Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Moving from JWOC teams to WOC teams


How many different people have run Junior WOCs from 1999 through 2007?
How many of those people have gone on to run WOCs?

Those are two questions I looked at for the U.S. about a month ago. This morning, while sipping a cup of coffee and watching it rain outside, I decided to answer those two questions for Norway and Sweden.

Sweden first.

35 different men and 29 different women have represented Sweden at JWOCs for the period 1999-2007. Of those 64 people, 5 have gone on to run WOCs for Sweden.

What about Norway?

Remarkably similar numbers - 35 different men and 30 different women have represented Norway at JWOCs for the period 1999-2007. Of those 65 people, 10 have gone on to run WOCs for Norway.

Of course, over the next few years, some of those JWOC runners will go on to run WOCs. In particular, it is really too soon to expect people who ran JWOCs after 2003 to have made WOC teams.

When I looked at JWOC and WOC teams for the U.S., I also looked at the gap between the first time someone ran a JWOC to the first time they ran a WOC. For runners from Sweden and Norway, here are the number of years between a first JWOC and a first WOC: 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, and 6.

What, if anything, should be made of this? I don't know. Maybe that the move from top junior to top senior is big. Maybe that Norway has better younger runners. Maybe that Norway has a WOC selection philosophy that somewhat favors younger runners.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:13 PM


Friday, June 29, 2007

Coffee and maps


Sitting and talking about orienteering at an outdoor cafe across the street from a park. It doesn't get much better. After our Saturday morning training, Mary, Eric and I went to Kaldi's Cafe for a cup of coffee and some O' talk.

It reminded me of one of my favorite Swedish words - fika. Fika is a verb that means, roughly, to take a coffee break. To fika with some orienteers - where the discussion always focuses on maps, racing, and training - is a very good thing.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:47 PM


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Steel forest


In the middle of a sprint race last weekend I came across this amazing steel tree.

It sits next to the art museum in St Louis. The tree is very dramatic, especially as you come across it while running flat out.

The obvious question - is it a green or black "x" on the map? Is it an "other manmade object" or a "distinct tree"?

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:11 PM


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

French O' study plugged in Google translate...


I spent a few minutes playing with Google translate and Les Techniques De Selection Des Objets Et De Memorisation En Course D'Orientation (a PDF file). I learned, for example...

The chart moves when we jump between the stocks and the stones. The more stable it is, the more it is obviously easy to interpret it. Certain goods runners use the two hands to stabilize it during the race. A chart held by two sides “floats” less than one chart held by only one. But the arms are very useful for the propulsion. By mobilizing them to stabilize the chart in front of oneself, we do not use them to run quickly; even if all the bust is some stabilized, the hips cannot work as well as possible. Actually, it is impossible to hold the chart with two hands without speed dropping. The catch with two hands thus costs time and energy, since one needs réaccélérer after the reading. The best runners require only for some tenths of a second to extract information from the chart, even if they hold that of a hand, and the deceleration is almost unperceivable. They thus succeed in stabilizing their arm a few seconds, while the remainder of the body continues to function.

It really is amazing that I can plug French text into a web page and get back something that I can understand...even though I can't really understand a word of French. It is also amusing to read the resulting language.

French to English isn't nearly as interesting as Japanese to English. Here is something translated from Yoko Bamba's web page:

In any case, you thought that running to end aggressively, is necessary.

The short leg is read with the long leg.

Reading, it runs ding dong.

Changing with the short leg, it designates the head as navigation mode.

Here several seconds are made. Avariciously.

And and, it runs aggressively.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:48 PM


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

"Improving your results by ignoring them"


"Improving your results by ignoring them." That's the title of an article I read this afternoon. Now the article was about baseball. Not just baseball but fantasy baseball. But, I think the concept is something I'm a believer in. It is really just another way of saying "focus on process not outcome."

It is also a good way to put the ideas in Martin Lerjen's "visionary head start" to use. Use the map reading categories to develop a better understanding of the process you follow when you orienteer.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:59 PM


Monday, June 25, 2007

Confidence versus experience


I listened to a discussion about confidence versus experience on the local sports-talk radio while I drove to the grocery store evening. The discussion centered on the question of whether or not to bring a relatively young baseball player to the major leagues. The player might be able to help the team. But, he didn't have much experience. So the risk was that he'd come up too soon, have bad results, and lose his confidence. It remained unstated, but the idea was that a player who lost confidence was hurt so much that it'd be better to remain at a lower level and gain experience and confidence.

