Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, May 31, 2002

Thoughts about the O' World Cup


The first race from the 2002 O' World Cup is tomorrow in Belgium. It looks like there will be internet coverage through both Belgium's WC page and the IOF's WC page.

After the races in Belgium, the World Cup moves to Switzerland for races on June 6-9.

Both the U.S. and Canada have entered a few runners for these races.

I guess the World Cup is a good thing for international orienteering, but I've never thought it makes much sense for Americans to bother with (except when the races have been in North America or otherwise very convenient).

I've run a few WC races in my past. In addition to events in Canada and the U.S., I ran one WC race in Sweden (when I was travelling around Sweden anyway).

For the money and time involved, I don't think going to WC races is worth the trouble. Either a training camp or going to regular European national races (like the Swedish 5-days or the Swiss 6-days) seems like a better choice.

Some people think the experience is good if you're preparing for a World Champs. You get a chance to compete in a World Champs-like environment (relatively small fields of absolute top-level elite runners, model events, busses to the start, etc.). Some people feel like this sort of international experience is necessary if you're going to be able to do well at a World Champs. I don't buy that.

I've always thought that one key to running well at a World Champs is recognizing that it isn't really different than any other O' races.* The important stuff -- using a map to find your way through the course -- is just like any other event.

The stuff that surrounds the event (opening ceremonies, being around national teams, etc.) is not really related to your performance. Or at least it shouldn't be. If you start thinking it is important, it becomes important. If you start thinking you need World Cup experience in order to do well at a World Champs, then you'll need World Cup experience. But, if you believe you don't need World Cup experience, then you won't need it (and you'll save a lot of travel and entry fee money!).

Or maybe I'm wrong?

* For what it is worth, I'd say I've run well in 3 of the 4 World Champs I've run in. By "run well" I mean run near my ability at the time. My best WOC races were my first two -- France in 1987 and Sweden in 1989. My worst WOC performance was in the U.S. in 1993.

posted by Michael | 1:20 PM


Thursday, May 30, 2002

Park O'


For this week's informal O' training session, I set up a park O' course at a new area called Bonner Park. I took a few photos.

posted by Michael | 8:37 PM


Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Knee pads


If you read mapsurfer's O log, you'll know that Randy's been struggling with a knee injury. He smashed his knee on a rock.

Randy is looking into knee pads to wear while orienteering.

In the late 1980s, the Swedish team doctor -- Christer Johansson -- was pushing knee pads. Here is a quote from an old Skoggsport:

Doctor Johansson is well known for being tough on his patients who have what he considers "unnecessary" injuries, especially knee injuries. "The runners in the WOC group have knee pads that they are supposed to use...For the other national team runners, we're developing a knee pad -- knee pads are a must these days," according to Johansson. "I get so angry when there are these avoidable injuries."

One of the Finnish runners at last year's World Champs ran in knee pads. Her pads looked very light. I didn't study them carefully, but it looked like they were fairly small (maybe 3x5 inches) patches of foam padding. They fit outside her O' suit. I'm not sure how they attached. It looked like they attached below the knee and were loose above the knee. I guess that would make them comfortable and would keep them from restricting motion. Someone told me that she began running with the knee pads after an injury.

I thought I might be able to find a photo of the Finnish runner on the 2001 WOC homepage. But, the homepage (www.woc2001.fi) doesn't seem to be up.

It might make sense to design an O' knee pad that was an extension of an O' gaiter. The shin padding could just stick up five or six inches beyond the top of the gaiter. My idea is that the pad wouldn't actually be attached to the knee. So, it wouldn't restrict motion. But, it would protect the knee if you fell.

I've never run with knee pads. I've had a few falls where I hit my knee. Once I missed a couple of weeks of training when my knee swelled a lot after smashing the knee on a rock (and running on the roads the next day).

posted by Michael | 7:29 PM


Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Cheating and Orienteering


The Norwegian O-NETT has as article about some accusations of cheating in orienteering. Some people (who apparently are anonymous) have reported that late starters saw the courses before they started and they might have had an advantage.

