Lessons Learned from Hanmer

MTBO Champs Report

This is a report to the NZOF Technical Committee and MTBO Committee from Michael Wood, Controller of the NZ MTBO Champs on Sep 30. Skip it unless you're interested in organising MTBO, in which case there are some useful tips here. It also documents an important milestone in New Zealand MTBO.


The first NZOF MTBO Champs were run on 30 Sep 00 at Hanmer Springs. They attracted about 70 participants, 20 from the North Island. The final info, results and courses have been sent to the Technical Committee Convenor

The controller was Michael Wood, course planner was Graham Frith.

Organisation was carried out by Andy and Roz Clayton for PAPO.

Competitors were very pleased with the event. Probably this was due to the newness of MTBO in New Zealand. As time goes by, some participants will become more sophisticated and more critical. In the meantime it is very pleasurable providing events for grateful customers.

Controller, Status, Rules

NZOF doesn't have any great experience in running MTBO. Possibly the most experience lies with Michael Wood who has competed a couple of times in France and a couple of times in England; with Brent Hoy ran half a dozen events in the lower North Island; and was for a time on the IOF MTBO Committee. Michael mapped the area and controlled the event (NOT a recommended combination) but we are still very much feeling our way.

I think that the NZ MTBO Champs should be regarded as a B-level event. We would look at the INTENT of the foot-orienteering rules to ensure quality, plus keep an eye on what is happening in MTBO overseas to make sure we develop along similar lines. There are draft international MTBO rules and there is a MTBO section in the IOF Mapping Specifications. In due course we can develop NZ MTBO rules but there is no hurry.

I think NZ Champ controllers should have had experience controlling foot-orienteering events, and have been involved in the organisation of MTBO events. It would be premature to tie it down any further yet.


We noted the following things which could have been better.

Heavy rains occurred in the month before the event. A new river branch appeared between the map check one month out and the day. It caused confusion because a control was located on the second branch. Most route choices were checked the day before but not this one.

There was the odd mapping error: a wide track shown as narrow, a junction angle not acute enough, and some distinct/indistinct juntions not correctly shown. Although most didn't even notice, participants are going to become more discriminating about these things. The important thing to get right is that every JUNCTION should be correctly shown.

We were very conservative about taping tracks or routes that looked a bit doubtful. There was some comment that we had overdone this. This is a good criticism to have, it is certainly better than having doubt over what we regarded as a track.

The A3 map was larger than the draft IOF Rules which specify a max of 300X300mm. Even this is larger than most mapholders will handle without folding. We could probably have used a scale of 1:25,000, but detailed areas need careful cartography.

The difference between the wide lines (0.6mm) and the narrow lines (0.35) (as per the IOF Mapping Specifications for MTBO) is difficult to see. Perhaps the difference should be 2:1. We certainly do not want another width as some Australians seem to want. If there is a need for more symbols, I would guess that participants will want the middle ridability to be subdivided. At present an unmaintained but ridable track can vary quite a bit in speed. But I would say we are quite satisfied for the moment with the MTBO symbols.

Advice for Next Time

For the record the winning speeds were:
Open Men 25km/420m in 95min (Bruce McLeod with long O and MTB experience)
Open Women 19km/300m in 76min (Rachel Smith with long ) and moderate MTB experience; fairly small field)
Vet Men 19km/300m in 81min (Ray Pratt with long O and moderate MTB experience)
Vet Women 12km/80m in 59min (Jacqui Sinclair with long O and moderate MTB experience; fairly small field)
Junior Men 19km/300m in 89min (Garan Sinclair with moderate O and moderate MTB experience; quite small field)
Junior Women 12km/80m in 117min (one entry, statistically irrelevant)

The open men felt this was quite short. We could move to 120min for open men with a proportional increase for the others. There was support for a recreational option one course down, even at a championship.

There was a non-championship score event on the day after, and many said they preferred the score format. Although the World Champ and World Cups appear to be fixed-sequence events, England and Australia are running score events. There doesn't seem to be any reason why we shouldn't recognise a score championship.

Injuries when incurred may be more severe than for orienteers on foot. All MTBO events should have a safety plan.

We thought laser printing was quite adequate for the maps. All maps must be checked, we found one mis-feed which produced a piece of paper with a defective image. If you can't get the map onto A4, try to get the useful area down one end of the A3, so that the "not required on voyage" stuff can be folded under.

Control cards were zip-tied to the bikes to ensure the bike went to every control. We used "cable ties" and bought them from a packaging product supplier. They didn't appear to have a brand, the packet says "Nylon Cable Tie CV-140S" and they are 140mm long.

Clippers need to be on a string when the card is attached to the bike. Most clippers in NZ are screwed onto a stake, but PAPO has a large number of loose clippers for rogaine purposes which were ideal.

This page was written by Michael Wood shortly after the event, and installed here on 17 Dec 00.
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