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Discussion: Has there been any formal complaint?

in: graeme; graeme > 2017-05-20

May 22, 2017 11:20 AM # 
It was laughably out of place although was blindingly obvious when you got to the right place and looked around you - it was 100m back. You could argue that we were all in the same boat unless you saw it as you ran past, although I wouldn't have stopped even if I had because it was clearly not in the correct place for my control!

As for the one on the terrace beneath the crag, hmm, I got lucky and assumed that it must be below the crag because to put it above the crag would have been ludicrous - although you couldn't actually see the crag through the trees until you got there. On examining the map afterwards the terrace was, er, rather small, but it was there. Almost as hard to see as the one later on which was on a tree (tiny white blob on the map, hidden beneath a north line). The control description for the terrace was right, at least.
May 22, 2017 11:23 AM # 
I would be surprised if it hadn't affected some results/prizes
May 22, 2017 12:11 PM # 
I don't think the terrace was in the middle of the circle though, and that's what caused my problem with it. The middle of the circle was the bend in the crag.
May 22, 2017 12:27 PM # 
I seem to have lost more time than most at #213.
When I first didn't find the flag I carried on further around the beach. It was only on my second visit to the boulder that I saw the flag 100m back to the east. I'm not sure I'd have gone there immediately even if I saw it first time because it was so far away from the correct place.

On #210 I climbed up from the beach one crag too early because the actual crag wasn't visible in the woods (even though the map just showed rough open!). When I popped out onto the (unmapped) golf course at the top of the crag I don't know who was most surprised: me seeing a golfer looking for her ball, or the golfer seeing a sweaty orienteer appear on her fairway!

The route away from #210 was a choice between climbing back up to the golf course or dropping to the beach. Straight was impossible due to thick woodland although, again, no sign of this on the map. By this point I had decided the race was a joke :(
May 22, 2017 2:16 PM # 
I'll ask the controller if there was a complaint. As far as I can tell, they treated it as if there was. I didn't have 213 and haven't been there.

On #210, like Claire, I read the description "terrace" and went to the top of the crag (remembering the previous terrace in Yellowcraigs). I was aware it wasn't the center of the circle. I saw james running round confusedly there, he left as I arrived so I didn't hunt for too long before going to the bottom. The control was IMO on a terrace, not a crag. Being nitpicky, I thought the description should have been "western terrace" and asked Mike Stewart afterwards. Surprisingly, he said he'd been told to take all the "easterns" and "westerns" off because it was obvious from circle placement.
May 22, 2017 3:11 PM # 
Indeed, I was actually so confused here that I looked at the description here to see if there was an eastern or western, something which I very rarely bother to do. I didn't realise that there was such a thing as a 'terrace' spur either - I've just always thought that that particular pictorial description was a consequence of something going wrong between condes and the printing. Learn something every day!

I was in a total huff at this (rather early) point in the course, and must add that the rest of the course did cheer me up quite a bit, so me moaning so much about these two problems is probably a little unfair.
May 22, 2017 3:17 PM # 
Graeme, remember our conversation on the way to the start about my having rediscovered the INTerlopers newsletters I penned (such guff!) and one of Inverarity's truly inspired columns that I had thought of resurrecting: "Great ESOC controls of our time"? Mayhaps this merits some new column inches!
May 22, 2017 3:31 PM # 
Great ESOC controls of our time.
May 23, 2017 11:31 AM # 
How can a Controller advise to remove something from the descriptions that actually "adds value" to them? Probably the same controller that never visited these controls in question or even bothered to look at the orange standard white course! Fuming. But hey, that's how crap orienteering is - we accept this regularly.
May 23, 2017 11:51 AM # 
I'll never understand the acceptance of this kind of thing, often to 'protect volunteers'.

If something goes wrong, apologise in the first instance. Then people need to be held accountable and informed/helped to improve, if they don't want to try to improve they need to not go into roles again.
May 23, 2017 9:58 PM # 
There was no compliant.

I'm not about to defend failure to recognise errors. But I think its even more unacceptable to have this personal sniping at the organising team from behind aliases on social media. I know who you all are, but many of the people you're slagging don't.

If you don't like something, use the proper complaints process. Take it up with the organiser. If you don't, then don't be surprised when it happens again.

