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Discussion: Course setting non-competition

in: Orienteering; General

Mar 16, 2016 5:06 PM # 
(I'm starting a new thread to separate this from the Course Design thread.)

Would anyone be interested in a course setting "non-competition" that had no formal judges, no prizes, just the opportunity to design and post a course and the opportunity to discuss posted courses and legs that you think are particularly good? (Rather than pointing out bad legs and courses, I'd suggest instead creating and posting one's own examples of characteristics worth avoiding when designing a course, but that's just a suggestion.)

I'd suggest first discussing what types of courses. I'd suggest Long M21, Middle F45, Sprint F21, local event Orange and White. Other possibilities could be Rogaine, MTBO or a Ski-O format, or Night. Vote for which you think are most interesting, and have some interest in designing. Then we can choose good maps for these courses (from maps worldwide, so long as a good quality image is available to AttackPointers with the blessing of the map's owner), and say Go! (Or, it could turn out few are interested, and the thread ends.)
Mar 16, 2016 11:58 PM # 
Some ideas on how it might work:

Who: AttackPoint members

What: Design a course, post it here, and then review each others' courses and discuss the best, what makes them the best, and anything else interesting that arises.

How: This thread picks a map and course format (Long F18, Sprint M35, Night F60, etc.), getting permission from the map owner.
Interested AttackPointers download the map image, use software like Purple Pen to draft a course of the chosen format, export it as PDF (or an image format) and upload it to a free PDF hosting site (or image hosting site, or personal web site), posting a link on this thread. (If desired, maybe we can fashion some means of anonymity, like sending the course file to me or some other "organizer" to post, using a pseudonym to identify.) AttackPointers look at the various courses posted, and opine on the courses and legs they like best, and why.

Winner: None. Just for the fun of discussing course design.

When: Each month or two (or as often as interest arises, if at all), the thread announces a course to set, such as Long M21, or Sprint F35, or MTBO F21, etc., and a map. Once people are done designing and then discussing that course, the thread could move on to another format (24 hour Rogaine, Middle M85, Night M-15, local event intermediate, 10km snowshoe, whatever) and map.

Why: Enjoyment of pondering course design, in a variety of course formats and terrain types. Maybe the chance to see some inspired ways of using terrain.

Commitment: None.
Mar 17, 2016 1:33 AM # 
I'm in.
Mar 17, 2016 10:02 AM # 
Me, too!
Mar 17, 2016 1:04 PM # 
Me three. +1 to someone anonymizing and posting all the entries together.
Mar 17, 2016 3:09 PM # 
OK, then participants could send their course to me (as Purple Pen, PDF or image), and I'll post it on free PDF or image hosting site, using a random word generator to assign a name.

What format of course (Sprint, Middle, Long, Ultra Long, Night, MTBO, local event beginner course, rogaine, etc.) should we set first? We should pick an age category or winning time too, so that we can decide how long a course to set. Once we've picked a format, we can pick a map that suits it, and get permission from its owner.
Mar 17, 2016 3:38 PM # 
I would think you might be able to convince an enterprising club to donate file a map on the condition that they (the club) would be able to host a training event using the winning course(s).

Does acjospe want to nominate lynn woods. for example.
Mar 17, 2016 4:00 PM # 
Lynn Woods in Massachusetts? For a Middle or local event beginner or intermediate course?

(I can also ask RMOC, which has many maps online. All that's needed is a PDF or image file of the map; an OCAD or OOM file isn't strictly needed, though possibly nicer for printing the course if the club did want to use the course for some training.)
Mar 17, 2016 4:06 PM # 
OLOU has quite a few online.. If you are in the mood for Kentucky Course design. We have one (Otter Creek Park) that is loaded with Pits and Depressions. Otter Creek Park is in PDF format, OOM and OCAD. About 2500 acres. Would love to participate in this as well so will keep an eye on the thread.
Mar 17, 2016 4:58 PM # 
2500 acres (~10 sq km) sounds like a possible map for a Long? Are you offering this map? I see that you're Vice President of the we need any other OK, from the President or Mapping or board?
Mar 17, 2016 6:30 PM # 
In Switzerland there is actually a yearly course setting competition, I think a new map is even 'made up' for it?

