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Discussion: NAOC Relay

in: NAOC 2018 (Aug 17–24, 2018 - Whitehorse, YT, CA)

Aug 20, 2018 10:03 PM # 
Kudos to the event organizers! While all the events have been great, I was especially excited by how well today's relay was run. First the elite national teams went out with lots of fanfare. Then all the clubs team got to go out and play on some super fun courses. Then, when the clubs were mostly all finished, the national teams were on their final legs and there was some excitement watching them finish. The timing just all worked out wonderfully. So, so much fun. I hope this happens again soon!
Aug 20, 2018 10:12 PM # 
Agreed! I was coaching for the Canadian teams today but there was lots of action at all times so lots of fun.

I would love to see this format used again (2020 NAOC organizers take note ;-) )
Aug 20, 2018 10:28 PM # 
Sounds fun!
For those of us who weren’t there, what are the results? Not posted yet ... need to know!
Aug 20, 2018 10:35 PM # 
I will always remember this relay. Such a cool setting, lots of action and of course all the animals :) thank you everyone who had even the smallest part in this organization. I’m going to as far as to say the most enjoyable North American relay I have ever ran and think it will be a hard act to follow.
Aug 20, 2018 10:36 PM # 
See here.
Aug 20, 2018 10:40 PM # 
The US Men took 1st and 3rd while the US Women took 1st and 4th.

For the juniors, US men took 2nd and 4th while the US women took 1st and 4th again.
Aug 20, 2018 10:40 PM # 
So mixed sprint relays are now out of favor?
Aug 20, 2018 10:41 PM # 
These were proper forest relays not sprint relays.
Aug 20, 2018 10:42 PM # 
Thanks Sandy.
I guess I’ll wait to see who ran on which teams (Anton put his 1st place team members in his log).
Aug 20, 2018 10:50 PM # 
Elite Men
1: Anton Salmenkyla, Michaeal Laraia, Greg Ahlswede 2:16:02
2: Robbie Graham, Eric Kemp, Graeme Rennie 2:20:59
3: Eric Bone, Will Enger, Peteris Ledins 2:31:10
4: Adam Woods, Alexander Bergstrom, Colin Abbott (injury, dnf)

Elite Women
1:Tori Borish, Allison Campbell, Ali Crocker 2:20:30
2: Emma Waddington, Pia Blake, Emily Kemp 2:21:58
3: Kendra Murray, Jennifer Mackeigann, Tori Owen 2:48:56
4: Anna Shafer-Skelton, Kelsey Breseman, Angelica Riley 3:17:13

Full results coming soon I expect with individual times.
Aug 20, 2018 10:54 PM # 
Junior Men
1: Jan Erik Naess, Michael Svoboda, Leif Blake 1:42:28
2: AJ Riley, Peter Zakrevski, Thoman Laraia 1:46:11
3: David Bakker, Graham Tomas, David Svoboda 2:08:08
4: Zack Kuder, Nathan Collinsworth, Kai Mihata 2:58:05

Junior Women
1: Julia Doubson, Siri Christopherson, Tyra Christopherson 1:30:28
2: Lillian Bakker, Robyn Astridge, Maya Fish 1:43:57
3: Rachel May, Keeya Corbett, Brittany Pan 1:46:05
4: Diana Aleksieva, Jessica Colleran, Oriana Riley 2:14:53
Aug 20, 2018 11:08 PM # 
These were proper forest relays not sprint relays.

I know, but was wondering if popular O-pinion was swinging back toward 3-person, age/gender-separate teams, and away from 4-person, mixed teams.
Aug 20, 2018 11:09 PM # 
Thank you Sandy!!
Aug 20, 2018 11:30 PM # 

I think a big difference here from what was done the past few NAOCs is that this year the relay was on it's own day as opposed to on the last day together with a sprint when everyone is completely exhausted and not up to running more than for 15 minutes or so.
Aug 20, 2018 11:43 PM # 
Guy: Here in the Yukon we have lots of forest terrain and very little good sprint terrain. So we figured a forest relay would be better suited to what people are coming up here for. Plus with the alternating WOC format, we thought getting back to forest relays would fit well.

