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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: GPS-Orienteering - Solution to our problem

in: Orienteering; General

Oct 17, 2021 4:52 PM # 
Readers of AttackPoint probably all know that orienteering has an existential problem. As an example, here are the number of participants at the recent New England Championships by 20-year age groups: <21 (18), 21-39 (21), 40-59 (21), 60+ (55). Nearly half the runners were over 60! Orienteering world-wide is failing to attract young people, and especially families, even though I and others have touted it as "a family sport". It is now a sport of the old and will soon pass away.
What is the problem? Orienteering is TOO FRUSTRATING and TOO HARD to learn. I have personally organized lots of local events and I know that only a very small fraction of those who try orienteering become committed to it. The problem is not one of attracting newcomers, but of retaining them. Beginners might enjoy it initially but they ultimately get DISCOURAGED, because it is NOT FUN losing map contact and spending twenty or thirty minutes looking for a single control. We orienteering experts believe that O is a competitive sport, and spending years learning techniques is what sport is all about. But newcomers don't think that way; they just want to enjoy themselves.
I believe that the fundamental purpose of orienteering is getting people into the woods with a map. While using GPS and OSM on a recent hike, I realized that GPS-Orienteering at local events could be the solution to orienteering's existential problem. The great public out there is using GPS map apps all the time for hiking, biking, running, and driving. But when asked if GPS can be used in orienteering, we all say NO loudly; "it is against the rules".
Why not add a GPS class to our local courses? Let people use GPS if they want to; just post their results separately. This eliminates the problem of compass use, allows gradual learning of map-reading, and eliminates "getting lost". Beginners can go fearlessly off-trail. Route choice and speed remain as the fundamental problems of orienteering. And, hopefully, after learning map reading, some GPS-orienteers will try "classic" orienteering with a compass and it won't die. Providing the GPS-orienteer with a georeferenced maps should not be a problem; course setters are already using them to check control locations. Who will be the first local meet director to allow GPS-Orienteering on their courses?
Oct 17, 2021 5:55 PM # 
Great idea. How does it work? I'll try it.
Here are my additional ideas to keep the newcomers coming back.
1) Stop dumming them down to the white course. The essence of orienteering is route choice and making the right choices. Give it to them right from the beginning. Sure keep the newcomers on or mostly on trails, open fields, etc but stop putting marker at every intersection. Yes maybe for the youngsters but the sport has only one chance to make a good first impression. Make the impression one where navigation and route selection is involved
2) Lets get rid of the DQ/ MP/ DNF
Everyone gets a ranking. Get all the controls in the right order you get ranked with all the others in the first group. Rank all the others behind them by order of the number of their controls they found and the time within that group.
I believe that is what they do in Adventure Racing.
Those ways everybody gets a chance to feel good about their first experiences.
Additional: Every event has a greeter to shepherd the newcomers through the process. Every registrant gets a follow-up e-mail with a write up of the event featuring as many names as you can fit in.
Oct 17, 2021 7:59 PM # 
Well said.

Form a practical perspective, unless everyone got IPads with georeferenced maps (and it was cloudy hopefully), how would the participant use GPS to actually find the control?

Idea: Issue standard paper maps, but include a smart watch with a simple app that shows current distance from next control. This would still require and reward map reading while providing feedback and safety net. It would be a trivial extension to the MaprunR phone/watch software.
Oct 17, 2021 8:04 PM # 
Or... give people an opportunity to have fun and gain a feeling a mastery without having to take an expensive gadget with them. Running is a great sport because you just lace up your shoes and go. Orienteering should also be close to that simple—grab the map and go.

gordhun is right about white—the (very wise, imo) stringent guidelines for white are for young kids, not for adults with fully developed brains. And he's also right about getting rid of MP and DSQ. Most people who give the sport a try enjoy it for what it is—a map reading sport—and letting them have fun and success is important.

I'm not poo-pooing the idea of having a moving dot on a map as an aide to learning, I think that's a great way to help people understand the map better. I also don't think we need it as a complete alternative to what we already do.
Oct 17, 2021 8:13 PM # 
It would be interesting to see how the transition between GPS orienteering to normal orienteering would go. I worry that people would be relying so much on the GPS that they wouldn't learn how to read the map in the necessary ways to orienteer without the GPS. I also have a feeling that there would be bad habits formed that would then have to be fixed for people to make the transition. This is far from a reason to not have GPS orienteering, I think that it could be a good thing to try and grow the sport, but it has just made me wonder about what would be lost.

I must say that I agree with what gordhun and Cristina have said about the beginner courses. I think that there is a place for white courses - ie for young kids, but I think that any adults starting out, or family groups are perfectly capable of doing a yellow course or even an easy orange, and they shouldn't be put on a white just because it is their first time out.
Oct 17, 2021 8:27 PM # 
Idea: Issue standard paper maps, but include a smart watch with a simple app that shows current distance from next control.

O-Range already does this, if an XML course file is made available. It does require a compatible Garmin watch. Doesn't show the map, but can be set to indicate distance to control. If you lose contact with the map, you can better guess your current location and then if the distance to control starts dropping, then you're headed in the right direction.
Oct 17, 2021 8:27 PM # 
I like to give beginner adults an all-controls (or a most-controls) map as a score-O. Choose your own mispunch, disqualification, etc, and make it as hard or as long as you want to.

Young beginner (kids) courses need to retain controls at every (most) decision points. Totally different audience with totally different needs.
Oct 17, 2021 8:42 PM # 
We use adventure race style scoring, even on the point-to-point courses (no one gets a DNF any more). We've also been offering the "all controls" score O Explorer course for a year now. We no longer offer a "white" course (we get very few kids).
Oct 17, 2021 9:34 PM # 
Mikhail Gorbachev is walking along the Kremlin corridor. Nikolay Ryzhkov [prime-minister of late USSR] to meet him. Gorbachev to Ryzhkov:
-Kolya, tell us how is farming going?
-You know, Mikhal Sergeevich, our chickens are dying
-Well, literally in all collective farms, throughout the country
-There is a solution, Nikolay, you need to cut squares out of plywood and attach them to each cage with chickens.
Ryzhkov was stunned, left, a few days later Gorbachev again walks through the Kremlin,sees Ryzhkov:
-How are you Kolya?
-Mikhail Sergeevich, the chickens continue to die.

-There is a solution: you need to draw a red circle inside each plywood square.
Ryzhkov is completely shocked, leaving, a few days later they are meeting in the corridor again:
-Kolya, how are things?
-Already almost all the chickens are dead ...
-There is a solution: you need to draw a yellow triangle inside each red circle.
Ryzhkov went to perform. One week later:
-Kolya, how...?
-All the chickens are dead...

Gorbachev is disappointed: "It's a pity, I still have quite a few great ideas!"
Oct 17, 2021 10:18 PM # 
Here is one straightforward way to give Tony’s idea a try.

1. In OCAD, export your course map as a GeoTiff file.
2. Register yourself as an Avenza map publisher (easy to do, no cost).
3. Upload your GeoTiff file to the Avenza site.
4. Provide info to your participants on how to download the Avenza map app and the course file.

I think Tony’s idea is worth a shot. The Avenza stuff is free, works with iOS and Android, and there is no learning curve to speak of. I use several of my OCAD-generated maps with Avenza, and it works well.

I’ll look into doing this for one of our permanent courses, and maybe for one of the courses on our fall schedule.

