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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: GPS in Sweden

in: Orienteering; News

Sep 8, 2009 12:09 PM # 

An interesting move, to say the least.
Sep 8, 2009 12:40 PM # 
Unbelievable bad decission. This makes cheating really easy and there is no way to catch these cheaters.
Sep 8, 2009 1:36 PM # 
I can see where they're coming from, not that I particularly agree with it, but you could read the IOF decision as one where you can't use it to 'navigate' i.e. follow a route as per your given location

this says using it to measure distance (and altitude) is ok, which means you still have to know where you are, know if you've not gone in a straight line etc.

Not saying I particularly agree with it but it's not all bad...
Sep 8, 2009 1:47 PM # 
Wow. I'm not a fan.
Sep 8, 2009 2:00 PM # 
Let's imagine my frind who starts early marks all controls as waypoints and then hands the unit over to a late starter, me, and I navigate the course with it and use waypoints and the map view (without backround map) to eliminate/minimize all mistakes. I could even run the whole course wihtout taking map at start and do pretty well in some cases. How can you catch me for cheating? You can't tell am I just measuring distance with my unit or what. You can examine my unit, but it's only natural if we share the same unit - it's quite expensive toy after all.

This is why IOF had to ban all units with screens. They made it because we need a simple way to spot cheaters. With the new rule there is no way to see who is cheating and who is not. And leaves it open for anyone to try - no need to be afraid of consequences.

It's really childish thinking to allow units with screen just because using them for measuring distance doesn't change anything. True, measuring distance doesn't. But measuring distances has nothing to do with this gps issue what so ever.
Sep 8, 2009 2:11 PM # 
Jagge, do you really think someone would do that?? And if there are people who would go to such lengths to cheat, then I am sure they can find ways to do so even without GPS.
Sep 8, 2009 2:13 PM # 
> Unbelievable bad decission. This makes cheating really easy and
> there is no way to catch these cheaters.

I guess the real problem is that they might not even be cheating according to the rules - just exploiting new technology....
Sep 8, 2009 2:18 PM # 
well done sweden! right decision!
Sep 8, 2009 2:23 PM # 
I do, I am afraid.

Following is not alowed. Can you imagine someone actually doing is, even at WOC, and getting medal? Even if it can be seen by looking at splits.

I can't see much difference there.
Sep 8, 2009 2:45 PM # 
I could see people hitting the split button at their AP and using the distance estimation to help as they venture into vague and featureless terrain. I could see this becoming part of a persons standard system, run to AP, hit split to get distance, etc. It won't be used every time or even often but it can certainly substitute for precise distance estimation when it is needed. Perhaps this won't make a difference at the elite level but I could see the technique becoming common for everyone below the elite level.

My take is that SOFT is being lazy. They don't feel like policing the use of GPSs and so, in effect, have given up.
Sep 8, 2009 4:27 PM # 
As these increasingly versatile gps units creep into orienteering, it will become two distinctive sports. One sport for those who can afford and learn to effectively operate these fancy gadgets and a second sport for those poor folks that still use the antiquated map and compass technique. Why not acknowledge it now by dividing into two groups. The IOF and the IGOF (The International Gadget Orienteering Federation).
Sep 8, 2009 4:31 PM # 
surely at the top level in sweden (world cups, WREs, woc) they will need to abide by the IOF rules?

What I see them saying is that you can use distance, you can use altitude, but you can't do what jagge says and share waypoints etc. But isn't that how it is now? and isn't it practically impossible to police as it is? I'm not sure what's changed other than their viewpoint that it's ok to use such an aid for distance/altitude... maybe I misinterpreted.
Sep 8, 2009 4:47 PM # 
isn't it practically impossible to police as it is?

