Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, April 30, 2007

Racing Hilary


I spent a lot of time yesterday racing Hillary. She started a couple of minutes ahead of me but made a mistake on the way to 2. From then on, I saw her off and on throughout the course. While I spent most of my time orienteering, I also had a few chances to observe Hillary's orienteering.

Hillary trains a lot. When you look at her log at Attackpoint, you see a lot of 16+ hour weeks. But she doesn't train for orienteering. I'm nearly certain that she runs a good bit faster than me out of the forest. But, in the forest, we kept similar paces (except for uphills when she was stronger than me).

I have no idea if Hillary was orienteering the way she usually would, but when I was paying attention to what she was doing, I was mostly impressed. A lot of people who are strong end up navigating poorly, making up for booms by running fast. These are the orienteers who pass you on the leg...twice. Hillary wasn't doing that. She seemed to be taking her time with the orienteering and being careful - stopping to read the map. That's good. It is a lot easier to reduce the amount of time spent on map reading than it is to reduce big booms.

Last year, I spent some time looking at WOC results and wrote about Hillary:

Hillary's sprint qualifier shows that she's got the capacity to be one of the best US women ever. But her other WOC races are much more ordinary (and her sprint final map shows one of those races-best-forgotten). It'll be interesting to see how she goes forward.

After racing her head-to-head (and beating her), I still think she's got the capacity to be very good. I still think it'll be interesting to see how she goes forward.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:15 PM


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Something feels strange...


Most years I spend hours in front of the computer following Tio Mila on the web. I didn't do that this year. It feels strange.

It didn't work out because I was actually orienteering this weekend instead of sitting at the computer. As good as live web coverage has become, it still doesn't beat running on a map in the forest.

I'll be flying home in a few hours and plan to post some maps and comments over the next few days.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 2:51 PM


Friday, April 27, 2007

Okansas Tio Mila Team Coach Announced


My plan was to post my Tio Mila team, but I'm running low on time. Instead, I'll introduce my team's coach - Aspleaf.

Aspleaf published goals for Tio Mila runners. I've translated them:

Leg 1 - be with the lead pack at the exchange.
Leg 2 - have a better run than the runner on the leg before you.
Leg 3 - have a better run than the runner on the leg before you.
Leg 4 - have a better run than the runner on the leg before you.
Leg 5 - have a better run than the runner on the leg before you.
Leg 6 - have a better run than the runner on the leg before you.
Leg 7 - have a better run than the runner on the leg before you.
Leg 8 - have a better run than the runner on the leg before you.
Leg 9 - have a better run than the runner on the leg before you.
Leg 10 - make sure you don't have anyone ahead of you at the finish.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:58 PM


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Night O' headlamp video from Swedish TV


From Swedish TV sport news, a 3-minute report on developments in night O' headlamp technology. Fun to see the night O' shots and amusing to see that debate about the appropriate headlamp technology become national news.

I haven't really given it much thought, but I guess there are two options:

1. Set limits on the technology that you'll allow for night O', or
2. Let anything go.

The Swedish O' Federation went with the 2nd option. Which seems fine to me. I assume there are strong opinions against that decision.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:05 PM


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Today's project = a tiny map


Maybe I'll add contours tomorrow.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:55 PM


Monday, April 23, 2007

27 minutes?


Each year I pick an Okansas Tio Mila team. I went over to the Tiomila web page to take a first look at the leg lengths.

was surprised to see a 5.56 km leg with an expected winning time of
just 27 minutes. No forking on the leg and it'll begin after the sun
has risen. It is the 9th of 10 legs.

Nothing wrong with a relay leg like that, I guess.

imagine that running that leg on a team that is outside of the top 75
would feel like a trail race - just glance at your map and follow the
beaten down path through the terrain.

There is probably some logic to having a short, unforked leg. I guess it might make good TV coverage because you'd have a couple of exchanges in a short period of time.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 3:39 PM


Sunday, April 22, 2007

A better day


I tried to implement the lessons I learned yesterday. It worked pretty well. I didn't run especially fast. But the weather was warm (sunny and mid 70s, I'd guess) and running much faster would have meant getting worn out a third of the way through the course.

