O Log - WMOC '04

[26-Jul-04] 

    Here is my WMOC '04, M35-1 Qual Day 1 map.

    Here is my WMOC '04, M35-1 Qual Day 2 map.

    Here is my WMOC '04, M35-B Final map.

    Here is my WMOC '04, MBlack Asiago Town Race map.

    Marcesina (Q2/Final)

    One of the few ultimate goals I had was to make an A final at WMOC. I did that a couple of years ago in Australia when the whole field made the final, so I amended it to finish in the top half of a qualifying heat at WMOC. I did that this time. The trouble with ultimate goals is that they hinge on things you can't control.

    WMOC '04 was in Asiago, on the Altopiano of northern Italy, a mountainous plateau northwest of Venice, about 1500m above sea level. It was a bit on the chilly side (for me). The terrain was runnable pine, some rock and contour detail, and open meadows. It varied from technical to bland. It was fairly physical. Rocky areas were very tough to read, as there was always more small rock than the larger mapped rock, and mobility was poor in these areas. Viz was generally excellent. Mapping was excellent, course-setting was decent, organization was uneven, tho probably better than the criticisms I hilight.

    I prepared for these races by running M21E beforehand, in the same basic area of Italy, and Austria. There was plenty of time to recover between those races and WMOC, so I thought this was smart, as getting used to the pre race distances would appear to shorten the WMOC races. The mistake I made was comparing my time per K with the times per K in M35. Based on that, and assuming the same basic field would show at WMOC, I wouldn't make the cut. I didn't account for the fact that the M21E courses were harder, and thus time per K wasn't all that meaningful. So, I didn't have the confidence I usually have, and prepared quite an aggressive game plan.

    Not a bad map to live on

    But it worked anyway (in my mind). I came out pretty aggressive on the day 1 qualifier, and started finding controls. Until I blew #7 for 8 minutes or so. I had a plan and two backups, find the trail and take it right to the control. If that failed, find the green and read in, and just in case, keep in touch with the contour picture on the way in. I could not find the trail (I had been finding similar in other races). The green, rough open, slash, etc., was tough to be precise with. I think I misread the contours. The rocky area was difficult to move around in. When I found the control, I could not get to it as I was on top of an impassable rockface. I did not see an impassable rockface on the map. Its frustrating to see the bag, and not be able to get there. Good orienteers don't make 8 minute mistakes. I realised the control was difficult, and thought I was ok with a good plan and some backups. Had the control been later in the race, I would have taken the safer, but expensive lower road, which I think I could have executed safely.

    So I didn't give up, torque'd up the pace even more, and had a basically clean race. A couple of bobbles was all. I finished Q1 in 31st place, only a few seconds out of 30th. The organizers had told me that the top 30 in each heat make the cut. So I was in business, 8 minutes of errors, and only seconds from making the cut. A clean race should do it.

    Day 2 qualifier was faster and easier. I prepared for very fast, boring terrain, based on the model. That's what the first 2 legs were, and I ran them at about 6.5min/k. Not bad. #3 was a change of pace. I boomed it, of course. But I thought I was in good shape, because I thought I did all the right things, like slow down and read into the bag, until there was no bag. Lack of skill. Didn't miss by much. So I lost a little time there, but still felt I could make it. But after that I didn't orienteer particularly well. I boomed a few more controls, and did not see the good route to #5. My route was stupid. The time lost was not catastrophic, but it added up. I was moving so fast (for me) and that helped a bit. I was running on all heart, but still trying to be smart and change speeds, and was not going to be denied my A final. I improved to 28th place for the race, 29th overall. Top half of my heat. I figured I'd made it.

    Well, I didn't make it despite finishing in the top half of my heat, and a place above where the organizers said the cut would be. The rant follows in the next few paragraphs, but before I go there, I guess it could be said that I did not deserve to make it, as I did not orienteer well either day. (Fact was it was some of my worse orienteering of the year). I felt that way at the time, but that's bunk. I finished in the top half of my heat, so I should have made it. It doesn't matter how. I ran so much faster than usual, and thus compensated for some of the time lost. Not my normal game plan, but that shouldn't matter. O is path independent. I had no choice but to try to make up time, and that is what I did (I know you can't, its just an expression ...)

    So, how did I get screwed? By idiotic rules/and/or their interpretation. The rules say conceptually, that the top half of a 2 heat qualifier make the cut, rounded in the runners' favor. So, with 118 M35 runners, it is divided into 2 heats of 59, with 29.5 (rounded to 30) runners from each heat making the final. So, the organizers told me 30 runners from each heat make the cut when I asked before the first race. It all made sense.

    But the devil is in the details. The wording in the rule doesn't use the word runner or starter, it uses the word qualifier. This means (or at least was interpreted to mean), that people who are disqualified (i.e., mispunch or are overtime), don't count. Don't even exist. You are deemed to have not orienteered better than these folks. So, if you have 118 runners, 6 mispunch, you take 118 - 6, divide by 2 heats = 56, divide by 2 again (top half of each heat), leaves 28 making the cut. Leaves me running the B final. All these people had to do was finish, and I'd be in the A final. Same race run on my part.

    In my mind, the stupidity of this is apparent, but I am obviously biased. One of the corollaries of this, tho, which I think shows how obviously unfair it is -- is that what happens in the other heat affects whether you qualify. What kind of running race has those rules? In M35, I ran heat 1. Yet, there were 6 mispunches in heat 2. That knocked me out. Had all those runners in heat 2 finished, I would have made it. Its like running a race of 2 heats, say the 1000 meters, and just making the cut in your heat. Then there's a doping test after the race and the 4 lowest finishing runners in the other heat test positive. All the sudden you no longer make the cut.

    There's more. Peter and I amused ourselves coming up with pathological scenarios based on this idiocy. I don't remember the exact numbers, but one case goes something like this. Assume you have 22 runners in a class. Normally, 12 would make the A final, 5.5 rounded to 6 from each heat. However, if 2 mispunch, then all 20 remaining runners make it! Cases also get bizarre with lots of mispunches in one heat. Hope the organizers have enough maps printed for all the possible pathological cases that can be constructed.

    So, the bottom line is that you have to hang around the results board waiting to see who straggles in just before the overtime limit. And these organizers stopped posting results after about 40 runners in M35 had finished, as if the excitement of the stragglers didn't matter.

    So I protested. The grounds of my protest were --

    • The organizers told me 30 would make the cut before the race
    • Orienteering races generally don't change the numbers making the cut from qualification heats as the day progresses
    • What happens in heat 2 should not affect the number making the cut from heat 1
Home