Can we please go back to putting control descriptions in the meet packets?
Background: When I started orienteering here in the USA in the mid 1980s, at A-meets, each map was prepared for a competitor, with the control descriptions and the punch card (with your name and start time on it) inside the map case. Then somebody realized that it was easier to put the punch cards in the meet packets, so that the competitors could carry them however they liked. This also meant that the maps didn't need to customized for each person, there was just a box of identical maps at the start line. And around the same time, somebody had the bright idea to give each competitor his control descriptions in the meet packet. This was great. It meant that you could carry the punchcard in a manner that worked for you, and you could also carry the control descriptions in some convenient way so that you didn't have to unfold the map at every control to look at them (since you also didn't need to unfold the map to punch any more). Many people would write the control codes in the boxes on the punchcard, making it easier to be sure they were punching in the correct box. And that was great for quite a few years, with the enhancement at some point of putting a sheet in each packet that had all of the control descriptions, instead of having to figure out which ones to put in each packet.
It wasn't the same everywhere. I spent the summer of 1991 in Europe, and orienteered in five countries. In Sweden, the control descriptions were printed on the maps, and there were also loose copies available a couple of minutes before the start. In Scotland they were printed on the maps, and also hanging on strings in the prestart area in case you wanted to copy them down. In Germany, Switzerland, and Czechoslovakia, there were never control description sheets anywhere (not even on the map), but the program booklet had a master list of the descriptions of all controls, and then a list of codes for each course, so you could create one yourself before the race. (I also orienteered in Yugoslavia three years before that, and I think the descriptions were on the map only.)
Fast forward a bunch of years, and punchcards were replaced with electronic punching. No need to copy codes into the punch boxes any more. But something else happened as well. Control descriptions started disappearing from the meet packets, and were instead available only at one of the callup lines in the start procedure. (Or occasionally just in the prestart area.) (And being a civilized country, they're on the maps as well.) Eventually this bcame the norm. And it drives me batty.
As a competitor, it's a pain in the ass. Rather than mentally preparing for a race that's starting in a couple of minutes, we have runners fiddling with bits of paper, and sometimes wrestling with tape. Some will say, "Well, come up with a holder or some other system that makes it easier". I have one, it works well, and start crews are often impressed with my efficiency. But it's still annoying to have to deal with it right then, and worse if it's raining or cold out. For relative newcomers, it's probably a nightmare. (Among other things, it used to be that newcomers could review the IOF symbols on their sheets in advance, and ask someone for help if there were a symbol that they didn't recognize -- not any more.)
As an organizer, it's also a pain in the ass. There's an extra stop required in the callup process. It generally means having to have a table at the start sequence, with a tarp strung up over it in case of rain, and it's apparently necessary to provide clear tape and scissors so that people can do instant outdoor lamination, and a couple of extra staffers to assist with all this. And there are competitors getting angry because they can't find the start of the tape on the roll under time pressure, etc.
Is there somebody out there who actually likes it this way, and wouldn't rather just get the descriptions in the packet (or these days, maybe on line so you can print them out before you even leave home)?
Are there organizers who like the extra hassle? My sense is that it's widely being done only because of a perception that it's the "right" way to do things, and I don't know where that idea came from. Yeah, they do it that way at the O-Ringen, but there are a lot of things that happen there because of scale that don't apply everywhere. There is absolutely nothing in the Orienteering USA Rules of Competition regarding how control descriptions are to be distributed.
There's undoubtedly some issue about "fairness" here, but I'm skeptical. I can speculate about some such reasons, and one was presented to me last week, but it was a stretch, and my feeling is that there are better ways to deal with that issue anyway.
I won't claim that there aren't special circumstances where distributing control descriptions in advance is not the best idea, but I think they're rare. In most normal cases, I think it would make life easier for everyone, and create no significant detriment, if we were to go back to the fine practice of providing the control descriptions with the rest of the meet information.
Please, if you have some compelling reason for distributing control descriptions only at the last minute, tell me what they are (and I may have a counterargument or a better solution). And if you'd rather have the control descriptions available in advance, chime in with your opinion as well.
From an organisers point of view:
We don't send out anything physical to competitors, so to do what you want we would be putting the descriptions on the web. I don't have very strong feelings about this either way. We currently provide descriptions on both the map and at the pre-start. Scrapping the pre-start descriptions could simplify the pre-start.
In the way back when, I remember having a formal complaint about a course lodged before the event on the basis of the competitors analysis of the pre-distributed control descriptions.
From a competitors perspective:
I'd inevitably forget to bring the descriptions.
Last weekend's Boulder Dash had the control descriptions available at a table in the start area rather than in the callup line. That seems like a good solution to me - you can tape/load your holder/whatever at your leisure, there isn't a need for extra staff to assist because there isn't a rush, the competitors don't have to remember to bring their descriptions with them (or worse, print them ahead of time and then remember to bring them), the organizers don't need to distribute physical meet packets, competitors can inquire about unfamiliar symbols as needed, etc.
undy - I'd think that would be fine for our State League events but while Aus level have them as in the Start box procession I'd think it wise to keep descriptions there for State Champs.
Scissors and tape? How quaint.
Yes, scissors and tape. We have to have them at the first start line.
I don't know if it ever helped me but back in JJ's day I not only used to copy the control description on to my control/punch card but I often also noted with an initial which other courses - Blue, Red, etc - were visiting the same controls thinking perhaps then I could see a person running the same leg or looking as if he/she were coming away from/ standing at a control point and in theory I could know if that were my point or not. (In North America the events were small enough that one pretty well knew which course most of the people were running).
That was in theory. I don't think it ever helped me in practice.
