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Discussion: New WOC Sprint Format #3rdsprint

in: Orienteering; General

Oct 25, 2017 1:54 PM # 
Odd hashtag but finalization of 3rd sprint format for WOC is getting closer.

The name of this format includes following suggestions:

Match Sprint
Knock out sprint
Sprint Challenge
Sprint tournament
Oct 25, 2017 4:10 PM # 
and... SART becomes the ultimate Western NA training ground for this new event.
Oct 25, 2017 7:09 PM # 
Pink Socks:
As expected, I'm geeking out on this. It's basically a SART-in-a-day.

Some things I noticed:

1) The races are shorter. The qualification race has a winning time of 8-10 minutes, and the tournament heats will have winning times of 6-8 minutes. These are significantly shorter than true sprints, so it's really more akin to a bunch of SART Time Trial courses (winning times 6-7 minutes).

2) The competitors can choose what heat they want to be in! This is an option, not a mandate, but it's a fun twist where the 36 quarterfinal slots are drafted by the athletes. This brings in a little sports psychology and some strategery.

3) There's self-select forking determined before the race! Again, this is an option, not a mandate. In addition to either no forking or standard forking, there's a third option here. There are 3 choices of forking shown to each competitor in the start queue, and they have 20 seconds to determine which one they want, and then they take the appropriate race map given that choice. Each competitor's choice is a secret to the others in the heat.


The draft document has conflicting or confusing information and some assumed steps. But here's how I think the tournament will work:

There are 3 qualification heats open to all nations, with interval starts. The top 12 in each heat advance to the tournament rounds. If there's a tie that determines advancement (ie: 12th/13th), then the tiebreaker is IOF Sprint Rankings.

Once we have the 36 runners, there are 2 options to create the quarterfinal bracketing:
A) Based on ranking, with equal ranking sums in each heat (ie: snake draft). However, there are conflicting mentions of how they'll be ranked. Page 6 says that they will be ranked by qualification race. Page 7 says they'll be ranked based on IOF Sprint Rankings.

B) Based on athlete draft, with the 13th-ranked athlete choosing first, then 12th, 11th, ..., 1st, 14th, 15th, 16th, ..., 36th. Page 7 says that they will be ranked by IOF Sprint Rankings.

The top 3 in each heat will advance. So 36 becomes 18. Here, it's confusing to what comes next. Page 8 shows how the advancing quarterfinalists will be bracketed into the semifinals (and page 6 seems to corroborate this). But page 7 seems to indicate that there could be another athlete draft, although that might only be used in cases where the tournament starts with 18 instead of 36 (see first line of page 6).

No matter how they are bracketed, the top 2 in each heat advance to the final. In the final, bracketing doesn't matter anymore! First to finish is the champion!


I found the last paragraph on substitution (page 5) to be confusing. The first two paragraphs make sense, but I don't understand what they are trying to say in the third.


For names, I think Eliminator is probably the best one, as it sounds the most exciting.
Oct 25, 2017 7:50 PM # 
I can see that the heat-choosing draft could make for good tv. Not so sure about the choosing your forking -- all that stuff happens so fast in the race it would be really hard to keep up with. Both of those twists sound like fun but a bit gimmicky for a World Champs. I think the overall tournament idea is great. It'll be interesting to see what the final format looks like.
Oct 25, 2017 7:53 PM # 
So the optimal choice of which heat to be in is to take the 13th pick. How do they work that out? Surely if you want to qualify top-3, the key information is who is the fastest "4th-best" qualifier. That's the one who'll take your place!
Oct 25, 2017 8:33 PM # 
>For names, I think Eliminator is probably the best one, as it sounds the most exciting.

Southern Ontario has had a race called the Eliminator for 20 years now. A great name for a knock-out race.

So when will the first NAOC Knock-Out race be?
Oct 25, 2017 9:09 PM # 
Don't call it a comeback
I been here for years
Rockin’ my peers and puttin’ suckas in fear
Makin’ the tears rain down like a monsoon
Listen to the bass go Boom!
Explosion, overpowerin’
Over the competition, I'm towerin’

[Drops mike]
Oct 25, 2017 9:22 PM # 
Choose your forking sounds like it will end up as one of these contrived variants on the Prisoner's Dilemma.
Oct 25, 2017 10:59 PM # 
Pink Socks:
So the optimal choice of which heat to be in is to take the 13th pick. How do they work that out?

Yeah, I was wondering that, too.

I've seen chatter from fans and writers suggesting that the NCAA basketball tournament be up for a draft, where the selection committee would rank the teams 1-64 and then each one, starting with #1, would draft where they'd go. The big difference here is that there are 8 different sites for the 1st/2nd round games, and 4 additional sites for 3rd/4th round games, so part of the draft theory is playing a game closer to home and your fans. At SprintWOC, it's all about matchups, not geography.

For the Eliminator draft, if you lead with #1, then that runner has zero choice, which really isn't a great incentive to be #1. If you go the other way round (which doesn't make much sense), then #1 also has zero choice. So it does make some sense to have #1 go in the middle somewhere. Seems like a good problem for a game theorist to work out: what draft system is the most fair?

