Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, March 31, 2008

Similar to Oyvin Thon


Last week I wrote a bit about Oyvin Thon and his record in WOCs - 7 gold medals and 1 silver in 11 WOC finals and relays. His worst results were a 6th and two 7th places.

I wonder if anyone else has a similar set of results?

I didn't have time to go through all of the WOC results, but I came up with a few names that I thought would be worth taking a look at. What I was looking for was a combination of a bunch of wins and very few non-medals.

Egil Johansen had six WOC starts with 3 gold medals, 2 silver, and a 6th place.

Annichen Kringstad had seven WOC starts with 6 gold meals and a 9th place.

I think those two are the most similar to Thon.

Simone Niggli-Luder has an amazing record - I count 14 gold medals, 1 silver and 2 bronze. She has won a bit over half of her WOC finals and relays. Five times she's been 4th place. Her worst result is 15th place. Maybe she belongs in the "similar to Thon" list.

I looked at Petter Thoresen. He's got a bunch of gold medals - five. But, his worst results include 3 outside the top ten. Obviously a great orienteer. But he doesn't quite fit in the "similar to Thon" list.

I looked at Jorgen Rostrup. 10 starts with 4 gold medals. Not quite in the "similar to Thon" list.

Marita Skogum? She's a pretty good fit, actually. She's got 12 WOC finals and relays with 6 gold medals, 2 silver, and 1 bronze. Her worst results are 5th and 10th.

As usual, my source for info was Maprunner's WOC database...and I did this comparison quite quickly, so I might have made a small mistake or two.

Any other ideas about who might be a good fit for the "similar to Thon" list?

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:34 PM


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rock Chalk!


Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:17 PM


Saturday, March 29, 2008

More lidar map data


I spent some time this morning looking at Lidar data available for the area and discovered something called "intensity." I don't really know what that means, but I discovered that the Lidar intensity data looks a lot like an aerial photograph.

Here is the intensity data for a part of Lawrence and the University of Kansas campus:

Here is the sprint orienteering map of the campus:

You can easily pick out a lot of detail from the instensity data.

It certainly looks - to me - like Lidar data is going to be quite useful for basemaps...as soon as it becomes more widely available.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:35 PM


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Snapshot from last fall


Not much orienteering today. I've got no inspiration to write. So, I'll just post a snapshot from last fall's U.S. Champs...

...and a couple of links for serious baseball geeks:

www.billjamesonline.net - full access runs $3/month, which is probably worth it if you're liked reading the old Bill James Abstracts; and

SABR minor league database.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:15 PM


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Name that orienteer


Check out this record of World Champs results:

Individual finals: 1st, 1st, 2nd, 7th, and 7th;
Relays: 6th, 1st, 1st, 1st, 1st, and 1st

Can you guess who it is?

That's seven gold medals spread out over six World Champs.

A hint is that he turned 50 yesterday. Another hint is that he is Norwegian. That ought to be enough. The answer is Oyvin Thon. His 50th birthday was reported in the Norwegian O' mag (and I came across the link at worldofo.com). The Norwegian magazine will feature an interview with him and maps from his two individual world champs (maybe someone will scan the interview and post it on the web?).

Back in 2006 I put together (with some help) a list of 3000 meter times for orienteers. Thon ran a very fast 8:23.8. The list I put together (and the comments) are worth another look.

The source for the results is Maprunner's WOC database.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:50 PM


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gawande on solving problems


Why it makes sense to spend lots of time looking at maps, picking routes, thinking about what you'd see, etc...

As Lucian Leape, ...explains, "a defining trait of experts is that they move more and more problem-solving into an automatic mode." With repetition, a lot of mental functioning becomes automatic and effortless, as when you drive a car to work."

The text is from Atul Gawande's Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science. I've just started the book and it is, so far, quite interesting. I can recommend his other book, Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:55 PM


Monday, March 24, 2008

Playing with Lidar basemaps


I just discovered a bunch of "Lidar" data for the Kansas (aka Kaw) River valley, including Douglas, Jefferson, Wyandotte, and Shawnee counties. So, I figured I'd learn just enough about Lidar to see how hard it'd be to go from data to some sort of basemap.

It turned out to be very easy.

1. Scan the discussion at Attackpoint.

2. Scan the front page of Lidar basemaps for orienteering.

3. Download and install the QuickGrid software (a link is at the Lidar basemaps site).

4. Download some data from the Kansas GIS data site. I downloaded 3 square kilometers of Lidar 2006 bare earth for a park not so far from home.

