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Discussion: Western Canadians - Manitoba

in: 2017 Western Canadian Orienteering Championships (Jul 14–16, 2017 - Winnipeg, MB, CA)

Feb 22, 2017 10:56 AM # 
I know a lot of you will be focusing on the nationals especially as it is connected with the Canada 150 celebrations. But to be real patriots you should visit as much of Canada as possible - not just the national capital.

Sure, Manitoba is a long way from most places but I can guarantee the terrain is well worth the trip.

Feb 25, 2017 2:25 PM # 
The Manitoba sandhills are among the best technical terrain there is, anywhere. If you haven't experienced stuff like this, your orienteering life is not complete. It's fast and runnable,and if you make the mistake of running fast, you're probably screwed and it's going to take you a long time to figure out where you are. Very difficult and incredibly fun. The only people I would not recommend this to are people who are very sensitive to poison ivy, as it's very difficult to avoid it completely. Everybody else should grab a washcloth and a bottle of Tecnu and show up, it's totally worth the trip.
Feb 25, 2017 5:15 PM # 
I agree, except that I'd say that the Saskatchewan sandhills are at least their equal. Do put the sandhills of ancient glacial Lake Agassiz on your orienteering bucket list.
Feb 26, 2017 1:20 AM # 
What JJ said! The 1982 North Americans / Canadians in Manitoba is probably my number one favorite orienteering event of all the hundreds I have been to over my 42 years of orienteering. Even including that at the end of the week, I had a rim of poison ivy blisters at the level of the top of my socks.
Feb 27, 2017 9:53 AM # 
You wouldn't happen to still have any of those maps from 82? Would love to see them if you do.

The terrain this year is just south of Hogsback . It is pretty similar - perhaps a little less yellow. The map has 2.5m contours (Hogsback is 5m)
Feb 27, 2017 11:21 PM # 
I have all the maps from 1982. Could scan them and post here - possibly tomorrow.
Feb 28, 2017 3:16 AM # 
Feb 28, 2017 8:25 AM # 
...and here also NA Champs:

Oh - and the results, apparently one of my best ever on Day 1 :)
Feb 28, 2017 12:56 PM # 
The terrain reminds me of the L R Ranch map used for APOC 2002. I remember thinking how much fun that map was.
Feb 28, 2017 2:56 PM # 
Moses Lake (weekend before the Idaho Gold Rush) is fun too, on a smaller (middle-course size) scale.
Feb 28, 2017 9:28 PM # 
I'm planning on going! It is very enjoyable, challenging terrain.
Mar 1, 2017 1:16 AM # 
I pulled out my copy of S L Ranch, which was very cool and lots of fun, and I see what you mean about it looking similar, but the Manitoba terrain (and Eb's Trails in SK) are significantly harder.
Mar 1, 2017 1:57 AM # 
Thanks for the links to the 1982 maps. The '82 Canadians were at Hartney about 100km further west from this year's terrain in Spruce Woods PP, current map. The North Americans were at Seton Park which is about 20km north of Spruce Woods, on the north side of the Trans Canada, current map. Both similar terrains. One of the differences is the lines of high dunes in Spruce Woods - typically with steep heavily wooded slopes on the north and east sides. These lines of dunes will be one of the factors to consider in route choice decisions. Also far less trails in Spruce Woods.

I have heard of Eb's Trails but never seen the map - anybody got a link to it?

You may need to be a bit careful about the poison ivy but at least you wont need to carry bear spray!
Mar 2, 2017 4:16 AM # 
Eb's Trails
Mar 2, 2017 6:57 AM # 

Nice. Contours look very similar to the flatter areas of Spruce Woods. The big differences are the steeper dunes in some parts and the patchy green/yellow that means running straight is so much harder.

The WCOC map is big - over 8km2. On the long courses expect some very long legs - up to 3km.
Mar 2, 2017 2:13 PM # 
3km leg on sand terrain will reward solid navigation. Don't get lost.
Mar 27, 2017 1:53 AM # 
Registration fee goes up slightly on April 1. Save some money by entering now.
May 27, 2017 12:30 AM # 
Only a few days left to enter before late fees kick in.

We have been given permission to print all Long courses at 1:10000 (1:7500 for some of the very short courses for both middle and long). Exact details will be on the website soon.

If you are looking for another reason to come: the nearest town to the map (Cypress River, pop. approx 200) is famous as the home town of Neil Young's father. The town gets a mention on the title track to his 2005 album 'Prairie Wind'. What better way to celebrate Canada 150 than with a pilgrimage to the ancestral home of one of Canada's cultural icons. If you hang out in the bar of the Cypress River Motor Inn there is a good chance you will meet a relative. (I am pretty sure that is the real reason upnorthguy is coming).
May 27, 2017 1:26 AM # 
I'll beat Upnorthguy to the punch and point out that Scott Young (Neil's dad) one was of Canada's greatest sportswriters.
May 27, 2017 3:58 PM # 
Pilgrimage to Cypress River is a close second reason for me, after #1 being the chance to enjoy a great map of great terrain. #3 is seeing Sara the camel in nearby Glenboro, where Scott Young also lived. I probably have enough Neil and CSNY loaded on my ipod to last both ways of the drive from Whitehorse.
May 28, 2017 12:45 AM # 
How could I forget Sara the Camel, an attraction all Canadians can be proud of. Reminds me of any number of 'big' attractions that are strangely popular in Australia.

That's some road trip. If you get bored with old Neil you can throw in some Triffids. 'Born Sandy Devotional' would be quite apt given the terrain.
May 28, 2017 3:25 AM # 
In the pines, in the pines, where the sun never shines. Where we go a-running, when we want to hide.
May 28, 2017 3:30 AM # 
. . .
Away from the sky, away from the lights
Where the overgrown branches conceal what's inside

There might be a few controls like that.
Jun 1, 2017 9:06 AM # 
I was just looking at JWOC 2018 website. The terrain is just like Spruce Woods:
old maps of competition areas
training areas, scroll down to see map samples

Anyone thinking of running JWOC next year should really consider coming.

It's not too late.
Jun 1, 2017 12:21 PM # 
OK I just noticed that this year's JWOC is the same time as WCOC. Obviously this year's team can't go. But if you just missed out this year you can get an advantage over your competition next year by running in some very relevant terrain at WCOC.
Jul 16, 2017 9:07 AM # 
Sprint courses 1-5
Jul 16, 2017 9:12 AM # 
Middle courses 1-10
Jul 16, 2017 1:05 PM # 
Photos of the terrain

the first 4 shots are taken early fall (note the orange leaves on the poison ivy in the 4th shot) , the last 4 in late fall, so they are not a good guide to how it looks right now but you get some idea of the terrain.
Jul 16, 2017 6:42 PM # 
Very nice looking Middle courses.
Can I ask about the Sprint courses? They don't look like typical sprint courses with short legs and lots of changes of direction. What was the thought there? Seems like with all those small hills and depressions to limit vision and put a premium on accuracy, short legs would have worked well.
Jul 16, 2017 10:55 PM # 
Not really typical sprint terrain. As a 'forest' sprint I just tried to set a good course with a mix of longer and shorter legs trying not to make it too technical as a concession to the 'sprint' format.
Jul 16, 2017 10:55 PM # 
Long course (and model map)
Jul 16, 2017 11:12 PM # 
love the 2-3 leg on courses 8 and 9. is straight fastest or gong left and following the bigger ridges just south of 3 or even going farther towards 4?

Terrain appears to be very similar to next year's JWOC middle and relay in Hungary.
Jul 16, 2017 11:20 PM # 
Trying to stay accurate in those more open bits amongst the green looks hard and risky. Left around near 4 looks far less risky. It'd be interesting to hear from those who orienteered and what they found worked. It's nice to see route choice in a long.
Jul 16, 2017 11:33 PM # 
I have no idea which is faster. There was suposed to be a wide right choice on the trail on the edge of the map but at some stage someone moved the CDs and ruined that.

