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Discussion: World record in orienteering

in: Orienteering; General

Oct 16, 2004 7:48 PM # 
Today, the new world record for the most number of controls on a single course was set in Larvik, Norway. The 12km point-to-point course had 120 controls and the race attracted around 35 participants.

Check out the map at:

The previous record was held by Thierry Guergiou with 115 controls on a training run.
Oct 18, 2004 1:07 AM # 
Jim (James) Baker originally from NEOC, now from Canada, finished 32nd out of 35.
Oct 18, 2004 3:30 AM # 
ANy ideas what the North American record is?
Oct 19, 2004 5:00 AM # 
Can't speak authoritatively to NA records, but I can tell you the most I've encountered. Let's see, excluding Rogaines and other score-O things, we have:
2003-10-05: 43 controls, Hudson Highlander, Hogencamp Mountain, NY
1989-09-10: 41 controls, NE Long-O Champs, Fox Forest NH. Note that this was a Motala, so some of those 41 were repeats.
2002-03-30: 35 controls, Susquehanna Stumble, Great Falls, MD. The most I've had without a map exchange.
1999-09-26: 29 controls, US Champs Day 2, Spooner Lake, NV. The most (I think) I've had on a interval-started course (i.e. non mass-start).

I guess I should state the obvious here, that I think this is a supremely goofy record with no meaningful virtue, that could easily be extended almost without bound, limited only by people's patience and the availability of control markers. Anybody think I should try to get my hands on 200 flags and hang them out at Pawtuckaway?
Oct 19, 2004 4:27 PM # 
arent all world records supremely goofy with no meaningful virtue that could easily be extended almost without bound, limited only by people's patience?

If I can find someone to hang 200 controls for me, I'll be totally up for it!!
Oct 19, 2004 9:03 PM # 
you looking for glory again mr mahr? not enough to be headlining the news page of lifco as the only person to have run three orienteering races in the one day in the paris region?

i'd be the last to suggest that that is virtually meaningless and goofy ;p
Oct 19, 2004 10:24 PM # 
Do I smell a CSU 201-control Orienteering Challenge sometime soon?

Oct 19, 2004 10:50 PM # 
It would only be appropriate for such an event to take place in Texas because, as we all know, everything's big in Texas.

Besides, I'd be too far from CSU's home to participate. ;-)
Oct 19, 2004 11:02 PM # 
Take the top 150 all time points getters in Billygoat history and make those the codes for the 2005 Billygoat race. 150 controls would make control skipping a lot more interesting!
Oct 20, 2004 2:22 AM # 
For the possible NA record, QOC had 51 controls at a local meet in Greenbelt, MD. Vytenis Benetis was the course setter. Date was 10/6/02. Nadim Ahmed posted splits and comments on this site.

A world record for number of controls seems to be a better (certainly less silly) gimmick for a fundraising event than culvert crawling, and we have plenty of teams and projects within USOF that need fundraising.

And the Monday after the Texas A-meet is a holiday (I think there is already a plan for something for Monday after Alabama)...

Just don't go all the way to 200. After all, 121 is a new record too, for the moment.
Oct 27, 2004 8:46 PM # 
Braking the world Record is something you should do. After all north americans should do something. Why should norway have the glory? But after norway broke thierry guergiou, he said to us that he is motivated to brake it again, so guys might have to do more than 121. He'll probably to 125.
It will be quite interesting to have sport ident on that many controls. With e-mit you can fit 48 controls, and can have every 3rd control, but what about sport ident, it might be less. You might just have to do the traditional punching system.

I don't think this world record is meaningless... okay, yes it might be goofy, but think of all the training you get out of it. it took me over 3 hours to do it, so 200 controls would take you 5 hours. thats a lot of training. Thats like puting 15 races together.

But i think the whole thing should be in canada. then it can be proffesionally done. they know how to do it. It wouldn't be a problem for them at all.

So go ahead and brake the record. But i think that if the record is to be broken someone has to finish, but i am not entirely sure.
Oct 27, 2004 8:57 PM # 
I've got the first 100 controls of such a course designed so far, and if I sit down for a few more minutes some evening, I can design the rest. 150 no problem, maybe more. There are plenty of features at Pawtuckaway. And once nice thing is that visibility is low enough there that in most cases you probably won't be able to see the next control when you're punching, even though the legs will be extremely short.