Here are the map submission guidelines:
Oct 17, 2021 10:52 PM # 
You make Avenza sound so easy. For me, the only projection that worked was Mercator with DMS. Most maps are in UTM with units in meters. I found it more trouble than it was worth. Preparing for a GPS-enabled event is more work for the meet director.
Oct 17, 2021 11:56 PM # 
I may agree with yurets here. Many ideas have been tried over the years, and yes, we should try this one. But here is what i think we should be doing....asking those who do get involved why they like it, and, although difficult, ask those who walk away why they don't. Only then will we really know what we should be offering. And maybe many people will not like the sport.. from my perspective, European societies are different enough from the US that what they prefer is different than what US
society prefers.
Oct 18, 2021 12:09 AM # 
Orienteering is too hard. Orienteering is too easy. Existential threat. Etc etc etc. Give me a break you doom-merchants, just do what you like doing, if there arent enough of you then let it fade away. Why should everyone like what YOU like? Best contribution in thread: yurets.
Oct 18, 2021 12:46 AM # 
Going back many years, the Rocky Mountain 1000-Day had a rule that said you could use any navigation aids you liked*. Of course, the tools weren't as helpful back then. And we didn't do anything to make it easier to use them.

You could just put coordinates on the control descriptions (maybe even a QR code if you wanted to be extra helpful), which would make it work like geocaching, right? And go ahead and let people be in the same category (maybe with a column that indicates whether they used GPS or not). Now you may have newcomers trying harder courses then they would otherwise. And when they see in the results that the fastest people are the ones who didn't use GPS, maybe they'll think, hmm, maybe there's something to this...

*The rule about unlimited use of technology was eventually distilled down to "Microwave ovens are specifially allowed".
Oct 18, 2021 1:34 AM # 
I haven't read this whole thread and I hesitate to weigh in because these discussions so rarely result in action but...

Instead of thinking of new ways to change the sport for beginners, why dont we actually teach beginners the sport as it is? And I mean actively coach them and teach them specific skills to progress rather than find ways so they can more easily figure it out on there own.
Oct 18, 2021 3:44 AM # 
It's more about ideas for getting them to show up in the first place.
Oct 18, 2021 9:00 AM # 
I wonder if a lot of the issue with lack of retention of younger folks is that a lot of course planning is done by senior orienteers without a lot of feedback on the courses from younger orienteers (who may be more attracted to runability than thrashing about in thick woods, for example).
Oct 18, 2021 9:10 AM # 
I think many people these days prefer to go as hard and as fast as they can in races without having to worry about extraneous matters such as reading a map.
Oct 18, 2021 10:48 AM # 
I agree there's absolutely something to Tony's proposal.

I once asked Glen Schorr what he'd learned about getting people to try orienteering. Paraphrasing his response, Glen said he thought that once people get outside the protective shells of their cars, they are reluctant to expose themselves to getting lost. Having a GPS backup may help.

it's not as easy as you think - I do a lot of rogaining training using various online maps as a base, and inevitably they are incomplete or I misread something. When I've exhausted my "easy" options, I flip to a GPS app to relocate. Going back and forth between app and paper map can be quite difficult.

For orienteering, UsynligO has a built-in blue dot on a geo-referenced orienteering map, and accessing it is called a "hint." It is a wonderful training feature. It would be a nice complement to paper maps to give beginners a sense of security while trying orienteering.
Oct 18, 2021 11:08 AM # 
Plus UsynligO runs on the smartphone the beginner already has.
Oct 18, 2021 3:58 PM # 
gordhun is .....also right about getting rid of MP and DSQ
I have had this belief ever since we stopped hanging punch cards on strings and switching to e-punches. Even on all other courses, we hung first all cards with 0 punch missing, then those with 1, then with 2, etc.
In teaching I have always used the Mini-SI printers and allowed the students to compare their printout to a master printout and figure out themselves if they had any missing or such. I know it is possible to do something in Or about that, but it was too sophisticated to bother with, especially if you have only 45-60 minutes with the students, or often even less.
Guidelines for white are for young kids, not for adults with fully developed brains
With white courses, for children, and even yellow it is indeed important that they are short and easy enough to be within their optimal attention span. I remember in Taiwan, when Thomas, among the last starters among all junior categories came in first, and when asked whether he had seen any kids on his way said that he saw a number of the younger kids stopped at a fun playground....
Any method for beginners to take away that anxiety of getting lost, whether kids or adults, helps free up the parts of the brain that is otherwise busy with the anxiety.
With groups of students going to outdoors events there are so many waivers one needs to get signed by parents, schools need to make sure of all bases being covered, from a physical safety as well as social/emotional safety point of view, that having a tool that takes away from the teachers' anxiety about a student getting lost or not being found if they do get lost has again much value.
I have been teaching orienteering at an inner city school with a tiny bit of a "wild" area on an incline, with tall grass, blackberries, a few mulberry trees and a few trees. The elementary students are not allowed to go in there except for the orienteering sessions, and the teachers get permission from the parents for the students to go in there, fear of stings and allergies. I told the teachers whether they knew about the blackberries and mulberries, as there were enough for doing a pie baking activity with the students, and the answer was that it would take far too much work getting all necessary waivers (allergies to berries, allergies to food ingredients, dangers of being stung or scratched) to not bother. I was mindlessly eating some blackberries one day while retrieving controls and the students asked what I'm eating.... and I became self-aware and anxious, but did answer the students, but then they asked if they can eat them, too, and I told them 'No, absolutely not, they would need to talk to their parents to find out if they are allergic to berries, and maybe ask them that they want to learn more about wild berries.
This last thing is just to show what additional worries teachers and parents may have, especially if sending their kids out there, not even in the trusted Scouts' buddy system.
Oct 18, 2021 4:48 PM # 
Several of you made suggestions about beginners that do not involve GPS-Orienteering. Many things have been tried over the last five decades but have not worked sufficiently: instructors at the event, workshops, handouts, map walks, Scout O, sprint O, O books, schoolyard maps, college clubs, HFA instead of DNF, etc. I will respond neither to these suggestions nor to the nay-sayers, but will focus on how to make GPS-O work, which I hope will become the main topic of this thread.
GPS-Oers have to bring their own smartphones with an app that can display a georeferenced map. I have no experience with Apple products but I suspect other APers know how to use them with O maps. RickD suggests using Avenza, and cmpbllv suggests Usynlig-O. Here is the way I did it on my Android phone using the free Alpine Quest app, which can import maps in many formats. From OCAD7 I produced a 300 dpi BMP image of an O map with a course (later versions can export as JPG). The georeferencing involves dragging to match at four separate points. I actually printed the O map with a 100m UTM grid and matched it to Alpine Quest's UTM grid. Field checking showed only 2-3 m error. An alternative for the course setter would be to place four points (at 100m intersections) on the Omap with their UTM coordinates.
There is no need for GPS-Oers to all use the same app. The meet director just needs to post a geo-referenced map image on the web for download, or downloading could actually be done at the event. My concept is not a "complete alternative" stated by Cristina, but a supplement for local events. The ONLY difference at an event is that some participants carry a smartphone instead of a paper map and compass. Everything else from control descriptions to punching remains the same.
Cristina also mentioned "an expensive gadget" and I agree breakage is a possibility. But my Samsung phone cost $200, only twice the price of a good (breakable) O compass, and does not have anything on it I can't do without. GPS-Oers can decide for themselves what the risk is. I also have no experience with wristwatches but I think their small size precludes their use for what I envision. A smartphone has a good screen size and it just takes a pinch to zoom to whatever scale is desired at any moment - no need for various map scales or magnifiers.
I am not as concerned as bhall is about later transition to compass. Many GPS-Oers may never transition, but my hope is that one or two members of a family will want to challenge themselves with classical compass O.
Map errors are a possible problem. The GPS-Orienteer expects the controls to be at the mapped gps locations, which may not work on old maps. This should not be a problem on newer lidar-based maps; the course setter needs to decide whether the map is suitable for GPS-O.
Thanks, gordhun, for saying you will try it.
Oct 18, 2021 4:58 PM # 
Many people will have their phones with them anyway, no concerns about breakage. Nothing will separate modern humans from their phones.
Oct 18, 2021 5:20 PM # 
I think this is a very interesting idea that could make it cool for youngsters and provide an easy path to get started in general as the feedback from using a GPS could potentially accelerate the learning process. Being able to challenge/compare with regular orienteers would make it interesting and really showcase the ability of experienced orienteers vs beginners. If this can get more people hooked on real O - it's all good!
However, having the map and courses available on devices at an event, presents serious challenges from a standpoint of fair play for all competitors. So not being able to download until start time would be ideal from this perspective. On training/minor events this shouldn't be a showstopper though. Having a standardized process for all device platforms would be helpful.
Oct 18, 2021 5:41 PM # 
@tonyf - would be nice to have a simple set of instructions put together:
- one for clubs and setters willing to give this a try
- one for teachers in schools or youth organizations who are willing to take their students to a nearby orienteering event, but have been reluctant because of all safety needs and requirements from schools. If they can easily set it up for themselves and try it without students, pretty sure there are teachers out there then willing to take students
I would assume you suggest having only the plain georeferenced map to download (or just an excerpt where beginner courses are on) rather than the maps with courses on them? As one should always take a paper map along, one never knows whether one may run into a problem with the GPS - a beginner who fearlessly went off trail, trusting his gadget would not fail them.
Oct 18, 2021 5:47 PM # 
Solutions allowing a smooth gradual transition from complete reliance on GPS to independent navigation would make much more sense to me than having to choose one or the other. People may get bored with GPS-O after a few times but would still not be experienced enough to do regular technical orienteering courses, and easy courses mostly on trails will also be boring to those who like the off-trail running aspect of orienteering, what do they do then? Switching GPS on and off on a phone is a possibility, but in my experience using a compass with a phone map is cumbersome, there must be something magnetic in phones I use so I have to hold the phone and the compass in different hands, I could not use a compass with a phone the same way I use a thumb compass with a paper map. Doing normal orienteering consulting the phone when lost (and getting a time penalty for it) is ok, though.
Oct 18, 2021 5:47 PM # 
Oct 18, 2021 7:34 PM # 
I’ve often thought that the best use of gps-on-map would be while doing a map walk, where someone can learn with confidence what the things they are seeing on the map look like in the terrain. Not everyone can have an expert walking with them to point things out and this is the next best thing. I think this would be a fabulous thing to offer and show people how to do. Offering such a thing as a safety (or confusion) backup for newer orienteers while out running a course is also a fine idea. I don’t particularly like the idea of introducing gps-dot navigation on an O map as a primary tool because I do feel like that’s a fundamentally different activity. Nothing stopping anyone from doing it, though!