Yes I noticed JWOC in Hungary - aee earlier post. If I was a JWOC coach for US or Can I would be trying to organise training and/or selection races there.
Jul 16, 2017 11:43 PM # 
That map just enlarged my bucket list by one.
I also love that 2-3 leg on the longer long courses, lots of other legs, too.
Jul 17, 2017 12:08 AM # 
I noticed that right trail, and the control descriptions over part of it. A right route still might be possible avoiding the descriptions, but involves enough green that it might not help. The attack looks pretty good.
Jul 17, 2017 12:16 AM # 
I went a little right of the straight line, just trying to get through somehow to the trail, then attacked the control from the north. No idea if that was wise, but it got me there. That leg took just under an hour. This was an esoteric taste, not for everyone. Quite brutal. The omnipresent poison ivy was the icing on the cake.

Rob, can you set up RouteGadget for this, or if not, can I find someone who can and put you two in touch?
Jul 17, 2017 12:37 AM # 
Brutal due to more than the poison ivy? The map looks quite interesting.
Jul 17, 2017 12:44 AM # 
Way hard. Way way hard. Easy to be enthusiastic about it when you aren't flipping it over, taking a look, and thinking that it's going to be a really long day. As I noted above, one false move and you're screwed, and it's really easy to make a false move. And stay the hell out of the green.

If you had asked me to design the perfect orienteering terrain, I probably would have come up with something like this. And I probably would have been wrong.

Or let me put it this way: the published results show that the total number of finishers on all courses today was 30. Nobody finished Course 9 in under 3 hours.
Jul 17, 2017 1:57 AM # 
Sprint format is supposed to be technical because decisions come up so quickly relative to your moving speed. You have to think fast! Lots of changes of direction and limited time to puruse the map between decision points. Without that it starts to feel like a short middle.
Jul 17, 2017 2:12 AM # 
It was very excellent terrain and courses (they were too long, but we survived). In today's long my impression is it was relentless, never ending navigation. Quite the terrain! Here are my maps for the record:

Jul 17, 2017 2:15 AM # 
On today's long leg 2-3, I went left on the ridges and was 25min - I was feeling shaky after blowing the first control so I wanted to be "safe" Steven (aka the Wheat King) and Adam went straight at 23 min ea. Given those boys move consistently faster than I (we compared splits all weekend, they are moving faster), I'd say it was a wash, or slightly faster going around the way I did.
Jul 17, 2017 3:03 AM # 
I would be keen to see peoples routes on route gadget.

I have never put a map on route gadget - happy to do it if someone tells me how. There is Canadian route gadget somewhere - do you need permission/password etc to be able to create an event or upload a map?

EDIT: I have asked for a username for OC Routegadget. As soon as I get that I will see what I can do.

Obviously the courses were too long - all 3 events. I tried to base my course lengths on results from previous events (Canadians and Westerns) at the neighboring Hogs Back. We kept shortening the longer courses - for example course 10 started out close to 15km then 13.5 then down to 12.5 with two weeks to go. When the entry numbers are so small it really depends on the level of those that are entered - and being a relative stranger I was not as aware as I might have been of the individuals' capabilities.
Jul 17, 2017 3:24 AM # 
technical because decisions come up so quickly relative to your moving speed. You have to think fast! Lots of changes of direction and limited time to puruse the map between decision points

I don't disagree with that but that is not quite what is written in IOF guidelines. What is written is "Technically easy", "Difficult route choice, requiring high concentration", "Very high speed." and "Predominantly in very
runnable park or urban (streets/buildings) terrain. Some fast runnable forest
may be included. "

In reality terrain like this was never intended to be used for IOF sanctioned sprints. I raised the idea of running a real sprint in Winnipeg or Brandon (or even Cypress River) but the feeling was, apart from 'elites', urban sprints are unpopular.

Given this was the terrain being used I tried to set the sort of course I would enjoy, while trying to at least pay some attention to sprint course setting guidelines. The longer legs were an attempt at "difficult route choices" . I think in this terrain any course will require constant " high concentration" and I resisted the temptation to make the controls harder/more technical (which I easily could have done). I think the courses had plenty of changes of direction - particularly the last section after the longer legs. And even on longer legs, the nature of the terrain (the patchy green) means you are constantly changing direction anyway. See Forest's route - he wasn't exactly red lining it.
Jul 17, 2017 4:33 AM # 
I have uploaded an image of the long leg (2-3 on courses 8 9 10) as i envisaged it without the CD's.

Some possible routes in red dashes, I haven't shown any straight options - which is not there aren't any.

The far right route - southernmost option - may seem way too long but consider that it is 4.1km versus Forest's left hand route (drown in roughly) at about 3.1km. Apart from some green in the first 500m it is very easy running all the way and makes the control pretty easy. Even at 6min/km that would make it 25 min. And far less chance of a making mistakes and it gives you a break from the relentless intensity of the terrain and the chance to plan ahead.

Shame it got covered up.
Jul 17, 2017 5:20 AM # 
In case anyone is interested I have also uploaded a section of the Lidar base map -

It is the SW part of the long maps. The thick red line is Park Rd.
other trails etc in red.

The contours are in blue and dark grey (tags point down):
thick grey = 12.5m (index contour)
thin grey = 2.5m
thin grey dashes = .125m
thin blue dashes = .0625m

The vegetation is shown by purple and green
purple dashes: 0.3m
purple line: 1.5m
green line 3, 6, 9 . . .m
Jul 17, 2017 5:21 AM # 
Although the total number of juniors was not large, it is notable that young women significantly outnumbered young men.
Jul 17, 2017 11:05 AM # 
The list of "100 maps to orienteer on before you die" seemed to fade away before it got out of single figures, but if it ever gets revived, this looks a worthy addition to it.
Jul 17, 2017 12:30 PM # 
And not just the map and terrain, but interesting, if challenging, courses. Despite the length and vegetation, I'm wishing I'd gone. (It's easy in sand terrain to set too long courses, I've found, because it's not the physical as much as navigational that limits.)
Jul 18, 2017 6:11 AM # 
Have been trying to upload the events to RG. So far have managed to get the maps to display but not the courses. Not sure what the problem is. Will keep trying
Jul 18, 2017 11:45 AM # 
Try emailing vmeyer for assistance.
Jul 18, 2017 12:12 PM # 
No need - figured it out with some help from Dave Graupner.

All 3 events are now up there. At the moment there are several Middles. The one highest on the list is the one to use. The other 5 are failed attempts. I can't delete them - have to get Dave G to do it.

For some reason there is no course 8 in the middle - I'll try to figure that one out. Perhaps for now hold off on entering routes for the middle in case I have to re-upload it.
Jul 18, 2017 4:54 PM # 
Awesome. Thanks, Rob, I'll upload my tracks tonight.
Jul 18, 2017 8:25 PM # 
The map shown for Course 6 middle is not the right map, so maybe there are more problems with it. Got the sprint and long loaded, though.
Jul 18, 2017 9:52 PM # 
yup the courses on the long were mismatched. fixed now. Turns out no one ran cs8 in the middle, so should all be good to go now. Looking fwd to seeing how people ran.
Jul 18, 2017 11:44 PM # 
My course 6 was different from the one that is in RG. Maybe that is Course 5?
Jul 19, 2017 11:21 AM # 
As no one ran course 8 the results file had no cs 8 that has stuffed by the synchronizing for courses 1-7. People have already put in routes so I wont reload it - hopefully you can figure it out. Just upload your route to the course that has your name in the results list - ignore the course number.
Jul 19, 2017 6:46 PM # 
Not so easy. The one with my name in the results list has different controls. When I try to upload my .gpx file, it stretches and compresses my route to fit to these other controls.
Jul 19, 2017 8:14 PM # 
Thank you for the wonderful event and the Route Gadget!
Jul 19, 2017 8:40 PM # 
Charlie, there is a RouteGadget problem with the Middle. Course 5 is really 4 (which has no results) and Course 6 is really 5. All other courses are okay.

