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Occassional thoughts about orienteering


Thursday, June 30, 2005

Norway and Sweden sprint selection races

 

Norway and Sweden had sprint selection races today. I looked at the results a bit. A few notes:

Alvdal IL hosted the races. The Norwegians and Swedes ran different courses. I wonder why they didn't just use one set of courses.

Some older runners had very good results. Hakan Eriksson (44, I think) finished 2nd behind Niclass Jonasson. I hope Sweden picks Eriksson for the WOC. Ragnhild Bente Andersen was 4th among the Norwegian women. I'm not sure how old RBA is, but she must be close to 40.

This looks good for fans of North American orienteering:

Sandy Hott Johansen 20:21
Ingunn Fristad 20:40
Hanne Staff 20:50
Line Hagman 21:53

All of those Norwegians have run World Champs. It really looks good to see Sandy H-J in front of them.

As an O' fan, I like to see orienteers with web pages running well. Among the best results of web-page-maintaining orienteers: Anne Margarete Hausken 1st Norwegian; Emma Engstrand 1st Swede; Oystein Kvaal Osterbo 2nd Norwegian; and Mats Troeng 3rd Swede.

posted by Michael | 9:21 PM

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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Not having any fun

 

Back in February, I ran a race in Texas where I DNF'd because I wasn't having any fun. The forest was thick and I had trouble reading some of the detail on the map.

I was reminded of that race when I read Arild Nomeland's report of the long distance event at Norway's O' Festivalen. He stopped at the 13th control and decided not to finish. Basically, he wasn't having any fun because he couldn't read the map and run fast.

You can look at the map on "route gadget" by going here. Click on "langdistans." You can't be sure what a printed map would look like, but it looks like a map that might be hard to read.

Nomeland makes it clear that he doesn't blame anyone for the problem. He has some trouble with contact lenses and reading detailed maps. I wonder if he uses a magnifier?

posted by Michael | 8:58 PM

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Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Anne Margrethe Hausken's training

 

Anne Margrethe Hausken's got a new web page that looks like it'll be interesting. It looks like it'll be Norwegian only. Here is a bit of what she wrote about her training:

From November 2004 to April 2005, about 50 percent of my running was on a map. The portion is about 40 percent now. I am a bit believer in O' technique training in both high and low speed. Finding a lot of controls during easy sessions gives me confidenc, and I've decided to keep that sort of training throughout the season.

Throughout my orienteering training I'v gone back and forth about the value of technique training at an easy pace. For a while I felt any O' training was good -- no matter how fast or slow. Then I started to think you should save O' technique training for hard/fast sessions. I also started limiting my technique training. I felt that if I did too much O' technique training I'd go to races feeling less than motivated. Then I started thinking that I should do lots of O' technique, but mostly short/fast sessions. I felt it was better to do 15-20 minute O' courses 5 times a week, than one 100 minute session.

My thinking these days is close to what Hausken describes -- I think a lot of O' technique, some hard/fast so easy/slow, is the best approach.

posted by Michael | 7:08 PM

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Monday, June 27, 2005

some Jukola video

 

Not much time to post tonight, so I'll just point you to some French videos from Jukola.

posted by Michael | 8:37 PM

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Sunday, June 26, 2005

More on age and orienteering

 

A good way to get a handle on the relationship between age and orienteering performance would be to look at how a bunch of orienteers perform over their careers.

Two problems come up immediately. First, it isn't always easy to find out how old an orienteer is. I can often find a birthdate by poking around the web. But, not always. Second, orienteering performance is tricky to measure. The IOF world rankings look promising. But, the rankings haven't been around for all that long (I think they started in 2000), so putting together a timeline of performance is limited.

Park World Tour results might be a start. The PWT has been going since 1996, so the history is a bit longer than the IOF world rankings. The PWT web page includes the ages of most runners.














The graph above shows the sort of thing I'd like to do. It shows Rudolf Ropek's PWT seasons beginning with 1996, when Ropek was 26. (Performance is based on Ropek's season total compared to teh average of the top three).

If you had a whole bunch of these graphs, you could begin to make more sense of the age-performance relationship for orienteering.

Why would you do that? As Emil Faber said in 1904, "Knowledge is good."

posted by Michael | 6:51 PM

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Crazy from the heat

 

From Marita Skogum, at the Swedish team training camp in Lithuania:

In the middle of the summer, we trained with warm-ups and rain jackets. We want to simulate the heat that we expect at the World Champs in Japan in August...