I guess, to summarize:

GPS-dot-on-map as learning tool: YES! This is a great idea! Do this!

GPS-dot-on-map as competitive alternative: eh.
Oct 18, 2021 8:41 PM # 
Given that many phones have a built-in compass, an app showing a map and a compass at the same time, with the ability to drag the compass around the map and a way to switch the GPS on and off easily (but not too easily so you don't do it accidentally), would be very nice.
Oct 18, 2021 9:36 PM # 
I like so many of these ideas.
But I'd just like to highlight a bright spot: At QOC's local meet yesterday, out of 206 starts, 81 were juniors -- all but 3 of those NJROTC kids, from four different schools. Some of them get pretty good (a few have gone on to be on the JDT, at least while still in high school). Obviously, each school has a really good leader who's promoted the sport.
Oct 18, 2021 9:48 PM # 
would be very nice

and artificial voice in headphones :
Johnny, now slightly to the left....not this much, stupid!

With opening this Pandora box, competitive (except maybe elite) orienteering is dead. Take a photo of your map, calibrate at two points. Now you can check on the phone where you are on the map.
Oct 18, 2021 9:59 PM # 
@tonyf, apologies, I was disparaging and a little bit snarky. I didn't intend to deride your idea specifically - I could see it working quite well if an easy to use system from promotion, to arrival at event, to implementation on course, to analysis afterwards is all in place.

Maybe I shouldn't have bothered posting.
Oct 18, 2021 10:15 PM # 
@Canadian that's how I feel basically 100% of the time after writing something. Why do we bother? Our time is better spent organizing more O events.
Oct 18, 2021 11:58 PM # 
I do not expect GPS-O to be used in national ranking events, only in local events. And, Cristina, I am now 82 and my days of putting on O events are over. Now I can just throw out ideas for others (like my daughter and grand-daughter?) to carry out.
Oct 18, 2021 11:59 PM # 
And for local UNO events we let participants study the course on the paper map as long as they want to before starting, so no difference from having the course on their phone.
Oct 19, 2021 12:35 AM # 
Sounds like one of our older members. He doesn't do events anymore but turns up at the AGM to try and push through more changes to suit him.
Oct 19, 2021 1:12 AM # 
So, many know that I often use GPS orienteering apps for my training and find them very useful since there is no one here to put out streamers for me. They're particularly useful for night-o for obvious reasons.

But just as a bit of practical experience for this thread, I have also brought out several newcomers on advanced courses with only GPS-punching apps. It was much, much easier to convince them to give the sport a try when I said there was the option to open an app and get a hint. They often used the apps at the beginning and have used them less and less over time.

And now here we are months later, and they're still orienteering and excited about the upcoming races. So in my view, GPS-supported orienteering is very positive to help beginners feel comfortable doing the exciting stuff in this sport (i.e., off-trail running).

It's easier to teach new orienteers how to improve when they haven't spent 40 minutes wandering around a single control. You have to be a special type of crazy to want to come back after that, as many of us current orienteers clearly are.
Oct 19, 2021 1:21 AM # 
I just finished a score event an hour ago run on a phone app that didn't register course completion until I'd been standing around at the finish for ~20sec, so it put me 3sec over the time limit and handed me a penalty. Hooray for technology!
Oct 19, 2021 1:27 AM # 
Hopefully you still don't consider yourself part of the target group for this proposal
Oct 19, 2021 3:09 AM # 
No, I wouldn't take a phone on a course that doesn't rely on it. If it gets people out in the bush though I'm all for it.
Oct 19, 2021 11:54 AM # 
Yes, GPS can be unreliable on some days. The "space weather" has been stormy over the last week. I agree that GPS can be an aid to the beginner. Advanced orienteers gain very little from GPS, and it often frustrates them.

First timers need to be successful to encourage repeat participation. The first beginner course should be super easy, and leave them hungry for more challenge.
Oct 19, 2021 1:04 PM # 
Kevin - way back in the beginning of this thread you commented having issues with Avenza and UTM referenced maps. I've been playing with this a bit and am planning on trialing the use of an Avenza maps option for beginners to relocate at our meet this coming weekend.

What I discovered is that a tif with world-file exported from OOM would not work in the Avenza app due to lack of CRS info in the GeoTIFF. I ran the GeoTIFF through gdal_translate with the option to force the CRS to the proper settings and it now appears to work just fine in Avenza.

gdal_translate -of GTiff -a_srs EPSG:32618 AvenzaTest.tif Crandalls.tif where EPSG:32618 is the CRS for UTM 18N for our maps location.

Tossing this out here in case anyone else has run into issues.
Oct 19, 2021 2:00 PM # 
Good to know, Thanks. I may try it again.
Oct 19, 2021 2:34 PM # 
Is there a thread on AP about how to get Avenza to work? Works great on my iPhone; son's older iPhone shows him in the wrong spot on the same georeferenced O map.
Oct 19, 2021 2:37 PM # 
tRicky - you should be careful who you insult. Yes I am old, but I orienteered for over 40 years, helped start and run an active O club, put on lots of local events, made or revised several maps for A-meets and local events, have a daughter who was the best female orienteer in the US in the 90s and a granddaughter now on the US national junior and senior teams, and have only once attended an AGM,

cmorse - thanks for providing the kind of message I hoped for from this thread.

