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Discussion: Course design - Long F21 at Otter Creek

in: Orienteering; General

Mar 24, 2016 3:25 AM # 
This thread is about a course setting non-competition of a Long F21 course at Otter Creek Park. (See links to a parent thread below.)

There's over a week left to enter. I have entries so far from pseudonyms Awesome Dozen, Eclectic Phoenix and Glitter Two.

Procedures for how to participate are here.

Deadline and a link to the map are here.

Suggested assembly area is here.

Many thanks to Orienteering Louisville for letting us use their map.
Mar 27, 2016 9:03 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I have never seen a guideline for how long F21 is supposed to be able to run on this map, so I made a first draft which turned out to be about 8 km. Is this in the right ballpark or too long/too short?
Mar 27, 2016 11:25 PM # 
The video and Bruce Moore's comments suggest that the running is fairly fast in the woods, so I suspect longer, but that's all part of the discussion.
Mar 27, 2016 11:38 PM # 
Four and a half days left to enter this first non-competition. See above for info.
Mar 28, 2016 12:18 AM # 
This might help for those unfamiliar with OUSA rules---- the winning time for F21 Long should be 70-90 minutes.
Mar 28, 2016 1:10 AM # 
Just for reference, the average distance for WOC F21 Long courses (since 2001) is 11.13 km.

The minimum distance of these races is 8.8 km.
The maximum distance of these races is 13.9 km.
Mar 28, 2016 12:39 PM # 
I have been involved in this game for just shy of 50 years and been hearing the term 'winning time' for about 35 of those years but I have never been able to understand how to effectively work with it in course setting.
Let's say one is setting a course for F 21 at Otter Creek and the best North American women (less Emily Kemp) are going to be there so for the requisite expected winning time you set a course of 8 km..
Then suddenly a week before the event and just after you have printed the maps you hear the entire Danish women's team is going to be there to participate. Is it that easy to add 2 km to a course to adjust to the new expected winning time?
It used to be that in Canada the first question to ask concerning expected winning times for a course was "Will Ted de St Croix be there?"
Mar 28, 2016 12:53 PM # 
You shouldn't be planning for whoever is entered, you should be planning for the best, how else are athletes meant to prepare for proper WOC-length races where they will be facing the best?
Mar 28, 2016 12:58 PM # 
US "winning times" are based on an actual or hypothetical 100-point US-ranked runner.

So it doesn't matter if a Danish girl shows up; she'll just skew the final results. The course should be designed for a 70-90 min finish time [given ideal conditions] for the US athlete closest to 100-points, which at the current time is Ali Crocker.
Mar 28, 2016 2:05 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I didn't notice the 1:15K specification for the map, so my 8 km course was actually about 12k. :-)

I discovered this the hard way, after first making a new course (of about 17+ km) which would have been 11.5 or so on a 1:10K map, then I decided to check it properly:

I located the area (next door to Fort Knox!) on OpenStreetMap and exported an xml file which I then imported to a new OCAD project (UTM Zone 16).

This OSM map became the background for a new map which used the 300 DPI pdf as foreground, using the OSM data to accurately georeference the image.

On this map I then made a new version of my original course. :-)
Mar 28, 2016 2:19 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
Re Jim's suggestion we discuss course planning here:

I found that compared with my normal/favorite Norwegian terrains, it is a lot harder to come up with courses and legs that I would like to run myself. :-(

If the white forest is quite open, then you would be forced to use the ravines to introduce route choices (up/down/follw the contours), otherwise the alternatives are straight or around on roads/paths for any longer legs.
Mar 28, 2016 4:44 PM # 
I too found it difficult to set the very long route choice legs that I associate with Long elite courses (but it made me work at it, at least eight versions of the course, and I think I finally got something good...let's see what others think...I had to do somewhat different things than the usual). Personally, although I have my favorite terrains and types of orienteering challenge, I think that a variety of challenge is itself an important challenge to give orienteers, even when it goes well outside my comfort zone or strengths, such as a markedly different run/think balance. (But I'm not sure that others very successful orienteer commented that some glaciated but unusual terrain used for a major competition was "strange"...which might be interpreted as a negative view on variety.) One famous orienteer opined that there's no easy terrain, as faster running would make it challenging enough navigationally. What are others' thoughts on the wide world of terrain, and its impact on various formats of orienteering, and on making challenging, interesting courses?

