Special Events

img_1744There are special events in one’s life that have a long build-up involving emotional effort, romance, planning and a huge commitment of time. A wedding is an obvious one, also birth of your very own child, perhaps your graduation day, moving into in a new home, or your first overseas trip.
Indeed I have experienced all of those and they remain great highlights in my life, but now there is another incredibly successful event that brings tears of joy to my eyes as I think about it. I refer to the Australian School Orienteering Championships held just last week over the 28th and 29th of September at Cotswold Bluff near the small village of Maroon.img_1738
You may rightly ask why is it so special to me? And I could reply that it is because I was the course-setter and that involves a tremendous input over a full year leading up to the competition. Still, over my 41 years of involvement with the sport I have been course-setter for many high profile event on both the State and National level, and they all involved considerable commitment. As on other occasions many competitors and team officials complemented me on my courses, and I was thanked publically at the awards presentation.
The reasons for my overwhelming joy over this 2016 ASOC event are threefold. Firstly I was one of the two original lobbyist who pestered School Sport Australia into adopting orienteering as one of the sports on their national calendar. To help make it happen I took up the role of National Secretary for Orienteering with School Sport Australia for the first ten years of the competition from 1989.
The second reason is that, owing to some wise decisions by Orienteering Queensland, it was a great pleasure for me after 28 years to bring the event to the Maroon area with the school teams hosted at the Maroon Outdoor Education Centre, where as a member of the original teaching staff in1975 I was introduced to orienteering by fellow staff member, Helen Sherriff, and began my orienteering mapping, organising and competitive career.
And thirdly the Cotswold Bluff site, now owned by the very amicable and helpful, Keith Worboys, was one of my first orienteering mapping projects in the early 1980s when the field work was done painstakingly without the help of GPS and the five colour map drawing was done on a light table using 0.5mm clutch pencils to produce a master sheet before drawing each colour in Indian ink on a separate sheet ready for presentation to the printer to register them and produce the proof for our approval.
Despite the invasion of quite a significant proportion of the map by the dreaded curse of lantana, the Cotswold map remains one of my favourite orienteering areas as it presents both physical and navigation challengers for the best orienteers, but also can accommodate some easier or moderate courses for the younger or less able participants. And last week this proved to be the case, with some of the most talented and experienced junior orienteers striking trouble early in the technical detail and the more steady and consistent coming through to gain podium places.
I had fears leading up to the event that one of the competitors would sustain a serious accident, perhaps a fall down the rocks or off a low cliff, and Orienteering would get a very bad press, and I personally img_1754would be accountable to the parents of the injured child; but I needn’t have worried since there was only one injury which caused a runner to pull out with an ankle injury and he hobbled by himself out to the first aid station positioned half way around the course.
Over the two days the teams from all the Australian States and New Zealand had a ball, with exciting competition and great team enthusiasm. The relay event on the second day had such a great atmosphere of joy and disappointment as runners succeeded and shined while others lost contact with map or rivals and kept their team members waiting for the relay changeover to their second or third runners. There was tremendously loud cheering as team members approached up hill towards the last control and memorable close finishes as the third runners battled it out along the finish chute lined with screaming team members waving state flags urging them on. img_1752All this was accompanied by a great commentary by OA President, Blair Trewin, and broadcast interviews with star performers carried out by our Queensland past team members, now junior elites, who also must be commended for the wonderful assistance they gave me leading up to the event and over the two days in the field.
All this was finally supplemented by an unexpected bonus with the presence of ABC reporter, Ellie Simpson, filming video and taking notes, and then a 2minute spot on the ABC prime time news on the Thursday night.
For an old warrior days are not much better than this.

About rpsimson1936

Retired geography and outdoor education teacher who loves orienteering and writes novels.
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