O Log - Older Archives

    I started field checking at Mt. Misery this week. Field checking is hard. I managed to draw 5 objects on the map in about an hour. Field checking has the potential to be really fun, though, if I can find the time. I was hoping to do more today, but got rained out.

    The weather has been warm lately. Its been great. I've actually enjoyed training runs, which I usually dread in the winter. I'm in the mood for a goat race, I mean a really long one.

    Now to decide whether to run M21 or M35 at APOC. I could see the APOC championship M21 classic distance course being in the 14K range or more. I wonder if the APOC races will count in the US rankings.

[27-Jan-02]  Greenbelt, MD [Red, 8340/215, 73:10, 8.77, 5/15]

    The good news is that it was warm, sunny, and I was only behind Mihai by 14 seconds. The bad news is that I had my biggest boom in quite some time, and it was not the sort of course you could afford any booms on.

    Greenbelt is one of those parks with lots of greenbriar and lots of trails. Even though the course was 8k, it was like a short O, because in some sense some of the legs had to be set that way, and in other senses the blind trail running reduced the percentage of the time that was actually advanced level O. I thought Ted Good, the course setter, did a great job.

    Looking at the course, one would be hard pressed to find any control that could be boomed for 5 or more minutes, but I managed to find one.

    I decided to try something different today. I'd noticed that I'd been finishing races and not feeling tired. I also noticed that I hesitate too much. It seemed a shame to have excess physical capacity at the end of a race, and to waste time hesitating, so I decided to just run hard, not hesitate, and try to do a lot more memory O and generalization. Greenbelt seemed the perfect place to try this, as it is hard to get hurt too bad.

    So I'm cruising along pretty well, and mis-generalise the big contour picture around control 5, placing it on the wrong side of a ridge. Boom. Confusion, and then panic as I realise that its a new map and I don't have any idea of what the scale is. (I guess it speaks volumes that I could orienteer the first few controls and not know the scale of the map -- perhaps a topic for a different day ...).

    5 minutes down the drain. Sometimes I can make that sort of time up on some of the competition, but not today. Otherwise I O'd pretty cleanly on the day, one other route choice mistake and one other map reading mistake for about 2 min total. Ran the whole race thinking it was a 1:15 map when it was really a 1:10. As for my experiment, inconclusive, factoring out the boom; should have run at least 8m/k not trying anything.

    Splits and comments on AttackPoint


    I've been kicking around the idea of going to the Yukon before APOC 2002. I've always wanted to go up there, and it looks they'll be having 4 races around the Whitehorse area. The terrain and maps look interesting, from what I can gather.

    My original thought was to then drive the Alaska Highway down towards Calgary, but from what I can gather, it is not all that interesting. A better plan would be to stay in the Yukon and do some paddling or Heli-hiking in Kluane National park for a few days, and then fly down. I'm scoping these possibilities with outfitters now. Its a shame there is only 3 or 4 days between events -- there is some fantastic looking 10 or 12 day trips available.

[20-Jan-02]  GNC, Elberton, GA [Blue, 9500/270, 78:53, 8.3, 7/22]
[19-Jan-02]  GNC, Elberton, GA [Blue, 10000/315, 99:26, 9.96, 8/22]

    Georgia Navigator Cup. Day one was tough. Its not that I orienteered badly, just slowly. Lots of hesitations. I was a bit of a wimp; my mind and body were not 100% into it.

    Before the race, I was worried about the weather. I do not have any foul weather O gear. If its cold, I just wear a cotton undershirt under my O shirt. I guess I have to work on this problem. The forcast called for rain, but when I woke up and put on the Weather Channel, it looked like the storm was going to pass to the north. It wasn't raining, and it wasn't cold.

    I had an early start. It started raining and getting cold by about the 5th control. Driving rain at times. I have no tolerance of the cold, and it got to me somewhat. I don't care about rain, in fact I enjoy orienteering in the rain, but I can't deal with cold, and I wasn't ready for it. I'm told it was about 35 degrees. I think it was more like 40, but it felt cold anyway.

