Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Sprint course setting


When I saw the courses from the sprint WOC in Denmark, I was suprised. Not by the terrain, but by the number of controls and the number of direction changes. Marten Bostrom spent some time comparing sprint courses at WOCs. Here is what he wrote:

After my race, and after cheering Jani Lakanen to a gold on the long distance, I have given some thoughts on the format of the sprint. According to the International Orienteering Federation: “The sprint profile is high speed. Sprint is built on very high speed running in very runnable parks, streets or forests. The winning time, for both women and men, shall be 12-15 minutes, preferably the lower part of the interval.” The Finnish Orienteering Federation has added that “the orienteering challenges should be possible to solve from the map in full speed”. The winning times in WOC sprints 2001-2006 has been 10’55” – 12’43” – 13’06” – 14’31” – 13’35”. The course consisted of 12 controls in 2001, but in Denmark 2006 the number of controls was 21! This means that the average control interval has decreased (from 55secs to 38secs) at the same time as the total running time has increased. I did not feel like the sprint in Århus was “built on very high speed running” nor that the orienteering challenges could be solved in full speed. Indeed, the longer legs demanded fast speed, but the course included 10 legs where the fastest split for the leg was less than 20 seconds! So mate, don’t blame yourself if you prepared yourself for a different kind of race than awaited in Århus? I myself lost the race on the longest leg – I’m just concerned about where the Sprint event is heading.

Before the WOC, I'd spent some time looking at previous WOC sprint courses and came away with the conclusion that the courses would have fairly simple orienteering. I didn't see many controls and I didn't see many direction changes. That's why I was surprised by the courses in Denmark.

Take a look at the Emil Wingstedt's map with 21 controls over 13:35 of running. Also, look at Kajsa Nilsson's map with 16 controls over 13:24 of running. Those little loops near the end of the course -- the last 7 or 8 controls -- those aren't what I'd expected.

But, I probably should have expected courses with lots of controls. For example, If I'd been paying attention, I'd have looked closely at the Norwegian sprint test race in Denmark. Look at Oystein Kvaal Osterbo's routes on the course with 23 controls.

posted by Michael | 8:16 PM


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