(As an aside related to the comment about courses one enjoys (and less to the topic of setting an elite Long), although my strength is usually more toward the thinking than the running, one of my greatest navigational triumphs in terms of change of relative placing occurred at an adventure race with quite simple, by orienteering standards, navigation. One leg involved traveling a kilometer (I recall) down an enormous valley to a big, distinct side valley easily visible from where one entered the enormous valley. But it flummoxed a few dozen adventure racers ahead of me, who spent an hour biking up and down the enormous valley before giving up and resting their bikes, until one of them saw me and said "he's an orienteer!". All got back on their bikes. I advanced to seventh place in the race at the next checkpoint, up from two-thirds the way down the pack, despite being way outclassed otherwise in the race. Sometimes one's successes are way outside what one thinks of as one's optimum or favorite challenge. It was an unexpected kind of navigational fun. :-)
Mar 28, 2016 4:50 PM # 
Just under four days left. Still time to start some quick setting, or to polish up that course.
Mar 28, 2016 8:30 PM # 
In the current IOF rankings, Ida Bobach is 1st with 5815 points. The first North American is Emily Kemp with 4820. Scaling 11.13km by 4820/5815 gives 9.23km. If you use Samantha (highest ranked American) it gives 6.6km. Both of these seem really wrong, and make me suspect the IOF rankings aren't usable for scaling in this manner.

My normal design starting point for F21 Long (not classic) is 8.7 to 9.4km. Not that I know anything—This is literally off the top of my head. I usually get some recent results and make a spreadsheet.
Mar 28, 2016 8:32 PM # 
And it all points out that I should have clarified...F21 by OUSA standards, or F21 by WOC standards, etc.
Mar 28, 2016 9:47 PM # 
@cedarcreek: you are right, IOF rankings are not usable in this manner, simply because the number of IOF ranking points an athlete gets for a race is not simply inversely proportional to his/her time, but also depends on the standard deviation of the times of other athletes. See

Which, by the way, is very reasonable, as otherwise in technically simpler races, where the spread of times is not as large, the best athletes would get too few points and the worst athletes too many.
Mar 29, 2016 12:00 AM # 
IOF rankings are not usable for anything because they're entirely bogus.

(Sorry, back to the real conversation.)
Mar 29, 2016 5:33 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
A simple suggestion: Since these challenges are going to take place on maps/terrains which are completely unknown to most of the people taking part, it would be much easier/more fair if the organizer states both what the target difficulty should be (in this case championship Long) and a suggested length range (maybe 10-13 km for Otter Creek in order to be runnable in 70-90 minutes?).

Mar 29, 2016 5:44 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@jjcote: The IOF rankings are in no way "entirely bogus", as long as you only use it to compare runners with approximately the same number of starts in the same WC/WOC level events!

I.e. a ranking which usually (bar injuries etc) tends to put Thierry, Daniel and Olav in the top spots for men seems eminently reasonable, and having Ida as the current women's top is also perfectly fine.

However, when you want to use it to compare two runners with almost totally disjunct sets of attended races, both of them maybe 15-25% slower than Ida, then the relative ranking points can indeed be quite bogus.
Mar 29, 2016 12:42 PM # 
Since getting the length right for the terrain is part of the course setting challenge, I was hoping that descriptions of the runnability from those who know the terrain would let course designers gauge a suitable length. But I'm open to instead having someone give a target length, if people prefer.

There are a number of ways of knowing how fast terrain will be for a competition, all with pitfalls and imprecision:
1) Travel through the terrain oneself (but that's one data point, using one's own strengths, and may not equate to competition conditions)
2) Hear others' experiences in the terrain (but what is each person's meaning of "fast"?)
3) Look at results of competitions in the terrain or similar terrain (but time of year, or a wetter, brushier year than normal can throw that off hugely)

In any case, next time I'll give a target winning time at the least, which I didn't do this time, leaving some ambiguity (was it an F21 by OUSA standards, WOC, WC, etc.?). Chime in whether you want a target distance range as well.
Mar 29, 2016 1:05 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I agree that getting the length right is part of the course setter challenge, but it really doesn't come into play here since in real life no course setter would expect to set courses in terrain she cannot personally visit.

