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Discussion: Running off the map

in: Orienteering; General

May 24, 2015 5:44 AM # 
I'm curious to know if you are allowed to take a route choice that goes off the map? I cannot find if this is a rule on the IOF rules page.
May 24, 2015 10:37 AM # 
I don't think there is a rule against competitors doing this, but they would be taking a huge risk that there is not a significant barrier such as a deep gully, big hill, huge cliff, a motorway, extensive thicket of blackberries, private property, etc.

There is probably an unwritten rule for course planners to avoid tempting competitors to go off the map, especially for events under IOF jurisdiction.

I have a vague memory of someone taking an off-map route at WOC some years ago, but it wouldn't have been a good look for IOF if the person had won.
May 24, 2015 7:27 PM # 
I believe it was at WOC in Norway there was a road on the edge of the map on the long and part of it got cut off someone bailed to the road on a long leg and hoped it was the same road and carried on which I believe it did
May 24, 2015 8:30 PM # 
The problem with "running off the map" is that you have, by definition, "lost contact" with the map. And must "relocate." Which may be difficult without a distinct "catching feature."

I am super-careful whenever I select a route that takes me close to the edge of the map. I want iron-clad attack points to make sure that there will be no question whether I'm on or off the map.
May 24, 2015 8:50 PM # 
Iron is heavy. Just sayin'.
May 24, 2015 8:56 PM # 
Rules or no rules, don't run off the map. There be dragons.
May 24, 2015 11:10 PM # 
Coincidentally in yesterday's event in the ACT this happened. The edge of the map was a fence and there was unmapped farmland on the other side, which a competitor used rather than running along the fence line, which had pockets of thick bush, rocks, etc that slowed up (at least) one of the other competitors.
May 24, 2015 11:42 PM # 
Which is why Biddy raised the question...if the land in question was privately-owned and not belonging to the same landowner as the mapped area, then that competitor was trespassing!
May 25, 2015 12:47 AM # 
...but if it's not marked OOB, then at least they can only be arrested (and/or shot), not DSQ.
May 25, 2015 12:49 AM # 
There can be other advantages to running off the map. Back in the mid 70s a Canadian orienteer running at the Swiss 6-day happened to unknowingly run off the map. When he found a farmer who would show him where they were on the map the gentleman pointed to the air a few cm outside the east edge of the map.
The advantage? The farmer insisted that they share some beer before he would take the (un)lucky Canadian back to the competition center (aka arena).
May 25, 2015 2:03 AM # 
Oops, didn't notice that Biddy was from Aus. I thought it was highly coincidental that this should come up now. I just saw farmland and figured it wasn't mapped for a reason. Of course I wasn't meant to be that far west, having overshot the control I was looking for (I was also on the wrong spur, which didn't help).
May 25, 2015 2:15 AM # 
tRicky!!! Biddly is famous! (and lovely)
May 25, 2015 3:11 AM # 
I haven't done this in weeks! But I did have a leg the first weekend of this month where the map was cropped too close to the course, and I intentionally went off the edge of the paper to avoid the worst of the thorny steep stuff, all the while thinking that the best route might be even further off the map. I was not impressed. I was pretty confident that I wasn't going to be trespassing, though, since I knew that the land ownership was the same all the way down to the road at the bottom of the hill.
May 25, 2015 4:04 AM # 
OK, so next map I make will have OOB all around the outside!
May 25, 2015 4:27 AM # 
Of course that shouldn't be necessary Simmo! But the national rules round here (patterned on the IOF rules) are conspicuously silent on the matter. Even if it was there (perhaps it is:-)) it would be unfind-able in amongst all the stuff that relates to organiser obligations.