I tried creating a new event called "WCOC 2017 Middle - Courses 5 & 6" but each time I get to the map screen, there are just 6 blue dots in a straight line. Does anyone know what is going on here (and how to fix it)? If not, I'll have to look at this later.
Jul 19, 2017 8:59 PM # 
Never mind... The Condes XML file was just in the wrong format. It's fixed now. For Courses 5 and 6, use the RG event with the blue (i) between the date and the name.
Jul 20, 2017 1:36 AM # 
I pondered what to say about this for a while, but finally decided to just come out and say it:

Rob, you put way too much stuff on this map. It's virtually illegible. I found Hog's Back much easier to use.

This is a widespread trend. Please, people, stop doing this. Just because LiDAR provides you with more detail than you need doesn't mean that you should fill every nook and cranny of the map with ink.
Jul 20, 2017 12:58 PM # 
JJ thank you for bringing this up. I have no problem at all if anyone wants to express opinions like this. On the contrary I was fully expecting it and am a bit surprised it has taken so long. As you are no doubt aware, I have already had this discussion with Forest in his capacity as OC Technical Committee Chair. I have happily put up maps and the base map in the expectation that there will be those who don't like what I have done and want to say so. So by all means - I want to hear what people think.

But lets be a little careful about how we express ourselves.

Please, people, stop doing this

That is a bit patronizing. That's how a parent talks to a child or teacher to a student. The very clear subtext of talk like that is: 'I know better than you.' and it usually has the effect of shutting down any further discussion. I mean really what do you expect me to say: 'Oh sorry JJ, my bad I wont do it again. Please forgive me'?

I didn't map it like that just on some vague whim. I knew that what I was doing was going to attract criticism: I am well aware of the discussions on this topic and that there are some very strong opinions out there. I mapped it like that because I think that is how it is best mapped. I get that you feel strongly about this (anyone who follows discussions on AP can't help but know this) and you are just expressing your frustration about something that really bothers you. Fair enough. But there are plenty of of people out there who disagree with you. If you follow internet discussions about this topic it is easy to get the impression that there is general agreement with you. But I think that you are part of very vocal and passionate minority. That minority tends to dominate such discussions but I think that among the more general orienteering community the reality is quite different.

I want to address a couple of issues you raise.

Firstly I don't think it has anything to do with Lidar base maps. Here is a sample from some sand dunes I mapped for the World Games 2001. (the basemap was little better than white paper)

And this is from a World Cup in 1994

Both those maps I think would be criticized for overmapping in today's climate. For the WC in 94 the IOF controller told me he thought it was a perfect map and the Swedish O magazine Skogssport gave the event a 5 out of 5 rating (that was for the event as whole not just the mapping, but still you don't get 5/5 if the map is considered poor). Certainly there was no talk at all about overmapping. For the 2001 WG there was some initial concern expressed about the level of detail on the map but after I spent a day out with the IOF controller he was OK with it. In a few (very few) places he suggested some simplifications that I was happy to agree with. Interestingly in some places he actually wanted more on the map. And again there was no talk after the event of overmapping.

You say there is a trend towards overmapping. What I see is a reactionary trend that wants to go back to the good old days when map were less detailed. And those 'good old days' generally seem to have finished in the late 80's.

To be sure, with the recent release of ISOM 2017 you can claim to have right on your side. That very clearly takes a stand against 'overmapping'. But I think ISOM 2017 is flawed and a missed opportunity to bring the mapping regs into line with what is more and more common practice and the reality of the desire to orienteer in wider variety of terrains at a range scales. I think there is clearly a desire among many people for more detailed maps. In January this year the IOF indicated that the new ISOM would be more flexible on the issue of scale, which would have allowed for better mapping of detailed terrain such as this. But when it came out it was in fact less flexible. I don't know what happened but clearly there was some difference of opinion even at the highest level.

You mentioned Hog's Back. For anyone who is not already aware it is a map made about 10 years ago just to the north - the terrain is pretty much the same. On Hog's Back the contour interval is 5m. It is 2.5m on Cypress River. Obviously the first thing I did when I started mapping was to have a good look at that map. And obviously if I had felt that was the best way to represent the terrain I would have mapped it the same way. But I didn't feel that. I felt that the level of contour detail absolutely required 2.5m contours. That is pretty much standard in sand dunes maps around the world. And what I can say - I feel that there are a lot of very significant features that did not get mapped on Hog's Back that simply needed to be on the map to make it fair and consistent.

Actually there is a small overlap (none of the WCOC courses got that far). Here is a small sample of the overlap so you can make a very direct comparison.
Jul 20, 2017 2:27 PM # 
None of the Google photo links above work for me.
Jul 20, 2017 2:42 PM # 
Hi Rob,

Please, people, stop doing this

What I meant by that (which apparently didn't come across correctly) is that the comment was intended for more than just you, it was intended for all of the mappers out there who are mapping to this level of detail. (Admittedly, most of them won't ever see the comment on this obscure tread on this particular website, but...)

I may well be in the minority, I have no idea, but I'll still express my opinion (and it does sound like you want to hear it). The first-level issue with the map is that we've learned to quickly judge where the terrain is steep versus flat by how close together the contours are. With this map, they're just about equally spaced all over the map, because where it's relatively flat, it's been filled in with a bunch of form line features. There were numerous times when I was looking at either a flat place or a steep hillside in the terrain, and I couldn't find anything that looked like that on the map (and I talked with others who had the same experience). There's a separate issue of tiny vegetation details, but that didn't bother me so much because I'm colorblind and a lot of the time I couldn't distinguish between the yellow and the light green anyway.

The comment about LiDAR is that when the basemap has 0.625 m contours, it's possible to map overly subtle details with a lot less effort. When the base interval matched the map interval, adding a formline meant doing extra work (unless it's something that the photogrammetrist saw as significant), so it didn't happen unless the mapper thought it was that important. But with the basemap that you posted, there's a potential formline everywhere, and part of the mapping process becomes deciding what to leave out. The computer makes no judgement, every potential line is there, but sometimes a flat field is really just a flat field. Yes, it's rumpled to some extent, but all of those tiny bumps and dips aren't really very important, and just make it harder to see the features that are.

This is the fourth time I've orienteered in Canadian sandhills, and although I found it challenging each time, this was the first time that I had trouble just reading the map (and two of those previous times were on 1:15000 maps). 2.5 m is indeed the more common contour interval for sandhills, and Spruce Woods is perhaps a bit unusual in that the hills are taller, such that Hog's Back, which was mapped with a 5 m interval, seemed show about the same level of detail as the flatter areas I've been to (Hartney and Saskatchewan). But none of those maps used anywhere near the number of form lines as Cypress River. I think an interesting experiment would be to take the 0CAD file, hide the form line, small depression, and dot knoll symbols, and generate an alternate version of the map. I realize that it would have orphaned slope tags all over the place, but I'd still like to see what it would look like. I have a suspicion that if I had been offered that as an alternative, I would have preferred it. (I'm having trouble with the Google Photo links that you provided above, by the way, just getting 404 errors.)

Perhaps there is a trend toward wanting more and more detailed maps, but I'm not sure who is doing the wanting, if it's the competitors, or just the mappers and organizers. It may be that this is something that's just coming like a juggernaut, and I'll have to decide whether to climb on or get out of the way.

On an unrelated topic, there's an area just off the NE side of Cypress RIver and just off the SE side of Hog's Back that looks strange in the satellite photos, but there's not enough detail for me to see what's going on. Is there a pocket of open sand there?
Jul 20, 2017 3:08 PM # 
Is that any better for the links?

JJ what you just posted is fine - you are expressing a personal opinion. The tone of your initial post was basically - what you have done is just wrong - stop it. And making it sound like a simple matter of fact - rather than opinion.