Afair all the course setting competitions which we used to have here in Norway specified a given length range, and the points your course got was scaled by the total length:

Each leg score was multiplied by the leg length, and then the final sum of this was divided by the total length, so what you got was effectively a point score per km.

This setup would easily lead to a huge number of short/shorter legs, so there was also bonus points for multiple route choices, as well as some limits on min/max number of controls.
Mar 29, 2016 1:46 PM # 
+1 for specifying course length range.

We can have a separate competition for guessing the correct course length.
Mar 29, 2016 10:10 PM # 
OK, 90% bogus.
Mar 30, 2016 4:39 PM # 
Just under two days left to submit a course, if interested in doing so. Six received to date.
Apr 1, 2016 3:56 AM # 
I have the current eight submissions uploaded and the list ready to post. I'll add any that I receive in the next eight hours and a bit, and post.
Apr 1, 2016 12:05 PM # 
Here are the submissions to the course design non-competition for a Long F21 course at Otter Creek park. If I’ve missed your entry, please send me a note.

The password for all is AttackPoint

Awesome Dozen - Long F21
Bug Muck - Long F21
Clock Servant - Long F21
Eastern Object - Long F21
Eclectic Phoenix - Long F21
Electrophoretic Kitten - Long F21
Frequent Cat - Long F21
Glitter Two - Long F21
Harvest Coffin - Long F21
Molten Convict - Long F21
Pork Release - Long F21
Ruby Smoke - Long F21

Enjoy perusing the entries, and chime in with your thoughts. Which are your favorite courses and legs, and why? If there’s a characteristic that you think is worth avoiding, I’d suggest creating and posting your own example, and why you think the characteristic is bad. (If anyone happens to test run one of the courses, post your experiences and reactions.)

Thanks again to Orienteering Louisville for permission to use their map.
Apr 1, 2016 1:37 PM # 
By the way, was the two weeks between the announcement and the submission deadline enough, too long, too short?
Apr 1, 2016 2:44 PM # 
I noticed that Ruby Smoke (not mine) included a spectator leg through the finish field, before a couple of kilometers through the karst, which is something I like. Clock Servant has something similar. Do others like that?
Apr 1, 2016 3:09 PM # 
I read the deadline as Friday, April 1, and assumed it was the end of the day. Since I am off today, I figured I would just do it today, but I guess I am late. Will read the instructions more carefully next time!
Apr 1, 2016 3:51 PM # 
I'd suggest going ahead and submitting an entry. It's all for fun and discussion anyway. I'll sneak it in amongst the others; maybe people won't notice which is the new one.