Maybe there should be am AP fantasy map making non-competition first :)
Mar 17, 2016 6:57 PM # 
I will send out an email to the board and the President and really don't see any reason to be opposed to this. Give me a day or two and I will give an official answer.
We just held a meet there over the weekend that included a 20k point to point followed by a Rogaine. 8 hour time limit but no one cleared the course. You can read the Mad Otter Logs. The Park is next to the very expansive Ft Knox that has 440 Sq km. It would be nice to expand to a small area to the East and I think despite the fact that this is a Military zone, there is a possibility of that happening. Karst terrain dominates this area so it has plenty of caves, and huge pits and depressions.
Mar 17, 2016 8:00 PM # 
Thanks Bruce. If permission is granted, shall we have the first non-competition to be to set a Long M21 at Otter Creek? (If permission is denied, then I'll ask permission for one of the RMOC maps that's online, some of which are good for long route choice and haven't been used for a while.) Then next time maybe we can switch gears to a Sprint or something, to keep variety, and so forth. AttackPointers prepare your Long course design mindset.

Suggested procedure for participants:

1) Obtain a two word pseudonym by going to a random word generation site like this one. This is your pseudonym for the course design non-competition. Keep your pseudonym for all the non-competitions, or get a new pseudonym for each non-competition, your choice. Honestly, I don't care if you submit two entries to a non-competition under different pseudonyms if you so like. People can self-identify after the discussion finishes if they so choose, or not, but let's leave it anonymous during the discussion, as some people seem to want that. I won't bother tracking names versus pseudonyms, as it would take effort and I don't see the point. It's about interesting course design, and its discussion, not ribbons.

2) Download the map, to which there will be a link on this thread. Note the suggested assembly area, if specified, and pick your start and finish to be reasonable distances from this.

3) Install Purple Pen (Windows), or other course setting software. In a pinch, map drafting software could be used. For a lower tech alternative, print out the map, neatly hand draw your course using a circle template and a purple or magenta pen, and scan it, naming the scanned image file as described below. If hand drawing, include your pseudonym and the course format in the control descriptions.

4) Assuming that you're using Purple Pen, open Purple Pen, and create a new event, using the pseudonym that you generated above as the Event Title. Choose the map file that you downloaded. Add a course, naming it according to the format for the non-competition (Long M21 for this first one). By default this will put your pseudonym and the course name on the control descriptions, which will be useful for reviewers.

5) Design your course.

6) Create a PDF file of the course (File > Create PDFs...) using your pseudonym followed by a space as the name prefix, or create an image file of the course, using your pseudonym and the course format as the file name. Just export the one course.

7) Send the PDF or image file (and ppen file if requested by the owner of the map, which they might if they want to use the best courses as training) to me at jimbakerwp at gmail dot com, with your pseudonym and the course format as the subject of the email (so that I can easily keep track of them). Or, upload the PDF or image file to a free hosting site and send me the link, same subject line. Don't bother sending the map file.

8) I'll announce a submission deadline, and post all the submissions that I receive by that date. If you run out of time to create a complete course, but have a long or interesting leg that you'd like to share, feel free, maybe appending the word leg to the course name and file name for clarity.

9) Discuss away, especially about legs and courses that you like best, or about the challenges that the terrain presents for orienteers or course designers, or whatever attracts your interest. If discussing a negative, then I'd like to suggest creating and posting your own example of that negative, rather than the submissions, to keep it more fun for all.

10) Have fun. Be inventive. Take it as a challenge. See what interesting ideas come up.

How long should we give people to design their course? Two weeks from the time the map is posted and course format announced?
Mar 17, 2016 8:59 PM # 
I suggest that for whatever map is chosen, that two PDFs be created---one for American paper sizes and one for ISO paper---so interested designers can print the map easily on "local equipment'. For example, for Otter Creek, extract a particular area and make a PDF to print it at 11x17 and at A3, or alternately 8.5x11 and A4. Someone else might have an alternate way to do this, perhaps with a single image file.