For 5m contours I would usually use 1m Lidar contours so that would be equivalent to 0.5 at 2.5m. Originally the base map had no .625m contours (the blue ones). I found I was spending a lot of time mapping significant features that were falling through the cracks, so to speak. So I added them. It meant a saving of time and greater accuracy. My point is I think I map the same level of detail no matter the base map - Lidar just makes the mapping easier.

I mapped the area you ask about - it didn't get used this time. It's basically an ATV play ground.
Jul 20, 2017 3:39 PM # 
On that comparison of the overlapping area, the older Hogsback version of the map is much preferable to me. So much more readable in both the contours and the vegetation.
Jul 20, 2017 3:44 PM # 
It's interesting that in three cases I can find, elongated dot knolls on Hogs Back were mapped as round contour or form line knolls on Cypress. The mapper of Hogs Back seems to have had a thing about elongated dot knolls. But it's an interesting commentary on the notion that we need a symbol to show the shape of a dot knoll...which someone who used a contour showed as round.

It might be interesting to have a poll on preferences for map detail. I know that I'm pulled a bit in each direction. I like detailed terrain. But my eyesight doesn't allow me to read it at a run anymore.

The difficulty with a poll would be differentiating between amount of detail in the terrain, and the level of detail mapped. The overlap snippet above illustrates this. There's a choice of what terrain to map, convoluted or simpler, but also a significant choice, for a given piece of terrain, of how much to show.

It'd be interesting to ask questions of those who orienteered on both Hogs and Cypress: Which mapping style did you prefer? Did you find that you came to places on Hogs where you were confused because features were missing, or was it sufficiently obvious from the degree of simplification what to expect to be mapped? On Cypress, did you we features that you wouldn't have expected to be mapped? Was one map fairer to run on? Etc.

Perhaps a poll on orienteering forums asking what types of terrain and maps people like:
1) simpler terrain, sparingly mapped
2) simpler terrain, with the mapper mapping as much as they can find
3) detailed terrain, but mapped as simply as possible (perhaps Hogs Back as an example)
4) detailed terrain, mapped to include a lot of detail (perhaps Cypress River as an example)

Map snippets, with scale bar, in event advertising are useful to know what to expect. There's also the question of mapping style, though: detailing or simplifying, which is also useful info. Let people know what to expect, and let the orienteers decide.
Jul 20, 2017 3:59 PM # 
Links are now fixed -- thanks!
Jul 20, 2017 4:18 PM # 
Having orienteered on Manitoba sandhills, I'll note that the Hogs Back style of mapping looks familiar. That's about how much detail I remember seeing in that much area of map. I generally felt that enough was mapped. Certainly, I'd see myriad minor undulations that weren't mapped, but rarely had a problem expecting them to be mapped. The challenge was reading the map fast enough even at that level of generalisation. Having said that, I don't know what my experience would be on Cypress.
Jul 20, 2017 4:29 PM # 
The Hog's Back version looks more legible and useful to me, but I'm saying that from a long way away, of course, not looking out at the terrain. I look at the right-side, and I see landforms. I look at the left, and I see a bunch of lines. (I realize that some people look at both of them and just see lines, and there are no doubt some who look at both and see landforms, and that it's a matter of what you're used to.) I'd prefer the one on the right. Or maybe the one on the left with all of the form lines removed.
Jul 20, 2017 7:54 PM # 
Recently I've been forcing myself to map with 5m contours just to get some discipline.
Jul 20, 2017 9:47 PM # 
Unrelated to the mapping, the print quality of my Middle map looks quite a bit better than the Sprint or Long maps. For the 1:5000 Sprint it didn't matter much, and the 1:10000 Middle with the better quality is readable (with a magnifier), but the 1:10000 Long is kind of mushy, and in places it's really not good enough to discern what's represented. Does anybody know if different print techniques were used for the different maps?
Jul 20, 2017 10:37 PM # 
This event looks like one of the best for both maps and courses I've ever seen.
Jul 21, 2017 1:09 AM # 
Thanks Craney.

For anyone who doesn't know Craney, he was in the GB WOC for some years and this year was in the Australian WOC team. I don't recall his best WOC results but do recall a silver medal in a World Cup sprint race in Italy in 2005?
Jul 21, 2017 1:19 AM # 
JJ your point about 'excessive' use of formlines making the terrain look steeper.

I have heard that criticism many times for my maps and others. I have always been a bit confused by it. Obviously I get why you say that: at a quick glance more brown on the map can make it look steeper. But I have never had that problem when looking at maps. I think that subconsciously I know that formlines are roughly half contours and make that adjustment in evaluating the steepness. I have never had the experience of looking at a map after the race and thinking - oh now I see that area wasn't as steep as I thought it was because those damn fomlines had me fooled. I don't doubt that you and any others have a problem with that - but I am certain it is not a universal problem and that ability to make the distinction is an important skill that can be practiced and mastered.
Jul 21, 2017 1:27 AM # 
jj, do you think you'd be happier with the map if it was printed at 1:7500? Just curious... (to me, the map and terrain look great. Rob's version of the map offers one type of challenge, while the previous version of Hog's Back offers a very different one. Either way, sad I missed these races!)
Jul 21, 2017 1:29 AM # 
WorldofO tweeted Rob's wonderful map and courses. 16 retweets and 71 likes so far. For what it's worth I run on similar (but smaller area) terrain near Guelph Ontario a lot. you need the modern mapping standard with 2.5m contours and form lines and detailed contours to be able to keep the flow navigationally since depressions can be on multiple levels between 5m contours. The old skool mapping requires a lot of stop and go. Orienteering has moved on for the better from those simple maps of the 80's.

I'd love to have Rob be a mapper and course planner at my club's next major race.

Jul 21, 2017 1:33 AM # 
No argument that HB is more readable. But legibility is only one factor in what makes a good map. A blank page is very readable but not much use for finding your way.

Clearly I think the level of detail shown on HB is inadequate. Let me try to give you an example.

You are going from around A to the knoll B. As you get near B you see a prominent re-entrant (C). It is a least as prominent on the ground as the knoll B and many other features that have been mapped on both HB and CRS. If you have the CSR map, no problem there it is on the map and its distinctive shape also helps corerectly identify it. But if you have HB it does not show up at all . Now if you are in control of things and sure of where you are and understand that this particular map tends to leave some details like this off you will probably be OK and just keep going up to the knoll. But if you are a bit unsure of yourself you might think 'I can't see this prominent re-entrant on the map - maybe I am in the wrong place. At best you stop and look at the map and decide to you must be right and continue on - only a small time loss. At worst you figure you have gone badly wrong somewhere and start running around in circles trying to 'relocate'. Which of these consequences happens in reality is often a bit of a lottery. That is fundamentally unfair.

My feeling when out on HB was that small but prominent features like that re-entrant may or may not be on the map. I found that inconsistency troubling. As I say if you are in control and know where you are you can cope with that but as soon as you get a bit lost that inconsistency makes it very hard to relocate. My map might be a bit harder to read but at least you know a feature like that will ALWAYS be there on the map.

And as I alluded to in an earlier post the question of legibility is very closely link to scale. I agree my map is hard to read when printed according to the very narrow IOF rules but If we were allowed more flexibility on using larger scales that would not be such a problem. I think this terrain is clearly a case where the inflexibility of the IOF rules is unfortunate.
Jul 21, 2017 1:37 AM # 
Thanks Mike.
I'm available next year!
Jul 21, 2017 2:03 AM # 
I'm a little skeptical on this example. First, A on the right map appears to be where C is on the left map. (The u depression west of the right A must be the reentrant a bit west of C.).

Also, you're describing a reentrant mapped with a 1.25m form line on CR as prominent, especially on a 5m contour map like HB?

