Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Friday, August 28, 2009

Next update in a bit over a week


A break from updates is called for. I'll be back in a bit over a week or so.

If you're looking for some O' blog reading, check out Kontrakurs (all in Swedish, but worth poking around even if you can't read the language).

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:00 PM


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Haldin on the Long WOC


Mats Haldin wrote about his WOC long race. Here's a rough translation of a bit of what he wrote:

There's a rule that says you should orienteer independently and not with the help of other runners. That's why Finland put in a protest against Mikhail [Mamleev]. The protest was declined by the jury with a vote of 3 to 2. The explanation was that there wasn't evidence that Mikhail was helped by Daniel [Hubman]...And they didn't bother to check the GPS tracks.

I don't have anything against Mikhail. It is a difficult situation. What do you do when someone catches you and then takes the route that you would have taken and doesn't pull away from you...? That it is an advantage to run together is known. And often everyone involved gets involuntary help from the others. It has happened before that orienteers have won medals at WOCs thanks to having run together. There have also been protests before and never, as far as I know, have the protests been accepted.

Haldin wrote, "Motiveringen var att de inte hade bevis för att Mikhail hade hjälp av Daniel." I've translated it as, "The explanation was that there wasn't evidence that Mikhail was helped by Daniel." My Swedish is a bit rusty, but I always thought of "bevis" as meaning "evidence" but in this case I think Haldin must mean "proof." I say that because there is evidence that running together with Hubman helped.

I find it interesting that 2 of the 5 members of the jury apparently agreed with Finland's protest. Two jury members apparently would have been willing to disqualify a medalist for following. That should send a strong signal of the importance of the issue. I hope - but don't really expect - that the way the long WOC race went will inspire the IOF to put some more thought into keeping packs from forming.

Haldin's whole write up of the long race is worth a read if you can handle the Swedish.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:53 PM


Sunday, August 23, 2009

First in the forest, first at the finish


Seems to me that Mats Haldin had a run at the World Champs today that was deserving of an individual medal. He's never taken an individual medal.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:03 PM


Friday, August 21, 2009

Portugal and the peer nations after the relay


Today's relay was the last race for the team from Portugal at the WOC. I updated my count of peer nations wins-losses with the sprint and relay results. For the entire WOC, Portugal's record against the peer nations was 43-29.

The overall record works out to a winning percentage of 60.

I don't know about the goals for Portugal, but as an outsider it looks like they had a decent WOC. I have to think that having Tiago Romao qualify for a final is a good accomplishment. He's still a junior and as best I can tell, Portugal hasn't had a qualifier in a final since 2005.

I haven't gone back and looked at Portugal's results for prior years, but I have calculated winning percentages for the US at the world champs for 2005 through 2008. Those percentages put the Portuguese results in some context.

WOC US winning percentages:

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

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:29 PM


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Some thoughts from Helena Jansson


A rough translation of a bit of an interview with Helena Jansson in a Dagens Nyheter:

What were you thinking when you started?

"Find the first control right, read the map carefully and get into the orienteering."

"I know the course setter, I've trained on courses she set and I knew there would be some sort of surprise in the beginning." [she's talking about the route choice on the 2nd leg]

The course...went into a zoo with small alleys and sidewalks between the animal cages and other buildings. The change forced the orienteers to change running rhythm and orienteering technique, something that Helena didn't have any trouble with.

"I was careful there and read the map control by control"

Were you able to read some of the legs near the end of the course when you were in the zoo area?

"No. I decided to have complete focus on the controls there. Then I took a deep breat and went back out into the forest terrain and thought that now I would keep this going."

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:22 PM


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Learning to see details


Some advice on learning to see details:

One of the biggest differences between the expert...and the novice is that the expert has spent years training to see details. The beginner must literally learn how to see them.

The challenge of seeing and interpreting details...is complex....A patient and deliberate approach and an absence of distractions. Active study, asking questions while observing, is important. Anything that promotes detailed study - such ask sketching or taking notes - is also very helpful.

The quote is from David Allen Sibley and is about birds. I thought it described an interesting parallel to orienteering.

I've been doing a bit of work on a sprint orienteering map. It doesn't take much time before you start "seeing" maps everywhere you look. Every tree starts to look like a green dot. Every sidewalk is a brown fill with a think black line edging. It is a bit weird.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:14 PM


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Post Long Qualifier Peer Nation Update


Portugal had a rougher day at the long distance qualifier yesterday. They went 10 wins and 12 losses against the peer nations.

