Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Mass start, 3 loops = today's sprint


Today's sprint was a mass start with three loops. You ran the loops in an assigned (but random) order. Fun.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:33 PM


Friday, July 24, 2009

Sudden on Oringen as a motivator


Sudden wrote a bit about North American juniors. Worth a look:

...if NA runners ever get the chance (=time and $) to travel to Sweden and O-Ringen, they should do it. It is such an awesome experience and motivator. Juniors for sure would have a blast (and I am sure they have it at this very moment since the 6th stage should be in full swing by now - I watched 'Wedding Crashers' with my mom, Times have definitely changed). I have never been to a JWOC, but if I was a junior or a parent, I would consider going to O-Ringen instead.

The US had three runners in the top 10 in M18 today. Sure, there is M18E and M18 Long too, but I am guessing that these guys are feeling much more confident with these results and races than how they felt after their JWOC performances. If they ran JWOC.

I tend to agree with Sudden.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:24 PM


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Snapshots from today's training


I did a bit of low key orienteering on the downtown Lawrence map tonight. The snapshot shows Raymond at the finish.

After the training we had dinner at Dempsey's. I like to think that Thierry Gueorgiou goes out for beer and pomme frites after he trains. Just like Gene.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:56 PM


Monday, July 20, 2009

Repeating mistakes


Why do we repeat mistakes?

An article in yesterday's newspaper described some research looking in to why people tend to make mistakes, especially under pressure, that they are consciously trying to avoid. It happens all the time in orienteering. You tell yourself to take it slow and easy to the first control, then you grab the map and rush off. You tell yourself not to let seeing other runners distract you, then you see another runner and it distracts you. Or you remind yourself to not rush through the attack point but actually slow down, double check the map, and approach the control cautiously. Then you rush through the attack point and boom the control.

The article refers to work by Daniel Wegner, a psychologist at Harvard. Read the abstract of a recent paper here.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:48 PM


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Today's sprint at JCCC


We had lots of route choice on today's sprint race at JCCC. The only legs that didn't have any choice were 3, 7, 13 and 14. The route choices on the rest of the leg weren't especially tricky, but there was enough to keep you thinking. Certainly you'd lose some time if you didn't have a look at the route choice before you had to make it. Fun course.

My run was pretty good. I didn't get the optimal route on some of the legs (10 and 12...maybe 8). I pushed myself a little too hard on 6 and slowed as I recovered on the way to 7.

When we finished, we had a test. We had a blank map with photographs of 10 pieces of sculpture that are scattered around the map. The idea was to mark the map showing each art work. Some of the photos were easy to match up because they were used as control locations. Some were tougher.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 12:53 PM


Friday, July 17, 2009

Memories from Gerardmer


Today's TDF stage went through Gerardmer, which hosted the World Orienteering Champs in 1987. It is fun to look at the terrain on TV. It looks like some nice orienteering terrain (even in the cool rainy weather). If my stuff wasn't all packed in boxes, I'd dig out the maps and take a look at the Gerardmer terrain.

Viking advice

In Iceland I picked up an English translation of Havamal - 1200 year old words of Viking wisdom.

The traveler must
train his wits.
All is easy at home.
He who knows little
is a laughing-stock
amongst men of the world.

Sounds a bit like Kent Olsson (who won the world champs in Gerardmer) and his advice that you "can't become world champion training in your back yard, you can just become a gardener" (sounds a lot better in Swedish).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:36 PM


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sleeping through World Games???


I'm thinking about getting up at 1 a.m. to follow the live coverage of the World Games Orienteering (if I've got my time zones correct, that's when the races start). Thinking about it, but probably won't actually drag myself out of bed and fire up the computer.

WorldofO.com has a page devoted to the race (with links to the streaming video) here.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:04 PM


Monday, July 13, 2009

A few notes on Italy


When I was just 5 years old I lived in Italy. I don't remember much. I don't remember the language at all. Too bad, because I'd like to be able to read Stegal67's report of JWOC. He writes about the tough fight way in the back of the field in the relay. Google translate gives you an idea, but Google translate doesn't go a great job.