...The starts went for over three hours and the maps weren't collected at the finish. Many of the seeded runners in the junior classes saw (and probably studied) the map with their course before they went to the start. They got maps from friends in their clubs or regions who willing gave them the maps. That is clearly an advantage. The result list would have looked different if it hadn't happened.

If some of the runners had a chance to see the courses, it is unfair. It should have been avoided. I doubt being able to see the courses made a huge difference. But, the races were tight and even a small advantage could have made a difference in the final placings (e.g. fifth place in the M17-20 elite class was just one second behind fourth place).

The organizers probably should have kept the maps until everyone had started. I'm surprised they didn't.

It isn't cheating for you to look at the M17-20 course now. Take a look.

If you got to see the course before you did it, would it have made a difference? Suppose you had a chance to go run this course -- what advantage would you get from looking at the course beforehand?

When I first started orienteering, the organizers were fanatic about keeping competitors from being able to see the map before the start. At two day meets, you typically didn't even get your day one map back until after everyone had started on day two! Now that was dumb.

posted by Michael | 8:21 PM


Monday, May 27, 2002

Trail Art


I carried my camera on my trail run this morning. I took a few photos of the art along the trail.

The trail runs along the river in Lawrence. It is one of the classic training runs for OKers.

I first ran on these trails in the early 1980s. Back then, the trails were used by horse riders, motorcyclists (especially people on those three wheeled motorcycles) and occassional walkers and runners. These days mountain bikers are the main users. I don't think horses have been on the trails for almost 20 years. Motorized vehicles are prohibited.

Recently, some interesting art appeared along the trail. Check out the carvings of a lion and a blue-eyed face.

Who is the sculptor? I have no idea.

Are there other artworks along the trail?

posted by Michael | 8:14 PM


Sunday, May 26, 2002

Listen to "Mary"


I've been playing around with some text-to-speech software called Text Aloud.

Text Aloud reads text to you in an odd computer voice. The free trial version of the software has four different voices to use. They all sound distinctly computer-like.

I used Text Aloud to create an MP3 file of some text on the OK discussion forum. After last Thursday's memory orienteering course at Shawnee Mission Park, Eric asked about how memory O' training could be useful. Mary wrote a response and I translated her response to MP3 format.

You can hear Mary's response here. (Text Aloud calls the voice in this file "Mary.")

posted by Michael | 10:51 AM


Saturday, May 25, 2002

New Park O' Map


This winter I spent a few hours fieldchecking a park O'/training map. I finally got around to putting the last fieldnotes into OCAD. Check out the result -- Bonner Park.

The map isn't quite IOF standard. The white, for example, is open parkland (a mix of open grass and widely spaced mature trees).

The drafting and fieldchecking are a bit rough. But, I think it'll be fine for training and low-key park orienteering races.

The map's debut will be next Thursday's informal training.

posted by Michael | 7:55 PM


Friday, May 24, 2002

Big Wins For OK


May has been a good month for Orienteer Kansas.

OK took three golds at the Short Champs in Pennsylvania. Peggy, Mary and Dan (aka Snorkel) show off the gold.

Meanwhile, in Europe...Magnus and Sanna won the season's first adventure race (called "multisport" in Sweden). Magnus, Sanna and Mr. X. pose after their victory. I'm pretty sure Magnus and Sanna compete as "Team Infactum" in the mixed category. Looking at the split times from the first race, Team Infactum based their victory on orienteering. They were six minutes faster than the next best mixed team on the first running/orienteering leg and three+ minutes faster on the second running/orienteering leg.

This weekend is the second race in the adventure racing series. Check out more info about Sweden's Multisport Cup.

posted by Michael | 8:40 PM


Thursday, May 23, 2002

I need some advice. What sort of car should I get?


My car is not doing well. I think it is time to get a new or used car. I've never bought a new car before. But, I'm thinking I might do that.