I understand the thinking. But, it sure doesn't sound fun.

The weather at the WOC is expected to be hot and humid -- mid 90s and 80 percent humidity, or something like that. Those conditions won't be fun to run in.

Did the IOF consider moving the WOC to a different time of year, a time when the weather might not be a decisive factor?

posted by Michael | 7:03 PM

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Friday, June 24, 2005

A book worth reading?

 


A few days ago I picked up a book, Lance Armstrong's War, by Daniel Coyle.

If you're an orienteer, chances are you're also a fan of suffering sports and suffering athletes. Armstrong is right up there with Bjorn Daehlie and Jorgen Martensson as a great suffering sport athlete.

I've read the first 70 pages. So far, so good. Coyle writes in the Outside-magazine-feature-story style -- lots of detailed observation and a touch of humor.

You can read a chapter over at the LAW web page.

While I'm writing about cycling books, I'll put in a plug for my favorite cycling book, "The Rider" by Tim Krabbe.

posted by Michael | 8:15 PM

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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Money controversy in Norway

 

Looks like an interesting controversy brewing in Norway....

A sponsor of the Norwegian Federation pays bonuses for performance at big races, like the Nordic Champs. The money, based on performance of individual runners, goes to the federation rather than the runners. And if I understand correctly, the federation is keeping the money, at least for now. The runners are left feeling like they've been given the shaft.

Anders Nordberg's performance at the Nordic Champs was worth 40,000 Norwegian Kroner (about $6,000) in performance bonuses.

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

Marathon Peak Age?

What is the peak age for a marathon runner?

I don't know, but I spent a few minutes looking at results from four years of Boston Marathons. Here is a list of times for the top 30 year old at Boston:

2004 2:20
2003 2:42 (the top 30 year old man ran 2:45)
2002 2:31
2001 2:10

Now here is a list of the top 27 year olds:

2004 2:11
2003 2:16
2002 2:13
2001 2:28 (the top 27 year old man ran 2:29)

Small sample size, so you wouldn't make too much of it. But, it looks like 30 might be past the peak.

posted by Michael | 6:35 PM

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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Tom's analysis

 

Tom Carr wrote a short analysis of his racing in Finland. Here is one thing he wrote:

* Worked hard to have disciplined O technique with a plan and an AP.
+ Faltered at times and regressed to sloppiness.
+ Dotted/localized feature dominant terrain is not amenable to the "aim off and run the line" technique. Need to work on eliminating this as a primary technique.
+ Had many successful controls though.


I was interested in these comments because we'd talked about this during TJOC last Month. During one of the races at TJOC, Tom and I approached a control at about the same time (I was 50 meters or so behind). Tom approached the control in a way that I thought was risky. The control was on a point feature on a steep hillside with several other point features. Tom headed down the hill early and just ran along it looking for a flag. I took a different route. I went to a clear attackpoint (a little reentrant near a trail at the top of the hill) directly above the control circle. It turned out the flag was mishung and Tom hit it right away. I came to the right feature, but then didn't find the flag for a while.

In retrospect, Tom's approach was ok in the TJOC terrain (though I might have beaten him to the control if it'd been hung in the right place). But, as Tom pointed out above, it is a technique that doesn't work as well in "Dotted/localized feature dominant terrain."

One of the tricky things about living in terrain that is more-or-less continental (like the terrain around Kansas City, where I live, or the terrain around Dallas, where Tom lives), is that you can get by with techniques that don't carry over to other types of terrain. It takes a lot of discipline to orienteer systematically in Kansas City or Dallas terrain.

posted by Michael | 8:06 PM

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

YLE Jukola Video

 

YLE is the Finnish broadcast network. Check out some video from Jukola. I just love how Finnish sounds...and then at the very end we get some English.

I'd write more, but Orienteering Today showed up in my mailbox and I'd rather go read it.

posted by Michael | 9:32 PM

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Monday, June 20, 2005  


Another view of the museum in Milwaukee.

posted by Michael | 9:05 PM

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Jukola notes

 

I spent a little time this weekend following Jukola coverage on the web. Here are a few notes:

Check out the maps. This is a great collection of Jukola maps going all the way back to 1949! Map fanatics should sit at the computer with a cup of good coffee, call work and tell them you're sick, and spend the day exploring the collection.

I was especially interested in watching Kristiansand OKs first leg runners. Ivar Haugen won the first leg last year, but was put on the 2nd KOK team this year. That selection was controversial enough to make the local Norwegian newspaper. Arild Nomeland was put on the first leg for the first team.