I vote for the current procedure. It takes only seconds, usually, to slip the sheet in to the holder and gives us something to do at one of the pre-start lines.
But...USE THE LARGER FONT PLEASE
For the most part I agree.
I have never orienteered in the US (well actually I did once at a ridiculously tiny event about 15 years ago) so I'm not sure how the event level compares. In Ireland, for local events with only entry on the day, or no payment available online we usually give out the control descriptions at registration as a kind of informal receipt, so the start official doesn't have to worry about people having paid.
More recently, we have found that it is possible using Or to automatically enter people from the archive, which makes the job much easier on the laptop operator. Having the control descriptions at the start ensures that competitors have no reason to go to registration and actually pay, so control descriptions are only available at registration.
The downside is that you invariably get competitors arriving at the start who have no control descriptions and you have to send them back to registration.
For events with startlists where everyone has paid and pre-entered I think having them in the start area is fine since plenty of people don't go to the registration area before they start. There is no need to have them in the actual start boxes though.
For championship events, relays (though I would really like if I could get a separate descriptions sheet for relays), mass start races with forking and so on giving the control descriptions at the last minute makes more sense.
Why not do it at championship events? If on old map is available beforehand (and it usually should be) and you have the control descriptions, and a good guess at the start and finish location you can have a fairly good go at drawing out the course before your race.
I'm not a fan of descriptions in the startup line. And even with a standard holder, they are rarely cut the right size requiring folding etc to fit. Having them in the meet packet or emailed with meet info and printed out is better. One less detail to worry about when getting ready for your start.
Can't remember the last time I received an envelope from event organisers. These days it an email with a web link. If they were part of the email package, it would only save organisers time if it was made clear there is ABSOLUTELY no chance of getting control descriptions at the start.
So, to clarify, I'm not talking about what we call "local" events, which make up the bulk of our orienteering races. For those (at least in my area), you get the control descriptions when you pay and sign up for a course. You also typically get the map with the course on it at that point, which you might look at and plan if you're a newcomer, though experienced people don't.
This is about what we call "A" level events, of which we have maybe a dozen per year in the USA, and championship races are among them. They always have preregistration and assigned start times, and you don't get your map until the time starts. Virtually always, when you arrive, there's an envelope containing a bib number, some safety pins, several sheets of paper with things like the schedule and directions to the dinner and some blather from the course setters about how this is mixed hardwood and evergreen forest with some rock detail and there are a lot of controls out there so you should remember to check the codes. That's where we used to put the control descriptions.
If you forget to bring your control descriptions and they aren't available at the start, you're still okay because they are always printed on the map at an event of this level.
I have orienteered in places where there were so few features (and the course setter felt compelled to use the "cute"ones) that it was possible to figure out a good fraction of the legs. In most places, that's simply not feasible. A series of boulders and reentrants could take you anywhere.
Our O federation guidelines for our 'A' races suggest having CDs in a rain proof enough rack just before pre-start. Self service, take in your own time. No tools or tapes or anything, bring your own holder or keep it in your pocket or what ever, up to you. Same with bibs, at string at start, no safety pins, bring your own (for enviromental reasons, it is plain stupid to always get new ones. I have bucket full of those from the old days). planner's notes and all other information like start lists are at a wall. No envelopes. They do often sell regular but very expensive safety pins at "info".
I guess I'm in the minority. I prefer getting the control descriptions in the start chute. Having them at the start but before the call up line is okay too, so probably a good compromise.
I'd say leave it up to the organizers to do what they think best or are most comfortable with. But, it's good that JJ brought this up because receiving the control descriptions between the call-up line and the start line has become the norm and, in most cases, it doesn't need to be.
The one time that it might be necessary though is when day one controls will also be used on day two AND the day one maps have been returned. This is not a common occurrence but it does happen. I'm pretty sure this was the case at the recent EMPO O-in-the-pines event.
And don't forget, in JJ's recollection of how things used to be with control descriptions given out at registration, it wasn't unusual for day 1 maps to be held until after day 2 had started.
I definitely like the idea of moving the control description sheets at least from the middle of the start echelon back to the pre-start area. When my kids were getting started, I was the one fiddling with the tape to self-laminate the paper for them and then pinning it on their shirts, and it was definitely an art-form to get it all done in 60 seconds! [At the time my complaint wasn't about this, but about how few A meet course setters seemed to know how to properly set a white course. (Hint: surprisingly few!) And it largely goes unnoticed because, honestly, how many people ever look at the white course map?]
I would even suggest going ahead and putting the control descriptions on the web with the meet info in advance. For those of advancing age this would provide the opportunity to enlarge them to an agreeable font size before printing. The default font size could still be provided at the pre-start. One less thing to have available to grumble about. I recall a few years ago one person my age showing me how he often used the magnifier he was carrying to read the control codes with!
A few weeks ago I saw a novel approach at a club level meet where the control descriptions were only on the map and not available on separate sheets. The starter was tearing them off the end of the map for those who wished, and handing them to the runner before they started. In this case there was no rushing involved since you could get them situated however you liked, then take the map, hit the start punch, and take off.
I like getting control descriptions at the start, because otherwise I'd forget probably 80% of the time. I like having control descriptions separately; for non-relays I don't look at the descriptions on the map. I don't care where at the start the descriptions are. I guess I don't have the same trouble loading them into the holder as some others.
You'd forget the control descriptions? Do you forget your control description holder?
(I certainly don't object to also having them available in the start area, but if they're available before that, then the organizers don't need to provide tape, scissors, table, etc. Those who want them laminated or printed bigger or whatever can take care of that ahead of time, and those who don't bring them can still grab a slip of paper.)
