# NWOC prep 2021

Setters & Controllers

Written by Jenny Cade

An event the size of the New Zealand Nationals requires a lot of planning, and a lot of (volunteer) work from many members. Very early on in the process, teams of a setter and controller start planning 'their' event. At North West, we are very lucky to have many members who have been around for a long time and still get excited with every new o-adventure.

Our 'oldest' orienteer, based on the length of his sporting career, is Andrew Bell, setter for the Relay as part of NZOC2021. Andrew started orienteering back in 1978, and still vividly remembers his first race on the Otakanini Topu map in Woodhill Forest. ‘The trees were very young and the visibility was low. Happily, the white course did not enter the dark forest. The smell of the pine trees from that race is still a strong memory and the fact I managed to get to the finish line set up a passion for many years to come.’ Andrew credits Ralph King giving him some special advice when he first started setting courses. Andrew recalls Ralph being a strong advocate of not hiding controls and that they were ‘merely turning points connecting the legs together’.

Andrew has developed a reputation as a specialist in setting orienteering relay events. Given the requirement for relays to plan several courses, similar in length and complexity and with split controls, we think Ralph would be proud of Andrew’s mastery of using controls as turning points to connect legs! Forty plus years since his first event, Andrew says he still loves the sport. While his fitness and speed have meant he has not been an Elite orienteer, he comments, ‘the challenges are no different. You always hope for a perfectly clean race every time you stand on the start line. It very rarely happens even after 43 years of practice but when it does nothing beats it.

Rob Garden (setter Middle), Marquita Gelderman (Controller Middle, overall Event Controller) and Andrew de L’Isle (Coordinator Sprint)  all share similar stories: they were ‘hooked’ after the first event they participated it.

The background stories of siblings Gene Beveridge (Controller Long) and Renee Beveridge (Setter Sprint) follow a distinctly different pattern, being introduced to the sport from a very young age by their parents Mike and Debbie. Renee’s first memories of orienteering are the stories her parents tell her of them taking her around courses in a backpack, ‘back in the 90’s’ when she was aged 1 or 2! She does not recall her first ever-real event, commenting ‘I was pretty young’. Two early memories are from Queens Birthday weekend events in 2001 or 2003. ‘It was somewhere in Woodhill and I remember collecting peacock feathers along the way’. Another recollection from around the same time is of doing the yellow course at an Oceania event and ‘running down these open grassy hills next to Weiti forest toward the finish’. Gene's experiences are similar, with memories of pinecone wars with friends and hunting for huhu grubs in rotten logs. He remembers the first time he understood contours when he ‘cut a big corner on a yellow course, which was very empowering.’

Gene credits Ross Morrison as having passed on some invaluable words of wisdom. "Read the map, and when you're not reading the map, read the map." Gene says this is advice he will always remember in his quest to become a better navigator. Renee comments she’s been given lots of wonderful, overlapping, advice over the years including Morrison's previously mentioned constant map-reading advice and the phrase ‘Always have a plan’.

Why is orienteering a passion for Gene? He says, ‘I'm at my happiest when I'm exploring the outdoors, and I've always liked the feeling of endurance exercise, so orienteering seems to be a natural fit. I'd say I really fell in love with orienteering once I was skilled enough to experience orienteering as a mental and emotional strategy game and I find this endlessly fascinating.’ What is it that keeps Renee involved in orienteering? 'It’s the variation of places and terrain you compete in. Moreover, it is one of the rare sports where you can go to countless international events throughout the world, and finish alongside a 7-year-old all the way through to elites, and elderly runners. It is a sport where all grades can compete at the same event on the same day and all socialise afterwards'. Renee has met people from all around the world and she loves that orienteers tend to be ‘like-minded, chill, and adventurous’!

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