The forest relay takes a long time, so nesting the Club Relay inside the National Team relays helped keep everyone engaged.

I'm glad the way it turned out; it makes me happy to hear everyone was excited and had a good time. That was exactly the goal Adrian and I had for this event.
Aug 20, 2018 11:55 PM # 
Great format for spectating. Able to run and finish in time to watch all the Junior and Senior Team action. Well done.
Aug 21, 2018 12:00 AM # 
Heartily agreed with Sandy about the format - the schedule of the event was excellent. Two thirds of the spectators were in the arena at any one time, and the race had an atmosphere of a big relay with almost 100 club teams running in addition to the 16 national teams. Club runners got to see national team runners moving in the woods, and the biathlon venue was well suited as an arena.
Aug 21, 2018 12:01 AM # 
My favourite/ favorite images:
The mass starts
The national team athletes coming through the stadium (sorry but its not an arena, never is) hitting a spectator control and we can still see them for about 100 metres/ meters as they traverse and climb a hill. Thanks for finding that leg.
Emma Waddington missing a turn on the stadium leg (it could have been better marked) losing her lead to a US girl and then smoking, I mean smoking! the last section.
The crowded spectator area. I bet Biathlon Yukon rarely gets 4-500 people there. We filled the place and it felt great to be rubbing elbows with old and new friends. Thank you Biathlon Yukon for opening up your home for us.
And of course the winning teams, all three members running down the finish chute with their flag waving. These athletes work so hard. It is great to see the pleasure they have in their reward.
Great job Mr Pearson. This will always be known to me as the Forest relay. (With big assists from Adrian and Bryan)
Aug 21, 2018 2:02 AM # 
Jan Erik Naess, Michael Svoboda, Leif Blake

Hope these three get a picture together and they can recreate it in a few years at WOC.

Relays. More please.
Aug 21, 2018 3:07 AM # 
The relay was very well done, and a great atmosphere! Thank you to the organizers!!!
Aug 21, 2018 5:16 AM # 
Fabulous on all accounts!
Aug 21, 2018 2:12 PM # 
Don’t want to be a contrarian here, but I was disappointed by the relays. The assembly/changeover venue was really great but the non national team races - on which the vast majority of people were competing - were too easy and too short. A max 2.3 km course for the first two legs, run almost entirely on ski trails, is not good enough. A lot of people came a long way for this carnival and to run for such a short time is a shame. Especially given the great terrain that could have been used. The map, although I’m sure was made to IOF requirements was too generalised - although this is an IOF mapping specs issue not the organisers fault. And it’s now almost a day later and no results are up. I’m not expecting perfection here - as an organiser myself I know how much effort goes into these things - but it just a little disappointing. I hope the Carcross race today doesn’t just run around the town and uses the wonderful adjacent terrain.
Aug 21, 2018 2:22 PM # 
From gordhun: The national team athletes coming through the stadium (sorry but its not an arena, never is)

Yes, the correct word is stadium. Among other things:

arena: ""place of combat," from Latin harena "place of combat, enclosed space in the middle of Roman amphitheaters," originally "sand, sandy place" . . . The central stages of Roman amphitheaters were strewn with sand to soak up the blood."

stadium: ""a foot race; an ancient measure of length," . . . from Greek stadion "a measure of length; a race-course, a running track,"".
Aug 21, 2018 2:42 PM # 
Based on those definitions, it looks like an arena to me!
Aug 21, 2018 9:16 PM # 
Forget the ancient stuff.
Around this continent arenas are closed in boxes for watching and playing sporst such as ice hockey and basketball. Also for concerts by bands not popular enough to fill a stadium.
Stadia are open air gathering places to watch outdoor sports.
Aug 21, 2018 9:37 PM # 
Stepping into the arena (ahem) for a moment... appealing to the sense and denotation of the word(s) makes arena the clear winner.

