Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Have to make the trip at least once in a lifetime


"What would be your top 5 "have to make the trip at least once in a lifetime" type races?"

That's a topic over at Mary's log on Attackpoint.

Without giving it much thought. My top 5 include 3 that I've already done:

Oringen Swedish 5-Days - 10,000+ orienteers. Nice weather (if you're lucky). Nice terrain (if you're lucky).

Tio Mila - ideally you're running a night leg. Cruddy weather makes it an extra special experience. (Jukola is runner-up).

Forested sand dune terrain
- it doesn't make much difference where you run on this stuff. It is fun.

Here are the 2 that I haven't (yet!) done:

Venice Street O' - Amazing setting. The orienteering looks interesting and challenging.

Czech Sandstone terrain - sort of like Venice without the tourists and water (i.e. Amazing setting with good orienteering).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:46 PM


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Comparing Lidar base to the old O' map


Here is a comparison of the old orienteering map and the Lidar map I wrote about yesterday. We fieldchecked the old map a long time ago (1988-89, I think). The basemap we used was from the US Corps of Engineers. My memory is that it had 10 foot contour intervals. The quality was good.

For anyone interested in Lidar, I would encourage you to download a couple of the free software tools that let you look at the data (Quickgrid and Global Mapper are the ones I've used), find some data, and see what you can do. I don't know much about finding data, but there is plenty of free data to download at the Kansas geodatabase catalog (look for bare earth data under "elevation" and use it to make contours in Quickgrid).

Here is everything I've written about Lidar.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:41 AM


Friday, December 26, 2008

An experiment with a Lidar basemap


Here is a low effort/high tech basemap I put together yesterday.

I downloaded Lidar bare earth data and created the contours at 2.5 meter contour interval. I ran the trails wearing a little GPS and put in the trails from the GPS. I used Lidar-based DEMs (digital elevation models?) to get the stream beds (an example below shows a bit of the DEM).

I described this as a low effort/high tech basemap. Low effort means not a lot of time. Downloading and converting the Lidar contours took maybe 20 minutes. Exploring the area with the GPS and taking a few notes took maybe 80-90 minutes (the area is 1K). I put in about 45 minutes of time drafting (mainly the trails and adding the stream beds).

If you're familiar with local O' maps, you should recognize the map as part of the old Rockcrusher map on the south shore of Clinton Lake.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 11:24 AM


Monday, December 22, 2008

More indoor orienteering


Another indoor orienteering map and video from Estonia.

You can find maps with courses and results here.

Sprint Course Setting Advice

If you haven't taken a look at the Google moderator page for advice on course setting for urban sprints, check it out. Add some advice and/or vote on the current suggestions.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:05 PM


Saturday, December 20, 2008

I'm looking for advice on setting urban sprint course


What advice would you give a course setter for an urban sprint race?

I set up a Google moderator page to collect advice. Google moderator is a way for people to submit ideas (or questions) and have other people then rate the ideas.

To see it in action (with one idea that I put in to seed it) go to:

Advice for course setters

Click on "view suggestions" and you see the list (with the one idea I added to see how the system works).

To vote or submit an idea you need to sign in, but once you sign in you can submit ideas and vote anonymously.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:54 AM


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thinking about the year that went


As the end of 2008 looms, it seems like a good time to think about the year and ask a few questions:

What went well in 2008?

What did you learn in 2008?

Those are pretty good questions to use to think about your training or racing or organizing or...well, just about anything.

The questions are lifted from a book I'm reading - College Basketball Prospectus 2008-2009.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:19 PM


Monday, December 15, 2008

A few words on practice


A few words on practice...

We’ve been inconsistent at practice. That’s why you have inconsistent stretches in games. Young teams sometimes go in practice thinking, ‘How long are we going to go today?’ rather than looking at it as an opportunity to get better. If the mind-set is, ‘How long are we going to go today?’ we’ve already lost that day. If we are able to manage time, I can’t see why college kids wouldn’t be excited to come to work every day if their work is something they say they love more than anything else.

That's KU b-ball coach Bill Self talking about the Jayhawks after a loss on Saturday.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:41 PM


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Ice and surf


Skating and surfing...Mary found a good airfare a week or so ago and we decided to take a short vacation. It was cool to see ice skaters and surfers within minutes of each other.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 11:40 AM


Thursday, December 11, 2008



Just about everything Malcolm Gladwell writes is interesting. I just finished his latest book - Outliers. Gladwell writes about why some people are especially successful. He touches on some of the things I've written in the past, like success, practice, and expertise.

Here's a quote from Outliers that caught my eye. Substitute "orienteering" for "mathematics":

We sometimes think of being good at mathematics as an innate ability. You either have "it" or you don't. But to Schoenfeld, it's not so much ability as attitude. You master mathematics if you are willing to try....Success is a function of persistence and doggedness and the willingness to work hard...

