Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Monday, June 30, 2008

JWOC sprint course - a quick look


The JWOC sprint map gave is worth a few minutes of map study.

Three things struck me immediately when I looked at the courses (the map above in the M20 course). First, the course looks to be designed for the runners rather than for spectators. I've gotten so used to seeing courses designed with spectators in mind that it seems almost odd to see a course without looping through the start/finish area. Second, the terrain looks interesting - a nice mix of urban orienteering and some bits of forest mixed in. Third, the course setter didn't test the classic sprint O' challenge - skipping a control. Lots of sprint courses have a control or two that would be very easy to skip, like a short leg that is in a direct line with a longer leg. This course setter didn't set a leg like that (which is, I think, a good thing).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:22 PM


Sunday, June 29, 2008

Can team mates make you better?


In the work that you do, can your co-workers make you more productive or less productive?

That's a question I came across today (on, of all places) billjamesonline.net. That question came to mind as I was watching some of the U.S. Olympic Track and Field selections. The U.S. selection process is simple - have a race and the top 3 make the team.

But, I was wondering how often - if ever - does the selection process result in picking someone who actually pulls down the team performance. It is probably quite rare. Rare because the athletes are quite good and know how to perform at their best when it really matters. Rare because the Olympic coaches are probably good at managing interactions and maximizing "productivity."

And the other question becomes - how often does the selection process result in picking someone who pulls up (or pushes up or whatever the expression should be) the team performance? It might be often. You'd hope that top athletes would have, among their other attributes, the ability to help their teammates perform well. And coaches should have some abilities to help the athletes help each other.

I think some national O' teams pay attention to these issues. I remember reading about some "team building" camps for the Norwegian national team. Perhaps some of the pre-selections (i.e. selecting specific runners well before having selection races) is motivated by an expectation that it improves the overall team performance.

By the way, the Billjamesonline.net poll current results are:

75% (a) of course
14% (b) only a little bit
11% (c) not really

Only a few people (36) have voted.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:35 PM


Friday, June 27, 2008

Czech sprint course


A sprint course from the Czech Republic. The course was being used for selection races for Finland. A handful of runners from some other nations also show up in the results list.

The course looks interesting. The copy of the map is a bit hard to read. I can't tell, for example, how you could get to control 10. It looks like it is entirely surrounded by out-of-bounds or buildings.

When I looked at the results list a name caught my eye - Michela Guizzardi. I don't know why the name is familiar. Maybe it is just my imagination. I'd better Google it and see.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:05 PM


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Old night O' course


I think this might have been the first night O' course I ever ran. I ran the course in September 1983.

Tom Hollowell and Anders Bjorklund made the map.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:03 PM


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

National O' philosophies


Do different nations' national teams have different philosophies?

I was listening to an interview with someone in management of the KC Royals baseball team and he was talking about the development of some of their young players. He said that the first thing they did with young players - pitchers specifically - was to help them learn and understand the team's philosophy of pitching.

When I heard that, I wondered about orienteering team philosophies. I think different teams probably have different philosophies, but I've got no idea what those might be. Is there a Norwegian team philosophy? Is it different from the French team philosophy?

There certainly seem to be some broad general approaches to training and those general approaches seem to differ in different nations. I think I've written about a "typical Norwegian training model" for example.

A year or so ago I translated something comparing Swedish, Norwegian and Czech training approaches.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:52 PM


Monday, June 23, 2008

Norwegian WOC team ages


I came across the list of orienteers running for Norway in the WOC and took a quick look at the ages of the runners.

As best I can tell, the runners ages are: 21, 22, 23, 25, 25, 27, 27, 28, 28, 30, 32, and 33. That makes a median of 27 and an average of just under 27. I think that is more or less the normal for a WOC team (see some info from 2003, for example).

When I first saw the list, it struck me as a young team. That's because they've got 3 runners who are 23 or under (Elise Egseth, Ingun Weltzein, and Olav Lundanes).

Mongolian Election News

Just one week left until the Mongolian elections. I'm hoping Oyuna will do well.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:00 PM


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Look ahead


The in-car camera in Elliot Sadler's race car today showed a bit of orange tape stuck to the dash with the text - "Look Ahead."

I wonder what's the equivalent to tape on the dashboard for an orienteer? I've seen people writing messages to themselves on their hands. I guess you could tape something to your compass.

"Look ahead" would seem to be a good reminder for an orienteer. "Read the map." I wonder what other good, short messages would be good.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:47 PM


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Today's trail race


Here is the QR track of Mary's trail race this morning. The race started on the west edge of the map. This was a trail race, no map reading, just follow the marked trails.

While you didn't need a map - and the trails are newer than the map, so the trails aren't even shown on the O' map - I carried the map and kept track of my progress.

The photo is from www.seekcrun.com

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:56 PM


Friday, June 20, 2008

Mountain bike crash....delayed effect


A couple of days ago I was trail riding on my mountain bike and crashed. I was going up a short hill but didn't carry much speed into it. I spun my back wheel at the top, lost momentum and tipped over before I could unclip my feet from the pedals.

