# National 2019

New Zealand Nationals, 2019

by Nick Harris

NZOC2019 was hosted by PAPO and located in and around Oamaru - an area between PAPO and Dunedin OC which hadn't previously been used for orienteering. The terrain was excellent and for me this was an interesting aspect of the event - it made me wonder what other great terrain might be lying undiscovered in the gaps between clubs? Thinking about the Auckland region, North West and CMOC might consider exploring a little further afield than normal to see what treasures we might find.

The terrains discovered for NZOC2019 were gems. Each day offered distinctly different terrain characteristics ideally suited to the disciplines of Sprint, Long, Middle and Relay.

Oamaru as a Sprint venue was memorably scenic. The old stone buildings lent the race an air of a European town, and the seaside event centre was refreshing, just a bit chilly for swimming. At least, too chilly for this coddled North Islander. The first half of the course was in lovely park environs, the second half through buildings finishing around rather than through the ‘old town’ area. The park and old buildings had plenty of potential which perhaps was not fully exploited by the courses. My course was fast but not particularly technical - running speed and confident execution were key over route choice and detailed navigation.

Kuriheka was tough Long Distance terrain. Steep gully/spur terrain punctuated with rock detail (including one particularly memorable control inside a boulder cluster the size of a house) with forest cover of pine and manuka. Courses were big on route choice and physical endurance. My lack of fitness was exposed and I made numerous silly mistakes which were particularly costly because of the additional climb. A mistake in flat terrain like Woodhill (2.5m contours) can be quickly remedied, but in steep terrain like Kuriheka (5m contours and lots of them!) it just takes longer to correct mistakes. And, it costs more energy which makes one more susceptible to errors - I was so cooked at the end that I mistook the last control for the finish control. I’ve been orienteering for 17 years and still I spent 20 seconds hunched over at the mouth of the finish chute before I realised why everyone was running past me! This sport continually humbles me, and dangles redemption at m y finger-tips in the next race.

The Middle Distance was run on a map called Maerewhenua, a neat little forested area of former gold sluicing, much like the fabled Naseby maps. Lots of cliff faces and erosion features left by gold miners, now with a beautiful runnable forest cover. It was super technical and I knew from my first look at the map that it would be very easy to lose contact amidst all the detail. My strategy was to treat it as an exercise in damage control, so I approached the course pretty slowly and with caution. As a consequence I avoided any major errors, but I wasn't fast enough to win. Each orienteering course you attempt asks you to strike a balance between accuracy and aggression; each terrain and course, indeed each leg, demands its own solution.

Relays were held on Humpy Bumpy - a farm map with numerous areas of complex rock detail. Great relay terrain - super fast but plenty of options for gaffling and plenty of traps for the unwary. I was running in the Masters grade with Pip Poole and Mark Lawson. I appreciated the mass start with my own age grade - it made the competitive element seen more real when not racing against Juniors and Elites. I started well holding in the top three through the early forkings but with a couple of long forks and an exit error I dropped back to seventh and for the rest of the course I battled unsuccessfully with Simon Rouse (AOC) for sixth. I was navigating at the limit of my fitness and it was nowhere near enough to be competitive. Nothing quite matches the frantic intensity of a mass start relay - it’s a great experience and I think we could do more of it in Auckland. NW teams didn't fare so well this year. Admittedly we were depleted with a number of key juniors heading t o World Schools and taking Gene Beveridge with them as coach. And of course, Matt Odgen's defection to Nelson OC meant he was anchoring their first team instead of ours. True to form, Matt ran a storming final leg to take first place - a feat we all took some pride in because regardless of what shirt he wears, Matt will always be one of ours (no really, he’s a Life Member of NW so I mean that both affectionately and literally!). Actually, it was cool to see Nelson take the title - its a good sign for the sport and really freshens up the club competition to have a new contender in the field.

After a night in Moeraki to visit the boulders, we headed up to Naseby for the Dunedin OC follow-up event. I loved watching my boys, Tahi & Quinn, attempt courses there. Tahi felt confident to do the whole white course at full speed and surprised himself with a great time 12 minutes and change. I think now he realises what he can do. I shadowed Quinn around the white course and was stoked to observe some good habits already forming - folding the map, standing behind the pink line, orientating the map, identifying the control and the linear feature to follow… I think if he is interested to do so he’ll be able to run on his own soon. This was icing on the cake for me - my sons having awesome orienteering experiences at Naseby - a wonderful way to wrap up a truly memorable orienteering holiday.

We wound our back to Christchurch through Cromwell, the Lindis Pass and Tekapo, with the South Island draped in its autumn finery. Yellows, oranges and reds highlighting the golden tussock hills, strings of mountain ranges piercing the bright cold skies… OK granted, after spending a week in the campervan with three kids it was a relief to drop the bloody thing off, but NZOC2019 and the South Island gave us some wonderful family memories.

Congratulations to the following NW members who made the podium at Nationals:

1st Sprint, 2nd Middle - Matt Ogden
2nd Long - Gene Beveridge

3rd Middle - Tahi Harris

3rd Sprint, 2nd Long, 3rd Middle - Alex Monckton
1st Middle - Cameron Bonar

2nd Sprint - Daniel Monckton

2nd Middle - Thomas Stolberger

3rd Long - Andrew de L’Isle
3rd Middle - Tim Longson

1st Sprint, 3rd Middle - Nick Harris

3rd Sprint, 2nd Long, 2nd Middle - Mark Lawson

3rd Long, 2nd Middle - Dave Middleton

2nd Sprint - Alice Tilley
3rd Sprint, 3rd Long, 3rd Middle - Renee BeveridgeW20A
2nd Middle - Jessica Sewell

1st Sprint, 2nd Long - Kat Reynolds
3rd Long, 1st Middle - Rebecca Gray

2nd Long, 1st Middle - Maddie Longson

1st Long - Nicky Collins

3rd Sprint - Suzanne Stolberger
3rd Middle - Kay Knightbridge

2nd Sprint, 2nd Middle - Phillippa Poole

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