Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Saturday, October 31, 2009

QR track - Blue Springs Lake


My track from today's local race at Blue Springs Lake. Not much to say. I struggled physically, especially in the first half when I just could find a good running feeling.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:39 PM


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Inventor of basketball photographed in prime sprint orienteering terrain


James Naismith was not just a famous Canadian. He was also the inventor of basketball. He invented the game when he was in Western Massachusetts, before he moved to Lawrence, Kansas. I came across this photo of Naismith and his wife Maude in a NYT story this weekend.

What struck me about the photo was...it was taken from a spot on one of our local sprint orienteering maps!

The buildings labeled A and B in the photo are labeled on the map clip below.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:09 PM


Monday, October 26, 2009

US Champs map and QR track


The map shows my QR track from the US Champs (red course). The terrain was quite interesting and a lot of fun.

My routes are a bit extra cautious. That was planned, but probably cost me a bit of time. I was concerned that relocating would be difficult. The contours are a bit round, making it a bit harder to relocate precisely. I decided to be cautious, give up a bit of time on each leg, but avoid big mistakes. With a bit more confidence in the terrain, I'd have run a leg like 3-4 a bit straighter.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:59 PM


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Nice terrain


Heading off to Wisconsin to run in this terrain this weekend. Looks fun.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:29 PM


Monday, October 19, 2009

Orienteering map on Iphone


I tested an "experimental" feature of omaps.worldofo.com today, I looked at an orienteering map on the screen of my Iphone, with a little red dot indicating my current location. The GPS in the phone creates the red dot. It is very slick.

Below you can see the screen with my track as I walked around downtown Lawrence on my lunch hour.

This image shows where I stopped for a few minutes on the KU campus as I biked home after work.

Here is how it works (from an Iphone user's point of view):

1. You point your Iphone browser to the mobile version of Omaps.worldofo (the address is http://omaps.worldofo.com/m/

2. The screen will give you several options, including: latest additions, latest competitions, and closest O-maps.

3. Click on closest O-maps and you'll get a list, with small images, of the nearest maps in the worldofo.com collection.

4. If you happen to be on the terrain covered by one of those nearby maps, you will have an option to click on an "experimental" link.

5. The map image will open and a red dot will appear, showing your current location.

6. Move around a bit and the dot will move.

Currently there aren't a lot of maps loaded in the collection. For example, when I was in San Antonio, Texas, the closest O-maps were in the Kansas City area! Overtime, I'm sure more maps will be added.

I don't know the technical details of how maps get added. I posted maps on my blog and they get picked up by Omaps.worldofo.com. When those images are jpegs created by Quickroute, they contain enough geographical information that WorldofO gets them in the right location. But the maps I post (through blogger.com) apparently strip enough data out of the file that they aren't automatically available for the experimental feature. To get them loaded, I had to email the files to WorldofO.

What I really need to do is find a better way to post the Quickroute images, so that the maps that I upload get automatically added with the data necessary to use the experimental feature. I wish the local club (either OK or PTOC) used the DOMA map archive system.

Having the ability to locate yourself on an O' map with the Iphone's GPS is a nice trick, but it is useful? I think it could be a good way to interest tech-phone-savy kids to orienteering maps. I can imagine having a permanent course designed specifically to be used by people using their phones to see the map. I'm sure there are some other ways to use the system that I haven't yet thought of.

It won't be long before you'll be able to track another runner who is on a course. I've been using Instamapper.com to track Mary (and for her to track me) now and then. Instamapper uses Google maps as the background. It probably won't be long before an O' map can be a background.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:58 PM


Sunday, October 18, 2009

QR track - KU campus sprint training


After the orienteering training downtown, I stoppped by the KU campus and ran another sprint course. Same focus - working on some good habit.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 2:34 PM


QR track - downtown sprint training


I did a little bit of O' technique training on the in-progress sprint map of downtown. I took it easy and worked on some of those good habits that get rusty - like looking at the map frequently and checking the compass as you leave each control. A fun workout.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 12:53 PM


Friday, October 16, 2009

Volunteer Burnout


Recent discussions on Attackpoint have brought up the idea of "burnout" of volunteers and have got me thinking about my own experiences.

A few observations/thoughts:

I don't think burnout is inherent in the amount of effort so much as it reflects how an effort gets managed.

