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Discussion: Canadian Course and Category Guidelines ...

in: Orienteering; General

Aug 14, 2017 1:44 AM # 
I'm starting a new thread here to discuss recent/upcoming changes to Canadian Course and Category Guidelines. The new guidelines were approved by the Board in April, publicized on the Orienteering Canada Newsletter in June and discussed recently at Orienteering Canada's conference in Perth. I've been told there has been widespread consultation on the changes.

The proposed changes include ...
1) Creation of a new course 1 for MW10.
2) Increase in technical difficulty for other junior courses.
3) Allowance for MW16 and under to preview course for 1 minute with parent or coach.
4) Introduction of some new B categories.
5) Split of MW17-20 into MW17-18 and MW19-20.
6) Change in winning time for course 10 (W21E/M20/M35) to 90-100 minutes for non-WRE Long events.
7) Some changes to Master's classes that I haven't totally figured out as I don't have a copy of the old spec. For Middle/Long, I think M75 has been moved down a course, W35 has been moved down a course, M45 has been moved up a course. For Sprint, I think W65 has been moved up a course and M55 has been moved up a course.

The new spec is here ...
Aug 14, 2017 1:46 AM # 
Some recent discussion in another thread (that I hope will move here ...):

AZ: For the upcoming Alberta Champs (Sept 16/17 in Canmore - don't miss it!) I've recently been using the new Orienteering Canada course guidelines and I'm really impressed. They've mostly made changes so that juniors have several options to progress (from a fast track, to more casual). They've also given actual names to the open courses (such as beginner, intermediate, expert, and so on). Plus they give a Technical Difficulty chart. This should help newcomers a little.

GuyO: Since the new OC course guidelines were approved just thus past April, did the 2017 ECOCs and COCs use them to any extent, or were they fully "grandfathered" to use the previous guidelines?

I note that the 17-20 classes are split into 17-18 and 19-20; what was the rationale behind reversing the previous decision to merge them?

AZ: I believe the 2017 COCs were run under the 2016 course guidelines because much of the course planning was done prior to the release of the latest guidelines.

I also believe the main reason to split the 17-20 class was to win the Future Champions Cup.

Joking (of course). The reason the groups were combined in the past was in order to create a larger field, since these classes tend to have very few participants. The problem is this creates a large jump in physical and navigational difficulty from the 15-16 age class to the 17-20. Many of the changes in the guidelines were to provide multiple paths for kids as they develop - so there are now more classes, including several "B" classes, recognizing that not all kids are going to want to be in the competitive track at certain times in their development

Klepperton: It's a silly change.

In the 90's, the typical path of a junior in Canada (probably North America as well) was 15-16, 17-18, then straight to elite. I remember the 19-20 class was lightly participated all across North America.

I imagine more of the same with this new (old) setup. A diluted, redundant, insignificant 19-20 class.

The bottom line is that there are not enough juniors in Canada to support two classes between 17-20...(at least two competitive ones.) What's the motivation to win a class with so few competitors? At least 17-20 strengthens the field.


What was the process in deciding these changes? Were current juniors (elite or otherwise) consulted?
Aug 14, 2017 1:58 AM # 
In Manitoba last month, I was chatting with someone (a Canadian) who said he was looking to push a proposal to move Canada to 5-year categories for Masters, in order to match the US and make the North Americans be consistent, and I was all like "Noooooooo..."

That would be like switching back to feet and pounds and miles instead of getting the US to finally smarten up.
Aug 14, 2017 2:06 AM # 
I think that the best bet may be more single course events (like goats, score, etc.). They're often popular, potentially easier to organise, and get almost the biggest field that one's likely to get in North American venues.
Aug 14, 2017 2:12 AM # 
And, of course, one doesn't waste decades arguing about five year categories versus fifteen, or two year versus four, by simply bypassing the whole issue and organising a single course event.
Aug 14, 2017 2:55 AM # 
It seems there are some good changes here. But, I'm not sure all the changes are for the better.

Following the comments above, how about the split of 17-20 into 17-18 and 19-20?