The JWOC in Italy has inspired me. Italy has always been on my list of place I'd like to orienteer. I've been especially intrigued by some of the old city sprint maps and, of course, orineteering in Venice is on my list of things-to-do-before-I-die.

Stegal67's report makes mention of one of the all-time great TV moments from the Olympics...the 4x10Km relay at the 1994 Olympics in Norway.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:19 PM


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Looking at JWOC results and peer nations


How did the US runners do compared to runners from "peer nations" at the just completed JWOC?

I spent a few minutes this morning looking at results. Basically, I give the US a "win" each time a US runner beats a runner from a peer nation and a "loss" each time a runner from a peer nation beats a US runner. Lets say a US runner finishes 46th in a middle qualifying heat. A runner from Canada finishes 35th. That's a loss. A runner from Portugal finishes 10th. That's another loss. A runner from Ireland finishes 55th. That's a win. A runner from Japan finishes 54th. That's another win. You get the idea. I do that for each of the individual events, count up all of the wins and losses, and calculate a winning percentage.

At the 2009 JWOC, the US went 62-80-4 (wins-losses-ties) against the peer nations of Belgium, Canada, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand and Portugal.

Ties happened in two situations. In one race, two runners had the same finish time. But, I also gave "ties" if the runners I was comparing both mispunched or didn't finish.

The US had a win percentage of 45.1 (I just ignored the ties).

I haven't calculated peer nation results for JWOCs before, but I've done it for WOCs and you can get an idea of how the JWOC results compare to WOC results.

WOC US winning percentages:

2005 24 percent
2006 26 percent
2007 51 percent
2008 32 percent

You probably shouldn't make much of comparing WOC and JWOC win percentages, but it gives you a sense of the 2009 JWOC results, which I'd characterize as reasonably good.

In tracked the results by discipline: sprint, long, and middle qualifying. The US results are strikingly similar for all three disciplines. Here are wins-losses for each discipline:

Sprint 22-26 (and one tie)
Long 19-28
Middle 21-26 (and 3 ties)

For more about how I picked peer nations.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 10:40 AM


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sprint orienteering at JCC this morning


I ran a sprint at JCC this morning. While the area isn't especially challenging, the course was fun. I liked having lots of controls and lots of direction changes.

Going to 3 it wasn't immediately clear if you could go between the building and the out of bounds areas. I took a careful look with my magnifier and saw that you could hug the building and get through.

The map was a bit sketchy at 9 (and the control was hung a bit further in).

12 turned out to cause the most trouble for the most people. Leaving 11 you could see 13 and that pulled a few people off line.

To 16 I went left. I think most people went right. Looking at the map now, I see that you could go straight (i.e. the fence is shown as crossable). But the fence was pretty high. You'd have to be a good climber for the straight route to pay off.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 2:19 PM


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Some notes about a model I'm playing with


Think of two beginning orienteers who have equal running ability, but one is a better than average navigator and the other is worse than average. Have them race around a simple course and the better navigator will usually win.

Now, think of two orienteers with different mixes of abilities. One of them is a slow runner and good navigator. The other is a fast runner and poor navigator. Now it isn't obvious who will win.

Now, think about how we first introduce people to orienteering. Does it tend to favor someone with relatively good navigation or relatively good running ability? My gut feeling is that beginner courses tend to favor the better navigators. I think we've all seen examples of fast runners going head-to-head with good navigators on beginners courses, and the good navigator ("the tortoise") wins.

Assuming both orienteers stick with it, and assuming they both improve as runners and navigators, does the running/navigating balance change as they progress through the increasingly technical difficult courses? My gut feeling is that as orienteers progress, the balance shifts and that running becomes relatively more important.

To win a world championship, an orienteer has to be a very good runner and a very good navigator.

But to win a first-timer event, an orienteer with good navigation but slow runner will be more likely to win.

That's enough for now, back to watching the re-play of today's TDF stage.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Cooling vests


As someone who doesn't like hot weather, I like the idea of cooling vests. I came across a photo of the Garmin cycling team warming up with cooling vests. Here is another photo.