At any scale, contour interval and level of detail, the orienteer needs to figure out what's on the map and what's not. Having more mapped doesn't improve that (in fact makes for more such decisions).
Jul 21, 2017 3:00 AM # 
A to B is about 40 m, right? And this prominent reentrant is 15 m away? I'm probably going to be focused 40 m ahead, not looking at my feet.

This argument could probably be made (unsuccessfully) about most terrain. In the glacial terrain of New England, where I live, there are all sorts of little ripples in the ground surface, but we don't expand the map way up so that we can map them. You could give Pawtuckaway this treatment, but it would not be an improvement. The main difference is that terrrain like Pawtuckaway has plenty of other detail (rock) to keep mappers occupied.

I think people have been successfully orienteering in sandhill terrain for a long time without this level of detail, and without complaints that it's unfair as a result. An interesting comparison is between the results from this past weekend, and from Hog's Back four years ago. I know I was much faster per kilometer at the previous meet, though there are numerous factors affecting that (including the knee trouble I was having, though I didn't feel like that was a limiting factor). So I looked at the results:
2013, Hog's Back
2017, Cypress River
Granted, we're all four years older now, and there could be common factors like the weather being warmer (I don't remember the conditions that year other than that it rained on the day of the Long). But a quick glance seems to indicate that everyone was going significantly faster then. This was with 1:15000/1:10000 maps for the long, as opposed to 1:10000/1:7500 this year. Everybody on the 9.4 km Course 9 was under two hours then (okay, except me), as opposed to this year when it was 8.4 km and those of us who finished were all over three hours. A different course, to be sure, and likely other confounding factors, but across the board it looks like people were able to orienteer faster with the Hog's Back map. And I think the DNF rate was lower then, as well.

It's possible to learn to use any map, that's true, but maybe the map that allows people to orienteer fastest is the best.

Boris -- the Sprint map was 1:5000, and the issues were about the same, although it was also the first race, and I had some mental adjusting to do. Seeing the detail on the map wasn't my main problem, it was the matter of sifting through it.
Jul 21, 2017 3:14 AM # 
I'm pretty convinced now after looking again at the bigger comparison snippet further above, A on the right map is C on the left map, and thus the reentrant that supposedly isn't shown on the right is indeed shown, and is where you have the "leg" starting on the right map.
Jul 21, 2017 3:51 AM # 
I just realized that blown up to this scale, I can actually see some of the "fallen tree, difficult to cross" symbols (green lines). I'd be curious as to whether anyone saw them on the map during the competition -- I certainly did not until just now. They're basically harmless as far as I'm concerned, but I also don't really think they serve any useful purpose. Much like the blobs of green that are smaller than a dot knoll, or the undergrowth symbols that are small enough to consist of just two short dashes of green.
Jul 21, 2017 9:07 AM # 
I'd say only a third of the form-line mass shown is useful. One could delete the two form-lines at A, the two form-lines at B and two thirds of the C form-line without losing any significant information, for example. Tweak a contour or two if you like.

One has to balance ideal legibility for a 2km leg and ideal legibility for doing the last 50m. The S France terrain is special, for example, in that the ideal legibility for the two is pretty similar since one ends up doing micro-navigation through green/rock mazes halfway along a leg.

1.25m contour information is typically useless for longer legs. I get the feeling this map would be a joy to do sprint/middle at 1:5 or 1:7,500, but that the balance isn't right for a long distance.

Btw, what's with the tag-lines on single-contour hills?

Anyway, looked like a great event!
Jul 21, 2017 11:24 AM # 
I find it generally find it quite useful to actually go and see what the terrain looks before before I decide how to draw it. It never ceases to amaze me in discussions like this how many people seem to be able to map it so much better than I could without ever having been there.

Neil, honestly your specific suggestions about removing formlines make no sense to me. I am tempted to suggest that less than a third of the your word-mass was worth writing. The bit about the S of France makes some sense - I am assuming you have actually been there and know what you are talking about. But it seems it could apply equally here. Take that long leg for example - if you go straight you need to be 'doing micro-navigation' all the way to link up the white and yellow sections in the green. if you take the left route like Forest you need to be 'doing micro-navigation' all the way to be finding the best line around the lines of hills without doing unnecessary climb.

There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding about formlines among some people. Just because they are half way between contours doesn't mean that what they are used to show is always half as obvious as what the full contours shown and can hence be just deleted. For example a small but significant re-entrant (say 1.5m deep) needs to be shown on the map. If it happens to fall on or near the the full contour it will get shown. But if it falls roughly half way between the contours you need a formline to show it or it will get left off, and the map will become confusingly inconsistent. I am not using formlines to show stuff that is smaller than what I show with full contours. I am using them to show stuff that is prominent but can't be shown with full contours. You can argue over the definition of 'prominent' if you like. But just randomly deleting formlines is only going to introduce ridiculous inconsistencies.

You can say I have used too many. Fair enough. But I would say in most cases if you told me 'this formline' is unnecessary I would be able to give a good reason for why I have mapped it (you might occasionally find one I where I agree with you). But I am afraid, at least from my perspective, that sort of discussion (regarding specific formlines) can only really be meaningful if we are standing in the terrain. I seem to lack the ability to map from a distance, sight unseen, unlike many AP'ers.
Jul 21, 2017 12:27 PM # 
Rob, I saw the map and my response (posted elsewhere) was that I would very much like to run there. So my criticism isn't supposed to be taken as strong, just hopefully constructive. I think it's fantastic that we can have a great map and a discussion about style. And, yep, your viewpoint will get more weight than others given the time spent in the terrain.

only a third of the form-line mass shown is useful.
Here, I was only referring to the A/B/C example clips, apologies for not making that clear... so
Take that long leg for example - if you go straight you need to be 'doing micro-navigation' all the way to link up the white and yellow sections in the green.
... absolutely.

But take some examples from the ABC clip. The form-line just east of A, if one deleted it, I would say that the full-contour depression together with the surrounding shapes give the essential relevant information. The form-line NE of A, I'd say the main info it carries that couldn't be conveyed by a contour-tweak is in the far east of the clip. The form-lines around B, the info there is contained in the full contours. Form-line C, from C west to where it rejoins the index contour, appears v useful. I would wonder whether the dot knoll at C could be replaced with a solid contour and remove some of the form-line, but that's not something I would do without checking terrain.

The form-line hills I don't argue with.

I did at some point partially redraft a small section of an Irish map (yours is incomparably more legible) more or less sight unseen. It was glacial deposit, also pretty complicated.
I then went out in the terrain and checked it and tweaked some more, but the distant cleanup was not detrimental.
Jul 21, 2017 1:36 PM # 
if you are a bit unsure of yourself you might think 'I can't see this prominent re-entrant on the map - maybe I am in the wrong place. At best you stop and look at the map and decide to you must be right and continue on - only a small time loss. At worst you figure you have gone badly wrong somewhere and start running around in circles trying to 'relocate'. Which of these consequences happens in reality is often a bit of a lottery. That is fundamentally unfair.

Right, it is unfair good navigators get advantage over bad navigators. After all, O is about seeing the map, not about knowing how to interpret it and navigate. But why stopping here, adding even more form lines would make it even more challenging and fun.
Jul 21, 2017 1:41 PM # 
One does need to consistently show topography, whether the feature intersects a contour or not. But that works both ways. At some point a feature is too small to be mapped consistently, and one neither maps it with a form line nor with a contour. If a tiny feature intersects a contour, one airbrushes it out, in order to be consistent. For a 5m contour interval, with roughly 2.5m form lines, 1.5m reentrants may be too small to show consistently. And it's a central skill for an orienteer to navigate that. (But, in any case, it seems clear that Hogs Back shows the reentrant that robplow complains it didn't.)