    I was also worried about injuries. I managed to have a leg go it a hole I didn't see, and was lucky to avoid injury. I ran into some unmapped barbed wire, fell flat on my face, but fortunately it didn't cut my legs up. I slipped on some logs while crossing a deep gully, and was lucky I didn't break something. I ran neck-first into a vine of greenbriar. It didn't give. It hurt. I got tangled up in another strand of greenbriar that it took forever to get out of. I got sweat in my eye, and for some reason it hurt and blurred my vision. I wonder if this happens to other people. I was very scared about losing contact, and getting hypothermia. So I guess all of this lead to being very tenative.

    So I ran 10min/k. Could have been worse. At least my orienteering wasn't too bad, although there is still plenty of room for fine grain improvements. For me, it was a good bad race.

    Day 2 was much better. Closer to my goal of 8min/k. The course was faster with more open field running and an easy long leg. I was sharper, more focuced, and ran harder. It was 40s, but sunny. I think being used to the map helped. I think familiarity with the major features on the map helped, as did understanding the mapping standards. I did not particularily care for the map. It seemed to lack a certain precision, but I was used to the map by day 2, and dealt with what I didn't like about the map more effectively. No one else complained about the map, so I'm sure it was fine. I'm getting better at dealing with maps that I find are less than what I prefer.

    I wish I could find some wisdom in this weekend of racing, but it escapes me. I use the GNC as sort of a benchmark for how I'm improving, year over year. This was my best one, statistically, but just barely. It was disappointing, however, compared to how I've been running lately. I do think it was more difficult than last year's, and I think I orienteered better, but not as fast as I planned to. I was not mentally (or gear wise) prepared for the poor weather. I let it affect my run.

    Day 1 splits on AttackPoint

    Day 2 splits on AttackPoint


    Eric gave a lesson on how to do field checking yesterday on Mt. Misery. If I can find some decent colored pencils, I can start learning how to do some mapping. Mt. Misery, though a small area, is such a beautiful place. Its like something you'd find in Northern Virginia, lollipop features, super white woods with unlimited viz, lots of ditches, gullies, and minimal rock, at least in the south part of it. The deer have cleared out the greenbriar and other underbrush, and even the mountain laurel is runnable in most places.

    Its a great base map, at least compared to others I've seen, which admittedly is not that many. Its in color, it has grid lines already oriented to north, and lots of contour detail that seems pretty correct, except on the north part. It is missing many of the trails, though.

    Mapping looks like a classic information theory problem. It should be interesting, and I'm anxious to get started on it. I wonder how long it will take to get competent at it.


    I'm looking over the web pages for WMOC 2002 to be held in Australia this October. One thing I ran into was this Australia - New Zealand Challenge event, which looks like it starts this Sunday. I didn't learn much about it, but it looks like both countries name teams, and there is some sort of point system to determine the winning country. Other runners can enter as "open" A meet runners but don't figure in the scoring.

    I think it would be cool if the US/Canada did something like this, on a much simpler scale. Say 3 days - short course day 1 (~4K), long "classic" course day 2 (~14K), (borrowing Kenny Walker's numbers from an o-net post), and relay day 3. A reasonable and simple scoring system could be thought up.

    This would be just for elite classes (ANZ is more complex with the senior classes involved as well). Each country names a few runners to compete. Held in conjunction with an A meet, this could be a simple way to generate excitement in elite-level racing without having to travel to Europe. The smallness of the field and simplicity of the event could possibly allow people the time to both spectate and then run their own course later. It seems the sort of event, if kept small, simple, but with high-quality athletes could be packaged for North American media.

    I would go anyway, I think it would be cool.


    I booked accommodations for the Calgary portion of APOC 2002 today. I've been to Calgary before, and accommodations can be tough. I'm worried they will be even tougher with APOC being at the same time as the Calgary Stampede.