Volunteers - even employees - are less likely to feel burned out when: their tasks are clearly defined; their work is appreciated and recognized; Their tasks match - or stretch a bit - their skills and abilities; managers and leaders guide but don't order; the task brings together people who generally get along; and people are expected to ask for help when they need it.

Good, competent, management minimizes burnout. In fact, completeing a task with good management and a reasnably good outcome creates the opposite of burnout. It creates inspiration.

You don't want to burnout volunteers. And if you don't expect to be able to manage the volunteers you probably shouldn't take on an ambitious project. But if you don't take on those ambitious projects now and then you don't grow. Just like you don't get faster without pushing yourself in training now and then.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:21 PM


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Taking out the trash


I worked hard yesterday. I did a shift as part of a three person crew collecting trash. It was a fascinating day.

Some parallels between trash collecting and orienteering...

Both are physically demanding and reward endurance. An orienteer has to run up and down hills, through difficult terrain. A trash collector has to drag cans and dumpsters to the truck, lift and dump cans, walk/jog along as the truck moves short distances, and climb up and down from the truck for longer distances. And you have to do that until the work is done.

Trash collectors, like orienteers, need to think ahead. On a trash truck it is especially useful to anticipate traffic and pay attention to how you'll move from one task to the next.

Both reward the ability to minimize unnecessary effort. An orienteer is always thinking about trade offs between tougher and easier routes. An orienteer can gain time by running smoothly through the terrain with few wasted motions. A trash collector saves effort by using momentum and dragging cans rather than lifting them.

Both involve route choice. Orienteers make route choice decisions all the time. Trash collectors have to think about the best way to cover the route. I'd never really understood how complicated some of the trash routing problems can be. The routing gets tricky because, for example, you need to think about minimizing exposure to traffic for the crew and you need to deal with constraints like only being able to "cycle the hopper" when the vehicle is at a stop.

Some people say golf and orienteering are the same sport. I wouldn't go so far to say trash collecting and orienteering are the same "sport." But, I was struck by some of the similarities.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:44 PM


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Interesting training course


I came across this training course on Albin Ridefelt's blog.

As best I can tell, here is how it works. Ridefelt started at the triangle and ran hard to the first control and then back to the trail. At the trail, he tagged off to another runner who took the second control, then ran back to the trail and tagged off to Ridefelt. Ridefelt took the controls east of the trail as they worked their way to the south end of the course, then he took the controls west of the trail on the way back.

The whole course took Ridefelt 35 minutes. From his h.r. curve, it looks like it was a good, tough workout.

Ridefelt called this workout - Czech Relay Training.

It looks like a fun way to make good use of a small area.

It is also very cool that people post their maps with QuickRoute tracks. If you have QuickRoute on your computer, you can download the jpeg of the map, open it in QR, and really see what was going on.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 7:42 PM


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Some Lidar data from one of my current mapping projects


I discovered another program for using Lidar data. Microdem has a feature that I've made use of. I can take a "DEM" file and create an image that lets me see quite a lot of the detail.

Below is an area that I've started mapping. What is especially useful is that I can pick out the bottom of small ditches and streams. The bottom of the image - what looks like a fuzzy television picture - is some sort of error. I haven't figured out what is going on. The DEM data covers that part of the terrain, but for some reason I can't get Microdem to show it.

Below are contours (2 meter) generated from the Lidar bare earth data. I added the trails by running the area with a GPS and then using the track to draw the trails. It isn't perfect, but it is a good start.

I also use the Lidar "intensity" data to pick out some detail. For the most part I use the intensity data to pick up vegetation - individual trees and vegetation boundaries. Sometimes I'm able to pick out subtle vegetation information. I think there is the potential to get a lot more information out of the intensity image than I've managed to get.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 6:59 PM


Wednesday, October 07, 2009

If you had $50,000...


Suzanne posed the question:

If you had $50,000 to spend over the next 5 years to improve junior orienteering in the US, what would you suggest?

Several of the ideas that came up involve funding trips for juniors to Europe. Of course, $50,000 over 5 years won't really be enough to pay for many juniors, but the impact on those individuals could be quite high. If you can do a good job of picking out the "deserving" orienteers, this just might work. By "work" I mean inspire some young orienteers and give them some good knowledge.