I had hoped someone would describe how to export a georeferenced course and map from OCAD, OOM, or a course-setting program like Purple Pen, and import it directly into an Android/iPod GPS app. I am learning, and testing use of GeoTIFF or KMZ formats to do this.
Oct 19, 2021 3:00 PM # 
Barb & Tony - I just started playing with Avenza yesterday after RickD suggested it earlier in this thread. I just finished walking the W/Y course for Saturdays event at Crandalls and it worked really well - looks promising to alleviate navigation anxiety in new orienteers. We're going to provide it for Saturdays event as a beta test if you're available. Feel free to contact me off list if you have questions about getting it running.
Oct 19, 2021 3:02 PM # 
Tony, you can import a map file from Purple Pen directly into UsynligO which runs on both androids and iphones. Upload via the website at Instructions are at the website. It's pretty straightforward. Participants can run using a map displayed on their phone or print out a map and run with phone in pocket, backpack, etc. The phone app gives a nice confirmation sound each time they arrive at a control.
Oct 19, 2021 3:03 PM # 
tonyf, apologies, I should have used "I" rather than "we", since I can't speak for Canadian, but what I mean is that *I* should really should stay away from AP threads and focus on organizing events. Sometimes I learn things from these discussions (the gdal_translate command above coincidentally comes a day after someone asked me about using Avenza to help him set out controls) but it's rare that it is worthwhile actually posting something myself. ETA: online forums like this are often filled with people agreeing without realizing it, and lots of time wasted with people talking past each other.
Oct 19, 2021 5:33 PM # 
>>"Yes, GPS can be unreliable on some days. The "space weather" has been stormy over the last week."

That's good to hear - I was wondering if my watch was dying this weekend. GPS going all over the place.
Oct 19, 2021 5:44 PM # 
As many point out, GPS is not particularly helpful for advanced orienteers. But it can save you those huge errors being in the wrong block of forest which nobody needs.

So surely that's a reason NOT to ban it. If someone wants to do something different*, the first reaction should be "yes", not "no".

* Like fitting a SIair to the end of your walking stick for remote-punching pits and ditches...
Oct 19, 2021 6:48 PM # 
You don't necessarily need an app, you can have code on map corner and let runners scan it. Try it:

(but you would need to have a web page showing location dot on a map image. something a lot simpler than this but setting positioning on at start would do).
Oct 19, 2021 7:39 PM # 
tony, not directed at you. I'm more than happy for people to throw out ideas if they still participate in the sport. I also knew of another guy who had lots of great ideas for other people to implement.

Incidentally the member in question does sound a lot like you as he helped found the club I was a member of for many years, has a daughter who was on the national team and a granddaughter who was in the top six at this year's JWOC.
Oct 20, 2021 3:38 AM # 
Them chickens aren't exactly all dead in Europe. The difference is that 20 years ago they had the fortune of some foresight with that obsolete technology, television. After piling all the eggs into one expensive basket and hiring a Sports Director, the reality IOF created is that kids took away an impression that they were part of a "real sport". These kids then stuck around. Enough of them did that attendance in the 2010s flatlined instead of collapsing.

See? Image is everything. Substance is nothing. We're 500 km from Hollywood, Rex, and < 50 km from Silly-Valley. What you do isn't nearly as important as how you hype it. Hype is expensive. Orienteers are cheap. The end.
Oct 20, 2021 3:10 PM # 
@tonyf: here is the procedure for exporting an OCAD map to your phone, for use in the Avenza app:

1. Under the ‘File’ menu in OCAD, click ‘Export’
2. In the box that appears on the right: (a) choose ‘TIFF’ as the file option, (b) choose a resolution of at least 300 dpi, (c) choose the part of the map you want to export, (d) click ‘Export’
3. OCAD will create 2 files, a .tif file and an associated .tfw file
4. Copy the .tif and .tfw files to a directory on your phone (e.g., the downloads directory)
5. Open the Avenza app on your phone, and click the ‘+’ button, choose the ‘Download or import a map’ option, choose the ‘From Storage Locations’ option. Navigate to the directory where you put the .tif and .tfw files, and click on the .tif file.
6. Avenza will import your map, and it should now be ready for you to use.

Once you get the hang of it, the whole process takes about 5 minutes.

If you want to upload the map to the Avenza site, where it will be available for others, generate the .tif and .tfw files as above, and then:
... zip the .tif and .tfw files into a single zip file
... sign onto Avenza as a map publisher
... on your Avenza publisher page, click the ‘Add New’ button
... upload the zip file you created, and submit it for review

You can also have the Avenza site generate a QR code, which when someone scans it, will let them easily upload your map to their phone.
Oct 20, 2021 3:22 PM # 
As cmorse mentioned, WCOC is going to give the Avenza option a try at a couple of upcoming local meets. The first is on the Crandall's map this Saturday, the next will be in a few weeks. It will be interesting to see how it goes.
Oct 20, 2021 5:40 PM # 
Rick - thanks for the Avenza procedure. I am about to try it, but already am put off by the unnecessarily large 57Mb download, and the requirement to register with an email address, both of which I try to avoid in general. Also the TIF requirement of two files. I envisioned that a participant could use whatever GPS app they already have to open a single map+course file obtained online or onsite (e.g. KMZ), but maybe that won't work.

Having said all this,I think it is up to each meet director or club to decide how they want to implement GPS-O,and I'm really happy that you are trying it.
Oct 20, 2021 8:02 PM # 
Tony - a high resolution graphic that you can cleanly zoom way in on is going to be a large file, but modern 4G/5G speeds make downloading pretty quick - a couple of seconds for me. I dropped the Crandalls map into a temporary Google Drive and am making the link available Saturday via a QR code. No need to register anything - unless you wanted to create a 'Pro' account on Avenza, but the free version works just fine.
Oct 20, 2021 10:25 PM # 
As I remember, the free Avenza app only allows three maps on your device at one time.
Oct 20, 2021 10:40 PM # 
Could be - but then after the event, probably no reason not to delete the map.
Oct 21, 2021 4:02 AM # 
Some of my most memorable events have been those where I spent 20 minutes or more on one control. Seemed frustrating at the time, but great relief at finally finding it and a great story to recount afterwards.
Oct 21, 2021 8:26 PM # 
I agree, and I can relate to that...however it will not fly with millennials --- they would consider it "offensive", would blame the course setter who "made them look stupid'
Oct 23, 2021 12:32 AM # 
Gswede's friends' experience seems to be pretty much the perfect illustration that use of GPS can motivate newcomers. It may not be the right fit for everyone, but it could be another positive recruitment and retainment option. It is certainly something I can see my club trying.
Oct 23, 2021 3:34 AM # 
With respect to the observation that different generations have an affinity for different pasttimes, I really don't think orienteering is going to help itself by trying to replicate itself with easier or more virtual offerings. The fact orienteering as a sport is a tad difficult, or that you could get dis-oriented or lost, that maybe you come across something you didn't expect to find, is really one of the many things that makes orienteering so special. But maybe you're right it's not the first thing many young people are getting involved in nowadays.

I think one thing that orienteering is doing right, is ensuring we have beginner and intermediate courses at events, and trying to make it as family/guest friendly etc as possible.

On a separate topic, as a programmer of "g-punch orienteering" app for garmin watches, I really believe GPS/virtual orienteering is a weak substitute for real orienteering. My app doesn't show a map, and doesn't show the distance and direction to the next point (until you get close enough), because that subtracts from the fun of trying to find the best most efficient way to the next control.

If anything orienteering has instituted several ground-breaking and technologically-amazing innovations, which will certainly propel it to a higher level of entertainment, worthy of entertaining even the most map-illiterate people out there, provided they can get outside to enjoy it.