The same question comes up in orienteering. How much does help to get experience by running a WOC or World Cup race given the real possibility that you're results will be lousy?

I think the answer is obvious...it depends.

It depends on the individual. Some people will perform really well despite little experience. Others will perform poorly, but gain experience that will help them in the future (maybe gaining motivation to train harder and an idea of just how well the best perform). But some will lose confidence and might lose motivation.

I guess the value of listening to sports-talk radio is that you hear amusing arguments that don't ever really get to an answer. That's also the reason listening to sports-talk radio can be a complete waste of time.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:09 PM


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Some thoughts about reading O' maps


This is worth a look - Martin Lerjen's discussion paper on "visionary head start" in orienteering.

Martin is a Swiss O' trainer who has spent some time thinking carefully about orienteering and map reading. I roughly described some of his ideas a few days ago as a "coming attraction."

I'd encourage you to go to his page, download the discussion paper, and give it a careful read.

I also want to thank Martin for thinking carefully about map reading, writing his ideas up in German, writing an English version, and giving me a chance to preview it. I offered a few suggestions for text editing. You'll see that Martin thanked me for that. But, really it wasn't much and I owe him a big "thanks" for the work that he put into.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:18 PM


Saturday, June 23, 2007

One of today's training sessions


Mary and I ran this course today - lots of fun (and more than you might think just looking at the map). Near control 5 on the first loop, a wedding party was setting up and taking pre-event photos. On the second loop, the bride was arriving by horse drawn carriage. I did my best to avoid getting in any photos or spooking the horse!

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:24 PM


Friday, June 22, 2007

Sprint weekend


I'm planning to do 3 or 4 sprint O' sessions this weekend - sort of a sprint training camp. I hope it is fun.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:38 AM


Thursday, June 21, 2007

Old memories - 1986 Swedish 5 Days


Aspleaf posted his map from the 1986 Swedish 5 Days in Boras. It brings back some good memories - of fun orienteering and (if I remember right) some rainy weather.

Anders Erik Olsson won M21 Elite (again, if I remember right) and he had some interesting things to say about his routes. I remember him showing a slide of a very long route on one of the days. It was the kind of leg that would have stopped me dead in my tracks for a good 30 seconds (or more) trying to figure out which route I'd take. AEO said he took a quick look and saw that while there were lots of different options, the differences wouldn't be big, so he'd just pick a route quickly and stick to it. At the time that was a completely different way to think about route choice than anything I'd ever heard or done.

Interesting reading for any orienteer in the U.S.

Intersting map. Any idea what it shows? Take a guess and then read the article that accompanies the map. Worthwhile reading for any orienteer in the U.S.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:43 PM


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Busy day = lazy blogger


I had a long, busy day at work. That means I don't have much time to spend writing about orienteering. The lazy way out is to point to another page with something that might be relevant to orienteering....

Well, it isn't quite orienteering, but the issue of process-versus-outcome comes up in other sports, too. Here is a series of baseball related postings on process-versus-outcome.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:24 PM


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Coming Attractions - Analyzing Mapread


I've been exchanging emails with a Swiss orienteer who had been doing some very interesting thinking about map reading. I plan to write more about it in the coming days, but today I want to give a very rough overview of some of one of the main ideas - categories of map reading.

You can think about map reading during a race by trying to answer a simple question for each time you look at the map. Why? Why did you look at the map? What was the purpose?

Answering the question leads you to different categories of map reading.

1. Sometimes you try to figure out where you are by looking at what you have passed.

2. Sometimes you look at the next small step - you know where you are, but you don't know the next feature you'll come to. So, you look at the map and pick out that next feature.

3. Sometimes you look at the map further ahead than the next step - you're looking for specific, significant terrain features that you haven't yet come to but that will help you navigate along the leg. These specific features function as "beacons" along your route.

4. Sometimes you look at the map because you've just come to something that you see in the forest and expect to be on the map (like a big boulder). You glance at your map to confirm your location.

5. Sometimes you look at the map to add further information about what is coming. You fill in additional details about your "beacons" or about what you'll come to between the beacons.