The Surebridge map at Harriman is a magic place to orienteer. As you climb a hill or scramble down a steep slope, you catch yourself wondering if Allen Mogensen ran at this spot. Then you catch yourself wondering how much faster Mogensen was moving. Then you imagine that he was doing all of this in the pouring rain. Then you realize you have lost track of where you are and you'd better take a look at the map and forget about Allen Mogensen.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:29 PM


Saturday, April 21, 2007

Boris' fame


Aspleaf has been wondering about Boris:

...He might not be a world star yet, but if he keeps on training like he has been, it probably won't be long. Every time I try to pronounce Boris Granovskiy's name I see a picture of how he might look. The picture I have is of an alcoholic KGB-agent. But, Boris is a young American with orienteering ambitions and probably he's the opposite. Maybe I've seen too many B-movies through the years...

Below is a snapshot that gives you a glimpse of Boris. I took the photo at the WOC in 2001. In the snapshot Boris is nervously tracking split times from the men's classic distance race. He's jotting down the times. He's nervous because he's got a bet (probably not a whole lot of money) riding on Rostrup to win. The splits showing up on the big screen behind Boris show Rostrup with a lead that he'd hold to the finish, making Boris a few Finnish Marks richer.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:33 PM


Today's lessons


1. Navigate to the center of the circle.

2. Sometimes your legs feel tired and you're moving slowly. Nothing to do about that, just keep going.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:15 PM


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Yak snapshots


Yesterday's link to the yak polo video brought back fond memories of my limited yak riding experience. I tried to ride a yak. I got on the back of the yak and stayed there for a couple of seconds before the yak shrugged its shoulders and I flew off. I tried again. Same result. I decided that yak riding wasn't for me. But, I managed to ride a cow-yak hybrid with little difficulty (photo left).

While I didn't last more than a few seconds on the yak, I managed driving a yak-drawn cart without much trouble (photo below).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:15 PM


Thinking about the weekend's races


I'll be running at Surebridge this weekend - some of the most fun orienteering terrain anywhere. Fun stuff.

(Photo above lifted from OrienteeringOnline.net).

If you haven't spent time looking at Surebridge maps, go over to OrienteeringOnline.net where you can find links to the maps with routes from the 1993 World Champs.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:33 PM


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

2 videos...one orienteering...one not


The video clip is making its way around various O' web pages. Vesa posted the link in a comment to yesterday's post. If you haven't seen it, it is worth a look:

The terrain looks fun. Making the mistakes doesn't. It is a quite nice demonstration of the data acquisition capabilities of GPS tracking.

And here is a video clip that you probably haven't seen before. From Swedish TV, a short video of Yak Polo in Mongolia. Having tried to ride a yak (and spending no more than a few seconds on the back of the yak before being thrown off), I'm quite impressed with the yakmanship.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:30 PM


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Little waterfall


I passed this little waterfall on each of my "old man intervals" today.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:44 PM


Monday, April 16, 2007

Sketchy control - part 2


Tore Sandvik described the sketchy control as a "sad day for Norwegian orienteering" (of course, he wrote in Norwegian).

Sandvik went out to the forest to check the sketchy 27th control. Sandvik wrote that the problem wasn't just that the little marsh was drawn wrong, but that the control wasn't in the little marsh. Instead, it was 50 meters further south. The map below is from Sandvik's home page.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:40 PM


Sunday, April 15, 2007

A sketchy control?


The map clip shows Jon Pederson's routes on a bit of a race in Norway today. Pedersen wrote that he lost over 6 minutes at control 27.

Part of what Pedersen wrote (my rough translation) in his report of the race:

...the map wasn't exactly right. At first I thought someone had stolen the marker. I was ready to leave and run to the next control without punching at 27 when I went back and found the control at an unexpected spot.

Pedersen protested the control, but the jury ruled against the protest.

