# Katoa Po 2022

Katoa Po 2022

By Nick Harris, with some of the photos by Cameron De'Lisle

Sons Quinn, Tahi and I drove down to Taupo to race for North West in the famous Katoa Po night relay, with Cameron De'Lisle, Johan Kvasnica, Cameron Tier and Gene Beveridge. 
This year Katoa Po was held on the Kaiapo Faultline map - a hillside incised with deep eroded gullies marked with huge gnarly old pine trees. The camping area and event centre was tucked into the landscape with shelter from wind and a good view of headlamps scattered across the hillside. Quinn commented that the atmosphere felt different to the 2021 event near Reporoa, which was based in a wide exposed paddock. There we felt smaller and more spread out. Here, the event felt more lively due to the compact location of the event centre. Tahi said it had the atmosphere of a BBQ, like catching up with friends only with a slightly competitive edge. 
Quinn led the NW team out on Leg 1 - a wonderful sight for parents BTW, to see the little ones charging off into the dusk, maps and headlamps waving - its a great adventure for them. Younger kids are shadowed by an adult - the Flynn family (former NW members now with OBOP) had three young ones out there, the eldest 7 or 8yrs and the youngest only 3 or 4yrs old. Quinn ran without an adult, and finished up his course in under 15 minutes, in second place and hot on the heels of the AOC runner in first.
Tahi was up next on Leg 2. This was his first attempt at night orienteering and he came back raving about how fun it was. He overtook the AOC runner on the first control and maintained a solid lead. He made sure to use handrails and strong attack points, so finished with no big errors in about 25 minutes, tagging Cameron De'Lisle for Leg 3.

Cameron had an injury so had permission from the organisers to walk Leg 3. Each leg gets longer and harder than the last, and age restrictions apply, so normally Cam would be on Leg 6 or 7. At walking speed he went around clean but was overtaken by AOC and Taranaki. 
I was up next on Leg 4 (incurring a penalty because I'm supposed to run Leg 5 or over) about 5min behind AOC in 1st and right behind the Taranaki runner in 2nd. He was young and fast and I was surprised by how accurate he was. I was happy to keep him 30-50m in front of me but this became progressively harder as I struggled to match his speed. A couple of small errors on his part allowed me to stay in touch but at about halfway it was my turn to make an error, and he escaped, crushing me on a tough uphill leg. After that it was a case of finishing clean so as not to lose more time for the team. I managed this, finishing about 1.5minutes behind him. Somewhere out there we had both overtaken AOC, so as I tagged Johan onto Leg 5 we were sitting in second place. 
Legs 5-7 are long and difficult. Johan is relatively new to red level orienteering and this was the one of the hardest navigation challenges he has faced. He got around his course finishing in 3rd, handing over to Cameron Tier.

Unfortunately the boys and I weren't there to witness Johan, Cam Tier or Gene finish. We were in the car at 11pm heading straight back to Auckland so that I could run the Maraetai 1/2 Marathon with workmates at 730am. We arrived in Maraetai about 2am, slept by the side of the road and scraped ourselves together to meet my colleagues in the morning. Its a beautiful 1/2 marathon course, but I think we would all have preferred to stay in Taupo and do the Katoa Po morning rogaine!!
I'm told that Cameron had a clean run on Leg 6, enough to give Gene a decent shot at fighting for second place. Gene then had a strong run to overtake AOC. Unfortunately Taranaki also finished strongly with Karl Dravitski and Lizzie Ingham on Legs 6 and 7 - just too far in front to be caught.
With AOC and Taranaki both incurring mispunch penalties, my time penalty was cancelled out and the placings were unaffected.

So, the final standings were:
1st: Taranaki
2nd: North West
3rd: Auckland

Honestly, I can't recommend this event highly enough. It is such a great occasion, a great adventure and a true orienteering institution. Taupo OC does a great job hosting and deserve our support. Put Katoa Po on your list for next year! 

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