And if using virtual devices as 'backup' can help to get more people outside, maybe it's worth letting people bring their phones on beginner courses. Best to keep it limited to just beginner courses though - I can see people taking a lot longer to complete intermediate/advanced courses if they have to rely upon technology to help guide them. Also, it could get dangerous if you have people who can't navigate without the help of their phone on intermediate/advanced courses, I mean if they drop and break their phone, or the battery dies.
Oct 23, 2021 3:03 PM # 
No opinion on the original question but the Eco-Endurance Challenge, a longstanding (4 hr, 8 hr, 24 hr) rogaine in Nova Scotia, offered "Competitive" and "Recreational" categories. GPS was permitted in the Recreational category. Any time I've been there or checked results, the top Recreational teams scored fewer points than the top group of Competitive teams although they had respectable performances that might inspire them to switch categories in future.

Looking at the 2018 results, the 8 hr event attracted 45 Competitive teams (no GPS) and 26 Recreational (GPS) teams. The 24 hr event had 24 Competitive teams and only 5 Recreational teams.
Oct 26, 2021 5:44 PM # 
This thread may be dying, but I want to get in the results of my testing of GPS-O possibilities. Two georeferenced map formats seem best, TIF and KMZ.

Newer versions of OCAD can export a map with course as a TIF file, but be sure to check the "create world file" box so that the associated TFW georeference file is also created. OCAD can also export a course map as a KMZ file.

Open Orienteering Mapper can export TIF/TFW, but the file size is huge. Since the recent version 0.9.5, OOM can also export a KMZ file.

Before exporting, both OCAD and OOM require entry of the UTM zone, under Map>Set Scale or Map>Georeferencing respectively. Normally the offset coordinates and the rotation should remain unchanged.

300 dpi is enough. The two maps I tested gave files of several MB; TIF from OCAD is a little smaller than KMZ.

Avenza can import both TIF/TFW and KMZ files and runs on both Apple and Android devices.

Alpine Quest can import both TIF/TFW and KMZ files but only runs Android.

Both Avenza and Alpine Quest show the current location on the map, can be zoomed, can be set to stay oriented to the ground, and can record a track. At high zoom (control circle fills the screen) Avenza is smooth, while Alpine Quest is slightly pixellated.

Purple Pen can not export TIF or KMZ. I don't know about other course setting software.

These are the only apps I have tested; others, like UsynligO, may work as well.

In addition to downloading from the web, transferring a course map file from a laptop to a phone at the event site should be pretty easy. In the U.S.A. I suggest trying GPS-O on orange courses first, and only at local events.

Thanks, Rick and Clint, for straightening me out about Avenza. My size comment referred to the app download size. When installed Avenza uses 228Mb on my Android phone, large but not unbearable. Alpine Quest is about half that. My Avenza sign-in comment can be ignored; if the user does not want to set up an account, just continue with the sign-in boxes blank. As I said above, OOM seems to produce a huge TIF compared to OCAD.

Thanks to the rest for you for your ideas. I hope GPS-O succeeds.
Oct 26, 2021 5:55 PM # 
Excellent information. Thanks, Tony.
Oct 26, 2021 6:00 PM # 
Tony - we had fairly low turnout and only a few takers for the Avenza assist. And the Avenza map we provided did not have any course on it - they could use it to compare with their paper map to 'relocate' but then would have to go back to using the paper map with the course on it. The folks that did use it said they found it helpful and reassuring.

And I exported the tif @ 600dpi, knowing full well it was overkill, but it made for a very crisp map even when zoomed fully in...
Oct 27, 2021 1:52 AM # 
Can anyone verify that TIF files from OOM are 30x the size of TIF for the same map from OCAD? And why? Is this something that OOM could fix?
Oct 27, 2021 2:58 AM # 
It has been a while since I used Avenza but when I did I exported OCAD maps in KMZ format. It was important to activate "tiles" in the OCAD KMZ export window otherwise I didn't get high resolution when zooming in on Avenza.
Oct 27, 2021 6:20 AM # 
TIF is just a container, the image inside it can be compressed with almost any compression method and image can also be uncompressed. Applications usually support only some compression methods but uncompressed is usually always supported. I think this is why OOM writes uncompressed tif files. It is easy to open the tif file in any image editor and save it as compressed. if you are looking for small file size you should try with an image editor (like irfanview) decreasing color depth to 256 (8 bit) without dither and save using something like lzw or backbits compression (I think those are well supported). Yo ushould get a lot smaller tiff than those out of Ocad. Older Ocad versions did not support lzw, so for Ocad 8 you had to save it as uncompressed (or maybe backbits was supported?).
Nov 18, 2021 5:21 PM # 
I don't think that anybody mentioned Maprun. During 2020 we (I am in Scotland) put a lot of effort into Maprun because we had quite severe pandemic limits to assembly. GPS orienteering in various guises meant we could still operate. What we learnt was;

1/ the local club organisers have to put in some time learning the system.

2/ novices find GPS orienteering more difficult to get their heads round than just using a map.; they need a lot of contact with a mentor, which we found difficult at the time because of the public health restrictions (now lifted, hurray !).

3/ intrinsic inaccuracies in GPS handsets make GPS orienteering unsuitable for any sort of serious competition. One test I did was run a course with four different GPS receivers in my pockets. They were two phones and two different Garmins. When I compared the four GPX traces on Open Street Map they were four completely separate tracks, sometimes up to 60 meters apart. Unsurprisingly, the most accurate track was the most recent and most expensive Garmin.

To develop a sport, and maintain membership numbers, we need to promote interest, participation and performance. As a club we can do the second two but the first one, promote interest, is the job of the national associations. In the (roughly) English speaking world I don't see national associations doing the ground work.

In our club we have a training scheme which we encourage novices to work through. That needs a friendly mentor willing to give of their time. Adult novices start at Orange. There is nothing new here, it's just a local repackaging of ideas that have been around for years. Here is a link to a pdf with our scheme on it, there might be language differences from what you are used to.

To take a novice through the scheme takes about 25 hours of contact time from friendly mentors, that should give the novice all the basic skills and prepare them for performance training. Kids who have a better idea how to do the stuff have more fun and are more likely to come back. Maybe.
Nov 18, 2021 5:53 PM # 
Tinnishill, That's a nice training scheme document. Do you use it for adults and kids? Do you offer training sessions specifically so people can work through the skills, or is it sort of ad-hoc?
Nov 18, 2021 6:07 PM # 
It is intended as a guide for anyone who comes along. If it is a family group or a group of friends we organise formal lessons, for an individual or couple we try to offer lessons around local events, adult or child. The mentor/instructor/coach tailors the lessons to the individual. Sadly, we don't have huge crowds of new orienteers breaking down the gates. Novices who have relevant experience from a similar activity can use it to self teach.
Nov 18, 2021 6:34 PM # 
We've had fairly good success getting new people out to our two-hour "Learn to Orienteer" classes. There is pent-up demand for formal instruction and going to a real event seems to be intimidating for newbies. Some feel comfortable coming out to a regular event after the class, but others are looking for even more instruction. Something like your training scheme could be helpful, both to give people a guide for skills to ask about, but also to give folks confidence that they've actually learned enough to go out on a course.

OUSA has a skills progression program that I'd forgotten about until you posted your link. Same kind of idea. I wonder if anyone's using it with success?
Nov 18, 2021 7:36 PM # 
Interesting to see British Orienteering recently appointing a person to "...develop the use of GPS orienteering to extend opportunities within targeted areas around England specifically aimed at getting young people into the sport through Virtual Orienteering Courses"
Nov 19, 2021 1:53 AM # 
Adult novices start at Orange.

It was a tough weekend.

Nov 21, 2021 9:31 AM # 
I'm glad MapRun was mentioned in this thread. My club (Nav-X) has been using MapRun for numerous virtual events during the pandemic. We're planning to finally hold some in-person permitted events in 2022. We plan to continue to use MapRun for these in-person events, partially because it will save the hassle of dealing with epunch units (just need to put out marker flags) and because we will be without our e-punch services company. Our club puts on only Rogaining events (minimum 2-hr duration and marketed as Map Trekking) and have decided that the time discrepancies for punching (~5-10 sec per control) introduced by GPS are not big enough to significantly affect the results. I would not say that was true for regular orienteering events, especially sprint events where competitors are often only seconds apart.

