense of the buildings and lakes and the thoughts came flooding back from the middle distance. I stopped and made sure I figured out where I was and then went to the first control. After this, I found a good flow and ran a stable race which brought back some of the confidence I had lost. The speed was not great compared to the top guys, but that can be largely explained by the training over the last months. Even if I am in my best shape, the top guys are still ~3 minutes faster than me in a middle/relay length course, a margin I would like to bring down in the future. Gene then, in his first race and still recovering from his sickness had a good run to close the relay out in 17th position. A tidy result for a young men’s NZ relay team.


Finding my confidence again after the middle distance, this time reading the f***king map (Photo – WOC2018).

WOC Long


The WOC long is the toughest orienteering course of the year and this year was no exception. I wanted to avenge my middle distance performance with a good run in my second and final individual race for WOC 2018. The last two WOC long distances I have run, 2014 and 2015, were incredibly tough and a mental battle. I think I am becoming more accustomed to the challenges of the long distance and with a number of tough long trail races that I have done (Goat, ROF etc.) I felt mentally more prepared for the race this year than I have in the past. I made sure I had a good warm up and was excited to see that body felt pretty fresh. Before I started, I remember feeling very excited and truly wanting to race the long distance, a much nicer position to be in than I have previously.

With such a long race, I could write an entire essay on how the race evolved. Of course, there were mistakes, most significantly to the first control, but generally I was satisfied with the race. I became fairly tired after the spectator run-through and then took a couple conservative, slower route choices which cost me some time. But when finished, I was mostly happy and an improvement on previous years. If I want to do better in this distance, and both the middle and relay, then I need to obtain a higher physical capacity. But I was pleased to end WOC on a more positive note.


Going strong up to the run-through (Photo – WOC2018).

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Tough finish, as always in a long distance (Photo – WOC2018).

Given my physical shape and the priorities over the past years I have decided that my come back WOC was a success. The middle was a painful reminder of the nature of sport, that even with great preparations we can fall victim to failing equipment and letting the emotions impede our performance. It was awesome to catch-up up with old friends and also to see some of them climb the ranks to the highest positions; Tim in the sprint and Eskil in all the races he ran but most noteworthy the gold in the middle distance.

The motivation right now is quite high, and initial thoughts are that I will go for WOC next year in Norway, the first in a long time that it will just be the forest disciplines. In what shape or form the approach will be I am still not certain. I will spend the next month having a break, beginning with some weeks on a beach in Croatia and in the Slovenian mountains afterwhich heading back to New Zealand, then I will begin thinking about how best to approach WOC next year. Without doubt I will need to pursue a higher physical capacity and tweak the preparations slightly so that I am more able to deal with the stresses of competing at the world champs. I think this can be achieved with more racing in the build-up to WOC. But whatever happens from now, I walk away from this year’s WOC with some great memories and experience.

Thanks to the awesome NZ team, especially Malcolm for his immaculate management skills, T+T (work) for allowing me to have an extended period of leave (and for providing such a great working environment), my family for their support, notably my mum who made the trip to Europe by herself this year to help the team and spectate the races, NWOC for being the best club in NZ, and to many others who have provided insight and support throughout my orienteering career so far.


End of the WOC 2018 project and now onto Croatia and Slovenia before heading back to New Zealand.

WOC 2015

It has been quiet on this blog for a few months now, mainly because I have been busy and kind of questioned the point of blogging, largely the former. But now I feel it will be good to put down some thoughts and feelings regarding WOC and my preparations leading into it. My last post concerned Tiomila, well actually just before it, right before our dreams were devastated by old misfortune (no result in the end due to a miss punch). Since then it has been a mediocre (my performances anyway) round 2 of the World Cups (68th Long, 50th Middle, 14th Mixed Sprint Relay), Jukola (which we finished a fantastic 4th) and a few other smaller competitions. Work was quite intense through this period as we tried to finish off the project I have been working on before the summer. However, due to a really good working situation I could end work on the 30th of June and have all of July to focus on WOC, which began for me on the 4th of August with the middle distance.