    The last time I was in the Calgary area was for the Western Canadian Champs in 2000. I have fond memories of this event, winning M35-44 by 36 minutes in a field of 18 or so. It was the first (and last) A meet I ever won. I had only been orienteering for 2 years, and was totally shocked. I ran 9 min/k but more importantly didn't have any real booms. I had an absolutely perfect run on day 1, until I psyched myself out and boomed the GO control and had to relocate off the finish chute (a technique I'd learn to use intentionally in later races). I didn't even wear O clothes in those days, except for O shoes.

    Other memories from this race was leg 8-9 on day 1, high up across the face of a clear south-facing ridge with an absolutely stunning view of the rocky mountains to the west. It was tough to concentrate with this view competing for attention. This was the most beautiful O leg of all time.

    After that, just as I got off the ridge and back into the forest, the skies opened up with a vicious hail storm. I had to run the final 2K in the hail storm; it was slick at times, and my control description sheet got destroyed. Very interesting race.

    I believe the first APOC model day will be at this venue (Sandy McNabb). Its worth going here just for the views, if nothing else. I think I'll come and jog my day 1 course, unless my family wants to do something else.

[06-Jan-02]  Broad Creek, MD [Red, 7060/450, 64:26, 9.13, 1/9]

    I did not feel like I had any energy today. I did not feel particularily sharp either. I'll blame the former on the climb and the cold; the latter I don't know. I still managed to eek out the best time, unless someone started really late.

    Ken Walker Sr. was the course setter, and he set decoy controls on similar features in the circle as a training exercise. You were supposed to read the map precicely in the circle and read the control descriptions. I'll admit that I've pretty much trained myself to, if I see a flag on the feature I'm looking for in the circle, to go to it. This strategy seems reasonable, or at least it seems to work. In Europe however, at least at WMOC in Lithuania, you were toast if you did this. Bags on similar features in the circle was the norm. I rarely read the "which" feature column (e.g. "south" boulder) because of the USOF 60m rule, but that is what you had to do today.

    I was snookered 3 times on the decoys. I think it cost in total about a minute, or even less. It sometimes happens that I run in the circle and find a feature with no flag, and micro-relocate. It seemed about the same as that, and I was happy that I did it quickly today.

    The course was short of like a short O, at least in the beginning. I only boomed one control, not too bad I guess. Looking forward to Georgia.

    Splits and comments on AttackPoint


    Below is an e-mail I sent to Clare Durand regarding the course/class structure issue. The more I think about this, the harder and harder this problem seems. I guess I'm just happy running thru the woods on the course of my choice, which the current rules allow, and with the exception of preparing juniors and elites for international competetion, I wonder why this has to be an issue, or a change is needed at all.

    Clare -

    I have collected some of my thoughts. These ideas are most likely premature, but I guess with brainstorming, anything goes. My notes come from a brainstorming session I did a while back, and I looked at them again and thought about them more.

    These are what I feel are some "problems" or issues -

    M35 should perhaps be on blue (but no one seems to be complaining about this)
    F18 should perhaps be on green (but no one seems to be complaining about this)
    M21 should consider having a longer course (really set towards a WT of 90min)
    F21 should consider having a longer course (really set like blue or short blue)

    I spent alot of time looking at "L" vs "S", and adding two courses, a "purple" between green and brown, and a long blue. I really thought this was the way to go, but it ended up seeming too unwieldy, especially when you have open courses in there as well.

    I then thought about collapsing this structure to 10 year age groups, to eliminate the unweildiness somewhat. What that looked like was very much like the day 1 Canadian system (see http://www.orienteering.ca/coursestd.htm), with "short" courses shifted one course down (e.g. F45-54L runs course 5(green) and F45-54S runs course 4(brown). The Canadian system appeared to address many of the problems I thought of in a satisfactory, if not elegant, way. (Medals could be for top 3 in "L" and top 1 in "S").