Since AttackPoint has participants from many timezones around the world, I gave the deadline in terms of GMT, translated to local times for several timezones. Next time, I'll use midnight GMT instead of noon, so that it's evening instead of early morning my time. My prepared posting last night with the entries to date was fine, but this morning I used the wrong type of quotes in the href element of the a tags for the last entries before the deadline, and needed a half dozen tries to find the error. Not something to do when still sleepy.
Apr 1, 2016 4:22 PM # 
Maybe we should get Aragorn to test a few of these.
Apr 1, 2016 4:25 PM # 
That'd be cool. Any tests runs that anyone does would give interesting insight.
Apr 1, 2016 6:07 PM # 
I particularly like this new feature of Acrobat to automatically block viewing those course designs which are not gender-equality compliant
Apr 1, 2016 7:26 PM # 
I didn't see Awesome Dozen's or Eastern Object's and a few others course when I opened with Acrobat but the course did appear when I opened it with different PDF software
Apr 2, 2016 4:13 PM # 
Comments on Harvest Coffin F21A:
Start: Good location for nearness to Assembly Area and for simple route choices for beginner courses which would be starting here, too.
Start-1: Challenging from the outset with 3 route options. Straight would be a poor choice IMHO; both trail/road routes would provide opportunity to get into the map. Control is just far enough from an AP to begin providing a little fine navigation.
1-2: Like straighter, more challenging route choice vs. further, simpler route on handrails.Fine map reading near control.
2-3: I like the insertion of a sprint-like segment through the yellow with confusing map detail. Go around it right, or straight through it?
3-4: Looks like dog-leg prevention. Easy. Might need compass.
4-5: Fairly simple route using pond as AP. Slight chance of parallel error in reentrant area so some demand for fine map reading in approach to control.
5-6: Is this leg necessary? If you want to force the runner into having to make a route choice on 6-7, putting 6 there makes sense. At 6, the runner has two clear options, E to the trail then contour into control or straight which is shorter but requires fine map reading to get to the head of the reentrant. Without 6, the choices are still there, but the trail network into and through the campground and onto the smaller trail seems a good option.
6-7: See above.
7-8:Love the uber-long leg with two distinct route choices. I think I'd take the lower trail route that follows the river, but the trail-power line-road option would appeal to some, I think. Looks like lots of extra distance to me and perhaps extra climb. After all the work of getting near the control, it is a simple task to get to the top of the hill. I would feel so grateful to see that hill by the time I got within sight of it!
8-9: Like the downward angle challenge here to one of a number of similar shallow reentrants. Could be a time waster if accuracy is off.
9-10: Fairly simple. Time to use the compass. Catching features simplify it.
10-11: Like the upward angle challenge and the fine map reading of nearby features (shallow reentrants, stream juntcion, cliff) to pinpoint the location on the boulder.
11-12: Like the perpendicular-to-the-road leg which requires fine map reading in the approach.
12-13: Like the fine map reading and compass required here, especially with the many small up and down features.
13-14: See 12-13. Also like the approach coming into the end of the ride rather than the side which would be easier. Also the vegetation boundary proximity could be helpful.
15-16: Fairly simple leg with trails on either side. Good for tired brain and legs.
16-17: Easy peasy.
17-18: Easy approach, can feel the relief upon seeing the clearing and the patch of green. Have to make sure which side of the green to be on.
18-19: Another gimme. Nice to have at the end.

I think this is a very good course. My only criticism is that the finish is not at the assembly area so people cannot watch the end of the race.The last leg is good for spectating with the trail and open areas nearby. If the assembly area were moved to the area west of the finish, this would be ideal.
Apr 3, 2016 3:08 AM # 
My vote goes to Big Mac, that is awesome, 11.5 km and I estimate like 800m climb.
110% compliance.
Apr 3, 2016 5:30 PM # 
Comments on Molten Convict-Long (F21A)
Start: Convenient to Assembly area and short walk on trails
Start-1: Forces competitor to jump right in, focusing on fine map features. Nice of you to have a definite collecting feature (vegetation boundary) just beyond it.
1-2: Not much route choice here. The road to the trail down the spur is the only real choice, so lots of dead running here. This does give a chance to look ahead at the rest of the course though. Beyond the spur, some good navigation is required with some compass to keep in line through the light green.
2-3: Nice leg. Some route choice around first hill considering both the green and the approach. Diagonal uphill approach is always challenging and fine map reading required on the hill.
3-4: Fairly easy. Compass helpful here, but large cliff will be visible from a long way off. Boulder below it would have been more challenging. OTOH, the south end of the cliff sets up the route choices for the next leg better than the boulder would--it makes the high route look more appealing. Perhaps that was your purpose.
4-5: Good route choice leg. Climb early or climb late. Control will be easier to spot from below and harder to find from above on the steep slope. Which route to take?
5-6: I see 3 possible routes here. All three get you to roughly the same place where the three small reentrants merge. The control location looks pretty simple on the map, but it is probably quite challenging once in the area with all the ups and downs and ditches.
6-7: Good leg. I see 2 distinct route choices here, low and high. This requires consideration of how to approach the control. Trail from above looks simple but approach to control is harder from above, especially with the small cliff among many. Lower trail route involves similar climb, but more tortuous trail running and more map reading enroute. Easier to find from below, but that steep climb would be tough.
7-8:I like that the runner must decide how to deal with the big reentrant near the control. I see 2-3 routes. The straightest route provides some nice trails leading to the big reentrant, but requires a steep descent and an arduous climb to approach the control. Should be simple once arriving at the top. The left route through or just north of the camp, then using the trails and roads has lots of appeal, but it requires fine map reading most of the way along. Once on the last road (either road), contouring becomes a good option. The third option I did not see right away, but is a variation on the first, straight, route. There is a gap between the large cliff with the bare rock below it and the large cliff to the north of that. Not so many contours to climb down nor up. Hard to spot though. I wonder if anyone would take it.
8-9: Looking at this leg using CAR, I think the control location present some problems. One approach takes the runner through the finish, perhaps following the streamers backward and encountering other people going the other way into the finish. If they take the southeasterly trail instead, they may encounter people walking to the start. Worse still would be having early runners encounter walkers and then later ones having clear trails and less confusion. The third approach takes the runner through the start or starters which again creates unnecessary distraction and confusion. Looking at the leg from 8, most people are going to take the perimeter road to the south, so turning that route into something more challenging will require pulling them off of that route at some point and into more intricate terrain. I think the problem is the proximity of the start and finish, because there will be interference when you get close to either. Perhaps a better control location would be in that large area about 400-600 m north of the finish which you have not penetrated in your course. A control somewhere in there forces the runner to decide when to leave the perimeter road and how to deal with all the roads, trails, and medium green they might encounter nearer the control.
9-Finish: As designed, nice simple trail run into the finish--always welcome at the end of a long race.
Finish: Great to have it at the assembly area.

