‘not the’ Oceania Champs review.

The Oceania that wasn’t to be

Oceania ended-up being the ‘Not the’ Oceania champs, as our Australian friends were not allowed into the country. Not quite the Oceania that was planned, but PAPO delivered high quality A-grade competitive events that still managed a relaxed feel. Two of the events were awarded World Ranking Points in the elite grades. Yes, we wished for more competition from overseas, but we were happy, once again, to just have some event normality. Over 300 orienteers came together for some challenging navigation and terrain in iconic Canterbury landscapes.

Pre-events Saturday 8 January & Sunday 9 January:

Warm-up sprint event | University of Canterbury | & Warm-up middle distance event | wooden | Hosted by PAPO | Maps: University of Canterbury & Tūhaitara Coastal Park

The first two events were planned by PAPO juniors as warm-up events. For some there had been a long break between events so these were fabulous events to test if the map skills were still up-to-scratch.

Warm-up sprint results
Long red male1st: Joseph Lynch, 2nd: Gene Beveridge, 3rd: Matt Ogden.
Long red female1st: Penelope Salmon, 2nd: Imogen Scott, 3rd: Anna Babington

Warm-up middle results
Long red male1st: Matt Ogden, 2nd: Gene Beveridge, 3rd: Ronan Lee.
Long red female1st: Katherine Babington, 2nd: Amber Riddle, 3rd: Sarah Prince

Picture by Nick Gorman

‘Not the’ Oceania Sprint – Monday 10 January:

Sprint Distance (WRE) | Rangiora High | Planner: Briana Steven Controller: Alister Metherell | Hosted by PAPO | Map: Rangiora High School

Huge kudos to the event team for pulling together the World Ranking Event for the sprint at Rangiora High just in a few weeks, because the original school was unavailable due to emergency demolition work. It was good to see everyone ‘stretching their legs’ with many quick, short legs and fast changes of direction. As the junior elites (20E grades) were running the same course as the seniors (21E grades), it was good to see the competition of those coming-up through the grades.

Top Sprint results
Elite 21E male1st: Joseph Lynch, ,2nd: Gene Beveridge, 3rd: Matt Ogden.
Elite 21E female1st: Lizzie Ingham, 2nd: Imogen Scott, 3rd: Amber Riddle
Elite 20E male1st: Ryan Moore, 2nd: Felix Hunt 3rd: Fergus O’Neill.
Elite 20E female1st: Penelope Salmon, 2nd: Zara Stewart, 3rd: Kaia Joergensen

‘Not the’ Oceania Long distance – Tuesday 11 January:

Long Distance (WRE) | Ladymore | Planner: David Wright Controller: Tane Cambridge | Hosted by PAPO | Map: Mt Ellen

This was the ‘get physical’ event on the new spur gulley map of Mt Ellen. Many people talked about the vertical, low branches and amount of green on the map. A. The elite runners were really tested by pivot control close to the finish, as this was only half-way through the course and the second loop was just as physical. Matt Ogden’s strava from the day shows he climbed a whopping 1.374m in just under 13.5km and he came in exactly on the expected winning time of 1hr 40 min. Matt Ogden took it in his stride, but for some others it was described as a ‘brutal’ day due to the low branches, the scorching temperatures, and the long walk to the start with many taking over 2hrs to complete their course across all grades . There were north-south tracks and the contours ran on the same lines so to get off track to go east and west really forced runners to go very steeply up and down. Our mapper Michael knew he had a pleased a few young up-and- coming orienteers when one sped past him on the long shouting ‘sick map’!
Top long results
Elite 21E male1st: Matt Ogden, 2nd: Joseph Lynch 3rd: Chris Forne.
Elite 21E female1st: Lizzie Ingham, 2nd: Imogen Scott, 3rd: Briana Steven
Elite 20E male1st: Zefa Fa’avae, 2nd: Ryan Moore, 3rd: Fergus O’Neill.
Elite 20E female1st: Penelope Salmon, 2nd: Zara Stewart, 3rd: Katherine Babington