Fortunately, when I tipped I ddin't land on anything hard or sharp and didn't do any damage. Mostly I just felt a bit stupid.

A day or so later, the delayed effect hit me. When I fell over, I'd been exposed to oo-roo-shee-ohl - that is, urushiol. Urushiol is the chemical in poison ivy. When I fell off my bike I'd landed in a patch of poison ivy. How annoying. I suppose I should be thankful that I don't have a severe reaction.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:21 PM


Thursday, June 19, 2008

But can you teach someone to navigate?


But can you teach someone to navigate?

That's a good question. I guess the easy answer is - yes, but there might be some natural "talent" involved, too.

One reason it is so hard to learn to navigate is that it is so hard to "feel" what a better navigator is doing. How does Thierry Gueorgiou think? What does it feel like to navigate the way he does for a leg?

It is a lot easier to get a sense of what it feels like to run like Gueorgiou. You can get an idea by running really fast through the forest. You probably can't hold his pace for very long, but for a short distance you can get a feeling for his speed.

But what does it feel like to look at a map, make the navigation decisions, and then follow through like a World Champion? That's a lot harder to get an understanding of.

Because it is hard to understand how a better navigator thinks and feels, it is harder to figure out how to get to that level.

I suspect the same issue makes it hard to reach your potential in any activity that relies on something going on inside the brain.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:03 PM


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Jan Troeng Bikes Across Europe


Jan Troeng bikes across Europe - worth a look.

Click on "planerad rutt" to get an idea of Troeng's big trip. He's carrying a GPS that updates his progress regularly. When he's on the road, you can see where he is and how fast he's moving.

I think I'll be checking on Troeng's progress each day. It'll be a nice break from work to call up the page and spend a minute or so day dreaming about being on an adventure.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:48 PM


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"...why we can never understand the world."


I'm not sure what it has to do with orienteering, but I like this quote from Bill James:

The human mind is damned to see cause and effect in everything that happens. This is why we can never understand the world.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:35 PM


Monday, June 16, 2008

Looking at some old results


Here is a bit of a result list from a national championship for juniors:

1st YG 42:58
18th AH 51:10
28th AK 53:50
65th (last) SL 76:24

If all you had to go on was the results list, you probably wouldn't guess that two of those runners AH and AK...Arja Hannus and Annichen Kringstad...would go on to become world champions.

The entire results list is on the web here. There are some other well known names on that list (and probably a few well-known names I don't recognize). The results are from the 1977 Swedish Champs. You can find more results and maps from those races here.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:49 PM


Sunday, June 15, 2008

A fast run at Jukola


One of the many exciting moments for those of us sitting at home following Jukola on the internet was when Marius Bjugan from Halden was chasing on the 5th leg. He started in 8th place, 5:10 behind the leaders and about 30 seconds behind the nearest team. He smoked the course, pulling Halden up to 4th place and cutting the lead to 3:19. Jukola had good video coverage from the forest and when Bjugan ran through the video, it looked like he was moving faster than the other top runners (which might just have been my imagination fueled by the announcers reports that he was making up time).

I sat down today and pulled up the GPS tracks of top runners from Jukola and was a bit surprised to see this rather sloppy mistake by Bjugan.

It looks like the sort of mistake that a lot of us might make - on the correct route to a forked control, then maybe catch a glimpse of a runner on another fork, lose confidence and head to the wrong control, and finally correcting the mistake and going back to the right control. At least that is what the error looks like from the track.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:21 PM


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Climate change - What are the implications for orienteering?


Climate change - What are the implications for orienteering?

An email arrived today posing that question and linking to some news from the USGS about forecast changes in climate conditions and the implications for habit suitability for Burmese Pythons! Apparently, some of these snakes - make that BIG snakes - are in the Florida Everglades.

If you're really interested, check out the press release from USGS.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:50 PM


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

25 year old computer drafted map


Here's a computer drafted O' map from 1983:

I found the map in an old O' magazine hidden in a box in my basement.

Jim Wolfe (from Indiana University of Pennsylvania O' Club) wrote about his map. He started by transferring base maps to graph paper at a large scale, then assigned a coordinate system to the graph paper and entered the coordinates into the computer. He notes, "getting the coordinates would have been fairly easy if the IUP computer ceenter had a digitizer. It didn't."

After creating the coordinates and writing a simple program to tell a plotter how to draw the map, "it only took the plotter about 45 minutes to draw a new working map."

Reading the story makes me wonder what we'll think 25 years from now about printing OCAD files on desktop printers. I wonder how mapping will change over the next 25 years.
Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:50 PM


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Head to head against Aspleaf


Aspleaf posted his map from Jukola 1991. I have lots of good memories from that race. So, I clicked on his map to take a closer look. It turns out Aspleaf and I went head to head (though we had different forks and may have had different legs (the 4th and 5th legs were forked). Here's my map:

I had a very nice run - passing more teams than passed me and bringing us up to 30th place. It was definitely one of my better runs.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:55 PM


Monday, June 09, 2008

Finnish collection of maps and routes


I came across a collection of Finnish O' maps with GPS routes. You can find lots of interesting maps and routes. As best I can tell GPS-Tracking is a small company in Finland that provides tracking to orienteering and other sports events.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:33 PM


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Quickroute from Stoll Park sprint


I ran a sprint at Stoll Park today. Here's the QR:

I thought the leg 1-2 was interesting for a sprint course - three routes to look at. I don't know which route is fastest.

