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Discussion: When to split courses?

in: Orienteering; General

Sep 2, 2019 3:33 PM # 
Without attempting to reference any particular races in the near future or recent past, I'm scratching my head and wondering about the splitting of courses that are listed in the current OUSA rules. At least in part because I graduated to a new age class this year and am still trying to get my bearings.

My recollection is that it first began back when there were so many red course runners that it conveniently solved the problem of needing an extra-long start window just to accommodate that 1 course. Over time those folks have aged and moved on to shorter courses and the solution has followed them as they went.

My question at this point is: are there other reasons organizers would need to diverge from the standard course structure and create additional courses other than to manage the start window?

Regarding rule A.11.2.9 If desired, age divisions may be further divided into additional classes by course difficulty and skill level.
I might be misunderstanding but I'm assuming this is saying that it's ok to divide classes by adding e.g. 21E courses/classes, or even B or S categories, which is different from splitting e.g. a Red course into X/Y to keep the start window under control.
Sep 2, 2019 4:14 PM # 
Fossil, speaking for TT this year, we added the M/F-21E class to meet ESC guidance for a “WOC-length” long for the elites, while still providing an OUSA-standard M/F-21+ option.

We also added a designator to categorize the results by those trying out for WOC (given auto-qualifier spots) and those who just like to run really long courses in tough terrain. With these changes to how we select the team, this may be a useful practice for the future. However, all this reasoning is also very specific to TT.
Sep 2, 2019 5:08 PM # 
I think you've got the history exactly right, and keeping the length of the start window under control has traditionally been the main reason for adding courses.

The other reason, which has been done occasionally when resources permitted, is to
provide courses better tailored to the categories. Brown, for example, covers a wide range of categories, and if you have any M/F90 competitors showing up, it may make sense to give them a different course than what you're providing for F18.
Sep 2, 2019 7:31 PM # 
However, I agree that there seems to be unnecessary course splitting happening on occasion. Even if the event prepares two Green or Red courses, advertise just one in advance. Then, if the numbers don't dictate splitting the start window, then don't use the second course.
Sep 3, 2019 2:58 AM # 
Besides managing the start window, for Junior / Interscholastic / Intercollegiate Championships, we have found it appropriate to separate the kids from older runners by having different "brown" courses.

"Brown" was primarily created with our oldest orienteers in mind, with the idea that it would be as technically challenging, as possible, but physically easier, avoiding steep climbs and the most rugged terrain. By contrast, teenage students can handle, and may even relish more physical terrain. We've found that to hit appropriate winning times for the interscholastic and intercollegiate varsity women, their courses may need to be a bit longer and more physical than a brown designed for our older adults.

And a one-size fits-all brown definitely doesn't work well having M65/F55 on the same course as 85+ and 90+, who may need even greater reductions in length and physicality of the course.

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