The results of the peer nations in the M1 qualifier caught my eye.

Ireland 24th
New Zealand 26th
Canada 28th
Belgium 29th
Portugal 30th
USA 31st
Japan 33rd

I don't recall ever seeing those nations packed so closely before.

Portugal and the US men had some tight head-to-head races. Pedro N. finished a second in front of Clem M. Diogo M. was 14 seconds ahead of Eric B.

Maria Sa seems to have had a tough day in the forest. I can't read Portugeuse (and my brother who is fluent isn't readily available), but Google translate tells me:

Maria Sá something serious was a fall during the race and followed to the hospital because it fell, and hit with knee, back and head on a rock.

And just a bit later an update:

Maria already feels better. Get those concerned. Will now try to recover for the qualifier for the Sprint 5th Sunday.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:36 PM


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Portugal and the peer nations


The 4 Portuguese WOC runners had a winning record (14 wins, 6 losses) against my list of peer nations in today's middle qualification races. The peer nations for Portugal are: Belgium, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Ireland and Japan.

To calculate a record, I look at each runner from Portugal and give them a win when the finish ahead of a runner from a peer nation. I give them a loss when they finish behind a runner from a peer nation. It it a quick way to evaluate how a nation performed.

Portugal's 14-6 record looks pretty good. But no runners qualified for the middle final. Tiago Romao was the closest. Tiago is still a junior, so that bodes well for the future. And for Portugal, the future is tomorrow's long qualifier.

As I look at the peer nation list, I think Portugal is different in one key way. I think the other nations all have a longer orienteering history. I haven't looked a the results, but I'm guessing Portugal didn't have any runners at the WOC back in 1981, while I'm guessing all of the others did have runners in Switzerland in 1981 (though Belgium might not). If I had a bit more interest, I'd look it up.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:07 PM


Saturday, August 15, 2009

QR track from Bonner Park sprint


The QR track from Thursday evening's sprint race at Bonner Park. Not much to say. The main difficulty was that some of the grass was deep, making it a bit tough to run in places. Warm and humid temps didn't help. At the end you felt worn out despite just running 3 km.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 1:18 PM


Friday, August 14, 2009

Go Portugal!


Portugal's team at the WOC looks interesting. They've only got 4 runners (3 men and 1 woman), but two are juniors. And both of the juniors had some nice results at the JWOC. It will be fun to see how the Portuguese team performs.

I'm not sure how old the two juniors are. I'll assume they are both 20. The other, Pedro Nogueira, is 27. The woman, Maria Sa, is 23. The average team age is 22.5 (less if either of the juniors is younger than 20).

It seems to make sense that having a young team bodes well for the future. If I remember correctly, the Czech Republic had the youngest team at the WOC in 2003. In some ways that young team set the stage for the successes of last year. Dana Brozkova won the long race in 2008. Her first WOC was 2003. Michael Smola took a silver in the 2008 WOC middle. His first WOC was 2003.

I would be surprised if Portugal has two medalists in 5 years. But, I wouldn't be surprised if Portugal has some significantly better results in 5 years. I'll have to remember to check in 2014.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:17 PM


Monday, August 10, 2009

MTB Orienteering - None from the U.S. at the WOC?


No cyclists from the U.S. are at the Mountain Bike Orienteering World Champs.* When I look at mtb-O maps or read reports from races, I always wonder why the sport hasn't gotten any traction in the U.S. I guess we just don't have the organizers. I don't think USOF has done much to push the sport.

I'm fairly sure the U.S. has more Trail O (aka Pre-O) competitors than MTB-orienteers in any given year.

You can follow the MTB-O champs at the official web page and via Dan Chissick's always interesting blog.

* As far as I know. I haven't heard of any U.S. riders and I didn't see any in the results list for the long qualifying. I didn't see any Canadians either.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:04 PM


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Some old orienteering notes


I came across a bunch of old orienteering notes yesterday. We've just moved into a new house and I've been unpacking boxes of stuff. Sometimes I find something I didn't realize I'd kept. Like the notes above.

I took the notes in 1986 (I think...it was the year Oringen took place in Boras). At the time I was trying to learn to make sense of Nordic terrain. One of the things I was doing was making these little sketches and timing myself.

I'm not impressed with my notes. I didn't get more than the very rough outlines of the legs. I certainly didn't capture the useful specific details that must have been along each leg.