The Preparations

I started the main preparations with 2 weeks in Rauland, Norway with the JWOC team who were competing. Fortunately they were happy with me tagging along, and I tried to offer some advice when I could. The scenery in Rauland was truly special, and some of the most inspiring terrain I have been in. Waking up every morning to the backdrop below, was a very powerful motivator for a tough training period. I wanted to have an “overload” period in order to improve the shape, and also to do something whilst the JWOC team was doing all their fun activities! It brought back some good memories of when I was running JWOC. During the JWOC week I competed in the 50th Sørlandsgaloppen, which offered some very nice orienteering. Because of racing and travelling, the training during this week was not the highest, but by the end of it I was still pretty tired! So my time in Norway was really great for my training and motivation, and seeing the JWOC team do so well made it that much better. Tim won the gold again!, and some others had really tidy performances which bodes well for the future. Thanks to the JWOC team, especially Jean Cory-Wright for all the good laughs and discussions.


Insane view from the accommodation in Rauland!!!

After JWOC I travelled to Uppsala with “the AOTC cool c**ks”. Earlier in the year, I had offered those in the Auckland Training Group (AOTC) the possibility to come back with me and experience what it is like to live in Scandinavia (or Uppsala at least), and expose them to the vastly different world of orienteering here. It was a really fun week, filled with some nice orienteering, good food and awesome company. Thanks to Åsa Hedin and her kind family for hosting us. It was very fun to meet someone completely new from the club, but whom we had plenty to talk about! Next it was Oringen, which I was a bystander for, competing a couple of times in open courses and watching everyone else slog it out for 5 races. Albin and Rassmus were highly impressive in the elite class, and also there were some fantastic runs by the Kiwis throughout the week.

AOTC i Sverige

AOTC i Sverige

It was then time for Scotland, heading to Edinburgh, staying there and sightseeing/training for one day and then up to Inverness to meet with the rest of the team. We had a fun week before the racing began, longer for me as I wasn’t starting until the middle distance. In this week I did a number of solid technical sessions to become familiar with the terrain. The trainings confirmed what I had been told previously, that the terrain was nothing that special. I felt really comfortable in the terrain very quickly, even despite some strange mapping.

Going into WOC I was pretty happy with my preparations. Performing at WOC is not something that can be accomplished simply in a short in time, it takes years of dedicated trianing, however one key to the puzzle is fine tuning the preparations in order to be in the best shape possible come race day. I avoided sickness and injury which is a large component. But overall I think I did it the best I could for this year, but I have found some things to work on, regarding the preparations and in general towards my training.

WOC Middle

One big thing I noted before the race was how ‘flat’ I felt. I think I had rested perhaps a little too much, and I maybe missed one key speed session prior to the races in order to remove the stiffness in the legs. However, I still managed a really stable middle distance race and finished in 26th position. I was only 3 minutes and 6 seconds after the winning time, which is progress on the last individual race I prepared for which was in the World Cups in Tasmania earlier this year. I lost significant time on the long leg, running a little too much in terrain and I felt the speed drop towards the end. As a result I missed that ‘kick’ in the last controls which is so important in middle distance. But on the whole, it was a nice day and a performance I am reasonably happy with!

Map (GPS tracking)
TV (around 3:25 for some nice footage of me)

The course wasn't all this nice!

The course wasn’t all this nice!

WOC Relay

Tim seriously injured himself the day before in the middle distance, dislocating his shoulder for the third time this year! Luckily Gene was with us and stepped up to run first leg. His preparations were not exactly optimal, and I could sense that he was quite nervous before the race. But he did an absolutely fantastic race, controlling his technique and the situation to come back in 12th position. Read about his race here. Shamus and I then did stable races (mine was actually quite average, but it was enough on the day), so we finished up in 16th position. The best ever result for a NZ 3-man relay team, which is pretty cool!


WOC Long

I ran the WOC long distance last year and I really suffered then, struggling with the distance and physicality of the course. This year I wanted to do better, and I thought that my overall increase in training volume would have had some dividends. Turns out, it didn’t or not very much. This year I finished in 46th position, a few places better than last year but still a monumental 28 minutes 27 seconds behind the winner. I am pretty disappointed with this, but I kind of realised that it will take some time and numerous more long races before I can even push for the entire racing time. I went into this race almost in fear of how long and tough it would be. I took a conservative approach in the beginning, which meant that I set a rather pathetic tempo from the start. I never managed to increase it, which I wanted to do. You cannot run conservatively in a long distance, you must push from the beginning which I failed to do. My orienteering was pretty good, apart from a stupid mistake in the butterfly and not picking the best lines all the time. The long distance this year was another tough day in the office, but also another big learning experience so I guess I can take that as a positive!