I think Jagge's argument is that if you prohibited the use and carrying of gps units with screens, it would be much easier to prevent that kind of cheating.
Sep 8, 2009 5:12 PM # 
If we allow using gps units for measuring travelled distance, it means the behaviour of looking at screen constantly while running is ok and normal. If we say you can carry but not use, that behaviour is not normal. So if someone uses unit for cheating, the behaviour is more easy to spot. And if it looks like using gadgets is getting out of hands we could fine tune the rule by saying from now on you need to have tape over the screen or keep it hidden in some other way. And put some men to forest to see what they are doing out there. But if we say it's ok to use it for measure distances, you fine tune it any more. People just run and look at their screen and you have no way to find out what they are doing with their gadgets.
Sep 8, 2009 5:30 PM # 
"navigationsutrustning (t ex GPS-enheter) som saknar kartdisplay och/eller
kursorienterande signalfunktion. "
"The requirement is that the GPS watches do not have a map-function and/or a signal to aid the user in keeping the direction."

My Forerunner has a screen and navigation aids. It seems that it the watch that is banned since it has this functionality, not the use of these functions. Maybe I'm misunderstanding something.
Sep 8, 2009 5:38 PM # 
"Niklas Wrane, regelansvarig på SOFT:
- Dagens GPS-modeller från Garmin, Polar och Suunto är alltså fria att använda på vanliga svenska tävlingar eftersom det i modellerna hittills inte finns någon möjlighet att lägga in en bakgrundskarta"

It's also interesting to see what they do when units capable of showing old O map in background show up. Will they allow using old units for measuring distances, but not new units at all? Event organizers will have to have lots of knowledge about latest gadget to tell if a unit is allowed to use or not.
Sep 8, 2009 10:15 PM # 
I second ndobbs. the requirement is quite strong
"GPS watches do not have <..> signal to aid the user in keeping the direction"

I predict ( can not claim though) that all GPS capable of storing any kind of waypoint or track will have functionality of navigating to this point - therefore banned!

On the other side allowing to measure distance is a bad idea anyway.
Sep 9, 2009 12:02 AM # 
Let's imagine my frind who starts early marks all controls as waypoints and then hands the unit over to a late starter

Let's imagine my friend who starts early meets me at the car park and shows me on an old copy of the map where all of the controls are, and what his route choices were...
Sep 9, 2009 12:42 AM # 
I run courses with a garmin and I have never got round to looking at it during a race. Too complicated, too fiddly, too much time taken. Not worth it. If the garmin could help during the event then I suspect I am even more uncompetitive that I thought. Can't see why you are all excited.
Sep 9, 2009 12:57 AM # 
Some excitement is probably due to the fact that one of the fundamental aspects of the sport is that it is all map and compass (and brain and feet), no fancy gadgets allowed. Now, when friends ask me, "Oh, can you use a gps?" I'll have to give a more complicated answer.
Sep 9, 2009 1:31 AM # 
i reckon its a great decision,
they are brilliant as training aids, but if you're using your garmin gps watch to help you navigate, then you will well and truly be uncompetitive.
Sep 9, 2009 2:28 AM # 
I agree with the sentiment that using a Garmin watch to measure distance is no advantage. But what is this drivel about the only aids used in orienteering are a map and compass? For years in orienteering the compass - the round housing containing a magnetic needle and dampnig fluid has been built on to some form of base plate that has allowed distance measurement on the map. That is an additional navigational aid outside the strict interpretation of the IOF rules. Also fo many years Silva marketed a base plate compass that had a counter so we could keep track of the hundreds of metres we had passed. Why was that considered legal? Because it was attached to the compass base plate? Is a magnifier not an additional aid?
So what does that mean? A GPS unit is illegal UNLESS it can be built on to the compass just like these other navigational aids.
Get with the times IOF. Wayfinding GPS units should be illegal but there is no reason at all to ban tracking units such as the Garmin 305 and 405 watches.
As usual the Swedes have it right.
Sep 9, 2009 2:54 AM # 
I think Cristina is touching on a possible explanation for SOFT's decision. We could grow the sport exponentially by inviting all the geocachers and gadget-nuts out there. Include a gps course at every event (and afterwards send your top W10 out to show them how the course could be done in half the time!).
Sep 9, 2009 2:55 AM # 
Jagge you're a dick, or maybe Fins are the real cheats not Italians, if you serious think people would go to those extremes, they might as well just live on the map and then hold a world champs there, oh wait thats the Swiss.
Sep 9, 2009 3:11 AM # 
I think I am with Cristina here.