Jarle Ausland, a national team coach, was quoted in a newspaper story:

A difficult situation. The control shouldn't have been put there because the map didn't really fit. The controller should have found that out before the competition.

As I look at Pedersen's map, it does look like the sort of terrain that is difficult to map - a bit flat and diffuse.

In another story about the race, Pedersen is quoted:

Something wasn't right. We can't have this sort of thing in a selection race for the Nordic champs.

I don't envy the people who have the job of selecting the team to the Nordic champs.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:24 PM


Saturday, April 14, 2007

A fine day at Knob Noster


I ran a local race at Knob Noster today. Knob Noster is, by far, the best local area for orienteering - interesting contours and nice, open forest. Here are a couple of legs to give you an idea of the terrain.

The little snow that fell overnight had melted when Mary finished.

I was surprised to see Sharon C. at the start.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:15 PM


Friday, April 13, 2007

Travel dreams


I spent some time this evening day dreaming about travel...

It started with watching a travel TV show (in High Def) that featured a visit to Stockholm and Kalmar. It is always fun to see the sights of Stockholm, and on a travel show the sky is always blue, the sun always shines, and you never have to see how expensive everything is.

Then I caught a bit of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Tonight's show featured Peru with a visit to Cuzco and Machu Picchu.

Finally, I pulled up OPN's report of an O' trip to China, where I came across a link to the Caribbean 5-Days.

As I look out the window and see a cold rain falling (with snow expected to start in a couple of hours), 5 Days of orienteering in the Caribbean sounds very tempting.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:47 PM


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Talking out loud as you orienteer....or read an x-ray


In a thread at Attackpoint about maintaining concentration, Ross wrote about talking out loud as you orienteer. Here is part of what he wrote:

Try talking out loud as you orienteer; verbalizing out loud the things going through your head and the things that should be going through your head. Talk about what's coming up, what you should be noticing, what techniques you are going to use, what you are going to do, what things you need to be careful about etc.

I like Ross' suggestion, both as a way to regain concentration during a race and as a training method.

The approach seems to parallel an idea I read about in Groopman's book How Doctors Think. Groopman has a chapter on how radiologists read x-rays and MRIs. If you think about it, interpreting a radiologist's job has some obvious similarities to reading a map. One of the radiologists Groopman interviewed describes dictating his reports as a way to be systematic and avoid errors in perception and analysis.

Maybe talking out loud as you orienteer helps "works" the same way - forcing you to be systematic and avoiding some of the common perception errors.

And for something completely different..some nice video of Matsuzaka pitching to Ichiro back in 1999...

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:10 PM


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Great collection of maps on the web


Not much time to write today, so I'll just point you to one of my favorite collections of maps on the web. The "worldview" is especially cool.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:05 PM


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Another Sweden-U.S. comparison


One of the big differences between Swedish and U.S. orienteering has to do with how soon after starting to orienteer people start running technically difficult courses.

In Sweden, many (most?) orienteers start as juniors and put in a few years of running easy courses.

In the U.S., many (most?) orienteers start at an older age and begin running difficult courses as soon as possible.

What this means is that Swedish orienteers learn to navigate and move fast, while U.S. orienteers learn to navigate and orienteer with lots of stops and mistakes.

Some of the kids I know from the Texas Junior O' Camps will run red (F21/M35 course) or blue (M21) at national meets and be satisfied to just finish the course. But when you look at the results list, these juniors might have double the time of the winner on the course. To me that suggests they're running a course too far above their current abilities.

This difference between Sweden and the U.S. might explain some of the difference in propensities to ask for help in the forest. In the U.S., the goal of a lot of orienteers is to finish, to find all the controls on their own. So, asking for help defeats the purpose. In Sweden, the goal of a lot of orienteers is to finish fast. Asking for help might make it easier to finish fast.

Or maybe I'm just imagining differences that aren't really there...

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:02 PM


Monday, April 09, 2007

Lost little girl


Ivo posed a good question in response to yesterday's post:

what would some US elite orienteer do if some 12 years old girl cries in the middle of the forest, asking if he/she could show her where they actually are?