One issue involves e-punching. The guys in Norway who set this up appear to have created a set of rules for such things. If somebody sets a course to break the record, but operates under a different set of rules, who's to say that it isn't legitimate?

It appears that the way they set it up, you just had to touch the controls, but 15% of them, randomly selected, had e-punching. If I were to set this up, I'd probably use pin punches at every control. This would slow people down, to be sure, because all of that punching would take time. And you'd have to carry a small deck of punchcards. I'm not worried about people taking controls out of order, because I don't think there's a shorter route that would visit all of the controls. But there are controls here and there that you might miss if you weren't paying attention.

If I put the controls out sometime next year, would people show up? Early spring, perhaps.
Oct 27, 2004 9:39 PM # 
I'm not sure precisely how far I'd travel just for that - the distance goes up if it's part of a racing or training weekend. The world record may be silly but it sounds like a good training exercise. Even if it will be difficult to duplicate my normal control-taking system given that the control descriptions won't fit on my left forearm. Quite possibly not even on both my forearms.
Oct 27, 2004 9:49 PM # 
You may have to wear the control descriptions kriss-kross across your front like Pancho Villa.
Oct 28, 2004 1:24 AM # 
For an extra $10 or so, design a necktie (or sash) with all 120+ clues that a competitor can use in the competition and wear afterward!?!?
Oct 28, 2004 1:45 AM # 
Good Grief! The Comedian's a-bear.
No he's not. He's a-wearing a neck'a tie!
-Fozzie Bear (The Muppet Show Record Album)

Seriously, Thierry does this as a control picking exerise, not (necessarily) to break records. Everyone should be there. It sounds like great fun.
Oct 28, 2004 2:44 AM # 
I looked at the Larvik map. I don't think the route choices look all that interesting. :P

Oct 28, 2004 2:47 AM # 
JJ, you set it, i'll be there.
Oct 28, 2004 1:27 PM # 
Have an e-card exchange every 30 controls (tho I wouldn't want to be the one to hang and program the units ...)

Seriously tho, if you set it, we will come ... it does sound like good training

Oct 28, 2004 5:22 PM # 
CSU committed at the recent US champs to holding a sprint training weekend. Maybe we can combine these two - four or five sprints Saturday, and a world record attempt Sunday? Any interest? J-J?
Oct 28, 2004 5:56 PM # 
There is another orienteering related record to beat, it's the one-day sport event with the largest number of participants:
last year on May 23, there were 207'979 participants at the 'scool' event in Switzerland. This means >200'000 (mostly) kids started at 1381 individual orienteering events on 'schoolyard' maps. More than 1 Millon controls were punched during this event...

This record attempt is submitted to the Guinessbook of Records
Oct 28, 2004 6:06 PM # 
I wish we could seriously challenge that last feat in the US...
Oct 28, 2004 6:13 PM # 
The only hitch with doing both events is getting our hands on enough controls. I'd be interested in running in the sprints, so I'd want to put out most of the Sunday controls ahead of time. That makes it a bit tougher to move Saturday controls to Sunday locations (of course, if it's a series of elimination rounds like last time, I'll probably wash out early). But it's doable. After daylight savings time starts would make it easier. And we'd have to schedule it for a weekend when there's nothing else going on in New England, so as to be able to borrow all of the available flags. I'd also need some people to commit in advance to helping with control pickup on Sunday.

Hey, maybe it will be a popular event and we'll have 210000 people showing up. :-)
Oct 28, 2004 6:24 PM # 
More thoughts on punching --

Rather than have punching apparatus at the controls,
and runners carrying a punch card, reverse it. Each
runner carries their personal pin punch and punches
a sheet by their name at the feature. Thus you need
to rustle up less equipment. You could even do
without flags, although they do make it more fun.
Of course, won't work if 210000 people show up,
but given it seems it will be at least 20K, I imagine
there will be more controls than runners.
Oct 28, 2004 7:25 PM # 
I we get 100 people to a meet they only need to punch (more than) 10000 controls each for the second part of the Swiss record to be broken. I don't want to be pessimistic, but I agree the 'bodies in the forest' part might be a bit tricky in North America. Or maybe we can set up a control or two for the five million expected in Boston for Saturday's parade...
Oct 28, 2004 9:16 PM # 
to get around the control shortage problem and add spice to the race at the same time...

