Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Note from Thierry Gueorgiou at Oringen


“You can’t expect great days, can win with an average day”

Brent's notes from Thierry Gueorgiou's presentation at Oringen are worth a look.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:28 PM


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

WOC qualifying and my spreadsheet model


NOTE: the source I used to WOC results (the Worldofo.com WOC history) has some errors. The good news is that the US history from the last 6 WOCs is better than the Worldofo.com history. Boris caught the error and left a comment.

I used the same spreadsheet model that I put together yesterday to look at the US chances of qualifying for WOC finals. I ran 10,000 WOCs using the US "batting average" and counted how many US runners qualified for finals.

In 10,000 WOCs, the US had no qualifiers 4,858 times. The US had 1 qualifier 3,635 times. The best result was 5 qualifiers.

The point of this little exercise is to help me think about the US Team's WOC goals. Recall that those goals include qualifying for finals and beating Canada in the relays.

As I think about those goals, I wonder if qualifying for finals is (currently) too high a goal. In the near term, the US performance is probably going to leave us missing that goal almost half of the time (in the last 6 WOCs, we've had no qualifiers 3 times). Is that too ambitious? I'm not sure. Obviously a goal shouldn't be too easy to achieve. But, if it is too hard to achieve, I'm not sure it is a good goal either. Where is that line between too ambitious and not ambitious enough?

It seems to me that a goal should both inspire the runners and communicate to those of us who sit at home and cheer the teams on. A goal should also help figure out what to do next time - point us towards improvement.

On the other hand, it could very well be that the US could perform more like Canada (only 1,245 of the 10,000 spreadsheet WOCs resulted in no Canadian WOC finalists). In that case, having qualifiers for the final is much more achievable (and in the last 6 WOCs, Canada has always had at least one runner qualify for a final).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:42 PM


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some notes on qualifying for WOC finals


I took the "batting average" for the peer nations and made a spreadsheet model of a series of WOC qualifying races. As a reminder, the batting average is the chance that a runner from the peer nations will qualify for a final (I used the entire group rather than each individual nation for my spreadsheet). Overall, 8.5 percent of the opportunities to qualify result in qualifying for a final.

My spreadsheet showed a single WOC. At a single WOC there are 18 opportunities to qualify (3 men and 3 women in each discipline).

I ran my little model 1,000 times. 193 times, there were no qualifiers. 807 times there were between 1 and 6 qualifiers. In other words, in roughly 80 percent of the WOCs, a nation with a qualifying percent (i.e. batting average) of 8.5 percent will get at least one runner in a WOC final.

If you've read this far...I'm wondering why? I find this stuff interesting, but I can't imagine anyone else would...anyways, I think it raises some interesting questions for another day.

Panorama of the day

Here's an autostitch snapshot looking at the bridge over the Kaw in Lawrence.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:56 PM


Sunday, July 27, 2008

An old map


I was cleaning up the basement and came across an old book about mapping. It has a chapter on visibility, referring to how to interpret a contour map and figure out what you can see from a given spot. The map below is an example, with the shaded areas showing places you couldn't see from point A.

The book, from 1917, is Military Map Reading and Sketching Including Contouring by Major C.O. Sherrill.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:53 PM


Saturday, July 26, 2008

100 meter O' in Hong Kong


An email showed up a day or two ago with a link to a 100 meter O' race in Hong Kong:

Check out the video and lot of photos (and more video) at this blog from Hong Kong.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:36 PM


Thursday, July 24, 2008

WOC batting averages


I calculated "batting averages" for qualifying for WOC finals for the US and the peer nations. "Batting average" is the number of times each nation made a final (for the period of 2003-2008) divided by the number of opportunities to make a final.

Take 2008 as an example. There were qualifying races for the sprint, middle, and long finals. Each nation could enter 3 men and 3 women in each qualifying event. So there were 18 opportunities to make a final in 2008. If a nation had one man and one woman qualify for each discipline, that'd be 6 qualifiers. So the "batting average" is 6/18 = .333

I began by looking at the US and the peer nations as a group. The peer nations are Belgium, New Zealand, Portugal, Canada, Ireland, and Japan. The batting average for the entire group is .085

New Zealand has, by a good bit, the best batting average at .265

Here are the batting averages for the other nations:

USA .039
Belgium .069
Portugal .010
Canada .108
Ireland .010
Japan .098

My data source was the worldofo.com WOC historic results sorted by county.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:37 PM


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A look at Mats Troeng's Quickroute from today's race


Mats Troeng's Quickroute track from today's World Cup sprint in Sweden:

Looking at the track suggests Troeng had a good race. I don't see any strange routes or places he wasn't moving fast. Maybe he was moving a little bit slower than he'd want approaching 5 and on the way to 6. Maybe he was moving a little bit slower than he'd want in the middle of the leg to 11.

Looking at the results list, I was struck by how close the times are. Seven runners (including Troeng) are packed in the 8 seconds between 15:13 and 15:21.