The rogaine rules (patterned on the IRF ones) are a little better. They separate out the competitor stuff into a readable couple of pages. And they hint at the map boundaries by saying the organiser's map is the only one allowed to be used. But a lawyer could driver a bulldozer through these words: "The course” means anywhere a team travels during the time of the rogaine...
May 25, 2015 4:58 AM # 
Give me a bulldozer and I will drive it through your lawyer (and any others that I find along the way or even out of the way).
May 25, 2015 5:43 AM # 
Marking outside a boundary as OOB is definitely an option if anyone thinks (a) a route choice off the map may be a viable option and (b) taking it would create issues with landowner permissions. Of course, competitors may well see viable route choices that the course-setter doesn't even consider...
May 25, 2015 5:51 AM # 
My first thought looking at leg 1 from the weekend was "I wonder if it's farmland on the other side of that fence?" I would have headed that way and hoped that it was.
May 25, 2015 5:55 AM # 
You could have run through the control descriptions.
May 25, 2015 8:21 AM # 
Check out Bruce's route well off the map!
May 25, 2015 8:26 AM # 
Plus carrying a GPS in a WRE, tut tut.

(Richard, fix your tags)
May 25, 2015 8:28 AM # 
Richard wins the prize for correctly identifying the protagonist.
May 25, 2015 8:30 AM # 
Always lovely
May 25, 2015 11:09 AM # 
Bruce's route was the one that jumped out at me. Not having been to the map, there's probably a better way, unless the forest is awful, but the only other things that stuck out to me were gigantic hills, which I prefer to avoid before the first control.
May 25, 2015 2:27 PM # 
That was a good idea. My legs had had it before I'd even done half the course, mainly from going over all the hills I could find.
May 26, 2015 12:41 AM # 
This isn't my story, and the two people involved are occasional contributors to Attackpoint, so if they see this and recognize themselves, they can correct me if I got any details wrong.

The story takes place in the early 1980s, I think, a bit before my day. The meet was on an unusual map (here), consisting of a large sandy hill in otherwise flat terrain. At the course review on Saturday night, the day's winner described one leg that was near the edge of the map. He said he had done some of the fieldwork when the map was originally made, and although it was just white paper after the last contour line at the bottom of the hill, it was actually accurate, in that it was just flat open forest there, so that was the route that he took. One teenage competitor who was in attendance had a similar leg on Sunday, and took the advice. He found out that the first guy had actually been kidding, and what was down there was a dense tangle of fallen trees.
May 26, 2015 3:20 AM # 
I already half debated about posting this story, but since JJ brought it up, here it goes.

I'm rather sure that I am part of the story, since the only other mapper was not at the event. I will confirm part of the story, but not all of it, and add what I thought was the real punch line.

Yes, I competed in an "A" meet on my own map, Mission Hill. (it was not the debut event for this fantastic, but underused terrain). Yes, I intentionally took the edge-of-map route on a leg, going eastbound along the southern edge. I probably spoke about this leg, and I certainly wasn't kidding. I have no memory that anyone had trouble the next day using this plausible route, nor was I aware of any unmapped thick vegetation along this edge, and would consider this a mapping shortcoming if it wasn't shown in some way along this lower edge, which should have been considered part of the map's playing field.

At least to me, the real story was that I actually lost contact with the map, running too fast along this supposedly simple route, and failed to cut back up into the real terrain when I should have. Things didn't make sense, possibly because there was some contour detail in the supposedly flat area, but I kept going, until all of a sudden I was standing atop a steep hillside, facing eastward, overlooking a huge pond below. Well that helped, it wasn't Lake Superior (just off the map to the north), and most APers could probably tell by now that I was looking at Monocle Lake, but it took an embarrassing amount of additional time, running along this eastern edge, until I put myself completely back on the map. I had clearly had been well off the SE corner of the map, getting lost on my own fieldwork, probably done only 3(?) years earlier.
May 26, 2015 4:20 AM # 
Yep, you are indeed one of the people involved, though I had never heard the story from you. Now we'll see if James Baker weighs in to see if I got his side of it right. (My memory was that he thought it was pretty funny.)

(And man-oh-man, if there were ever another meet there, I'd make a serious effort to get to it, having missed my chance back in the day.)
May 26, 2015 11:44 PM # 
I've once run off a map (not on purpose) and ended up in a different country - on a map on the border between Germany and Czechoslovakia (as it then was) on the JWOC training camp in 1991. Probably only a two-minute mistake, too. (Interestingly, not only was there no fence, there was no evidence that there'd ever been one - I guess it would have been a bit of a waste of time crossing illegally from East Germany to Czechoslovakia or vice versa).