A stade is just so staid...
Aug 22, 2018 12:06 AM # 
Canadian, I'm currently the NAOC 2020 Relay director. I was on the start crew and on the track most of the day. I saw how well it was organized. Many lessons learned. They set a high mark to match, to be sure,
ETA I just realized who Canadian is. Thanks again for the insights on the announcing team.
Aug 22, 2018 12:22 AM # 
Too short? If it had been a stand-alone event, sure. After two days of racing and with relatively fresh legs needed by most for the sprint the next day, I'd say short courses plus spectating was just what was called for.
Aug 22, 2018 12:32 AM # 
I think you need to give people the option. Sure, some will want a shorter race, and they can choose this. But others will prefer a more ‘normal’ length. The expert/advanced/sport approach enables provides the opportunity for both. Longer courses have already been set for the USA/Canada thing - why not allow them to be used ? And I stand by my comment about them being far too easy.
Aug 22, 2018 12:46 AM # 
It is my understanding that the club relay courses were purposely short, so that most competitors would be back in time to watch the national team relay finishers.

Great idea, and it looks like it worked!
Aug 22, 2018 12:52 AM # 
Here's a question for the relay organizers...

According to the bulletins (I wasn't there, unfortunately), the exchange required finishing leg 1 & 2 runners to grab the next leg runner's map from the board, and pass it to him/her. The alternative is to physically tag the next leg runner, and who then grabs his/her own map from the board and starts.

As many of us might recall, at the first national team relay in 2012, one of the Canadian junior teams was disqualified because the finishing runner grabbed the wrong map -- probably costing them the first FC Cup victory. AFAIK, this kind of mistake did not happen yesterday -- at least not among the national teams.

Since more can go wrong with the chosen type of exchange, I'm curious as to the thinking that went into the decision.
Aug 22, 2018 12:58 AM # 
Yes, we had a long fence with sheets of plywood screwed to it. Team numbers were printed on a double sided card that was stapled over the top of the plywood so runners on both sides knew where to stand to receive their maps. The maps were then stapled below the team number on the incoming runner's side of the plywood. We stapled through tail of the map bag (past the sealed edge) so the map seal would not be compromised. We needed to have a solid surface to staple to because many of the maps were double sided, so we didn't want the outgoing runners peeking. If I find a good picture, I will share it.

PS - Thanks to @origamiguy for helping with the stapling--there were over 200 maps to staple up!
Aug 22, 2018 1:01 AM # 
WRT length, yes they were short. We decided to err on the side to too short instead of too long. I too worried they were too short when people started returning so quickly. But when I asked if competitors felt the courses were too short, to my surprise the response was almost unanimously that they were just right to make it fun.

I think if one were to do this format again (nesting the club relay inside the time of the National Team relay), the handicap points needed to be higher - I think we got it too low given the demographic attending. In future I would do 2, 4 and 8 pts as the split. Then make the Expert and Advanced courses a bit longer. Perhaps that is a note for consideration for the next organizer.
Aug 22, 2018 1:09 AM # 
I liked it short. It was less technical than I expected, but that was kind of nice after the rest of the races, and I wanted to run short and easy. It was wonderful to have that huge mass start and lots of people in the woods, which reminded me of what we experienced in the Oceania relays in New Zealand.

It was tough to put together viable club teams, especially with a number of my current club-mates running on national teams. Can anyone speak to what percentage of the total were "NAOC-eligible" compared to the number of mixed-club and international teams?
Aug 22, 2018 1:15 AM # 
@Guy—how do the other major orienteering relays handle it? Maybe there are precedents/best practices revealed on much bigger stages.
Aug 22, 2018 1:42 AM # 
Based on photos, I'm pretty sure the 2016 JWOC exchange was a physical tag (starting runner grabbed his/her map). Can't really speak to other xWOC relays. IIRC, the 2014 & 2016 (mixed sprint) NAOC relays were physical tag exchanges. When we had US Relay Champs, I think most were physical tag.

Full disclosure: I prefer the physical tag. Not just because of the 2012 DQ, but because I believe a runner who empties his/her tank on the run-in, should not be required to perform another critical, cognitive task, other than map drop & download (which don't really require much thought).

All that said, the reason I'm asking is to get a better understanding for choosing the map hand-off exchange. Perhaps I am unaware of some precedents / best practices...
Aug 22, 2018 1:43 AM # 
To answer that question in part, Jukola has the incoming runner grab the map and hand it to the next runner. So if it can work with that many teams...
Aug 22, 2018 1:56 AM # 
In my oxygen deprived state I actually pulled off the wrong map - 118 instead of 119 and handed it to my final leg runner. Fortunately I realised within a second or two and managed to call him back and gave him the right one. But I did come dangerously close to stuffing up our teams chances as well as seriously annoying team 118.

