2010 was a big year for me. I decided it was my turn to do this orienteering thing properly, and having a proper job gave me the monetary means to do it to! I spent 34 out of the 52 weeks in the year out-of-town usually doing something exciting running/orienteering wise. So here is a quick run down
Sprint the Bay – Started the year up in the Hawke’s Bay sprinting around in a series of 6 events….well it would have been 6 if my flight from Wellington to Napier was Cancelled….which meant travelling back to Christchurch an hour later, then waiting an hour to catch another flight back up to Napier direct! I had an alright time and had consistent but not outstanding results including a third place in the 5th stage after a bit of a tow from Ross Morrison. Unfortunately for me I didn’t count in the first race and therefore was out of the overall competition.
The week after Sprint the Bay was a training camp in the lower North Island where we all picked up some tips from Martin Hubman, Maja Alm and Zenia Morgenson that where here checking out NZ on a bit of a summer holiday. The camp lead into the JWOC trial races. After some fairly crap orienteering in the training exercises I was out for some more solid results and that’s what I got….including another 3rd place in the long race.
Headed down to the Kingston to Queenstown Yacht race, flying into Queenstown which was an experience in itself. We had a really good race only to get rolled over about 10min before the finish. The next day I was up to Roxburgh to do some planning along with Matthias Mertz and Bruce Macleod. Matthias was a brilliant tool for our planning and appeared to really enjoy helping us out running around on an orienteering map in NZ. He headed up to Naseby while I went back to work in Chch the next day.
February finished with a Training camp in Naseby followed by an OY at Mt Ross.
March began with the Avalanche Peak Challenge. A true mountain race up in Arthur’s Pass, I have had my eye on this one for a while so I had no trouble in entering right at the last minute…glad I did to cause it was an awesome day and an awesome race. I was third to the top only to have Matt Scott pass me at the bottom of the scree slope….unforunately for me he stayed just out of arms reach for the 7 kms along the river bed. So 4th place overall and picked up a pair of running shoes for my efforts in the spot prize draw. Next day was an OY at Butlers bush on the way back to town. Again it was a really nice hot day and again I spent the race chasing and trying to get away from Matt.
Next up was Nationals down in Central, Nationals in truely my own backyard! I had to sit out the sprint…because I was the planner obviously. However I had a calm and controlled Middle Distance, then a hell for leather long distance with what was two really silly mistakes….but got 4th place in both…so close to the podium but not quite…After being in the front pack of the Relay I managed to shit the bed and made a small error disastrous and only getting out of jail by running for my life picking up two places in the shoot alone. I was fairly satisfied with my Nationals being again consistant as per my plans earlier in the year. I skipped the after events, then had a shocker the weekend after before heading into the hills with Andy J up at Arthurs pass. Getting back a bit tired on Sunday night I realised I had a message on my phone, and from an Auckland number…so I called back… and was told the good news, I had been selected to represent NZ at WOC in Trondheim…as well as at the AUS-NZ challege in Aussie later in May! Awesome and really terrifying at the same time! Lara Prince (flatmate) also noticed she had a message on her phone and called up only to be given the good news too, so it was a pretty exciting evening all round. So this formed the basis of our flat training for the next few months.
Did a lot of base training such as XC races and some general orienteering…probably one of the more laid back months of the year!
Mid may was the NZ-AUS test match in Australia in conjunction with the Aussie WOC trials. Matt came along on the trip and treated them as his US trial races for WOC also. It was just a quick trip, staying in Sydney in the crappest hostel I think Ive come across…very dodgy something straight out of Underbelly…a dramatic change in the place in just two years. First race was a really cool sprint on the World Masters Sprint map which I ran really well but had a shocker on one control. It was just my second Orienteering trip to Australia and I took it easy in the middle having some really good control and then stuffing it up quickly after. Another night in an interesting location… the infamous Belanglo state forest where the Back Packer Murderer dumped his bodies. It wasnt all too bad but the map print quality was shit. I tried to make the best of a bad situation but suffered in the heat and up the hills then just where I felt the wheels were falling off I caught a tow on the back of Dave Sheppard and hooned around the last few just taking him on the last hill…possibly bad form but he smashed me overall anyway.
Couple of weekends later was TWALK…after a whole week of solid rain I was secretly hoping it was going to be cancelled. I was unlucky and it was still on in the snow and rain. Initially it wasnt too bad at all. Then we made a bad decision to go for miles up through thick wet wilding pines got cold then exposed on the ridge in the middle of a snow storm. The we bailed getting off the ridge and bashed through insanely thick wet fallen over trees…not too much fun. But we made it all in tact, a bit cold and tired but alive.
In June I was again selected to run for NZ in the return NZ-AUS test match in Auckland. I felt I was running fairly well but was just overwhelmed by a couple of Juniors who were looking good for JWOC.
