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Discussion: Late Starts

in: Orienteering; General

Dec 1, 2015 5:12 AM # 
Well, its only taken 15 years since I first asked for this rule to be changed but it looks like the IOF Rules Commission have finally come around to the idea that all starters should be timed, even late ones, and sort out the issues later; not at the start.

IOF Proposed Rule Change for 2016:

"New rules:
Competitors who are late for their start time shall be permitted to start.
Their new start time must be recorded.
• In a mass or chasing start, the competitor shall be started as soon as
• In an interval start, if the competitor is at the start line less than half the
start interval after their start time they shall start immediately.
• If the competitor is at the start line more than half the start interval after
their start time they shall start at the next available half start interval.
. Competitors who are late for their start time through their own fault shall
be timed as if they had started at their original start time. Competitors who are
late for their start time through the fault of the organiser shall be timed from their
new start time.
Justification: The current rules require each organiser to decide how to handle
late starts. This is extra work for the organisers and it is unsatisfactory for
athletes. The proposed rules will ensure that late starts are handled in a
consistent manner. Note that it is often not possible for the start team to decide
whether the late arrival is the competitor’s fault or the organiser’s fault
. That may
have to be the subject of a complaint and maybe a protest. Therefore the start
team must let the competitor start. In high-level events, competitors are usually
quarantined so competitors are rarely late.
Dec 1, 2015 5:20 AM # 
Persistence is key.
Dec 1, 2015 6:24 AM # 
What do we want?
When do we want it?
After due consideration of all applicable factors and a suitable period of public comment, review of public submissions, a further period of public comment on the outcome of the review and a suitable length of time for official ratification!
Dec 1, 2015 6:31 AM # 
Good. Should deal to the following shabby behaviour. The race timing was ahead of national time. A competitor arrived on time for his start, but late according to the start clock. He had to complain/protest to get his start time adjusted.
Dec 1, 2015 7:14 AM # 
I misread a 5 as a 6 in my start time at the Vic sprint MTBO event. Is that the organiser's fault giving me that particular time knowing that I quite often confuse 5s and 6s? Fortunately I tend to get to the start a minute or so before I'm due to be called anyway so it only caused minor confusion when they called me up seemingly a minute early. The unmapped tracks on the other hand, well they cost me more than that minute would have.
Dec 1, 2015 8:35 AM # 
The old rule allowed the interpretation that is explicitly spelt out in the new rule.
Dec 1, 2015 8:58 AM # 
What if being late is neither the organizer's nor athlete's fault?
Dec 1, 2015 9:15 AM # 
Bridge washed away?
Big tree falls across track?
Someone changes the flagging tape / directional arrows?
Magpies eat the breadcrumbs?
Dec 1, 2015 12:02 PM # 
Those are all the organizer's fault. Although they may not actually be the reason for the competitor being late, so the tardiness may still be the competitor's fault. That's for the jury to sort out.
Dec 1, 2015 12:10 PM # 
The old rule allowed the interpretation that is explicitly spelt out in the new rule.

The problem here is interpretation. The new rule as I read above states 'Their start time must be recorded' as opposed to the starter deciding 'Oh you're late, bugger you'. With this rule, the starter must record the new time.
Dec 1, 2015 12:50 PM # 
What if the organizer is using a start punch?
Dec 1, 2015 6:40 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Are there examples of rules about starting late in other sports?
Dec 1, 2015 7:03 PM # 
Orienteering is unusual in terms of often having the start be in some weird place, along with the staggered start concept. You might not find many other sports where the concept of the organizer being at fault for a competitor arriving late is even a thing.
Dec 1, 2015 7:55 PM # 
I guess the old rule assumed competent organisers.

As regards punching starts, event management software should allow the allocated start time to override a punching start.

Pity the rules committee didn't clean up rule 20.
Dec 1, 2015 8:01 PM # 
This will cover the case of a competitor arriving at the start with plenty of time, proceeding through the Start process and being faced with no maps for her class. Instead of getting a new time when maps appeared after five minutes or so, she was sent on her way with the original Start time.
Dec 1, 2015 8:43 PM # 
Are there examples of rules about starting late in other sports?

I can't think of too many other sports that have assigned, staggered starts.

These are the rules as they apply to the XC phase of three day eventing. They seem similar to the proposed rule change for orienteering:

c. If a competitor starts early, his time will be recorded from the moment he crossed the start line.

d. Under exceptional circumstances, the Ground Jury may permit a competitor to start at other than his posted start time. When this happens, the new, agreed upon start time will become the competitor’s official revised start time.

e. If a competitor is not ready to start at his correct time (original or revised schedule), he may be allowed, at the discretion of the starter, to start when he is ready, subject to the following conditions:

1. A late competitor will not be permitted to start if there is any risk of interfering with the subsequent competitor.

2. His starting time will be recorded as if he had started at the correct time.
Dec 2, 2015 1:39 AM # 
This is the most famous late start I can think of. It was the athlete's fault, but there were unconfirmed rumours a rival had hired a seductress to make him miss his start.

In the UCI cycling regulations for time trials, AFAIK there is just one sentence related to late starts (section 2.4.012): "The time of any rider who reports late to the start shall be calculated from that rider's scheduled starting time".
Dec 2, 2015 2:03 AM # 
At least the media won't get in the way of someone who is late for their orienteering race start. And if they did, whose fault would it be?
Dec 2, 2015 2:05 AM # 
Dec 2, 2015 3:34 AM # 
Do only male competitors race 3 day eventing?
Dec 2, 2015 3:57 AM # 
It's nice that IOF has updated the rules to match our typical practice :-). At events I've been involved with, late arrivals start as soon as practical and get recorded (typically by a start punch). Depending on the circumstances (e.g., reason for late arrival, importance of event), we use either the assigned start time or the actual start time to calculate results. This is typically decided at the finish (not by the start crew).
Dec 2, 2015 4:07 AM # 
Eventing riders are both male and female. In fact, the overwhelming majority across all levels are female. I'm not sure why the entire rule book is written using only male pronouns.
Dec 2, 2015 4:11 AM # 
Maybe a woman riding a mare or filly cancels out to become male. Any combination involving a male rider or stallion/colt, well we all know that males are the dominant gender so that's naturally explained.