I find it nearly impossible to design without a paper map, especially long legs.
Mar 17, 2016 11:14 PM # 
I find that cropping the map to fit on a standard paper size is an important part of the course design activities. It can be a struggle to show not only all potential routes but also catching features and safety stuff like lines of cliffs if one went off course, as well as leaving room for control descriptions, scale and contour interval, club or event logos, etc. So, I'd suggest that the map owner provide the complete map, and that course designers crop the map to 11x17 or A3 (either portrait or landscape) as part of their course design activities, before or when rendering the PDF or image.

My thoughts, anyway.
Mar 18, 2016 1:39 PM # 
I have permission to share the Map of Otter Creek Park, KY. The map fits nicely at 1:15000 on 11x17 or A3 at that scale At 1:10000 (The Scale we used for the Mad Otter) you will lose about 10% of it but will get essentially all the part of the park you would need. Jim, I can share the map on Google Drive if you like or just email various versions (OOM, OCAD, PDF). I would just need your email address.
Mar 18, 2016 2:12 PM # 
My email is in step 7 of my post above at 2pm MDT yesterday.

(Or, just put the PDF on a hosting site like this one, and post the link. No need to give email.)

Shall we announce an April 1, 2016, noon GMT deadline for submissions, for this first non-competition?
Mar 18, 2016 3:34 PM # 
Done! Have fun with this. The Creek can add a challenge and on occasion for fun we add a Tubeslide leg
Mar 18, 2016 3:38 PM # 
First non-competition:

Set a Long F21 on Otter Creek park.

Download the map PDF here. Use password AttackPoint to download the file.

See the procedure above for how to participate (my ten step posting on 2016-03-17 2pm MDT).

Deadline for submission: high noon GMT on Friday 2016-04-01

5am Pacific Daylight Time 2016-04-01
8am Eastern Daylight Time 2016-04-01
10am Western Greenland Summer Time 2016-04-01
1pm British Summer Time 2016-04-01
2pm Central European Summer Time 2016-04-01
3pm Moscow Standard Time 2016-04-01
5:30pm India Standard Time 2016-04-01
8pm Australian Western Standard Time or Hong Kong Time 2016-04-01
11pm Australian Eastern Daylight Time 2016-04-01
1am New Zealand Daylight Time 2016-04-02

Have fun!
Mar 18, 2016 5:27 PM # 
A couple questions/things:
1. I downloaded the map just fine though I did get an error message that it may not display correctly when I opened it. The map does look just fine but there is no assembly area/arena marked. So, do we just put the start anywhere and the finish anywhere?
2. should we assume the stream is crossable?
Mar 18, 2016 6:21 PM # 
Bruce wrote me:

There are really 2 good locations.. You can see one that has quite a few buildings and mostly in Yellow in the Center North. That is a YMCA camp called Camp Piomingo

The other one is directly south of that at a large shelter (Grey building) with some yellow to the south in the Central South area. That is easier access to the Southern Part while the Y Camp has better access to the North.

For consistency, let's choose the southern of those as the assembly area.

He also mentioned that Otter Creek is sometimes crossable a few places, but since it's mapped as uncrossable, let's go by what the map shows.
Mar 18, 2016 10:59 PM # 
Not sure I'll have time to play this time round, but any insight to typical km-rates in this terrain/forest type?
Mar 18, 2016 11:03 PM # 
Can Bruce or anyone who's orienteered at Otter Creek provide some input into the speed of the terrain?
Mar 18, 2016 11:06 PM # 
(I'm guessing that a second round might start mid or late April, depending on how long the conversations are on this round, and the level of interest for a second round. I'd suggest for variety that a second round be a different course format...Sprint, or rogaine? I'll probably start a new thread for the second round, to avoid each thread becoming too unwieldy.)
Mar 18, 2016 11:38 PM # 
Very fast forest in most places. Little ground clutter and the hills for the most part are mild. Obviously, the hills going down to Otter Creek amd the Ohio River are usually too steep to attempt.
Mar 18, 2016 11:45 PM # 
There are some splits from last Saturday and the Green course was run by some juniors I think Dylan Poe had the best time at just under an hour.
Mar 19, 2016 1:58 PM # 
What's the story with the upside-down cliffs?
Mar 19, 2016 2:16 PM # 
I should have known.
A contest with a closing date of April Fool's Day:
A map in PDF?
Ha Ha OCAD users.
Mar 19, 2016 2:50 PM # 
I can export an image file from the PDF if you need. OCAD seems to accept PNG, GIF, JPEG, TIFF or BMP. Or, Bruce did provide OCAD and OOM files if you need them. I'll send one to you via email if you need it. I prefer not to post such things in a public forum.
Mar 19, 2016 2:51 PM # 
Which upside-down cliffs? (I've found it sometimes hard to tell what's up and down in some areas; could this be the issue?)
Mar 19, 2016 3:25 PM # 
OK, here's an image file 1:15,000 at 1200dpi. A quick measurement using the north lines seems to confirm this. It's a huge file (which is why PDF can be nicer; it's also crisper at high zoom). You may find it worth downloading Purple Pen, since having OCAD I assume you have Windows. When it comes time to post your masterpiece, your exported PDF file will be smaller, which will help viewers. Or, send me an email Gord, and I'll reply with the OCAD file.
Mar 19, 2016 4:33 PM # 
Right, there is plenty of cliffs with tags pointing up, with a quick look I counted nine. Maybe those used to be cliffs without tags and got converted to tagged ones at some point?