That is five categories of map reading. It is a simple list. But, if you spend some time thinking about it, you'll find that it gives you a very useful tool for thinking about how your are orienteering.

I titled today's post "Coming Attractions" - this is just a preview, I plan to write more and point you to some interesting resources in the next few days. Stay tuned!

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:51 PM


Monday, June 18, 2007

American Orienteering and European Baseball


I once went to a baseball game in Stockholm. I read in the newspaper that the Swedish baseball national team was playing an All-Star team made up of players from Swedish league teams. I had some free time. So, I made my way out to the game and spent a couple of hours watching.

The level of play was not impressive. But the fact that a bunch of Swedish athletes were playing baseball - that they clearly were enthusiastic and working hard - that was impressive. And that was what made me think of the parallels between American orienteers and Swedish baseball players.

To be a Swedish baseball player must have been tough. Nobody really knew the sport. You'd have trouble finding equipment. You'd have few real baseball fields to train on. Coaching would be minimal. The level of competition would be low, making it harder to improve. It is a bit like being an American orienteer.

Maybe the situation for Swedish baseball players has improved since I saw the game (a good 15 years ago). Certainly the internet gives players access to more and better information on the sport. Still, I suspect the standard is pretty low.,

I was thinking back on my Swedish baseball experience after I came across a documentary film about baseball in Ireland. I haven't seen the entire film, but you can get an idea about the movie by watching the clip below (and you can visit The Emerald Diamond web page for more clips).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:43 PM


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Jukola map attacked and cut into pieces


I opened my email inbox this morning and found - Jukola maps! I could probably put these together in some image software, making it easier to look at. But, I'd rather go for a run. So, in the interest of being timely rather than complete, I'm posting the cut-in-four-bits map from Jukola.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:41 AM


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Watching Jukola


All over the world, orienteers are sitting at their computers following Jukola. When it is night in the Finnish forest, you need a headlamp...so, I get out my headlamp when it is night in Finland.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:00 PM


Friday, June 15, 2007

Nice Finnish Terrain


One of the fringe benefits of writing an orienteering blog is that you get interesting email. A few days ago, Kenneth sent me scans of the map from the 1994 Fin 5-days, which is also this year's Jukola terrain. Sweet terrain.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:46 PM


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Interview about racing


From an interview, an athlete talking about racing:

I have my lunch three hours before the race starts, normally around 11am, and from then on I sip a fitness drink my trainer mixes me.

10-15 minutes before the start of the race...thinking a little bit about the start - maybe try to create a couple of different scenarios about what might happen.

You can't plan it, and you need to be open-minded because things happen fast...

...I'm not nervous at all - well, maybe a little bit. But that's normal. I never panic. I'm always well in control. I don't rush.

What sport do you think these quotes are from?

Make a guess and then read the entire interview.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:56 PM


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Giant Concrete Orienteering Map


My visit to Mud Island was among the highlights of my days in Memphis. Mud Island features, of all things, a giant concrete map. The map is made at a scale of about 1:2,000 and covers the lower portion of the Mississippi River valley.

The snaphot above shows the contour lines along the river bank.

To give you a sense of the scale, I've got two snapshots with people. That is a big, big map.

Needless to say, Mud Island is a must-see tourist site for any orienteering who visits Memphis.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:11 PM


Friday, June 08, 2007

Next planned update - Wednesday, June 13


I'm leaving for a work trip to Memphis - no plans to update this page until I get back home.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 3:28 PM


Thursday, June 07, 2007

If I had a bunch of cash sitting around...


...one of the things I might do is pay an enthusiastic junior orienteer to spend the summer driving around the country making sprint orienteering maps of college campuses. It might not be the best use of the money, but it'd be nice to give a young orienteer a chance to earn a bit of cash and produce something that might turn out to be useful for developing the sport.

I think most universities have "facilities management" functions that maintain good basemaps of the campus. Having decent basemaps would make the fieldchecking fun (and fast).

Lots of college campuses have terrain that'd make for interesting sprint orienteering. Here is Rochester Institute of Technology.

Here is SMU.

Here is part of the University of Wyoming.

Lots of nice sprint terrain out there.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:07 PM


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Aspleaf's control hunt


Aspleaf posted some "control hunts" yesterday. The idea is to match up the controls to the map. On the color map it is pretty easy.