I was a bit suprised to see a couple of notes on the sketch. "H" (for hygge) in an area that I think was a felled area on the leg in the middle of the right side of the paper. On the leg below, I wrote "groen" to indicate a green area. I must have been trying to teach myself Swedish.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:54 PM


Friday, August 07, 2009

What makes a race frustrating?


Reading some logs at Attackpoint I was struck by how frustrated orienteers can get when they have a frustrating run. And that begged the question - what makes a race frustrating?

It seems like certain kinds of mistakes are more frustrating. Say you make a 1 minute mistake, it'll be more frustruating if you're:

1. Repeating a mistake you've made in previous races, especially if you've taken some steps to eliminate them.

2. Making a mistake at a race you planned (or hoped) to do well at.

3. Making a mistake on the first control.

4. Making a simple mistake - like doing a 180 out of a control or turning the wrong direction on a trail.

5. Making a mistake when you saw another runner or when you were aware that another runner saw you.

I've wondered about which is more frustrating - to have 4 mistakes of 1 minute each or to have 1 mistake of 4 minutes. I'm not sure. I'd be more frustrated with myself for the 4 small mistakes than the 1 big one. But I'm not really sure that generalizes to other orienteers.

I suspect there is some added frustration when the conditions are unexpected. If you expected the forest to be open and it turned out to be thick, you'd be more likely to have a frustrating race. If you expected the sprint terrain to be urban and it turns out to be forested, you'd be more likely to have a frustrating race.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:37 PM


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Famous Canadian Orienteering Thinker


Adrian Z - famous Canadian orienteering thinker - wrote:

On the mental side, again based on personal observation, I would say hardly anyone is smart enough, or mentally tough enough to accept being beaten by old slow guys who out-think and out-navigate them. You can feel "stupid" pretty easily in this sport. And in my opinion, other than motor racing, there is no sport that requires such intense uninterrupted concentration - it is absolutely mentally exhausting.

He's hit on one of the problems the sport has with recruiting, especially with recruiting good runners. They have to be comfortable getting beaten - often by quite a lot - by people who look like they've got no business beating them.

Adrian also touched on one of my favorite sports - auto racing. A subject of several previous posts, and a link to some observations from Martin Gregor.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:35 PM


Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A catalog of explanations for poor performance


I came across a "catalog" of explanations for a lack of success.

The athletes are like civil servants, they don't get results, they don't make enough effort.

They don't train enough.

They lack talent.

The best young athletes are unimpressive.

Everybody else is doping or cheating.

The sport is tough, the athletes aren't tough enough.

The athletes don't have the right attitude, their goals are too low, the don't respond to challenges.

I thought the list was interesting. I can imagine hearing these explanations for just about any nation and any sport when the results could have been better. It could be taken from a discussion of how the U.S. has performed at a WOC. Or it could be from a discussion on Alternativet on how Sweden performed at a WOC.

The list is actually from a newspaper story looking at the performance of French riders at the Tour de France.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:58 PM


Monday, August 03, 2009

Map from Norway ulta-long - sweet terrain


I spent some time looking at the map from the Norwegian ultra-long championships. Check out the map. It looks like really fun terrain. Tough, I'm guessing.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:22 PM


Saturday, August 01, 2009

Mapping near the center of the Earth


I took the first tentative steps toward a new mapping project. I put together 1 meter Lidar contours and the Lidar intensity images. I may use this as a base map. The Google Earth image of the area is below.

The area is a small section of the West Campus of the University of Kansas. It has a mix of built up area, forest, sports fields and parking areas.

My plan is to create a 1:5,000 sprint map which can be extended to the north and west as time permits.

The Google Earth image and the Lidar intensity image clearly show some new construction - new roads and parking lots. I'll have to poke around and see if I can find some newer photos that include more of the new construction.

In comparing the Lidar and the photo I noticed an L-shaped section of forest that shows up as missing contours on the Lidar contours (on the west side of the map, right in the middle). I'm guessing the area is very dense cedars.

West Campus Trivia

West Campus is the place I first orienteered, way back in 1980. The event was on a black and white map. We started near the pond and made a clockwise loop. The course went a bit north of the map bit that I've posted above. I can't remember the control locations, but I remember the general shape of the course.

Google Earth Trivia

Did you know that Lawrence is the center of Google Earth? Open Google Earth and zoom in and you'll end up at a point about 1 km north of the map I posted above. That's the same apartment complex that Peggy lived at when she first studied at KU.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:24 PM


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