Can someone explain what SOFT is thinking? I.e., why they felt this decision is justified? To me introducing the ability to _precisely_ measure distance with a device (subject to some margin of error) is a fundamental change to the nature of the sport, at least vis-a-vis the techniques employed.

Sure, a compass is a device that buttresses other techniques to find direction, such as looking at the sun, moss on trees, or relying on mineral deposits in your head, so one could charge that it to is some sort of fancy navigational aid. The difference is that orienteering as practiced since its genesis incorporated map and compass. That's it. Yes, it is arbitrary and maybe even anachronistic, but it is reality.

Please don't attempt to tell me that a GPS is equivalent to a ruler on a compass or a counter on the unit (which is a bit dubious itself, but anyway.)

I am hardly a Luddite. But, I am discerning enough to identify a bright line that demarcates a evolutionary leap. Would GPS in the sport be bad? Maybe, maybe not. But, it would create a different sport.

And if a decision as arbitrary and capricious as this allows for satellite-based distance measuring, I can anticipate other equally arbitrary and capricious decisions down the road that continue to mold orienteering into an activity involving much different techniques than practiced at its infancy.

But, again, I may not understand what went into the decision or the justification for it. Yet, on the surface, it strikes me the way TomWow! described.
Sep 9, 2009 5:53 AM # 
True, Fins are the real cheats. but not the only ones for sure.

Let's imagine my friend who starts early meets me at the car park and shows me on an old copy of the map where all of the controls are, and what his route choices were...

No need to imagine that, it happens regularly. There is no much we can do about it. Also information if somebody is watching a field in key places just in case one feels like running on the edge if the field and not in forest. Why do we have to let them use gps units with controls as waypoints too, even if we cound could do something about that. Note, this rule is not for elite WRE races but for races of regular mortal people.

Why do you think it so good idea to allow orienteers use gps? Whats would be wrong to let them ony carry this to and not use it for navigation? No harm done, all post analysis could be done, and no one could so easily use it for navigation is secrectly.

I could imagine somone asking event director "am I allowed to use forerunner 305 and use it to distance measuring and other functions of it?" and getting aswer yes. On would think it then just ok to use recorded waypoints during the race. And it wuold not see it as cheating at all like jankoc wrote above.
Sep 9, 2009 11:48 AM # 
j-man: If the GPS is one side of the bright line, and the counter on the compass is on the other side, where does a pedometer lie? How about these footpod things that use accelerometers to measure stride length that work more accurately than pedometers?
Sep 9, 2009 12:19 PM # 
A bright spark down this way has been thinking about using gps chips to set courses using programmed waypoints, obviating the need for controls. Its a way of dealing with control security in urban areas.
Sep 9, 2009 12:25 PM # 
I am not sure where that counter actually falls. I tend to think that it has dubious value but one could argue that it is tantamount to a magnifier which restores sight to its full capacity. In this case, it restores the competitor's "steel-trap" mind to its original capacity and allows him/her to recall the count with no problem. But, at the end of the day this "augmented" competitor is still using the same map and same technique (pace counting.) Being able to remember with 100% certainly a number which measures a flawed and inaccurate process (viz. pace counting) isn't such a boon in my book.

The other devices you cite (and I wonder if you are just playing games with me for your entertainment) are more questionable, but luckily also dubious. I am curious to see them tested in terrain vs. a pace count. I'm not sure where they fall.

I think my criteria would be some combination of technology or methodology that is substantially effective to obviate the need to engage in traditional orienteering skills for a majority of competitors. That is why I would have no qualms with a person strapping a microwave to their head and negotiating the course that way. However, to the extent that it is later demonstrated that microwaves on the head produce some sort of navigational advantage, we should talk. Lots of other innovations, besides GPS per se, will arise. I would apply the same standards to them.

And yes--making determinations is messy. But so is determining whether someone is following. That doesn't mean that it isn't important.

