Getting to know Gene Beveridge

Many of you will be familiar with Gene Beveridge. He has a lot of experience, and is working on many levels to promote the sport. Gene was born into orienteering and he reckons he cannot escape it now. Over the last year he has been working on the Coaching Framework for Orienteering NZ and has just recently become the North West President with Lisa Mead as vice president.

1. When did you join a club? What motivated you to join a club?

I was more or less born into the North West Orienteering Club since my parents were involved there. There is no way out now.

2. What do new members want to know about your club, and your events? How is your club different from the others?

We run the popular Rogaine Series, which offers a great way for beginners and pros to participate on the same grounds and it’s easy for beginners to find a level of navigation appropriate for them.

2. What orienteering are you still mastering?
I’m still trying to master many things, especially around middle distance orienteering. There tends to be a lot of information to take in and if my concentration is not rock solid then I’m likely to lose precise map contact and start fumbling around.

3. What’s your personal orienteering claim to fame and/or what are some of your memorable moments?
I’ve had a fairly mixed experience representing New Zealand overseas with many poorly timed illnesses and disappointing blowouts, but my 34th in WOC in the long distance was the result of many years of training, and so was my 23th at WUOC in the long distance years earlier.

4. Who do you admire in the orienteering community? Who are the orienteers that you watch and look out for their for results?

I really admire those with the skills that I’m still grappling with, so I’m always sure to pick the brains of Matt Ogden and Nick Hann after middle distance races. Their ability to maintain consistency and clarity of thought in these aggressive races is impressive, and I’m still optimism that I can get there.

5. What are some of the events you really remember? Good or bad!

It’s pretty clear to me that the most memorable events are made from excitement about the competition before and during the race. Races like O-Ringen have really nailed the energy with great event arenas, exciting commentary and lots of competitors in the terrain as you get closer to the finish. There is just so much action and great vibes. Locally, Sprint the Bay stands out to me as set-up races set intelligently in this regard.

6. What future untapped prospects can you see for events in the future?

There are a lot of different formats of orienteering that exist only as training exercises, and have rarely been brought into the competition space. These “impure”s can be used to bring variation to the navigational challenges or provide better spectator opportunities. Formats like mass start races can feature micro-controls or mini-rogaine sections as potent tools to tilt the race in the favor of the best navigators, but haven’t seen much use.

7. How do you personally train and prepare for big orienteering events?

With other big orienteering events. Physical fitness aside, I’ve found that racing is by far the best preparation for racing. There is an emotional side to high pressure racing that cannot be replicated in training. If I’m not prepared for this my navigation is twitchy and I’m prone to making crazy decisions when the race day pressure proves overpowering.

8. Do you have any key advice for orienteers just starting out??

Don’t walk before you can crawl. This is much easier to answer now that we have coaching resources online. Check out the Coaching Framework on the ONZ website and get the basics right: orienteering.org.nz/coaching-framework

9. You have been working with the coaching framework for ONZ, what stage is it at, and how does it compare to the Australian framework?
I’ve been working on this formally for a year, but it is the accumulation of ideas that go back much further. I’m relieved that there is finally an accessible product, and it will always be expanding with new training ideas. The major difference between what ONZ and OA have done, is that ONZ went for something very accessible and user-friendly for new orienteers and small clubs. OA have done a lot of work on best practices for coaches to improve the quality of the coaches. ONZ might be the first to provide online coaching resources like this, so the Coaching Framework is unique at this moment. ONZ’s approach to coaching is also very flexible and acknowledges how undeveloped the development pathways are and therefore how much room should be left for redesigning the approach as feedback rolls in.

10. In your opinion what is the ONZ councils’ key role for the sport in 2022? How may our priorities differ from other sports?

Up until a few years ago I would have said I was unsure what ONZ were doing. Either I wasn’t close enough to the council to understand, or its functions were opaque, or it served no purpose at all. Either way, there was a problem. But now I gather a clearer sense that ONZ can coordinate, supplement and lead the orienteering and navigation sports community to provide the sporting opportunities we want more effectively.

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