Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Next planned update on Monday


I'm going to the West Point A-meet this weekend. I might have access and time to update this page on the weekend. But, I'm not counting on it.

posted by Michael | 8:34 PM


Some thoughts about Tio Mila


I didn't get a chance to sit in front of the computer following Tio Mila live. Instead I've spent some time the last few days reading post-race reports.

The terrain looks nice. Check out Johan Modig's route on the last leg.

Canada's Sandy Hott Johansen had a quite good result. She was 13th of 388 teams on the first leg (just 17 seconds out of 5th). That's cool. Her team sunk pretty quickly though. Kristiansand OK finished 223rd.

Kristiansand OK's men's team started our really well -- winning the first leg. They were in the fight going in to the last two legs. After 8 legs they were 5th. With Jorgen Rostrup and Holger Hott Johansen on the last two legs you'd have high hopes for a good finish.

What happened? Turns out Rostrup lost his dipstick and couldn't find it. He had to DNF.

I've never lost a dipstick. The first time I ran with one, I fell and it flipped off my finger. I've never had any trouble since. But, I suppose I shouldn't count on being lucky. The dipsticks have a little hole in the end and you can put a bit of string or elastic through the hole as a backup to the elastic strap that attaches the dipstick to your finger. That might be something I'll do before this weekend's race.

I wonder why Rostrup didn't have a little backup string. I was reading the instructions for runners from my old club, IFK Lidingo, and they directed their team leaders to make sure the runners had a backup string on their dipsticks.

And I almost forgot....Swedish sport TV produced a 30 minute summary of the Tio Mila weekend (which included a mass start sprint race in a zoo). You can see the video by going to the SVT sport page and looking for "Sammandrag fran Tiomila"

posted by Michael | 8:32 PM


Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Halden's new trainer


Halden SK hired a new club trainer and I came across an interview with him in a Finnish newspaper (Swedish language, so I could read it!). Halden SK hired Kari Arponen, who has some experience as an O' trainer, but is known as a skier. He has run only six O' races. Here are a few translated bits of the interview:

"Orienteering feels like more of a challenge than skiing. You have to combine thinking, technique and physical strength. Anything can happen. And it is still an amateur sport, there is a lot that can be developed."

"They [Halden SK] are already the best in the work, but you can't stand still and forget to develop. 'Tyytvyvaesyys pysaeyttaeae kehityksen' as they say in Finnish."

"...Most of what I've learned has been through hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of discussions with athletes, leaders and trainers."

One strength of Halden is the good training terrain and that almost all of the runners live in the town. That makes things easier for the club's trainer. That the club in a town of 27,000 has bought its way to the top...Arponen denies.

"We don't have money. It is about quality, good organization and activities. The will to become better, the heart and the love of the sport is what drives...."

posted by Michael | 1:23 PM


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Report from Wisconsin


Instead of following Tio-Mila's online coverage, Mary and I went to the A-meet at Devil's Lake in Wisconsin. A few quick notes:


Check out Randy's write up and his maps and routes.

Great terrain

I knew the terrain was unusual for the midwest, but I wasn't sure what to expect. It turned out the terrain was very similar to the French Creek areas in Pennsylvania and even somewhat like Hudson Valley Terrain...in the midwest!

The terrain at Devil's Lake is very special -- it'd be a great sport for a championship event.

I talked with Kevin T. (the meet director) and told him I was sorry more people weren't at the meet. He said he was satisfied with the turnout (I'm guessing there were maybe 125 people), because the club is so small they weren't sure they could handle many more people. Maybe he's right. But, it sure would be nice if more people could run in this area.

Course setting

The course setters made good use of the terrain. I especially enjoyed the second day's course, where we ran through all of the different types of terrain on the map. Check out Randy's map and routes for day 2.

The course setter for day 2 is Michael Eglin, an okansas reader!

Some progress

I've been struggling all spring to put together a good race. I'm far from satisfied with my races in Wisconsin, but I saw some progress. I orienteered much better on the second day than I've orienteered earlier this year (still have a lot of opportunities to improve). I was concentrating better, staying up with the navigation and generally running a reasonable pace.