Snapshot from today's trail run

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:17 PM


Monday, July 21, 2008

Jan Troeng's advice for peak performance


While Jan Troeng bikes across Europe he managed to pay a visit to the World Champs in the Czech Republic and he wrote a bit of advice (good, I'd say). Here's a rough translation:

Everyone wants to have the best race of their life at a World Champs final, but it is important to stick with your routines. Do as you usually do, and that is when you usually have your best performances. It is easy to say when your sitting at the table, but sometimes it is also easy to do in the forest.

I don't know Troeng, but I've enjoyed following travels. When I'm sitting at my desk at work and need a break, I open his page, check out his current progress, and read his latest adventures (today's he was trying to get a flat tire replaced). Then I go back to work feeling a bit envious, but also refreshed and ready to get back to work.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:33 PM


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Relay results versus the peer nations


The US went 6-4 against the peer nations in today's WOC relay. The women beat Canada. The men didn't.

Today's Bike Training Quickroute

I took my mountain bike out to Wyandotte Lake and did a lap of the park road. To make it a bit more interesting, Mary drew some control locations (the purple circles) and I read the map as I went, checking off the control features as I rolled by. It makes the ride a bit more interesting.

I use the MTB map holder from Axis Gear.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:13 PM


Saturday, July 19, 2008

How the US has fared against each of the peer nations


Here are the US win-loss records for each of the peer nations:

New Zealand 0-9
Belgium 3-10
Japan 5-12
Portugal 5-10
Canada 7-11
Ireland 9-7

Overall 29-59

The order of the peer nations based on the head-to-head wins and losses against the US in 2008 is similar to the list that UK Maprunner put together. His list (based on results from 2001-2007) would rank these nations:

New Zealand 1.2
Japan 0.5
Belgium 0.4
Canada 0.4
Portugal 0.2
Ireland 0.1

In UK Maprunner's list, the US fits between Canada and Portugal, with the US having a score of 0.2.

It'll be interesting to compare these two lists with the results of tomorrow's relay race.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:18 PM


Friday, July 18, 2008

Quickroute from last night's training


Here is my Quickroute track from a very short course I ran last night:

The course was from a beginner's clinic that PTOC hosted at Backwoods outdoor store. They had a great turnout - maybe 30 people.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:56 PM


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Versus the peer nations at the middle qualifier


The US went 9-22 in today's WOC middle qualifier.

2007: The US went 12-14
2006: The US went 7-25
2005: The US went 4-15

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:00 PM


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How did the US do versus peer nations in the long qualifier?


I took a quick look at the results from yesterday's long qualifier to see how the US did against the peer nations.

The US had a 16-13 record (i.e. 16 wins and 13 losses).

You might ask, "how does that compare to long qualifier races in recent WOCs?" The list below shows you:

2007: Ukraine: the US went15-10
2006 Denmark: the US went 10-19
2005 Japan: the US went 4-15

For the record, the peer nations I use are Belgium, New Zealand, Portugal, Canada, Ireland, and Japan.

I also came across an analysis of WOC results by nation and discipline that is worth a look.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:10 PM


Monday, July 14, 2008

A look at the long qualification model


Here is the model area for tomorrow's long distance qualification race at the WOC:

I guess it is obvious that being able to run well up and down the hills is going to be important. You'd expect some long legs with complicated route choice problems. I'd think some of the tougher controls will require crossing at an angle along a steep hillside (where the technique requires that you have a good feeling for dropping/climbing a certain number of lines). Another problem might be holding a line going through the rougher vegetation.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:37 PM


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Rough start against the peer nations


The US WOC got off to a rough start. Versus the peer nations, the US is 4-24. The peer nations are: Belgium, New Zealand, Portugal, Canada, Ireland, and Japan.

Competing against the peer nations isn't a team goal, but it is something I like to track.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:41 PM


Saturday, July 12, 2008

A look at the sprint model map


The sprint model map from the WOC:

First impression - lots of vegetation detail in the open area. Second impression - hmmm...nothing really.

The open park land looks like good terrain for some short legs with direction changes. That's the sort of terrain where it can be easy for a runner to skip a control.

The built up city terrain looks like good terrain for route choice (with maybe a control or two tucked in little alleys. I'd guess there will be a bunch of legs where the runners will have to decide which way to run around a building, but it won't really make a difference which route they select. But, there may also be a couple of legs where the route choice will matter. The trick for the runners could be to recognize the important route choice legs versus the unimportant route choice legs.

Do you like sprint orienteering?

Maria Joao Sa's blog looks - so far - like it'll be a place to visit on a daily basis throughout the WOC.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:08 PM


Thursday, July 10, 2008

US WOC goals


With the WOC just around the corner, I thought I'd dig out the WOC goals:

Here are our goals for the Team at WOC.

!. Have as many athletes qualify for as many A finals as possible.
2. Beat Canada in the relay.
3. For athletes who do not qualify for the A final in an event, get as close to 15th as possible (i.e. 16th is better than 20th is better than 25th....

We don't yet have goals for performance in the A finals because at this point we feel that meeting the goal of making an A final should not then be devalued by not meeting some additional goal in the A final. As we get better, this will change. We also don't yet have specific placing goals for the relay, though that also is coming.

