Hello Mike! Didn't notice your comment on my training log since I haven't been AP'ing for awhile. Anyhow here is an explanation of Halden relay training:
This method was invented and organised by Halden team coach Kjell Puck and has been a standing part of their Tiomila (an dother relay) preparations for about the past 5 years. Can be done either day or night. Basically what you are trying to do is simulate real relay conditions like a leg changeover by spreading out a field of runners.
To give you a scenario. You have a course of about 5 - 6 km. You have 10 runners, similarly skilled but still with a clear distiction of who is best and worse and you rank the runners from 1 to 10. You start the no. 2 ranked runner first, then about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes after him you start a pack of runners say ranks 7, 8, 9 and 10. Then after another minute you start runners ranked 5 and 6, after another 30 seconds you start runners 3 and 4. And finally, pulling up the rear you start the no. 1 ranked runner (in total 4-5 minutes behind the first starter. Then just wait and see what happens. Obviously you can change the conditions quite drastically with different set-ups of course length, pack size, time spreads etc. so the training is renewable and exciting.
It is an excellent way of training a number of different important relay skills:
1. The pressure of being chased, knowing that you have people coming up from behind in packs and alone.
2. How to run as a chaser, especially if you are the best of the group. Having the confidence to stick to a set plan knowing that you should be able to catch up.
3. Keeping concentration on your own race while orienteering in a pack. Using the pack.
4. Training how to finish off a race tactically, i.e. how to finish first. Kind of like drafting in bicycle terms and knowing when to (or when not to) make your break.
I have done this training about 4-5 times in various constellations and although I'm sure I haven't seen all the possible outcomes, there have been a couple of things which always or nearly always happen.
1. The first guy always gets caught, we have not yet had an outcome where the first runner has been able to stay off on his own the entire way around.
2. Most commonly you don't end up with a sprint finish. Kjell Puck's assessment is that most man-to-man races are decided on the last few controls in the woods, not on the run-in (Obviously this years Tiomila constituted that all important exception to the rule) and this has proven itself most times we have done this training. Usually someone finds that right time to make his break and is able to stay in front. I know you're a statistics guy, and I will bet that if you could measure it there would be pretty high percentage in man-to-man competition where the person to punch first at the last control also finishes first. This years WOC relay was a pretty good confirmation of the rule.
3. Most of the time the no. 1 ranked runner doesn't catch the pack, in fact most of the times he ends up making a big error and loses time on the field. However, this is very individual, we also have one runner in the club who always catches up.
So in that sense it helps in team planning also, you get a good feel for who is a pack runner, who can make up time and who is a good finisher.
Hope you could understand this.
Tom, thanks. Sounds like good (and fun) training. If I get lazy I might just lift this and post it on my web page.