My overwhelming feeling is that we don't have the number of junior orienteers required to have healthy competition in both 17-18 and 19-20 classes. I think this move will simply dilute the few athletes we have and reduce the number of meaningful competitive opportunities available to our juniors. Not good.

As an extreme example, my daughter recently raced in the US Championships. She was the only competitor in F20 and there was only one competitor in F18. What's the point in that? It's not so bad at a typical Canadian Champs, but the juniors are still pretty thin on the ground.

Further, the good 17-18 year olds are plenty good enough to race against the good 19-20 year olds. Look at Leif, Michael, David, Christian, Rachel. These are all 18 year olds rocking it in the 17-20 category.

I looked at the US rankings recently, where they have a split 17-18 and 19-20 categories. In the M20 rankings, athletes aged 17-18 are equal in number and just as good as those aged 19-20. In the F20 rankings, there are more ranked runners aged 17-18 than those actually of 19-20 age (though the 19-20 aged athletes are generally better). The message here is that many (and certainly the best) 17-18 aged athletes will choose to race up into 19-20 anyway.

I think what we have right now is pretty good: a competitive 17-20 category for all of our older juniors and a less-competitive 17-20B category for those who aren't at the right developmental stage to compete on the 17-20 course.

The main rationale for having a 17-18 category is that the jump from 15-16 to the current 17-20 courses is too large. I agree that the jump is large, particularly on the Long course. A couple ways to manage this that don't require splitting 17-20. 1) Increase the level of difficulty of 15-16. In Europe, we've observed that W15-16 is very similar in length and difficulty to W45. The proposed increase in technical difficulty for MW12, MW14 and MW16 shoud help.
2) Promote 17-20B as a stepping stone for 17 year olds who aren't quite up to the junior elite course. The best will make the jump at age 17, 17-20B provides a pathway for those who aren't quite there yet.

Anyway, my opinion is pretty strongly against splitting 17-20 into two different categories.
Aug 14, 2017 3:03 AM # 
I agree with Brian. do not split 17-20.. like he suggested - add a B class. all notes above have good reasoning.
Aug 14, 2017 3:09 AM # 
+1 for the 17-20B class.

A great alternative.

Can this still happen, or is the decision iron clad?

Would love to hear some juniors' opinions on this as well...
Aug 14, 2017 3:14 AM # 
A few additional comments.
1) Addition of MW10 is a good. We need to start using the happy/sad face posts to keep kids from making big mistakes.

2) Increase in technical difficulty for other junior classes. Very good. Judging by what 16 year olds are capable in other countries, this is very much needed.

3) Map preview. Good idea, especially for 14 and under.

4) I like the idea of meaningful B categories for those kids who aren't up to the challenge of the A categories. The 2nd tier 17-20 categories at COC's were fairly well utilized. [I guess for 17-20, we need consistency relative to the use of 20E/20A versus 20A/20B. I like using 20E and 21E for the top categories and then use 20A and 21A for the 2nd-tier categories to reduce any stigma with running the lower level.]

6) Change in winning time for long course 10. Apparently the women (W21E) were polled and are in favour (fair enough). Not sure what the effect is on M35/M20.

7) Haven't really digested the changes to the Master's categories. I'm not sure I like the movement from one course to the next every 10 years, e.g., M21 (c11), M35 (c10), M45 (c9), M55 (c8), M65 (c7), M75 (c5). It makes for a very nice, smooth progression, but avoids inter-category competition by never having adjacent categories on the same course. I wonder if it might be better to have: M21 (c11), M35 and M45 (c9), M55 and M65 (c7) or something like that. I note in the US it seems runners stay on a given course for about 15 years (3 5-year categories).
Aug 14, 2017 3:16 AM # 
Another issue that I forgot to mention is JWOC selection. Having a single 17-20 category must make it a little bit easier to compare the top athletes. Having them split between two categories would not help.
Aug 14, 2017 3:35 AM # 
+1 B class - it solves all the issues about the pace of advancement while allowing the top athletes across that age class to compete in a deeper field. Suppose an athlete starts orienteering at 19 - should they necessarily jump into F19-20, or perpetually relegate themselves from development by running open classes? A 17-20B class leaves them in the development pipeline, and whenever they are comfortable, they can run the harder class.
Aug 14, 2017 3:39 AM # 
After a similar discussion, the only conclusion I can draw is that discussing age class and courses is the second best alternative to actual orienteering.
Aug 14, 2017 9:06 AM # 
I guess they've already been adopted but surely clubs could try some variations out at local events? For instance:

3) Allowance for MW16 and under to preview course for 1 minute with parent or coach.

