Speed is Picking Up!

Smashed my way through Woodhill Forest today for the third race in the Bivouac Outdoor Rogaine Series to take the win over Thomas Reynolds.

Check out my winning route here on my DOMA page. My GPS was pretty inaccurate and there were some bizarre loops and squiggles in my GPS track.

The main idea around my plan was to leave the western area until the end because with was a low value area, that is, the average number of points per minute was lower than most other areas. If I was to run out of time I would be happy to miss out this area. I chose very different routes to my main competition, the two other GKO athletes Jourdan and Thomas.

The packed start area

The packed start area moments before the clock starts.

So how did I take the win? I think my regular training over the past 2 weeks has helped me a lot and this was the fastest I have been since NZ Champs in April. I even did my first interval training session since February on Thursday, the classic Moneghetti! I could feel I was going pretty fast through the first 6 controls, but a mistake going into 51 lost me about a minute. I also lost more time on the way to 43 when I fell into a pile of logs in long grass and broke my watch strap. I only managed to recover 3 of the 4 pieces of my Garmin and walked the next few hundred meters as I tried to put it back together. Sadly I couldn’t and I ended up just carrying it in my hand for the rest of the race. Anyway, I’ll get over it and try to fix it properly soon.

I had a slower patch in the middle of my race but recovered enough to smash the last half. I was on 50 minutes at my 20th control and 60 minutes at my 25th so I was confident that I would get all the points. It took 20 minutes to get the last 5 controls worth 210 points demonstrating the idea of low points per minute.

I made this graph to show where the areas of good and bad value were. 2 of the 3 bad sections were in the coastal area and one was a longer leg running the road from 46 to 58.

The value of each leg in points  per minute. 31 legs including to the finish.

The value of each leg in points per minute. 31 legs including to the finish.

Overall I ran 14.7km to get all 1200 points in 80 minutes averaging 5:26 minutes per km. I’m looking forward to the final race of the series in 2 weeks!

Trail Running with a Difference

Today saw an innovative new approach to trial running with the first Enduro Trail Run held in a private forest north of Parakai. The race organisation was headed by Thomas Reynolds and aimed to raise funds for some of Auckland’s fastest young orienteers and trail runners to head to training camps and to take on the 2015 Orienteering World Cup in Tasmania.

The Enduro Trail Run concept added timing for specific hill climb, trail master and descender sections to a more traditional style trail race. These timed sections offered specific prizes of their own to whoever could post the fastest time on that section. This encourages more aggression on the course and allows for some tactics not regularly seen trail running. To boot, check out this stunning forest setting!

ETR was a great opportunity to run in some stunning private forest.

ETR was a great opportunity to run in some stunning private forest.

The concept was a big hit and we have a number of good improvements from today’s experience. We will definitely be organising another such event in the not too distant future so keep a look out and don’t miss the next ETR!

GKO is also excited about partnering with ETR as the concept grows.

Early on in the first Enduro Trail Run.

Early on in the first Enduro Trail Run.

NWOC Leading the Way with Club Training

NWOC ran its seconds training day yesterday in Woodhill Forest attracting a wide range of abilities from our great club. As NWOC coach I can see how valuable these sessions are for individuals’ development and for our club culture.

Training base camp in the forest

Training base camp in the forest

Here is a look at what I had the club’s top orienteers were doing.

Red Training - Part 1. Compass, control picking and get physical.

Red Training – Part 1. Compass, control picking and get physical.

This training works specifically on essential techniques for navigating at this top level and this time compass bearings and control flow were major targets for improvement.  Each exercise has an aim, a reason, and instructions to ensure that the athletes are getting the most out of the training. There are also coaches running with the athletes to offer suggestions and answer questions. I haven’t seen this level of coach-trainee interaction anywhere in New Zealand before and I’m finding this very exciting to be a part of!

I wasn’t going to let them get away without a tough physical challenge either and I expect the Get Physical session will appear again in future training days. The second half of the training day had more high intensity torments for our trainees. The Partner O-Intervals, more recognisable for some under the name tennis match, was a big hit again. This is a great exercise for reminding you how fast you have to think at race pace and also doubles as a kickass interval session in terrain! Check out special guest Matt Goodall’s GPS route for this session.