In the UK they used to send our the descriptions, or put them online. With the old map, final details, course info, and control descriptions you could get pretty good at planning the course yourself.
That would not be the case for most areas in the USA. For those areas where it is, you could probably guess where the course is going to go even without the descriptions.
I don't see any reason why the loose descriptions couldn't be available before the actual call-up lines at US A-meets. I like having them at the start because that's what I'm used to, but I guess it doesn't matter to me if others want them earlier. It would be nice if they were available somewhere near the start because that's a nice place to get all race-specific stuff (map, number, descriptions).
As for including them with the packet, please no. Let's get rid of the paper packet. All of the (usually excessive, in the US) meet and course information is available online and could easily be posted at the meet site for everyone to read. Numbers can be made available on a string near the start (or registration). The individual paper packets for each racer are such a waste of energy and resources, let's not increase their life by putting the descriptions back there.
As a competitor and organizer I like receiving the descriptions at the pre start. It’s clean and efficient. There is no lingering doubt that some savvy competitor has spent the previous evening deciphering the location of some of their controls. I know people who are really good at that. I also agree with those who say we should be moving away from those wasteful packets and time consuming packet pickups. Let’s not move backwards.
I'm disappointed that there's no manifesto here actually written with control descriptions. Highlander Shirt?
I'm cool with getting rid of registration packets, but that's going to take some work, there's a lot of inertia there. I'm also fine with getting rid of bib numbers; the only argument I know of in favor of keeping them is that it make people look like they're in a race. (I actually did organize a significant race with no bib numbers and no packets, the 2011 Highlander. I emailed out the control descriptions and all you had to do on arrival was check in, and pick up your loaner SI stick if you didn't have your own.)
I really think this business about "figuring out the course" is a red herring. It's been a rare occurrence in my extensive experience where this was possible. I'm looking at maps from the past two weekends -- not a chance.
My request is that meet organizers just don't automatically do it the way that has become so common. Take a look at your circumstances, and consider making things easier on everybody, yourselves and the competitors alike.
Do I have any hope that this will actually come to pass? No, I don't. People are usually resistant to good ideas. It won't be the first time I've made a suggestion and had to give up on it. We're still using underpopulated five-year age categories here, for example.
jj I've become so used to the start box procedure including control descriptions that it has become automatic and part of my pre-race mental warm-up. I just go straight to the descriptions for my course number, tear one off, put it in my holder then move to the line before the next box. Haven't had anyone distract me, and hardly anyone uses scissors and tape these days. I think you're on a loser here, so why not just accept it and make it standard part of your pre-race prep.
I have made it part of my pre-race prep. Maybe you didn't read what I wrote above. I'm very efficient at picking up the control descriptions and getting them where I want them. Doesn't mean I have to like it.
(This went about the way I expected. Never mind.)
At an A meet in Harriman a while ago, we did receive clue sheets for all courses in the packet. Comparing clues with Lyn, we noticed that the first five controls on Saturday had the same number and feature as the first five on my course for Sunday. Checked her map just in case and had the route all psyched out. Indeed, was the case and nailed those and was sure my ten minute lead from Saturday was safe. Disaster on the next and lost 15 minutes. In my searchings, I looked down from a cliff to watch BL trot by, having made up the 12' start interval. So much for prior knowledge.
Must have been the Surebridge Challenge back in '07. As registrar, I remember adding control descriptions to the packets.
I have prepared more control descriptions for the start than I would like to count. It was a part of being a course setter, in my case for local meets as well as "national" meets, that I won't miss.
That being said, it struck me as another mark of a quality event--the organizers give you what you need, nicely and uniformly trimmed, rather than a sheet with everything--courses you aren't on--and expect you to do it yourself. Which would be quaint.
I didn't mind going to great lengths to prepare the things that were expected, but the thing is, I realized a long time ago that there isn't some throne in heaven for the orienteering organizer who goes above and beyond.
In my experience, control descriptions at the start aren't necessarily neatly trimmed. Although I'm capable of neatly trimming them for myself.
"I realized a long time ago that there isn't some throne in heaven for the orienteering organizer who goes above and beyond." Need a like button.
I reckon you'll achieve more, JJ, if you turn your efforts to getting rid of competitor packets. Pretty well gone around here. And scissors and tape. I think all our supplies went to patch up a boat owned by a guy called Noah.
It won't be the first time I've made a suggestion and had to give up on it. We're still using underpopulated five-year age categories here, for example.
Don't get me started on that issue. We've only just recently (last year) gone back to five year age categories from previous ten year categories, but only if you're aged 60+. The argument was to make it easier for older people who couldn't run the same length courses than their (potentially) five year junior counterparts, but they are on the same course anyway so are able to directly compare. In reality it was so we could hand out twice as many badges and have more age group state champions (with our numbers, if you don't get a badge at an event, you are in the minority).
I like the idea (pre-supplied descriptions) - if it stays in my head long enough I'll use it at the next relevant event I organise, it removes more gear from the required list and makes starts even easier to set up.
I like the idea of control descriptions available at the pre-start, with tape and scissors. It takes the pressure off fiddling with them in the start chute. It's friendlier to less experienced and less-equipped people because they have time to check what the descriptions mean and they can laminate the descriptions or tape them on an arm. The last time I helped out at the control description table, a lot of people under 25 didn't have CD holders and used the tape.
What are people doing with the tape?
Gagging the start official.
Young people these days just aren't prepared for anything.
When I've broken, lost, or forgotten my control card holder, I've been known to put a strip of duct tape or athletic tape on the back of my control sheet. That keeps it from disintegrating in my sweaty hand, and maybe even lets me safety-pin it to a useful spot on my shirt.