Some advocate the high detail mapping style, but there's a fair bit of fait accompli about discussions on it. "It's popular, everyone wants it", despite posters indicating a preference for the simpler of two maps, including one who orienteered on both. "It gives better info to orienteers", although posted results suggest that it slows orienteering markedly, suggesting the opposite. "It's progress", though progress that slows orienteering in a given terrain seems like progress in the wrong direction. "Key features would be missing without it", though the cited feature is in fact on both the simpler and the detailed maps. It would be sad if we can't have this discussion, with the possibility of deciding on favour of the sparer style, out of mapper pique, "my way or highway". Mappers have been spending decades telling us that we need ways to jam more stuff into an A3 sack...elongated dot knolls (despite a subsequent mapper deciding to map them as round contours and form lines), tagless cliffs (around which they jam more rock detail suggesting that it is, surprise, a cliff), four-stacked form lines between 2.5m contours (half meter high undulations being apparently essential), 30cm high cliffs (they're a tripping hazard). I think that there needs to be a voice for a greater degree of selection in mapping, and not just one ups man ship in mapping of detail.
Jul 21, 2017 4:59 PM # 
Hi Rob,

We've never met (that I know of) and I have never run on one of your maps--but I do know something about your mapping reputation (top tier). I just want to say that having examined carefully the lidar base you had to use and the map you produced from it that I'm *really* impressed by the mapping effort, and the resulting finished map.

When I look at the criticisms above (some of which is laughable), it's clear that there are some fundamental misunderstandings of mapping, and of what does and does not constitute over-mapping (I have been and remain a vocal critic of over-mapping, and, unfortunately, I must confess I have done my own share of it.) I can't find one thing in your explanations of how you went about this mapping and why that I disagree with.

There are suggestions both here and elsewhere that it is possible to render what is very complex, almost completely random contour picture which occurs in a very narrow vertical column in a manner that would result in a map that is both much simpler to read and which is also sufficiently useful in amount of detail shown. Well, I'd like to see one of these fine folks go out there and produce what they say is possible--ha!--good luck! ; )

--Mikell Platt

PS--I will add one caveat: I haven't been on the map and it's entirely possible that were I to visit it, I would have a different opinion. However, having been in other dune terrains and having seen lots of examples of dune terrain mapping that was acknowledged to be good, this map has the right "look", and I'd be surprised if it didn't measure up in person.
Jul 21, 2017 5:20 PM # 
Zerbembasqwibo wrote 3 years ago interesting post about mapping style change over the years from mapping tops and bottoms to mapping sides of those land forms using contours. Latter style requires little bit more brown lines even when same features are mapped.
Jul 21, 2017 5:21 PM # 
Well, of course, one doesn't need to imagine "a map that is both much simpler to read and which is also sufficiently useful", one can look at the overlapping Hogs Back map, and the results from an event on that map, both posted above. (Or at most other Manitoba sandhill maps.) And I do produce maps. It is, as Mikell suggests, difficult to reduce the undulations of the surface of the earth into 5m contours and 2.5m form lines at a scale that makes for a reasonable size of paper, but it is the skill that makes mapping good.

Having been on sandhill maps that were good in multiple countries, and especially Manitoba, Hogs Back has the right "look".
Jul 21, 2017 5:51 PM # 
Jagge: the difference in the number of contours looks small in that example. (The difference between Hogs Back and Cypress River in the posted overlap looks three or fourfold, part of that due to the smaller contour interval.)

If we don't push back on the mappers who thrust this stuff on us and tell us how great it was, we'll keep getting more of it, and it'll be 1:2500 with 0.625m contours on a bedsheet, when 1:15,000 5m would do. The comments show how much it's the mappers pushing this on us, rather than the reverse. They may claim to welcome critique and discussion, but then immediately hammer down on any disagreement with their choices, and go into the usual "I'm so good, no one has my expertise, I wuz there, I have the scars". A series of mappers have thrust such changes on us decade after decade, with maps becoming ever fuller of questionable, tiny stuff. The arguments in favor rarely go beyond "I know best". When they do, and are easily refuted, they go back to the former.

It's time to hear what orienteers want and need, and not just accept the browbeating word of mappers that we need ever tinier details when simpler maps seemed to do fine, and in fact better than the higher detail by some evidence. I'll start a thread to get some input, and see what the range of thoughts are.
Jul 21, 2017 6:14 PM # 
As someone who has competed on both of these adjacent maps on Spruce Woods (though not at Yellow Quill or Spirit Sands), I'll repeat something that I said up at the top of this thread, which is that if you have the opportunity to go there, do it, and experience it for yourself at least once. And then develop an opinion about what style of mapping you prefer. The main disappointment that I had with this part weekend was that so few people showed up.

Just be prepared for it to be really hard. And bring lots of soap for the poison ivy.
Jul 21, 2017 6:20 PM # 
JimBaker, Hogs Back has 13 dot knolls there. Even if far more details is captured in Cypress River map it still has only 6 dot knolls. That's what caught my eye and made me remember Zerbembasqwibo's old log post.
Jul 21, 2017 6:22 PM # 
I concur that orienteering in Manitoba (or Saskatchewan) sandhills (and some other sandhills that I've orienteered in, but particularly MB and SK from my experience) is a well worthwhile experience. (I would have come again myself if I hadn't already planned my one trip to be to Idaho, a state that I've mapped in but not really orienteered much previously (or at all?).) FWIW, I've found the simpler style of mapping there entirely adequate in nearly all the maps, and not thought that more detail would have been useful, except for a MicrO perhaps. It'd be good to hear what other orienteers who've had that experience think (and not just from mappers, who seem to dominate such discussions to tell us what we should want).
Jul 21, 2017 6:44 PM # 
Sure, Rob's map replaces dot knolls by full or intermediate contours in many cases. And then adds some further contour detail around the knoll. The question, for me, is what's enough. The point about mapping tops and bottoms versus levels is a good and relevant one, but doesn't seem to explain the threefold increase in contours. (The article's example shows a little difference in the number of contours, but not threefold, nor twofold, nor even a 30% increase.) Reasons for one way or the other would be interesting, but frankly, as almost always, discussion turns into arrogant huffiness from the mappers, which I'm frankly tired of. I've mapped myself, and know how it exposes one to ruthless criticism, but the utter lack of willingness to discuss the proper level of detail is ridiculous, and frankly undermines all the claims of authority by all the mappers who delve in with the usual "just trust our godliness" pap. Seriously guys (and it's mostly guys), get over yourselves. Yet more small undulations in an area half the size of a soccer/football pitch, because one couldn't navigate otherwise? 30cm cliffs in an area as rocky as New Hampshire? Seriously??? No, not seriously frankly, deservedly lampoonable. I'd suggest that mappers discuss their reasons, and listen to feedback, with less sniffiness, or deservedly lose the endless hagiography they expect. It's not at all clear that this stuff is needed for competition speed navigation for a high quality Long or even Middle, and increasingly clear to me that it's actually costly damage to our maps. This thread is an excellent example of better, clearer, more solid reasoning by those questioning high detail than by those on the other side pompously just asserting that it's right, which is sad. I'll gladly puncture the self-righteousness of the mapper class, as it sorely needs it. Let's discuss map quality, even after the self appointed mapping elite opine in self-congratulatory terms.
Jul 21, 2017 8:58 PM # 
It's hard to have these discussion in an online forum without it turning ugly, but I do think the general discussion about level of generalization on our maps is important and valuable. We have of course been through this before in endless AP threads but I'll attempt to say something again...

In my opinion _the_ most important aspect of an orienteering map really is legibility. After all, if we can't read the map in the first place then any further discussions are pointless. If we can't read the map anyway, what's the point of discussing whether we need more details or not to do fair micro navigation on a long leg (for example)?

I have done quite a lot of orienteering in my life in many parts of Europe and North America in very different terrain types. I have had a fantastic time orienteering on super detailed maps in France and Slovenia, for example, almost always with (non-)ISOM maps at 1:5000 or 1:7500 and I have had equally amazing experiences running on old 80's maps in Sweden with very little detail on them. They are different flavors of our wonderful sport. I don't really agree that running on a more generalized map is less "fair", so long as the controls are placed on good distinct features. As Jagge is saying, the more generalized maps require a different skill, that's all.