Not so sure about the choosing your forking... sound[s] like fun but a bit gimmicky for a World Champs.

I somewhat agree, but I don't think it's all gimmick. I think it serves a purpose. The races here are really short, and the athletes are all really fast. If you have traditional forking, the loops are going to need to be really short, and perhaps that's not a very good use of the terrain, or perhaps you can't get much route choice from that. If you skip forking altogether, then you'll just have a herd of guys running in a pack trying to outkick each other at the end. Since you're only racing against guys in your heat, I think it makes less sense to try to maximize efficiency by trying a different route.

The choose-your-forking method kinda straddles both worlds. It's a way to split up the runners without taking up too much time or distance, and therefore utilizing that time and distance for better route-choicey legs. It's better than randomly (and unfairly) assigning non-forked options, since each runner gets a choice.
Oct 25, 2017 11:11 PM # 
Not so sure about the choosing your forking
It's better than no forking or butterflies (in an 8 min race). Running slightly different courses is the way to get some forking without constraining course setting. Making a route choice decision in 20second while standing still does sound a bit like orienteering.
The runners don't see each other's choices, but like jj says there's a neat prisoners dilemma about whether it helps you to reveal it.

Still reckon they should have had a paired maze...
Oct 25, 2017 11:37 PM # 
Here, it's confusing to what comes next.

You lost me at Hello.
Oct 26, 2017 8:20 AM # 
It's going to be fun designing trainings for choose-your-own-forking...
Oct 26, 2017 9:04 AM # 
significantly shorter than true sprints

The 12-15min formula is not what the general public would think of as a "sprint". That name is silly, and the introduction of shorter races still, emphasises this. Even 6-8min is not a "sprint" in normal terms. We need different words.

Whatever we call these short orienteering formulae, let me say I'm delighted! I'm part of an increasing proportion of orienteers who can no longer run faster than their navigation, in classic distances. These short races (and MTB-orienteering) allow me to cross that knife-edge between not fast enough, and too fast. Great!

I'm sure the IOF is thinking of me and my age group while developing this. And just piloting it on the young ones first.
Oct 26, 2017 9:16 AM # 
A couple of people at my ultra-sprint event on the weekend had the right idea then - go straight from the start to the finish without collecting any CPs and just cop all the time penalties. Race done and dusted in 20 seconds.
Oct 26, 2017 9:24 AM # 
I like "Eliminator", no mention of "Sprint". With 4 races, each ~ 8 minutes long we are looking at 4 x 2km. That very much favours the endurance athlete.
The proposed gaps between races are of similar concern, favouring endurance over speed, particularly between Semi-Final and Final, and very much so for the first heats in the Semi-Final. The first starter in the first SF gets a 1 hour break for women and around 45 minutes for men. The last starter in the 3rd SF gets only 34 minutes (women) or 15 minutes (men).
I like this concept but would hope that a "Sprint WOC" would set aside at least one day for a single 12-15 minute race, no qualification.
Oct 26, 2017 10:04 AM # 
I take this as encouragement to keep experimenting with formats rather than just follow the current WOC rules.
Oct 26, 2017 5:34 PM # 
This whole "choose-your-own-heat" is definitely modeled on what has been done in XC skiing for a while.
As #1 you get the chance to choose the first heat, thus giving you the longest rest until next round. The other top runners would either try to avoid each other by picking different heats or take the chance that they will still qualify in a tougher but earlier heat.
Oct 26, 2017 6:25 PM # 
Seems like the whole thing is a direct take-off of an XC skiing sprint tournament. Which was designed more to be interesting to TV than to participants.
Oct 26, 2017 11:41 PM # 
That very much favours the endurance athlete.

Oh come on, O-ing! Just as 12 minutes is not a "sprint" as understood by most of the world, 8km does not require "endurance" as understood by most of the world. With a sit-down in between each 2k, what's more.
Oct 27, 2017 12:01 AM # 
when I used to race AR a sprint was any race under an 8 hour winning time
Oct 27, 2017 12:15 AM # 
Yes a sprint is defined relative to the sport it is attributed to! A popular sport (other than orienteering of course) called triathlon has 'sprint' races that are still otherwise long competitions to the quality of athletes you get competing in them.
Oct 27, 2017 1:06 AM # 
To quote Runners World "There are two types of runners -- those who have superior speed, whose performance gets better as the race gets shorter, and those who have superior endurance, whose performance gets better as the race gets longer ".
It comes back to the old slow twitch versus fast twitch muscle fibres scenario. When "Sprint" was developed as an orienteering discipline I was hoping that it would favour the fast twitch people over the slow twitch ones that dominated the Classic long orienteering races. Particularly with the varying speed during a short race, even 12 minutes could have some actual real sprinting. So you might get "Sprint" specialists and a different set of people on the podium.
That, in general, hasn't turned out to be the case with O "sprints" usually well over 12 minutes and sometimes over 15, and at WOC a qualification race on the same day as the final. Many countries select their best orienteers for both Sprint and Long Distance races at WOC - although of course there area few specialists here and there.

This discussion thread is closed.