I did a couple of things to try to get my orienteering to work better at Wisconsin:

1. I did plenty of map study the week before the race.

2. When I got a look at an existing map of part of the park (basically the west half of the map we used), I wrote some notes about what to expect and thought about what techniques I'd use.

3. I went out a bit slow on the second day. When the footing was rocky, I tried to run smoothly rather than fighting through the rocks. I probably lost some time on the long leg because I wasn't pushing especially hard, but I might have made up for it by being a bit less worn out on the last few kilometers of the course.

posted by Michael | 12:22 PM


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Next update planned for Tuesday, April 27


I'm going to the A-meet in Wisconsin and don't plan to be updating this page until Tuesday.

posted by Michael | 9:29 PM


How Ted learned and kept learning


I'm reading a biography of the great baseball hitter, Ted Williams. The author writes a bit about how Williams learned and kept learning:

He would seek out the greats of the game, ask questions, challenge the answers....He would talk with Hugh Duffy,...Bill Terry,...Ty Cobb...He would talk, as an old man, with Tony Gwynn and Nomar Garciaparra and Jason Giambi....

The subject would never go stale for him. He would talk hitting with anyone who asked and with a lot of people who didn't.

If you read okansas every day, you might know that I'm interested in people who are obsessed, in particular when they're obsessed with sports. Williams was absolutely dedicated to become a great hitter.

I'm not going to tie Williams obsession to orienteering, other than to note that some orienteers I've known have been quite obsessed by orienteering.

posted by Michael | 9:28 PM


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Tio mila weekend


Every year I select an Orienteer Kansas team for Tio Mila, the huge 10-leg relay in Sweden this weekend.

Orienteer Kansas never has had a team at Tio Mila. We probably never will. But, it is fun to pick a team. Here is this year's team.

1. (11.8 km, probably getting dark). Sanna Wallenborg. Sanna is our start leg specialist. She's strong and good at making use of other runners. I think Sanna is running a leg on one of IF Thors women's teams this year.

2. (11.8 km, night). "Snorkel" Meenehan. Snorkel is steady. He's not in great shape (and he's just getting over a cold). But, he's got a lot of experience and can be counted on to have a consistent run. When he's on, he's tough. I'd expect him to push himself to his limits and have a clean run, not losing more than a couple of minutes.

3. (11.8 km, night). Michael Eglinski. I put myself on this leg. I'm in reasonable shape and should be able to make my way around the course without missing too much.

4. (6.5 km, night). Eric Saggars. I haven't heard much from Eric recently. But, he did some night O' training this winter. I don't know about his form, but he's got a short leg.

5. (16.5 km, night). Maggi Wallenborg. Maggi skied Vasaloppet this winter. He's still in good shape. He be able to keep a decent pace through the entire long night. Maggi is running a leg for IF Thor this year.

6. (6.5 km, night). Keith Lay. Keith also did some night O' training this winter. He's got some sort of fancy headlamp that gives off a bright, blue light. It is quite impressive. Not knowing if Keith is in good shape, I'll put him on a short leg.

7. (7.4 km, night). Gene Wee. Gene is on the team, but I'm not sure he'll be able to run (we'll have some reserves who can be put in at the last minute). Gene injured himself a month or so ago. He's only just begun to run again. There is a good chance that he won't be able to run.

8. (10.2 km, dusk). Peggy Dickison. This will be a tough task for Peggy. She's had some injury problems over the last few months. If she can't run, we'll put in a reserve.

9. (9.9 km, day). Nadim Ahmed. Nadim is a strong runner and a decent, but not yet reliable, orienteer. Last weekend he had a big, big mistake. But, he also had a bunch of good legs. I figure Nadim will rise to the occassion and put in a good race.

10. (16 km, day). "Mook" Everett. Mook is OKs strongest. He'll be expected to handle whatever it takes to do well on the anchor leg.

Reserves: Terhi Kauppila (who will probably run for Tampereen Pyrinto this year) is our first reserve. With Gene's injury, there is a strong chance Terhi will run. Mikell Platt is a second reserve. Mikell's connection to OK is a bit tenuous. But, he told me he'd like to make the OK Tio Mila team. He ran well and the Hawn A-meet a few weeks ago.