Due to the inspiration of this thread, we have decided to add a recreational category at every event that will utilize a separate MapRun event that has the "display present location" turned on. I'm guessing it will be only 5 min more extra work for event staff to set this up and it will be no extra work on the part of the participants who will have to bring a smartphone or GPS watch to the event either way. We can then advertise the recreational category and maybe bring in some newbies who are intimidated by going off-trail. This should also work well for us since Rogaining events inherently have no beginner course (we usually just place a few easy controls near the start/finish for novices).

Bill Cusworth
Nav-X Map Adventures
based in northern California, USA
Nav-X MapRun instruction document
Nov 21, 2021 10:03 AM # 
Australia's largely abandoned colour-coded courses but when they had them, a Blue course meant exactly the opposite to what it does in the US (Blue (Australia) = White (US)), which led to some amusement after coming back from WOC 1993 - one of the local juniors in Canberra saw one of my maps and said "you went all that way to run a Blue course?"
Nov 21, 2021 10:53 AM # 
Color coded courses were never Australia wide - the colors you are referring to must have been NSW (did ACT also use the same system?). Victoria never used a color system (at least until I left in early 2000's) - courses were always labeled by navigation difficulty. I don't know about other states.

Using colors always seemed to me just adding an extra layer of opacity. Even a newcomer can understand the difference between hard, moderate, easy and very easy courses (the categories used in Victoria when I was there) but unless you have it explained to you to the difference between blue, brown, gray, turquoise, teal, peach, or whatever, is unhelpful. It's not interior decorating.

And of course every jurisdiction comes up with different color schemes which makes it even more confusing.
Nov 21, 2021 10:54 AM # 
NSW and ACT were the main ones, I think Queensland also did for a time?
Nov 21, 2021 1:03 PM # 
In the US, it was originally just White-Yellow-Orange-Red, which is a nice intuitive progression. But that got accessorized long ago into the somewhat inscrutable current system of White-Yellow-Orange-(something)-Brown-Green-Red-Blue. The (something) is a very short advanced course that doesn't have a standard name yet. But for newcomers, the choices are still probably White, Yellow, or Orange.
Nov 22, 2021 1:31 AM # 
The colour coded system in NSW was basically a Traffic Lights concept introduce by Roland Offrel when he came out in the early seventies to help us get started. Seemed fairly logical.
Nov 22, 2021 3:00 AM # 
Around here, we used to have kids in tears (and lost to the sport). On so-called "easy" courses. There were some shockers, but of course they were easy to someone. The problem was overcome by adopting difficulty labels which had no a priori meaning. Planners had to look up the specifications, and controllers faced with opinionated old-guard planners had something to refer to. It has been an outstanding success.

There was no international guide as to what to call the levels. I think Sweden uses colours. I think UK uses roman numerals. We chose colours, but that's by the by. Other countries use colours for a combination of difficulty and length, which is a red (or white, or orange) herring. Better to separate the two, I reckon.
Nov 22, 2021 3:43 AM # 
Orienteering Western Australia has a truth in labeling system:

Medium / Moderate
Very Easy

The classification relates to the Navigational difficulty. Within Hard we have up to five different course lengths and the shorter ones include guidelines to stay out of the more rugged parts on the map to provide for the less agile, generally older orienteers.

How hard it that assuming we have an English speaking group of orienteers.

We have signs at the event to expand on the definition and guidelines for setters (planners) and they work 99% of the time.

Colour coding just introduces another level that needs to be explained in plain English (or whatever local language)
Nov 22, 2021 4:18 AM # 
Sometimes having obscure names for the courses is an advantage. For instance, a guy I know came to his first "real" orienteering event last month, though he had previously done some kind of multiday group thing involving a lot of bearings and pace counting to find the food and water supply that the instructors had cached in the woods. So maybe he thought he was experienced and tough. He asked me what course I thought he should sign up for, I looked him up and down and said "Yellow". It was the right choice, and he came back satisfied. If I had said "Easy", we might have needed to have a discussion.
Nov 22, 2021 5:05 AM # 
Whereas if we said 'yellow' here, we'd definitely need to have a discussion.
Nov 22, 2021 10:15 AM # 
Color-named courses in the US are sometimes annotated...

Course (Navigation level)
White (Beginners)
Yellow (Advanced Beginners)
Orange (Intermediate)
Brown - Blue (Advanced)

A more recent variation emphasizes the difficulty of non-beginner courses...

White (Beginners)
Yellow (Intermediate)
Orange (Advanced)
Brown - Blue (Expert)
Nov 22, 2021 11:10 AM # 
So why not just label the courses :

the colors are just baggage.
Nov 22, 2021 11:51 AM # 
Because it's a convention that people here are used to, and it works fine for us. I guess maybe if we had a lot of confused Australians showing up at our events we'd have an impetus to change it.
Nov 22, 2021 12:24 PM # 
For at least ten years now, maybe 20, Ottawa has used Novice, Intermediate, Short Advanced and Long Advanced. It works fine.
The only problem with it in my mind is that there is no division by age or gender. For example the 70-something folks in the club (and there are almost 10 of us) have to compete with people some 50 years younger for respect on our chosen course.
Nov 22, 2021 12:35 PM # 
Exactly - when I entered an event in NH a few years ago I found the colors confusing. I entered my age class but was then told (by the online entry system) that meant I would be running a certain colored course which meant I wanted to know what the color codes meant - I didn't want to inadvertently enter an easy course. It wasn't hard to find out but it did take a bit of extra time - I don't think the event website itself explained the colors - had to go to OUSA site or something like it.

Sure it is a convention (or perhaps jargon* is better word for it) that everyone in the know is happy with, but the point is it is not very helpful for outsiders. I doubt you get that many confused Australians but wouldn't it be better to reduce potential points of confusion for newcomers to the sport?. And even though you insiders like the system, if you did dump the colors you wouldn't actually be losing anything , except the confusion of outsiders and that superior feeling you get from knowing all the jargon that outsiders don't know.

*Jargon is often used as way of excluding outsiders.
Nov 22, 2021 12:53 PM # 
DontGetLost decided to go the score-O route for most of our events 7-8 years ago.

Individual controls are given a difficulty rating using the colour and symbol system used on ski hills, ski trails, MTB trails, etc.

This way participants get to ‘choose their adventure’ by designing a course length and difficulty to their liking. Also participants are rewarded for the controls they get in score-O and not penalized (dsq or dnf) for those they don’t get in point to point. This format allows a newbie to try more difficult controls if they wish.

Interestingly we got the idea while several of us were MTBing at Whistler for the Cdn Champs. We thought about how as a newcomer to the trail system how there was something for everyone. long and easy and short and difficult. Why can’t we have all of those options at an O event. Score O makes things so much easier hosting wise too but really is a great format for all abilities.
Nov 22, 2021 1:23 PM # 
We have deeper jargon issues. Like the way we refer to gullies as reentrants. That did cause me some confusion when I was starting out. And the way we measure stuff in kilometers and meters, rather than the miles and feet that everyone understands.
Nov 22, 2021 1:26 PM # 
Reentrant was a new word to me, but easily learned once I saw one. I'm sure many other sports have their own jargon.