I was confused within the circle at 3. I thought the marker would be on the little stream. When I got to the stream I didn't see a marker. I looked around a bit, thinking it might be tucked behind a tree. Then I read the description and realized it was at the vegetation boundary.

Control 6 was a bit sketchy. You can see from the QR where the control actually sat.

12 was not hung in the right place and the map was a bit sketchy in the area. I spent about 4 minutes looking around for it.

It looks to me like it took a bit of time to get back up to speed after each control. More time than I'd have thought or wanted. That might be something to work on.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:03 PM


Friday, June 06, 2008

"Back in the day, we were tough"


Here is a quote comparing how training used to be compared to how it is now:

...were tougher then...were inclined to run more often....today [they] just don’t have the stamina in many instances.

Sounds like comparing current orienteers to someone like Jorgen Martensson (who was, of course, known for incredible volumes of tough training). Actually, the quote is comparing how race horses trained in the 1970s compared to today.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:15 PM


Thursday, June 05, 2008

The world is weird


I came across this quote and thought it was interesting:

The world is weird in ways we don’t appreciate and don’t like to acknowledge.

The first step is to acknowledge it is weird, step back and try to collect and list how it is weird, and only then try to come up with some coherent explanations for a bunch of things at once.

Not sure how to relate it to orienteer. Maybe - Orienteers are weird in ways...? Or maybe - Orienteering is weird in ways....?

The quote is from an guy named Robin Hanson, an economist. He's talking about how to try to understand something that you don't understand. I like the idea of trying to describe before trying to explain. That's one reason I try to spend time looking at how people actually train in addition to listening to people explain how they think others should train.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Who will win the Euro Champs in Soccer?


I don't have any idea. But, I came across a Swiss guy who is studying how people think and make predictions. You can help him out even if, like me, you know next to nothing about European soccer/

*** Who will be the European champion in 2008? An online study ***


This is a short online study (15 - 20 minutes) about how people predict outcomes in the context of football (soccer). Everybody can participate; this study is explicitly not just for people who are interested or an expert in football.

You can optionally request (a) feedback on your prediction strategy and (b) additional information about this study (once it is completed).

This study is run by Stefan Herzog (University of Basel, Switzerland) and is non-commercially oriented, i.e. its data is solely used for scientific purposes and is treated confidentially.

Please visit: http://phpserver.psycho.unibas.ch/em2008/

Thank you very much for participating!

Stefan Herzog, M. Sc.
Cognitive and Decision Sciences
University of Basel

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:21 PM


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Long term thinking


There is some discussion over at Swampfox's log about, of all things, actuaries and government accounting standards. It doesn't really matter what the details of the discussion are, but it got me thinking about long term thinking. Governments making decisions about future pension expenditures are a bit like orienteers trying to figure out how best to train. It can be hard to think long-term. There are lots of pressures to think short-term.

Goverments try to encourage long-term thinking by requiring independent analysis and requiring that long-term costs get reported in the financial statements.

I guess the way orienteers try to force long-term thinking is to create a training plan, have a coach or adviser taking a look at your training, follow a standard approach to training, and develop some clear long-term goals. It'd probably help to make those goals and plans as public as possible (putting some peer pressure on you to stick to your plans).

Maybe there are some other good ways to force yourself (or someone you coach) to think long-term...a topic for more thought.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:28 PM


Monday, June 02, 2008

Grading system version 1.2


I spent some time scoring a month of training for a couple of orienteers who log their training on Attackpoint. In the process, I decided on changing my system for scoring training.

The current system (version 1.2) is:

A run or alternative training session = 1 point
Navigation = 1 point
Hills = 1 point
Running fast = 1 point
Running in the terrain = 1 point
Any workout of at least 110 minutes = 1 point

No more than 2 points/day for alternative training.
An O' race is 5 points (regardless of the terrain or hills).
No more than 10 points/day.

What is the point? Well, the point is to have a way of taking a systematic look at someone's training log as a tool for understanding how someone trains. It is a compliment to my favorite tool for looking at training, a set of questions (see H is for Hammer and Kim Fagerudd's training and How Does Samantha Train?.

One of the things I like about the grading system is that it doesn't really measure the volume of training. Obviously, the amount someone trains is both interesting and important. But, it is so easy to measure that it can be hard to see what else is going on with someone's training. Maybe the grading system will help see beyond the volume.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:41 PM


Sunday, June 01, 2008  

Mary came across this old photo today.

It is from a race called the Trans-Atlantic Cup and the year is, as best I remember, 1986. The Trans-Atlantic Cup was a short lived (2 or 3 events, I think) series between national teams from Canada, US, England and (I think) Ireland. I ran in 1984 and 1986. In 1984, the race was near Boston. In 1986, the race was at Dartmoor, England. I've no idea if there were any other events.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:45 PM


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