I definitely like to see the control descriptions being available before people reach the start line. I've helped a lot of people figure out how to read their control codes as we warmed up near the start. They were generally grateful for the help, and to me, that kind of experience supersedes the "keep it mysterious" argument.
Same here, I usually take tape from my shoe laces and put it on the back of it and use one of the safety pins I use for bib to attach it to my shirt (together with the bib). If there is no bib so no safety pins I put it in my pocket in case I really desperately need to check it (but I never actually check it, I forget it and it end up as pulp in washing machine). No tape at start, I think I have never seen a roll of tape at start. And last time I saw scissors at start was 20 years ago.
The only place I have seen tape for a long time, was at the COC this year
In Aus no description holder then you are on your own, I guess most people have one?
You just read the description on the map.
What are people doing with the tape?
Unlike the map, which is sealed into a plastic bag, the control descriptions are a slip of paper. People put clear tape on the front and back of the control descriptions to laminate them so thay can stand up to the weather, or sweat, or whatever. Organizers are assuming (correctly) that there will be significant numbers of people showing up without any sort of holder for the control descriptions, and it's become customary to supply tape, and scissors to cut the tape. (And maybe other stuff, I don't know because I just take the descriptions.)
Having the descriptions at the prestart is great until there's a meet in steady rain. Then you've got people with wet hands picking up paper and trying to do something useful with it. (And the descriptions still might be too big for your holder, or too small for you to read -- map scale is specified, but control description scale is in practice completely random.)
Dont you guys put the control descriptions on the map?
Always on the map. Always always. To not do so is (in my opinion) a huge error. This is about additional control descriptions to be carried in a more convenient way. Lately, if I consider the control description distribution system to be too annoying, I've just been skipping it, and using the ones on the map, unfolding the map as needed to look at them. But over the years I became really accustomed to looking at my forearm for them.
Sometimes not in map here. A4 size paper doesn't leave much room for CDs. If CD's are map only I never look at them (except relays), I rather get disqualified every now and then than spoil my flow with map unfolding/refolding exercises.
Our rules say CD's box size must be 5 .. 7 mm. And 6 mm is recommended. I haven't heard much issues with this all. People have holders or do as they wist and nobody complains for missing tape rolls and scissors because no-one expects such gear would be there.
Here is typical case here:
"Summary for the busy orienteers" in the beginning.
Control descriptions here (so I've noticed at large scale events) seem to be enlarged or reduced to just be able to fit into my description holder so that I generally have to fold off either the top or the bottom - regardless of whether there are 30 controls or 10.
A4 paper doesn't leave much room, but they can go on the back. More work, perhaps, but we've done it many times. But we don't have as many maps to prepare.
Talking about control descriptions on the map, how do you make Ocad do them in two columns, sometimes I have problems with longer courses.
Why on earth tape the back side, JJ?
Maybe people use the tape only for the front, I don't know. I figured they were laminating it because if the paper got wet on one side, it would disintegrate, maybe not.
Options are limited for events where IOF rules apply:
18.3 The control descriptions, given in the right order for each competitor’s course, shall be fixed to or printed on the front side of the competition map.
18.4 For interval start competitions, separate control description lists for each competitor on each course shall be available at the pre-start or in the start lanes, but shall not be available before that point.
Having the additional requirement for separate control descriptions can cause problems (e.g. W65 at WMOC this year). Scrapping 18.4 (or making it optional) would reduce work and the potential for error. Allowing control descriptions to be printed on the back of the map would also be useful, although the rule doesn't preclude that option.
is a semblance of what works for me and maybe others: it shows a (slightly torn later, not relevant/sorry for that) BG CD. Normally the number has 4 pins to my shirt, one for each corner and, for me, the lower left would also pin the completely encased
(won't tear/rip off) CD upside down.
I don’t like “stuff” on my arms...people are different. I want to see tape in a dispenser, no need for scissors. A big peeve is that, w/o the dispenser, one is often unable to find the end, and given the 60" limit in most instances, this can be quite annoying.
Control descriptions in a holder on the arm is best for many reasons. The top runners know this. Descriptions pinned or taped to the shirt causes you to look down when you should be looking ahead. Trying to find the CDs on a folded map causes a lost thumb placement and lost train of thought.
>>guskov. To split the control descriptions into more than one column, you would adjust the settings in the Course Options menu. Click on the course tab, then on Options. Adjust the maximum length for your descriptions to the desired number of rows in the control description section.
As a warning, do a quick preview of how this looks on all of your different courses, as what looks good on a course with just a few controls may not fit as easily for a course with many more controls.
A windy day could be as bad as rain. Bummer when all the CD's fly away as someone lifts the rock that's holding them down.
Race bibs are good iff they have start times listed. My memory for that sort of detail doesn't last for 3 minutes let alone 3 days.
CDs at 'packet' pickup would be great! In the pre-start area would be better than in the chute, but still requires some additional work by the organizers.
I use the tape, on both sides, and scissors if I forget the holder (stored with compass and si card so it doesn't happen often).
Control descriptions can be in zipper type bags at the start or clipped together with a bulldog/binder type clip...less likely to blow away.
I've never seen anyone else using my homemade (and cheap!) cd holder with a 3x4" zipper top bag
pinned to a strip of elastic that goes around my wrist. It's out of the way (on my map arm so doesn't get caught on vegetation but hangs underneath) but easily reachable if I need to check a code. When the elastic or bag gets old they're easily replaced.
The only time I've used the clear tape is when I've forgotten my holder.