OCIN (in Ohio) for one uses numbered courses when they hold large events. The control descriptions/maps list the age groups on each numbered course. It makes for a longer reading time at the start line to figure out which group you're in, but is definitely less confusing for "outsiders."
Nov 22, 2021 1:59 PM # 
As I get older, I understand the need for the "Silver" course. Many of our club members are retirement age and older. They have been orienteering for many years, but running is more difficult now. The Silver course gives them the mental challenge of advanced navigation without the physical demand of long distance running.
Nov 22, 2021 3:02 PM # 
That's what Brown was intended to be. Before that, it's what Green was intended to be. But the clientele keeps getting older instead of dying off, and they keep needing ever-shorter courses. The health benefits of orienteering must be keeping them alive. The name of this next course isn't standardized yet, in the northeast it's often called Tan.
Nov 22, 2021 3:07 PM # 
>But the clientele keeps getting older


>Because it's a convention that people here are used to, and it works fine for us

Maybe there is something to be learned there.
Nov 22, 2021 3:12 PM # 
Anyway back to the virtual GPS O future.

A club setting up something like Ottawa has done here(see link below) with MAPRUN F together with the control difficulty rating that DGL has done is a great way for people to O on their own time at their own pace and avoid the necessity of making things all event based.

Clubs can also easily setting up training this way.
Nov 22, 2021 3:49 PM # 
"I think UK uses roman numerals"

The UK system is crazy but not that crazy. We use colours. Up to a point the colours denote different levels of technical difficulty. When the maximum level of technical difficulty has been reached then the different colours denote different lengths. As the scheme has developed and the orienteering population has got older then new lengths have been inserted, so that we now have

White (the easiest)
Light Green
Very Short Green
Short Green
Short Blue
Short Brown
Black (the hardest)

In theory everything from Very Short Green to Black has the same level of technical difficulty, but Very Short Green is aimed at the oldest competitors with guidelines about limiting the level of physical difficulty which tends to restrict what is possible.
Nov 22, 2021 3:56 PM # 
But the clientele keeps getting older... and they keep needing ever-shorter courses. The health benefits of orienteering must be keeping them alive.

Not necessarily shorter courses, but less physically challenging ones; fewer steep climbs and descents especially through rocky terrain.

I (as one of the older orienteers) have endurance for distance but difficulty with my joints and balance sometimes when footing is as rocky as sometimes in the northeast US.

If orienteering doesn't keep me alive, at least it keeps me motivated to keep moving.
Nov 22, 2021 4:59 PM # 
Pink Socks:
I advocate for clubs to come up with solutions that work for their situations.

Up here in Seattle, we're a large club that's pretty isolated from other clubs. We also have an overwhelmingly large proportion of our participants that don't travel to other club or national events, meaning that there really isn't a big benefit for us to go with standardized colors.

When I first moved out here, we just had a number system at each event (ie: Course #1 = easiest to Course #N = hardest). However, this caused some problems when people would progress through our winter series of eight events (at relatively easy venues, some of which are "trails only"), advancing up to, say, Course #6 (of 7), and then when our spring series came around (at relatively harder venues with significant opportunities for off-trail travel), they would sign up for Course #4 (of 4)... and they'd get really frustrated.

Now, we have a two-pronged approach.

The first is that we name our courses for what they are. For Saturday's event, we had 8 courses:

Middle School
Advanced Beginner / High School JV Rookie
Intermediate / High School JV Female / College JV Female
High School JV Male / College JV
High School Varsity Male / High School Varsity Female
Short Advanced
Long Advanced / College Varsity Male / College Varsity Female

(internally, we still number them 1-8, but the numbers aren't public facing)

And then at our spring/summer events without the school leagues, we may have something like
Short Advanced
Medium Advanced
Long Advanced

The second thing we do is we rate our venues for difficulty, in both physical difficulty and navigational difficulty. Saturday's race had a nav rating of 5 (of 10) and a physical rating of 2 (of 10). If you've ever orienteered at Salmon La Sac, that one maxes out both ratings at 10. Several years ago, we had a committee of people at various skill levels get together and go through and rank all of our venues, so it's somewhat consistent.

It's not a perfect system, just because there's so much variability in everything, but generally-speaking, it works out well for us.
Nov 22, 2021 6:40 PM # 
Local solutions are fine, but the OUSA Rules of Competition does describe the menu of courses for national ranking events with colors.
Nov 22, 2021 6:52 PM # 
@Pink Socks, I really like the idea of labeling the venues with a physical and navigational ranking. differences in venues is an issue I've noticed here in Ottawa with folks assuming that since they've done an intermediate course at one venue, they can successfully do it another and then really really struggled.

I'm going to suggest this to our club.
Nov 22, 2021 7:37 PM # 
Pink Socks:

As examples, here's our Salmon La Sac venue page, and the one from Saturday's race (which also has a permanent course).
Nov 22, 2021 8:46 PM # 
Thanks Patrick - that's super helpful!
Nov 22, 2021 8:52 PM # 
Just for interest, here's a link to an explanation of the UK colour codes.

You enter the course you want. When the results are published they are further subdivided into age categories, so a W16 on Green is running the same course but not competing against an M70 on Green (except, of course, only in their own heads).
Nov 23, 2021 3:32 PM # 
Focusing on the gist of the topic, increasing participation in orienteering, the colour course naming system is not helping.
A more meaningful suggestion would be something along the lines of what @gordhun stated; Novice, Intermediate, Short Advanced and Long Advanced.
One aspect of orienteering that I love is that it is truly a life sport where as you age the course distances decreases--an absolutely brilliant concept. So a two word or symbol course qualifier (physical and navigation difficulty) such as Short Advanced and Long Advanced is very meaningful and helpful. I'm keeping it simple as there are other ways to make courses less physically demanding.
And @Hammer also mentioned the somewhat difficulty rating generic symbols of the ski and mountain bike outdoor community--another good suggestion.
@jjcote, I'm not sure gullies and reentrants are the same thing and there have been previous posts about imperial vs metric for measurement. I'd go with metric but it's simple to include both if it benefits attracting and keeping new people to the sport of orienteering.
MapRun and Map Walk are both great ideas. Thanks @Hammer.
There are also many local initiatives such as Don't Get Lost, Adventure Running Kids, etc. that are attracting people to orienteering.
Nov 23, 2021 3:46 PM # 
"gully" is (I think) what Australians call reentrants. There is also a different kind of gully, which is an overgrown ditch. But reentrant is a word that newcomers do not know.

The comment about miles and feet was completely facetious, though some American noobs do still feel the need to convert.
Nov 23, 2021 4:23 PM # 
But reentrant is a word that newcomers do not know.

It's also a word they don't need to know. Having sport specific terminology is ok. We just need to teach it to people.

To pick another sport I know fairly well - climbing. Climbing has lots of unique words and phrases, beta for a specific route, sending a route, flashing a route, dynos, etc.

If you google climbing terms you find an endless list of articles explaining these different terms. We don't need to change our terms - we need to explain them!
Nov 23, 2021 6:18 PM # 
All sports (all areas of life ) have jargon. You have to call a reentrant/gully something and 'reentrant' , while somewhat obscure, is a word that is used outside orienteering - specifically in the field of geography. You can't eliminate all jargon but you don't have to make up superfluous jargon like substituting arbitrary colors for self explanatory every day language like easy, moderate, hard.

Yes, Australian orienteers say 'gully' instead of reentrant but I have always felt that is a quirk of that orienteering community. In everyday Australian language I would consider gully to mean something narrow and very steep sided - like a small ravine or large ditch - not the usual gentler feature we tend to put controls in. My Macquarie Dictionary (Australia's National Dictionary) defines gully as 1. A small valley or canyon cut by running water or 2. a ditch or gutter.

So Australian orienteers calling re-entrants gullies is actually potentially confusing jargon, in that the usage does not match the common, non-orienteering, use of the word.