5. Run the data through QuickGrid and you've got a decent looking 2 meter contour interval map (see above...with fancy colors turned on to make the image a little catchier). QuickGrid also lets you export the contours as DXF, which can be opened in OCAD.

Without actually going to the terrain to check it out, I can say that the contours look reasonable - certainly a bit better than the standard USGS topo.

Judging by the discussion at Attackpoint, there is probably more info one can get from the Lidar data if you're willing to spend the time learning more about it (and have some patience for working with computers and software).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:00 PM


Sunday, March 23, 2008

Computerized route choice


Check out the route choices on this course:

The routes were picked by computer software. Cool. The software to pick O' routes was a project by a guy named Oskar who was, at the time, a student at Stockholm University. Oskar wrote about it (in English!) and you can read about it here.

I think of this particular map as my home terrain. I lived at "Lappis" - the housing area near the fourth control - for about 3 years. I spent plenty of hours training on this map.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:11 PM


Saturday, March 22, 2008

Snow Stopping Orienteer


"Snow Stops Orienteering's First Event" was the headline in the Swedish newspaper.

When I saw the headline I figured there must be knee deep snow. Maybe more. It turns out there were, according to the competition leader, "in the competition area between 1 and 10 centimeters of snow."

I guess that wouldn't be "fair." But, Chopper wouldn't be impressed.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:17 PM


Friday, March 21, 2008

Auditing sports


I spend a bit of time each day at work checking out performance audit work from other audit shops. I like to see what other auditors are doing. Today I came across a performance audit from the U.K. National Audit Office that addressed the success of the UK's efforts to improve their performance for the Olympics.

You can read the press release (which includes a link to the final report).

I found it interesting to see what would happen when you point a bunch of government auditors at a national sports program.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:26 PM


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Minna's Tiny Map


Below is Minna Kauppi's tiny map:

...I had time in the afternoons to make a map around our hotel....The idea was to find as many chocolate eggs as possible by memorizing the controls one by one. The map was excellent, of course...

Tiny maps are one of my favorite subjects. Reminds me that I need to do some fieldwork on my latest tiny map of the park a couple of blocks from my office. Here is the base map:

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:33 PM


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What else? Process versus Outcome


I listened to a press conference with Bill Self while I was driving home from tonight's jog. Self said [roughly, I didn't write it down at the moment}:

You can tell a shot is a good shot the minute it leaves your hand. It doesn't mater if it goes in or not.

For the non-KU basketball fans out there, Self is talking about a shot in basketball and is making the point that the most important thing to judge is whether the shot was good rather than whether it went it the basket. Some good shots won't go in the basket. Some bad shots will. But over time, more good shots will go in compared to bad shots. As a basketball coach, you design your offense to get good shots. Process versus outcome.

Try this little experiment the next time you watch a basketball game. As soon as a player takes a shot, rate it as "good," "bad," on "not sure." It is a fun way to watch a game (if you're a real geek, write down your rating for each shot). You can come up with you're own criteria for "good" and "bad" - but basically, a bad shot is one from a long way away (especially just inside the 3-point line), closely guarded by a defender (especially a defender taller than the shooter), when the shooter is moving, and when no offensive players will have a chance to get a rebound. A good shot is the opposite.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:19 PM


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

More old stuff on blown leads


Just like television shows, sometimes I do a re-run. Here are a few previous posts related to the idea of safe leads:

I've looked at:

How often does an orienteer with a lead going into the last kilometers of a race ends up slowing down or booming and losing the race.

How often the person in the lead with about ten minutes left in the course didn't win.

How fast people run on the way to the first control.

First leg results compared to final results

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:30 AM


Monday, March 17, 2008

Safe leads


I looked at some of the splits from the 2006 WOC in Denmark to see at what point in the race the eventual winner was in first place (and held that position).

Long Final: Lakanen took the lead and held it from the 16th control (72 minutes into a 105 minute race) and Simone Niggli took the lead and held it from the 11th control (60 minutes into an 81 minute race).

Middle Final: Holger took the lead from the 17th control (30 minutes into a 36 minute race) and Simone took the lead at the 20th control (32 minutes into a 34 minute race).

Sprint Final: Wingstedt took the lead at the next to last control (less than a minute left in the race) and Hanny Alston took the lead at the 7th control (7 minutes into a 13 minute race).

I didn't take a careful look at the qualification races, but I did notice that Simone won her long qualifying heat on the run in (coming from one second back at the last control).

