Last month Brodie sat down with Krystal Neumann, Queensland senior elite who has had an impressive career of Australian representation. Krystal first ran for Australia at the Junior World Championships in Sweden in 2008 and since then has donned the green and gold 11 times (not including world cups or Oceania schools)! Recently she has been trying her hand at trail running, with some great results in 2021. Let’s find out what she has planned for 2022!
Hey Krystal, firstly, can you tell us a little about what you are up to now? What are your plans for 2022?
Hey Brodie! At the moment I am attempting to get myself sorted out to get back to some consistent training. I’ve had a bit of an eventful 6 months with quite a few changes; moving to a completely new area but yes, still Brisbane, getting a very new job and generally doing things a little differently. So just finding that routine again and getting my body sorted is the priority. I plan on getting back to some consistency, doing the NOL races, and generally enjoying training. Some nice long runs in cool places like the Bunya Mountains or Binna Burra are definitely in the plan somewhere. I am also entered in the BTU30 so hopefully I can get some decent training in before then.
A bit of mix of orienteering and trail running, sounds like a good start to 2022! So you have had a long and successful senior career – tell us a little about how you got to where you are now?
I just tried really hard to be honest. I came to orienteering ‘late’, starting when I was 12 years old (2003), but very quickly picked it up and won my first Australian Schools Championships in 2005, in Tasmania. I was a decent runner to start with so I think that definitely helped but we had a small group in Brisbane that trained together every Tuesday with Clive Pope, that included Bridget Uppill (Anderson), Laurina and Kurt (my sister and brother) and I think that is where a lot of my early improvement came from. I went to JWOC from 2008-2012 (skipping 2010 because of a back injury), took a year or 2 off, because I couldn’t see myself doing the training required for WOC at that time. I exchanged to Ireland for university and came back in time to fit in some training and (honestly by accident) made the WUOC team in 2014. From then it was WOC every year from 2015 in Scotland to Norway in 2019. Then COVID happened. During this time my training changed and increased a lot. I got myself a new coach at the beginning of 2016, Ralph Street, from Great Britain, which also coincided with moving to Stockholm to teach at an international school and train with Jarla Orientering for what ended up being 1.5 years. Ralph was my running and technical coach until pretty much the end of 2019 and helped massively, especially my technical. If you stalk my attackpoint (krysyjane) and look at the months and weeks from 2014 to the beginning of 2020/mid 2021 it gives a pretty good idea of how my physical condition improved during that time. We would analyse my training and my races pretty thoroughly. I also made a lot of sacrifices; with work and living (I didn’t keep any job at a school for longer than 1 semester or move out from my parents place because I knew I would be going to Europe midyear) and socially (choosing training or sleep over social activities). But also, I never really got injured. My last real injury was 2010. Since then it has been consistent training, without breaking myself to the point where I needed to take time off for injury.
Wow, what a journey, thanks for giving us such an insight into your career. What do you see as the most important part of your development as an orienteer? What would you go back and do different?
I definitely made the most improvement by having Ralph as my coach. We literally stripped my whole orienteering technique back in 2016 and started from scratch. I felt like I was learning from the beginning all over again, and it took a fair bit of resilience, persistence and trust in Ralph to do that. In 2015 I was making these big mistakes on generally 1 control every course that would cost me multiple minutes; we mostly eliminated these, and got me to a point where I could do every control well on an entire course. We discovered that if I wanted to run well I have to have 100% focus on exactly what I am doing, or I will make a mistake. My first race where this all came together was the NOL in Bendigo in 2018 at Yorkshire Hill where I won by 2 minutes in the middle distance. Safe to say I was stoked with that (until everyone accused me of following the 2nd place getter!). I have recently discovered it is exactly the same for me with golf, for context, if I see an ant in the grass next to my ball while I am hitting, it will probably not be a clean shot…
I don’t really know what I would’ve done differently. I always wanted to live and train in the Czech Republic, but couldn’t find a job, so maybe I would have done that before Sweden or something. I would probably try and not eliminate so much of my social life, and probably join a running club or 2 earlier than I did. I only started running with a group in 2019 (I think it was), but I guess that was because I lived further out of Brisbane with my parents, so I’m not really sure. It all worked at the time. If I changed anything I probably wouldn’t have gotten my current job, which is something I have worked up towards for years. The one regret I have is not going skiing in either winter I spent in Sweden.
Again, some great insight and key messages – sounds like having a coach and being involved in a running group are two things that have worked well for you. Alright, lets move into some quickfire questions:
Best place you have ever orienteered?
Under the Matterhorn at Swiss O Week 2014. Very, very cool.
Most interesting/weirdest orienteering experience?
That is an incredibly difficult question… First thing that comes to mind was running around the sprint maps in China. Just a genuinely really cool/crazy experience to be running underneath electricity cables and pipes etc and down these really, really thin alleyways that you had to turn side on to get down. This one was definitely not the thinnest but you get the gist.
What sport would you be doing if you weren’t an orienteer?
Running? Cycling? I’ve always wondered if I’d be a decent cyclist.
What’s on top of the bucket list?
Phwoar. Honestly, this is going to sound super boring, but I would like to do some of those (adult) things I neglected to really think about much over the last 8 years, like buy a house…. When house prices go down.
And lets finish with a contentious topic – What is better, sprint or forest orienteering?
I don’t think I need to actually answer that, so I am going to go more specific… middle distance.
Thanks Krystal for your time chatting today, where can people go to follow your progress:
Strava- Krystal Neumann