Map (GPS tracking)

Tough day in the office (WorldofO)

Tough day in the office (WorldofO)


I am not a ‘beast’…yet, that was confirmed at WOC, but I am making progress in my training and orienteering. It is so demanding at the top level, again made more difficult with limited support by our federation, but that is the orienteering world I live in and as I have said before, it is all about making the most of the situation we are in. Playing the hand of cards the best way possible, even if the hand is not the best. It was inspiring to see Lucas and other younger guys do so well, emphasising that the good feelings do come again, it just takes time and a whole lot of hard work! One big bonus from this WOC is that NZ will move into the next division, meaning that we get two spots at WOC next year in Sweden. This makes it much more exciting as there will be more spots for us to compete for, and ultimately more kiwis on the start line.

I have learnt so much preparing for and competing at WOC this year. Now begins thoughts towards the future. One thing I will like to try is to spend a longer period in NZ to build a higher physical capacity. I think if I am to bridge the gap to the winning margins then I must become so much fitter, stronger and faster! It takes time, but I believe that significant gains can be made whilst being based in NZ for a longer period of time, especially with the optimal, summer training conditions we have there during the European off-season. Also a big motivator for me is spending time with kiwis, especially my family whom I haven’t seen for 5 months. I noticed this when I was in NZ in January-February, and I think is a big component for me to achieve what I want to achieve.

But that is the end of the WOC2015 project, and I move onto to other things. Thanks to everyone who has supported me and continue to support me. There are so many that I couldn’t possibly name them all, but just know that it makes such a big difference! Now it is less than 40 days until I head back to NZ, via the Australian Champs. It will be a pretty busy schedule till then with Night Hawk, DM and SM and also launching a new project at work. But I am really looking forward to heading home for the entire NZ summer, to see family and friends again!



The Calm Before the Storm

“A moment of pain, is worth a life time of glory”

…a quote that has stuck with me after watching Unbroken, and I think works quite nicely with my favourite quote of all time “pain is weakness leaving the body”. With tough, painful training (of the non-injured kind) we set ourselves up for glory, and that, right now, is the feeling in Linné. It is just under two weeks until the first “big relay” of the season, Tiomila.

Looking back, the past few weeks have been very stable. By minimising the travelling, and only competing a few times I have been able to secure some very good hours of training which I have put into the bank. Below is a look at a few of the highlights, including my first SM Natt.


A smaller relay, but this time the relay was hosted on a map very close to where Tiomila will be held. Therefore, there were a lot of good teams, some combining it with a training camp in Uppland. I ran 4th leg in the first team with Csaba, Rassmus, Joseph and Oskar. The guys before me had really stable runs, so that I could go out in second position. My race was fairly good and I was able to catch the lead and then create a gap. I handed over to Oskar a little over a minute in front, which meant that Oskar just had to do a stable race. Which he managed comfortably, meaning a third straight relay victory for Linné.


Third relay victory!

Third relay victory!

SM Natt

My first Swedish Night Championships, and so a start time of 10:30pm! It was quite a strange feeling starting so late, and it meant that I had to take a sizeable dosage of caffeine before the race. The terrain was fairly nice, but the technique was simple. Run hard on the compass, picking up the few features under the line. Although easier said that done, especially at night,  I felt I handled the challenge quite good making only a couple of small mistakes. I ran by myself, well some guy followed after 17, but I could focus largely on my own race which I think was a good thing. I finished in 12th place, 7 minutes down but only 2 minutes from top 6, which was fun!


Uppsala Möte

The most recent competition, held over the weekend. I ran the night and long (last year I ran the middle and long). I had some problems in the week with some pain in my quad, but it had subsided by the weekend. I had a good race in the night, barring a shit end, and managed to win! The long was less successful and I really struggled in the terrain after the strength training the day before. My legs were really heavy, as was the terrain which made it difficult to sustain a high intensity. The course was also uninspiring, 14 controls over 11km! The end result was #amateurhour of orienteering (see below). It was still a fun training, and it was such a beautiful day in the forest! The days are getting longer and warmer, and I am really starting to see the beauty of Sweden again!

Map Natt
Map Lång




Siggefora, Uppsala Möte Lång

Summer is coming!

Summer is coming!

I will now take out some of the training I have invested into the bank, in hope to find some top form for Tiomila. It always feels a little uneasy before the big competitions, a calmness before the storm. I will be running towards the end of the relay, which will mean a very early start, depending on if I sleep or not. I am really excited, as are my teammates, but we are also calm, focusing on the final prep in order to get the job done.