If we insist on a volunteer run model, do need to protect volunteers (though andrewd is right that letting them fail again isn't a good idea). The relays involved four different clubs. Six months before the event we had precisely no volunteers for major roles, despite every club committee being asked twice. I was doing all the planning, coordinating and organising jobs (and ended up doing a lot of mapping too:( ). Next time maybe we'll hire a professional and you can pay.
May 23, 2017 10:03 PM # 
Lard, one of my real issues in orienteering is the variable difficulty of the easiest courses at different events. There are clear guidelines to follow. The consistency of standard is vital for people who are developing their navigational skills and can be completely thrown by challenges beyond those they (or their parent) are expecting.
I've just had a look at the white and yellow courses for Saturday and can't see how they are of the right standard.

Orienteering is a complicated sport, and mistakes will happen, especially where there are lots of other access issues or other complications, but we have to all acknowledge them and try and learn from them.

Apart from your comment I haven't seen any other comments on the standard of the White and Yellow courses, but I suspect there was lots of muttering in the carpark.
May 23, 2017 10:10 PM # 
PS I'm David Robertson (CLYDE)

I'll let others judge if I'm sniping at the organising team or not. My comment is a general one on the standards of the lower TD courses, but I do think the White and Yellow at the weekend look significantly more technical than I would expect.
May 23, 2017 11:08 PM # 
I hadn't looked at the white and yellow before. They are on the long side.

There are clear guidelines, but often they aren't easy to follow on a real area without path loops - I think its hard to tell how hard a course is from routegadget because so much depends on control placement to lead runners in the right direction. A better way to tell if it was too hard is the retiral rate. I would say that was acceptable, especially given the weather.

e.g. you might pick out the long leg 21-22 on yellow as being the furthest out of line, and yet every child found it within 9 mins. Having two starts is a weird, extra effort but again, doesn't seem to have caused problems.

So I'm looking at those course trying to learn what mistakes I should avoid in future. And failing.
May 24, 2017 6:34 AM # 
forest grump:
After picking up the map for the white on Saturday for my daughter I was very surprised to see how it was planned. Having seen/done white/yellow courses regularly with my 2 girls over the last 5+ years (and planned a few myself) I agree with Dave that I couldn't see how the course followed the guidelines regarding controls at decision points. I spent a long time beforehand going over it with my daughter and in the end she managed OK. (with a little help from an adult who caught her up). Yes there were lots of paths but 21 controls did seem excessive (and it seemed unnecessarily long). Even a well known ESOC member with young kids was less than complementary (and that was before his daughter missed 1 out). I think that it was a one off BUT lessons do need to be learnt and thank goodness you could get the map beforehand!! Overall though I thought it was a good event especially within the constraints of the area, parking etc......Will Hensman (FVO)
May 24, 2017 7:02 AM # 
I didn't see the white but thought the yellow was fine, a bit long maybe, but if you can't go here or there it there the course is automatically a corridor of a certain length. Getting the map beforehand helped, as you could see where a lot of the trickier controls were in the terrain prior to starting.

The biggest problem I saw people having on the yellow was the control after the road crossing, which was a bit tucked away, and someone had rather unhelpfully added a kite 5m away to denote the entrance to the assembly field when distracted most of the kids.

On the whole we found the yellow fine and seemed TD2 to me but it very much depends on the child's experience. Laurence has done JK, British, Scottish, Belguim 5, BUBO and OO and a few Urbans and that is about it over the past year, so I can't really tell if it was longer / harder than the usual scottish yellows.
May 24, 2017 9:15 AM # 
So the other thing that annoys me is this trite "lessons need to be learned" (sorry for quoting Will - it's not aimed just at you). Certainly there were problems at the w/e, but I don't think I learned anything useful.

So for example, we already knew you're meant to put the control in the wrong place. Nothing to learn there.

The planner should visit all the controls? Simply not possible on a public area big enough for an elite course. Find half a dozen volunteers to give up their SOC run? Good luck with that!

White and Yellow? Claire's point about distractors and not hiding flags I can see, but which legs aren't to guidelines and why did that cause a problem? They are only guidelines remember - I think if you break them its OK, provided you understand why you are doing it.

White and Yellow too long? - the natural loop is defined by the terrain. you can always shorten the course by moving the start further away. But the kids still end up walking just as far - all it achieves is replacing some interesting orienteering with some boring walking with parents. So what's the lesson here? 1.5km walk to the start on white?

