Bulgarian holiday quest
ALICE Tilley and Kayla Fairbairn are spending their school holidays on the world stage.
The pair have been selected to represent New Zealand in Bulgaria at the Junior World Orienteering Championships.
Tilley is from Diocesan School and Fairbairn from St Cuthberts.
They will both don the silver fern after a season of competing against each other at secondary school level.
The duo have shared the spoils this year with both girls on the podium at Auckland Secondary School events, earning gold and silver medals.
‘‘It’s awesome having Kayla in Auckland,’’ Tilley says. ‘‘ We can train together but when we compete we push each other.’’
The friendly rivalry has played a part in the girls reaching representative level.
‘‘I can’t ever slack off because I know Alice will be chasing me down,’’ Fairbairn says.
Orienteering involves a set of controls positioned around a large course, usually on rugged terrain.
Racers are challenged to find the controls in a specific order using a map as a guide. The fastest person to get all the controls in the right order wins.
‘‘It combines the mental, physical and technical side of sport altogether,’’ Tilley says. ‘‘Everyone is always searching for that perfect race where you feel physically good, get your map skills right and every- thing plan.’’
Obtaining perfection is why the girls love the sport and have stuck with it after taking it up four years ago.
‘‘You can never be the very best, there is always room for improvement. Every time you go out on a course you
to know you are going to make mistakes.
‘‘You are always aiming for perfection,’’ Fairbairn says.
The perfect run is what the two will be gunning for when they compete in Bulgaria. The championships begin on July 21 and pit the New Zealand team against the best in the world.
Sweden and Norway are traditionally the dominant teams but the Kiwis will be pushing for a medal.
Kiwi Matt Ogden won the Junior World Orienteering Middle Distance Champs in 2012 which was the first time someone outside of Europe had won the event.
His performance is one the girls will be drawing on for inspiration as they tackle the Bulgarian landscape.
According to the girls, orienteering is growing in popularity in New Zealand.
‘‘When you’re out there you get to see such cool places,’’ Fairbairn says.
‘‘You don’t know what to expect because every time is different.
‘‘It’s like an adventure.’’
Best mates: Epsom’s Kayla Fairbairn and Stonefields’ Alice Tilley are rivals when in school uniform but will be on the same team at the World Junior Orienteering Championships.