Who is Who
Blair Trewin, M35, AUS
How did you discover orienteering? Do you remember your first races? What did you enjoy the most?
I think the most enjoyable part about that time was finding new challenges and being able to meet them. I came into orienteering having been terrible at every other sport I'd tried - my ball skills were no good (and still aren't) - so it was great to find something that I was good at, and to be able to improve as I started training and my navigation improved. From quite a young age I wanted to see what I could do against the older competitors, especially in local events - I ran my first elite race when I was 15. The Junior World Championships only started in my final years as a junior, so that wasn't in my mind in the way that it would be in the mind of juniors of that age now.
From 1983 to 1988, you were leading all young classes in Australian Championships (M12, M14, M16, M18). What are your best memories from that time?
I think my best memory from those years was the 1986 Australian Championships week in South Australia. We started out in the Flinders Ranges (some people who went to WMOC 2002 will remember this as the Australian Championships area), and in one of the early events of the week I beat the group who were a year older than me in a big race for the first time. Four days later I was able to win again in the Australian Championships. (Interestingly, I went back to the Flinders Ranges in 2007 and re-ran my course from 1986 - I was quite a bit faster in 2007, even though my 10km running times on the road are about the same as they were in 1986).
Now in Australia we have well-developed junior squads, and a very strong Australian schools championships for state teams. None of that existed in the 1980s, so apart from the people in my home town (which was Canberra at that time) and a few others, I didn't really know many of the other Australian juniors well until my first JWOC in 1991.
In 1990, in Australian Champs, you won M20. And from 1992 to 2005 you have competed in M21E, with best result (2nd) in 1998. It is a long way in Elite class. Looking from this side, it seems unusual that, after a young winning career, you never won in 21E. Do you have any reason for this?
Ultimately, I wasn't quite fast enough to win races at the elite level. As a junior my own year was quite weak in Australia - there were some good people one year younger than me (Grant Bluett was the one who went on to be an international star), but by the time Grant had become competitive I was almost finished with juniors. As a senior I was quite consistent - I've come in the top 5 at the Australian Championships 8 times, most recently in 2006 - but someone would always be faster.
During your Elite career, what were your best international competitions?
I ran World Championships in Germany in 1995, just missing out on the long distance final, and was either just in or just out of the Australian team for most of the time from 1992 to 2000, running quite a lot of World Cup races. I never really did justice to myself at international level. I think, at least in part, this was because my navigation was based around being able to read the contours and the shape of the ground well, and I was a weak compass runner. This was fine in Australia where the contours are usually well-defined and the visibility is good, but I really struggled in places like Finland and Sweden in areas which were technically difficult and flat. By the time I learnt how to navigate in that terrain I could no longer run very fast.
My best World Cup result was 36th in Australia in 2000. Probably my best international performance was 29th in the World University Championships in 1994. In the 1990s, before the World Championships became an annual event, the World University Championships was a much bigger event and many countries sent almost full-strength national teams.
Can you recall any curious details from a "special" race?
In more recent years one of my priorities has been to run events in interesting places. Probably the most interest was the Asia-Pacific Championships in Kazakhstan in 2004. I raced quite well there, coming 2nd in the long distance, and it was beautiful country to orienteer in - probably the most enjoyable I've been in anywhere. I don't think I would ever have gone to Kazakhstan for any other reason, either. But probably the most memorable international event I've run in was a World Cup race in Switzerland in 1996. It was a multi-loop mass start race and is famous as the one where the bridge between the last control and the finish got washed away in a thunderstorm with 30 competitors still to finish. I also remember it well because towards the end I was in a group of 12 runners battling for 57th place, and noticed that I seemed to be the only person in the group who was actually reading the map. I also knew that if it came down to a sprint finish I was going to come last, so I confused everyone by running to a wrong control on purpose. 8 out of the 12 either punched it and got disqualified, or got confused enough that we were able to get away from them.
In 2006 you had an orienteering summer in Europe. At least, WMOC in Austria (22nd in M35) and 2 special events in Finland: Fin5 and Jukola Relay. Of course you have many stories from this summer. Can you share with us one or two good stories?
That was an interesting summer - as you say, Jukola, WMOC, Fin5 and the WOC spectator events in Denmark (and also two conferences for my work - I'm a climate change research scientist). The best memory, of course, was being there to see Hanny Allston win Australia's first ever World Championship gold medal - there was nothing quite like the moment when we realised that Simone Niggli was 20 seconds from the finish and only had 14...
2006 was the first time I ran Jukola (I plan to run it again in 2008). This was a terrific experience. I knew how big Jukola was as an orienteering event - what I wasn't ready for was just how big a sporting event it was in Finland as a whole.
How old are you now? What are your plans to the future concerning orienteering?