Map was a bit shit? Mea culpa - I commissioned it. I had to decide between saving money by bodging some updates myself or getting a professional map.
What's the lesson here? - back to amateur map-bodging?

Misplaced controls and non-standard courses are up to the controller. I had to decide between a local controller or the "Level A" standard of a Grade 1 controller from another region. So what's the lesson here? Let ESOC control their own events?

I'm perfectly happy to take on suggestions, but I'm not seeing anything I would do differently next time.

(and I'd like a bit of love for the three hours up the A9 that helpers didn't have to drive, the way-over-budget profit we'll make and getting the inevitably-interminable prizegiving started early)
May 24, 2017 9:23 AM # 
Worst event I've ever been to. The event coordinator arranged to get everyone else on his course disqualified so that he could win. Someone planted a brain faze device under #15 that caused me to lose 20 minutes, I was robbed. Some people even complained about the two controls I moved on my course because they were in the wrong place - no pleasing some people. Only saving grace was that our kids loved having eleventy billion controls to punch on the yellow course, they normally punch everything they see anyway (I just punch event coordinators). Oh and the cakes were good. Will Hensman (FVO)
May 24, 2017 9:27 AM # 
Graeme, the lessons to be learned IMHO, are mainly for the Controller.

Here are the most important in my mind (I've not looked at the White/Yellow courses so can't comment on that particular issue):

1. I think he should have had an assistant so that all controls were checked on the morning. I'm hoping David will take that message on board for next time he Controls.

2. As Planner or Controller I wouldn't have been happy using control #210. I'd have insisted on improvements to the map or used another site.

I've never really thought about the implications on Scotland of Controller from another region. Maybe BO could look at this and allow a Controller from a different bit of Scotland? Only relevant until you get independence obviously ;-)

edit: Charlie Adams, SYO
May 24, 2017 9:36 AM # 
forest grump:
I agree that finding helpers/volunteers etc. is hard and I make reference in my previous posts (inc about the start on Sunday) how much I enjoyed the weekend, and appreciate how much effort goes into large events by a number of volunteers. I don't think you will find anyone that doesn't. However, with regard the White course I have to disagree. The BOF "rules" (Appendix B section 2.3.5) state for TD1 courses ...."Route all along tracks and paths. No route choice, including at the start banner"....Control sites on..."Paths, tracks – junctions,
crossings and bends.Features on paths e.g. bridges, gates, to give variety to the
control descriptions".... Now compare that to this In my view the course does not meet the rules for a number of the controls and/or legs.
May 24, 2017 12:00 PM # 
2.5.3 White standard courses: In some areas (particularly open areas) because of the absence of paths it may still be possible to plan a white course of suitable standard by substituting prominent line features.
So, IMO, S-1-2 the line of trees and 14-15 the fence around the field were OK.
12&13 I'd have to see how it looked on the ground getting from road to path and visibility of 12 from 11. I prefer windy paths to straight, so if its clear or taped I'd like it. In practice only Matthew Inman missed it.

A few missed 6&9 which are slightly off the path.

17-18-19 he's trading off complexity with the risk of meeting cars.

It would be a very nice example white to use in a controllers course.

Did we remember to have prizes for M/W10B? It's something I always feel should exist...
May 24, 2017 12:01 PM # 
bradc: Worst event I've ever been to.
You forgot to mention the bloody awful company on the walk to the start.
May 24, 2017 12:41 PM # 
forest grump:
"Did we remember to have prizes for M/W10B? It's something I always feel should exist..."

Yes you did!. Katie was 2nd on W10B and got a shoe bag. She was quite chuffed TBH so thanks for that.

Fair points with regard to the White course but IMHO #5 should have been at the track/road junction, miss out #6 altogether, #7 should have been at the track/road junction, #8 on the track/small path junction, miss out #12 (and #14/#15) and #13 should have been on the main track/path junction. Other than that is was fine :-)

Also I would have started by #3. Firstly to avoid crossing the folk going to the blue start and secondly to reduce the length (and # of controls).
May 24, 2017 5:05 PM # 
Formal complaints seem like a nuclear option, especially at Level A events where removal of splits isn't an option - despite all the issues i'd not've been pleased if the course had been voided! (And I realise now that it was Level B but i'm not sure I knew that before - and if it was Level B then it didn't need a Grade A controller?).