    My conclusions came out as follows -

    Use the Canadian day 1 system, sticking strictly to the recommended winning times, with the following modifications -

    * WT on course 7 (short blue) goes from 70 to 75 minutes.
    * elite classes start at age 21, not 20
    * create an M19-20 class on course 7 (blue); change M17-19 to M17-18 on course 6 (red)
    * create an F19-20 class on course 6; change F17-19 to F17-18 on course 5 (green)
    * the above is for "L" classes; "S" classes are created by subtracting one from the course they run (e.g. F45-54L runs course 5(green), and F45-54S runs course 4(brown) (There is no where to go from 4; those runners wanting a shorter course would have to run 2/yellow open, as is done now by some people)

    (I have not looked closely, but I am hoping/certain this can eliminate the X/Y courses.).

    Other minor points -

    * change "F" in the class names to "W" to keep with IOF norms
    * eliminate the colors and use the numbers/names. The Canadians have nice names to go with their numbers. Michael Eglinski has been a proponent of this, and I agree with his reasoning.

    Oh well, these are my thoughts at least at a structure that can address the issues. I guess we should really be thinking about a plan of action on how to tackle this problem, but since I have already (naively) brainstormed about it, I figured I send these thoughts along.

    My brainstorming, which at times is long and at times incoherent, is at http://www.mapsurfer.com/ol/ol_ccs.txt


    SVO just officially announced the rogaine they were planning for Memorial Day at Micheaux SF. This is beautiful terrain, and only an hour or so away from where I live. This is good luck. Memorial Day is a perfect weekend for a rogaine, with that extra day to recover.

    I've been only in one 6 hour rogaine, and one 24 hour event. The 24 hour event was in driving rain -- I'm probably exaggerating, but I think it rained 20 of the 24 hours. I came down with mild hypothermia, but survived, our team finishing in 5th place, with the additional handicap of having to retire early to to equipment problems. Hopefully the weather will be pleasant for this event.

    People often ask "what is the difference between a rogaine and O?". People often respond with "its like a really long score O". I think that is the wrong answer, and I've always felt the sports could not be more different. Here is my answer on the crucial differences, FWIW -

    * Rogaine is about strategy and planning, O is about tactics and execution. The fact that a rogaine map is typically handed out 2 hours before the race is a huge difference in the character of the sport. It changes the crux of the sport to strategy from thinking on the fly. This is what makes the sports so different, in my opinion. I'm not a top rogainer, but I imagine some rogaines are won before the race starts.

    * Rogaine is an equipment sport, or gear planning plays much more of a role than in O. Planning your gear for a rogaine is a significant part of the sport. I imagine rogainers spend much more time watching weather forecasts before a race, nor do O runners worry about what sort of blister repair kit to carry on a race. For my last rogaine, I spent countless hours planning gear before the race and watching the weather.

    * Rogaines are about endurance, O races are about speed. I think the mental approach, training, hydration and nutrition needs are too different.

    * Once the race starts, physical factors seem much more important in a rogaine. I think O is about 50% physical, 50% mental (navigation). I think rogaines are about 80% physcial/gear/food management, and 20% mental (navigation). The navigation is easier (on lollipop features with trails more of a factor) and at a slower speed. Rogainers "booming controls" seem less of a factor. Of course, some "slow" orienteers often do very well in rogaines. Could be I'm pretty clueless about this, but I think that has to do with the mental planning before the race, and the "free" mental planning that can be done while going slow.

    * 25-50% of a rogaine, of course, is in the dark. I personally find night navigation a completely different game.

    * Rogaine maps are less detailed and at a different scale. This difference is sometimes mentioned, but I feel it is one of least relevant differences, as the navigation aspect itself is different, and appropriate to the change in map. The one significant difference that emerges here is in regards to vegetation The rogaine map often does not show the density of the vegetation, and it can be frustrating to take "shortcut" and wind up, unknowingly, in an impassable patch of mountain laurel, where white woods may have been hit with better luck.

    * Rogaine, of course, is a team sport. Working with a partner is an important aspect of the sport.