Coaches: Mary Jones is the head coach. She's also OK's president. Pete Gogol and Patrick Nuss are assistant coaches. Both are KU students and involved in the KU chapter of OK.

Support Crew: Peter Gagarin, Eric Weyman, Randy Hall and Tom Carr will all help out as OK's support crew. They'll be helping out with whatever is needed -- giving advice and encouragement, keeping track of times, cooking food all night long, and so on.

posted by Michael | 9:08 PM


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Some thoughts about the upcoming WOC


Emma Engstrand wrote about the recent Swedish national team training camp.

Check out the sprint training course they ran.

Apparently this map is next to the WOC sprint area. It is probably relevant.

One of the exercises the national team did was to be shadowed by Johan Ivarsson. Here is what Engstrand wrote about that:

Johan Ivarsson will be at our WOC training camps this year. He will help us and give us advice on the technical side. We got the chance to be shadowed and I took advantage of it. I learned a lot. Simplify and take advantage of the distinct terrain formations, was the main advice he gave me.

Ivarsson's advice applies to most orienteering. But, it is probably going to be especially relevant at the WOC, where the terrain is going to be fairly flat with lots of small hills. Check out one of the areas where the Swedish team trained last week. By the way, this is NOT where Ivarsson shadowed Engstrand.

posted by Michael | 7:35 PM


Monday, April 19, 2004

A few notes from the weekend


A few quick notes from the weekend's races in Ohio and Indiana:

Maps: Randy posted the M21 maps with his routes. Check out his report.

Juniors: The event was the U.S. Interscholastic Champs. A lot of kids ran. It is quite cool to see so many kids at a race. I haven't seen the results, but I know some of the juniors from the Texas training camp had good races.

Course setting: Three days, three different course setters...I liked the courses on Saturday (here are Randy's routes, part I and part II). Saturday's race was a mass start with forking. I wish more A-meets used that format for one of the days. It makes for some fun head-to-head racing, adds some challenges, and makes good use of a small area. Vlad noted that the entire course was in an area of the map just 1.4 square km.

Sunday's course wasn't nearly as interesting. Maybe the course setter had some constraints that I don't know about. Maybe they focused on the interscholastic courses and maybe those were more interesting. I don't know. But, I didn't find the M21 course especially interesting. Check out Randy's map. What's up with a leg like 4-5?

My races: I can't say I'm happy with my races. I didn't run especially well. I made some bad decisions on the courses. My mind wasn't working right. On the other hand, I saw some positives. While I didn't run well, I didn't so much feel out of shape as just not in form. The warm weather (yesterday's high in Rushville, Indiana was 86 F, which is 29 C) didn't help things for me. I had a few legs where things clicked. I learned a few things that should help me in the next few weeks when I'm running three more A-meets.

posted by Michael | 8:17 PM


Thursday, April 15, 2004

Next Update - Monday, April 19


I'm going to Ohio and Indiana to run M21 at the annual Flying Pig. It should be fun.

posted by Michael | 8:50 PM


Good questions


Bill James on writing:

The key to doing a book like that [the old Baseball Abstract] is to find good questions — find things to write about which are new and interesting. A bad article about an interesting question will have much more impact, in the long run, than a good article about a boring question.

I thought Randy wrote some really good questions (I'm not saying he wrote a bad article!) in his latest post.

To me, the really interesting questions Randy posed are:

1. What control did I boom?
2. Is it obvious from the map?

He's getting at an issue I've thought about a fair amount -- can you predict booms by looking at the map?

For what it is worth, when I first looked at Randy's questions, my answers were:

He must have boomed 3 or 7. It isn't obvious from the map. I picked 3 because I thought it looked tricky because it was fairly flat and the rocky footing might cause some difficulty. I picked 7 because it flattens out a bit and the leg requires you to run along a hillside but dropping a couple of lines. I think that can be tricky to do. But, I couldn't decide which of the two controls, 3 or 7, that Randy missed.

posted by Michael | 8:50 PM


Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Some maps worth a look


The internet is so cool. Last weekend the first two Swedish elite series races took place. Sitting here in Kansas City I can go online and see the maps and courses.

