Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, November 24, 2003

Memories of a training exercise


A long time ago I ran a training course at West Point that Damon Douglas set up. Damon gave us a map with a course of about 5-6 km and a blank piece of paper. His instructions were to study the map and take notes about it. Then we'd run the course without the map.

I studied the course a bit and sketched out the legs. Then I ran the course without a map (but with my sketch notes in my pocket). It went well. I had no real problems.

Damon didn't tell us how to take notes. Most of us sketched little maps. But one of the orienteers measured compass bearings and wrote out instructions. It never occurred me to do something like that. For what it is worth, the guy who wrote out the instructions didn't have a good run (I don't think he finished the course).

The lesson from this session was that you can orienteer without the detail on the map. Sketching the course forced you to generalize and to recognize the structure to the terrain.

I was thinking about this session because I read Lars Skjeset's description of a similar session he did. Skjeset described a session that began with everyone getting a sheet of paper with magnetic north lines and the course but nothing else. The runners then got a map, but they couldn't take the map with them. They had a chance to sketch in the details they wanted. Then they ran the course. Skjeset's session (which was set up by none other than Johan Ivarsson) may have been a little bit easier (since you had the purple overprinting rather than just a blank sheet of paper).

I like the session Skjeset describes. I think I'll try it for a training session some time.

posted by Michael | 7:54 PM


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