only the first 80 (say) control flags are out beforehand. ten minutes after the last/mass start the start officials sprint after, collecting controls as they go...
and pass them on to the setters who have to get to the 81st control before the pack...
Oct 28, 2004 10:02 PM # 
I think Randy's ideas about carriyng your own punch and punch a sheet(waterproof), beside your name(or rank #) and no flags are great and we should do it that way and we just might set some new world records by doing it that way(unoficialy most likely), but it will be more fun.Instead of controls, the name punch list would be hung at the exact control description location, with the control code at the top,folowing the same general rules of conrol hanging, this would simplify things a lot
Oct 28, 2004 11:02 PM # 
I like the idea of people running around with a punch i the hand, however punching has to be fast and easy. If you spend 10" per control you will spend more than 20' punching... so just touching the flag and punching every nth might be an idea worth considering.
Oct 28, 2004 11:41 PM # 
In theory, I would be interested in attending a weekend of sprint-O on Saturday and enduro control picking on Sunday. As a practical matter, my schedule is busy and my travel budget is limited, so the chance that I would actually make it across the country from Seattle is pretty small, unless there were some additional reason(s) for me to be making the trip.
Oct 29, 2004 6:53 AM # 
I participated in the 120 controls race in Norway. It was a win-win situation for orienteering, for my club, and for myself. We got top publicity with the main Norwegian TV channel sending a 2 minutes action oriented session during the main news on Saturday evening. My club (Tyrvning) participated with 30% of the participants, we were all running in our club suits with our sponsor logos (which could help to get continued support from our sponsors). For myself, I got great technical value. The race was held in one of the most technical terrains in Norway, the course was set by a Norwegian Team coach, you had to be top concentrated all the time, just 5 of the 120 controls were really easy, and the technical difficulty was increased towards the end of the course. For me the 80 first controls went relatively easy, but it was interesting to experience the increased difficulty you had with your head and map reading dsuring the last 30-40 technical controls. Good luck to do something similar in North America.
Oct 29, 2004 8:30 AM # 
The Norwegian organisers have put together a set of rules to follow for future world record attempts..seem pretty sensible to me:


1. Free start

2. Flags on every control (normal or small)

3. Random electronic punching at least 15% of the controls

4. Electronic start/finish

5. Rest of the controls – “touched”

6. DSQ-check afterwards on electronic controls

7. A-level on the course (difficult orienteering)

8. Just one map (not map-change)

9. Free map-scale

(info from a letter sent to Thierry Georgieou, stolen from, where the French are discussing their own attempt, but with only a meagre 125 controls)
Oct 29, 2004 5:16 PM # 
Just go with 130 controls the same day he is doing his event, problem solved.
Oct 29, 2004 7:26 PM # 
A lot of world record attempts are also fund-raisers. Maybe we could get people to sponsor a control. Or else have competitors get pledges from friends for each control punched. Lots of people are willing to make these kind of donations if it's involved with a World Record.
Oct 29, 2004 10:58 PM # 
Well, random elecronic punching on "at least 15%", sounds good, you only need 23 stations, for 150+ controls and the random factor would take care of the fairness as well, since you won't know at what control to expect a e-punch station.
Also, to announce it, as a fund raiser event and world record attempt is an exccelent idea as well
Oct 29, 2004 11:12 PM # 
Oh, and J.J., Pawtuckaway is probably one of the most fitted maps/terain to have this event organized on,altough, we have manny other maps/ areas that would pertain to something like that.
Actualy the idea of organizing something like this, is so atractive, I am going start working on setting a course with ~140 controls on one of the maps that i wiil find that would pertain to such course setting and I will post the outocome here , even if I will put it on or not.If I will organize something like this, it will definitaley be a weekend and a fund raiser.
Oct 31, 2004 9:31 AM # 
I was just telling Marc about this idea and he said he would fly in for the event! He is now looking at his race schedule for the year...if such an event would take place, maybe it could take place after WOC 05, we might be in the States then... hehe!
I think its a great idea as a fundraiser, and the idea of having some one sponsor a control is also great! I'm in!
Nov 2, 2004 1:14 PM # 
If you want to have this as a fund raiser, it sounds like a good idea, and the best place and time would probably be in the world masters. Not only would there be many people to pertisipate, I will have a chance to be there to run, and the best part is that it'll be organized by canadians, unless if you are thinking of putting the event there and have a fundraiser for your club etc. (which you'll make thousands on) The con would be you can't use your home terrain that you would like to use. And yes, an idea of someone sponsoring a control, i think is also a great idea.
Nov 2, 2004 2:28 PM # 
From discussions with JJ this past weekend on this idea - at Pawtuckaway there could be the additional record of 100% of the controls having the same basic control description - the boulder. Of course, would have to ignore the rule about no controls within 100 m on similar features, otherwises the overall length would get out of control. With proper control siting, could still ensure that you couldn't see the next flag while standing next to one - could maybe see the next boulder, but not the control tucked behind it. Maybe even see how many controls could be hung around one boulder in particular (the REALLY big one) while still not being able to see the next control. Boulder W side, boulder S side, boulder E side, boulder N side, then on to the next boulder....
Nov 5, 2004 10:46 AM # 
Larvik actually had more than 15% with e-punching. I'll look at my split printout to see how many they actually used, but I understand that Emit cards can hold 48 punches or so. That seems like roughly the number they used (1 in 3).