The first race was a mass start race with forked courses. Courtesy of Tore Sandvik's page, here are the first, second, third and final loops.

The terrain for the first race looks familiar. I wonder if I ran at the same area (or near by) at a training camp some years ago?

The second race was a short course. Here are Mats Troeng's (5th place) routes: part 1 and part 2.

In the middle of the short course (between controls 6 and 7), you'll see that the runners followed a marked route. I read somewhere that the marked route was put in at the request of the Swedish national team leaders. Perhaps they expect something similar in this summer's world champs?

Johan Modig linked to Troeng's routes. When I clicked on the links, I noticed that the address was www.matstroeng.nu....hmmm, does Troeng have a web page? Well, sort of. If you go to the main page you get a picture of an exhausted Troeng on the ground and a note "more to be coming soon...." Let's hope Troeng starts a web page with info about his training and racing. That seems to be the trend these days, a trend I hope continues.

posted by Michael | 8:22 PM


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Test loop


I ran the OK test loop this evening. We set the test loop up a few years ago as a way to track our fitness. Check out the test loop route.

How many orienteers have test loops? I know Platt does. Mook does. Bjornar Valstad does.

The OK test loop is a bit on the short side. It usually takes me about 15 minutes. The course records are 13:44 for the men (Nadim Ahmed) and 17:20 for women (Sanna Wallenborg). With the loop as short as it is, it might make sense to run two loops. That'd give you a longer distance and being able to compare split times might tell you something useful about your fitness.

How did I do tonight?

I ran 15:24. I ran the loop a lot in 1999 with times between 14:34 (my pr) and ~19 (taking it quite easy). I've only run the test loop three times post-2001-leg injury. I ran 16:18, then 15:30, then today's 15:24.

I've got to be happy with running faster than my last two efforts. I certainly felt stronger than I have in a long time. At the same time, I've got to think I could have gone a bit faster. For some reason I didn't push myself. I ran at a hard, but not too uncomfortable pace. I recovered quite quickly once I stopped. That's a good sign, but it also tells me I didn't push as hard as I might have.

posted by Michael | 8:35 PM


Monday, April 12, 2004

Lowegren's last race


Fredrik Lowegren wrote about his most recent race on his web page. Check out the map and his routes.

I've translated a bit of Lowegren's report:

My goal was to stay calm the whole time, but I felt unsure already ontheh way to the first control. When I came to the control I didn't have an idea of the next leg and instead of stopping and looking at it, I just ran off in the general direction. I went to the right to give myself a safe approach to the control by the big open marsh. But I was sloppy with my directiontowardd the control and ended up below it. After stopping to read the map at the vegetation boundary I quickly recognized my mistake....

To the 8th control I avoided going up over the tops of the hills and the cliffs. I saw them to my left and then went down in the reentrant. When I came to the control I caught up to Martin Johnsson who started two minutes before me. Maybe that is what made me lose concentration as I left the control. I went 45 degrees off anddespitee feeling uncertain I didn't stop and figure out what was going on. Instead I kept going and tried to figure it out afterwards. I finally realized I was south of the marshes. When I saw the long open marsh 100 meters south oftheh control I knew exactly where I was.

From the split times I know that I lost 1:20 on the leg. If I'd stopped as soon as I recognized everything was right I'd have lost maybe 20-30 seconds....

The translation is a bit rough, but you get the idea -- Lowegren is make the same sort of orienteering mistakes that most of us make all the time. On the way to 2, he just ran in the right direction, then got sloppy. On the way to 8, he lost concentration when he saw someone else, ran the wrong direction, and didn't stop and minimize the loss of time.

Lowegren still won the race, so he must have been moving pretty well (Grant Bluett was 2nd, almost a minute back).

posted by Michael | 7:53 PM


Sunday, April 11, 2004



Eric Weyman once said something like:

"Orienteering and golf are the same sport."

I don't know about that. But, I don't really know anything about golf. Eric knows a lot about orienteering and a lot about golf. Maybe he's got a point.