But if it were up to me, I'd bring some European orienteers here and have them travel around visiting juniors. It wouldn't have the same impact on a given orienteer as visiting Europe for training and racing. But it would spread the impact widely. Spreading the impact widely is especially useful if you don't have a good method for identifying the most deserving orienteers.

The two options basically involve trade-offs: higher direct impact and fewer orienteers versus lower direct impact but more orienteers.

Back when I was a young orienteer I spent a bit of time in Europe, but I think the bigger impact for me was having a chance to meet some really good European orienteers when they visited the U.S., pick their brains a bit, watch them train and do some training with them. It was inspiring.

The discussion at Attackpoint is a bit long and wanders off topic, but is worth a quick look.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 8:06 PM


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Why make a map?


I've spent a fair amount of time in the last couple of months working on a sprint orienteering map of an area near my house.

Why bother?

I'm certainly not going to turn a profit. I'm not getting paid to do the work. When we use the map, the orienteering club will break even. But that's only because I'm donating my hours. If I charged for my time, we wouldn't cover the costs of the map.

There are all sorts of other things I could do with my time. I could do more running and biking. I could do some work around the house. I could get in touch with some of the local juniors and set up a little training camp for them. I could get around to editing the photos I took in Yellowstone. I could work on a presentation for work. I could work on a trade to strengthen my fantasy football team. There's no end to the other things I could be doing if I weren't working on the map.

I enjoy some aspects of mapping. Where the base map is good (and for the most part it is quite good), I like fieldchecking. I don't like bashing through thick forest to figure out if a little clearing I can see in the distance is large enough to add to the map. I don't like picking sticktights and burrs off my socks after mapping. Drafting is, to me, tedious. There are actually quite a lot of things that I don't like about mapping.

Having the map finished will be nice. We'll be able to use if for events. Maybe we can host some beginner clinics and grow the sport locally. But, we've got other maps we could use. Having another map won't really make a difference.

Why bother?

Well, the map's first use will be for a sprint race Orienteer Kansas hosts the day before the "Possum Trot." We do it every year. Most of the runners will be locals, but we also get runners from other parts of the country. In just the last couple of years, we've had runners from Colorado, Wyoming, Manitoba, Texas, and Missouri. Over the event's history, we've had runners from Japan, Sweden, and England. Organizing the event and hosting those runners is fun. We travel a lot for orienteering, so hosting an event that others travel to is part of the sport. It is an obligation, but it can also be really satisfying.

I'm looking forward to this year's event (the December 12/13 weekend). I think we'll have a good map (assuming I get finished!) and the "Possum Trot" is at Knob Noster, easily the best terrain within a few hours of Lawrence. We're hosting a few visiting orienteers, which is always fun. I'm looking forward to OK putting on a quality event that we, as organizers, can feel good about. I'm hoping the competitors will enjoy their races.

Hosting the event can be a bit of a chore. It can be cold and wet. The day of the race can be long and draining. But, the meet director always does a good job of recruiting workers. We get clear assignments and the work gets spread around pretty well.

Why make a map?

I guess the answer is that it is something that I do as a member of Orienteer Kansas and as a participant in the larger U.S. orienteering scene. I make a map so we can put on an event and people who travel to the race and run it can have fun.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:20 PM


QR track from yesterday's Landahl event


Here's my Quickroute track from yesterday's event at Landahl. Not a lot to say about it. The map has a lot of green and some of it is really thick. Fortunately, the area has a lot of trails so you had chances to run around the worst of the vegetation. Aside from a bobble at one (the relationship between the cliff and the contours seems a bit sketchy) and hesitation approaching 3, I had a reasonable run.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 4:57 PM


Thursday, October 01, 2009

JWOC 2013 in USA?


Some discussion at Attackpoint about hosting a JWOC in the U.S. I'm not really sure what I think about hosting a JWOC. I'm certainly a lot more intrigued by the idea than those who've responded to date. That said, I'm interesting in experimenting and trying new ideas (e.g., I think MicrO' was an interesting idea, certainly worth trying).

I don't know how representative the comments (to date) on Attackpoint are, but if they are representative, it would take a good leader and some strong management skills for the U.S. to host a successful JWOC.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 9:08 PM


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