I suffered for another 12 hours in another painfully cold and wet Heights of Winter rogaine….the second wet horrible day out in 2010….little did I know there was more suffering to come in the wet…However June finished off nicely with a solid run to take 7th place in the South Island XC champs.
So after the winter had set in it was time to embark on a but of epic mission to get to the Norwegian summer. A cold frosty Sunday night I flew out of Chch airport to Auckland, then Hong Kong and Frankfurt. Oslo Airport I got on a train and headed straight for Trondheim arriving on Tuesday Morning 6am. I had a week of training in Trondheim, sussing out the terrain, staying in Chris and Em’s place there. It was hot and tiring but Im glad I checked it out before the big races. Onwards to Sweden I went, staying briefly with Anthony and Morna in their very nice Swedish house. Then just down the road in Borlange I had a couple of runs at the World Uni’s spectator races. I had a good run at the sprint, 8th place and 1:30 of the leaders. Afterwards I headed back to Anthony and Morna’s to meet up with Joel for a few days before we both travelled to Oringen in Orebro. Oringen would have been really cool…if it didnt rain and now when I look back all I remember is being miserable in the rain. We got 2 fine days and 4 of constant drizzle/rain/any kind of moisture that could fall out of the sky….My orienteering was less than average but all good experience. The last night in Sweden was spent on the floor of a bus that was overbooked to Oslo…
….by 8am on the 1st we arrived in Trondheim, flying into the airport at Hell! After getting a brand new car smoking we eventually got out of the airport carpark and up to Chris’s place for a bit of training. We spent the week up at the Wing OK club house which was really cool. It was a bit tiring all this orienteering and think I might have over cooked it a little. But I was ready as I was ever going to be…. So came WOC week…
My first race was the first race of the week – the sprint qualification. So nervously I walked off 100m down the road to the bus stop. The bus took all competitors to a quarantine area, remote from the competition area to ensure everyone was in the same boat and had no idea what lay ahead for us. The bus was full of nervous energy, serious but focused. Once off the bus everyone who entered the quarantine area was required to sign in and was unable to leave from here until everyone had started. The warm up area was based in a primary school. It was a nice sunny day, perfect conditions for a race. Here everyone warmed up together which was where it was quite easy to get distracted by spotting all the top athletes that you read about and almost a little bit intimidating even, warming up next to your heroes! Call up time for the race was 11 min’s before your start time. You were checked off along with another two competitors’ in the other two qualification heats and allowed to proceed to the start, about 1.8km away from the quarantine area. Along the streets there were a number of marshals and gates to go through. It seemed like a long way to get to the start, with the nervous energy starting to build by the minute. As you got closer you could start to hear the loud speaker in the arena and the crowd cheering which just added to the nervousness. I tried to move my focus to the task at hand making sure I concentrated on Orienteering and nothing else… easier said than done.
Into the last three minutes I reached the funnel tapes from here you headed into your individual lane, complete silence, total focus. Minus two min’s control descriptions were handed out, then minus 1 min you moved around the corner and out to the start. Once round the corner you entered the arena, a building to the right and a big crowd beyond the building at the start triangle (start point of the course). Here my focus slipped a little bit, probably due to never being in such a situation before and I was thinking “make sure you know where you are going before you leave the start triangle” I completely forgot to check my compass so I could check my direction on the map straight away. Then 10 seconds before the start you moved up to the start gate with the map upside down on a table on your right. The official placed their hand on your shoulder to prevent you moving before the start beep, then 3,2,1 go. Grab the map, move forward, flipping it over, run towards the triangle, figure out where you are and the way to the control… where is the triangle on the map, there it is right there in front of me. Crap where am I supposed to go now? Things don’t look right? The other two know where they are going, Ah! where am I supposed to go…I think straight ahead, but hang on nothing lines up. STOP. Figure it out before you move on. Ah they are talking about me on the speaker. Sweet, got it, need to run hard now. Awesome! I’m away, settle down focus on the orienteering. The next few controls I took some conservative routes, choosing climb and ease of entry to the control over technicality and a straighter route to the control. I planned ahead reasonably well and had good flow through the controls, then almost made a fatal mistake, but recovered and dropped about 10-20sec. The next series of controls I really hit my straps picking up the fastest split (time between controls) and was smooth through a series of short legs in the buildings. From here was a longer leg. I picked a route that was quite simple but ran quite wide. Halfway along I realised it probably wasn’t the fastest way to go but by then I was committed and just ran hard. In the end I think I lost about 45 sec on this leg, then was slow to the next two in the forest, as well as hesitating for about 5 sec on another. Through the next part of the course I was really smooth taking the road option in most cases. I ran my guts out, I was running as hard as I possibly could back up the hill where I punched the last control at the same time as an Australian. From the last control to the finish was a taped route, so it was all running. I edged the the Aussie out to finish just in front of him….but he had started a few mins before me. After the finish I was breathing so hard, waiting in the queue at to hand in maps and the timing equipment for downloading that I really thought I was going to pass out. It one of the few times I think I ran myself to the point of being physically sick. Once at the finish everyone had to remain in a quarantine area until the race was over. For some it was a nervous wait to see if they had made it, but I knew the with the mistakes I had made early on and mainly on the longer route choice leg that I was out of reach of qualifying. In the end I was 1min 30 sec off the qualification mark and 3mins down on the winner of my heat. I finished in 26th place in my heat out of 36 competitors. It was tough but as someone pointed out it wasn’t meant to be easy. For me the rest of the day was over, but those who did qualify had a few hours to prepare and get ready for the final that afternoon.