#itsourtime #ogdenexcited 


Its Only the Beginning

Well it has been 5 weeks since I arrived back to Uppsala after the training camp in Croatia and Slovenia. It has been a stable period of training and working, with two significant highlights being victories in Måsentafetten and Kolmårdskavlen with Ok Linné. These relays are pretty insignificant in the scheme of things, but despite this, there is significant excitement and energy surrounding them.


I ran first leg, followed by Rassmus, Albin and then Oskar. Linné won this relay last year, so there was a little pressure/expectation to repeat the effort. There was some stress in the beginning for me trying to find where to get into the start. Evidently the mass of people congregating was not clear enough. This stress was quickly replaced with focus, and I got into my rhythm once the start gun was fired. I had full control over the technique up to the 7th control. Towards the 8th I made a small mistake, where the group got ahead of me. I think here the tough swedish terrain caught up with me at this point also, and I became tired. It wasnt too far to the finish, so I managed to finish in 6th position on the first leg, just under 20 seconds down. The business was already done, with Rassmus, Albin and Oskar taking over and finishing off the relay in style.


Måsen Champions (photo by Mats Troeng)

Måsen Champions (photo by Mats Troeng)


A week later, a small team change with Oskar pursuing romance over glory, and it was another victory. This time Kolmårdskavlen, with Jakob running the first, me the second, Jan 3rd, Rassmus 4th and Albin running the anchor leg. Jakob had a stable run sending me out in 18th position. I could then “hunt” the pack down, and eventually caught the front group just before the finish. I was really happy with my race apart from one 20 second mistake to the 5th control. It was even nicer to have the feeling to catch the first group, so that I could give Jan a good position for him to go out in. Then again, Rassmus and Albin were better than the rest, and Linné took the top place on the podium. It was actually pretty close in the end with SNO, so it was even nicer to finish on top.

Video of the finish

Running into the finish (photo by JB)

Running into the finish (photo by JB)

Run in with the team! Vad kul! (photo by JB)

Run in with the team! Vad kul! (photo by JB)

The spring weather is starting to arrive now, and following day light savings last weekend, training conditions are becoming increasingly more pleasant here in Uppsala. I ran one of the coolest trainings ever last weekend, a leg over 3km with contours only in Lunsen set by Thierry. An awesome challenge!

Highway to Hell

Tomorrow I shall run my final relay before Tiomila, Rånässtafetten, and I will run the 4th leg. We have two very strong teams, so it will be fun to see which of the two teams comes out on top. Our goal for this relay is to demonstrate the strength of our team for Tiomila. The feeling in the mens team is really great at the moment, everyone seems to be in rather good shape so we are getting very excited (even #ogdenexcited) for Tiomila. Then, it is under a month to Tiomila, and my first major goal for the season.


CroSlo Utlandsläger

It has been a little over a week now since I came back from OK Linné’s annual training camp, which was held in Croatia and Slovenia. This was my first camp with Linné since joining the club. I had been to Croatia/Slovenia before, back in 2011, after JWOC and I thoroughly enjoyed my time then. In my opinion, this part of the world offers some of the nicest and most demanding orienteering terrain possible so I was very eager to get back there! Most clubs go to Portugal or Spain during this time of the year to escape the cold and harsh training conditions that consumes Scandinavia during the winter months. After a visit to Uppsala from Matija Razum last year, the idea to go to Croatia/Slovenia was conceived and we soon realised that the camp could be combined with two competitions, Kvarner Bay Challenge (Croatia) and Lipica Open (Slovenia). This provided a platform to plan a tough schedule of training, and discussions/organisation with Ivan Naggy (organiser of the previously mentioned competitions) promised an unforgettable camp!

Rather than a detailed account of the camp, I thought I would share some of the hash tags (some classic and some new), photos, and overall impressions.

#PerfectFlow, #CroSlo, #CroatiaInvasion #SexySexyDJ, #SlovasionInvasion, #DJInternet, #TräningSomBeats, #Missingtheferrytotakephotos #RassmusCoDriver #Itsnotreallyfantasyapartfromthedragosns #LadiesNightWickedWonderland







Overall impressions from the training camp:

  • Fantastic terrain and maps (available here)
  • Un-matcheable local support from Ivan Naggy, who assisted with organising the trainings and accommodation
  • Great weather and organisation made for optimal training conditions
  • Nice competitions which could be easily integrated into the camp programme
  • Great company and the it felt like we developed the club spirit for those on the camp
  • Satisfied with my training on the camp, however fell sick after stage 2 of Lipica, I think because of the high training volume and perhaps catching it off someone. Seems that nearly everyone got sick after the camp.
  • Kvarner Bay Challenge were two nice competitions, struggled at times in the diffuse terrain and broke my shoe 😦
  • Lipica Open was also great! The first race was a target race, and I got a nice result (3rd in M21E) however I had the speed to get close to Albins time but was let down by my technique. Need to work on my technique more! Bit rusty after not doing so much in NZ. The other races were not so serious, and because of the sickness I couldnt compete at any high level in the last 3 stages.

