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Discussion: Route choice through an uncrossable fence!

in: Sydney Sprint Series #2 (Jan 9, 2012 - West Pymble, NSW, AU)

Jan 10, 2012 2:57 AM # 
During the event we put on last night, a significant number of competitors were lured through a (sometimes) open gate in an uncrossable fence surrounding 3 sides of a netball court, this included a person who kindly posted their route on routegadget for all to see!

What should we do; (i) leave the results as stand, let people live with their conscience and learn form the incident or (ii) disqualify those who have an abnormally fast split for that leg, not ideal as it may not include everyone?
Jan 10, 2012 3:48 AM # 
Let the results stand.
Jan 10, 2012 4:41 AM # 
Uncle JiM:

Leave it as it is, he only made up 1 place, but have a talk to him, and inform him of the reason not to do it again
Jan 10, 2012 4:58 AM # 
I would guess that there were at least 25 abnormally fast splits for that leg, even my 9 yo son put 11 seconds into me by going direct (I've had a fatherly chat with him) but then I did go around the bottom of the courts rather than the top!
Jan 10, 2012 6:22 AM # 
No DQs! - we need to encourage transparency in Routegadget we have few enough posting as is.
Jan 10, 2012 7:39 AM # 
I'm certainly not advocating any DQs, especially as we don't actually know what people did. I'm just interested to see what people think and how we can better educate/ensure people read the map, particularly when it comes to Out of Bounds areas and uncrossable fences. With the growth of urban based events this becomes even more important as it can jeopardise future access.
Jan 10, 2012 8:21 AM # 
Don't go all 'letter of the Law' in what is a fun occasion for people to get out and exercise. Use it as an opportunity to educate - that will have a far more positive outcome for future events and interpersonal relations! Ideally (difficult) the control hanger would have noticed the open gate too and a mention made at start box. If a competitor struck it lucky and opened a closed gate - then that's where education is the answer... at first.
Jan 10, 2012 1:05 PM # 
If it was marked with an X on the map and streamered in the terrain, you could justly penalize folks (if you wanted to). Otherwise, they were just being opportunistic ("isn't this marked uncrossable? Oh, but I see a way through!"). O' shouldn't be about tricking people into making mistakes (a la WOC sprint last summer).
Jan 10, 2012 2:15 PM # 
In a case like this, it seems to me that there's also nothing to be lost by marking the inside of the court as out of bounds. Uncrossable features that separate permissable areas are sometimes hard to discern on the map, but when one side of teh feature has no legitimate access, you might as well make it easier for the runners to see what is what.
Jan 10, 2012 11:39 PM # 
Isn't a gate, by definition, a gap in a fence mapped as uncrossable? If the gate wasn't mapped, that could be interpreted as a mapping error.
Jan 11, 2012 12:31 AM # 
I'm assuming it was a gate which is normally closed but was open on the day of the event - a perennial problem with sprint events. When we had one of those at an event I was controller for, we stationed an official in the gate.
Jan 11, 2012 12:59 AM # 
It was a gate that was closed when the controls were put out but was opened at some stage during the event.
Jan 11, 2012 1:17 AM # 
I ran through the gate as I though it was a mapping error. I think It should have been done as OOB area.
Jan 11, 2012 2:31 AM # 
I don't think OOB is a good option since the fence only goes around 3 sides - the area is easily accessible from the other side and isn't an area that would normally be OOB - its a public playing surface.
I'm assuming the fence was marked uncrossable because it was a significant physical barrier and so according to ISSOM should be marked uncrossable as some more able-bodied orienteers may gain advantage by scaling it.
As opposed to a barrier denying access to a fragile, naturistic or private area which the land holders have requested orienteers keep out of.
Probably the gate should have been marked on the map - after that it comes down to the luck of the draw on whether its open or not.
Stationing an official there for a low-key event like this would be ridiculous, but should occur for World Champs or World Champs selection (That's what IOF Rules are for - not events like this).
Jan 11, 2012 2:48 AM # 
Didn't we have the same situation in a sprint event at the AIS earlier in the year? (Can't remember now whether the gate was mapped or not, though.) When I think about it, the primary reason to map a normally-locked gate in an uncrossable fence is if you are expecting it to be open and have mapped it as such. You could map it as a closed gate, but then it's not relevant to route choice, and may be better left unmapped...

P.S. Are there any sheep stations at stake in this event? Or just ice creams resting on individual performances? :)
Jan 11, 2012 3:20 AM # 
Have a look at the splits on AP, its pretty obvious who cheated and who didn't.

