Think fast, move fast

Tom Spencer (21, left) and Alistair Richardson (24) train in the Dunedin Botanic Garden yesterday...
Tom Spencer (21, left) and Alistair Richardson (24) train in the Dunedin Botanic Garden yesterday before the South Island orienteering championships in Dunedin this weekend. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Moving fast and finding your way around an unfamiliar area are two very different skills.

But they are pair that go together well for Tom Spencer and Alistair Richardson.

The Dunedin duo will be among the top contenders at this weekend's South Island orienteering championships, to be held in the Dunedin Botanic Garden and on Signal Hill.

More than 200 people from around New Zealand and Australia are expected at the event, with one competitor coming from as far away as Israel.

Orienteering involves competitors using a map to reach a series of checkpoints in order. They have to determine their own route to finish as quickly as possible, and it can be done both on foot and bike.

"Being able to go fast, but also being able to navigate at the same time when you're going fast, is what's crucial," Richardson said.

"Everyone can navigate when they're going slowly, but navigating when you're going fast is what makes things less simple. "

Spencer added that it was important to keep your mind and body moving at the same pace, so as not to head off running in the wrong direction.

Spencer is a fourth-year medical student originally from New Plymouth and has been to two Australian championships, as well as an international event in New Zealand.

He hopes to travel to Austria this year for the mountain bike orienteering world championships, although that was dependent on getting time off university. Earlier this year he was in a team which finished 10th in the multi-day Godzone adventure race.

Richardson was a regular in the New Zealand secondary schools team while growing up in Christchurch.

He eventually made the team for the junior world championships that went to the Czech Republic.

In 2016 he travelled to Hungary with the New Zealand universities team, having moved to Dunedin, where he is now studying for a PhD in chemistry.

Both were looking forward to having the championships in Dunedin.

The event begins tomorrow with a short distance race around the Botanic Garden, before a middle-distance race around Signal Hill on Sunday.

A mountain bike event will follow in Alexandra next week.

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