I would definitely recommend this part of the world for clubs wanting to go on training camps this time of the year. Of course, I think a lot depends on the weather, but provided you have the good weather then I think the environment is almost unbeatable! Thanks in particular to Albin and Matija, but also to everyone on the camp for making it such a wickedly wonderful time!

I have now spent 1 week in Uppsala, in which I have started back at work, have been confronted with the best and worst of the spring weather (polar shift in the weather in the past 3 days, see photos below just 1 week apart), and resuming the life I had last year in the Autumn. I am in good physical condition and I am satisfied with my training over the past months (check out this long training I did in Lunsen last Sunday. Fin!). I feel I have really progressed as an athlete since moving to Sweden, however I am still not convinced that I need to live in Sweden if I am to become the best orienteer I can be. What I should be doing, or where I should be living consumes a lot of my thoughts, and I feel torn between two places. If I am to really thrive and really improve in the time before WOC then I must accept that this is an experience, and I simply must enjoy and be grateful for the opportunity to train along side the best orienteers in the world. I have a lot to learn, a lot of things to work on, but I am really motivated to push this year and see what I can achieve in orienteering! After that I might re-evaluate, but for now its full throttle for the training and the competitions coming up!



Another European Adventure Begins

Last Friday I begun the 18,000km journey back to Europe. The trip is getting pretty irritating now, especially doing it so many times now and doing it by myself. The novelty has definitely worn off, and it just presents a disruption to my training for which I have to try minimise its effects. It did however allow for some time to reflect upon the past few months in NZ.

Overall the 2 months in NZ were really inspiring, and I am satisfied with the training I have done. I think my approach to training has seriously evolved over the last year, which can be largely attributed to spending time with the best orienteers in the world. I have a more complete understanding of how I should be training, and a greater awareness for my bodies response to training. After Tasmania I ran in Le Tour de Peninsula which was a series of fun sprints in Christchurch organised by Papo. It was really fun to spend some more time with the NZ orienteers in Akoroa, a place I have never been to before. Again I was exposed to the remarkable diversity in the terrain that we have in NZ, a reason I love the country so much. The races were fun with good variety in courses, terrain and safety (thanks to Chris Forne). The time in NZ also made me think about what I want to do after this season, and where I want to be.

Maps from Le Tour


Beautiful NZ

The last week in NZ was fairly busy as I tried to complete my BOP mapping project and test run various courses for events later in the year. Unfortunately I fell sick on the Sunday before I left, which made the last few days are bit rough. I had always planned to have a week or 2 of easier training around now, so that I could adapt to the training that I had done in NZ and to get my body as ready as possible to minimise the impact of changing the training environment, especially considering that I am heading into the backend of a European winter. So I could easily justify the sickness as a good thing in my head, however as I write this it is still persisting so hopefully it decides to disappear as quickly as possible now.

During the flight to Europe I had a stopover in Singapore, which I made the most of with a treadmill training and a swim in an outdoor pool. I am becoming a big advocate of having a slightly longer stopover and training during them, after doing it also when I traveled to NZ last year.  Both times I have felt so much better at the end of the travels, than when I traveled for a straight 24hours.

Before heading to Uppsala, I spent a few days with my sister in London. Both her and I left NZ last year to explore the world, however she did not travel back to NZ for the summer, so it was nice to catch up. I managed a couple of trainings in which I became pretty adamant that I could never live in London. But it was nice to see my sister and her life in London, do some cliched tourism and visit the Science Musuem which I was visited back in 2009.


London tourist for the third time

Yesterday I arrived to Uppsala and was surprised how much it felt like “home”. The experience of time is pretty interesting sometimes and how places can seem to almost freeze the passage of time. Anyway, the weather is no where near as harsh as I expected, with a large proportion of the snow having already melted. The temperatures are mostly above zero as well, which suggests that Spring is almost here! Next up is a 2 week training camp in Croatia and Slovenia with Linné. It is looking like it will be a great camp, with a good programme incorporating a variety of maps, terrain and training types. Stay posted!

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