I was interested to see how the two KOK teams would manage. I'm guessing Haugen was annoyed. Some people perform best when they've got something to prove. On the other hand, some people collapse if they don't feel they've got the confidence of the selectors. What about Nomeland? Taking the place of someone as strong as Haugen must have been tough. In a way, Nomeland would be in a no-win situation. If he had trouble, his selection would be second guessed. He couldn't do better than Haugen did last year.

You can't reach any conclusions based on just one race. But, Haugen ran well. He brought KOK 2 in 15th place, 1:31 back of the leader. Nomeland had a decent race going, then lost it right at the end. Nomeland finished 85th, 2:45 back of the leader. Nomeland described his race on his web page. He just ran out of energy, losing 1:30 in the last couple of kilometers.

As I was watching the results come in, I was pulling for Haugen to have a good race. I was also pulling for Nomeland to have a good race. So, I was sorry to see his result slip near the end of the race.

I think KOK was disappointed with their final result (13th place), but I wasn't suprised they didn't run as well as they might have hoped. A bunch of the first team just returned from a training camp in Japan, after hitting something of a peak at the Nordic Champs. It'd have been amazing if they managed to put everything together and win Jukola.

posted by Michael | 8:39 PM

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Sunday, June 19, 2005

More on age and orienteering

 

I compared age and ranking points for 52 entrants at the Swedish WOC selection races. See the graph below. Keep in mind that lower ranking numbers represent better performances. The top ranked orienteer (Johan Nasman, I think) has 0 ranking points.

It doesn't look like there is a real strong relationship between age and rank. Hakan Eriksson -- he's the point way off to the right -- stands out. You don't see anyone even close to as old as Hakan and you don't see many people with better ranking points. If you look carefully, you'll see that there is a weak relationship between age and ranking points of the entrants for the selection races. The younger runners have slightly worse average rankings (mostly because a lot more of the younger runners are ranked over 8).

posted by Michael | 7:31 PM

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The relationship between age (x-axis) and ranking points (y-axis) for 52 entrants at the Swedish WOC selection races. Note that lower ranking points are better ranked orienteers. The top ranked orienteer is ranked "0."

posted by Michael | 7:30 PM

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

A look at age and orienteering

 

The graph below shows the distribution of the ages of entrants in the Swedish WOC selecton races. Of the 76 entrants (men and women), I could easily find the ages of 54 of them. That's what is shown in the graph.

The distribution has two peaks -- first at 24 years and then at 29 years.

I think most people peak (phsyically) at about 25. From about 25, you begin a gradual decline. It also becomes less and less attractive to live the life of a top orienteer at about that age. But, the most successful orienteers can continue to improve as orienteers by making the best of their experience and knowledge. And the best orienteers have an easier time living the life of an orienteer even as they get older. The best can put off the decline until around 30. That's my theory.

Earlier today I read a magazine article (might have been in Outside?) that said something like, "athletes peak at 31." I think they're mistaken. What they've done is looked at the absolute best and seen that they are on top at age 31 (think of Lance Armstrong as a good example).

Back to Jukola

Playing around with the age distribution was just a break from following Jukola on the Internet. Time to get back to the race and see how the race at the front goes, if IFK Lidingo 2 will have a top 50 finish, and if Team Attackpoint can manage a top 400 result (they are sitting at 227 right now).

posted by Michael | 6:24 PM

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The number of runners (y-axis) by age (x-axis) entered in the Swedish WOC selection races (Note: shows ages for 54 of the 76 entrants. I couldn't find ages for 22 of the entrants).

posted by Michael | 6:00 PM

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Friday, June 17, 2005  


An abstract photo of the art museum in Milwaukee.

posted by Michael | 7:34 PM

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Going pro

 

Anders Nordberg finished his studies and described his next plans on his web page. Here is a quick translation:

Now the plan is to race and train full time. That's how it'll be for the rest of this season, and I hope to have the opportunity to be a pro for many more years. A lot of elite runnres have reduced work hours, but that's not something I want. I think a 50 percent job is much tougher than I've had it as a student. And I'd see that as a set back in my orienteering, and that isn't what I want.