I'm 36 - will turn 37 just after WMOC. I am still running elite races in Australia and will run World Cup races in Norway and Sweden this year (I will also run the selection races for WOC but do not expect to be in the team). In Australia we have a National League competition between the different states, and I want to keep running elites as long as I can still be useful to my team (Victoria), but I probably don't have too many years left at the top level. I plan to keep running Masters for a very long time, though...
Australia will organize WMOC 2009. Are you involved in organization?
I won't be directly involved in the organization - it is being organized by the New South Wales state association (based in Sydney) - but as the financial director for Orienteering Australia I will have some involvement with things like negotiating the event contracts with World Masters Games. I was technical director in 2002.
Can you reveal any details about terrains and competition centre of WMOC'09?
The main competition centre will be Lithgow, which is about 150 kilometres west of Sydney. While I don't think it is 100% confirmed, the sprint will probably be in the Domain in central Sydney, and I think the organisers are trying to have a finish at the Opera House, which should be interesting. The long distance areas will be in sandstone country - probably a bit like some of the terrains in the Czech Republic. There hasn't been an international event in this type of terrain before. There is a lot of this type of terrain around Sydney, but close to Sydney the forest is too thick to be pleasant to run in. Lithgow is further inland and drier, so the forest is a bit more open. It will be quite physical, but also quite interesting.
The fact that WMOC is included in World Master Games is it an advantage or a disadvantage? (See last question on Eddie Harwood's interview: http://wmoc2008.fpo.pt/index.php?lang=en&op1=126&id=9).
I think being part of World Masters Games has both benefits and drawbacks. From an organiser's point of view it can be frustrating having to work with another organisation with its own priorities, but on the other hand it is good for orienteering's profile - we are now the 2nd or 3rd largest sport in the World Masters Games, which can only be a good thing - and I don't think we'd be able to do something like a sprint in central Sydney without being part of the Games. It is a long way for Europeans to travel, but I think it is worth the trip for a very different orienteering experience, even for those who came in 2002. I'm not sure why Australia keeps getting the World Masters Games, though...
Is orienteering with good health in your country? Is Hanny Allston an isolated phenomenon or is it the result of a consistent national work?
Like most of the smaller countries, our numbers are quite small so we do have strong periods and weak periods. Hanny is definitely an exceptional athlete - so exceptional that I'm not sure how much longer we'll see her with orienteering as her first priority. I can definitely see her running the Olympic marathon in 2012 if she keeps training well.
What achievements can we wait from Australian orienteers next years in international competitions?
Our men are in a weaker period at present, but we do have two very promising younger orienteers, Julian Dent and Simon Uppill. Julian is good enough to get a top 20 placing in the World Championships if he runs well. Simon will run his first WOC this year. He is the best technical orienteer I have seen and his running has really developed in the last year or two, so I think we will see good things from him, maybe not yet this year, but certainly in the next three or four years. Hanny (who won't be running WOC this year) is our obvious star amongst the women. We don't have any other stars but we do have a lot of depth - we probably have eight or nine women who are good enough to make a WOC final on a good day, and we have a good group of juniors as well. Grace Elson and Jo Allison are probably still our best two, but Kathryn Ewels has improved a lot over the summer and could be one to watch for this year.
Last questions are about your professional activity. You are a climatologist. What exactly do you do in the National Climate Centre?
I mostly work on analysing observed climate change in the historical record, and in interpreting the historical data. The main project I'm working on at the moment is in developing a better record of tropical cyclones (hurricanes) in the Australian region so we can get a better idea of what trends (if any) we have. I also do a lot of the National Climate Centre's media work, so my name quite often appears in the Australian newspapers (and sometimes international ones), and am part of a World Meteorological Organization expert group, which means I'm doing a lot of travelling at the moment. (Sometimes I've managed to combine that with orienteering - I ran an event in Georgia (USA) in January, and will run a WRE in Belgium in May just before a meeting).
Are you optimistic about our planet's future? Does Governments' blindness still can stop/control the hot stove effect?
I think we will have to see some very big changes in society to make a real difference to climate change, and it will be difficult to find the political will to do it, because even if we make big cuts to emissions now, the time when it will make a real difference will be in the second half of the 21st century. I'm not sure our political system handles that type of long-term problem well. What we really need is for a big country somewhere to be prepared to make the first move. Hopefully that might start to happen after the change in administration in the United States next year.
What global catastrophes can we wait to next decades?
We can obviously expect warming over the next 50 to 100 years, but I think a problem which is at least as large is the shifts we're seeing in rainfall patterns. In areas like southern Australia - and, I believe, also Portugal and Spain - there has been a sharp drop in rainfall in recent years, and that is causing real problems for water supply and for agriculture.
(Interview by Manuel Dias. Questions and answers by e-mail. Received on 2008 Apr 6th.)
