Current National orienteering champions Ross Morrison and Carsten Joergensen face off against each other this Easter in the 2011 Orienteering Nationals in Hawkes Bay, but contrasting fitness levels could make it a one-horse race.
After a great buildup, including a 1500m time of 4:01 minutes, 2010 middle distance Champion Ross Morrison is starting to see big benefits: “I can almost say I'm in the best shape of my life, which is good 4 months out from the World Championships”.
An emergency appendectomy ten days out put paid to his 2010 World Champs podium hopes, after hitting top form and winning several top European events.
But that has been chalked up to useful experience as Morrison focuses on the contest against NZ-resident Joergensen, winner of the 2010 sprint and long distance National titles and former world championship relay gold medalist for Denmark.
Morrison is also wary of training mate and potential World Championships team mate Aucklander Toby Scott, who is already lined up to compete for New Zealand at the Junior World Championships in ten weeks time.
“He will be the main competition. Though I grew up in Hawkes Bay and am quite used to the hills and rough ground. Having said that I've had some ankle problems lately so I will be a little nervous about that this weekend. But I rate my chances highly in the middle and long distances.”
In stark contrast, Christchurch based post-graduate student Joergensen, has had a limited preparation and is playing down his chances: “I’m not at full fitness and haven’t trained as much as last year. I reckon I’m good for 40 minutes or so which counts me out of the long distance; normally my strength.”
He notes a number of threats to Morrison, including seven time champion Darren Ashmore (Rotorua), Karl Dravitzki (New Plymouth), 2009 sprint champion Tom Reynolds (Auckland), Jamie Stewart and Jason Markham (Wellington), as well as fellow South Islander Tane Cambridge who is “running well and will be the best from the mainland”.
Two time sprint and one time middle distance National champion Karl Dravitzki is playing down his own chances although he is peaking at the right time: “My fitness is OK - I ran a 74 minute half marathon in March and a 12:45 minute cross country last weekend so I hope to be in the top three for the sprint. Though I wouldn’t rate my chances for the middle distance if it’s steep.
After a long distance third place in 2009, and a second placing in 2010, Aucklander Tom Reynolds is looking to pick up a win this year: “I want the pattern to continue and will be pushing hard to win. I feel the endurance is there and the strength - I just need to combine it with a level head.”
“But this year I think Toby Scott is the one to watch, he has been smashing out some awesome runs in Auckland and will be tough to beat. He has aspirations of a place on the WOC team this year and he is running well enough to be in comfortably.”
And Joergensen, NZ Orienteering’s High Performance Director agrees that youngster Toby Scott (Auckland) is a strong threat: “He is in great form at the moment and it’s not surprising that he’s chosen to race at elite level here before the Junior Worlds.”
Toby Scott’s team mates for the Junior Worlds - Matt Ogden, Scott McDonald, Gene Beveridge, Nick Hann and Tim Robertson - are looking to race each other to peak fitness in the M20 junior elite class without the distraction of trying to beat the New Zealand elite men.
Matt Ogden, one of the M20 favourites feels that the class is very competitive this year: “I’ve trained a lot with Gene Beveridge who is in good form. Scott McDonald is always capable of pulling out some impressive runs such as at Nationals last year with 2 wins and a 3rd, so he will be gunning to repeat that.”
He also rates Napier’s Duncan Morrison a formidable prospect as well as team mates Nick Hann and Tim Robertson: “ Duncan Morrison has been training very hard since moving to Auckland and in his home terrain will be very hard to beat. Tim and Nick will be tough competition too.”
Three days of tough racing in the Napier forests are followed by the National Club relays on easter Monday, where Carsten Joergensen hopes to anchor the Christchurch club team to a victory: “We haven’t had much orienteering this year since the earthquake but we’ll be putting everything we have, mind and body, into winning the relay this year. That’s for sure.”
The three individual events also qualify for world rankings points.
For more information on the NZ Orienteering Championships, call…
NZ Orienteering Federation marketing and promotions officer:
Mick Finn Ph 021 1868933 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hawkes Bay Orienteering Club Event publicity:
Phillip Herries Ph 06 874 9650 Email email@example.com
What? NZ Orienteering Championships
When and where?
Sprint: Friday 22 April, 2pm, Iona College, off Lucknow Road, Havelock North.
Middle: Saturday 23 April, 10am, Maraetotara, 35 mins south of Havelock North.
Long: Sunday 24 April, 10am, Waipoapoa, Maraetotara, 35 mins south of Havelock North.
Relay: Monday 25 April, 10am, Maraetotara, 40 minutes south of Havelock North