O Log - Good Race Yesterday ...

[01-Mar-04] 

    ... and I didn't even run. Or at least the feedback I heard on my courses for the "Valley Goat" was positive (or course, I never say negative things to a course setter, given how much volunteer work it is, so who knows?). I really enjoy course designing, vetting the control circles, and running various routes -- some of the other logistics I could do without tho -- all alot of work and it has kept me tied up the past few days. I also enjoy the challenge of getting all the controls out before the start of the race -- missed it by 6 minutes this time. Of course, I could have hung the late ones after the start, but I wanted to spectate the race. The course came within 500m of the start twice, and the start/finish controls were in open fields, so you had 4 spectator opportunities if you wanted them.

    This was originally going to be a training event, and I expected about 10 people or so. It was still a training event (in my mind), but we got about 150 people on all the courses.

    The idea was to set a long orangish course (with a stray technical control or two thrown in) and make it a mass start to emphasize fitness and looking at the map while running near capacity in the heat of a head to head race, with a dash of route planning required under those conditions also. I looked at it like a long sprint race. We had a pretty good east coast field, and I hope the training was useful. Despite the emphasis on fitness over navigation, I think navigators still beat runners in a couple of cases, or at least the claim from a runner was "I could take him in a road race". As Greg Balter says, "its still orienteering". I didn't expect even medium booms to be a factor, but for minor decisions or very small booms under stress between runners of equal fitness to possibly determine the race. Turns out the race was decided in the 200m of navigation to the GO control thru parkland terrain. It actually was a fun race to spectate.

    I was actually happy with the course, for what it was, and where it was, Valley Forge Mt. Joy, were a true advanced course can't really be set anyway, I don't think. I would have liked the course to be a touch longer, but there wasn't enough park. I think the lengths worked out, tho. I was happy with the variety, 10 legs ~200m or less, 4 1000m or more, and 2 or 3 others in the 700+ range. For the skip I tried make it not too obvious, and tried to make what I thought was the best skip bring in route planning of the incoming and outgoing legs into the calculus; both were long with route choice possibilities, and the skip in the middle perhaps offered the opportunity to force alteration of route choice on both, or at least give runners more to think about than simply best skip on the leg in isolation. I'm not sure if it accomplished that effect or not.

    My one regret was not mentioning in the course setter's notes that the vegetation was a half grade faster than mapped. I thought about this for a long time, but I didn't feel it was true on the one leg where it really mattered, and I didn't think it mattered on any other legs. The one leg was the potential skip of #4 which was a semi dogleg into green. I ran that leg a couple times, and both times got pretty tangled up in the vines. Many runners skipped this leg on the map, and based on my runnings, it was probably the second best skip. However, some runners found fast routes thru the veg, which would have warranted a downgrade in the notes. Runners who "knew the park" knew it "wasn't as bad as mapped". Perhaps I wasn't careful enough vetting the area, or I had bad luck. I don't think it was a big deal, but I'm a perfectionist about course fairness, if humanly possible, even if only small change is at stake.

    A couple people complained that the bags were hung too low. My rule is "plainly visible from the feature site as described on the clue sheet, preferably on it". I'm confident all my bags met this test by being on it. I hung them as I've seen them overseas. Additionally, I was constrained by the stands I had to buy for hanging in grassland, and the need to hang low to prevent vandalism in a busy park with high viz. But, a topic for another day or an expert is national or international standards on hanging bags. I guess I'm an O nerd.

    For me, this was sort of a one-off, (or more accurately, I'll hold it every Feb 29 that falls on a Sunday), but Wyatt said he'd run it next year if we get the Mt. Misery section of the map done. I was working on that, but have lost what little time I had for that project, unfortunately.

    Some good news is that I understand the club agreed to donate half the proceeds to the US Team.

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