What sort of car should I get? (Use the comment function to give me any suggestions).

To help out, here are five cars and my thoughts about them:

Subaru Forester. My Mom drives a Forester. I borrowed her car when I was first injured last fall. I liked it. Mom's Forester has all-wheel drive and automatic transmission. I liked the all-wheel drive (fun to accelerate quickly on a turn on a gravel road). I've never owned a car with automatic transmission, but I think I would like it.

1988 Toyota Camry. My current car is a 88 Camry. It is pretty beat up. It doesn't look good and it's not running real well these days. It has been a decent car.

Plymouth Valiant. I've always kind of liked the way the 1964 Plymouth Valiant looks.

Toyota Matrix. The Matrix is really a Corolla station wagon. Before I drove the Camry, I drove a Corolla station wagon. I liked that car. I think the Matrix comes in all-wheel drive. (I think there is also a Plymouth model of the same car).

Electric Vehichle SUV. The new electic assisted cars sound good. Toyota is beginning to sell an electric RAV4. It costs a lot. If money were no object, I might consider buying one.

So, what do you think? What sort of car should I get (and why)? Any suggestions are welcome.

posted by Michael | 9:32 PM


Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Where should the team to the 2003 WOC be selected?


Peter pointed out the similarities between the terrain at Mt. Penn and Switzerland. It got me to thinking about relevant terrain for next year's World Champs. Where might the US find good terrain for selecting next year's WOC team?

Here is what Peter wrote about Mt. Penn:

I thought it was an excellent course and really fine terrain, similar to some in Switzerland I've run on (and enjoyed). What I liked was the variety, of terrain, of the legs, of the tactics to use. Even the mapping was more like continental Europe in the sense that all the green was better running than green is on most of our maps (i.e. I equate white in the northeast U.S. with light green in central Europe). On this map you could make good time through the medium green.

I think Peter is correct. The terrain at Mt. Penn has some real similarities with a lot of Swiss terrain. Take a look at Peter's race at Mt. Penn and compare it to one of his races in Switzerland.

Maybe terrain in Pennsylvania is relevant for a WOC selection?

I've also heard suggestions that some of the terrain in the San Francisco Bay area would be good. Certainly B.A.O.C. has some terrain that has some similarities to classic continental terrain (which is common in Switzerland).

I've run in terrain that feels like continental terrain around Ithaca, NY.

But, the WOC will have a huge variety of terrain

The real difficulty in finding relevant terrain for the WOC is that next year's WOC will have a real variety of terrains. I haven't really studied the matter, but it wouldn't surprise me if next year's WOC has the biggest variety of terrain in the history of World Champs.

The WOC classic race will be on typical Swiss continental terrain. Here is an old map of part of the area the classic race will be held.

But, the short race will be in an entirely different type of terrain. The short race is around Flims. Flims has terrain that doesn't look very continental. It looks almost like Scandinavian terrain. Take a look at some Flims terrain. Here is another Flims terrain map.

Then there is another entirely different type of terrain for the sprint champs. The sprint will be street orienteering. Take a look at Brugg street orienteering and another Swiss street map.

What about the relay? Well, I don't actually have any idea where the relay will be. I can't imagine there are any other types of terrain. If I had to guess, I'd guess it'll be typical Swiss continental terrain.

The variety of terrains makes it difficult to set up relevant selection races

In some ways, thinking about relevant terrain for the selection races isn't very important. The depth of competition in the U.S. is low enough that you don't get very different results in different terrain types. Kenny Walker will probably be in the top 5 no matter where the selection races are held. In addition, there aren't usually a lot of clubs bidding for the selection races. The U.S. team doesn't have a lot of choices -- if a club is willing and able to host the trials, they'll probably get it.

But, thinking about relevant terrain might be useful for the people who are likely to be going to the Swiss WOC. If you're reading this and thinking about trying out for the WOC team, you might give some thought to how you'd handle the variety of terrain in Switzerland. How will you train? Where might you have a training camp in the U.S.? Would you focus on one particular type of terrain (street, Flims, continental)? The variety of terrain raises some interesting questions.

posted by Michael | 7:26 PM


Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Mary's winning run


One of the highlights of the Short Champs weekend was that Mary won F35.

