Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Booming controls throughout the race


Yesterday I wrote:

Costly mistakes - big booms - are more likely when you get tired. (Actually, I'm not certain that is true. I think it is. It makes intuitive sense. I've seen some evidence that it is true. But, I haven't really studied a bunch of splits to see if it is true).

Today I got a bit curious about when booms happen. So, I looked at some split times on winsplits.

I looked at the rate orienteers booms in each quarter of a race.

I defined "quarter" of the race in terms of the time it took the winner. If the winner of the race took 60 minutes, then the first quarter of the race was the control the winner found after 15 minutes of running (actually, I used the control nearest to the first quarter for the winner).

I only looked at six races. Three were events I'd run in the U.S. and three were races in Sweden. Two of the races were short distance events.

I counted the number of booms by quarter and then calculate the boom rate by quarter. I used the default definition of a boom in winsplits.

It looks like booms are just as likely in any quarter of a race.

First quarter: 1,002 legs with 215 booms
Second quarter: 1,161 legs with 228 booms
Third quarter: 1,062 legs with 214 booms
Fourth quarter: 1,231 legs with 220 booms

The rates vary from 18-21 percent (which is probably not significant). If you exclude the final quarter, the rates vary from 19-20 percent for the first three quarters.

I suspect the low rate in the final quarter of the race is related to course setting. It is relatively common that there are one of two very simple legs right at the end of the course as the courses approach the finish area.

I was a bit surprised that the rate for the first quarter wasn't lower. I've spent time before looking at boom rates on the first control and I've seen that booming the first control is unusual (despite what people often say about how easy it is to miss the first control).

My analysis was quick and not carefully designed. I didn't pick the events carefully. I didn't look at the size of booms (maybe even though the boom rate seems to be evenly distributed, the amount of time lost might not be).

posted by Michael | 11:57 AM


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