Informal complaints to the Planner / Controller / Organiser at download etc are ok if a) you know who they are (1/3 for me on Saturday) and they are around and b) you aren't cold, wet and knackered and desperate to get in the car and turn the heater on.

Also, on Saturday I assumed that some of the issues with the map were down to my eyesight: poor at the best of the times, hopeless in the rain when i can't use magnifiers - it's only much later, at home, that it became clear how poor it was - there really is no woodland mapped by the crags and no tree on the map at #26 etc

In the past I've raised map issues later via email with major event officials, with mixed results: generous responses from Steve McKinley and GG after the Olympic Park British Sprints, but other replies have been along the lines of "no-one else had a problem" "the spec doesn't really matter" and (paraphrasing) "We've been doing this longer than you so we know better"...

I appreciate the volunteer effort required: I've mapped and/or planned for some reasonably significant events in recent years (although I'm not a controller and currently not allowed to plan...) so i know what it takes and am also aware that if I'm (seemingly) always complaining about maps etc then I had better make sure i get mine right - and if i don't, to expect trouble :-)

As for lessons to be learned - apart from the obvious one of have a good system for selecting, placing and checking control sites:

1) There should be a feedback system on the maps for major events - maybe this is something the BOF mapping committee could do, instead of approving maps beforehand (despite obvious issues and no idea as to whether it matched what was on the ground) - this wouldn't help with the event itself but if issues were compiled and acknowledged it might drive up standards overall.

2) Professional assistance? well maybe a fully professional team might be a bit pricey but there are plenty of elite orienteers around who weren't running SOC who could have been asked or even paid to test run the courses - would anyone really notice another 50p on entries, which would have produced £300 for a couple of days thorough testing - easily enough to visit all controls a couple of times over. Maybe wouldn't have helped with 213 (which I would have tagged with a little blob of spray paint!) but would have flagged up the other mapping issues

And more generally, and not specifically directed at David Rosen (or Graeme!) - better quality control for controllers - I have to admit i'm not quite clear what's required to be a Level A controller, but from what i've seen locally it doesn't necessarily include understanding the rules and the specs. There are far too many major events with map issues for it just be bad luck! I guess the argument against this will be that it’s already too hard to recruit people to these roles but that’s not really reassuring

Jon Hollingdale, Moravian
May 25, 2017 11:33 AM # 
It was initially level A so we had a grade 1 controller. When we decided not to use 1:15000, he downgraded the event (which allowed ESOC to dispense with commentary and arena finish).

Formal complaints seem like a nuclear option
True, but I would much much much rather be hit with a formal complaint than a load of carpark and nopesport whinging. It wouldn't change anything at this event, but there's an outside chance that "lessons would be learned". IMO there should have been at least three complaints (with my guess at the outcome)...

Complaint 1. The misplaced control.
Outcome: Acknowledgement it was in the wrong place. Decision not to change the results.
(rationale - you could take the splits out, but it wouldn't change the results regarding Scottish champion.
The purpose of the event is to determine Scottish Champions , the race is fit for purpose, should not be voided.
Lesson for planner/controller - take care. For competitors - don't give up.

Complaint 2. The low quality map
Outcome: Acknowledgement of problems. Not serious enough to void race.
Lesson for mapper - your reputation is on the line!

Complaint 3. Control #210 and absence of "which feature" column.
Outcome: Acknowledgement of problems. Not serious enough to void race.
Lesson for Planner, controller. Omitting "which feature" is not best practice.

An Interloper on Graeme Ackland's AP.
May 26, 2017 12:11 AM # 
My favourite part of the above is the deliberate (?) typo in 'There was no compliant' !
May 26, 2017 8:51 AM # 
Graeme doesn't make typos!!!
May 26, 2017 1:18 PM # 
Aye, try to void typeos.
May 28, 2017 9:02 PM # 
I have to disagree very strongly that the white was TD1. In places it was TD3 because it went off line features (including wading through nettles), and many of the control placements were unhelpful. You can not judge the course on results because you don't know how many had personal shadowers, how many were helped by others' shadowers or other competitors. I'm not going to voice anything more here publicly but have written personally to the planner and controller in what I hope is a constructive way.

Thank you for the great string course on Saturday - would have been good to have one at the relays too.

Janine, FVO

This discussion thread is closed.