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:04 PM


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Some notes from a good orienteer


Boris wrote up some notes from a presentation by Sofie Johansson (on the Swedish relay team that took the bronze medal in 2008):

- train, train, train, train, train
- try to eliminate feelings from orienteering: don't think about how something feels during a warm-up or during a race, as that can just be a distraction
- prepare: ahead of time, write down a bunch of things situations that can happen during a race and how you will react (i think Sandra does this and it seems like a great idea)
- have a long-term training plan (in Sofie's case, 5 years, with focus on Trondheim)
- go to as many training camps as possible
Technical things:
- time going into/out of controls
- spend the time running on roads or trails usefully (if you dont like reading ahead, just run harder, as long as you know when to slow down)
- keep your eyes up!
Other things:
- make sure your work/living situation allows you to train as much as you need (probably the most important thing for all orienteers living in the US!!)
- have a number of trainings per week that are prioritized: that is, the whole week revolves around then. all the other trainings are bonus trainings
- have a goal in orienteering that comes from the heart, that you see in your dreams

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:45 PM


Monday, December 08, 2008

Heart rate QR from yesterday's race


The Quickroute track with my heart rate data from yesterday's race.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:49 PM


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Map from today's Possum Trot


The map from today's Trot. The Trot is a mass start race. You are allowed to skip two controls (but not two consecutive controls).

I skipped 5 and 22.

I had a long run. From 17 to the finish went very slowly. I was tired.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:04 PM


Saturday, December 06, 2008

Indoor Orienteering


You can find links to a bunch of indoor orienteering maps from Estonia here. It looks like fun. The video below shows, I think, highlights of an indoor race. I think the video is from Estonia. Near the end, the video includes a short interview with Vroni Konig Salmi (in English).


And here is a longer - more interesting - interview with Vroni K-S (also in English):

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:53 PM


Maps from today's race at JCCC


Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:32 PM


Friday, December 05, 2008

A hypothetical try out system


Here's a rough )(i.e. not very carefully thought out) outline of my hypothetical try out system:

1. Have the orienteers run a short (maybe 2.5 Km) O' course - fairly simple orienteering. Have the orienteers treat it like a race.

2. Have them re-run the same course, but this time with the route marked by tapes. Again, have the orienteers treat it like a race.

Comparing the times for 1 and 2 should give you some good information on running ability and navigating ability. The difference between the first and second time they run the course is a measure of navigation.

3. Provide some instruction to the orienteers. Pick some specific technique - maybe using handrails or attackpoints or something.

4. Have the orienteers run a short O' course that emphasizes the technique you'd provided instruction on. Treat it like a race.

5. Have them re-run the same course, but with the route marked by tapes. Treat it like a race.

Comparing times for the course gives you another set of measures of both running and navigating ability. It also is a test of the orienteers' ability to learn.

After each O' course, spend a few minutes asking the orienteers to explain how they'd run. Try to get a sense of how they navigated and learned. Look for indications that they really liked (or hated) orienteering.

Finally, watch what the orienteers did before and after each course. Look for things like crossing the finish line and then starting to look at the map. Treat that as an indicator that they might have some level of O' fanaticism.

I figure this approach would give me a few measures of each of the 4 attributes I was looking for: running, navigating, learning, and O' fanaticism. The measures aren't all especially good - the measures of O' fanaticism are especially squishy. But, I think that by trying to measure these attributes I'd learn something. At the very least, being systematic would help me understand what I was thinking about what makes a good orienteer.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com

posted by Michael | 4:33 PM


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Thinking about try outs


Some discussion over at Attackpoint inspired me a bit to think about how to hold "try outs" for the West Point O' team. Cmpbllv wrote:

...like most sports teams, we have a week-long tryout window before we have to finalize our rosters, so more that 3 courses in 3 days just isn't possible, and we don't get to keep extra new recruits long enough to evaluate them over an entire semester....

The challenge is to figure out a way to pick out who will be best in just a few days. The potential team members would be cadets. So they're relatively fit and strong. They have little to no previous orienteering experience. They will be around for up to 4 years. It is fun to think about how to structure a try out.

I'd start by coming up with a few things to look for. I picked 4 attributes: running, navigating, learning, and O' fanaticism. The ideal team member would be fast, a good map reader, able to learn from mistakes and from instruction, and an O' fanatic. The worst possible team member would be someone who was slow, couldn't make sense of a map, never learned from mistakes or instruction, and didn't like orienteering.

The trick is to come up with a simple way to begin to measure those four attributes. Some things are really easy to test and measure. If you put someone on a running course and time them, then you'll have a pretty good measure of how well they run. Some things are really hard to test and measure, especially if they don't have an orienteering background and you've only got a few days to figure out if they are going to like orienteering.

I've got a couple of ideas of how I'd arrange a try out. I'll write them up tomorrow.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:47 PM


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Effort and goals


People tend to exert more effort as they get closer to their goals.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:56 PM


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Street View O' race


This looks cool - Google Maps Street View O' race.

To warm up you can try a short course in Lawrence.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:02 AM


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