Matt's GPS route for the Partner O-Intervals exercise.

Matt’s GPS route for the Partner O-Intervals exercise.

Matt and Cam Tier pushed really hard in these intervals and they were definitely suffering on the next exercise, the classic relocation. For those who haven’t done this one before, it involves chasing after the coach (me) as he runs flat out through the terrain without looking at your map. When the coach thinks the group is lost enough they then take over navigation and find the next control. Doing this as a group made it a bit more competitive and was super fun for me as the coach because I got to put the trainees though a significant of amount of suffering and then watch them run around lost for a few minutes on each leg. I was actually very impressed by how quickly they found most of the controls, as I remember getting very lost when I was in their situation as an up and coming junior.

As far as orienteering training goes in the Auckland region there is a small group of us working on some great new initiatives to offer more training to club members and improve the standards of training. Expect big things and get excited to see New Zealand take more medals at JWOC!

Another Ruthless Rogaine

This beautiful autumn (summer?) Sunday saw the second of the Rogaine Series take place on the brutal Turkey Ridge map near Parakai. A yearly run on this map reminds me that I am getting stronger and stronger, as today I only found myself walking only a few of the steepest hills. I was also very relieved that my left Achilles help up. I have only cycled this week and a good beating from Warren at Sportslab led to me feeling no discomfort at all for the past 2 days.

This rogaine was much harder to plan than last weeks and big time was at stake for taking on too many hills. I fell into this trap more than once – straight was not always great today. Here is my biggest blunder where I thought that running straight would be faster than the flatter route shown in blue. I was very wrong and I lost at least a minute, maybe 2, on this occasion. I was also a bit too far right coming over that last hill losing even more time.

Straight was not great!

Straight was not great!

I planned my route pretty well but in hind sight should have put more weighting on the amount of climb I was committing too on certain legs. Instead I was spending more effort on minimising the straight line distance. You can see my entire GPS route here. Also check out the other New Zealand DOMA users.

From the first control of today’s race I was by myself so there was no team work/blatant following to help me keep my pace high. I could see Matt Goodall behind me on the way to our fourth control but I chose to get 38 and then 39 while he went straight to 39. I pushed hard to catch him from 39 to 59 but my stupid route choice meant I was never going to get close. I saw him going into the forest towards 58 but I was still over a minute behind.

These next 4 controls in the forest were very nice, especially 57 and 58 as they gave the feeling of real orienteering. This was also the area that we used for some very cool training 2 weeks ago. The next 15 minutes were spent racing flat out across the flattest part of the map and I got to my 21st control 8 minutes ahead of my estimated schedule. I was confident at this stage that I would get all 30 controls in time but I had severely underestimated the amount of climb I had committed to in the last third of the race. Hauling my body up to 43 and then to 52 took 5 minutes longer than expected. I dropped another 2 minutes on my estimate getting to 47. By now I knew I had to be fast to get all the points in time.

Red line of pain and suffering

Red line of pain and suffering

This was not to be, as I lost about 3 minutes bashing around in some very thick manuka forest with starting buddy Matt Goodall and Cam de ‘Isle. The mapping was a bit strange but I realised my mistake, relocated and then got the control smoothly. At this stage I only had 6 minutes remaining and I chose to miss out control 36 to minimise my late penalties. I pushed very hard to 32, 53 and 42 and then to the finish and finished only 8 seconds over time, getting me and 20 point penalty.

I ran the last 1km in 4:26 and thanks to the downhill finish I smashed the last 600m at 3:20 pace! This was pretty sketchy at times but I didn’t break any ankles so it was super fun!

Boosting the last km

Boosting the last km

I didn’t get the perfect 1200 points I was after but 1150 was enough to narrowly win over last week’s winner, Cam Tier who took a very different route to mine.

The terrain really did earn my respect in the last half hour and I look forward to the next time I can challenge this map again. Plus check out this view from prize giving!

