Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Some notes about a model I'm playing with


Think of two beginning orienteers who have equal running ability, but one is a better than average navigator and the other is worse than average. Have them race around a simple course and the better navigator will usually win.

Now, think of two orienteers with different mixes of abilities. One of them is a slow runner and good navigator. The other is a fast runner and poor navigator. Now it isn't obvious who will win.

Now, think about how we first introduce people to orienteering. Does it tend to favor someone with relatively good navigation or relatively good running ability? My gut feeling is that beginner courses tend to favor the better navigators. I think we've all seen examples of fast runners going head-to-head with good navigators on beginners courses, and the good navigator ("the tortoise") wins.

Assuming both orienteers stick with it, and assuming they both improve as runners and navigators, does the running/navigating balance change as they progress through the increasingly technical difficult courses? My gut feeling is that as orienteers progress, the balance shifts and that running becomes relatively more important.

To win a world championship, an orienteer has to be a very good runner and a very good navigator.

But to win a first-timer event, an orienteer with good navigation but slow runner will be more likely to win.

That's enough for now, back to watching the re-play of today's TDF stage.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Makes me think. People always talk about orienteering as "the map sport with terrain running." Sometimes I wish there was more thinking about "the terrain running sport with maps."

I've sometimes wondered if you could create a good beginner experience by providing physically challenging terrain running, but minimizing the navigational challenge. Maybe with flagged routes, maybe with very obvious control placement.
Its interesting to think what implications these inadvertent actions have upon the likelihood of recruiting future elite orienteers.
Yes, I think there are lots of inadvertent sorting mechanisms.

For example,when I began orienteering there were very few people my age at events (I was 16). To stick with the sport, you had to be comfortable (and not bored) hanging around with people a good bit older than you. Lots of 16 year-olds (maybe most?) people don't really like that. I'm sure the sport loses lots of people because of that sorting mechanism.

There must be dozens of various sorting mechanisms.

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