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Discussion: Course design - Eclectic Phoenix Long F21

in: Orienteering; General;

Apr 8, 2016 2:56 PM # 
Here is Eclectic Phoenix's design of a Long F21 course at Otter Creek. Thoughts?

Apr 8, 2016 3:12 PM # 
Maprunner liked leg 2 to 3.
Apr 8, 2016 5:31 PM # 
There are some strong points about this course. The designer has counted the climb which shows that they've thought through that important aspect (and seem to have a course that should hit the target winning times). There are some nice legs and the course uses the nicest bits of the map. The start/finish are well thought out and there's a nice arena with an excellent run-in. The course shape is interesting and my guess is this would be a very enjoyable course to run.

There are of course a number of issues with the course too - generally not much route choice and some dog-legging and a little logistical problem with the course running right through the finish chute.

Start location - logistically it is good (out of the way of the courses and easy to get to) but from a course planning point of view it is limiting. It is always nice to have separate first controls for each course. This start location doesn't give a lot of good first legs, being limited on the north (by the finish area) & south (by the green) (and obviously con't go to the west since that's how you walk to the start) - and to the east is a path that will be taken by most courses I would imagine.

Leg 1 - everyone will take the path to where it bends then run into the reentrant - so no route choice and a bit disappointing for elite runners to have such an easy start

Leg 2 - again, much too easy, as runners will jump onto the track then follow the ditch to the control

Leg 3 - a good attempt at an interesting long leg. But there are some problems. First everyone will run west, to cross the gully high and avoid climb. Then, since they're west of the line they'd probably stay west since the running is flatter - and probably make their way to the clearing by control 8. Then a relatively easy attack, aiming at the biggest (and quite long) hill in the area and using the track to guide them to the control. So I fear that the leg doesn't have as much route choice as would be good, and the final control is a bit too easy, being on such a big feature (the hill) that has a convenient track right in front of it. On the other hand, I've looked at this map for several days now and haven't really found a great long leg - so perhaps this is 'pretty good' long leg for the map

Leg 4 - To create route choice you should look for an obstacle (a hill, some green, etc) and then put a control on each side of it. Here the leg kind of does a good job of creating route choice, but could be a bit better perhaps. The trouble to my eyes is the green on the west of the leg - it will dissuade anyone from that. So I think people will run either straight or take the track. Maybe a longer leg might help - to somewhere SE of control 5, so the green becomes an obstacle to go around or through.

Leg 5 - nice running. But fairly simple and not much route choice. Since there are no obstacles I think everyone will run fairly directly at the control, using the big hill on the right to control their distance & direction.

Leg 6 - like 5, it is nice running but perhaps not enough options. It might be that eliminating #4 and moving #5 to the SW might help

Leg 7 - this is better with a decent technical challenge. But still perhaps not enough obstacles to convince anyone to run off the straight line.

Leg 8 / 9 / 10 - I really like this change of pace and terrain and technique to precision orienteering. Also nice change of directions. A beautiful sequence

Leg 11 - I really like this too. A change of pace and technique. Perhaps not a ton of route choice but technically difficult.

Leg 12 - Perhaps this was intended to have some route choice or to visit a cool area of the map. I don't like this leg - people will contour round then run the ridge to the control. I don't see much route choice or technical challenge. And I don't think Leg 13 is great, so I think I would drop #12 - or possibly move it south to the other side of the ridge

Leg 13 - there are a number of ways to approach this leg. Contrary to my earlier comment - perhaps this is a good leg and worthy of keeping #12 in the course ;-)

Leg 14 - this is tough - the leg itself is probably too boring, with trails leading all the way to the control. What about going directly north to something just SE of #23 - that would give a few options on leg 14 and then creates a good leg from there to #15

Leg 16 - I love those. Very tricky. Too bad the feature is so close to the big clearing to catch people if they miss. Also a little dubious about how good that feature will be in the terrain.

Leg 17 - this won't work!!! The attack point is the download station - Valarie won't be amused! This has to be re-routed to not cross the finish chute ;-)

Leg 18 - good thing we have to move #17 ;-) otherwise they runners would just take the track.

Leg 19 - Nice change of terrain. I would consider moving the control a touch SW to add a stronger south-route - but it is pretty good as it is.

Leg 20 - Nice little transport leg. A little concern with dog leg coming out of 19 which could give an advantage to following runners.

Leg 21 - I kind of like it - a nice bit of route choice.

Leg 22 - a bit dull with so many tracks going that way. What about going into the ditches north of #22

Overall, some really nice running. The course could be improved by making some legs more navigationally challenging and by adding more route choice to some legs (which is true for just about any course). Also the finish chute cross over and the start location need to have a bit of work.
Apr 9, 2016 2:15 AM # 
The longest leg is 1.5km, with various micro route choice, but no major route choice. The remaining legs are 700m or less. For a Long, route choice and long legs are key aspects, so I'd really try to have at least two long legs with significant route choice, and at least one 2+km leg in a 10km course. It's a challenge in this terrain.

The section 4 through 11 is nice and makes good use of that terrain. It varies in difficulty, but that's perfectly fine, as changes of speed can be a challenge. I'm less fussed than Adrian about 14 and 22; that camp kind of navigation can be confusing with many buildings and trails, and is a variety from the other navigation, so I think that 18 through 22 and 13 to 16 are nice.

11 to 13 (without 12) might prove to be more interesting than 11-12-13, containing the most interesting parts of that navigation and route choice.

15 isn't centered on the feature (upper part of ditch), which can be confusing. I wonder if the ditch at 18 has a distinct end, or conceivably just is a continuation of the stream above (though it's karst terrain, so it's possible). 17 does create a problem relative to finish logistics and finishers running fast perpendicularly, so would need a change.

As Adrian says, the course makes use of the best parts of the map, and keeps the climb moderate, while likely hitting the winning time, and having several quite fun sections. I'd mostly work on more (and longer) long legs with more route choice, plus 17.
Apr 9, 2016 6:57 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
The part from 3 to 10 is a good part of a middle distance course, #13 is the best leg imho, the course as a whole suffers from too much control picking and not enough longer legs with real route choice.
Apr 10, 2016 1:24 AM # 
I prefer long courses to have at least 2 long route choice legs. A bit of control picking is fine but I think too much of this course fits the middle profile rather than the long profile.

I would try to create some long legs and stitch the course together with transport legs and a bit of control picking in detailed areas.

Using this course as a draft I would: Eliminate #1 and #2 and put the first control somewhere between current #2 and # 13. The first long leg would go from this new #1 to a control SW of current #3.

The next long leg would run from area of current #5 to area of current # 12. A couple of short transport legs would be needed to get the course turned from the SW axis to the NE axis.

The third long leg would go from the area of current #12 to the area of 18-19-20-21.

With these long legs as a backbone, I would link them up with change of pace legs through the most interesting available terrain.

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