Take a look at her routes here.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Monday, May 20, 2002



I got stuck in an elevator today.

I was on my way to work when the city hall elevator had a problem. The elevator kept going up, but it didn't stop and the doors never opened. We were moving, but we were moving very slowly. I'd guess we were going up at about a floor every 20-30 seconds.

When the elevator reached the top floor (29), it hesitated, then started going back down...slowly.

We stopped at 27. The door opened. The four of us on the elevator got out as quickly as we could.

I was only "trapped" for about 4-5 minutes. That was enough time to know that I wouldn't want to get stuck in an elevator again.

posted by Michael | 8:31 PM


Short Champs at Mount Penn


I have mixed feelings about this year's short champs. I'm really happy about the good races from OKers. Mary won F35. Peggy won F40. Dan won M40. I really disappointed in my race.

3 of 4 OKers Won US Championships!

Mary had a great run and won F35 by about 30 seconds. I was really psyched (though Mary seemed calm and collected). It was one of her best races ever.

Dan and Peggy would be considered favorites in their categories. I wasn't surprised they won. But, I was happy they won.

My own race was a drag.

Scared of the Forest

I struggled with running. My legs felt fine, but I was scared. I never felt comfortable running in the rocky (and wet) forest. Instead of paying attention to the map, I was looking at the ground and worrying about hurting myself. I moved slowly and boomed.

I was annoyed because the terrain and course suited me (except that I was afraid of the woods). The course had a lot of controls -- 17 over 4.6 km. That usually is good for me. I'm slow and steady. Having a lot of controls suits a slow steady run as long as you don't boom much.

Being afraid of running in the forest was not nice. I never relaxed. I never felt comfortable. I never paid enough attention to navigating.

I'm fairly sure I'll recover from my knee/leg problems phsyically. But, I'll be in real trouble if I don't feel good running in the forest again.

After thinking about it a bit, I decided on a plan for feeling better about running in the woods:

How to Get Over the Fear

I need to keep strengthening my left leg -- mostly running, biking and walking the stairs at work. As my stength returns, there shouldn't be any reason to worry about a re-injury.

I also need to try to forget about it -- try to run without thinking about getting hurt. Trying to avoid thinking about something can be difficult (think about how hard it can be to fall asleep when you are worried about something).

Logically, I recognize there isn't any reason to be afraid of running inthe woods. My injury was a freak accident. No reason to think I'll have another freak accident.

I also need to just keep my head up -- look ahead at features in the terrain instead of looking down at the footing. If I'm looking ahead I'll orienteer better (as long as I know what to be looking for) and I won't be looking at (and worrying about) the footing.

Downhill running has always been a waekness and is the scariest situation for me these days (especially if it is rocky). As I get a little bit stronger, I'll need to start working on running downhills.

On the second day at Mount Penn, I did much better. Most of the race I felt good -- I wasn't scared. My plan (mostly keeping my head up) seemed to help.

posted by Michael | 1:18 PM


Friday, May 17, 2002

Pre-champs training


We did a bit of pre-champs training at French Creek this morning. I\'m not sure how relevant the training is to tomorrow\'s race at Mt. Penn.

Mt Penn is a big hill (much like French Creek areas), but is very close to the town of Reading. I expect Mt Penn will show signs of heavy use -- lots of trails, for example. Area that are near cities often have a lot of small trails that aren\'t on the map but can make for good running.

One of the toughest type of legs in French Creek (and probably at Mt Penn) is when you have to go down one of the blandish hillsides to a control on a point feature. It is easy to drift and hard to be sure you have gone far enough down the hill (without having gone too far). I practiced one or two of those sort of legs at French Creek today.