Using e-punching certainly made doing the results easier for them, at the expense of some extra effort putting them out. (But setting out Emit punches is programming, no turning them on.) I figure that any arrangement that validates a reasonable percentage of the controls is legit.

One organizer actually did wear a necktie made of the control descriptions. (I figured that a scroll or tiny print and a magnifier might be more practical to run with. :-) Actually, I enjoyed not using descriptions. I like just navigating to the feature in the center of the circle. (To a large degree, control descriptions are an anachronism, from ages when course overprinting was often seriously misaligned with the map. Better technology has made a number of things in orienteering seemed dated or obsolete...but that's another subject!)

Have fun if you do the event. It was a great training exercise. (I hope to incorporate mega-control-picking in winter training in's great for practicisng quick map reading and decision making, not to mention practising all those little bits of your method (thumbing, map folding), concentration, maintaining a flow, ...)
Nov 5, 2004 2:28 PM # 
I've got 198 controls on my Pawtuckaway course draft now, though I still need to put in something for the control descriptions on most of them, and I'll surely adjust some things. One idea that was mentioned was an attempt to use as many different control description symbols as possible, and I may give that a go. I haven't decided whether I'll go ahead with all of the controls that I've dreamed up or not. The length at the moment is just under 19 km, and I'd probably have shorter options for people who want to do just the first 50 or first 100 or whatever.

It does look like plans are in the works to have this be a weekend event, probably hosted by CSU, maybe a US Team fundraiser. Saturday would be somthing shortish/sprintish in nature, I think, perhaps like the single-elimination tournament they did last year, and then Sunday would be the preposterous control-picking exercise.
Nov 5, 2004 10:06 PM # 
For such a long race I think we should try to avoid the worst mosquito-season.

Alternatively, we could try to set a combined world record for the number of mosquito bites.
Nov 12, 2004 1:33 PM # 
Speaking of world records. We might have already beaten one. "The world record for the longest discussion on attackpoint" (at least from the amount on replies. I don't know about words). Isn't this the longest one (But i am not going to bother to count)? If not, at least soon, if a few more replies comes a long. So not only can we combine with the most musquito bites, but also with this discussion.
Nov 12, 2004 5:03 PM # 
the new discussion feature on the main page helps - who ever bothered to scroll down three pages to see whether there was a new reply to the older posts? thanks kenny!
Nov 12, 2004 8:05 PM # 
Yes, very nice!

P.S. Just to add to the length of the World record :)
Nov 12, 2004 8:08 PM # 
By the way, I am setting 40 controls (~14K) point-to-point course in a week. Everyone is welcome!

Next year I may easily tripple the number of controls :)
Nov 17, 2008 3:01 PM # 
i think the record with the most controls is 216 controls on 23,8 km and 750m(high). this made the two germans ingo horst and christian teich.

This discussion thread is closed.