There is other oddities too, like depressions mapped as index contour knoll (without being at index contour level), 109 and 110 symbols on top of each other and so on.
Mar 19, 2016 5:20 PM # 
There are some problems with contours not connecting, upside down cliffs, and some other issues that are being slowly corrected. Most of this probably happened when it was converted to OCAD years ago. The park was originally mapped back in early 90s by a couple of Russians mappers. The Depressions are very odd indeed. Some pits are actually large depressions and should have contour lines (with tags). some small depressions are Pits. This is a Karst Plateau. Matthew Robbins (CedarCreek) has also provided some LiDAR data for me and I have been using that for some corrections with regards to all the large depressions. The map is also littered with way too many ditches.. I have been changing them gradually over to either streams or changing the contours where necessary. It is a long process but the map is pretty accurate overall and getting better. It should not take away from the course design and I will see if I can locate those cliffs and correct them. There were originally over 150 symbols on the map but I have cut that down quite a bit too.
Mar 19, 2016 7:07 PM # 
Tried to send you an e-mail Jim but could not find your e-mail address in your profile.
First JimBaker may I say thank you and congratulations for taking this project and running, no galloping, ahead with it.
I'll be watching with interest. Watching because I'm a little busy staging an event scheduled for the day after this contest closes. Also have a couple of mapping projects to finish up before leaving Florida with the rest of the snowbirds.
I'll also be watching because I'm more convinced than ever that course setting contests for the high school orienteers here in Florida would help many of them sharpen their orienteering skills and perhaps turn some of them on to helping the clubs in the state with our events. So I'll be looking to introduce a similar contest to their schedule next semester.
Mar 19, 2016 7:19 PM # 
Thanks for the kind comments. I hope that it turns out to be useful and interesting. My email is in the ten step procedure in this thread, posted on the 17th at 4pm Florida time (2pm my time). Good luck with your event; I considered coming as far as looking up flights, but am taking a low profile this year, still settling into my house and also preparing to teach Awareness Through Movement (Feldenkrais Method of Movement) through the local parks and recreation department starting the Monday after the event. If there's interest, I'll start a second non-competition sometime after discussion on this one winds down. I'm pondering it being a Sprint, and the subsequent being a 24hr rogaine, maybe the fourth being a mountain bike O, but am very open to suggestions. Perhaps even a corn maze course setting non-competition.
Mar 24, 2016 3:27 AM # 
To keep the thread lengths manageable, I'll spin off a new thread for each non-competition. The thread for the first non-competition, setting a Long F21 at Otter Creek Park, is here.
Apr 11, 2016 4:30 PM # 
By the way, IOF has course setting guidelines for world class events, including example maps and a fair bit of discussion of desired characteristics:
Apr 11, 2016 4:33 PM # 
I wonder if posting one course a day is too much? What about every second day, to allow people more time to comment?
Apr 11, 2016 4:41 PM # 
As an interested spectator, with limited time, I'll second that. I'm way behind.
Apr 11, 2016 5:38 PM # 
I was wondering that myself, but saw lots of posts on each course, so continued. I'll slow it down. Maybe for the next non-competition, if there's interest in such a thing happening again, the courses can be published one every other day as they come in (rather than waiting for a deadline), and maybe also we can get some official commenters who are willing to review each entry, in addition to comments from whoever else may have an insight or thoughts or questions.
Apr 12, 2016 4:39 AM # 
I was just confused by the load of clutter in the discussion boards.
Apr 12, 2016 6:52 AM # 
You've got to learn to simplify tRicky, it's a key orienteering [discussion] principle.
Apr 12, 2016 2:22 PM # 
Specifically, you can simplify by clicking the x on the top right of the first post and the whole thread will stop appearing in your discussions section.
Apr 12, 2016 2:59 PM # 