That seems rushed. If you're going to let them look at the map in advance then give them enough time to get something out of it. On the other hand, MW16 seems a bit old for that if they are on their own age-appropriate courses. Why not let everyone on the US equivalent of white or yellow get their map well in advance, no matter their age?
Aug 14, 2017 1:28 PM # 
anything in the guideline in regards to scale printing for masters ? while i like the challenges M35 brings, my eye sight is not anymore ready for 21 ( M or W). this past champs i was "un-pleasantly" surprised to have to run and to read the 1:15k map.. i liked the challenge of running against best female athletes,however cannot read map.. and yes magnifier and glasses were used..
Aug 14, 2017 1:34 PM # 
Can this still happen, or is the decision iron clad?

Of course it can still happen ;-) These guidelines were just changed, which shows there is an ability to change in the system. I would suspect that constructive comments and discussion will be regarded by the Technical Committee (but saying things like "this is a silly change" will likely not help ;-).

There were lots of changes made and the majority seem to be very well received in this thread.

As for how were the changes made - the Tech Committee surveyed a number of people who are running the various Junior Programs across the country about changes to the junior categories. Also the HPC had made requests & recommendations. As for the other changes to the Adult categories, I think a few changes were made based on an analysis I submitted to them of TPKs over the last few Canadian champs which showed that some courses had far too large a range of winning TPKs for the course planner to be able to meet the recommended winning times.

I think the technical committee has made very positive changes that help organizers and make orienteering more fun and attractive for participants. Sure, there will be a few points that still might not be the best, and I would think a constructive discussion will lead to more positive change.
Aug 14, 2017 2:20 PM # 
That's fair Adrian.

'Silly' was an unedited, nervy first impression, which was silly of me to say...

Otherwise, I feel my tone was constructive.
Aug 14, 2017 3:04 PM # 
Aug 14, 2017 3:16 PM # 
;-) I agree, I think this discussion has been very constructive and is making some great insights.

For those who haven't actually opened the guidelines, I encourage you to do so. It includes a course progressions and a development path table. It also has a very helpful (for organizers and website builders) description of technical difficulties.

And it allows groups to participate at the discretion of the organizers.

the latest course guidelines
Aug 14, 2017 5:20 PM # 
@nick. The Orienteering Canada rules specify maps scales.
Sprint - 1:4000 or 1:5000
Middle - 1:10000
Long - 1:15000 for M20E, F20E, M21E, F21E; 1:10000 for everyone else

Long Course 9 should have been printed at 1:15000 for M20E and F21E, and 1:10000 for M35. Exceptional organizers get this right (e.g., COC 2016), but often M35 end up having to suck it up and run on the 1:15000. Note that the same printing issue exists for course 8 ... F20E should get 1:15000, F35 should get 1:10000.
Aug 14, 2017 5:40 PM # 
Having seen the new guidelines during COC week, I had a quick look over COC results to see how the winning times matched with the guidelines. Anyway, the guidelines are based on RWT (Recommended Winning Time).

1) Races are often won by a stand-out, who blows the socks off the field (Leif, Damian, Mike, Ted, Geraint, Emily, Kitty, etc.). Should we be gearing the winning time to that one person, or using a somewhat fuzzier approach. My sense is that using the top-3 as a target might give a course design that is a bit more statistically robust measure of whether the goal race distance was achieved.

2) In Canada Cup races, foreign athletes often compete and often do very well. Do foreign athletes count as "race winners" when we are designing Canada Cup races? This is relevant when someone like Thierry shows up to race.

The US uses the concept of a 100 point US orienteer for their course design. I like this idea as it is a little more robust than simply targeting the "winner".

This discussion thread is closed.