GOanna | 2012

The inaugural GOanna was held on Sunday, 2 December 2012 at Auluba Reserve in South Turramurra with an enthusiastic group of more than 50 (mostly experienced) orienteers lining up at one of three staggered starts.

When registering in-advance we had the choice of either a 3km, 6km or 9km-course. The idea was that we would finish at similar times. Yet in selecting a course length it was wise to consider your level of fitness and any previous experience.

Mind you, strict instructions from the Master-of-Ceremonies and course-setter, Ian Jessup, were for everyone to have fun. Although it was probably difficult for many of the participants to refrain from being competitive, this was not supposed to be a scoring event but more of a “live experiment” with us the eager “guinea pigs”. What’s more, it was designed with both beginners and leisurely walkers in mind as well as elite athletes and sprinters.

Thankfully, the extreme heat Sydney suffered under during the past few days was a distant memory with temperatures almost cool in comparison.

The concept of a GOanna is very like that of a “Goat Race“: a running race quite common in the US of A. It’s essentially a hybrid event combining both a typical bush orienteering line-course (where you travel in order from controls 1 to 2 to 3 etc) and the urban-style Sydney Summer Series race (where you select which controls to visit and in which order).

In other words, you still have to travel from controls 1 to 2 to 3 etc but, you will:

a. occasionally have the opportunity to select between two controls (eg 4a or 4b),

b. need to decide which of several controls to visit within a boxed area of the map, and

c. be permitted to “drop” a specific number of controls (other than those listed in a. or b. above)

For anyone who has participated in the Sydney Summer Series it’s the perfect introduction to regular orienteering. The challenges of trail running, bush bashing, hill climbing, interpreting a contour map “on-the-run”, analysing those map features to aid with navigation, and the necessary quick decision-making required to succeed can be incredibly rewarding.

As I discovered for myself, there’s always a lesson to be learned from participating in such an event. Yet the satisfaction of exercising hard and finishing the course invariably out-weighs any frustration from making a mistake or two along the way.

As with any Garingal event, the proceedings were very well organised from start to finish. The team of volunteers did a great job and I think Ian Jessup is onto a winner with this style of outing.

The intention is for it to become a regular fixture on the Orienteering NSW (ONSW) calendar, much like the Nosh Run organised by Bennelong Northside Orienteers each year, and so I look forward to a repeat performance, currently tipped for November 2013.

Kim | Garingal member

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