Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Mary's Quickroute from the US Champs in Wyoming


Mary wore the Garmin FR at the US Champs in Wyoming. Here is her Quickroute track from the 2nd day.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:40 PM


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Spider webs in the forest


I'm planning to do some technique training in the forest that weekend. This time of year that means I'll running into a lot of spider webs. In anticipation, I've developed version 1.0 of my spider web scale:

0 = no spider webs in the forest

1 = a few spider webs but not enough to cause any distraction (not more than 2 or 3 webs per 10 minutes of running)

2 = enough spider webs to cause some distraction, if running on a trail you'd probably duck under a few webs (3-6 webs per 10 minutes of running)

3 = spider webs cause distraction, if running on a trail you'd pick up a stick or wave your hand ahead of you to keep the webs out of your face (10+ webs per 10 minutes of running)

4 = annoying, distracting, making running in the forest or on a trail frustrating unless you're waving a stick in front to break through the webs.

I'm hoping for level 2, I'm expecting level 3, I'm dreading level 4, and I'm dreaming of levels 0 or 1.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:51 PM


Monday, August 25, 2008

Urban mtb O'


Check out a part of the MTB WOC sprint course:

I've no idea how common it is to have a MTB orienteering course in an urban area. It looks fun. It looks like the kind of place where it'd be easy to have a head-on collision with another cyclist or a pedestrian.

I found the map here.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:22 PM


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why so little MTB orienteering?


Neither the US nor Canada have any entries at the mountain bike WOC and JWOC. No surprise. As best I can tell there is very little mountain bike orienteering in North America. I'm guessing that most of the mountain bike orienteering that takes place in North America happens as part of an adventure race.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 3:32 PM


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dropping the baton


Both US 4 x 100 meter relay teams were disqualified when they dropped the baton. I watched the races on TV a couple of nights ago.

Exchanging the baton looks easy. I'm sure it isn't. I'm sure that the timing is tricky, that grabbing and holding on to the baton is tricky, and that doing it all in an Olympic setting makes it all harder. Still, it seems like such a basic part of the race. It must be something that any Olympic sprinter has done hundreds of times in races and practices. It feels like an inexcusable mistake, even if you know it is difficult to do well.

You've got to feel for the runners involved.

Watching the races on TV, I had the same sort of feeling as I did following the WOC, specifically, the US team at the sprint qualifying race. To refresh your memory, 3 of the 6 US runners DQ'd (one mispunched and 2 skipped a control).

Going to the right control is such a basic part of the sport. It must be more difficult than it would seem, I guess. Emil Wingstedt made the same mistake in the final, skipping a control.

Still, as a spectator/fan, it is disappointing. I feel a bit harsh for writing it, but skipping a control just shouldn't happen. A surprising number of people skip controls in sprint races. It is a well known risk. In the WOC it was especially easy to see the risk. In fact, the day before the sprint race, I looked at the model map for a few minutes and wrote:

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.

It was in the park land that all 3 US runners had trouble.

Sitting at the computer and following the WOC online, it felt disappointing. Skipping a control just shouldn't happen. And it shouldn't happen to experienced orienteers (the 3 DQ'd US runners have 56 WOC races among them; and are among the 11 most experienced US WOC runners).

You've got to feel for the runners involved.

I think (and hope) that these sort of mistakes - dropping batons or skipping controls - are easily fixed. The sort of mistake that you make once and learn from it.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:14 PM


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Photo or map?


I like how this landscape photo looks like an O' map.

The photo is one of the environmental photos of the year.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:42 PM


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pavement-only orienteering


For tonight's training the rule was that you had to run on pavement only. It made the route choices interesting. It was fun, though my legs feel a bit sore.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:52 PM


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

World Meeting - ahead of the times


Back in the late 1980s/early 1990s IFK Sodertalje held something called the "World Meeting." They were trying to make the sport more professional and more spectator and TV friendly. Here is the map from the 1991 World Meeting:

The race was a 3-leg relay. I remember watching the start. The first leg runners ran along a road, preceded by a car (or was it a truck?) with a TV camera on it. My memory is a big foggy on the details, but I think they had a big-screen TV screen at the start/finish area.

The race was the first time I ran on a map drawn on a computer. The boulders weren't quite round. As you ran and looked at the map, the boulders gave the impression of being little buildings.

Another memory - the unusual finish chute. From the last control to the finish line you didn't do a straight shot. Instead, the finish chute turned left and climbed up a little hill, then turned around and went back down the hill, and then you had to leap over barrier and water (a bit like a steeple chase) just before the line. I have a dim memory of someone (Annika Zell?) falling in the water just before the finish.