Sent by whale-mail

posted by Michael | 1:10 PM


Thursday, May 16, 2002

Traveling to the Short Champs


Mary and I are leaving for the short champs in a few hours. I'm feeling a bit worn out from my recent travel/training/lack of sleep. Not the best preparation for a race.

On my last O' session at Spooner Lake, I was navigating very well. I'm hoping to navigate well at the short champs. I have no idea how far a good race will get me in the results. It will be interesting to see. The field looks decent (Mikell Platt is running, for example), so it'll be a good test.

I'll post to this page as time and opportunities permit.

posted by Michael | 1:16 PM


Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Just got back...no time to blog


I just got back from Lake Tahoe and NALGA...I don't have time to write about my trip. I've got to pack for tomorrow's flight to the US Short Champs.

posted by Michael | 8:40 PM


Monday, May 13, 2002

Tiring day of training


I spent a good 2+ hours of running and orienteering at Spooner Lake (east side of Lake Tahoe). I am tired.

The altitude makes running difficult, especially when you are going up hill. There are plenty of hills to climb here. My after-lunch session was a short course (about 2.5 K) with over 200 meters of climb.

Tomorrow I\'ll be back at Spooner Lake, but probably do only one session (today I did three)..

Sent by whale-mail

posted by Michael | 9:52 AM


Thursday, May 09, 2002

Next few days


For the next few days I'll be away from home and probably won't be able to update the blog on a regular basis. I'm flying out to Lake Tahoe this afternoon. I'll spend a couple of days training at Spooner Lake. Then I'm attending the National Association of Local Government Auditors. Should be fun.

posted by Michael | 1:59 PM




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posted by Michael | 2:38 AM


Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Work getting in the way of O'...sort of.


I hate when work gets in the way of my training plans.

Instead of training tonight, I'll do some laundry and packing for a work trip. I don't have time to pack tomorrow morning because I've got to be at an 8:00 a.m. meeting (the Mayor's "ServiceFirst" meeting...ho hum). I hate when work gets in the way of my training.

I was reading something Emma Engstrand wrote about training for O' when she was a student. Here is what she said, "I never miss classes in order to train, but , I never skip training in order to study."

I hate missing training because of work.

Of course, work has some advantages. Like the trip I'm going on will take me out to Lake Tahoe where I'll be able to do some O' sessions on the map from a couple of years ago. It'll be an expenses paid trip for O' practices (plus going to an auditing conference)!

Not that I'm complaining about having a job and earning money, but it sure was a lot easier to train when I was a student.

posted by Michael | 5:49 PM


Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Gruesome O' News


From today's Expressen (one of Sweden's big newspapers):

School Class Found a Corpse in the Woods

A school class learning orienteering made a macabre discovery Tuesday. In a forest near the Rosjo School in Sollentuna, north of Stockholm, they found the remains of a person.

"The body must have been there a while, probably all winter. Our technicians haven't been able to determine if it is a man or woman and we don't know who it is," according to Lennart Norden, Stockholm Police.

The police don't know if a crime is involved. On Tuesday afternoon, the body and scene were being examined by police technicians. The remains will be sent to the national crime lab in Solna.

posted by Michael | 1:12 PM


Monday, May 06, 2002

I'd like to study the maps of these 5 people


I once spent a day looking at Lennart Gustavsson's O' maps. All of his maps and routes were in binders. I spent the day sitting at Lennart's house looking at his routes. It was really fun. I got to know a lot about how Lennart orienteered (and Lennart was very good, he was on the Swedish B-team in the early/mid 1980s). After studying a bunch of his routes, I could look at a leg and pick the route that Lennart would take.

Lennart taught me a lot about orienteering. Looking at his maps and talking with him was a great way to learn.

It'd be great to get a bunch of maps and routes from a good orienteer, spend a few hours studying their maps, then get a chance to talk to them about their orienteering (over a nice cup of coffee). In my mind, I see myself sitting outside at a Swedish summer house, with a thermos of good coffee, a stack of maps and a couple of bullar.