My complaints aren't that it is a violation of fair play (as anyone can get a GPS the same way everyone can get a fast action compass the same way everyone can get a honking LED bazooka for their head) but rather that GPS can dramatically change the sport. And this decision is a step in that direction.
Sep 9, 2009 12:33 PM # 
I have trouble seeing how a 305 can dramatically change the sport. If it did, I'd be seeing new techniques influencing the results at our events. There is an event every week and there are quite a few garmins out there. Nothing much seems to have changed. The same people are running at the same speed making theusual number of errors. What I am instead seeing is an increased appreciation of Routegadget. Maybe Forerunner 905 may have the potential to dramatically change the sport, but lets revisit the rules when we know what capacity the 905 delivers.
Sep 9, 2009 12:40 PM # 
> A bright spark down this way has been thinking about using gps chips to set courses using programmed waypoints, obviating the
> need for controls. Its a way of dealing with control security in urban areas.

@TheInvisibleLog: We've been doing that for a few training competitions using WhereIgo ( ) which comes preinstalled on some Garmin GPS'es. We define a course in WherIgo, and the runner gets a signal on the GPS when he/she reaches the control. Then can continue to the next. Had to have a 20x20 meter box defining the control though in case the GPS is a bit inaccurate. But no controls out - only the GPS to check. But that was a derail - sorry.


Regarding the GPS issue, I think IOF did the right thing for the major competitions with banning devices with a display completely. For smaller competitions, I would have preferred "allowed to carry but not to use" - but banning completely is in my opinion a lot better than allowing people to use the units actively as SOFT has done now.

On a few trainings I've actually used the track-display on my Forerunner 305 display to find out about my mistake - and making a potential 3-4 minute mistake into a 1 minute mistake by looking at the direction of my track for the last 100-150 meters. Especially on a training in Slovenia it really saved me once. By using it actively, I am 100% sure I would be able to reduce my total time spent on mistakes on a yearly basis by at least 3-5% (I'm not living in Sweden, so I won't get the chance to check it out). You'll also get the issue with the runners using GPS units for their orienteering and the ones refusing as they think it is against the idea.

I don't think using the GPS units would improve a race which you otherwise would have regarded as a perfect race (how many perfect races do you have each year?), but it can help reducing the risk for mistakes, and especially reduce the amount of time lost for a mistake. I am not sure if the Swedish rule makers actually tried to use the Forerunner watches to reduce mistakes (or even better let some elite orienteers try to do it for a period of time).
Sep 9, 2009 12:54 PM # 
It is more that I am worried about revisiting the rules when the 905 is available and we already have widespread acceptance of "harmless" GPS in the sport. (Although jankoc suggests why we should be concerned right now.) The incremental changes between the 905 and 805 may not be great, but between the 905 and no GPS profound.

Look how hard it has been for FINA to put the genie back in the bottle. It is a similar situation for the USGA, but they seem to be much more on top of things than other bodies when it comes to preserving the essence of the sport in the face of an unabating technological gale.

Anyway, let's not forget the discussions on this subject here and here where these issues already seem to have been debated to exhaustion.
Sep 9, 2009 4:19 PM # 
The footpods exist (example), and I'm not sure which side of the bright line they should fall on. In general, I would define the bright line as anything that would provide additional information not otherwise available to the competitor. This would clearly allow counters, magnifiers, and rulers, it might allow something like a ground measuring wheel or a sextant, and it would not allow GPS, a cell phone, or additional map.
Sep 9, 2009 4:31 PM # 
I know those footpods exist, and I have heard they work rather well for normal running. I am not sure how good they would be for forest running, and I would like to find out.
Sep 9, 2009 6:07 PM # 
I must support the decision. I believe that it helps our sport interms of elites posting their routes to show others exactly how they ran. plus i once tried to use the distance func on the watch to measure how far down a track i need to go and it wasnt very helpful as it took to long to keep and was about 20m off.
i can see how some people think its helpful but the worlds top elites will never concider using it as they are more accurate then any watch on the market.

if you think thats it a big benifit then we should ban compasses also as they aid us much more.
Sep 9, 2009 6:19 PM # 
I believe that it helps our sport interms of elites posting their routes to show others exactly how they ran.