I took a quick look at maprunner's WOC database to see how the US did in 2007 (though I don't know that the team had the same goals in 2007):

Qualify for finals:

The US had one qualifier in a final - the women's sprint.

Relays vs. Canada:

The women beat Canada; the men didn't.

Near qualifying:

The US had several near misses (places 16th through 19th) on the women's side. The men weren't as close (places from 23rd to 32nd).

The team has a blog that they've been updating. It is worth a look.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:08 PM


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

No O' today...but a Mongolian political update!


No orienteering today...instead, I've got an update on the Mongolian elections.

Oyuna, my "aunt" was quoted in yesterday's New York Times article on the elections (Oyuna is also known as Tsedevdama Oyungerel).*

“Poverty and corruption are eating away at our democracy,” said Tsedevdamba Oyungerel, a Stanford-educated politician who ran for Parliament but lost (though she did receive 10 male horses as gifts while campaigning in the countryside.)

“We made our democracy ourselves, we will defend it ourselves,” Oyungerel said. “I love democracy. I want to give this society to my children.”

Here is the complete article

* I think "aunt" is the best way to describe my relation to Oyuna. She's married to my step-mother's brother.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:19 PM


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Bummer...and bummer...


Olav Lundanes wrote that he's going to miss the WOC. It turns out he's in bad form. He blames it on a bit too hard and he had some illness. Bummer.

Lundanes trains a lot. You can see some details and graphs of his training on his page. Keep in mind that he was still a junior in the 2006/2007 season when he trained 645 hours.

Speaking of bummers...Jan Troeng made it from far northern Norway as far as Riga before his bike was stolen. He had it chained and in the stairwell of a hostel in Riga. That wasn't enough security and he woke up to find his bike gone. Bummer. Fortunately, he seems to have taken it in stride. He's bought himself a new bike and got back on the road.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:41 PM


Monday, July 07, 2008

"...but it was a short fat."


"I could not get it to vote - but it was a short fat."

That's a quote from a Danish JWOC runner run through Google translate. The original article is worth a look if you can read Danish. If you can't read Danish, you might try translating it using Google translate; be forewarned it isn't going to be especially easy to understand.

The gist of the article is that the juniors from Denmark have positive attitudes and approaches...and have had great results.

What caught my eye about the Danish article was, in part, the parallel to an article in yesterday's NY Times business section about what kind of employees tend to grow. Here's a quote:

“People who believe in the power of talent tend not to fulfill their potential because they’re so concerned with looking smart and not making mistakes. But people who believe that talent can be developed are the ones who really push, stretch, confront their own mistakes and learn from them.”

New Version of QuickRoute

I've been very happy with the first versions of QuickRoute - a software program for putting a GPS track on an image of an O' map.

I haven't yet tested the latest version, but I'm expecting it to be new and improved. You can download it here.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Trail run at Happy Jack


I started the day sitting in front of the TV, watching live coverage of today's TDF stage. I sipped a cup of coffee. I checked out the live heart rate data from the Polar cycling web page. During the commercial breaks, I glanced through the business section of the NY Times.

And while I was doing that, the temperature was rising.

When the TDF stage was over, we went out for a trail run. It would have been much more comfortable if we'd started a few hours sooner. But, I'm not complaining. Enjoying a cup of coffee and watching the bike race was a perfect way to start the day.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:35 PM


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Quick look at JWOC long course


The course looks fun and interesting, though I'm not a huge fan of starting off with short, tricky legs. I like the little loop (controls 7-13) to break up packs (and wonder if it worked). I also like to see a course that forces the orienteers to navigate the entire time. The orienteers on this course don't get to just run without thinking until the very end of the course.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:17 PM


Friday, July 04, 2008

Old and new maps - similar terrain but different mapping styles


I don't think I've ever run in the forest where the JWOC middle race took place. But, I've run in similar terrain around Goteborg. Here's a map from an IK Uven training back in....well, it doesn't really matter. It was a long time ago.

Below is a map from the JWOC middle. You can see the similarity in the structure of the terrain, but it is striking how different the maps look. The JWOC map has much more detail, in particular there is a lot of vegetation detail. That's consistent with the way O' mapping seems to be progressing.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 3:22 PM


Thursday, July 03, 2008

O' blog from Israel


Dan Chissick's orienteering blog is new and looks promising.

I know very little about orienteering in Israel. I've read an article or two in O-sport and looked at a few maps. Israel has one runner who's had some nice WOC results (and, if I remember correctly, just barely missed qualifying for several finals - just barely meaning seconds).

I'm looking forward to checking Chissick's blog on a regular basis.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:02 PM


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A dream come true


As I'm driving to work this morning I was thinking about the JWOC. "Too bad Maprunner hasn't put together a JWOC database just like the WOC results database."

My dream came true! Check out maprunner's JWOC database.

Mongolian election update

The returns are in and Oyuna lost by about 200 votes. I've heard rumors of recounts, but don't really know what is going to happen. If you go to Google news and search for "Mongolia election" you'll see that there is some controversy about the results. There has been some trouble in Ulan Bator.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:16 PM


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