The sprint final held in the town centre later in the day was quite a spectacle. There was quite a big crowd complete with several big screen TV’s, a spectator start and finish and GPS tracking. It was a really cool event to watch even though a little bit of me really wanted to be running in the final! The big names shone through, with the Women’s race decided by 0.3 of a second and the top 4 finishers in the men’s race finishing within 7 seconds.
Day two for me was the Middle distance qualification race, I was really looking forward to this race as it was in the forest (as opposed to the sprint) and I was keen to redeem myself from yesterday’s efforts. Again I had a short walk from the hotel to the bus stop, then about an hour on the bus to the start area, again a quarantine area which required you to sign in on arrival. I had the first start of the NZL’ers and got out onto the warm up map. Im glad I had a good warm up around here as the mapping of the open areas was quite different from what i had seen previously. Soon enough it was call up time for me and two others. From the check in we jogged along a road to the start. Here again it was time to switch into serious mode and all went quiet. Again the same setup as for the sprint except it was just me and the map, no crowd. Gradually the clock counted down and I was off into the forest.
I cut higher than I probably should have and got dragged a little by the other two in my start block. I was aiming for a track and it took an age to come up and when it eventually did I was way to far along it. I had to relocate and go back on myself and managed to save a little bit of face. Unfortunately by that stage I had been caught by my Australian friend, the same one who caught me up in the sprint. I bolted to the next control, dropping about 10 sec there when I came in too far to the right, then another 5 seconds at the next control. By this stage I had the Aussie right behind me and the long leg ahead beckoned, I had a pretty good idea on how I was going to do this leg and went hard. I dropped him by going along the fast flat marsh upwards of 20 seconds he reckoned afterwards. However my entry to the control was less than Ideal and I didn’t hit the control straight on and lost about 40 sec there. The remained of the course I went steady, but was just really scrappy near the controls, and dropped a few seconds here and there just on hesitations. Towards the end I came into one control winging it slightly, not 100 percent sure of myself, a control emerged in the distance, but it was surrounded by about 30-40 photographers. I thought “shit I hope this is my control” I punched made sure I checked the code when I left and concluded it was right as I was running away trying not to give away my relative awareness of what was going on! The finish included a fast downhill, followed by a flat track run into a ski field arena. I ran hard here but I think I was still feeling a bit tired from the day before. That turned out to be the end of my World Champs campaign. I was 9mins down on the leader of my heat about 4 min’s off qualifying and ended up in 25th place.
For the others in the team was the long distance qualification the next day, while I had a rest and was a spectator for the day. There was still one remaining place in the men’s relay team that was up for grabs. There were two others in the team also with a chance to fill that lucrative spot. As it turned out the selectors had to make a decision as it was basically a toss of the coin as to who was going to run. In the end Tom, with more experience running in high profile relay races was chosen. So that was the end of the world champs for me. I was able to run in the spectator races and took the opportunity to get in as much Norwegian orienteering as I could! After the final event was the banquet and party. It was really cool to be able to hang out with the people you had raced against, with and alongside all week, a mutual sense of satisfaction that comes with competing at the highest level.
The day after was fairly quiet as we all packed up and left the hotel and from here we all went our separate ways. Some stayed around Trondheim for a day or so before heading back, others to other places in Europe, one to China and myself with some friends for a few days to check out a little bit more of Norway.
Trondheim was a really cool place for orienteering with some of the coolest terrain for orienteering I have ever run in, but in terms of scenery it wasn’t all that exciting so it was good to go and see some of the finer sights on offer a bit south of Trondheim. We went through a series of islands, with heaps of ferry crossings, tunnels under fjords and toll gates everywhere. We managed to get a swim in the beautifully calm but extremely cold sea just out of Kristiansund. It was a really nice day, relaxing and complete with a great sense of achievement after the previous several intense weeks of training and racing. The next few days we went up this crazy road that puts the Milford road to shame, checked out a few mountains, bagged a few peaks, visited a Glacier, Camped (and swam!) next to very cold but very cool alpine lake, and shopped at several Kiwi MiniPris supermarkets!
