There’s nothing like some good Kiwi-Aussie rivalry

Posted on | April 13, 2017 | Category: News, Newsletter

Lizzie Ingham would normally be on home ground this Easter, but the member of the IOF FootO Athletes’ Commission is missing one of the highlights of the Oceania orienteering calendar.

The Oceania Orienteering Championships herald a two-week international orienteering extravaganza, from Easter 2017 (April 14–17), held in Auckland, New Zealand. But Lizzie Ingham, one of the world’s best orienteers, and a New Zealander, is not showing up.

– Unfortunately, I have decided not to race this time. It was a tough decision when I was planning my season, but it is too close to the European season and Tiomila to justify the long travel and time needed for recovery. In the end, it was a better decision for me to visit NZ in January–February instead, and just enjoy catching up with friends and family. But it feels very strange to not be taking part in the biggest set of events – if you include WMOC – that NZ orienteering has ever put on though, and I really feel like I’m missing out! she tells.

The member of the Athletes’ Commission says the Oceania Orienteering Championships is the biggest competition there is in New Zealand and Australia and, except for those few who travel to Europe every year or two, it is also the most important of the competitions in that part of the world.

– It’s also one of the few times that we get a large number of runners from Australia coming to NZ, or vice versa, so it really is a good battle. There’s nothing like some good Kiwi-Aussie rivalry, across all of the age grades!

Aside from NZ and Australia, there is also an increasing number of participants from New Caledonia over the last years.

How can the regional championships grow and get even bigger?

– I think Oceania is a tricky one to grow in terms of competitor numbers, as really it is only the three countries who compete in it. In our region, growth is going to come from within these nations, and relies on building up orienteering participation from grass-root level upwards. The big step is encouraging the club or school level orienteers to come and experience such a large competition, when it’s held in their own country, and get them addicted! In terms of the elite field, the vast majority of active elites in Oceania attend the races. The ones not racing are either living in Europe, are focusing on pursuits other than orienteering at the moment, or are involved in the organisation!

What will the championships be like this year?

– The champs this year will be the largest in history, thanks mainly to all of the WMOC entrants who are coming early for the races, so the atmosphere should be pretty amazing! I think there are probably three times the number of entries that we would usually have for an Oceania champs. We love showing NZ to overseas orienteers, and I know the organisers have been working like crazy the last years to pull off an amazing Oceania/WMOC carnival. We’re lucky there is a wealth of awesome terrain up around Auckland, so there’s plenty to share around both WMOC and Oceania; The Oceania long and relay are tough sand-dunes, the sprint is a classic complex school/university area, and the middle is a both physically and technically challenging limestone area. It will be interesting to see who shines in which terrain!

On the elite side of things; it is the first time since the bonus WOC spots have been up for grabs that Oceania champs isn’t also a World Cup round.

– Because of that, a few of the top Kiwis and Aussies haven’t made the trip back home from Europe for the races. That said though, it makes the field a bit more level and it’s really hard to say who will come out with the Oceania titles! I know the Aussies are extra keen to grab the extra WOC places, and have been sharpening their sand dune techniques in preparation, including a focused training camp in NZ last spring. Particularly in the men’s it could be a tight competition with Simon Uphill and recent Aussie convert Matt Crane, up against Auckland locals Matt Ogden and Gene Beveridge, and the in form Nick Hann and Ross Morrison. It will be exciting to watch and see who comes out on top!

What are your goals for the season?

– I had pretty tough going seasons in 2015 and 2016, but am starting to feel back on track. However, I’m going into this season with no expectations. The main goal is to hit every race with confidence and a smile on my face. If I manage that, then I believe results will follow!

You’re still living in Halden in Norway?

– Still living in Halden yep! It’s a long way from home, but I’m comfortable here at the moment. You can’t get a much better orienteering environment!

Oceania Orienteering Championships starts with sprint April 14.

More information is found at oceania2017.nz

 

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