In regards to timing/length, just worth noting that watching the finish of US v Canada relays may not be much of a priority for international competitors.
Aug 22, 2018 1:59 AM # 
Adrian and my goal was to make it "feel" like a big euro-relay like Jukola. The passing of the map was modelled off Jukola to a certain extent.
Aug 22, 2018 2:00 AM # 
@JJ: WOC, too. So, arguably the two highest profile orienteering relays in the world follow a certain approach. If it is good enough there...?

And, even if they get it wrong (far be it from me to make that call) at least there is verisimilitude at NAOC, which has to be worth something.
Aug 22, 2018 2:06 AM # 
WRT to wrong maps being taken, we had 4 marshals watching and a full set of replacement maps and a full list of team forking variations at hand. Thankfully, none were needed in spite of 100+ teams. @liggo, yours was the only mistake we saw (thank you for catching it in time!)
Aug 22, 2018 2:24 AM # 
It's probably impossible to enforce hand-tagging in the biggest relays. The exchange railing gets very busy and crowded at times, and shady characters could easily get a head start.

Recent WOCs have used both methods, at least one case used both in the same year (2014: hand-tag forest relay, map-handoff sprint relay). It's all good, let's just keep having relays.
Aug 22, 2018 2:32 AM # 
I enjoyed the relay as well, nice change from the physical and technical terrain from the first two events (that sadly I didnt do so well on!). I also enjoyed the sprints and special score-o event today. And the views are fantastic!
Aug 22, 2018 4:13 AM # 
Yes thanks to the marshal for being right on hand and replacing 118s map in the right spot so quickly
Aug 22, 2018 4:17 AM # 
Whether it’s hand tagging or physically handing over the map, the same risks exists of the wrong map being taken.

Impressive to learn the organisers had a full set of backup maps ! I’ve never seen that before.
Aug 22, 2018 4:30 AM # 
Relay results have just been posted:
Aug 22, 2018 2:03 PM # 
At WOC93, we realized just a day or two before the relay that we better have a set of backup maps, and had to scramble to get them together.

I've long thought that the ideal baton would be the epunch, provided it could hold enough punches for the entire team. Single download at the end of the race. Would have to come up with a plan for how to handle mass starts for teams that were lagging behind.
Aug 22, 2018 2:29 PM # 
I had a set of backup maps at NAOC 2012 but foolishly didn't have them with me in the arena. When someone took the wrong map, it was a mad dash up the hill to retrieve them but we had the backup in place by the time it was needed.
Aug 22, 2018 3:45 PM # 
It's certainly a sinking feeling when you come in from your second leg in the lead, are doing your warm-down ten minutes later, and see your third leg runner still waiting for a map (in Australia, the normal set-up is that second and third leg runners take their map on the way out). Turned out on that occasion that our women's team had gone out with the men's map.
Aug 23, 2018 4:40 AM # 
Old news now, but I want to add my voice to those who thought the relay day was super fun. Super exciting National Team relays, plus super fun club relays. After two quite technical days, a day of fast, easy orienteering was perfect. Plus, easier orienteering keeps the relays tighter, which in this context was really good. For me, the relay felt like a great way to spin the wheels up for the Sprint the following day.

Minor thoughts for change ... Slightly longer club relays and slightly shorter National Team relays (senior classes only) would probably have been better even if it would have lead to National Team finishes while club athletes were still on course.
Aug 23, 2018 5:13 AM # 
I thought that if the leg times had been as per the bulletin (25/25/40 for Expert) it would have been fine. Would also agree with Forest that the point scales were too generous - there's something not quite right when a team which consists of one slightly-ageing W21E and two somewhat-more-aged recent former M21Es (W35, M45, M50) qualifies for the lowest category.
Aug 23, 2018 5:52 AM # 
Also tricky when 3 W21E doesn’t qualify for the expert category...
Aug 23, 2018 3:18 PM # 
Here is a picture of the "stadium" before the action started:

And here is a couple pictures of the exchange:

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