Sweet as view

Sweet as view

Rogaine Series is Back!

The NWOC Rogaine Series started today with the first race in the recently mapped Riverhead Forest. I was happy to pick up second place behind training partner Cameron Tier and will be out to win next week if my left achilles holds up.

Trying to get clear of the pack off the start line.

Trying to get clear of the pack off the start line.

The area used was pretty small so I planned to get maximum points from the start and didn’t worry about planning cut offs. Most of the route planning was straight forward but there were some options in the middle of the race. The main things to consider in addition to distance were climb and the slower running areas. I think I did this pretty well and I’m happy with my route choices. Check out my GPS route here on my DOMA page. I ran 9.24km to get all 30 controls and I would be surprised if someone ran shorter than that as I was smooth through all the controls accept for over-running number 40.

I would make this one small change if I did it again. My GPS Route is in red and the preferred option is in blue.


My preferred route choice in blue compared to my actual route choice in red.

The start today was fun as usual and I grabbed my moment of glory getting to the first control first, and by taking a different route choice to most people. Cameron Tier quickly overtook me and stayed ahead of me most of the time. We made a different route choice after my sixth control, number 41, but appear together to punch my fourteenth control, number 32, at the same time.

I think my route through the second part of the course was better than Cameron’s but his superior speed today meant he took the victory by half a minute by getting all 1200 points in 63 minutes.

I am supposed to start training again tomorrow but if my left achilles doesn’t improve I might have to have another week of resting.

NZ Champs Long Distance

I’m a big fan of long distance races because of the way the human brain gets dumber as the body gets tired. This is a tough one to overcome and determination cannot make up for insufficient training during the months prior.

This year’s New Zealand orienteering champs long distance was a 17.4km epic through flat sand dune pine forest. There were plenty of opportunities to make mistakes and not running at max speed proved to lose just as much time.

No excuse for not running hard and straight in this forest.

No excuse for not running hard and straight in this forest.

Check out the course and my GPS route here on my DOMA page.

I started off relatively cautious knowing that I could not win it in the first half but I could certainly lose it. Controls 5 to 9 were in an area with lower visibility and I had a lot of trouble staying straight using my compass. I lost about 6 minutes through these controls which was extremely disappointing and affected my head space quite negatively. Tim Robertson started 3 minutes after me and had caught me up by this stage which gave me a chance to get my head back in the game because he was navigating very well.

The Bad Bits

The Bad Bits

After a few good controls I got my confidence and aggression back and found myself leading Tim through most of the controls through to 22. We were using each other a lot especially to maintain a high speed and we were both navigating ok except for mistakes at 22, 23, and 27.

The Good Bits

The Good Bits

At this stage I was keen to keep pushing hard with Tim all the way to the finish line and hopefully get a second place as I felt that we had been running faster than anyone else would have been. As I got closer to 28 I noticed that Tim was not navigating despite looking down most of the time. Turns out he was just looking at the ground, not the map. I was hesitant going into 28 and it was pretty clear that Tim was really depending on me to find the control. This had happened pretty rapidly, but his blank expression told me that he was totally stuffed from our ruthless race over the last 90 minutes. I pushed extra hard leaving 28 and quickly opened up a huge gap by the first road and I was totally out of sight half way to 29. My efforts were also becoming a problem for me as my calves were cramping whenever I tried to run aggressively but I knew if I could get 3 minutes on Tim I would have a chance of winning my first NZ title. I gritted my teeth for the last 1km and managed to put 3 and a half minutes in to Tim. I finished in the lead but unfortunately Chris Forne overtook me to narrowly take the title by a single minute over the 106 minute race.


Just enough in the tank to get me to the finish after leaving Tim out on the course.

For me, this race was another great example of why you should never give up. I never expected Tim to break like he did but I had worked hard to be in a position to capitalise on this when it did happen. I’m very happy to take 2nd place this year and I will definitely be after that New Zealand title next year!

How many times did I veer right is this race? Out of 34 controls is a pretty poor statistic!