They can do that without this rule.

if you think thats it a big benifit then we should ban compasses also as they aid us much more.

Yeah, and they should take away the sticks in hockey.
Sep 9, 2009 10:44 PM # 
I have compared my old 205 with a friends footpod. On the aths track the pod was probably more accurate. In the forest the pod didn't adjust for a changed stride length, but some simple a mental callibration would solve that. You also have to make sure the laces stay tied up.
Sep 10, 2009 6:44 AM # 
worlds top elites are more accurate then any watch on the market

SOFT dosn't gain anything with this rule. It just causes lots of confusion, opens up new interesting cheating possibilities very difficult to control and puts runners in inequal position. Just imagine what runners from other countries think when they race in Sweden. Note, they are not allowed to use gps in their home countries - at the same time SOFT now encourages Swedes to develope and learn techniques to use gps for navigation.
Sep 10, 2009 8:25 AM # 
Jagge, the mistakes you have linked to from the Nordic Champs are irrelevant. Those mistakes come about because elites are trying to run very fast, taking little or no time to look at the map, never mind a GPS. When they get it right then the ones at the top of the list will be far faster than anyone using a GPS.

At some stage you have to trust people. I don't think many people set out to cheat, and in any case so what if they do? They will know they haven't achieved their result by fair means - let them live with that. There isn't that much at stake at the sorts of error riddled speeds where a successful application of GPS might make a difference.

People should be allowed to carry whatever GPS they like - with the instruction from the organisers that they should not use it for navigation during the competition. That should be enough for now - lets see if there is actually a real problem in a few years time.
Sep 10, 2009 8:43 AM # 
@O-ing: The mistakes Jagge has linked to are very relevant - some of these mistakes would definitely have been smaller if all had been running with a GPS watch - even if they ignored the GPS watch until after they started making the mistake.

Take for example the NOC Relay,

With a Forerunner 305 GPS watch the two teams making the huge mistake would never have made this big a mistake - and would therefore probably have been in the Top 6 fight.

I'd say this actually forces all orienteers with ambitions in Sweden to buy a GPS watch. And it should be the Forerunner 305 as it has the possibility to view the track in addition to only distance measurements.

Maybe SOFT made a sponsor agreement with Garmin here? :-)
Sep 10, 2009 8:53 AM # 
It is a wrong signal to INVITE the competitors to USE their GPS as an aid. Who the f*** even asked for that? All what was needed was a solution to allow the pepole CARRYING their beloved gadget... It would have been quite easy to develop a procedure with some kind of seals being sticked at the display...

Sep 10, 2009 9:19 AM # 
@jankoc: Your link is just as irrelevant. A one second, proper, look at a compass would have prevented those mistakes.
Sep 10, 2009 9:28 AM # 
second, proper, look at a compass would have prevented those mistakes

True, but thats not the point. The point is taking risks and paying for it by making mistakes is part of the the game. If mistake is already done (forgotting to look at compass) you can minimize mistake by looking at gps trail and save minutes. This is why those links are not irrelevant.
Sep 10, 2009 3:09 PM # 
It is a wrong signal to INVITE the competitors to USE their GPS as an aid. Who the f*** even asked for that?

Sep 10, 2009 6:16 PM # 
@O-ing: I'm with Jagge here. The GPS could help you minimize the mistake, even if you are one of the best orienteers in the world who made a glitch.
Sep 10, 2009 9:47 PM # 
The other federations should take notice. It seems to me that the SOFT is taking the lead. It's possible they believe that the future of international orienteering will include an expanded use of GPS by competitors. If it does then this is a brilliant move by the SOFT. By taking the lead they could give their athletes an advantage. They will have more practice incorporating GPS into their technique and give their athletes a possible advantage when the IOF comes around to their point of view. Also, when a country with so many orienteers adopts a practice, that practice is more likely to become widespread whether people like it or not. At a minimum the SOFT is being prudent.
Sep 10, 2009 10:04 PM # 
I would frame it differently: SOFT is sowing the seeds of the demise of the sport as we know it.

