The following are five controls from my recent trip to Spain that
I considered "bingo", at the time (all 1:15 in poor mobility and
visibility; the second scan considers 2 controls). The questions
are, are they bingo controls, what did I do about them, and what
can I do about them in the future?
I ended up spiking 3 of them, and booming the other 2. The first thing
to note is, that if the veg changes can be read, spikes can be forced on
all but #11, I think. I consider one of my strengths reading veg changes;
perhaps that applies to North American deciduous forests as opposed to
Mediterranean scrub pine forests. But I really think the veg changes
were more vague that mapped, or perhaps more accurately (and correctly),
mapped for runnability, not what you could see, and unless you were
running it it, you could not tell what kind you were in or what was next
to you (I did experience this elsewhere on the courses, and one always
assumes veg is mapped from the photos, but evidently not here -- the
biggest example of this syndrome I remember was the APOC races at Edmonton
where the "green" (evergreens) was white runnable, and the "white" (non
evergreen bushes) was light to med green runnable, but a story for another
It should also be noted that these controls would be fairly easy if the
veg was not so rough and tumble. This indicates weakness in holding
a bearing from attack thru rough veg; a skill rarely tested, it seems,
in North American orienteering, but one perhaps to work on.
So, forgetting about the veg, what can be done about these controls,
and what did I do about them?
I spiked #11, but of this lot, it is the only one I think I still
see as a truly definite bingo. It turns out that there was this huge
(I mean massively
tall) inflatable clown in the finish chute area, and I memorized its
location before the race (actually in case I needed help getting to the
GO control/finish area). The clown was visible on the way to #11, and
I used my relative position to it to guide my way to the control. I'm
good at judging distances from other objects and this gave me a decent
chance to hit it, and I did. I figured if I missed, I'd bounce off
the contour features or field behind it.
I guess this control can be approached by blasting to the field, and
bouncing back, but I argue this technique is still bingoish, as you
could hit it on the way using such technique (that would be luck -- I
feel that is true of any control where the "blast and bounceback"
technique is set up by the course setter). Also on this control,
it has been reported that the handrail on the change from slash to
rough open scattered trees was not useful (which is consistent with
my opinions of the veg).
Perhaps I'm missing it. If I'm bored, I'll look at the splits to
see if this control had a higher boom rate.
I boomed #18 (second map segment) for about 90 seconds. I was cursing
this as a bingo, given the roughness of the veg, but this control is
solvable -- it is my own background that has failed. I came up the
drainage (the one with the cairn), and crossed the trail, using that
as the attack. The first thing to note is that I didn't physically
go to the cairn, and in fact didn't even see it -- I "cut the corner" a
bit. As an economic problem, it is an open question (in my mind) whether
such discipline is always indicated or not.
The real problem, was, of course, ignoring the indistinct trails; the
right one of which can be used, with the control being visible from
it (and if not, it has been reported that the bends are accurate and
readable). What has happened is that I have been trained to ignore
indistinct trails. My "attack planning engine" didn't even see them in
planning the attack. I think this comes from alot of training and
running on old maps, where they really are worthless, or perhaps
more trouble than they are worth, so I have been trained that it is
profitable to ignore them.
In this case, and I think all cases that look bingoish, you have to
presume the principle of spikability -- that is, assume the course
setter has given a solution to the control, even if you don't see it.
In this case, that solution must certainly be that the indistinct
trail is findable and reliable. If you presume spikability, and the
course setter has dealt you a bingo anyway, you aren't any worse off.
I realise I am bad at this principle, but perhaps recognizing this
fact will help.
I spiked #19, but it still seems a minor bingo. I guess the safe
technique is to aim off to the trail behind, or blast and be
caught by the trail behind -- still bingoish as you may hit it
by luck, but only a few seconds as it is so close. Turns out
the M20 course was running this leg the opposite way, so I was lead
in (course setting luck of a different variety).
I spiked #21 using the presumption of spikability principle. I
attacked off the right side of the hill, and found the small
drainage leading to the control area. These drainages can be
tough to find in rough veg, but I had to presume that if the
field checker/basemap maker saw it, that I would also. I
guess not really a bingo control at all.
#2 perhaps looks like the easiest of the lot, but I boomed it the
worst of all. Controls on broad spurs are always something to be
wary of, and I was: I set myself up with what I thought was a
solid attackpoint, and had the discipline to make sure I
physically went to it (the drainage just where the line crosses
the orchard on the near side). I am at a loss as to how to
solve this control, other than to walk it on a precise bearing.
The feature was visible from no more than about 3-5 meters away.
I guess I could have tried to find that curve in the spur, but
that is not a point feature to be used as an attack. This was
my second control of the trip, and I didn't realise how tough
things could be -- this control really does look kinda easy from
the map, if it really is what I think of as rough open with
Perhaps bingo, perhaps not, but if there is a presumption of
spikability, I can't solve it.