I'm not sure how a cooling vest would work for a runner. You can't really warm up on a stationary bike. Maybe doing 20 minutes of running to warm up, then wearing a cooling vest for the last 5-10 minutes before the start, jogging in place a bit, would work.


Here's an article and some video from Velonews.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:16 PM


Sunday, July 05, 2009

Downtown sprint map - early July update


I've put in a few hours of fieldchecking on the downtown map over the last couple of weeks. Here's the current version of the map. If you've been following my progress, you might notice the changes - mostly the yellow blocks on the south edge of the map and the area around GSP and Corbin Halls.

We used the map for the first time a couple of weeks ago. We had a little sprint race on the north end of the map (including the area with purple lines indicating forest that I haven't fieldchecked). I have no idea when (if?) we'll ever make use of the rest of the map.

I've found working on the sprint map surprisingly interesting. I think I like that progress is quick (compared to a ISOM forest map) and the basemap is good. Having a good basemap makes the mapping more about decisions and less about getting things to fit.

When I'm mapping in the forest I find that I start "seeing" as a fieldchecker even when I'm not mapping. The same things happens when I'm working on the sprint map.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 11:19 AM


Friday, July 03, 2009

Oreinteering-like game for the Iphone


Wouldn't it be cool if you could have some way to automatically generate an orienteering training course and then create a map for you?

Seeknspell is an Iphone game that is a bit like that. The game generates a set of control locations on an aerial photo. Each control has a letter code and the idea is to run around and collect letters that you can then use to spell words. The GPS in the phone tracks your location and notes when you collect a control.

I spent the $0.99 and bought the app. I just tested it around my apartment. One problem is that the apartment I live in is so new that the aerial photo just shows a bit empty lot. No trouble, I just oriented the photo and headed off in the right direction. When I came to the control location, the phone vibrated to let me know I'd found the control. I picked up 4 letters and then spelled a word ("not") and earned a few points.

I need to test the game in an area where the photo will be up to date and have some features to read. A city park on a university campus would be good options.

You can see a short video that'll give you an idea of how the game works.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:43 PM


What ever happened to Doug Hollowell?


When I started orienteering, Doug Hollowell won everything in our age group. He won the US Champs in M19-20 in 1982 and 1983. He won the US Champs in younger age groups in 1980 and 1981. Back in the day, if you had to pick someone who you would have figured to win a few M21 Champs and be on several WOC teams, you'd have picked Doug. But he didn't win any M21 Champs and didn't go to any WOCs.

I looked at some old results for US juniors. But not JWOC results, instead I looked at US Championship results. I looked at the M19-20 and F19-20 winners (except for pre 1988, when the women's junior categories ended at age 19).

Of course, there are plenty of names of orienteers who are still active and have had good results as seniors. But there are also plenty of names of people who you don't see very much of. I guess that's the nature of juniors, especially when the U.S. doesn't have a strong system for helping people bridge that gap between junior and senior levels (as far as I know).

It is interesting to see how few people have won both a top junior US Championship and a senior US Championship. I counted just 4 (might have missed someone).

It might be interesting to look at the junior champs results for some other nations. That'll have to wait for another day.

By the way, the last I heard, Doug was living in the south (maybe Atlanta?) and has a couple of kids.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:11 AM


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

A quick note on event quality


Several discussions are going on at Attackpoint about event quality. Apparently there were a few problems with an A-meet last weekend, some of which are probably related to the event being organized by just a few people. I've got a couple of thoughts about organizing good events....

1. Events tend to have higher quality (however you define it) when the emphasis within the organizing club is on putting on a good event for everyone who is traveling. Events are more likely to have problems when many of the organizing club's member also compete - viewing the event as a chance to get in an A-meet without the travel.

2. The skills of organizing a good meet can be quite different from the skills many orienteers have. Of course, there are lots of technical issues with organizing an event (like mapping and course setting). But in many ways, organizing a good event is a management problem. It's like managing a work team. I don't think all that many orienteers have management experience. There are a lot of orienteers who do technical work (like programming or engineering) or who teach. There aren't a lot of orienteers (as far as I know) who manage people.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:55 PM


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