Running Writing ©
No. 9    April 1998
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Tom Knows the Way to the Top
• by Chris Wilson •

Wanniassa's Tom Quayle knows where he's going and how to get there fast... well at least that's the theory behind his sport of orienteering.

Click for large photo

Tom Quayle

Tom Quayle - photo by Megan Reeder [21k]


Dunrossil Drive CC - 1996

Prior to the 1996 women's start at the John HardingTrophy Race [56k]


David Quayle

Tom's brother David running in the 1998 World CC Trials [37k]

A story from
The Canberra Times:

"All four Australian orienteers competing in the 1998 Park World Tour series have made the cut after four races in China... They are Grant Bluett, Mary Fien, Natasha Rowe and Tom Quayle...
Quayle, of Canberra, missed the last two races because of a virus but managed to hold 13th spot. Bluett and Quayle have based themselves in Sweden for the rest of the 1998 season. The next race in the Park World Tour will be at Vasteras in Sweden on 1 May..."


Quayle's immediate compass reading points to China, however, with the 22-year-old one of two Australians invited to contest the Park World Tour from March 6 to 15. The world's best 25 orienteers have been assembled for the four race series in Hong Kong and Beijing.

"Itís the third year theyíve had this Park World Tour Series but the first two years itís been a bit obscure," Quayle said. "This is the first year theyíve made it truly international. Itís the first time itís been taken out of Europe and itís the first time that theyíve invited only the top runners in the world to compete." Park Orienteering is a shortened, modified version of the original sport, designed to make it more attractive for spectators and television cameras alike.

"Orienteering is a terrible spectator sport so they needed something to get the people along," Quayle said. "And I think itís fantastic. Thatís why Iím really interested in it. I have visions of running in front of thousands of people and this is the only way it can happen, through these park races."

"I think park races will only get more important as the years go by, but I donít think it will detract from normal orienteering. Itíll only add to it. It will make normal orienteering and the world championships more important. As people get interested in park racing, theyíll realise that itís not actually normal orienteering and Iím sure theyíll take an interest in the real stuff."

Itís the Ďreal stuffí where Quayle hopes to make his name. Having achieved Australiaís best ever results at his first World Championships in Norway last year, Quayle now intends raising the bar to a new level. "My long term goal is to win the World Championships. Thatís definitely the Holy Grail. I was 21 when I came 14th at last yearís World Championships and orienteers have a much longer life at top competition. So I think Iíve got another seven World Championships to improve on that."

Quayle finished fourth in two consecutive Junior World Championships before making the transition to senior competition in 1996, and he has worked hard to live up to his potential. He went straight to the top of the class, however, winning the Australian Championships in 1996. He now spends most of the year training in Sweden, returning to his familyís Wanniassa home every summer - not for a holiday, but for more training.

"The training of an orienteer is basically the same as a marathon runner in terms of time spent and distance covered," Quayle said. "Then thereís map reading. At the top level you canít really afford to make a mistake. You can be really fit, but if you canít get your mind around the course spot on then youíre not going to be in the hunt and youíre wasting your fitness. So you also have to be navigationally perfect."

Quayle admits a lot of rough terrain lies between him and a World Championship victory, but the compass seems to be pointing in the right direction.   end

This story first appeared in The Valley View on 3 March, 1998



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