I don't know how the situation works with geldings.
Dec 2, 2015 4:36 AM # 
I'm not sure why the entire rule book is written using only male pronouns.

There's a certain jockey in Australia who has a quite credible theory on that...
Dec 2, 2015 2:34 PM # 
Standard practice when referring to a person whose gender is unspecified is to use "male" pronouns, which in that context are to be considered gender-neutral (as opposed to using plural pronouns, as is often done, to the great disapproval of grammar sticklers). Some people make an effort to use terms like "s/he" and "his/her", or to use female pronouns instead half of the time, or to make up new words.

In languages such as French, you have the situation where "ils" means "they" for a male group, and "elles" means "they" for a female group, but for a mixed group, you use "ils" even is it's 999 women and one man.
Dec 2, 2015 2:42 PM # 
In XC skiing, if you miss your start, the start time doesn't change. You just get penalized. The rules don't really address this much (rules wiki), but from the organizational standpoint, there is a "late start" lane, that late starters will use so as to not mess up the flow of on-time starters.
Dec 2, 2015 3:25 PM # 
...or to make up new words...

In Sweden they (whoever they are) are trying to substitute han/hon (he/she) with the gender neutral new word "hen" which to an English speaker* sounds kind of silly...

*) ...and Swedes...

Back to the original subject:

The standard in Sweden has as far as I remember been to let people start whenever they arrive but with no change to their original start time. That is definitely easier for organizers - since late start routines are usually part of building up the start area. This makes sense in typical Scandi meets with lots of participants if you don´t have to deal individually with every single late starter (possibly around 20-25 for a normal meet??). I haven´t heard of any complaints to that routine - if you´re late you just have to accept the fact.

I suppose simply making a note of the new start time for every late starter wouldn´t be too much extra work though. The extra work would be for jury or some other body to handle decisions if they should hand out a corrected start time or not.

I´ve also heard of more rigid interpretations where a runner late to his start wasn´t allowed to start at all - Swedish Sprint Champs (?) - his own fault but still a very tough solution.
Dec 2, 2015 6:43 PM # 
We usually note the actual start time on the starter's checklist anyway, as a safety measure. That way we know that they actually started if they don't appear before overtime. Not usually a problem with elites, though.
Dec 3, 2015 4:44 PM # 
There was a case this year at the Swedish Champs middle qualification, when Gustav Bergman arrived late to the pre-start, but still before his start time. According to the rules of the competition, the late starts were not allowed (similar to what bubo mentions). So Bergman was told that he could not run since he was late. Bergman argued that he was late for the pre-start, not the actual start, pretty much forced his way, ran the course and then appealed to the jury which allowed his result to stand and he went on to win the final. Discussed at length at (message numbers 294 to roughly 350).

Which raises a related issue which, I think, is not addressed by the IOF rules: what happens if a runner is late for the pre-start? Can the organizers force him/her to start later?
Dec 3, 2015 6:42 PM # 
Which raises a related issue which, I think, is not addressed by the IOF rules: what happens if a runner is late for the pre-start? Can the organizers force him/her to start later?

If you are late for pre-start, then you are late. Miss your call-up and you get to start at the convenience of the start crew in a way that doesn't interfere with those runners who have arrived for their starts on time.
Dec 3, 2015 7:01 PM # 
Maybe a well-known answer but something I sometimes get surprised by, even to this day:

When is pre-start supposed to be? At your assigned start time? Or some number of minutes before your assigned start time such that you end up leaving the real start line at your assigned start time?

I've seen it done both ways but am still sometimes caught by surprise when the pre-start is running on an advanced clock.
Dec 3, 2015 8:08 PM # 
I can't think of an instance in North America where an athlete who was late for the pre-start, but not his/her actual start was not allowed to go straight to the map line. They might have forfeited the opportunity to get a control description sheet, but that's the only penalty effectively meted out within the start (as opposed to not having time for any usual pre-start prep...)
Dec 3, 2015 11:56 PM # 
An interesting hypothetical for a controller's seminar if the Swedish race had been conducted under IOF rules.

Applicable rules:
2.5: "Additional regulations which do not conflict with these rules may be determined by the organiser. They need the approval of the IOF Event Adviser."

2.6: "These rules and any additional regulations shall be binding for all competitors, team officials and other persons connected with the organisation or in contact with the competitors."

22.4: "The start may be organised with a pre-start before the time start, situated at one edge of the warm-up area before the time start. If there is a pre-start, a clock showing the call-up time to team officials and competitors shall be displayed there ... Beyond the pre-start, only starting competitors ... are allowed."

Note that references to a pre-start in the rules define it as a place, not a time, so you can't be late for a pre-start.

22.9: "Competitors who are late for their start time shall be permitted to start ..."

22.16: "The organiser may define a quarantine zone in order to prevent those who have not started gaining information about the courses. The organiser defines times when competitors and team officials must be inside the quarantine zone ..."

26.1: "All persons taking part in an orienteering event shall behave with fairness and honesty. They shall have a sporting attitude and a spirit of friendship. Competitors shall show respect for each other, for officials ..."

This discussion thread is closed.