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Discussion: Start intervals

in: Cristina; Cristina > 2016-06-05

Jun 11, 2016 2:51 PM # 
Sometimes I don't really understand why there is so much talk about the fairness of one or another selection system, but it's not a big deal that the runners all see each other out in the forest. This has a huge influence on the results ... And WHY was Evalin allowed to start 30" before you. That is certainly not an objective way to select a WOC team...
Jun 11, 2016 3:57 PM # 
Hmm, start intervals are important, but it is also reasonable to be pragmatic about things.

Having another person in the forest, 2 minutes, or 4 minutes or just 30 seconds ahead is something that we should all train at being able to deal with. I think the start crew was pretty good about sticking to the rules, though I guess it was a little tight in this case. The decided upon rules were:

If you miss your start time it will not be changed for you! If you are late to the start it is important to not interfere with any other starters that are in the process of preparing for their race. There will be a separate late start lane for you to use. We will be using the IOF procedures to determine when you are allowed to start:

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.

So Evalin should have been held back to the next minute if she was more than a minute late to the start. Still, even if there were 3 or 4 minute intervals, we likely would have seen other runners during the course, so getting used to it is a good thing.
Jun 11, 2016 4:15 PM # 
The intention was that late starters would be held to the minute between other starters so they wouldn't interfere. They also were supposed to not go down the regular call up lines, and be pulled to the side and kept out of the way. I wasn't at the start so I'm not sure what really happened. Evalins race time did start at her assigned start time of 8:58.
I think it is hard for a small start crew to deal with late starters who are already pissed about missing their start and can be very aggressive about getting to the line and getting out on the course ASAP. Its something we need to work on both the procedures at the start, and training peoples expectations of how it will be dealt with. I'd like to see more of our national races using the IOF procedure instead of reassigning start times to people.
Jun 11, 2016 4:42 PM # 
I think the start crew tried to handle Evalin's late start by the book. Could have been better, but as Ed indicates it's something that takes practice. And it's not like it affected me negatively, as far as I can tell. Evalin also seemed pretty chill about it.

As for start intervals themselves I don't think seeing other runners out there is a problem in terms of distraction -- that's something we have to know how to deal with and will almost certainly happen in any big Euro race, WOC included. The issue, for the US TT, is one of a mediocre orienteer (i.e., many of our trialers) gaining a significant advantage. Our top TT runners are so spread out, results-wise, that being able to stick with someone and end up 2, 4, or even 6 minutes behind one of them could still be a good result. Not to mention the advantage anyone can get by being around others.

It might not be a big deal at all. I don't know if any of the results this year would have been significantly different with a longer start interval, but it was striking to me how much we all saw each other out there.
Jun 11, 2016 5:00 PM # 
We had three trials people late to the start and, despite discussions with Ed about the proper procedures, I think we blew each one.

First was Evalin. We were supposed to hold her until the next "open time." Which meant, given the 2-minute start interval and that all start times were on even minutes, that "open times" were exactly on the odd minutes, no sooner and no later. And in trying to get Evalin off right away, I think I focused on not starting her less than a minute after the previous person, and forgot about not starting her less than a minute before the next person. And the latter is what we did.

Harm done? Don't know. Certainly in some circumstances having a person start 30 or 45 seconds ahead of you (I can't remember what the exact time was) is an advantage. But also maybe there is more stress. I do know that unless we had a quite separate late start operation, then there was bound to be stress just in processing a late arrival, because all of a sudden a quiet start operation becomes not quiet at all. And that's true even if we had been right exactly on the odd minute. (And actually, given that we had tried to process Evalin through by the odd minute, dealing with the new e-punches that are a lot slower to clear and check, and then, being a few seconds too late had told her, nope, you have to wait another two minutes, and then one imagines some discussion about that, all while Cristina is getting set to start, well, would that have been an improvement?)

