Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Nice course in Colorado


A few days ago I found an envelope in my mail box with a Laramie, Wyoming, return address. I opened the letter and found a map with the blue course (M21) course from the last day at the recently completed "Ash Fest."

I scanned the map and you can see it here.

My first thought was -- "nice course."

Back on May 27, I wrote about trying to figure out a way to measure the character of a course. My idea was that systematically studying a bunch of courses might be interesting. I might learn something.

Tonight, I took the course from Colorado and applied some of the measures I'd been thinking about.

The Ash Fest course is 15 controls over 11.6 km with 600 meters of climb (according to the description sheet).

How many legs are more than one kilometer? 4.
How many legs are more than one and a half kilometer? 2.
How many legs force a distinct direction change? This is a bit subjective, but I count 11 direction changes.
Compared to the prior leg, how many legs are either more than twice as long or less than half as long? 8.

I think those measures show a lot of variety. When I recognize a course as "good," I'm pretty sure I'm recognizing variety.

I didn't try to apply other measure I'd considered (like subjectively rating the route choice and navigation difficulties or estimating the portion of the course on different surfaces).

But, I spent some time looking at each leg and I noticed something I've never noticed before. An orienteer would attack nearly every control on this course from above. I've probably never noticed something like that before because I wasn't trying to look at course setting systematically. Looking at -- trying to measure -- course setting was an experiment. I wanted to see if I'd notice something new. I guess it was a successful experiment because I noticed something new.

Some more courses from the Ash Fest are on Peter Gagarin's page. While you're there, take a look at Peter's comments on the map at the relay champs.

posted by Michael | 7:16 PM


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