Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mapping Complete

Its a little later than usual for an orienteering event but mapping has just wrapped up for the Urban Enduro. When you are working on an uber project, like the City of Wellington map, it is just hard to know when to stop. Every hour of fieldwork discovers great new challenges to add to the mix. In my own city I have found places that I never knew existed. Alleyways that lead to nowhere. Underpasses that just keep on going. I have found the resting spots of many of the cities homeless and places that even they haven't found yet.

The courses are coming together well.  Nick Hann and Tim Robertson know what they are doing when it comes to the creative expression of urban orienteering.

The entries are slow. I guess with something new everyone is always a little nervous, and the Urban Enduro isn't for everyone. It is definitely a soup best fed to the orienteering connoisseur. That is fine by us. A test run perhaps for bigger things to come, a more intimate event with a smaller group to share the experience, true geek out orienteering sessions for the chosen few. Come and join us, but only if you are really keen!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Start Location and Times

Another new part of the uber Wellington city sprint map has just been completed for the Urban Enduro. Wellington Central Railway station and surrounding blocks is an exciting mixture of platforms, underpasses and vast halls ready for exploration. Each day of the Urban Enduro will start somewhere in the Station, you will be emailled mini maps as part of the pre-event information to help you find the starter, who will make the clear/check/start and maps available for you!

We have also decided upon start times for the three events, with participants travel requirements closest to our mind, as well as the vibe of the event. We are expecting race time for the fastest competitor to be around 60 minutes, with the complete journey taking all competitors maximum 3hrs per day.

25th April (Friday) - Start 2pm
26th April (Saturday) - Start 2pm
27th April (Sunday) - Start 8am

Make that decision to join us for the inaugural Urban Enduro.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Family Ticket Added

We have decided to create a Family Ticket for the Urban Enduro 2014. Orienteering is sometimes known as the "family sport" and we dig that. The Family Ticket for up to five family members will cost $200. We have tried to price fairly to strike a balance between affordability and the costs of investing in maps, and we hope this change gets a few more orienteering families involved.

That said the Urban Enduro courses are "one size fits all", so for the younger ones it will be a real challenge to finish. Given the Urban terrain those not yet of High School age will need to enter as part of a team or be shadowed.
Orienteering...its a family sport

Monday, March 10, 2014


Orienteering started as a forest sport, well away from the public eye. Terrain running and aerobic endurance were key strengths in an athlete and the ability to take accurate compass bearings across vague terrain.  While these strengths and this type of challenge remain important to our sport, sprint orienteering and increasingly urban orienteering have revolutionised the availability of competitive orienteering in our neighbourhoods.

This really represents the growing realisation that orienteering challenges can be found in a variety of environments as long as you shape the challenge to complement the terrain, not try to impose a particular idea of what orienteering is on unsuitable terrain.

The "Challenges" below represent some developments in Urban Orienteering, or orienteering in newer types of terrain. They have a New Zealand focus, but will also draw in influences from around the world. Try to think of them from your perspective both as a competitor and as a mapper and planner of events. This will be a live page, challenges will be added over time, so make sure to come back and see whats new.

1. What route choice for you?

The Sacred Girls race at this years Sprint the Bay certainly made a splash. But why? Two factors spring to mind: a growing focus on impermeability (the more unpassable features you have to avoid the better!) and the bold use of terrain with long route choice legs between areas of detail. The stakes are high on a leg like 15 in this race. Get your route choice wrong and you could be 1 minute down. The requirement for brute speed is also increased...this can only be a good thing as speed is required to perform on the world stage, look at current world sprint champ Marten Bostrom. What is your route choice to 15?

2. How do you approach unfamiliar terrain?

The 2012 Australian Sprint Nationals was held on the coastal platforms of Bicheno on Tasmania's east coast. This is a great example of how new mapping specifications and scales have opened up possibilities for orienteering that formerly didn't exist. The terrain has shaped the challenge (or could the scale be even smaller?). The use of this sort of "special" terrain creates challenges for the competitor, it is hard to prepare specifically for unknown terrain. What can you do to mititgate this, what do you need to focus on before your start and as you move through the first controls?

3. What works for you?

The same route choice is not right for everyone. You need to know what your orienteering technique is and play to your strengths ,as well as improving your technique over time. The map above is part of the Wellington City map, the first three controls all have technically difficult straight (ish) route choices with longer easier options available left and right, what would you do? This map also shows the kind of course marking that will be used for the Urban Enduro. The timed section in purple...the untimed section in blue takes you to your next challenge.

4. Avoiding Distractions

This is a snip of map from the 2013 Vancouver Sprint Camp. Vancouver struggles for good traditional orienteering terrain nearby, but they are making up for it by excelling in sprint orienteering. This is a great example of how course setters can make it safe to orienteer in Urban terrain by making busy roads out of bounds for competitiors. What does it mean for competitors though? More pivots, more loops, more retracing there steps and more people everywhere. How do you handle passing, or crossing over with your competitors on course? Does it affect your ability to navigate smoothly, what strategies can you adopt to orienteer well through these situations?

5. How much can you read?

This is the famous Barbican Centre a key part of the City of London urban orienteering race. Can you read this on the run? How are your strategies in an area of this much detail different from a more typical sprint orienteering event. For the mappers it become a huge challenge of legibility, what to map and what not to map, especially when there are multiple levels involved. If you understand their constraints perhaps it might give you some insights as the best way to approach navigation. Expect this level of detail in places of the new Wellington City map that will host the Urban Enduro.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Course Planning Team Confirmed

The Course Planning team for the inaugural Urban Enduro has been confirmed. A team with worthy credentials in urban orienteering.

 Day 1 - Jamie Stewart
Day 2 - Tim and Laura Robertson
Day 3 - Nick Hann

 The planners have free reign to create the most awesome orienteering challenges they can. Timed sections will vary from full technical sprint courses, to one leg route choice challenges. The journeys will be designed not only to keep you thinking but to encompass some of the most scenic spots in Wellington.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Urban Enduro

The Urban Enduro 2014 is to be held in Wellington City from the 25th to the 27th of April.

The Urban Enduro will be New Zealands first urban orienteering event using "enduro" course planning concepts with timed and untimed sections. These will allow competitors to make full use at high speed of technical navigation areas in the city centre and urban fringe.

The Urban Enduro will take competitors on three unique journeys around Wellington. Each day competitors can expect up to 60 minutes of race speed orienteering challenges, within a journey of several hours that will encompass some of the scenic highlights of our Capital city. There will be moments for extreme downhill orienteering and wickedly confusing urban navigation madness, but also moments for refuelling at a cafe or sitting on the beach with your friends and rivals.

The Urban Enduro will make use of several amazing areas new to orienteering, as well as those used once before for the New Zealand World Cup sprint races in 2013, and other more established local areas. The vision of the Urban Enduro organisers is to have the entirety of the natural "ampitheatre" of Wellington mapped to International Sprint Distance specifications.

The Urban Enduro will be a carbon friendly event  with public transport recommended to travel to and from the competition. In 2014 each day will start in the Wellington Central Railway Station with public transport available back to this point from the finish. The Railway Station is easily accessible by public transport from Wellington Airport.