If I could spend a day looking at their routes and talking with them, which five orienteers would I pick?

Hanne Staff. Hanne doesn't write much on the Staff-Valstad web page, but everything she write is interesting. She's a fantastic orienteer with enough experience that she's bound to have a lot of good ideas.

Oyvin Thon. Oyvin was the world champ when I first started orienteering. He was the first "star" of the sport I'd ever heard of. He could orienteer anywhere. He won world championships in Scandinavia (Finland) and continental (Switzerland) terrain.

Lennart Gustavsson. In the mid 1980s, Lennart was on the Swedish B-team. He was a very good map reader, but not quite strong enough as a runner. His best result was a 6th place in the Swedish Champs in a place called Kalmarden (very challenging navigation). Lennart makes my list even though I've already studied his maps. When I spent a day with his maps, I didn't know much about orienteering. I spent a day with Lennart's maps in 1988, when I first moved to Sweden. I know a whole lot more about orienteering know. It'd be interesting to look at Lennart's maps again and see what I could learn.

Ted De St Croix. Ted's top ten finish at the 1985 World Champs is the best ever result by a North American (and it is probably the best ever result by a non-European). I've met Ted a couple of times, but never really spent time talking to him. I read an article he wrote after the 1985 World Champs and found the article to be interesting.

Peter Gagarin. I've seen a lot of Peter's routes, but he still makes my list. His advantage over the people who didn't quite make the top five is that he knows me pretty well and he understands the circumstances an orienteer in the U.S. faces everyday. Another big advantage, is that Peter is a good bit older than the others on my list (and than me). He could probably teach me things that'll help my orienteering as I get older...slower...and have more trouble seeing things.

There are a bunch of other orienteers who didn't quite make my top five list. Marita Skogum, Kent Olsson and Bjornar Valstad are very close. They didn't make the cut because I can learn a lot by reading what they've already written. I'm sure I'd learn more by looking at their maps and talking to them, but I'd rather use my "top five" for other orienteers. Jorgen Rostrup and Pasi Ikonen, both world champions, didn't quite make my list because they are both so young. I have great admiratioin for what they've achieved. But, I think it'd be more interesting to learn from people who've been orienteering a bit longer.

posted by Michael | 8:37 PM


Sunday, May 05, 2002

What's the deal with the "homeland security advisory"?


I don't know much about the "Homeland Security Advisory System." I remember it being announced a month or so ago. The feds (I think it was the attorney general) were going to issue warnings using five categories. The warnings would tell the public and local law enforcement about the current level of threat for a terrorist attack.

Meanwhile, some sort of terrorist/mad bomber is running around the midwest placing pipe bombs in mailboxes and I haven't heard anything to suggest the security advisory system is being used.

What's the deal? Is it being used and I'm just not hearing about it? Is it not in effect? Maybe they've issued some sort of security advisory and I just haven't heard about it.

I poked around the Whitehouse Office of Homeland Security and didn't see anything about the bombings. The US Department of Justice doesn't have anything about the bombings either. The FBI? Well, the FBI's homepage has nothing.

The Post Office saved the day! They've got two press releases with info about the bombings. The press releases include information about where the bombs were found, how to reduce your risk and what to do if you see any suspicious activity.

So, what is the deal with the security advisory system?

posted by Michael | 6:41 PM


Saturday, May 04, 2002

Testing some new "gel"


I'm trying out some new "gel" called Hammer Gel.

I ordered a bottle of the stuff after Snorkel and I did a long run at Clinton where we both ran out of energy. The day was warm and sunny. We didn't carry much water. We didn't carry any sport drink of gel. We both suffered.

On the way back from Lawrence, Snorkel bought some Gu at Sunflower. I orderd some Hammer Gel the next day.

So far I'd give Hammer Gel a decent rating. It tastes like most gels (not very good, but not too terrible). It doesn't seem to give me any stomach problems. I haven't yet tried Hammer Gel on a long run. I expect it to work just like Gu or Clif Shot.

posted by Michael | 9:51 PM


Friday, May 03, 2002

Internet-based "TV" coverage of orienteering


The Swedish Night O' Champs this evening (afternoon in Kansas City) was shown live on the internet. They provided streaming audio and video from the event. It was great.