I wonder how tough it'll be to earn enough to be a professional orienteer. I know a few orienteers are making it. But, it seems like it must be a bit of a job to get and satisfy the sponsors (which might make it feel like a 50 percent job but with more uncertainty). You've got to admire someone who is going to give it a go and "satsa" full time as an orienteer. I hope he has a lot of success (and I'm glad he keeps updating his web page).

posted by Michael | 7:23 PM

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Thursday, June 16, 2005  


We visited the art museum in Milwaukee as part of the audit conference. The museum is an amazing building.

posted by Michael | 7:51 PM

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The view of Lake Michigan from the main hall.

posted by Michael | 7:49 PM

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Auditors wandering the halls at the museum.

posted by Michael | 7:47 PM

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Czech WOC team

 

I can't read Czech, but as I poked around a Czech O' page, I came across what I think is the Czech WOC team:

Vendula Klechova
Eva Jurenikova
Zdenka Stara

Tomas Dlabaja
Michal Horacek
Michal Jedlicka

I guess it is possible that they'll add another runner or two. Here is the same list with the runners' clubs:

Vendula Klechova (Tesla Brno/Halden SK)
Eva Jurenikova (SKOB Ostrava/Domnarvets GoIF)
Zdenka Stara (Tesla Brno/Almby IK)

Tomas Dlabaja (Zabovresky Brno/Soders OL Tyreso)
Michal Horacek (TU Liberec/Hagaby GoIF)
Michal Jedlicka (Slavia Hradec Kralove/Tampereen Pyrinto)

While I wasn't surprised, I thought it was interesting that each runner on the Czech WOC team has a Scandinavian club. Four of the six run for Swedish clubs, one for a Norwegian club and one for a Finnish club).

The Czech selection races took place in some intersting terrain. Check out the men's long distance course.

I was glad to see that Jurenikova made the team. She has a web page (in English!) about her training and racing. It is always fun to see a runner with a web page make the team. I'm looking forward to reading about her experiences in Japan.

posted by Michael | 7:33 PM

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Wednesday, June 15, 2005  


I took a snapshot out of the window on my flight home from Milwaukee. I thought the pattern in the clouds was interesting -- reminds me of the patterns in a farm field.

posted by Michael | 6:26 PM

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Another map comparison

 

Check out the old (1978) map and the new map of the same area. At first glance, it looks like the major differences are in how vegeration was mapped. The old map shows very little detail, the new map shows some smaller open areas and a more detail in the marshes.

I'm glad my job doesn't involve much travel

I spent a few days in Milwaukee for a conference and realized I'm really glad my work doesn't involve much travel. It'd be very hard to stay fit if you had to travel a lot. It can be fun to explore a new city and running would be a good way to do that. But, it is a lot harder to get yourself out the door -- at least for me.

posted by Michael | 6:11 PM

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

Next update on Wednesday, June 15

 

I'm on my way to Milwaukee for the National Association of Local Government Auditors annual conference. I won't be updating this page until Wednesday.

Another O' video

Check it out at http://harri.manni.se/video/OL-freestyle.avi

posted by Michael | 2:40 PM

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Saturday, June 11, 2005

3 hours on pavement

 

Orienteer Kansas put on a 3 hour street O' score race in Lawrence today. Gene made the map, set the course and organized the entire event. Thanks.

The map covered the west part of Lawrence, from Kasold as far as the edge of Clinton State Park. I grew up in Lawrence. But I haven't lived in Lawrence since the town has grown to the west of Kasold. That made the event more fun for me. I explored areas I'd never visited before.

We were lucky to have cool weather to run in (maybe upper 60s). Rain fell the entire three hours.

I kept my pace easy, but was still quite tired by the end. My legs feel sore. I think that is from the pounding they take on the pavement.

I've posted a couple of bits of the map below.

posted by Michael | 7:31 PM

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Typical west Lawrence terrain. White on the map is out of bounds.

posted by Michael | 7:29 PM

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Route choice from 34 to 21. I took the route right (north) of the line. As I got near 21, I saw a guy waiting for a bus in an outfit that made him look a lot like Darth Vader.

posted by Michael | 7:28 PM

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After a long run and ice cold limeade sure tastes good.

posted by Michael | 7:26 PM

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Friday, June 10, 2005

Getting slower, getting better?

 

Oystein Kvaal Osterbo won the sprint race at the Nordic Champs. The week after the Nordic Champs, he ran a 3000 meter track race where he had hoped to qualify for the Norwegian champs by running sub-8:25.

He ran the 3000 meters in 8:49. That is fast. But he was much faster in the winter. He'd run 8:31 indoors during the winter.