Both sports can be broken up into legs (or holes).
Both sports demand high concentration (are there any sports that don't reward concentration?).
Both sports penalize "booms."
Both sports are played outdoors.
Both sports have mini versions (check out the mini O' event).

posted by Michael | 6:46 PM


Saturday, April 10, 2004

Today's training


For today's training I ran a course at Clinton with long legs and relatively simple controls. My usual training courses have lots of short legs with lots of direction changes. Today's course was almost the opposite.

Running long legs to easy controls gives a very different feeling to the session. The challenge of concentrating on long legs with easy control points is different, especially on a map like Clinton (easy orienteering with lots of open areas). I suppose a weakness of training on courses with lots of short legs is that maintaining concentration is, in a way, easy. You're constantly reading the map and looking at small details. On a course with long, easy legs, you have more opportunities to let your mind wander (hence more opportunities to practice stopping your mind from wandering).

posted by Michael | 9:36 PM


Friday, April 09, 2004

Check out Eva's web page


Eva Jurenikova is a very good Czech orienteer who lives in Sweden. A few days ago I bumped in to her web page.

I poked around her page for a few minutes and thought, "this is a good page, I'll bookmark it and keep track of it." Then I started wondering -- why do I think it is a good web page? What makes it interesting? Here are a few things:

The subjects are interesting -- orienteering, adventure racing and training.

Jurenikova has a lot of detailed information on how she trains.


English! (Although I don't have any trouble reading Swedish and have only a little trouble reading Norwegian).

Jurenikova has good things to say about Raid Uppsala -- the adventure race my friends in Uppsala organize.

posted by Michael | 8:47 PM


Thursday, April 08, 2004

Some interesting reading


A couple of articles worth checking out:

US Ski Team report

Pete Vordenberg wrote a review of the U.S. cross country ski team's year. The article describes a bit of the team's planning and training. It is worth a look.

I've always thought it'd be worthwhile for the U.S. O' team to study other similar sports to learn what they do. There are probably some lessons that the cross country ski team could pass on to the O' team (maybe even some lessons the O' team could pass on to the ski team).

Interview with Simone

A Swedish paper interviewed Simone Luder-Niggli. Luder-Niggli lives in Sweden now as she prepares for this year's world champs. I translated a bit of the interview:

"The terrain in Sweden is entirely different than the terrain in Switzerland. It is a lot softer here, which makes it harder to run."

If I were an American training for this year's world champs, I'd be trying to find a good way to prepare for the soft, lumpy footing in Sweden. I'm not exactly sure how best to do that. Getting to Sweden as soon as possible is probably the best solution. The only terrain in the U.S. that I've run in that felt like Sweden is in Alaska. I suspect that running a lot of hills would build strength in a way that would help you manage the soft Swedish terrain (even though the WOC areas are not at all hilly). Running in some of the rocky areas in the U.S. -- like Harriman -- might be reasonable. Although the footing in Harriman is quite different from the footing in Sweden.

She thinks that training and especially the competition is better in Sweden than in Switzerland. She runs in the same club as Swedish WOC hope Jenny Johansson

"It means a lot to train with someone of the same class. We learn from each other."

posted by Michael | 12:57 PM


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

US winning percentage at WOC 2003


I calculated the U.S. orienteering winning percentage against ten of the "peer nations" I picked. For each race, I compared the U.S. orienteer's result to the other nation. If the U.S. finished ahead, the U.S. got a point. Otherwise the other nation got a point. In finals, it worked a bit differently. If the U.S. qualified and another nation didn't, I gave the U.S. a point. If two U.S. orienteers had qualified and none from another nation qualified, I'd give the U.S. two points.

I used the wins and losses to calculate a winning percentage (like in baseball):

US Winning Percentages

For each nation I list the number of US wins and losses and the winning percent.

Ireland (11/3) 0.786
Portugal (7/4) 0.636
Canada (11/8) 0.579
Japan (9/8) 0.529
Belgium (8/10) 0.444
New Zealand (6/15) 0.286
Bulgaria (4/15) 0.211
Slovakia (4/16) 0.200
Poland (1/19) 0.050
France (1/23) 0.042

To make sense of the table, look at Ireland. What it shows is that there were 14 chances for a U.S. orienteer to compete against an Irish orienteer. In those 14 chances, the U.S. won 11 of them (78.6 percent of the time).

