# 5 perspectives on World Masters Games

World Masters Games - some perspectives from club members

We asked a number of NWOC members who were involved in a variety of ways to reflect on their experience.

WMG competitor’s experience (Geoff Mead)

Orienteering paradise is how I would describe the two weeks of Oceania, Middle Earth (Rotorua) and World Masters Games (WMG). Many events, new maps, a wide variety of terrain, well organised events, great courses and large numbers of competitive international participants. WMG in particular, had a very international flavour, with many languages being spoken, lots of very good orienteers, and many close calls with approaching runners who instinctively went right to avoid collisions. Not so good for NZer’s who drive and run on the left! 

In my M60 grade at the WMG there were 140 competitors, only 8 of these were NZer’s. It felt so different from a typical NZ event, where I will usually know all the competitors in my grade. The maps and courses were a real highlight for me; the map makers and course setters all deserve high praise. The foreign visitors I know enjoyed the Woodhill sand dune terrain and our urban campus style sprint maps. For me the Oceania Long (Lake Rototoa) and the WMG long final (Hedley Dunes) events really stood out with quality and challenging forest orienteering - very worthy of the international status of these events. Both of these new Woodhill maps have a variety of terrain and vegetation cover and are big. I look forward to orienteering again on these maps again in the future. The WMG format of qualification races and then an A final / B final split in the championship races provided a focus for the “average” NZ orienteer - qualifying for the A finals being the goal for the events. This required steady “low error” runs and no disqualification or DNF’s. In M60 I qualified for both A finals (sprint & long), so a happy and satisfied orienteer. My best result was in the WMG M60 sprint, 5th in my qualification heat (I suspect previous experience of the complex Epsom campus map helped here!). I was ranked 9th for the sprint final start and had to wear a special yellow race bib, making me a marked man and adding to general nerves before a major race. I was happy with my final placing of 19th . 

The event organisation was world class with many of the foreign orienteers commenting on the well run events. So high plaudits are due to all the officials and volunteers that made these events happen. A massive amount of work went into the running of these events. As well as needing to provide quality international level orienteering, they were big in terms of competitors (1,700 WMG) and this put stress on items like start time windows, parking, transport, tents, loo’s etc. I saw both the competitor and organiser perspectives of these events as I was the controller for the Oceania Relays and a member of the Oceania / WMG logistics team. In terms of event centres, the WMG sprint final at Auckland University was outstanding. The multilayer finish and arena was amongst the University tower blocks. The start was on the foot bridge over Wellesley Street that connects to the Domain – a great example of how to bring orienteering to the centre of Auckland City on a work day. 

ONZ rep on the Orienteering Oversight Committee (OOC) (Phillippa Poole)

I am still smiling, and at times pinch myself that we've managed to run these huge events so successfully. There were many that doubted we could do it. My involvement was from the time of the bid five or so years ago, then in forming up and being part of an amazing three club / ONZ organising committee (OOC), which also worked with OBOP for Middle Earth.  The OOC was a subcommittee of ONZ. We were guided by IOF event documents, senior event advisers, national controllers and others with big event experience. However, we soon found the two championships were in effect very different, with Oceania more like a big Nationals, whereas WMOC had to meet the requirements of AWMG 2017 as well as IOF. The latter raised several hurdles along the way which took a lot of time and energy to sort out, but we apparently managed that interface better than Italy and Australia did in the past to run a truly top-class world event.   

Three key points for me were: (i) being part of a group of passionate, clever and creative people working together, across clubs and nations; (ii) the dedication at several levels to ensuring quality maps, great course setting, and NO major technical glitches; (iii) the smiles on the faces of the competitors and the volunteers, especially those under 35 who could not compete in WMOC! My personal thanks to everyone who helped out, but a very big shout out to Stephen Reynolds who led the OOC up hill and down dale. His vision, courage and drive were key to making it all come together, so much so that he reports he did not have much to do on the event days except enjoy meeting people. With so much learning and physical legacies, there's no doubt that orienteering in Auckland and NZ is already much stronger. Let's continue to think big as well as enjoy the many collaborations that have been established.   

Head of Team Logistics (Trevor Carswell)

Rule 1:  Always attend the meeting where your name is volunteered for a major position so you can decline immediately! 