Aspleaf recommends using a black and white map to make it tougher.

Fun stuff.

Fake miniature photography

Clem commented, "How do you do this? It is a cool effect."

I used The Gimp and followed these directions. Here are directions for using Photoshop.

I was inspired to play around with fake miniature photos after seeing some photos in the NY Times "Play" magazine. Here is an audio/video presentation by the photographer who shot the photos in Play. The photos from the U.S. Open tennis (about 2 minutes into the presentation) really caught my eye in the magazine. The NY Times photographer, Vinent Laforet, used a tilt-shift lens to get the images. That works better than the software, but a tilt shift lens costs a lot.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:21 PM


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Lowering expectations


I hate the summer. It gets hot. The forest gets incredibly thick. Ticks, spiderwebs, and poison ivy fill the forests.

At least that is what happens around Kansas City.

Every year I have an idea that this year I'm going to have a good summer of running. Sometimes it starts out well. But then the heat wears me down and the months of July and August just drag on and on.

This year I've got a new strategy - lower my expectations. Instead of being ambitious about running, I'll just take it easy. Maybe, just maybe, that'll leave me feeling less drained in July and August and I'll actually finish the summer in better shape than usual.

More on process versus outcome

Last month I wrote something about process versus outcome. A few days ago I came across an article by Michael Mauboussin - a "chief investment strategist" - that touches on the some of the same ideas, but in a different context. Check out Mauboussin's "Turtles in Omaha" (PDF).

Another "miniature" photo

This is the view out my office window. Click on the image for higher resolution.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:19 PM


Monday, June 04, 2007

The view out the window


I spent some time today playing around with a photo I took from the office. I put the photo into some software and manipulated the photo. The idea is that it should look something like a miniature model of the new basketball/hockey arena.

Since I try to write about orienteering each day, I need to write something about orienteering...or maybe just point you to a link worth a look. Check out Markus Puusepp's orienteering blog. Markus posts lots of nice maps and sometimes he even writes in English instead of Estonian. Even without understanding the language, it is cool to look at the maps.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:28 PM


Sunday, June 03, 2007

More on dogs in the forest


Lena Eliasson wrote a bit about the dogs in the forest in Ukraine. Here is a rough translation:

...We ran a sprint qualifying and final, which was a reminder for me of how important it is to run sprints regularly to be ready to do my best in this discipline...Another feature that we experienced was all of the dogs that are everywhere in the Ukrainian forests. Sometimes the owner is nearby, but there are also wild dogs. Two British women were bitten and have to get rabies treatment, and it is difficult not to think about dogs when you run in the forest. The sprint final was in a park that turned out to be full of dogs off leash. We think that most had their owners nearby. Everyone made it through without being bitten. The biggest problem was that Anna Marsell came across a flasher [at least I think that is how you translate "blottare" - hopefully some helpful Swedish native reader will confirm the translation for me] near the first control!

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:02 PM


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Dogs in the forest


Scary stuff on Eva Jurenikova's write up of training in Ukraine:

After the race the British team told us a scary story about 2 runners being bitten by a dog at the training yesterday. They had to go to a hospital and start the treatment against rabies, a vaccination which consists of 6 doses. Terrible stuff. We are considering buying a pepper spray to carry it with us in the forest as a protection. And we decided not to go to the forest where the incident happened. I hope the British runners get well soon.

I like dogs. But, I'm scared of unknown dogs. I can only remember a couple of times when I've come across dogs during a race. It immediately screws up my concentration and makes it hard to orienteer well for the next 10 minutes or so. Even just reading about it in Jurenikova's report gets my attention.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:11 PM


Friday, June 01, 2007

News from Norway


OPN.NO pointed me to a Norwegian newspaper story about how the top Norwegian orienteers are doing. I don't have the energy to translate the article, but to give you an idea, here are a few of the main points:

Oystein Kvaal Osterbo says that they haven't been doing enough orienteering training in easy-to-run terrain.

Jarle Ausland, a national team trainer, said that some of the best are training to improve both running and O' technique in non-Nordic terrain. He also pointed out that some of the elite runners are doing intervals with track runners.

Osterbo, Slokvik and Bjornar Valstad all point out that it might be good to do more racing - not just training camps - in continental terrain.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:38 PM


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