If you want to reach a conclusion based on very little evidence (like a true sports-talk-radio-caller), you'd conclude that Osterbo is getting slower. And if you consider his win in the Nordic Champs sprint his best O' result ever, you'd conclude that Osterbo is getting better.

You can take a look at Ostebro's routes from the Nordic Champs sprint here.

posted by Michael | 7:15 PM

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Thursday, June 09, 2005  


More storms rolled through last night. We got lots of rain. Once again the waterfalls at PNS were quite nice.

posted by Michael | 8:42 PM

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Some hill thoughts

 

What do you think is the best way to train hills where there are little, to no hills? Stairs?

The answer is, "I don't know." But, I've got a few thoughts:

1. Stairs could be a good altenative to hills. Some years ago I used to train on stairs (having an office on the 24th floor made it pretty convenient). A few years ago I also tried walking up stairs as training. I think the walking was as good as running (and not nearly as stressful).

2. Biking is another good alternative. Cycling builds strong quads. Strong quads help you get up hills. When I've run with cyclists, I've noticed that they tend to be relatively strong on hills.

3. Runs where you push just a little above a race effort for a few minutes, then ease back and run just under race effort for a few minutes might help. I think this sort of training would help develop a sense of the right effort. That's a very useful skill when your in hilly terrain.

Nice terrain

Norway is having JWOC selection races this weekend. You can take a look at an old map of the area: west and east parts of the map.

It'll be interesting to see the new map and compare them to the old map. I think some of the Norwegian juniors are likely to post thier race maps next week. I'll try to keep an eye out for them.

posted by Michael | 8:25 PM

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Wednesday, June 08, 2005  


Another food shot...

posted by Michael | 8:01 PM

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How Marita trained the weeks before a WOC

 

Here is the peaking program Marita got from Karin Rabe:

Week 1: 5 hours of tempo, 8 hours of total training
Week 2: 3 hours of tempo, 12 hours of total training
Week 3: 4 hours of tempo, 6 hours of total training
Week 4: 3 hours of tempo, 10 hours of total training
Week 5: 3 hours of tempo, 7 hours of total training
Week 6: 3 hours of tempo, 3 hours of total training
Week 7: World Champs

posted by Michael | 7:55 PM

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Tuesday, June 07, 2005  


We had a lot of rain this weekend. The waterfalls at PNS look quite nice with the extra flow.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM

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Hill training

 

Both the WOC and the JWOC will be in very hilly terrain. Presumably, most top elite orienteers are putting in lots of hill training to get themselves ready.

Check out an example of a course Oystein Sorensen put on his home page.

I wonder if all of the extra hill training will pay dividends even in normal terrain?

My feeling, though I haven't really tested it systematically, is that you can't really train hills too much. The strength that you gain from running up and down hills transfers to most terrain, even if the terrain is flat. I suppose training lots of hills slows you down on flat, smooth surfaces. But flat, smooth surfaces make up so little of an O' course that the loss is trivial.

posted by Michael | 8:27 PM

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Monday, June 06, 2005  


posted by Michael | 8:25 PM

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Cookie wisdom

 

Can a fortune cookie have good orienteering advice?

Mary and I ate dinner at a local Chinese restaurant tonight. Our fortune cookies:

"Time is the wisest counselor"

"The best prophet of the future is the past"

There is a pretty clear theme in those two cookies -- you can learn from the past, experience is important. The lesson for an orienteer might be to pull out some maps from races a few years ago, study your routes, look for what you did wrong, look for what you did well,...

posted by Michael | 8:16 PM

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Sunday, June 05, 2005  


Driving home.

posted by Michael | 9:33 PM

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Cool map link

 

This is cool. Go to the map from Modum O-Lag's race in Norway. Click on a control circle and you get a photo of the control site. Cool.

If you've never orienteered in Scandinavia, the pictures give you a pretty good sense of what the forest is like.

I'm not sure, but controls 3 and 14 look like they might be remnants of coal burning circles.

posted by Michael | 4:11 PM

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Saturday, June 04, 2005

"You can observe a lot by watching"

 

I watched people orienteer at TJOC. I shadowed six juniors on one course. I also spent some time sitting at controls watching people approach and leave. During some of the mass start events I ran in a small pack and paid attention to what the others were doing (which explains some of my poor orienteering).

I noticed a few things:

The juniors seemed to expend their energy very unevenly. They'd run hard, then have to slow down and rest. They'd push hard up the hills, then jog to recover on the flats. Some would fight through the rough vegetation, when easing off a bit and trying to run smoothly would probably have been faster.