Looking at the 1991 results, I find that I ran on IFK Lidingo's 3rd team with Rolle Gricksas and Erik Gyllenstierna. I remember a few hesitations and taking a few extra-safe routes but having a pretty good run. We finished 67th, 23 minutes (ouch!) behind Halden SK (which had a really strong team, anchored by Petter Thoresen). It is fun to look at the old results. I don't think I looked at them back in 1991. I see, for example, that I had a long fork. So while Thoresen beat me by almost 9 minutes, I had a good bit longer fork (8.73 K versus 9.01 K). I like to think those extra 280 meters would have given Thoresen some trouble.

If you can read Swedish, check out the page with reports from all 3 World Meetings.

More fake tilt-shift

The view out my window at work

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:48 PM


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Garden O' course


Kart Bosse designed a little park orienteering course on a photograph of the garden of an Italian castle.

The text on the photo gives two alternatives for the competition: (1) jumping over the hedges is allowed; (2) jumping over the hedges is prohibited.

Here's the original Swedish article from Kart Bosse.

The map reminds me a bit of corn maze orienteering.

"Fake tilt-shift photo"

Here's a snapshot from the roof of our hotel. If you want technical details, Google "fake shift photo" and you should be ab

And for some real tilt-shift photos, check out Vincent Laforet's page, look for "sports" and then "Play Magazine" and you'll find some striking tilt-shift images.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:57 AM


Saturday, August 16, 2008

At the beach


We went to the beach today. That's Mary (in the red jacket) and her sister Susan.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 3:55 PM


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Looking at maps from Italy


I spent a few minutes looking at training maps for next year's JWOC in Italy. Just looking at this map makes my legs tired.

I also like this little map:

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:53 PM


Monday, August 11, 2008

4 Types of Orienteers


Putting the last two days' posts together, you can think about an orienteer and how they look back and forward. You can categorize them as tending to look at mistakes or tending to look at success. You end up with four "types"...

1. Hyper optimists look at what they did well and imagine what they are going to do well in the future.

2. Hyper pessimists look at what they screwed up and imagine what they might screw up in the future.

3. Most of us look at the mistakes we made and imagine that we won't make those mistakes next time.

4. Some of us look at what we did well and imagine what mistakes we might make in the future.

Keep in mind these are all tendencies. Very few - if any - orienteers fit one and only one of these types.

I think - without any solid evidence - that the 4th type (focusing on what went well in the past and worrying about what could go wrong next time) can be a more effective approach than focusing on analyzing past errors and visualizing future success (the 3rd type).

As an experiment of one, I forced myself to spend as little time as possible trying to learn from my mistakes. Instead, I spent that time trying to understand what I was doing when things went well. It is an interesting exercise - pick a leg that went well and try to figure out exactly why it went well. Why didn't you make a parallel error? Why didn't you hesitate? When didn't you get stressed and lose concentration? I started this experiment of one a good 20 years ago. I don't really know if it worked or not, but it seems to suit my way of thinking.

I could write more...but, once again, it is time to watch some more Olympics on TV - beach volleyball tonight.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:45 PM


Sunday, August 10, 2008

What happens when orienteers look forward?


Yesterday, I wrote a few observations about how orienteers look back at what they've done in a race. Today, I thought I'd write a few observations about how orienteers tend to look ahead to upcoming races.

With the US Champs as an example, I'm guessing that if you stood around the model and talked to people about what they expected for the races, you'd hear things like this:

"This is a great map. Mikell Platt is a good mapper."

"You really feel the altitude when you go up a hill, even just a little hill."

"The green isn't really green, you can run right through it without slowing down."

In the evening before the race, some of the competitors would almost certainly spend some time "visualizing" the next day's race. They'd imagine themselves having a clean race (good "flyt") and feeling strong.

Assuming my generalizations are right (it is based on nothing more than un-systematic observation of orienteers), it seems to me that when orienteers think about upcoming races then tend to do two things:

1. Think about the quality of the map and get a general sense of the terrain.
2. Mentally prepare themselves by anticipating a good race and the feeling of a good race.

Of course, this is an over generalization.

What I find interesting is that when looking back, many of us think about what went wrong, but when looking forward, many of us think about what will go right.

I've got a few more thoughts about this, but I'm going to stop writing and watch some more of the Olympics on TV. Up next - a sport I've never seen on TV before - trap shooting.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 2:36 PM


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Orienteering and loss aversion


Today was the first day of the US O' Champs and I bet that if you stood at the finish line and asked everyone "how was it?" you'd hear:

1. Something like, "I lost 5 minutes, I went to the boulder, but it was the wrong boulder. I relocated and tried to attack the control again but was hesitant and lost some more time."

2. Something like, "The long leg was interesting. I think, I took the best route."

If you counted, you'd probably hear the first sort of comment (disappointment about mistakes) a lot more than the second (satisfaction with something that went well).