The number of chances differ among nations. For example, the U.S. only competed against Portugal 11 times. That's because Portugal didn't have a men's or women's relay team and didn't have a runner in each of the qualifying races.

Notes, thoughts, conclusions?

Well, it looks like Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland and France are too good to be considered by a lot of people as "peer nations." I could make an argument for keeping them, but I wouldn't convince many people.

I should do the same scoring for the same nations in 2001. It'd be interesting to compare. I would expect that the U.S. did a lot better in 2003 because in 2001, the best U.S. men didn't go to the WOC.

I like the head-to-head scoring as a way to think about competition goals. If a team bought into it as a goal, it'd be important for everyone on the team to do their best. Even if you were having a bad run, it'd be worth pushing and fighting to the end because you never know when someone from one of the peer nations would have an even worse run. And a point by the fourth person on the U.S. team is worth the same as a point by the best person on the U.S. team.

I did some of the same scoring a few days ago and got some different results. I don't expect it'd make any substantial differences (the U.S. wouldn't be better than France, for example), but I should double check the data.

posted by Michael | 7:33 PM


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Good feeling today


I ran a short (maybe 5 km) course at Shawnee Mission Park today and felt really good. I felt the way I feel when I'm in good shape. I'm not in great shape, but I think I'm improving and probably haven't been this fit since before my leg injury over 2.5 years ago.

People have told me about a feeling when everything is perfect and running feels effortless.

Today wasn't a day when running felt effortless. Today, running felt hard. But, my own experience has been that when I'm at my best, running feels hard. But, despite feeling uncomfortable, I don't feel like easing off the pace.

I've had an effortless feeling a few times. But, when that happens, it turns out I wasn't going fast. So the effortless feeling is really a reflection of the effort!

The feeling I had running today was motivating. Maybe my motivation just crept up another notch or two.

posted by Michael | 8:56 PM


Monday, April 05, 2004

Maps in the bathroom


Here is a bit of a translated article from Arbetarbladet about Grant Bluett.

On the inside of the bathroom door in his apartment, Grant Bluett has taped up an old map. Every day he looks at new details in the area where the sprint world champs will take place this summer. Every day he earns a meter or two and becomes Australia's first orienteering world champion.

I guess the map Bluett has on his bathroom door is Rocklunda.

If you can read Swedish, check out the original article.

Bluett spent a lot of time in Sweden. He first moved to Sweden in 1997 and worked taking care of Jorgen Martensson's kids. He's now working as an orienteering trainer at the orienteering school in Sandviken.

posted by Michael | 8:00 PM


Sunday, April 04, 2004

Weekend of O'


Saturday, Mary and I drove out to Knob Noster. Knob Noster is the best area around here for orienteering. The forest is runnable, the terrain is interesting and the map is good. Check out the map with Brian May's routes from a race a couple of years ago.

Today, Mary and I drove out to SMP. Possum Trot O' Club hosted a local event at SMP. SMP is ok. The terrain is nothing special. The map is a bit sketchy in places. The forest isn't runnable, but you can make good time because there are a lot of roads, trails and open areas. PTOC uses SMP a couple of times a year and I train there regularly (it is one of the most convenient places to train).

Check out my route on today's race. (Sorry about the poor quality of the scan....I don't know if the problem is my scanner, my scanning technique, the ink jet printing of the map, or a combination of all those problems).

posted by Michael | 8:21 PM


Saturday, April 03, 2004

Some training advice


Ancient Greek runners trained on a four-day schedule -- a "tetras"

Day 1: light exercise.
Day 2: intense effort.
Day 3: rest.
Day 4: moderate effort.

And from a guy named Barclay who wrote in the 1800s:

Starting a 5 a.m.:

1. Sprint half-mile up a hill.
2. Walk 6 miles at a moderate pace.
3. Breakfast.
4. Walk 6 miles at a moderate pace.
5. Lie in bed without clothes for half an hour.
6. Walk 4 miles.
7. Dinner.
8. Sprint half-mile immediately after dinner.
9. Walk 6 miles at a moderate pace.
10. Go to bed at 8 p.m.