Orienteers don't look up enough. You can't see very far if you don't pick up your head. Of course, in the Texas terrain you have to keep an eye on the ground because you'll suffer a lot of you run through some of the cactus. By looking up and ahead you can pick out the control or big features and move a lot faster. I'm not sure how to train people to look ahead. I told most of the people I shadowed to try to look up.

There are huge differences in how people run through the forest. Some keep a fairly straight line and jump over stuff (like the cactus). Most keep a fairly straight line but zig-zag through the cactus. Some make an extreme effort to avoid rough stuff (mostly cactus). One kid I shadowed jumped down a big cliff that he easily could have avoided. When he went hopping off the cliff I was terrified he'd bust a leg. He didn't. After the run I told him to be careful about jumping down cliffs.

I was surprised at how few times most people looked at their maps during the legs. It seemed like people looked intently at the map as they left a control or approached a control, but they didn't look at the map much during the leg. Maybe they aren't able to read the map on the run. I felt like most of the juniors weren't reading their maps enough. I suggested -- half joking -- that Chase get up on the climbing tower with a megaphone and yell, "look at the map," every 15 seconds.

posted by Michael | 8:02 PM

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Friday, June 03, 2005

Comparing maps

 

Tore Sandvik posted two maps of the same area on his web page. Check out the 2005 map used for the Nordic Champs relay and a 1985 map of the same place.

Comparing the two maps is interesting. At first glance, the old map looks easier to read, while the new map has a bit more detail. The added detail in the new map seems to be mostly green areas and trails. The new map also seems to have more form lines.

It is dangerous to draw a conclusion from just two examples and from such a quick comparison, but I suspect that these maps are good representatives of how mapping have developed over the last 15-20 years. The Scandinavian maps that I look at these days seem to show a lot more green that the ones I remember running on 15 years ago. I can't imagine the terrain has become thicker. It must be that mappers are showing the runnability in more detail. I also suspect that mappers are, as a rule, using more form lines than they used to.

I wonder if the top orienteers have changed thier techniques to accomodate the developments in mapping. I think the newer maps would make it easier to keep map contact and easier to pick our and stick to a route. It might also make it easier to relocate if you lost contact.

Some mapping trivia

Kristen Treekrem checked the Nordic Champs map. If I remember correctly, Treekrem was one of the fieldcheckers on the original map of Sebago Beach.

posted by Michael | 8:58 PM

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Thursday, June 02, 2005

TJOC 2005 - a first note

 

I've been going to the Texas Junior Orienteering Camp for the last five years. It is always a highlight of the year. Seeing the juniors working hard to improve their orienteering is inspring. Seeing the organizers working hard to improve the junios is just as inspiring. It is also a lot of fun.

I just got home from TJOC yesterday evening. On the flight home I wrote a few notes and I'll write a bit more about TJOC over the next few days. Today I'll just cover one of the notes. One that doesn't really have much to do with the camp itself.

VJ Sarva Grip

I bought a pair of VJ Sarva Grip shoes a few months ago and used them a lot at TJOC. The shoes are basically a running shoe with metal spikes in the outsole -- sort of a combination of a trail shoe and an O' shoe.

I race in O' shoes, but wearing O' shoes a lot can make my feet a bit sore. Regular O' shoes don't have much cushioning and the metal spikes have a tendency to put a bit of stress on my feet.

At TJOC, where I figured I'd be on my feet a lot, I wore the VJ Sarva Grips.

They worked well. The shoes have enough cushioning that my feet felt much better than they would have if I'd spent all four day in O' shoes. The metal spikes gave me the grip I needed to run on the rocks of the Texas terrain. We had some wet weather and the metal spikes really helped.

I won't replace my regular O' shoes with the VJ Sarva Grips. Regular O' shoes have a bit better grip in the terrain. More importantly, regular O' shoes fit tighter on the foot. They are lower and narrower than the VJ Sarva Grips, so they don't twist as you run on the side of a hill.

Wearing the VJ Sarva Grips in Texas was a bit of a risk. Would they protect my feet from the cactus thorns? Yes and no. They seemed to be a bit sturdier than a regular running shoe, but not quite as sturdy as a regular O' shoe. I got a few cactus thorns through the top part of the shoe (ouch).

I expect the VJ Sarva Grips will get a lot of use as I ramp up my in-the-forest training next fall and winter. They won't replace my O' shoes for racing, though.

posted by Michael | 5:59 PM

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