It'd be fun to spend some time looking a bit more carefully at this, figuring out how often someone loses a lead (some years ago I looked at something related - how the race winners are placed by the first control).

This was all inspired by the latest basketball - yes, basketball; not baseball - article by Bill James. James developed a formula for determining when a lead in a basketball game becomes "safe."

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:08 PM


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Notes from today's basemap exploration


I spent some time today running around with the basemap for the JCCC sprint map. The plan is to begin fieldchecking next weekend and use the map at next December's pre-Trot event. A few notes I made after exploring...

Need to re-read the IOF sprint map standards;
How should we map the parking garages that look like a building from the downhill side and a parking lot from the opposite side?;
Consistently mapping the trees (some distinct, some scattered trees) will be tricky and won't mean much to an orienteer at speed;
Lots of art on campus - good point features;

See the photo below of one of the campus artworks. There is a running man on top of one of the buildings (if only he had a map in his hand).


With the NCAA tournament starting later this week, it is worth taking a look at Pomeroy's rankings (and poking around the entire site for lots of good data).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:33 PM


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Lessons from Tiger


Since golf is, as some people say, "the same sport as orienteering," I listened to NPR's radio story about Tiger Woods closely as I drove to work. A few comments caught my interest...

One of the things Tiger does better than others is catching things that are going wrong as soon as they start to go wrong.

Tiger seems to have his life in "balance."

When he was practicing, his father would yell racial epitaths at him and throw golf tees at him. The idea was that by distracting him, he'd teach him to focus.

Tiger said that he realized that even if he didn't have the physical skills, he could become tougher and out think his competitors.

You can listen to the story at NPR.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:34 PM


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sprint Quickroute


Here's the Quickroute from yesterday's sprint O' session. I figured this would challenge the GPS a bit - running under/through a couple of buildings and along the edges of some tall buildings. Sure enough, you'll see the track go completely wrong for controls 6 through 9. I wonder if one of the newer GPS would do a better job. I've got a Garmin Forerunner 201. I think the newer Garmin Forerunners are supposed to deal with sketchy reception better.

I ran at an honest effort for the first 10 minutes (to control 11), then jogged easily to control 21. I skipped 22 because there's a bit construction area on the line to 22. The construction is related to a new football facility.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:02 PM


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lundane's web page - worth a look


Olav Lundanes' web page is worth a look (even if you can't manage the Norwegian). Lundane's was born in 1987, so he's a first year senior. He's already got one WOC appearance and 9 JWOC medals.

A glance at his training page shows a lot of training and a steady increase in volume and, in particular, O' technique training.

In 2002/2003 he trained 377 hours with 52 hours of O' technique.

In 2006/2007 he'd almost doubled his training to 645 hours and nearly tripled his O' technique to 149 hours.

He's got a page about mapping where we learn that he first started fieldchecking as an 11 year old (drawing the map with "Paint"). The page shows clips of 10 maps he did some fieldwork for since 2002.

Lots of training. Lots of O' technique. Lots of mapping. Seems like a good way to become a good orienteer.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:07 PM


Monday, March 10, 2008

Strange terrain


Tom's Quickroute from the LBJ Grasslands in Texas:

Tom described the terrain like this,

LBJ has the absolute worst vegetation I have ever run in. It's not bad in the sense that you aim for rocks when falling. However, there are thorns and briers everywhere. White forest is slow and dark green is generally hell.

I'll take Tom's word for it, but the map is interesting to look at.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:59 PM


Sunday, March 09, 2008

How pigeons train


I've been reading Pigeons by Anderw Blechman and got inspired to learn a bit about how pigeons train to race. A quick look at wikipedia turned up this:

...As the birds grow older, they become stronger and smarter and are therefore allowed to fly further and further away from their home loft....As confident flyers, the young pigeons are taken on progressively longer 'training tosses', driven a distance away from their home and released. This is like the format of a real race, however on a much smaller scale and it is usually not timed in the same way as a race. This practice of loft flying and tossing continues throughout a pigeon's career.

Training methods are as varied as the pigeons themselves. Lots of fanciers believe their system is the secret to their success and guard these hard learned lessons closely; most will tell you of their basic strategy but few will share the details of their success. One of the most popular systems is widowhood. This system uses motivation to try to give the bird a sense of urgency on race day. The use of widowhood is usually begun by first allowing the racer to raise a baby in their nest box. After the baby is weaned the hen is removed and often the nestbox is closed off, from then on the only time these birds are allowed to see their mate or enter the nest box is upon returning from training or a race. This conditioning is one of the key elements in a lot of racing programs.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:52 PM


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Blue and Gray Quickroute


My route from today's local event at Blue and Gray.