Even though I'm strongly in the more-generalized-maps-camp I still enjoy running on very detailed maps, even ones I consider over-mapped myself, so long as I can read it while running at higher scales. For me this is associated with summer-vacation-for-fun type of orienteering. For a more serious race I prefer a more traditional map, one I can read at 1:10000 at least.

I have run on Hog's Back and it was great! I obviously haven't run on Rob's new map so I will refrain from commenting on details, other than to say that my spontaneous reaction was that I would probably prefer it at 1:7500 at least.

As a mapper myself I do have to say that with lidar data I find it harder to generalize. It's just so incredibly tempting to keep that wonderful detail on the map. It's hard and time consuming to decide what to remove. I have to constantly force myself to ask "is this detail really needed?" for every millimeter of the map. With the old base maps it wasn't quite the same, they came pre-generalized so to say, and it was more about adjusting and adding a few details rather than removing it.
Jul 21, 2017 9:41 PM # 
Kartapullautin generalized a bit as I understand it, and the contours seem very nice. I enjoy having the task of removing rather than adding detail, which I find is easier and quicker, but I haven't found that I need to remove much to have my map right, and have printed the field checked bits at 1:15,000 to test that. Of course, this is only one kartapullautin map, so I don't know if it is true in most cases, but it did seem to do a nice job of picking what to show compared to other contours generated from the Lidar. So, maybe that can help. It's billed as an aid for generating training maps, not competition maps, but seems quite good enough for local event maps, and probably even national competition maps, with proper field checking, at least from this limited exposure. Maybe others can opine.
Jul 21, 2017 10:02 PM # 
To echo what JJ wrote to start this discussion: I pondered what to say about this for a while, but finally decided to just come out and say it:

Jim, I find some of your recent comments unwarranted and offensive. Among other things you are suggesting that I am somehow browbeating everyone that disagrees with me. Or that I am engaging in 'mapper pique' to shut down criticism of my mapping.

I have put myself out here on this thread. Provided maps, basemaps and other material so that there can be an informed discussion. At considerable personal risk. I did so in the full knowledge that there would be some people who were very much against the sort of map I have made and would have no hesitation in saying so. I don't recall ever seeing anyone put up their maps for such scrutiny on AP.

I have made very sure not to criticise other people for disagreeing with me - but obviously I have made my my thoughts and opinions clear when I disagree.

I am not going to bother responding to the specifics of your recent posts, It seems anytime I, or anyone else expresses an opinion that is contrary to yours it makes you more upset and combative. I get the message, you don't like 'overmapping' and you clearly think my map is an egregious example of that. Fair enough. It's perfectly reasonable for you to say that. But when you start on the personal criticisms you are crossing a line.

At the moment if anyone is 'browbeating' it is you. It seems to me that it is your posts that are dripping with a sense of pique that everyone is not just agreeing with you. You are abusing the trust I showed in being in so open in the hope of a fair and sensible discussion. I don't care that much what you say about me - I can take whatever you throw at me - but your bullying tone is almost certainly discouraging others from contributing to this discussion.

I want to be very clear about one thing. I am NOT trying to silence you, or anyone else, in any way. By all means continue the discussion about mapping styles.

I would suggest you think very carefully about what you say and how you say it before you respond this time.
Jul 21, 2017 10:09 PM # 
I think our paths might have crossed a few times when we were both in National teams in the 80's and early 90's. I certainly remember who you are. And I am also aware of your considerable mapping reputation and the work you have done in Wyoming.

Thank you for your comments. I greatly appreciate you sticking you head above the parapet .
Jul 21, 2017 10:23 PM # 
Actually, Rob, I think you started that. You claimed to welcome criticism, and then every time belittled those who question you (unable to read maps properly, etc.). Every time a mapper makes a map that's used for an event, they're putting it out there. I've gotten criticism. You want to belittle the capabilities of those who suggest a different way? That seems to have become all too common a "pro" mapper theme. I don't sense any willingness to actually discuss level of detail, even from your indirect customers, the orienteers. Fine, but that's not terribly professional.
Jul 22, 2017 10:21 PM # 
It is a magnificent piece of mapping and some fascinating intricate terrain, but much too hard for my modest level of ability, and I wouldn't care to try it again. I was certainly a bit on edge because of the ubiquitous poison ivy and the thickness of some of the green, but even so, probably the first time in over 35 years in the sport that I have just bailed out and walked home along the trail because it was just too much for me.
Jul 23, 2017 12:29 AM # 
I Just read through your AP blog entries about the weekend. I am sorry to hear you had such an unpleasant experience. I will say one thing - I get the feeling that for a while there on the long course you did seem to be getting the hang of the map and the terrain.

It is really hard terrain. No matter what the mapping style. And I do understand that my style of mapping makes in harder than a more simplified style - or at least it makes it possible to set much more difficult courses. So no shame in having problems with it. Most people would.

It is interesting to note for events like WOC just how much time the top runners spend preparing in similar terrain. Teams like Switzerland Sweden, Norway, etc had at least 2 week long training camps in Estonia before WOC this year. By the time they are running the races they are very familiar with the terrain and the mapping styles. It is a bit much to expect anyone to just turn up in terrain like the Manitoba sand hills and just be good at it from the get go.

You say that once you got home and could look at the maps and your gps traces you were able to identify some of those features that you just couldn't find on the map at the time. That gives me some relief to hear that it is possible to see the bigger features through the myriad of detail. As some people are saying on the new thread, that is one of the fundamental skills in very detailed terrain.

I know Thierry G used to spend a lot of time studying maps of similar terrain (preferably by the same mapper) training himself to see the big features and the patterns in the terrain. Unfortunately that option wasn't really available in this case - apart from the small map excerpt on the webpage. There were other maps of similar terrain but they were mapped with a very different style.

But if you did decide to go back for another try I have a feeling you would surprise yourself by how much better you were able to handle it second time around.
Jul 23, 2017 12:43 AM # 
on the weekend of 1-2 October MOA are holding their regional championships.

The middle is listed for Hog's Back. No venue announced yet for the sprint and long - presumably they will be either Hogs Back or Cypress River Sand Hills.

By my recollections, in early October, the poison ivy has mostly lost its leaves. This photo of poison ivy with orange leaves was taken on Sept 21 2015.

The green will be a little easier to get through too.

If anyone is going and would like to take the opportunity, I would be happy to provide a section of the base map and you can have a go at mapping a small area yourself - show me how it should be done.

One caveat - MOA would need to OK that. It's not for me to decide what can and can't be done there. It is quite possible part or all of the terrain may be embargoed with future events in mind.
Jul 23, 2017 3:14 AM # 
In my opinion _the_ most important aspect of an orienteering map really is legibility

I'm afraid I have to take issue a little with that.

I sometimes break down the requirements for a good map into 5 categories:

Is there anything missing from map? For example (leaving aside questions of minimum sizes and marginal features - those come under consistency) a lone 1.5m boulder that should be on the map (by anyone's criteria) but isn't because the mapper just missed it. (Happens to all of us sometimes)

are things on the map in the right place? eg that same boulder is on the map but misplaced relative to surrounding features.

are all features of similar prominence in the terrain mapped. eg an obvious solitary 1.2m boulder is mapped in one place but not another - not because it was missed by the mapper but because of inconsistent application of minimum sizes. (obviously when you have borderline features it is hard to be 100% consistent, and a boulder like that may look more or less mappable depending on what direction you look at it, but hopefully you get my general meaning)

Also, are all features of similar appearance mapped the same way. Eg: is an area of bare rock mapped as grey in one place and yellow in another.