Australian orienteers also use the term 'erosion gully' (which, given the above definition, is a tautology) to describe what a British orienteer (and perhaps an average, non-orienteering, Australian) would call a 'gully'.
Nov 23, 2021 6:58 PM # 
Agree with Rob, here. All sports have jargon, and in fact learning the jargon can help people feel like they're part of a community. But public-facing vocabulary (including what people have to contend with at their first event) should be jargon-free and easy to understand.
Nov 23, 2021 7:34 PM # 
When I was first learning about orienteering, the military guy teaching the class used the word "draw" for reentrant. I understood that. At my first solo event, the word "reentrant" was used on the control descriptions, and I asked somebody what it meant. Either I was misinformed or I misunderstood, but I spent a lot of time out there looking for a control on a spur. I was pretty surprised when I finally spotted it in a small valley.

If the color system that we used was Green for easy, Blue for intermediate, and Black for difficult, I don't think there would be any issue, since that's widely used for skiing and other sorts of trails.
Nov 23, 2021 7:49 PM # 
It doesn't matter which words you use as long as the kindly, welcoming, old Jedi teach the anxious young Padawan.
Nov 23, 2021 8:05 PM # 
I'll bet not that many people know what a "nickel defense" is (including me) but it doesn't seem to have hurt (US) football's popularity very much.
Nov 23, 2021 8:08 PM # 
I agree with Cristina that learning the terms of a sport makes you feel more a part of the community. Every sport has terms which are unfamiliar to the newcomer. Baseball has their "infield fly rule," "ground rule double" and even "the count" among others beginners must learn. Football has "safety," "audible", etc. It was easier for me to learn what a reentrant is than it was to understand the infield fly rule. And I'm still confused every time the ball enters the vines at Wrigley Field. Learning the lingo is simply part of the game.
Nov 23, 2021 11:12 PM # 
There is a very good practical reason for using a color scheme for skiing - it is the simplest way to show the difficulty of the runs/trails on a map.

You'd think the most obvious color scheme to follow would be the universally understood red/yellow/green of traffic lights, but they haven't done that. Notice how they are all nice dark colors that will show up well on a white background (ie on a trail map) so (no yellow) and there is no red to confuse the RG colorblind.

It is such a good system that the same colors are used world wide. Whereas when it comes to color schemes for orienteering course difficulty everyone comes up with their own unique scheme.
Nov 24, 2021 1:16 AM # 
Don't forget to note the importance of the shapes in the skiing "color" system. Skiers I know always refer to both color and shape, e.g. "black diamond", even though the information there is redundant. For those looking to mimic what DONT GET LOST does, note that they actually place the colored shape next to the control circle so that there is no "matching problem." And, from my observation, it works well for both novices and experts. (It sure makes spotting the high scoring controls easier, allowing for easier route planning.)
Nov 24, 2021 12:04 PM # 
You have to call a reentrant/gully something and 'reentrant' , while somewhat obscure, is a word that is used outside orienteering

Australian military uses re-entrant. It's weird to me because I grew up with 'gully' (thanks to Australian rogaining).
Nov 25, 2021 3:35 AM # 
Question: have any clubs, in North America or elsewhere, tapped into their local tech sector? I trust Orienteering Victoria did this with MapRun.
I live in the city with the leading tech scene in North America (Toronto) but I don't think my club or association has done any sort of outreach to tech, be it navigation focused or anything. Have other clubs or associations? Wonder what Kay Hawke's plans are in the UK?
Nov 25, 2021 4:01 AM # 
linking MapRunF to Strava with KOM and QOM and other challenges would likely do more for the sport than the Olympics dream approach ever could. Remember Pokémon Go?
Nov 25, 2021 4:45 AM # 
Nov 25, 2021 5:20 AM # 
> And the way we measure stuff in kilometers and meters, rather than the miles and feet that everyone understands.
I think you meant:
And the way we measure stuff in kilometers and meters, rather than the miles and feet that no one except Americans understands.
Nov 25, 2021 6:28 AM # 
I don't even understand what a meter is.
Nov 25, 2021 7:04 AM # 
Someone mentioned Strava. Getting orienteering courses uploaded to Strava and presumably to Strava heat map is about as bad an idea as they come.
Whereas an orienteer goes through the woods and leaves nary a footprint, at least not one that will last past the next rainfall Strava leaves a digital track that is there for eternity. For instance, 100 orienteers' tracks uploaded to Strava is a lot of "Holy Crap!" for a park official to find and decide that they have to do something about all that off-trail activity.
When orienteering keep a low profile with Strava. It is the orienteer's timebomb that keeps on ticking.
Nov 25, 2021 8:58 AM # 
Australians don't measure stuff in kilometers and meters, they measure stuff in kilometres and metres.
Nov 25, 2021 11:11 AM # 
Actually we do measure kilolitres and kilowatts in meters.
Nov 25, 2021 12:14 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
Strava Heat map issues: You guys are sorely missing the "Allemannsretten", i.e. the general right to wander anywhere on all undeveloped lands, public or private.

Our only issue is when the environmental protection agencies decide that one of our maps contain some endangered species, like a particular kind of lichen on windfall pine on the "Princess Hill" part of Bygdøy in Oslo. All the effort I made surveying/mapping that areas was worthless when said agency decided that having 50 orienteers stepping 50 m away from the hiking path one or two times per year would be really bad, while the 200+ dog walkers that pass through _every_ day was OK: "Yeah, we know that the dog people are far worse, but we cannot ban them so we have to make do with stopping the orienteers."
Nov 25, 2021 12:18 PM # 
It's surprising how many people are failing to recognize my sarcasm. Maybe there's no metric equivalent of self-deprecating humor. (Sorry, "humour")
Nov 25, 2021 12:36 PM # 
@jj you have not meet tRicky

You may not recall but we shared a ride to Arizona circa 1996 from Denver
Nov 25, 2021 1:08 PM # 
As far as Australians are concerned Americans don't get (or do) irony, and I guess that extends to sarcasm.

Irony and sarcasm are very hard to convey in writing - you need an emoji /emoticon/symbol. Apparently an upside down smiley face emoji means irony (can you do emojis on AP?) or ;-), or :P

or try this:

The British still do miles and feet.
Nov 25, 2021 1:28 PM # 
the exercise books I had at primary school had a full conversion from miles, pounds, furlongs and many other archaic measurementsarchaic measurements
Nov 25, 2021 2:11 PM # 
Maybe March of 1997, Richard? Was there snow in the Arizona desert when we arrived?
Nov 25, 2021 2:20 PM # 
My memory is of people doing target practice on the map, only in the USA!

May have been some snow.
Nov 25, 2021 4:41 PM # 
@gordhun: woke liberals live in constant fear that some Americans somewhere are enjoying themselves
Nov 25, 2021 4:49 PM # 
25 Nov 2021 13:08 #  robplow: "The British still do miles and feet."

Mainstream British maps (that is, Ordnance Survey Great Britain) have been partly metric since 1936 and completely metric since 1976. British Orienteering maps follow the IOF format. The rest of UK society uses metric in some areas and imperial in others and nobody much cares.
Nov 25, 2021 7:15 PM # 
My memory is of people doing target practice on the map, only in the USA!

Not entirely true. Recall our first use of the Munday Brook MTBO map where I had to make some 'night before' course changes because the local shooting club discovered one of the controls near their area and got upset. Probably didn't help that the course went past the back end of the range! However they've since extended 'their' area another kilometre or so past the original boundary (not entirely with DPAW approval but they shooed us off anyway).
Nov 26, 2021 3:14 AM # 
Didn't you survey the ordnance when you made the map tRicky?
Nov 26, 2021 6:37 AM # 
Yes but the track behind the range wasn't physically bounded off (it was further along in the bush) so I thought it was fine.
Nov 26, 2021 7:15 AM # 
Terje Mathisen:
About 10 years ago Blodslitet (with ~2500 entrants) sent most of the courses past a pistol range that hadn't gotten the message about the event, I personally witnessed a group of flustered shooters yelling "Halt Fire" (in Norwegian) as my train was passing through.
Nov 26, 2021 9:19 AM # 
they still use furlongs in horse racing don't they?

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