Sep 10, 2009 11:07 PM # 
I think it isn't neccesarily a bad decision.. i have a garmin (which i bought specifically for orienteering).. i want to be able to use it at local events and even my national champs to compare routes and the likes.. not to cheat
Sep 10, 2009 11:20 PM # 
So we must just wait when will come a day with happy winner who will be explaining how wonderful GPS are, bla, bla, bla,.....

I don't like this development but at the end we are also a very large customer group who need a few years to become a happy friendly users. One of the customer is also IOF and their development problem because orienteering is a very cheap sport. So I think the message is: You don't need a GPS to go orienteering, you just need to buy GPS.
Sep 10, 2009 11:42 PM # 
This point has been made before, but, I will do it again: it seems like the legitimate justification for GPS (within the confines of the sport as it used to be practiced) is to do post mortems. Then, the responsible solution would be to promote screen-less loggers before the installed user base of Garmin X05s is so large that drawing the line in the sand becomes even less palatable. But, no one likes hard decisions (of course, doing so in the future would be harder, so let's punt.)
Sep 11, 2009 12:41 AM # 
" let's punt."
I agree, but does this translate overseas? :-)

And, how does all this relate to the Swedish tradition of neutrality, and the national color being yellow?
Sep 11, 2009 4:30 AM # 
It's possible they believe that the future of international orienteering will include an expanded use of GPS by competitors.

They don't seem to believe that:

"SOFT assesses the benefit of using of a GPS watch in order to measure distance so small, that the basic idea of orienteering is not affected significantly."

In other words, it's not that different than being explicitly allowed to carry a microwave oven while orienteering.

I don't really think that the use of GPS would make much of a difference, except in the case of introducing people to the sport. It pains me to think about beginners showing up at a local meet, thrilled that they can go out there with their GPS, and doing so before they learn how to read a map properly. They won't be learning to orienteer, they'll be learning to do some other, new-fangled, bastardized version of orienteering. And if they keep it up they'll never be good orienteers, they'll just be good at whatever you want to call the gps-"enhanced" version of the sport.

If people want to do that, fine. Just do it somewhere else.
Sep 11, 2009 4:31 AM # 
Someone's going to say "Sweden", aren't they?
Sep 11, 2009 4:38 AM # 
I guess someone has to spit this out. A method for using Forerunner 205/305 for orienteering:

- you use the map view
- you take splits. Splits are seen as waypoins on map view
- on your way to #3 you compare triangle of control rings 1-2-3 on your map and triangle of waypoints 1 - waypoint 2 -your current location. The shapes of those two triangles should look the same (shape) when you reach the control.
- on your way to 3 you can compare triangles "1-2- the place you think you are" on map and "1-2-your current location" on gps screen.
- later on if for example #13 is close to controls #2 and #3 you can compare the shape of triangle "2-13-3" and "2-your current location-3"
- method does not work on way to #1, but to #2 you can use triangle "start-1-2"
- it does not do well if there is long leg in the very beginnig.
- elite runners just take spilts and never look at the screen if everything goes well. Like this they will not loose time for doing this. But if they get lost or start making mistakes they can get approximate location by checking these triangles. Doesn't take long if you have tried it couple of times. Useful too to minimize time loss in big mistakes.
- we mortals can use this also as compass to navigate close to the control (and ask someone there have the seen control nearby :)
- works especially well for night O, because there is more mistakes and more situations you are uncertain.

Some examples:
Imagine triangle 9-10-11 on map and 9-10- Föhr's curren location during mistake. Would have been easy to see immediately he is out of map and about how far and what directon he should go.

The first one, 10 min mistake by Martin Johanson. The whole course is here:

Using triangle "7-8-current location" he could have seen after 400m of running he has gone all too much left and is very close to #2. Also while making mistake he could have immediately seen he hasn't gone far enough (8-current_location is too short compared to 7-8) but he is on the line.