Overall: I think you have many good legs and a few that could use some tweaking. You have a good mix of controls in areas where fine map reading is required and some long routes requiring some decision making.
Apr 4, 2016 12:36 AM # 
Some legs I liked:
Bog Muck 12 to 13
Eclectic Phoenix 2 to 3
Frequent cat 12 to 13
Glitter Two 6 to 7
Pork Release 21-22
Apr 4, 2016 2:15 AM # 
I feel something isn't working here. I'm not sure how to fix it, but perhaps by bringing it up we can come up with a solution (or dismiss my concern ;)

I have done similar critiques in photography, with critiques coming from the WWW community. What is super important is that you can see the photograph along with the critiques. This is what I feel is missing here.

MJChilds has put in some serious critique work and I'm sure has great comments. But am I going to read them without seeing the course? I know, I can open the PDF in another window. But am I going to? Maybe I'm just going to go to another thread - because everyone's attention span these days is about 5 seconds, especially mine.

What has worked in photo critiques is to post the images to Smugmug and enable comments. Then everyone can browse through the photos and critique the ones they have something to say, and also easily read the critiques from other people.

I think that might be a more effective way of getting people to read the critiques and even to make them. Right now I'd like to critique some courses, but can't imagine anyone will get any value from me doing it.

I hate to be a downer - this thread is awesome - but I do think the final bit needs a bit of work.

On another point - in WOrld of O they often examine a course leg by leg. Perhaps we should even go to that length here - with an image for each leg? That's quite a bit of extra work, so might not be worth it.
Apr 4, 2016 2:43 AM # 
OK, I'll look into SmugMug and see what can be done to facilitate commenting. I've been worried that so many were interested in the submission stage, and now things are quietish in the review and comment stage, except for MaryJo''s fine analyses and a couple of other comments.
Apr 4, 2016 3:00 AM # 
Or what about if there was a new AP thread started for each submission and the first posting was an image of the course? That would achieve a similar effect to what I've seen in SmugMug
Apr 4, 2016 4:07 AM # 
I suspect one of the reasons why there have been relatively few comments so far is that many submissions are far from perfect, but people are reluctant to sound too critical. I may be wrong, but I suspect that the two submissions MJChilds chose for her analysis were the ones she liked most and felt she could be mostly positive about. On the other hand, it is those who are not as good who may benefit the most from the analysis of their courses. Personally, I would rather prefer to hear criticisms of my course than receive no comments at all. Should direct criticisms be encouraged, rather than discouraged?
Apr 4, 2016 4:41 AM # 
I'm not reluctant to be critical ;-) But I will certainly try to be positive when I do so. Here, again from photography, are some smart things to keep in mind when writing a critique