After my operation late last year I have found that I can combine several necessary items - crutches with event branding and control description holder - no limit on description length either - taped on upside down to make it easier to read.
The only thing I have to watch out for is passing runners when I lift the crutch to read the next description - but if they are on the same course it gives me a chance to beat someone while they are still writhing on the ground ;-P
JanetT - been using that system myself for a long time. I got frustrated by brittle plastic cracking and CD holders falling apart - and I am not rough on my equipment at all. Last straw was when CD holder crumbled in the Start shute at a Night event, possible due to cold temps. Next day used sandwich bag and 'sold' on that idea.
@Ross it worked! thank you.
E-mailed or pre-start CD distributions sounds great. Replace that station with a person that says, "Turn on your GPS tracker if you have one." I forget to do that about one in every four races.
@rockman - gotta watch those crutches! I just about got my head taken off by a Swiss hiker who swung his trekking pole out to the side as a pointer to point something out to his buddies, just as I was passing him at SOW in Zermatt a few years ago.
And starting off a rogaine with a bunch of people swinging trekking poles around is a nightmare. The d--n things are a menace.
@Boulderbob - our club tech guy (cedarcreek) made nice labels that he attached to our SI start and finish units that say "Start (or stop) Watch or GPS now". Of course, I never bother to read them when I'm concentrating on starting. :-)
I just plan the GPS start into my routine, basically:
1) Sort out descriptions (if at pre-start)
2) Start GPS right before punching the start brick (or if timed starts, as the five second warning commences)
Once it was ingrained, it became almost impossible to forget and in fact in WREs where GPSes are supposedly illegal, I feel as if something is missing.
I always start my GPS well before start, usually 1-3 min before start. Start and then lock buttons to avoid stopping it by accident. After finish I unlock buttons and stop recording. I don't see any reason why I should fiddle with it when race time is ticking.
The important part is to remember to start it looking for satellites early enough. Like when you clear your epunch.
Don't forget to put the tape you didn't use for a control card holder over your GPS screen. And then use the map marker to black it out because presumably the clue tape is clear. And then tape over all the buttons so you can't secretly switch to a navigation mode of some sort. And then tape your shoelaces so they don't come untied. And if you are jj, wrap tape around and around and around and around your shoes to keep them together. Now I've lost count of how many start lines this takes. Whatever, feel free to then put a big wide piece of tape over my mouth to shut me up.
From some of the above, I was confused as to what "start my GPS" meant. Turn it on initially, or with satellites acquired, press "start"? With the former, it might take more time than one would like. I've been queried as to how far I was from the last time I turned my 305 on when I've moved hundreds of miles away on occasion. And maybe a canopy or some other reason that could lead to inexplicable, last minute delay with start time all too soon.
I've found that putting my 305 on a stationary object - vs it's moving back and forth on a wrist - leads to satellite acquisition sooner. Yes, plan accordingly.
I turn on my GPS when I get out of the car.
You turn me on when you get out of the car too tRicky m'boy.
My watch locks to satellites almost always in about 5 seconds, so I hardly ever bother switching it on much in advance just for acquiring satellites. Some additional waiting does improve accuracy, but as I said I tend to start recording couple of minutes in advance, that seems to do the trick too.
I've had Ambit 2 and Garmin 305 and 310. The Ambit usually finds satellites in a few seconds - not much longer when I travel to a new location. The Garmins liked to think awhile.
On occasion, I've turned on my Garmin well before the start, and was several controls into the course before it decided that it knew the location and would let me start timing.
Thanks to a recommendation by Jagge, I have a Suunto Track Pod, and it also acquires a satellite fix extremely fast.
There are four startup modes for GPS devices , depending on whether you have full ephemeris data (precise satellite orbits), incomplete ephemeris, almanach only (rough orbits), or nothing at all.
Ephemeris data is valid for five hours only, but enhanced ephemeris data (valid for several days) can be calculated on a server (SGEE) or a GPS receiver (CGEE). Apparently, Suunto uses SGEE . Garmin seems to employ CGEE ("Hotfix"), but not on all devices.
At last Friday's race in Kentucky, the Blue course had an example of what people have mentioned about being able to "figure out" part of the course based on the control descriptions. The first two controls were on "lake" and "pond", and given the start location, there was really only one possibility for each. But the organizers forgot to bring the loose control descriptions, so we had only the ones on the map. (The rest of the course was mostly a series of reentrants, ditches and gullies, no hope of figuring out any more of it.)
The following two days had control descriptions at the second call-up line, and I did what will probably be my normal procedure in such a case: I spent my minute looking at them and familiarizing myself with them, then crumpled them up and stuffed them in my pocket, and referred to the ones on the map during the race.
As far as I'm concerned, distributing them in the race information (be that as a web link, or in paper handed out at registration time if that's being done) is best, and at the prestart area second-best (though still usually a needless complication). In those cases, I'll bring them along. If they're going to be handed out in the start gauntlet, I'll be making a point of crumpling them up.
There has been some discussion placing a purple dot at the centre of the circle and listing the code of the checkpoint on the map beside the checkpoint number for sprint races. The examples I have seen seem very straightforward and a better way of doing things than using description sheets. Does this approach have potential in forest races? If it does is seems logical to just get rid of control descriptions all together.
Of course, that possibility might not be an option because its not the way things have always been done. "Its the way we used to do it" appears to be the basis of JJ's argument even though it goes against an IOF rule (note that OUSA rule differs from IOF regarding description sheets). But I'm all for making things easier (and avoiding barriers to entry for our sport) for races that don't have 'higher level' rules dictating how it should be done.
