January Athlete Interview with Leith Soden

Brodie Nankervis2023 Archive, Athlete Profiles, High Performance

Last month Brodie interviewed up and coming South Australian junior, Leith Soden. Leith is a member of the OA National Junior Development squad, and runs for the SA arrows in the National Orienteering League. Leith has had an impressive start to the season at the Oceania Championships in Tasmania, and now sits 5th in the junior men ranking. Read on to find out more about Leith and what his goals are for 2023!

Hi Leith, firstly a big congratulations on your results at the recent Oceania Championships, how did you find the competitions?

Thanks, I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed any carnival hosted in St Helens, I find the terrain very fast and fun. I really enjoyed each of the events. UTAS is a great sprint map and some of the well-hidden controls made it rather interesting in the control circle which added to the excitement of it. The long was really cool, it was a lot more physical than I was expecting. I made a few decent mistakes but I think some strength up the hills helped me claw back some time. The middle was probably my favourite map of the week, the tin mining terrain was absolutely awesome to orienteer through, and a relatively clean (but quite cautious) run helped the enjoyment of it. My best run was probably in the relay though, I had done some training on Rowdy Flat in December which was very useful for detail reading in the steeper erosion areas of the map. I also enjoyed getting the legs turning on some of the longer controls. I did make a few small mistakes but it was still a solid run.

Fantastic recap and again, congratulations on some solid performances. Let’s take a step back, tell us how you got into orienteering and your development so far?

My mum and dad both occasionally orienteered before I existed so I was sort of born into the sport. I “completed” an 8 Rogaine in the womb when mum was 6 months pregnant, and I was a very competitive string course enthusiast when I was young. I did attend national events with my family growing up but I didn’t really get into the sport properly until Easter 2017 in New Zealand. From there I started paying more attention to the sport and was going to as many events as I could, but at the time I was prioritising soccer and that interfered a lot. Then in early 2021 I decided I had had enough of soccer and it was time to focus fully on orienteering! From there I started training more, but it was towards the end of the 2022 NOL season that I really knuckled down and started sticking to a proper training plan as I knew I really wanted to succeed in the sport. I went to Europe last July, spectating JWOC and racing the Italy 5-days and O-Ringen, which were all incredible and just made me even more obsessed! Since then I have been working hard to improve my technique and ramping up my running plan to try and progress my orienteering.

Great to hear the effort you have taken to step up your orienteering, it seems to be paying off! So, what are the goals for this year?

My main goal this year is to run JWOC in Romania, I think it would be an awesome experience and after racing some of the national events in Europe I’d be very keen to race for Australia in an even more competitive environment. I also hope to go back to Sweden for O-Ringen, as it was simply incredible and nothing like I’d experienced before.

Good luck with your selection, I’m sure places in the Australian team are going to be as competitive as any other year. What are you doing outside of orienteering?

Aside from training, I’m working full time as a meter reader to fund orienteering trips. This does mean on top of training I’m walking 15-25 km a day which has been interesting but I’m making it work. Outside of work I watch “The last run of the King of Orienteering” on repeat, and enjoy a bit of Virtual-O. I occasionally play Fortnite tournaments as well for a bit of cash. Later this year I’m starting Uni.

Maybe that extra aerobic training is/will pay off in the long distance races! Ok, lets get into the quickfire round. What is your favourite map or terrain?

The terrain around Upsala in Sweden was superb, but my favourite Australian map would be Kangaroo Crossing

Which orienteering event is on the top of your list to run in?

It would be unreal to run at WOC one day, but I also really want to run Jukola.

Favourite training session?

Running – 400m reps, Navigation – control pick

Country you would most like to visit?


What food would you choose if you could only eat it for the rest of your life?

Do vanilla protein Up&Gos count as a food?

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I have two siblings, that have previously orienteered

Thanks Leith, it was great to learn a little bit more about you and excited to see where this year takes you. Where can people go to follow along?

Strava – https://www.strava.com/athletes/leith_soden

Instagram – @leithsoden