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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Sprints and sprint maps

in: Spike; Spike > 2022-11-23

Nov 23, 2022 11:11 PM # 
Completely agree. Sprints are about making a lot of decisions quickly and not letting that slow you down (much). If a control location requires the use of the control descriptions to find then the location is not suitable, but unfortunately many folks seem to think that reading the description is part of the game. I think people sometimes underestimate how hard it is to make decisions and read a map while trying to maintain full speed, and how fun and interesting that is on one readable level. There's no need to add an eye test and require interpretation of tiny multi-level areas. It's supposed to be fun!
Nov 24, 2022 1:22 AM # 
Mostly agree, but I do think that reading the control description is part of the race navigation. Multi levels should be avoided, and must be shown clearly if they exist.
Nov 24, 2022 1:48 AM # 
I feel pretty strongly that control descriptions are mostly vestigial at this point.

(I'm not sure that's right, but that's the word that came to mind as I wrote the sentence.)
Nov 24, 2022 1:59 AM # 
Anyone want to discuss appropriate sock length during sprints and how the sock length standard should be adjusted per the map scale?
Nov 24, 2022 2:00 AM # 
Control descriptions are still useful for determining which side of a fence or other uncrossable object the control is on - not always apparent by the center of the circle. And verifying control #.

Or whether control is on top of a bridge or beneath it.

But I agree that having controls in complex multi-level areas decreases the spirit of sprint for me and reduces things to a slower puzzle-solving game.
Nov 24, 2022 2:41 AM # 
In agreement.
With no mental energy to expound.
Nov 24, 2022 2:43 AM # 
The origin of control descriptions: in the early days, controls were sometimes hung on unmapped features ("A cliff"), or if they were mapped, course print registration wasn't always that reliable, so it clarified what feature I'm the circle you were looking for. As with many things, once this tool became available, people made it more complicated and found novel uses for it. It was supposed to be simple, now we have people making flash cards to help learn it.
Nov 24, 2022 3:25 AM # 
J-J's historical point is what I was getting at. Control descriptions used to be necessary. They aren't any more. Or at least they shouldn't be!

Regarding the uncrossable fence example, the circle should be centered on the actual side the control is on so that it is possible to tell without reading the descriptions. The description can still be included for the oxygen-deprived runner to double check against, but it should not be necessary to use them in order to know where to find the control.

Relatedly, at one point several years ago I went through and looked at every WOC Sprint Final and found that every control circle was centered such that it wasn't necessary to read the description in order to navigate to it correctly. That's not to say that someone couldn't still screw it up at speed/stress or be saved by reading the description, of course... And I haven't checked the past few years, so maybe things have changed. But I think top European event planners have this figured out.

Regarding under/over bridge, I think those kinds of controls can be unnecessarily duplicitous. You can still place a control such that the runner needs to know whether to get up somewhere or down somewhere in order to get to it, but preferably in a spot where there is only one active running level. See the sprint maps from WOC 2021 for examples of courses in a complex area, with tunnels and multi-level running, where not a single control is placed in a multi-level area. It also looks as if, from the digital/online version, control circles are all centered such that you can navigate to all of them are without reading the descriptions.

Nov 24, 2022 3:26 AM # 
Also the irony of writing a lot about something in order to argue that things should be simpler is not lost on me.
Nov 24, 2022 3:54 AM # 
I’m with Cristina. Down with water stations too.
Nov 24, 2022 12:44 PM # 
Water stations? So 2019.
Nov 25, 2022 12:58 AM # 
Getting back on topic, I would say that what I enjoy varies.

As an experience, I can enjoy navigating in novel settings, multi-level or otherwise. That novelty is much more fun if the map is decipherable and the puzzle-solving can happen on the move. What I do not enjoy is having to get to the area of the control only to have to figure out the "trick" that the course setter and/or the mapper came up with. For a champs level event, I am definitely not interested in puzzles; I want a fair test of navigation at speed; as Spike said, this does not require a medieval village for an event venue.
Nov 25, 2022 1:37 AM # 
As I've said elsewhere before: corn maze.
Nov 25, 2022 4:01 AM # 
Pink Socks:
I have a lot of thoughts (in sprints and socks). But I'm on a phone and I don't want to take an hour to type.
Nov 25, 2022 1:36 PM # 
I'll admit I am someone who believes reading the control description is part of the game. But I'll also admit that the best examples I can think of involve upper / lower or top / foot or variations thereof.

It is interesting that there is a difference in control circle (703) placement:
-ISSprOM: The centre of the circle shows the precise position of the feature.
-ISOM: For point features, the centre of the circle shall be the centre of the symbol. For line and area features, the centre of the circle shows the precise positionof the control marker.

I also think that the spirit of a sprint--a lot of decisions quickly to quote Cristina--can be undermined by legs that are too complex (read too long / too many decisions, particularly a decision at the beginning). I'm thinking of the very long, multi-level, complex decision choices shown in the recent Jeff T posts. As he said, it left good people at a standstill for a long time...probably too long / too complex.

IMO, for both forest & sprints, really good course setting offers route choice for planning decisions. And, then it also seeks to exploit misperceptions during execution--parallel or similar features being key here. Decision points that come immediately upon entering a new "visual bubble" (e.g. round a building, crest a ridge, etc) are the "best" ones for an error to occur in the competitor's "visualize, see feature(s), decide/execute" loop.
Nov 25, 2022 2:58 PM # 
with my quite limited experience I find sprint maps and sprints fun and fair if
- there is no one or some decisive big key decisions that dictate the result making smaller choices obsolete.
- there is not much luck factor in play when making route choices.
- time differences between good and bad choices are at par with the 1 min start interval
- complexity is not about seeing options, it is seeing which is the fastest one.

Usually this means:
- just one level is mapped, multi level mapping is used only where it can not be avoided, like bridges or tunnels to get to an other part of the area
- it is relatively easy to find and see route choice options, but relatively difficult to judge which is the fastest.
- you need to stop at control only if you haven't had time to look at the next leg and. If you stop it never takes more than 3-5 seconds. And after investing that much time on route choice you should not have to continue with a feeling you just had to guess and randomly pick one.
- not fun if there is a complex route choice and getting it right would make you stand still for a very long time and not taking the optimal choice would make you loose so much the next starter would see you and your choices or even able to follow.
- not fun if options are so difficult to see that you have to use the first one you can find. Too much luck in play, up to luck how good option someone happens to find first.
- if the feature is passable the center of the circle can be placed dead on the map symbol. But if the feature is impassable then the center should be moved away from the impassable to clearly tell the side or tell between which two impassables the flag is located. So there should be no complex first judging step to see where the flag is before judging actual route choice options. What seems to work best is using ski-o style dot and place the circle the way the dot will not touch any impassable features - but printing maps without those dots.
- no confusing misleading things on map, like impassable wall/hedge placed the way it looks like a part of a control ring or control line.
- seeing or not seeing a tiny hole somewhere should not make a difference.
Nov 25, 2022 5:10 PM # 
From now on, while I will continue to chime in with my nonsense comments (whether anyone likes them or not), if a serious orienteering answer is required just assume I agree with Jagge. He sums it up better than I every could.
Nov 25, 2022 5:33 PM # 
Yeah +1 Jagge.

This discussion thread is closed.