I'm sure we will be able to come up with examples from the past where putting the control numbers near the circle would not have worked. But perhaps going forward, if this became standard, solutions would arise. This would have the advantage of both simplifying event management as well as making the sport more accessible to newcomers. There will be some loss of detail and there might be times when I run to the top of the cliff vs the foot, but perhaps that is an acceptable trade off.
Regarding the original discussion about where to distribute clue sheets, for my own personal orienteering I am indifferent. As an official where we regularly managed events with 300 kids it is a lot easier just to make a separate start line (we tried all approaches).
But getting back to Hammer's suggestion, as both a competitor and a meet official, I'd vote yes in a heartbeat, even knowing that there will at times be some additional ambiguity.
People really seem to like placing control flags in spots that require you to continue investigating once you get to the center of a circle. Control descriptions started out when maps were poor, and you needed something to tell you what feature to look for (a feature that might not even be mapped), or because the alignment of the overprinted course might be less than perfect. As with many things, this got abused over the years, so that controls often get placed in spots that are difficult to even describe, such as when there are many features of the some type inside the circle. There's a school of thought (that I ascribe to) that the interesting part of orienteering is about choosing and executing a route, rather than about the fiddly bit at the end where you try to figure out which rock the flag is hidden behind.
On the one hand, maybe the purple dot approach would cut down on some of this. On the other hand, it might allow people to use control locations that simply cannot be described, and make the issue worse.
As far as putting the codes on the map, that has the potential of creating a nightmare for whoever is getting the courses ready for printing -- it's already hard enough to place just the numbers in a location where they don't obliterate something important. But the codes don't have to be next to the circles, they can be printed on the edge of the map (a simplified version of the descriptions, as it were), or, of course, distributed in advance.
To me, the interesting proposal is getting rid of clues altogether. I really don't like unfolding my map to look at clues or even a list of codes. However, I'd accept the trade off of the latter to get rid of the separate sheets clues.
With anything new there will be challenges. However, the ones JJ mentions I think are surmountable and, in any case, are not that much different than similar difficulties we have now, vagueness in some cases and and overly detailed in others, except that we wouldn't have to carry around pieces of paper.
As far as course setter nightmares, I'd accept the trade off of taking a few extra moments to properly place the codes on the map if I didn't have to go through a dozen clue sheets to triple check the side, up, down, part, end, direction of each control.
(I ascribe to the same school of thought as JJ; I like moving in the forest not circling around looking for treasures.)
@Hammer, nothing in the OUSA rules
specifies what to do with loose control descriptions.
The rules also don't specify that cd's should be printed on the map, but that's the general practice.
@JanetT: Yes that is correct. OUSA doesn't specify what to do but IOF states at pre-start and Orienteering Canada I believe states at the start.
There's not even a requirement that there be loose control descriptions. The OUSA Rules don't say anything about when, or whether, they have to be provided (although there is an implication that they are to be provided at some point). (Except for "Trail-O", where it is specified that they be on the front of the map.)
This seems like an oversight to me. The way things stand now, it seems that there ought to be a requirement that they be included with the map. I don't think I've ever seen a case (at a national level meet in the USA (or Canada)) where they were not.
In urban sprint courses, the control feature is seldom a boulder which might be totally obscured by the purple dot placed on top of it (particularly since the map scale is bigger, so boulders would be bigger black dots anyway. In a forest race, I can imagine taking a much more cautious approach into a control that seemed to be simply a purple dot near the middle of a rather ill-defined broad-topped hill than to one where I could see a black dot on the map, and be warned by the control description to be expecting a 3m boulder!
In Hammer's conception, I think the dot would be displaced indicating the side of the boulder.
I'm against, or at least, I think the circle should remain centred on the feature. I've run enough times on maps with slightly offset course overprinting, or poorly centred circles, to know that it is a pita.
Whether the purple dot will work depends a lot on the terrain and the mapping style, so I don't see it being brought in globally. Locally, if it suits, feel free.
Lack of control descriptions requires clearly readable features. In busy areas, this means good mapping and good printing. Again, locally, it may work fine...
The dot idea is nice - but I shudder at the ambiguity of running in granite terrain where a boulder (or cliff) could be 1m to 5m in height and not evident from the standard couple of boulder symbols. Clearly one's approach would be somewhat more cautious if you were not aware of the tall nature of the upcoming feature.
In the US, all rocks are standardised and conform to a predetermined height and colour regime.
Imperial or metric standardisation?
It's the US; they're living in the past.
Hang on, let's be clear about who's talking here. The one who is proposing the dots lives in metric Canada. Where the rocks may well have some "standardised colour", whatever the hell that means.
Depends on the type of moss and lichen wouldn't it?
Actually the Canadian simply asked if the purple dot approach had potential in forest races as a solution to make things easier. For local events and for kids races it probably makes a lot of sense but I agree that certain terrain types would be difficult. Would be interesting to know what proportion of orienteers read their descriptions beyond just the code or just code and feature.
Trail orienteers do. But we're a very small proportion.
We have a lot of rock features so it's very helpful knowing the height of these.
Not all setters put the height of rock features on the description - frustrating at times not knowing if you are looking for a 1m or 5m boulder / cliff. The COC this year had a few rock features and none had sizes on the CDs for my course.
I had my first encounter with reference dots in a sprint race 2 weeks ago. This excerpt from my log says why I'm not a fan (or that setters/controllers will have to be very careful about how they use them)
There were at least 2 controls (6 and 10) where I lost time due to the reference dot obscuring/confounding the small piece of wall that the dot was supposed to be indicating the side of. I haven't counted these as mistakes. I'd rather have a clear view of the map and take the consequences if I don't make effective use of control descriptions.