I'm not an elite US orienteer, but I happened to face this exact situation last summer at the Swedish 5-days. Here is what happened...

I went out in the chase start about 3 minutes behind Frank Steiner of Jarfella OK. I was having a good race when I caught up to Frank as he made a mistake. We were about 3/4 of the way through the race. All that was left was the section through the very flat, open forest (tallhed) and then a couple of controls just before the run in. I got a little gap on Frank.

I'm running through the open forest heading toward a bridge over the road when I come across a little girl who is crying and lost. She is really upset. She's asking for help. So, I stopped and helped. I looked at her map and showed her where we were. I could tell she was too upset to find the control, so I pointed the right direction and told her follow the vegetation boundary to the road, turn to the right at the road, and look for the control at the road/trail crossing. I pointed her in the right direction. The whole thing only took about 30 seconds.

After helping the little girl, I looked up and saw Frank ahead of me. I chased, but never caught up. Here is what I wrote in my log:

When I looked up, Steiner was ahead of me. Shit. I pushed hard but didn't catch back up to him.

I figure stopping to help the little girl cost two places. Sort of a bummer, but it was good to help the kid (who was really upset and crying).

Thinking about Ivo's question made me think about the issue of asking for, and giving, help in the forest. The orienteering cultures are so different in the U.S. and Sweden. In the U.S. a lot of orienteers wouldn't ask for help and a lot of orienteers wouldn't offer help. In Sweden - especially at an event like the 5-days - people ask for and offer help all the time. Which brings to mind another story from last summmer's 5-days.

I was running a long leg, pushing pretty hard, and my map contact wasn't very good as I approached the control. The contours didn't seem to fit and the vegetation wasn't what I'd expected. I hesitated a bit and stopped to take a careful look at the map. I hadn't stood still for more than a second or two when a young girls ran right up to me. She asked if I knew where we were. I told her I was a bit unsure. She then pointed at my map and said that we were right at the little marsh. She was helping me! I had thought she was the one who was lost. That would never happen in the U.S.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:40 PM


Sunday, April 08, 2007



After a race in Sweden this weekend, Suzanne wrote:

Also I'm furious that cheating is accepted, especially even in at the elite level of orienteering....interrupted my course and my focus to ask me where the control was. It makes me so angry. How can we take ourselves seriously as a sport when nobody is even surprised that a D21L, the most elite course offered, runner would ask where she is? And where is her sense of pride?

Part of the culture shock for an American orienteer in Sweden is how often you get asked where your control is or where you are. That almost never happens here.

I suppose a Swedish orienteer in the U.S. might have the same shock - nobody ever talks or helps someone out at a race in the U.S. If you asked for help, a lot of orienteers in the U.S. would ignore you or explain that they won't help.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:27 PM


Saturday, April 07, 2007

A short leg at Knob Noster


Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 12:56 PM


Feeling like a building being torn down


After work yesterday I spent 30 minutes on an exercise bike. I felt fine. But about 10 minutes later, I started feeling terrible - headache, stomach feeling strange, suddenly exhausted. I had a bit of soup and drank some water. I felt worse. I went to bed at 8 p.m., slept 11+ hours, and now I feel fine. Weird.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:59 AM


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Virtual Knee Surgery


Gail had arthoscopic knee surgery to repair her meniscus. It sounds like it went well. Shaq had meniscus surgery and seems to have recovered well, so I'm hopeful that Gail will recover well, too.

I poked around the web a bit to find out about knee surgery. I came across Virtual Knee Surgery - a fascinating web page. Virtual Knee Surgery gives you a chance to perform knee replacement surgery (which is quite a bit more than an arthoscopic meniscus repair). Even if you aren't interested in knee replacement, the page gives you a decent view of the basic anatomy of the knee. Check it out.