Unlike most others sports of WMG, orienteering had a new venue in a new location almost every day.  The Logistics Team were tasked with the simple undertaking of knocking up a few tents, banners, tape and standards, taking them all down again, and moving them to the next location, day by day by day. 

We experienced very long days, with the truck arriving onsite sometimes at 5.30am, the team close behind.  Everything had to be up well before the first competitors arrived so they could experience the magic of the carnival.  We worked throughout the day making sure water stations were full, tents didn’t fly away (we had one), rubbish was cleared, etc.  Not to mention most in the team were also competing!!!  And then at course closure, it all came down and was packed back into the trucks in order for the next day.  I believe the latest we left a venue was 7pm.

What can I say of the team….it wasn’t simple but the team made it look a breeze for which I’m so truly thankful.  No grizzles, no gripes. Lots of jokes…I think if we didn’t we would have cried at the enormity of it all.   The team just got on with it in true orienteering fashion. (and always with a huge smile - Ed)

To coin Mark Lawson’s phrase each day of WMG, “I’ve heard of a thing called sleep.  I’d like to try it sometime. I think I’d be good at it!

As a final thought: Cable ties, cable ties, cable ties.  Everything attaches with cable ties!!!  Cable ties were our friend, our foe, god send and pain of our days.  What a great product.

WMOG/Oceania Technical team (Max Griffiths)

At most club, and even national, level events the technical sport ident side of things is a relatively small affair with 1-2 download stations and a few tv’s (more for national events). For pretty much all involved in the technical team at the finish/download and results areas for all the events, the scale of the setup was one bigger than seen at any orienteering event in New Zealand prior.  With up to 16 tv’s, 5 parallel download stations and battery backups for everything from the network gear to the splits printers to ensure 100% to download an average of 10 finishers per minute, and occasionally peaking a lot higher. Problem solving on the fly definitely became the name of the game in our area of the events.

Alongside the logistics and arena setup team, the technical setup was amongst the first wave arriving each morning and one of the last leaving each evening, as well as prepping start-lists, relay teams and gear for the next day, well into the night and wee hours of the morning. I initially became a part of the technical team mid-2016 and had to take a step back when I left for uni. Being able to come back on a break from uni and for two weeks, live and breathe two of the things I have a passion for, orienteering and tech, was an incredible experience.

A lot was learned by myself and everyone in the technical team, skills that will help events run bigger and smoother in the future, aided by the new gear acquired through the carnival. The range of questions and complaints from frustrated mispunched competitors was widespread (including one who passionately rallied that SportIdent was inferior to Emit). The overwhelming feedback however from competitors (NZ and international) was how calm and professional the tech team appeared with no sizeable issues visible to the competitors. Huge credit must be given to Martin Peat (on the OOC) who was the mastermind behind the tech team, even through 18 months overseas at Rio 2016 Olympics.

Oh, and for those wondering (or not), we used about 3+km of splits printer paper.

Member of Team Registration (Kaye Griffiths)

As someone who regularly places towards the bottom part of any field, I was initially hesitant in taking part as a competitor in World Masters Games, thinking “surely I am not good enough”. In fact,  I used the word "participant" rather than "competitor" in the weeks leading up to the Games, as I felt a little bit of a fraud! I am so very glad I was persuaded to compete, as it was a phenomenal event in which to be involved -  from the Opening Ceremony at Eden Park to feeling proud of the enjoyment so many overseas visitors were gaining from the venues and courses we provided to lining up and competing  in an event of that scale. And I was particularly excited to qualify for the A Final of the Sprint - far exceeding expectations!

I was also a volunteer as part of the Registration Team. Despite our numbers being depleted at various times during the week, due to the “Registration Team Virus”, the team on Registration managed to have a laugh and deal with everything and everyone with a smile and a professional approach. Huge thanks to Maggi Salmon for her amazing organisation, including complex rosters which allowed for all our race times, and her ability to deal with the trickiest problems without losing her cool!

The requests and issues were many and varied, ranging from confusion over compass orders, transport questions, protests/complaints and  dismay at missing out on maps at map collection (to name a few!) - many of which were quite challenging to deal with via a second language along with a smattering of sign language. Fortunately Jan Safka and Petra Safkova joined our team and their multilingual skills were put to great use – Petra even did a stint on commentary at one stage!

It was a fantastic experience being part of the World Masters Games both as a competitor (yes, competitor and not just a participant!) and a volunteer – I’m thrilled I had the chance to be involved.

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