Picture by Annemarie Hogenbirk

‘Not the’ Oceania Middle distance – Thursday 13 January:

Middle Distance | Flock Hill | Planners: Aaron and Sara Prince Controller: Bruce Steven | Hosted by PAPO | Map: Flock Hill

Both the most scenic and the most technical map challenge of the week with plenty of nooks and crannies in amazing rock scenery to explore. The Flock Hill map is an old map but it hasn’t been used for a long time, so this was the first time on this map for many. Everyone was rewarded with a ‘rock star’ orienteering landscape with incredibly cool-shaped rocks to get around. There are two rock bands on the map with a decent gap in-between to prepare for the next set of boulder challenges ahead. One participant new to orienteering mentioned that it was the first time they really had to read the control descriptions in order to see which side of the rock the control would be on. Another runner described this map as an adult ‘hide and seek’.

Top middle results
Elite 21E male1st:Joseph Lynch, 2nd: Matt Ogden, 3rd: Gene Beveridge.
Elite 21E female1st: Lizzie Ingham, 2nd: Kaia Joergensen, 3rd: Imogen Scott
Elite 20E male1st: Felix Hunt 2nd: Zefa Fa’avae, 3rd: Nathan Borton.
Elite 20E female1st: Zara Stewart, 2nd: Molly McGowan, 3rd: Penelope Salmon

‘Not the’ Oceania 2-person relay – Friday 14 January:

Two-person Relay | Leithfield | Planner: Jean Cory-Wright Controller: Alistair Cory-Wright | Hosted by PAPO | Map: Leithfield

With no Oceania relay, the relay event was reconfigured as a 2-person relay. Leithfield is a well-known map but suited the relay perfectly. It really was a course of two halves with the first half on flat, fast open forest with few features, into a run-through and the second half on highly intricate sand-dunes. Described by one participant as having “moments of mystery” it made an exciting relay with a great atmosphere.

Top relay results
Open male relay1st: Gene Beveridge & Cameron de L’Isle, 2nd: Matt Ogden & Will Tidswell, 3rd: Joseph Lynch Oliver Egan.
Open female relay1st: Imogene Scott & Lizzie Ingham, 2nd: Briana Steven & Amber Riddle, 3rd: Kaia Joergensen & Molly McGowan

Otago epilogue 1 – Saturday 15 January:

Follow-on middle event | Duntroon, North Otago | Hosted by Dunedin Orienteering | Map: Humpy Bumpy

It was great to go on the road south, and visit these Otago maps once again – they were last used at the 2019 Nationals. The relaxed but organised events continued on with a different bunch of people competing. Thigh-high thistles were the big impediment at this event and made it difficult to see the terrain in places. These weren’t there when the courses were planned, sprouting up in the last few weeks. Intricate rock detail was once more the key navigational challenge of the race.

A mysterious “Christine” Forne appeared in the female elites and finished with a very fast time. This was the runner overheard at the start saying “I never have to worry about what course I am on, I’m always on Course 1”. The moral of the story is to read the notes for the day, otherwise you can pick up the wrong map.

Top Otago Interlude event 1 results
Long red male1st: Gene Beveridge, 2nd: Tane Cambridge, 3rd: Aaron Prince.
Long red female1st: “Christine” Forne, 2nd: Imogen Scott, 3rd: Kaia Joergensen

Otago epilogue 2 – Sunday 16 January:

Follow-on long event | Oamaru area | Hosted by Dunedin Orienteering | Map: Kurihika

The final event was a return to the Kuriheka map, only used once before at nationals 2019. More spur-gully terrain really tested the legs after a week of races, but at least the kanuka forest was much more runnable than the macrocarpa forest at Leithfield .

Overall it was a great finale to a huge week of orienteering with every map offering a unique challenge. For many it was good to do so many events in ‘normality’ after another year of disruption.

Top Otago Interlude event 2 results
Long red male1st: Chris Forne, 2nd: Tane Cambridge, 3rd: Carsten Joergensen.. Long red female1st: Lizzie Ingham, 2nd: Sarah Prince, 3rd: Katherine Babington

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