One of Sweden's largest newspapers (Expressen) coverage of the race focused as much on the internet coverage as on the race. Here is a bit of the article:

Mattias Karlsson, 29 (IKHP), and Emma Engstrang, 24 (Stora Tuna IK), found their way fastest of all in the forests around Norberg at tonight's Swedish Night Orienteering Champs.

Engstrand took her gold in a fight with Gunilla Svaerd, a friend from the national team.

Karlsson and Engstrand -- the names shouldn't suprise anyone. Both took gold at the Long Champs a couple of weeks ago.

But, perhaps the biggest news from the Night Champs was the live audio and video coverage on the Internet, sponsored by the national sports federation and a telecommunications company. For sports that have a tought time getting coverage through regular TV, web-based coverage can be an alternative in the future. Tonight's test was a success.

It was interesting enough that it captured the interest of a couple of my co-workers, both non-orienteers. We were sitting around an office computer, watching some of the action. My coworkers aren't likely to become avid O' fans. But, for a few minutes, they found it pretty interesting.

posted by Michael | 7:32 PM


Thursday, May 02, 2002

Line O'


Mary gave us a line O' course for tonight's OK training session tonight. It was fun.

Line O' (drawing a line on the map and then following the line) is a good type of training for a map you are familiar with. Even if you're familiar with the area and the map, you still have to pay attention to the line.

posted by Michael | 9:25 PM


Wednesday, May 01, 2002

Misplaced control on green at Chicago


The first control on the day two green course at Chicago was misplaced.

Take a look at a section of the map.

The map shows part of the first day's red course. I drew a little arrow to show where the second day's start triangle way (where the trail ends at the open area).

The first control on the green course was supposed to be at the knoll near the purple "10" (I've sketched a little arrow that points to the knoll).

The marker actually was hung where the red course had the control on the first day -- the dot knoll in the circle.

Mary did not have fun on the green course. She made a good decision. She decided to follow the clearing around and attack the first control from along the trail that goes south from the southern end of the clearing. Her route gave her a very good attack and easy running. Unfortunately, it didn't let her find the control because the organizers put the control in the wrong spot.* Eventually, Mary noticed someone punching at a marker up the hill. She knew it wasn't in the right place. She knew it wasn't her control. But, she went up to it, discovered the code was correct, and realizing the organizers misplaced the marker, punched and went toward the second control. Mary spent about six minutes hunting for the control AFTER she'd been to the correct spot.

To give you an idea of just how unfair this particular mistake was, consider what a two other runners on green did (they shall remain nameless):

One person decided to go straight from the start triangle to the first control. On the way there, they bumped in to the marker, saw that the code was correct, punched and went on. The straight route is actually a good bit riskier than Mary's route. But, it saved the person a bunch of time.

Another person -- a late starter -- heard from an early starter that the first control was misplaced and that it was actually west of the outhouse on the edge of the field. That person was able to find the control without losing time by looking for it where the control circle was!

Because of the organizers' error, the course was unfair. The organizers knew of the error (once runners finished and told them about it), but didn't throw out the results. They waited for a protest.

Mary protested. The jury reviewed her protest and...voided F35. They didn't void the other categories on green.

What could the jury have been thinking?

Just a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entry titled "5 Things A-Meet Organizers Ought to Do." One of those was:

"If you screw up, admit it and move on. If a control is in the wrong place and it makes the course unfair, don't wait for a formal protest, just admit you screwed up and throw out the results. Organizers could even offer to refund entry fees if the problem was foreseeable (e.g. a misplaced control rather than a stolen control)."

I guess the Chicago Area O' Club doesn't read my blog!

* The error could just as easily be described as printing the circle in the wrong spot on the map.

posted by Michael | 8:54 PM


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