My other notable running-off-maps effort was to run off both ends of the old Honeysuckle Creek map (near Canberra) on the same day.
May 27, 2015 2:27 AM # 
I've only run off the map once, right at the start of an event near Perth. I've never heard the end of it. I hadn't really been orienteering long at that stage and it was a horrible map so I was probably better off not running on it.

At least I haven't run off an urban map by crossing a major road like some others I could name...

I've also ridden off a MTBO map twice in the same event on my first sprint race, in Vic. The big problem was in trying to relocate but couldn't since the feature I was at was not on the map and yet I somehow rode back onto the map then off it again.
May 27, 2015 3:22 AM # 
Early in my career I was on a very technical map, and found myself completely lost, and after that I was still lost but in a pack of more experienced orienteers, all milling around trying to figure out where we were. Eventually we found a large, distinctive cliff, and we couldn't find it on the map, so one of the crowd (a very good orienteer who often posts here) said, "Well, this isn't on the map, and that means we're not on the map!". (But none of us were doing it on purpose.) I think there were five finishers out of 20 starters on M21 that day, and two of us were over three hours.
May 27, 2015 6:37 PM # 
OTH - Late in my career, last Sunday, I went off the field checked portion of the map on to what the map indicated was private property though there was no evidence on the ground. There were contours on the map, few if any of the many cliffs, and I gradually figured contours could be useful in figuring my location. Guess that's why we keep doing this activity - to continue to make the same or new mistakes week after week.
May 28, 2015 2:14 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I ran an event last week where the map had been cut _very_ close to the only real route to control #9:

The main problem was all the extra unmapped paths that had been created by people living nearby, it lead one of my competitors to a 13 minute mistake.
May 25, 2024 9:13 AM # 
This discussion is the only reference I find.
I'm watching the World Cup in Olten, Knockout Sprint Quarter Finals.
For the 6 - 7 leg, is it allowed or forbidden to run on the bridge and cross the road as soon as you are off the map ? It is clearly shorter !
May 25, 2024 10:06 AM # 
Without any link to the map it makes it hard to know what you're talking about but you're not allowed to run off the competition map.
May 25, 2024 10:18 AM # 
Never mind, I did track it down but no, you're not supposed to know what's off the map (particularly a WC sprint!) so information you have outside of the map area is not overtly useful. I think this map is a clear case of 'you're not supposed to go this way'.
May 25, 2024 4:38 PM # 
There's no explicit IOF rule against running off the map (unless the boundary is marked OOB), but that example raises some interesting possibilities/loopholes which may be better closed. Will follow this up further.
May 25, 2024 8:14 PM # 
"How was I supposed to know that was the edge of the map? I thought it was just flat, featureless forest, seemed like a good route choice!"
May 25, 2024 11:50 PM # 
I once had a prominent Aus orienteer tell me I should have DQed myself after (accidentally) running off the map and continuing until I was back on it.
May 26, 2024 3:06 AM # 
I would use plausible deniability as my defense --- that was a navigational error.

But seriously in America you definitely do not want to run off the map into private property likely owned by gun toting crazies.
May 26, 2024 5:14 AM # 
Thanks Blair.
Here is a link to the course I was refering to
an urban sprint (not a forest), a World Cup !
May 26, 2024 6:58 AM # 
In JWOC 2007 in Australia, the middle qualification race had the finish off the map, by quite some distance too if I remember right. I'm not at home to find a copy of the map but surely someone here has it.
May 26, 2024 1:01 PM # 
@yurets: I remember one event where we specifically noted the dangers of running off the map, stating that the neighboring property owner was armed with "dogs, guns, and lawyers".
May 26, 2024 6:30 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
Last November, in the PWT Cruise in the Caribbean, the first race in Marigot, on the French side of St Martin, had the finish so far beyond the edge of the map that I stopped and ran back towards the last control, thinking I could have skipped something.
Turned out afterwards that I was leading by almost two minutes on that last control but ended up in third place.
May 26, 2024 8:45 PM # 
@Terje that's a case of the finish being on the wrong place way off the map!

Best JWOC 2007 example I could find:
May 27, 2024 12:11 AM # 
Terje that's pretty unfortunate that that could happen.