Then came the time to return, back to the winter in NZ….Andy J was on hand to take me out into the hills to help me with my jet lag. I had a bit of a rest for a few weeks after all that orienteering, racing and running in Scandinavia.
Two weeks after arriving back I was on the move again, this time to Taupo to a wedding. A good chance to get away from Chch again…and in some ways it was a good weekend to go away…as on the morning of the 4th while I was sleeping comfortably in the back of my rental car a rather large earthquake struck Christchurch, magnitude 7.1! I got to get out for a run on the famous W2K track which was surprisingly quite cool on the way home, then a flight home to the devastation. Only damage that was sustained was the chimney fell off the roof and my model rocket took off!
Once I had rested up a bit it was time to get training for the World Rogaine Champs. With team mate Tim Farrant I raced in the 12 hour EPIC in Ophir, just out of Alexandra. We managed to pick up a good score of points and take the win.
The Orienteering wound up again and I was on the road again. First the Canterbury Champs in Chch, which I came 1st in the sprint and long race. Then was the last round of the Superseries near W(h)anganui. I had 1 good race with probably the worst result and two good second halves of races that was good enough for a 3rd place on the last day. I finished the Super Series in 5th place, a few better than last year and completion of my goal to be one of the top 5 Orienteer’s in NZ.
The next weekend was the Otago Champs around the Naseby area where I came into my own, first beating Carsten on his own map. The next race he had his revenge and took the Night Sprint win out of my hands at the second last control where I made a poor route choice. I had my revenge the next day in the heat of Naseby I won by ten mintues cleaning up comprehensively.
Everything in November was geared towards the World Rogaine Champs in Cheviot. But that didn’t stop me getting my Orienteering fix in the weekend before with a quick trip to Nelson for the South Island Champs. Again I took out the sprint and long but in my last true orienteering race of the year it all got a bit much and I struggled around Rotoiti for a very poor result.
The World Champs came around…
Started out nice and fast. Felt like we were going well picking up plenty of points relatively fast. Then 3.5 hours in Tim got cramp going over a fence. Seemed OK then about 1 hour later I took over the Navigation and Tim had a bit of a break while he was feeling a bit sick. About 15mins later had to stop again, bit later again ran into Rob Javis and Matt Bixley where Tim got some salt. Battled it out for a bit longer then 5 hours in the wheels fell off Tim and we dropped a 90 pointer to get to the water stop asap. Got some water and leppin down him, which picked him up for a bit then came across Andy and Katie.
More borrowed electrolytes and Salt saw him pick up a bit, but another few hours later he got all grumpy after we made a bit of a mistake and depressed. We suffered through to the water stop getting there just after dark. I was starting get slightly tired legs by this point, but after a bit of a rest both of us were back in high spirits. Out and along the road Tim suddenly said “Tane, I need to stop” then “I’m going to vomit” then “I think I’m going to vomit again” so things weren’t looking good. Tim reckoned he was good to continue…so we did.
At the third water stop Tim got his survival blanket out and wore it under his jacket in an attempt to get warmer. Eventually we headed back up into the hills, where at this point the weather just got really shit, with strong cold wind and rain. Up along the ridge we both got really cold and wet and eventually decided to bail to the road and head back to the hash house.
The ridge went on forever but finally we got out I found a good place to put my second dry polyprop on and then we bashed our way down the road. I got quite bored and tired walking along the road and started to drift in and out of sleep as I was walking. I kept dropping off the back of Tim which was good cause I had to run to catch back up which help maintain some body heat. Eventually Tim complained about being cold, so I suggested going straight back to the hash house then about 5min later again he was complaining again but this time he was mumbling a bit and really slurring his speech which didn’t sound good. So I suggested we call for a pick up, which Tim was more than happy to agree on! 5 mins later and it was a pleasant ride back in a nice warm car to the Hash house.
Think it was a good call in the end. A little bit disappointing but thats Rogaining for you. Would have like to go for a little bit longer as we were almost though the night. But we were both cold and wet and a little bit demoralised. Several experienced teams pulled out in the cold weather which was a good reminder for us that we weren’t too soft.
Then came the next rest period…a week of no running and recovery….
Tim and I got a good run in the first weekend of December up at Mt Sommers, on a warm evening we cruised up, stayed the night in the hut, climbed Mt Sommers the next day and were back in town to watch the Criterium that afternoon!
….and the biggest race of the year: The Great NZ Santa Run! Dressed up in a Santa Suit I took the lead early and came back first again for the second win in two years running….a little bit more rest was in order after that but I still managed one last mission to wrap up the year.
Using a new form of transport for a drop off I headed up into the hills behind Omarama accessed via the edge of Lake Benmore. It was a cool little trip and a good one to wrap a big year up with!