Rather than posting the next course (Harvest Coffin) today, I'll delay until tomorrow, per Adrian's and Eric's requests, to let people catch up, and simplify the boards for Ricky.
Apr 12, 2016 3:28 PM # 
Jim, I also wonder if getting people to comment on all of them is simply too much. Even at one every two or three days people will get tired of them after a month or two. If you want to continue this long term (and I think it's worth doing so!) then I would suggest picking two or three courses at random from the entries for in-depth discussion and doing a new course competition every month so you end up doing a couple of course critiques then waiting a month for the next one which will give people some down-time and build the anticipation.
Apr 12, 2016 4:07 PM # 
I do worry about the fatigue. Lays have a discussion about the best way forward. I like that each submitter is getting feedback; I think that has value. I wonder if a handful of experienced orienteers and course setters could be co-opted to provide that feedback for all over a month or so (as seems to have happened ad hoc this time). But I'm open to other ways. My main interest is the opportunity and forum to talk about course design and what makes it good, as well as opportunities to practice and get feedback (though normal volunteering yields that too ). I'm interested in others' reaction to this experiment.
Apr 12, 2016 5:03 PM # 
As one of the submitters, I can say that the feedback I've got so far has been very valuable and I appreciate all the efforts to review my course and those submitted by others. Given that this is a "non-competition," feedback is essentially the only reason to submit and I would be far less likely to do so if I knew in advance that only a few courses would be selected for review and thus I am likely not to get any feedback at all. I think the current "ad hoc" approach is working and there is no reason to change it. It may be hard to find people who would commit to reviewing all the courses. It's much easier when you know you have made no commitments and are not obliged to do it. Even if there is fatigue towards the end and courses posted later get fewer and less detailed comments, it is still better than nothing - but it may be a good idea to randomize the order in which the courses are posted in the future. I do think that posting courses every other day, rather than every day, is reasonable. I also agree with Jeff that a break before the next "non-competition" may be a good idea.
Apr 12, 2016 6:47 PM # 
Two days for each of the remaining submitted courses takes us through April 21, plus whatever additional time discussions continue for. Given my schedule, the start of a next non-competition would best be about the summer solstice, unless someone else took the lead. We could discuss what works best for everyone. I'm glad to hear that course feedback was useful, Mykyta. And thanks for the feedback from everyone on format; we seem to have come to a format that works better for most people, and maybe we'll find further useful improvements in the future. I'm glad that several people are finding it of interest and useful. It can be an intriguing topic.
Apr 14, 2016 12:53 AM # 
I thought people might be interested in the Barebones Course Planning contest from 2001. I know - woah, that's so long ago. But the concepts of course planning seem unchanged. If you're looking for some good course planning tips (he says humbly) then check it out.

An excerpt:
Course planning is an art. For most planners it is an endless learning experience, with each new course (hopefully) an improvement over the ones before. Good course planning is crucial to enjoyable orienteering and hence to the growth of our sport. From weeknight training sessions to major competitions, well-designed courses with controls in the promised places are prerequisite to a rewarding experience for both organizers and competitors.

Critically and constructively reviewing our course planning efforts with the aim of continually improving standards seems time well spent. After your next orienteering race we encourage you to discuss with your friends not only your performances and route choices but also issues of the course design and how you might have set a course. Here, in this spirit, are the judges’ general comments on the entries to the Barebones 2001 Course Planning Contest

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