KingEdwardParkThe Newcastle Park Tour began in 2007 in response to a number of factors. Firstly, with daylight savings having been extended to 6 months of the year it seemed a pity to waste those extra daylight hours on a Wednesday evening. Secondly, the Summer Street Series had already been extended to 17 events and it was felt that this was a plenty long enough season. Thirdly, and finally, numbers in the Street series had grown to around 100 per week but many of these participants did not come along to the traditional bush orienteering events over winter. It was thought that a Park series might be a gentle way of transitioning Street orienteers to bush orienteers.

The format for the tour has remained unchanged since its inception. The number of events was initially dictated by the number of weeks left of daylight saving after the street series concluded and by the small number of park maps that the club had available at the time. The decision to have only two courses (long and short) per event was made to try to make the demands on the course setter as small as practical (since the course setter has to put the controls out and bring them all in again on the Wednesday afternoon). Lastly, since most competitors were used to running for 45 minutes at the street events it was decided to make the long course in the park series around the 5km mark. For most maps this is as long as is practical, (even with a map change), but hopefully long enough that people felt it worthwhile travelling to the event. The short course, it was decided, should be about half the length of the long course.

KingParkRaymondTerraceThe first significant change that occurred in the running of the NPT over the years has been the introduction of the SportIdent (SI) timing system. Its first use at a NPT event was at the finals of the 2011 tour. Russell and Karen Blatchford used gear borrowed from the NSW Junior Squad at that event at Hunter River High. After much discussion, fact finding and debate the club decided to purchase its own set of SI equipment in 2012. The club’s own SI gear was used for all events in the NPT during the 2013 tour. While the benefits of the SI system to competitors is obvious it does bring with it some headaches for the organisers, notably the control units placed in public areas need to be locked and computer equipment now has to be brought to each event.

Another slight change in format occurred in 2015. A new map of the TAFE College at Islington had been produced but access to the grounds could only be obtained for a Sunday. Thus it was decided to use the map for the final of the series. Having the final on a Sunday has the advantage of allowing time after the event for a presentation and complete control collection.

HunterRiverHighFinally, the biggest logistical hurdle that the NPT faces has been (and will continue to be) finding suitable venues and mapping them. Of course this problem is common to all forms of orienteering. To this end Newcastle Orienteering Club is grateful for the efforts of long time mappers Denis Lyons, Russell Rigby and Ian Dempsey who have overseen the production of most of the maps we currently use.

Hopefully the tour will live on!!

 
 
 
 

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