The other example though, I just cannot fathom how you can not even put the finish in the mapped area!
May 27, 2024 12:28 AM # 
When this happens, are there continuous tapes forming a finish chute from the last control?
May 27, 2024 3:08 PM # 
For the JWOC example, yeah there were tapes and the actual maps had it marked as taped. I can't remember if it said anything about it in the information before. The reason they did it was that the final was in the blank area the next day (obviously with an actual map of it) and they didn't want to show the new map, but it was a bit odd still.
May 27, 2024 3:43 PM # 
To the extent that someone might try to claim that there was a loophole in the World Cup map, it would have been easy enough to avoid by marking the full width of the bridge as OOB with 709.
May 27, 2024 7:15 PM # 
Surely the WC example isn’t a loophole that needs closing? It’s obvious you can’t go that way and indeed no-one did. So no need to overcomplicate…
May 27, 2024 7:30 PM # 
For the JWOC example, I think if I were in charge I would have included a narrow strip of map that showed the finish chute. I mean, there's not much sense in "hiding" something that people are going to be running through.

For the WC example, it wouldn't be much overcomplication (maybe even a little simpler for the competitors) if the sidewalks on the bridge were just out-of-bounds.
May 28, 2024 7:42 AM # 
An example from WOC 2008. Minna Kauppi took a route choice which went outside the map.
May 28, 2024 8:54 AM # 
OK so maybe there does need to be a clarification that "running outside of the mapped area is not permitted"...
May 28, 2024 10:36 AM # 
They could draw this route choice in Olten as out of bounds in several different ways. I'm still amazed that they didn't for such a major event, with a local controller plus an IOF controller. I saw this within 5 seconds of looking at the GPS tracking online. And in a knockout sprint, if you're way at the back, it is fair game to attempt a different route choice, even a desperate attempt. So I'm amazed noone did (although it is also generally the case that they all follow the leading runner in those knockout sprint, even sometimes when it is not the best route choice).
May 28, 2024 10:54 AM # 
Bulletin 4 had a “Passage of main road” section addressing this.
May 28, 2024 11:50 AM # 
I've had a couple of thoughts on this.
1. Allowing off-map running allows luck to influence the results, so as planner I would want to prevent it with all the tools I have.
2. I can make mistakes and overlook things (I didn't see the possibility at Olten). I would be glad if there was a rule that backed me up.
3. Minna Kaupi's off-map route 16 years ago must be known to the IOF, and yet there doesn't seem to be a rule. So it seems it is happy with the situation.

Good luck Blair:-))
May 28, 2024 1:44 PM # 
Knowing that Minna Kauppi had done this in 2008 without breaking any rules, I gave it a try in 2015

As tRicky said, the forest was pretty rough. There were certainly other options, but if you chose to run left of the mountain, then this option seemed better than the alternative of rough undulating forest, as well as saving energy for later in the race.

I suppose it is not an IOF or national rule because many people run off the map all the time.

I understand it is up to the course setter to either mark the area as out of bounds if they don't want you to go there, or set the course so that this is not a plausible option. Alternatively, there is always the option of highlighting any additional local rules in the bulletin.

The competitor's task is to find their way around the course as best as possible within the rules.

There was another tempting off the map choice at the recent Australian 3 Day M21E Day 3 leg 5-6
On this occasion it did not seem worthwhile to run off the map.
However, this was not an option on the later leg 16-17 as the map showed that this was not allowed.
May 28, 2024 3:34 PM # 
An entertaining story from many years ago, in which I'll leave out the specifics, but at least one of the involved people shows up here from time to time and can speak up if desired:

There's a map that's basically one significant hill (with a lot of interesting contour detail) in an otherwise flat region. There was a two-day event there, and at a course review on Saturday night, one of the competitors noted an unusual route choice that he had taken. He had some knowledge of the terrain (maybe had done fieldwork on an earlier version of the map or something), and noted that on one long leg, the best choice was to seemingly run off the map and run along the base of the hill, because in fact what was beyond the lowest contour line was just a flat plain of open forest. (I think it wasn't clear whether he was just joking.) One of the other competitors was paying attention, and when faced with a similar leg on Sunday, went right for the "white woods", which turned out to indeed be a flat expanse -- choked with fallen trees.
May 28, 2024 4:18 PM # 
I was already on the verge of introducing this story. :-)
My running-off-the-map was embarrassingly unintentional, and indeed on my own fieldwork, not in line with the other stories here.
Mission Hill, UP Michigan early 80's.
May 28, 2024 4:44 PM # 
Just had to-and-fro with the BOF rules people about running off the map (allowed in he UK) which threw up a number of opinions. Including that it is covered by "unfair advantage", so running off the map is fine, but running off the map *and* gaining an advantage is not.

