Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Some notes on Brian's sprint races


I spent some time today looking at Brian May's sprint maps and the split times from the WOC.

The sprint terrain and courses give you a chance to look at running speed and how terrain affects it. Here is what I did:

1. I picked out legs where I didn't see many route options, the navigation looked easy and I could describe each leg in terms of the running surface. For example, I picked legs 4, 5 and 6 from the qualifying race where the running surface is open grass.

2. For each of the legs I picked, I compared Brian's split to the fastest time for the leg and the time the winner ran.

3. I looked at the comparisons to see if any obvious patterns stood out.

While this isn't a perfect way to look at relative running speed, it beats making assertions like -- "you really lose a lot of time on a trail compared to the forest" or "you have to be able to run a 15 minute 5K to qualify for a sprint final."

Before I get to what I saw, here are the legs and running surfaces I looked at:

Qualifying Race:
2 small trail
4, 5 and 6 grass
10, 11 mostly terrain

Final Race:
2 mostly trail
4 some terrain
7 mostly paved
8 mostly grass

What I saw was that Brian did best when the surface was easiest. His relative best splits were on legs 4, 5 and 6 in the qualifying race (flat, grassy surfaces). His relative splits were on legs 11 in the qualifying race (mostly terrain) and 8 (mostly grass) and 4 (some terrain) in the final.

I guess it is about what you'd expect. When the footing was best, Brian lost relatively less time than when the footing was rougher. Brian may have some time to gain by becoming better at running in the terrain.

The method isn't perfect and I wouldn't draw strong conclusions from it (though it does fit with what I'd have guessed).

posted by Michael | 7:14 PM


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