In this case the organiser chose to let the results stand... although it looks as though her husband was a short-cutter !
Jan 11, 2012 3:28 AM # 
The gate was closed when I was there but it looked like it could be opened easily, it didn't appear locked. I don't think there should be any DQ's
Jan 11, 2012 4:44 AM # 
They did have an official stationed at a gate in the JWOC sprint final last year, but s/he didn't stop competitors going through all the time, and some ended up gaining time over the ones that were turned back, and were not all DQd.

I wouldn't draw the gate unless it was definitely going to be open for the duration of the event. As it wasn't drawn, then competitors must respect the barrier under the rules and not use it. Whether you DQ depends on the status of the event, but even at low-key events a quiet word with the offender (especially after s/he's provided the evidence in Routegadget!) would then put some pressure on them to DQ themselves.
Jan 11, 2012 4:52 AM # 
Seems like it would be pretty pointless to have a lockable gate on a fence that goes only 3/4 of the way around the area. I'm guessing that there's some reason why you can't simply tie it open during events (e.g. people using the courts want it closed to keep balls from escaping). On the other hand, if people were expected to be playing netball in there, then maybe it should have been out of bounds. But the situation is what it is: the fence is mapped as uncrossable and no gate was shown, so competitors are not supposed to go though it. (This is why I prefer regular orienteering, you can for the most part go where you want, if you can manage it.)
Jan 11, 2012 11:49 AM # 
Really, uncrossable features on a sprint map are a bit redundant as they can't be read by the majority of mortals at speed, Why not just mark the entire netball court as out-of-bounds to ease the confusion? As for uncrossable flower beds.. I mean really
Jan 11, 2012 3:22 PM # 
simmo wrote: I wouldn't draw the gate unless it was definitely going to be open for the duration of the event. As it wasn't drawn, then competitors must respect the barrier under the rules and not use it.

I disagree with this. If it is the leg I think, (8-9, maybe?), the gate is directly on the line. If the competitor sees it, there is no reason to read the map---it's clearly passable.

I'm sure there is some level of map marking that I would agree is adequate, but my threshold would be pretty high---I'd much prefer a magenta or purple "uncrossable" line on the map and a tape across the gate. If the gate wasn't directly "on the line", I would maybe agree to an X on the map and no tape.
Jan 11, 2012 5:09 PM # 
I tend to agree with cedarcreek. Although I hate to heap more responsibilities on the already super-loaded organizers, I do see this as more of a mapping & course planning issue. If the planner wants to use this fence to create a route choice, then s/he must realize that the gate might be open and make an appropriate decision. One option would be to find some way to "properly" represent the map by including the opening in the fence and then marking it uncrossable using some special purple symbol and then some tape in the terrain and perhaps even a marshall. But another option is to adjust the leg so that the gate plays a smaller role - have the leg run diagonally across the netball courts for example.

This is a very similar situation to the JWOC and WOC sprints this year. The IOF did come out with a statement that this kind of course planning/mapping is to be avoided, and that the map must represent accurately what is in the terrain - and that, basically, it is not acceptable to simply use forbidden feature symbols to create "obstructions" when there is no such obstruction in the terrain.
Jan 11, 2012 11:09 PM # 
I pretty much agree with AZ and cedarcreek on this one. The mapper and course planner have an obligation to depict the terrain and possible route choices in an unambiguous way. A gate open and visible to the competitor should not be shown just as an extension of an uncrossable fence. Either prop it open, tie it closed, or shade the whole netball court out-of-bounds. This is a common problem with sprints and both organizers and competitors must recognize that sprints take place in dynamic environments.
Jan 12, 2012 3:04 AM # 
Best lesson to learn in this situation is to mark gates as open on the map, even if there is a chance they will be closed. If the gate open, no problem. If closed, everyone would quickly see it shut as they approached and then change route. Its a greater risk to map the fence with the gate closed. Of course, a different course might need a different solution.
Jan 12, 2012 3:14 AM # 
Larry :
i think this is a non-issue.
being a fairly low-key event, no need to dsq anyone.
what's on the map is final. no questions asked. the difference between a crossable fence and an uncrossable fence is whether the organisers want it crossable or not! that goes for all features on a sprint map. even if there weren't a fence on the ground but one marked on the map, you cannot cross it.

if a gate is marked as open, you can do what you want to that gate. if its marked as closed you cannot cross it.
Jan 13, 2012 6:55 AM # 
I agree with mikeminium and AZ and their solutions.

WOC in France this summer will long be remembered for its uncrossable wall and OOB lawns. Those disqualifications, arguments, and disappointments need not have happened. They did happen because the planners, controllers, and advisors did not take enough time to figure out what could happen in the heat of competition.

I think a basic course planning principle is at play here. The planner needs to understand what O skill each leg is testing. I don't think setting up situations where folks could be disqualified is really testing O skills.

Move the control.

This discussion thread is closed.