Note that there were also descriptions for this race, but I barely used them except to check codes. Which is probably how I generally use them in sprints, except when detail in the circle makes me think uh-oh, need a bit more information here. And I think my point here is the dots at these two controls interfered with my ability to recognise these as times to refer to the descriptions
I don't get the point of putting heights of control features on the control descriptions. It takes away (slightly) from the skill of navigating to the feature using the map. If a person correctly navigates to the feature, it will be pretty obvious how big it is when you get there. As long as the cd tells you which feature (and even this seems unnecessary if the circle is properly centred) and where on the feature the flag is, then that should be good enough.
I take it the rock detail isn't as complex in Canada as it can get in Australia.
No tRicky, you just need to stop, read your map very carefully, then walk exactly to your pristine glacial erratic boulder in its solitary splendour.
Anyone got a copy of Cascades handy (1:15 000) to show why having a height is helpful?
If nothing else, it can help you to work out what the approximate size threshold is for a rock to appear on the map at all, or to be designated as a large or small boulder.
The more generalized map is, the more there is to describe with CDs. The less there is impassable narrow/large features, the less there is need to make the correct side obvious to avoid CD traps. That's why I think for forest ISOM races CD are fine and dots would not be that useful, and for urban ISSOM races dots might be better. White halo around the dot can be useful to make it not obscure map and to make it obvious.
Disclaimer - I live with an assumption orienteering is not about finding where the control is on map. I have noticed lots of people does not see it that way, because I have seen plenty of comments stating dots are not good because they make it too easy, too close to road running race. I wonder are today's urban races about challenging map/CD study to find out where the next control is on map and then just a simple run there? And it that the preferred kind of challenge?
Appendix 6, IOF Rules, Competition Format for Sprint: Controls - technically easy; Route choice - difficult requiring high concentration; Type of running - very high speed. So Jagge you are only partly correct - it should not be 'just a simple run there' but high concentration at speed for as much of the leg as possible.
Which means dots could be used instead of descriptions, but that doesn't solve the problem of control codes. Perhaps fewer people would mispunch in sprint events if the description list handed out at the start was just a list of control code numbers in a very large font.
Let's get rid of the circles and lines altogether and just have dots and numbers on the page.
Simmo - unlikely. If they (we - I am guilty of the incorrect CP mispunch) don't check them now, we're unlikely to in bigger font!
One very good Australian orienteer who has won a world masters sprint champs told me once. "no time to check the CD in a sprint and expect to win" it seems he just runs flat out and if he miss punches then that is a better outcome than losing by a couple of seconds spent reading the CDs
simmo, what do you mean by partly correct?
Back to the original topic:
As far as I'm concerned, distributing them in the race information (be that as a web link, or in paper handed out at registration time if that's being done) is best, and at the prestart area second-best (though still usually a needless complication)
There are two sets of things we each need to run an orienteering race: stuff we bring with us every time (clothes, compass, watch, cd holder, etc) and the stuff particular to the race (map, control descriptions, maybe a bib number). It makes sense to me to have the latter in one place so there's no additional visit to a registration table needed, no risk that you'll show up at the start without them. Put them on the web or whatever, but I like the trend of having everything physically available in one place. All I have to do is get myself to the start area with all of my regular stuff, and then I get the race-specific stuff there.
That said, I'm all for making things easier on organizers. Why is having the descriptions at the pre-start area a needless complication? Is that harder for the organizers than stuffing packets or having them at a registration table?
Typical CD rack (this is apparently kid's start, not many courses/classes and CSs are quite short);
If you can get rid of distributing stuff to the competitors when they arrive, all the more power to you. I don't see any trend in that direction in the USA. If stuff is getting distributed, putting it all together (descriptions, bib, ream of paper with stuff that ought to be on the web) is the simplest. The only thing you can't give out at that time is the map.
JJ, give up. We absolutely do not need to provide instant laminating services, staff, tarps, etc to make descriptions available somewhere in the call-up sequence. We absolutely do (at major events) need to prevent competitors comparing descriptions to find common sequences. There are easily-loaded description holders available.
Turn your attention to getting rid of meet packets. Many other countries have.
I'm unpersuaded by the "common sequences" bit, but I am willing to give up. However, the instant laminating pavilions are going to continue here in the USA. There's too much inertia. And I'm just going to be crumpling the control descriptions and stuffing them in my pocket for the rest of my orienteering career. Which is fine.
(Oh, and to ensure fairness, we should undoubtedly start collecting control descriptions at the finish line, so that early finishers don't share them with late starters.)
Heh heh. Nice parting shot:-))
There's too much inertia.
Well isn't that the truth :-)!
Dots in control circles are allowed and often used in ski-O ("focus points"). They help pinpoint control locations in a maze of trails or even indicate which side of a trail to look, helpful when approaching at high speed.
How about making them available on line (for all but major events), for anyone who feels the need to laminate, tape, etc. their descriptions, and also have them available at the call-up line (but with no tape, scissors, etc.) for anyone who'd rather pick them up at that point rather than print them out in advance.
How about doing what the thousands and thousands of orienteers in the rest of the world do:
1) Buy a cd holder.
2) Place your control descriptions in the holder when they are provided to you in the call-up line.
BTW, I like the dot idea, but I think it would have its challenges in detailed terrain. It would be tough to see the dot in a sea of boulders or cliffs and tough to use the location of the dot to determine exactly where the flag is. For example, if the dot was between two closely spaced boulders, would one look for the flag between the boulders, or on the west side of the east boulder, or on the east side of the west boulder?