The yellow track is where I was moving fastest. The blue/black track is where I was moving slowest.

You need to know a few things about Blue and Gray (aka Black and Blue Park) to understand some of the route choices. First, the park is heavily used by horses. As a result, the trails are often quite rough. Second, the temp was a bit below freezing, so the hoof prints on the trails made the footing sketchy. Third, most of the forest is thick and thorny.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:19 PM


Friday, March 07, 2008

1991: A long race on an old map


I spent a few minutes looking at maps today and came across a course I ran in 1991. At the end of this course, I was as tired as I've ever been.

The race was on new years eve in Leksand. The course measured about 16.5 km (the map is 1:50,000) and there was enough snow on the ground to make running a chore.

The race finished at the O' club's clubhouse (I'm guessing it was Leksands OK). I remember sitting at a table to inhale a bowl of hot oatmeal and feeling so incredibly tired that I got off the chair, curled up on the wood floor, and fell asleep. Later that day, I crawled into bed to take a nap...I woke up 14+ hours later. I was tired. Really tired.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:43 PM


Thursday, March 06, 2008

More advice from a wise orienteer


I psych up my mind by doing the following:

(a) for all races I make note of my race errors. They now boil down to the following causes: (1) did not read the control description; (2) did not check my compass; (3) stopped concentrating.

(b) the week before the event during the training camp I am writing down race strategies each evening from that day's training. Each training has a lesson.

(c) Every night I review the list which looks something like this: (1) read control descriptions; (2) concentrate on the map; (3) orient the map all the time; (4) do not run faster than you know where you are on the map....(5) drink water at all stops; (6) ignore all singing birds and beautiful views...; (7) run like "hell" from the last control.

(4) and (2) are probably the ones to think about most in my opinion.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:24 PM


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Some advice from a wise orienteer


A very good orienteer once said:

More and more I'm coming to realize that it is not how hard you train or how long, but simply HOW you train.

And then offered some specific thoughts about what it'd take for some younger orienteers to turn in some world class results...

...they have to: be willing to try; be willing to analyze and learn; spend a lot of time reading and working with maps; love maps; and be willing to listen.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:56 PM


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Last year's fashion


No time or inspiration to write...so I'll just post a snapshot from last year's U.S. Champs.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:25 PM


Monday, March 03, 2008

Spotting the gifted


From an interview with U.S. women's gymnastics coach Martha Karolyi (published in the NY Times "Play" magazine):

Can you tell a gifted gymnast from the beginning?

One of the tests that we have for little kids is to put them on the high beam and make them walk and run across. It's not a complicated movement, but immediately you see the fear factor. If you have a strong fear factor, you will never be a good gymnast.

I wonder if there is a good, simple test to spot good orienteers even when they have very little experience, perhaps when they've completed just one simple course. Obviously completing a simple course quickly is one indicator. I wonder if there are differences in what a first-time orienteer does immediately after finishing, or what they say about their race....

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:55 PM


Sunday, March 02, 2008

Benefits of being sick


I haven't run for a good 2 weeks while I get over being sick. I had my first workout today - not even half an hour, about half of it being low intensity technique work. I'm sure I've lost a bit of condition and starting up again feels a bit uncomfortable. But I'm hoping that being sick, and in particular taking 2 weeks off, will have some benefits:

1. My knee has been hurting since July. It has gradually improved, but I still have a bit of weakness each time I run. But, today the knee was fine. I'm cautiously optimistic that the time off did some good.

2. 2 weeks without training reminds me of how much fun training is. It reminds me that I shouldn't take being able to train for granted. That's a good reminder.

I'd trade #2 for avoiding the sickness. But, if the time off fixed the knee, I'd probably trade being sick for #1.

Mass start sprint O' race video

Check out some video of a mass start sprint race at Vasaloppet (big Swedish ski race).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:15 PM


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Google Map Street View Orienteering


Start: Lawrence City Hall
1: Street sweeper ("eagle"), north side of street
2: Street junction
3. Mural on building, west side of street
Finish: Driveway between houses, west side of street

You can "run" this course using the Google map "street view." In another browser window, open this Google map, click on "street view" and follow the course. Depending on your internet connection, this could be quick and easy or maddeningly slow.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:14 PM


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