I came across both of these training plans in a book I'm reading called "The Perfect Mile." The book follows three great runners -- Roger Bannister, John Landy and Wes Santee -- as they approach the first sub-4 mile. All three have different approaches to training and racing. It's also fun to read because Santee is a Kansan who ran for KU. So, I get to read about my hometown of Lawrence. There's a snapshot in the book of Santee at the start of a race he ran from Tonganoxie to Lawrence, following a road I drive fairly often.

I've read about half of the book and would recommend it if you're interested in running. Check out the author, Neal Bascomb's web page.

posted by Michael | 8:29 PM


Friday, April 02, 2004

The "Brian May" effect


I looked at how the U.S. compared to some of the peer nations at the 2003 WOC. I compared the U.S. runners to runners from five different peer nations, giving a nation a point each time a runner beat a runner from the other nation.

For example, comparing the U.S. and Canada, there were 12 times the U.S. runner beat a Canadian and 7 times a Canadian beat a U.S. runner. So the score is US 12 Canada 7.

Here are the results:*

US 7 Portugal 5
US 12 Canada 7
US 9 Belgium 9
US 11 Ireland 3
US 9 Japan 8

Compared to these five peer nations, the U.S. did well at the 2003 WOC.

The Brian May Effect

As I was adding up the scores it was clear that Brian May -- the top US runner -- made a huge difference. If you replaced Brian with someone else the results probably would have been very different. I can't say for sure what the results would have been. But, it seems likely that Portugal, Belgium and Japan would have scored better in the head-to-head comparisons. The U.S. might have gone from winning 4 of 5 to losing 3 of 5.

If Brian hadn't gone, the next spot on the team was Syd Reader. At the team trials, Syd was 8:23 slower than Brian on the middle distance race and 6:24 slower on the long distance day. That's quite a big difference.

Clearly one of the things the U.S. needs to do is make sure the best orienteer in the country goes to the WOC.

It is something the U.S. has struggled with in the last decade or so. Throughout the 1990s, Mikell Platt has been the best orienteer in the U.S. But, he didn't go to the WOC in 1991, 1995, 1997 or 1999. Mikell's absence probably had a big effect on how well the U.S. performed.

* I did this pretty quickly over my lunch hour. I haven't double checked, so there might be some mistakes. The scores include men and women, individual and relay races.

posted by Michael | 8:27 PM


Thursday, April 01, 2004

Hi, I'm Michael...I'm the fool!


Well, they sure got me with the April Fools joke from Sweden. But, I should say two things in my defence:

1. When I looked at the page it was still March here in Kansas City.

2. Sweden does have some strange ideas...like using a mass start for the national night O' champs.

Still, I shouldn't be so gullible!

posted by Michael | 8:35 PM


March 2002April 2002May 2002June 2002July 2002August 2002September 2002October 2002November 2002December 2002January 2003February 2003March 2003April 2003May 2003June 2003July 2003August 2003September 2003October 2003November 2003December 2003January 2004February 2004March 2004April 2004May 2004June 2004July 2004August 2004September 2004October 2004November 2004December 2004January 2005February 2005March 2005April 2005May 2005June 2005July 2005August 2005September 2005October 2005November 2005December 2005January 2006February 2006March 2006April 2006May 2006June 2006July 2006August 2006September 2006October 2006November 2006December 2006January 2007February 2007March 2007April 2007May 2007June 2007July 2007August 2007September 2007October 2007November 2007December 2007January 2008February 2008March 2008April 2008May 2008June 2008July 2008August 2008September 2008October 2008November 2008December 2008January 2009February 2009March 2009April 2009May 2009June 2009July 2009August 2009September 2009October 2009November 2009December 2009January 2010February 2010March 2010April 2010May 2010June 2010July 2010August 2010September 2010October 2010November 2010December 2010January 2011February 2011March 2011April 2011May 2011June 2011July 2011August 2011September 2011October 2011November 2011December 2011January 2012February 2012March 2012April 2012May 2012June 2012July 2012August 2012September 2012October 2012November 2012December 2012January 2013March 2013April 2013May 2013July 2013September 2013