I am held back from critique at this point because it is difficult to keep the course image and the comments in the same "view". But I suspect you could be correct that some are worried that they would be perceived as too critical. In the first photo critique group I was a member of there was one guy who gave amazing critiques - sharp, pertinent, helpful, and polite. My dream was to be as good as him at writing critiques.
Apr 4, 2016 12:29 PM # 
I'll try a test thread to see how it works and what people think. Image files would be way too large (30MB), so I'll try embedding PDF.
Apr 4, 2016 1:00 PM # 
I haven't commented because I am (like most internet users) too lazy to download a bunch of separate PDF files that require separate clicks and entering a password. Viewing and commenting would be easier (especially on handheld devices) if we could comment as we look at them on the same page, as AZ says.

The images don't need to be huge. You can even use an online pdf-to-jpg converter to get a usable and reasonably size image, like this:
Apr 4, 2016 2:21 PM # 
I tried converting a PDF to image file for Gord (which I could do with the Preview app that comes with Mac OSX), but found that I needed 1200dpi for the finer features not to be too pixelated. That made for a thirty meg file or bigger, depending on the image file format I chose. I think that handheld devices (I use my phone for nearly all computery stuff) may not work for viewing courses (maybe legs though). Try the new test thread for the Awesome Dozen Long F21 course and see what you think; I found a site that lets me upload PDFs for free and exposes them as HTML, which I embedded in the thread. Let me know if it doesn't work well in some browsers. Fair warning that the PDF is still a few megs, so on slow connections opening the thread may be slow, or at least slow to see the image. It seems to re-render the PDF after each new posting, too. Reactions this the right way to go? And, do people second the comment about having a mix of negative and positive comment, perhaps using the excellent guidelines that Adrian references? I may have gone too far in deterring the negative, fearing accidentally unleashing an internet forum full of flame throwing on people's creative works.
Apr 4, 2016 4:06 PM # 
Having separate threads for each submission is probably more convenient indeed, but I am afraid it will be an abuse of this forum. Even with one comment per day per thread it may push all the other discussions far down the list.

Thanks for the link to critique guidelines, AZ, very nice and nearly everything is applicable to course design critiques. I don't think there is a huge danger of this turning into a flame war, given that the orienteering community is rather small and most people know each other (with the exception of newcomers like myself).
Apr 4, 2016 4:16 PM # 
Yes, I worried about twelve such threads at once. What if I create one thread a day, alphabetically, spreading the discussion over two weeks? Discussions wouldn't necessarily close after a day, but likely there would be two or three active threads at a time, rather than twelve. Also less overwhelming to review one course at a time rather than twelve.
Apr 4, 2016 5:10 PM # 
Good idea, I like it.
Apr 4, 2016 5:26 PM # 
Pink Socks:
Having separate threads for each submission is probably more convenient indeed, but I am afraid it will be an abuse of this forum. Even with one comment per day per thread it may push all the other discussions far down the list.

One option is to use the Groups function of AP.

Create a group of something like "Course Design Contests", and then anyone who wants to can join, and the group will show up on their AP front page, and within the group, you can view the group messages and comment, without abusing the open forum.

Similarly, Jim could create another AP account called "Course Design Contests" and post each contest in his log as a note, and anyone could comment there. If you're interested enough, you would 'favorite' this log and get notified of all comment updates.
Apr 4, 2016 6:00 PM # 
OK, I'll look into the Groups function. (It's not a part of AP that I've used before.) Maybe still with a one-a-day posting. (People can see the full list in my post above on April 1.) It does mean that fewer people will be aware of it, though, especially newcomers to AttackPoint. Maybe a single public posting at the start of each non-competition and another with the full list of submissions at the deadline, with reference to the group. Not excessive noise that way, but still visible for newcomers and the general AP public.
Apr 4, 2016 8:35 PM # 
My draft (done before the deadline, but not submitted), in case anyone is interested. ... a bit ugly since it was done on a mac, no numbers, just lines.