Remarking about procedural things on Attackpoint doesn't always translate into action among US clubs. I know a surprisingly high number of A-meet-attending and -producing folks who never look at Attackpoint. Just sayin'.
(I wasn't in charge of start procedures at our last big meet or I might have done some things differently. I'd love to get rid of meet envelopes though they're a good place to have a lot of stuff organized, and have definitely cut back on how much paper EMPO uses for meet notes.)
For example, if the dot was between two closely spaced boulders, would one look for the flag between the boulders, or on the west side of the east boulder, or on the east side of the west boulder?
I have been thinking low key events, would be interesting to try using dots and allowing to place control "anywhere", not only by mapped features. It would open up more use for areas with not that much places to place control to (thinking of continental terrains). Flags would need to be a lot bigger (cubic meter, size of a small boulder?) and the one planning and placing controls would need to be at par with the task, capable of be a mapper, then it would provide possibilities of lots of fun and challenging route choices and use for areas regulars may be all too familiar with after running on the map many times before.
There's already a way to do that: add a miscellaneous object to the terrain. You bring out something suitably visible (a folding chair?), locate it carefully, and put a black X on the map. I've seen this done, and I've also run in continental terrain where there were tiny boundary markers, charcoal platforms, etc. that were essentially the same, except that the mapper did the work of carefully locating them. For that matter, in Wyoming one time the last control was in the middle of a large open area, and the feature was a picture of a control flag.
Two events I ran this year had added features, both spectator controls as it turned out - one was a refrigerator, complete with beer inside if you were tempted; the other was the map change table.
I trust the descriptions clearly showed the former as a drinks control?
Many years ago (1988?) at a midweek event during a Fall O-fest, the GO control was an old mattress that had apparently been placed there specifically for that purpose. As those were the pre-OCAD days, the mattress location was depicted as a hand-penned "X".
November 1, 1988, Four Mile Circle (aka Pakim Pond), New Jersey. Control "RH", #8 on the Red course. I remember it not as an old mattress, but as one of these:
The location dot is pretty natural and intuitive to use, though as pointed out by several people already, there is information available on the control descriptions that is not necessarily depicted on the map. I like knowing how tall a cliff is, but I also like not needing to unfold my map during a relay, for example. For me, I guess I would say let's embrace the dot wherever it happens to be appropriate (i guess not in the fabled granite terrains of Australia), and find ways to show the dot that are clear and do not obscure detail.
A snippet from a recent training, showing the dot in the forest
If a dot shows in the forest and there's no-one to see it, is it still a legitimate feature?
Would smaller circles make the dot unnecessary?
ah, but then it would be nice to have a larger circle to focus your attention as to where the smaller circle was..., and the smaller circle would probably obscure some details very close to the feature, which might be important, and harder to cut the lines around them.
Rosstopher, do you know dimensions of the dot you used, diameter of the dot and diameter of the white halo? The image gives impression halo (of color white in everything including black) should be slightly bigger)?
In the example above the dot doesn´t really add any clarification to unclear objects in my opinion.
Even though it seems to be an enlarged map snippet (scale?) I can hardly even see the dot with my old eyes so for it to be visible for everyone it needs to be bigger and then would probably clutter up the picture more than it helps?
The only dot in that picture that I can really see is number 1. When I get in really close, the ones at 2 and 3 are visible but look a different color, and appear to me as dot knolls smushed up against rocks. No way I would be able to read that if moving at all.
We absolutely do (at major events) need to prevent competitors comparing descriptions to find common sequences.
Here's a question - why? Because it provides an advantage? If descriptions are available online before the event from x date, then everyone can look and has the possibility for the exact same advantage, making the point moot.
I would love to see them online. Saves paper, people can adjust size for readability or to fit their holder, and those who want to laminate or do some other different ritual can do it with their own time and supplies.
@Rosstopher: Thank you for the example.
IMO, it illustrates well how unnecessary -- and perhaps detrimental -- the dots are...
Saves paper --- No it doesn't! Printing out or photocopying multiple control descs per page saves paper. And saves on buying printers.
Saves paper over the previous method of including all descriptions for all courses in the packet, and possibly over the current method depending how meet staff are making/counting/printing. But I also envisioned placing all my 2-3 races worth on one page to print, which maybe not everyone would/could do.
Could save paper by writing them onto your arm and laminating it.
I actually (back when we got them before the middle of the call up lines) used to write the numbers down the side of my finger for sprints. I didn't laminate it though.
I would like to offer a 2 part compromise solution:
* A single sheet of clues is given to each competitor at an intermediate line between call up and where maps are provided.
* In trade for that concierge level service no other amenities are offered (NO TAPE!).
You mean no burger or fries?
In reflecting on whether I should have brought this up in the first place, I wonder whether it will all end up with something I like better, or like less, or if it will be exactly the same.
(Incidentally, one of the things that I also don't like is a series of call-up lines. Handing out control descriptions at one of them seems to be in part an effort to justify its existence. My preference is for one line: you get called up and step across it to the map boxes, and at the next whistle, you go. Why have all of those extra start officials standing around?)
Whistle? Oh, nice bait...
It's probably a steam-driven start clock to match the archaic lamintating and scissoring... tock-tock-tock-tock-tock-peeeeeeeep!
Well, last meet I was at, they had an electronic clock, but it wasn't loud enough to be useful, so when it went beep, a start official augmented it by blowing a whistle. (Although even in the normal case of an audible clock, I'd still refer to the sound it makes as a "whistle".)
They needed an electronic clock at the time trial I rode yesterday instead of an elderly woman counting down from her phone/whatever and occasionally getting distracted by riders coming through the finish area. I lost a whole second!
This discussion thread is closed.