New Google Maps Feature

Also worth a look is the new "MyMaps" feature of Google maps.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:05 PM


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Norwegians and Czechs and Swedes


Anders Tiltnes made an observation about different training cultures in the club he runs for in Sweden (Tiltnes, a Norwegian, runs for Sodertalje Nykvan Orientering = SNO). Here is a rough translation of what he wrote today:

In SNO we've got a tough training culture and a mixture of training philosophies. I'm glad there are 4 Norwegians here, so we can run our Norwegian long distance pace. When we do a long distance session, we usually take 3 hours for 30 kilometers. The Czechs usually take 2-2.5 hours on the same course, and the Swedes are in between. What is sensational is that the Czechs and Swedes run "their fastest" all the time! Or, I should say, at all of the club's organized trainings - indoor intervals on Tuesday, long night O' on Wednesday, and head-to-head on Thursday, plus races on the weekend!

You can read (if you can manage to language) Tiltnes' original article here.

A couple of years ago I took a look at Anders Tiltnes' training (which includes a link to an interview from The Water Stop).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:17 PM


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

More advice from a doctor


...achieve competency in remarkably similar ways, despite working in disparate fields. Primarily, they recognize and remember their mistakes and misjudgments, and incorporate those memories into their thinking. Studies show that expertise is largely acquired not only by sustained practice but by receiving feedback that helps you understand your technical errors and misguided decisions....He kept a log of all the mistakes he made over the decades, and at times revisited this compendium when trying to figure out a particularly difficult case. He was characterized by many of his colleagues as eccentric, an obsessive oddball. Only later did I realize his implicit message to us was to admit our mistakes to ourselves, then analyze them, and keep them accessible at all times if we wanted to be stellar clinicians.

The quote is from the book How Doctors Think.

I actually think you can learn a lot from your successes as well as your mistakes. It is worth keeping a log of all of your legs - successes and failures - and revisiting the log from time to time. Even if that makes you an "obsessive oddball."

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:01 PM


Monday, April 02, 2007

Lundanes at Romeleaasen


I was perusing the results of a race at Romeleaasen in southern Sweden and noticed a very nice run by a junior. Johan Modig won. He was followed by Anders Nordberg. Tied for third were Holger Hott-Johansson and Olav Lundanes.

I recognized the name "Lundanes" but didn't really know anything about him. So, I poked around a bit and found out that he's still a junior.

Kondis ran a short interview with Lundanes. Here is a rough translation of a bit of the interview:

Do you have a training philosophy?

I've always done a lot of easy training. I have high quality on the harder workouts. I don't train O' technique very much in the winter when I'd rather train as much as possible on skis. I feel like I need a break from O' technique during the winter. When the spring comesm, I really want to train technique and race. I use the first competitions as training. I train without a heart rate monitor and I think it is better to learn how your body feels. Heart rate is for me just another number, but the signals your body is sending are better measures of how you're feeling [Note: the translation of that last sentence is a bit rough and I'm not 100 percent sure I got it right]. The most important thing is to believe in what your are doing. I prefer to train alone, so the workout is just what I want.

Lundanes also describes fieldchecking and drafting maps as a bit of a hobby.

If you can manage the Norwegian, you should check out a short interview with Lundanes on woO-TV Norway.

What really caught my eye when I saw the news about the race was the map - Romeleaasen. Back in the late 1980s, I did some fieldchecking at Romeleaasen. I have fond memories of spending hours in the forest and of the hospitality of the Bergmans who lived just off the map and hosted me while I worked on the map.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:29 PM


Sunday, April 01, 2007

"You look at your map but your mind plays tricks..."


You look at your map but your mind plays tricks on you - confirmation bias - because you see only the landmarks you expect to see and neglect those that should tell you that in fact you're still at sea. Your skewed reading of the map "confirms" your mistaken assumptions that you have reached your destination.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

The quote is from a book I'm reading called How Doctors Think (by Jerome Groopman). It is really about how people think but the author uses medical decisions and mistakes as the context for explaining the ways people think.

If you've read Malcolm Gladwell, you might like Groopman's book. You can read a New Yorker article by Groopman here (I think it is an excerpt from the book).

And for something completely different, here is a snapshot from today's training.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:28 PM


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