Incidentally, the map seems to have led to quite different courses. Which two are the most similar?
Apr 4, 2016 9:09 PM # 
Another course with a spectator leg (though I wondered whether that puts the finish on the far side of the spectator leg from the assembly area?).

When I saw the courses, I noticed that many of the legs that I had considered were in others' courses, roughly. (Sometimes improving one leg meant abandoning another leg I liked, but course setting can be a process of that.) The terrain tends to make the legs somewhat, though sometimes there's a particularly inspired leg that one might not see at first.
Apr 4, 2016 10:42 PM # 
yep, in my head, that was just drawn as far as the last control, with finish in the field :)

The red ink might get messy there. I think I may have been considering moving stuff to get a cleaner design.
Apr 5, 2016 4:13 AM # 
The problem with Spectator Legs is that they tend to be exciting for the crowd on hand.
Apr 5, 2016 4:19 AM # 
The red ink might get messy there

Purple ink, please.
Apr 28, 2016 6:32 PM # 
One last thought. As I mentioned, I was glad to see attempts at very long legs amongst the submitted courses. In North America, 1.5km, maybe 1.7km, is typically the longest leg at an event. The challenges on the courses are usually very good and varied, but only rarely include mega long legs. And yet our elite will encounter 3km and 4km legs at some international events, and these are very different challenges. The difference between 1.5km and 3-4 km can be a shock. With a 1.5km leg, one needs to look ahead a little bit to plan the leg, but not very far ahead. If one chooses the wrong route choice, it costs 5, 10, 20 seconds. With a 3 or 4 km leg, especially in hilly terrain, one needs a lot of time to see and analyze the routes, and thus one needs to notice the leg long ahead, and strategize one's time throughout the preceding legs to set aside sufficient analysis time, perhaps even choosing a trail route on a preceding leg in order to have time to evaluate and plan the long leg, because the extra seconds on the trail route could be fewer than the dozens spent standing still if one hasn't planned well ahead, or the possibly minutes lost if one chooses wrong. From experience, if one encounters such a mega leg in major competition without having done such legs on a course before, it can be like doing something in competition without having prepared for it. The skills needed are sufficiently different from those needed to plan ahead for a 1.5km leg that encountering such a leg in competition for the first time can be quite unsettling. (And doing a long leg in isolation in training doesn't capture the main challenge, I think, which is noticing the leg well ahead in the course and organizing one's time before that leg to do the needed detection and evaluation of possible routes...that technique is more novel the first time one does it than what one does during the's quite different than reading one leg ahead, or reading ahead as one approaches the's much more time to allow for, while still navigating a technical course at competition speed. So a training with two streamers 3.5km apart doesn't prepare one for the most important bit, I think. Even a Long training course that contains a long leg doesn't have the same pressure, and thus doesn't train one in that hurried time management. A course, and the stress of competition, is needed I think, in addition to any training exercises.)

I'd like to suggest that it'd be good for our North American elite (M21 and F21) to encounter a 3+km leg, with major route choices and consequences, at least once a year. I know that this is a radical departure from North American norm, but that's exactly why it's needed. It'd probably be good for M-20 and F-20 to also encounter a 2.5+km leg each year, as prep. If nothing else, dealing with that stress of major consequences in competition is likely to benefit dealing more generally with the stress of the consequences of decisions in major competition. I welcome any dissenting or concurring thoughts.
Apr 28, 2016 6:44 PM # 
The trend towards more compact maps makes that more difficult, which is not to say it isn't worthwhile.
Apr 28, 2016 8:22 PM # 
Indeed, only some North American maps facilitate this. But, I can think of some north of New York, in southern New Hampshire, west of Philadelphia, southwest of Calgary, near Washington D.C., and elsewhere that seem to allow longer legs in hilly terrain. (I don't know the current update status of many of them, but maps can be updated periodically if they get used.) It would also depend, of course, on how much participant interest a "Long with mega legs" would attract.

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