And, the best of all, #9 is pretty close halfway between #1 and #6. Just slightly closer to #1 than #6. So by using "triangle" 1-6-9 you could run very close to the control without looking map or compass at all.

This is what SOFT not lets us do. I am not sure do I agree with those who say this will not change anything.
Sep 11, 2009 7:33 AM # 
The next step of this evolution to our sport is: you don't get a map at the start anymore, but have to make an upload to your gps: upload of a map, and uploud of a course (waypoints).
The map can be an IOF-symbol map. After some years our GPS-receiver will become more and more intelligent, and will be able to calculate routes between controls, as our car-pgs-devices are already able to do so. The one with the GPS-device which can calculate the best routes, has a big advantage. A smart runner can be someone who takes another routechoice than the proposed one.
And no electronic punching or timing will be needed anymore: runners just upload their track (including splits) afterwards.

Or is this the way running races will be organised in the future?
Sep 11, 2009 1:58 PM # 
I hope it doesn't come to this, but it's worth noting there is another fairness issue in any interval-start competition allowing the use of GPS or GPS-distance as a navigation tool. The satellite geometry and therefore maximum precision (see DOP) can change significantly from hour to hour, especially when you have terrain features obscuring parts of the sky, and at northern latitudes (e.g. sweden!) where the satellites tend to be lower on the horizon.

You can predict future DOP for a given location with Trimble's Planning software, I have found this useful when deciding exactly when to go mapping with GPS.

I can see the start-list protests coming in already...
Sep 11, 2009 7:14 PM # 
At some stage you have to trust people. I don't think many people set out to cheat, and in any case so what if they do? They will know they haven't achieved their result by fair means - let them live with that.

I guess I'm a little more cynical of athletes in general. If the above were true, couldn't we dispense with the doping tent now present in most, if not all sports?

Unfortunately, the evidence suggests many athletes will use whatever technology is available, whether legal or illegal, to gain an advantage, and are quite content with the results (until caught, of course). To many, it is simply part of the sport to evade detection.

To support the quoted statement, an argument would have to be made that orienteering athletes are different, or the GPS is different w.r.t. other performance-enhancing technology. I don't think so, but I am willing to be convinced otherwise.
Sep 12, 2009 2:25 AM # 
Exactly. To blanket ban GPS's I think its incumbent on the banning advocates to demonstrate that there is a widespread problem of orienteers who cheat and also that a GPS is "performance enhancing" i.e. would actually help someone win an elite race (which I don't think it would, despite the fact that Jagge and Jankoc have clearly demonstrated that elites make mistakes like everyone else). When you are talking about "athletes" you are talking about professional sport and that is very different. There are a few professionals in orienteering but much less than athletics or the TV games e.g. football. In our sport there are already many ways people can cheat: I don't think many do. A general instruction that GPS should only be used for post-race analysis should be enough for most people.
Sep 14, 2009 11:10 PM # 
Jon W:
I've run with forerunners for a couple of years, 201 and now a 405, neither of which have map screens (or if they do I don't know how to use them). I really can't see any advantage to using these in a race. Even the 'get your buddy to run with the watch before you' is still going to be slower than a good run. It is probably more useful to get him to show you a copy of his map!

The only advantage that I can see from the messages above is that they might stop a very large mistake turning into a complete disaster, but I'm not sure that this would have much impact on the results of most meaningful races.

The watches are really useful for post race analysis so banning them seems to be foolish. I think that SOFT are just being pragmatic and trying to introduce a rule that is somewhat enforceable.
Sep 16, 2009 4:39 PM # 
A.Le Coq:
Not exactly on topic, but a real case with GPS in Finland.

Next sunday we have Finnish Champs Relay at North Karelia, organized by Kalevan Rasti. According the website, there will be GPS tracking on series H21 (15 teams) and D21 (10 teams). In addition, they state in competition rules that "any own GPS units are forbidden, except no-screen GPS units at H21 legs 3-4 and other series legs 2-3".
Sorry, website info only in Finnish.

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