Even more surprisingly, you're allowed to punch "through" or "into" an uncrossible feature, as long as you dont take your whole self to the other side.
May 28, 2024 5:57 PM # 
Igor, the mandatory crossing of a main road in Bulletin 4 is on leg 4 - 5, the road crossing is not marked at mandatory on leg 6 - 7, but yes they could have done that.
May 28, 2024 8:38 PM # 
She saved ~30 seconds by taking a huge gamble off the map and now we have to have a new rule??
May 28, 2024 10:01 PM # 
I mean, it seems reasonable to require that all attractive route choices be either mapped or forbidden. The whole point of this sport is that the information you need is supposed to be on the paper in your hand. If there's a faster route that requires that sort of gamble, that's bad course setting.
May 28, 2024 10:22 PM # 
If going off the edge of the map is going to be forbidden in the future it should be paired with a rule/understanding that the edge of the map is clearly marked.

And maybe by that it should be the edge of the field checked map as I have seen too many maps include a large section of yn field checked contours on the edge.
May 29, 2024 12:20 AM # 
Ah right, my bad.
May 29, 2024 12:37 AM # 
Given how easy it is for to make and study your own rough auto-generated maps for many areas, going off the map might not be as risky as it once was. And if you have previously run there, that's a real advantage. Why not clearly delineate the acceptable boundaries for every course on the course map? And a rule to deal with the case when planners neglect that would make sense since it seems to be assumed by many that such a rule exists.
May 29, 2024 1:01 AM # 
Another reason to have clear rules delineated, including statements about things like "there is no rule for...", especially if such issues have arisen in discussions, is that it is far easier for someone who speaks English or the specific organizer's languages to specifically search a document for things and situations they have missed, or using the right words to ask others about such things. That puts many athletes at a disadvantage who have to read Bulletins and Rules using web or other translation tools. Gets even more difficult to get the things that are written down, let alone the ones that are not, when even the characters and grammar structure differs even further from the Anglo-Euro languages.
If one thinks of situations where one was not able to find information on, someone who has to translate is much more likely to assume that for places where even for native speakers the answer appear to not be entirely obvious or known, that there are some rules that they are just not finding, and will thus likely not going to risk something they assume might have a rule against it.
May 29, 2024 1:48 AM # 
Even more surprisingly, you're allowed to punch "through" or "into" an uncrossible feature, as long as you dont take your whole self to the other side.

Interesting, we always write on our sprint maps that you are not allowed to do that though Blair's response in the link seems to clarify that, at least for sprint events.


jjcote didn't you use that example in a previous post in this thread (granted it was from 2015 so perhaps you forgot)? Hilariously EricW was the first response in both instances.
May 29, 2024 2:31 AM # 
Hah! I had no idea that this was a thread from nine years ago! And I was thinking about posting another run-off-the-map anecdote, but I see I also mentioned that one in 2015, so thanks for saving me the further embarrassment.

I'm not sure that I'm in favor of a rule prohibiting competitors from running off the map, disqualification seems a bit harsh for something that ought to be its own punishment. I'd rather just see courses set such that it's not an issue (controls not too close to the edge, map covering all reasonable route choices).
May 29, 2024 11:56 PM # 
I was really nervous at an event two weeks ago.

I sent two friends off on their first real forest orienteering event. When I saw the course, I realized there were a couple opporunities for them to miss a control and walk off the edge of the map. Luckily that didn't happen.
May 30, 2024 2:23 AM # 
May 31, 2024 10:23 AM # 
I ran off the map at this year's JK Long course day. To avoid going over ground I'd run the day before AND to avoid the terrible mud. Needless to say it wasn't the fastest route, but I felt good about it.

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