This is a little harder to define. Are all features mapped in a way that makes sense to the average user of the map. Eg: I remember once (when I was young and inexperienced) mapping two large rock features as knolls with grey fill and cliffs on 3 sides. Because on the forth side it was possible to walk up onto the top. But everyone just came back said and they saw two large boulders in the terrain and couldn't find them on the map.

I think we have sort of covered this already.

I am sure everyone will have different views on the validity of the above summary. I certainly don't think it is definitive - just one way of looking at things that may (or may not) be helpful to others. Feel free to dispute it as much as you like.

But putting aside any such skepticism for a moment, you could argue over what order you might rank those categories. I would always have completeness and accuracy at the top. No point having a legible map if major features are missing and those that do make it onto the map are in the wrong place. That sort of map is just fundamentally unfair. Obviously there is also no point having a map where everything is there and in the right place but is impossible to read at all. But if a map is a little hard to read you can slow down and read it, or you can learn to simplify it a la Thierry Gueorgiou ( But if things are in the wrong place it is simply impossible to navigate accurately.

Please note: I am NOT saying legibility is not very, very important. I just think there are things that are even more important. Despite what you may think, I worked very very hard to maximize the legibility of the CRS map. Paying particular attention to maintaining minimum gaps between contours. You may think I just put on everything that was on the Lidar base without bothering to generalize at all. That's not true either. I was constantly having to decide what to put on or leave off and making compromises. I was always tweaking the contours, moving them up and down a bit so as to catch the features I wanted on the map without having to resort 'stacked formlines'. Use of stacked formlines is one of the commonest criticisms when it come to 'over-mapping'. There are actually a few places on CRS where I have used 2 formlines between contours - but very very few - less than 10 I would say. (Someone will now scour the map and prove me wrong).

You can argue that my threshold for including features on the map is too low, ie I haven't generalized enough. But I can assure you there was still plenty of generalization going on. And I was always very aware of trying to maximize legibility.

My bottom line is this sort of terrain (like most sand dune terrain) is best mapped at a larger scale. By 'mapped' I don't mean the fieldwork scale, I am talking about the scale at which it is printed and the size of the symbols. I think printing the map at 1:10000 for elite classes with no enlargement of symbols (ie contours would be 0.14mm not 0.21mm) or perhaps 125% enlargement of symbols (contours 0.17mm). Maps for non-elite classes enlarged to 7500.

(The WCOC 2017 maps were 10000 with 150% symbol enlargement for elite classes, 7500 for all other classes.)
Jul 23, 2017 5:38 AM # 
Do people really find legibility improved with enlarged symbols at the same scale? I find that makes it harder to read, since there's less white space. That would be an interesting comparison. (I realize older folks with difficultly actually seeing the symbols might appreciate larger symbols, I'm speaking as someone with good near vision.)
Jul 23, 2017 6:06 AM # 
If anyone's interested in a glimpse of what the terrain looks like and perhaps a feel of what it's like to orienteer through, here is my GoPro footage of Sprint Course 5. [Disclaimer - I'm not much of a video editor so it's raw]. If you like, follow along with my GPS track here and try to make better sense of what I'm seeing than I did :)

Most technical terrain I've ever been on, but really enjoyed the challenge. I thought the map and courses were great, thanks Rob!
Jul 23, 2017 8:03 AM # 
It is not to be played with but Manitoba poison ivy is reputed to just not have the potency of the eastern or southern strains.

Every time I visit Manitoba terrain it takes while to bring the map in to focus. It is difficult at first to tell the hills from the depressions. However remembering this general rule helps: Green is down; yellow is up.
Jul 23, 2017 11:58 AM # 
I know what you are getting at Christina that is why I am suggesting 10000 with no enlargement of symbols.

But actually if you think about it: if you , for example, enlarge a map from 15000 to 10000, yes the contours will be 50% thicker but the gaps between them will also be 50% wider - the ratios says the same.
Jul 23, 2017 12:03 PM # 

thanks for the video - I'm not usually a fan of those but I enjoyed that one. I had RG on at the same time - could more less synchronize them by using the speed + and - buttons. I kept wanting to orient the RG map. Someone needs to invent a Gopro with synced GPS - or is that already a thing?

It was great to see what the terrain looks like in the summer. I'm feeling nostalgic now.
Jul 23, 2017 12:10 PM # 
In Will's video at about 7.17 he is climbing the hill to the west of control 3. You get a few glimpses of the small re-entrant just to the south of the knoll. That gives you some indication of the size of the smallest features I was mapping.

In RG Will's route goes just to the east of that re-entrant. In the video he actually goes a little to the west of it and stops briefly on the W end of the knoll (7.33) just in front of a spruce tree (which is the green blob just to the NW of the knoll) before turning right and spotting the flag. .
Jul 23, 2017 2:55 PM # 
Another thing you might notice in Will's video - in the second half you will see the occasional yellow rope. These were for the easy courses (1, 2 and 3) and were marked on those maps with the narrow ride symbol. They were needed because of the almost total lack of trails or other suitable features for those courses. Over the 3 events they laid out (and later collected) over 4km of rope. A pretty heroic effort I thought. Especially when you factor in the PI!
Jul 24, 2017 1:58 AM # 
And at about 6:30 he passes me. (I remember seeing him go by with the camera on his head.)

I had wondered how much yellow rope got laid down, 4 km is a lot of rope. I hope that if they didn't dispose of it, that it's carefully bagged and marked "Only for toxic uses". :-)
Jul 24, 2017 5:02 AM # 
I've never encountered poison ivy before and so have always been afraid. But what was at Manitoba was no issue at all. Strip promptly after running, wash and presto, no probs. The Manitoba variety seems really quite benign. I wouldn't let it deter anyone from orienteering in this great terrain.
Jul 24, 2017 7:07 AM # 
ShadowCaster, it may also be that you are one of the lucky ones who just do not react to the stuff!
Jul 24, 2017 2:15 PM # 
Yeah, really. I have only a mild/moderate sensitivity to it, and thanks to diligence I got only a very mild reaction this year, but in 2013 at Hog's Back I had one of the few more serious cases of my life.
Jul 24, 2017 3:26 PM # 
Re: poison two cents...
I thought that there was quite a lot in the area. I don't think many around here would have even considered using the area for an event considering that. Although on a different side of the park, the training map and the hiking trails gave us fair warning of this. We dressed in long pants (tucked in) with short sleeve tops and cleaned up afterward and bagged all our clothes and shoes for a thorough cleaning at home.
I had no ill effects. Andrew on the other hand developed quite a severe lower body rash when we got home on Monday...its just now subsiding.
I apparently have a low seems he does not...when people get it around here I don't. I think I got it as a kid living in the DC area but even then poison oak was the big thing back then. (same oil so go fig?)
Aside from that he had a small wipe out and drank from water stations ( I only drank carried water)...
I always had a hard time identifying longer...a great training ground.
I'm not really sure you can say the strains are weaker in Manitoba....Afterwards we did a lot of reading on PI and discovered that the "iron water" from blacksmithing historically seemed to offer relief...
I mention this because apparently the local water is high in iron ...we noticed the orange colour at some of the camp water supplies we used and were told of this.
Perhaps this fact with a local immunity makes those from Manitoba less susceptible?
Ironically I had joked about fully testing my immunity by going through a really dense area...I think the WCOC course counts
We enjoyed the area and the event and know this goes with the sport ...but once bitten, twice a bit shy-er
Aug 24, 2017 3:05 AM # 
Okay, it's official: We're holding the Sprint and Long of the 2017 Manitoba Orienteering Championships (Sep. 30 - Oct. 1) on the new Cypress River Sand Hills maps. The Middle will be held on the older Hog's Back map.

So if you missed the WCOCs, you now have another chance to run in our awesome terrain. Or if you did attend the WCOCs, now you can come back and compare the old and new maps. There should be much less poison ivy in 5-6 weeks and the green should also be easier to go through.

This discussion thread is closed.