[2008-06-20] Carlos Monteiro, WMOC Event Director
[2008-06-20] Dieter Wolf, M55, SUI
[2008-06-19] Timo Teinila, WMOC speaker
[2008-06-19] Jorge Simões, WMOC Event Director assistant
[2008-06-18] Blair Trewin, M35, AUS
[2008-06-18] Mariett Matias, WMOC Media responsible
[2008-06-17] David May, WMOC Senior Event Advisor
[2008-06-16] Gottfried Tobler, M60, AUT
[2008-06-16] Tuulikki Salmenkylä, W45, FIN
[2008-06-16] Arvo Majoinen, M80, FIN
[2008-06-14] Fernando Costa, WMOC Marketing responsible
[2008-06-13] Sarah Dunn, W40, GBR
[2008-06-12] Santos Sousa, WMOC planner
[2008-06-11] Sigurd Daehli, M55, NOR
[2008-06-10] Alexandre Reis, WMOC mapper and planner
[2008-06-09] Nick Duca, M40, CAN
[2008-06-07] Tiago Aires, WMOC mapper and planner
[2008-06-06] Irina Stepanova, W55, RUS
[2008-06-05] Luís Sérgio, WMOC mapper
[2008-06-04] Ari Kattainen, M50, FIN
[2008-06-03] Rui Antunes, WMOC Mapping coordinator
[2008-06-02] Jon Musgrave, M45, GBR
[2008-05-31] Jacinto Eleutério, WMOC Course coordinator
[2008-05-30] Rune Carlsson, M70, SWE
[2008-05-29] Åke Jacobson, IOF President
[2008-05-29] Augusto Almeida, POF President
[2008-05-28] Jurate Uleviciene, W55, LIT
[2008-05-26] Vladimir Ioffe, M70, ISR
[2008-05-23] José Fernandes, M45, POR
[2008-05-21] Ezio Paris, M55, ITA
[2008-05-19] Gabriella Györffy, W40, HUN
[2008-05-16] Alberto Minguez, M40, ESP
[2008-05-14] Tomas Zdrahal, M55, CZE
[2008-05-12] Paulo Becker, M45, BRA
[2008-05-09] Ingrid Roll, W70, NOR
[2008-05-07] Jerzy Parzewski, M55, POL
[2008-05-05] Hugh Moore, M60, AUS
[2008-05-02] Martin Checkley, M55, GBR
[2008-04-30] Etienne Bousser, M60, FRA
[2008-04-28] Andreas Grote, M40, SUI
[2008-04-24] Liudmila Labutina, W65, RUS
[2008-04-22] Freddy Sillien, M60, BEL
[2008-04-17] Tomislav Kaniski, M35, CRO
[2008-04-14] Eero Tuuteri, M85, FIN
[2008-04-10] Lena Nordahl, W80, SWE
[2008-04-07] Albano João, M45, POR
[2008-04-03] Tom A. Karlsen, M55, NOR
[2008-03-31] Kayoko Sakai, W55, JPN
[2008-03-27] Finn Arildsen, M45, DEN
[2008-03-24] Anne Nurmi, W45, FIN
[2008-03-20] Peo Bengtsson, M75, SWE
[2008-03-17] Alida Abola, W50, LAT
[2008-03-13] Matti Railimo, M60, FIN
[2008-03-10] Cornelia Eckardt, W35, GER
[2008-03-06] Joaquim Sousa, M35, POR
[2008-03-03] Birgitta Olsson, W75, SWE
[2008-02-20] J. Salmenkylä, M75, FIN
[2008-02-18] Torid Kvaal, W65, NOR
[2008-02-15] Mykola Bozhko, M55, UKR
[2008-02-13] Pavlina Brautigam, W45, USA
[2008-02-11] Ferran Santoyo, M35, ESP
[2008-02-08] Sole Nieminen, W80, FIN
[2008-02-06] Stefano Galletti, M40, ITA
[2008-02-04] Gillian Ingham, W50, NZL
[2008-02-01] Jörgen Mårtensson, M45, SWE
[2008-01-30] Tom Hiltebrand, M50, SUI
[2008-01-28] Baiba Ozola, W40, LAT
[2008-01-25] Eddie Harwood, M55, GBR
[2008-01-23] Marje Viirmann, W45, EST
[2008-01-21] Alexander Afonyushkin, M40, RUS
[2008-01-18] Paulina Majova, W55, SVK
[2008-01-16] Björn Linnersjö, M65, SWE
[2008-01-15] Lillian Røss, W85, NOR
[2008-01-10] Tapio Peippo, M55, FIN
[2008-01-07] Elizabeth Brown, W90, GBR
[2008-01-04] Erkki Luntamo, M90, FIN