A few years ago I did that as an experiment. I asked finishers, "how did it go?" I didn't keep a count, but I remember only one person (of maybe a dozen) didn't emphasize their errors.

Loss aversion is the idea that people tend to feel a loss more strongly than a gain. I think that is what is going on. An orienteer feels upset about losing time, but doesn't value the time that they didn't lose. Of course, it also has something to do with measurement. It is pretty easy to figure out how much time you lost. It is a lot harder to figure out how much time you could have lost but didn't.

I have some more thoughts I ought to write about loss aversion and how orienteers spend so much time and energy analyzing what they did wrong. But, I think I'll go watch a bit of the Olympics on TV instead.

Sprint O' Technique Video

He missed an important tip - always go to the next control.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 2:16 PM


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Lidar - revolution for orienteering mapping


I came across some discussion of lidar and orienteering maps on the forum at OPN.NO. Among other things, I learned that they're using lidar as basemap material for at least some of the 2010 World Champs maps. I also learned that in Norway they use the term laser-scanning rather than lidar.

Havard Tviete - famous Norwegian orienteer and O' map geek - wrote (roughly translated):

For the base to be used for the World Champs in Trondheim we reached the conclusion that 1.25 meter contour interval was good. You want to have as much information as possible but it is also important that the basemap is readable. After checking the basemap in Trondheim, I'm convinced that basemaps from lidar are a revolution for orinteering mapping.

The discussion over at OPN.NO includes a link to materials from a O' mapping conference last year. Here's a link to the mapping conference materials. I don't have the time (or energy) to translate, but if you're interested in lidar for O' maps, poke around and you'll find some interesting materials.

The image below is from the mapping conference and shows a comparison of the existing orienteering map (5 meter contours) and a lidar basemap (1.25 meter contours). The purple circles show cliffs based on the basemap.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:09 PM


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

US v peer nations 2005-2008


I found my spreadsheet that summarizes US wins-losses against peer nations for each of the individual qualifying races at World Champs from 2005-2008.*

A few things you might notice:

The worst record was in Japan. That was also the smallest number of head-to-head match ups. Most peer nations sent fewer runners to Japan than normal. Just a guess, those who went tended to be a bit stronger.

The best record was in Ukraine. With just a quick glance at the 2007 results, what stands out is good records against Japan (11-3) and Canada (12-6).

The record from 2008 (28-60) is the second best of the 4 results. But, as a fan following the WOC, it didn't feel like that. It felt a bit disappointing. It felt like the team could have - even should have - done better.

It looks like the long qualifying races have been the discipline where the US tends to do best against the peer nations.

*I haven't done any "QA" on the data entry.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:50 PM


Monday, August 04, 2008

Team cohesiveness and relay results


I came across an academic study that looks at how relay teams (in 4 x 400 meter races) perform and how the make up of the team affects how well the teams perform.

Here is a quote from the conclusion:

These results suggest that greater disparity in team member quality increases NCAA relay team times, which suggests the existence of negative peer effects. These negative peer effects can arise because of free-riding or shirking, but could also arise from other non-monetary reasons such as jealousy or mistrust. This is important for coaches to be aware of as to maximize the performance of a relay team. The results support the existing literature, as similar evidence already has also been shown in other sports such as baseball. The results are also supportive of the team cohesiveness hypothesis, which states that greater wage (quality) disparities within a team can decrease team production.

You can find a link to "Shirking in Relay Teams" at this UT-Arlington economics page.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:17 PM


Sunday, August 03, 2008

A few notes on goals


I've been thinking a bit about goals. Nothing concrete, but I thought I'd put down a few random thoughts:

1. One of the Olympic diving coaches was talking about something he called the "50 percent rule." The US could realistically have 6 medal chances, so a good Olympics would be to get 50 percent of that.

2. All of the US WOC goals are outcome goals. I think there is some room for process goals. But, that might be just me.

3. Personally, I like the idea of using the peer nations to set some performance goals. I can imagine a US WOC team having a goal of improving the win-loss record compared to the last couple of WOCs. Using head-to-head win-loss records has some nice features (like it counts everyone who starts a race and it means a runner has a chance to help the team as a whole even if they make a boom that would knock them out of contention for qualifying for a final). But, using the peer nations has a huge disadvantage....nobody (except me) cares about it. Goals that nobody cares about are pretty much worthless.

That's enough for now.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:14 PM


Friday, August 01, 2008

Hudson Valley...more than just good orienteering


There's more than just good orienteering in the Hudson Valley. There's also good eating. Mary came across a news story with my brother consulting on some scone making at "boot camp." Mmmmm....orange and cranberry scones.....

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:34 PM


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