Second was Izzy. Easier case but we still screwed this up. She was, I think, the next to last starter for the women. She arrived late. I can't remember exactly when we started her (Ed has my notes), but I know it was at least one minute after the last starter. I think it was more, and I think it was therefore OK to start her as soon as she was ready, because we were no longer interfering with the last starter.

The screw-up here was in her haste to be off she punched the start box and was off before we could do anything about it. So she was listed in the results for a while with a time based on her actual start time rather than her assigned start time. As we had no walkie-talkie communication with the finish, this wasn't fixed until we got back to the finish after starting everyone. (There was no clothing shuttle going on, so no one to take back a message.)

Third was Vladimir, who came running into the start area complaining that the reason he was late was the organizers hadn't put up sufficient streamers marking the way to the start and he'd missed a turn. We processed him through at a "reasonably" appropriate time, and then once again he punched the start box before we realized it.

Any one of these occurrences is going to cause stress for those starting properly at their assigned times, unless there is a separate late start operation. Which we certainly didn't have the staffing for.

I said to Ed afterwards that we really needed to practice for dealing with such things. Of course, if everyone was at the start on time.... :-)
Jun 11, 2016 6:33 PM # 
I said what I said from afar without really thinking about the people who it involves and I didn't mean to indicate that those people weren't trying to do their best.
Jun 11, 2016 6:41 PM # 
No problem at all. I was thinking afterwards that I should write up something about the difficulties we had at the start that day (we meaning Rick W., Nadia, and me). This being the third day in a row, you would have thought we would have had our act together, but we weren't getting much practice in dealing with late starts.

On the other hand, we were getting really good at changing start times for all the non-Trials folks who wanted something a little earlier or later than what had been assigned. :-)

Really like two different events. For the Trials folks, we said nothing other than the necessary instructions and the countdown. For you rest, you could have a little fun...
Jun 12, 2016 1:29 AM # 
Probably not the place to bring this up but----the distance to the start was listed as 1700 meters. The actual distance to the start was 2200 meters. If someone like Evalin is 90 seconds late, is it her fault?
Jun 12, 2016 12:03 PM # 
I've always found it hard to get too precious in rules discussions about handling late starters - mainly because I fail to see much difference between someone ending up 30 seconds in front of the person due to start behind them because they were late for their start, and someone ending up 30 seconds in front of the person starting behind them because they messed up the first control.
Jun 15, 2016 12:49 AM # 
The question is whether the Trials are a test of whether you can get to the start on time or of navigation through unknown terrain. If it's the latter just use the start punch at the start officials' convenience.
Jun 15, 2016 1:05 AM # 
Hmmm - I don't recall a start punch being used during the various Oz Champs while visiting WA. Would have made a difference when maps were not available at a start for certain classes.
Jun 15, 2016 2:58 AM # 
Australian Championships do not have a punching start - although the SI unit should be kept close by in order to accurately time starters who are delayed through some fault of the organisers (or those who were helping with the event and couldn't make their scheduled start time).
Jun 15, 2016 3:10 AM # 
Jenny - IOF has removed the blame game from the start rules. Australia should do the same.
Jun 17, 2016 5:48 AM # 
As a side note, our national competition rules state competitor can start immediately if he/she arrives late to start. The start time used for calculating result is the original one. If it was organizer's fault the runner gets to start at a some free slot and new start time is registered to result system.

Start procedure is defined here
Those who late for pre-start are guided by officials to right slot if the start time is not gone yet. If it is, he/she can go after all the check and clear operations. But Competitors late to the start (and card/bib problems etc) are processed at a side lane to not disturb other competitors (black arrows at left in that "lähdön järjestelyt" image).

I think the thinking here is disturbance to other runners is same as making very early mistake or taking wrong map and coming back to get the correct one or so, no difference there. But the practice is the official who takes care of the one who is late just don't let the competitor start at the very same time or one - two seconds before regular starters to avoid collisions or fightings to get the same piece of map - two seconds later is fine.

I do not know is it any different in WRE's here.

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