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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: UltraLong

in: Wyatt; Wyatt > 2009-09-15

Sep 21, 2009 7:43 PM # 
Hey Wyatt, I was just looking at the ultralong splits and saw that you were kicking butt most of the race. Impressive! What happened towards the end, though? I hope it wasn't an injury!
Sep 21, 2009 7:49 PM # 
In all seriousness this was very impressive. Bummer about the #14, I almost gave up there myself. This race should really give you a major boost in confidence though!
Sep 22, 2009 1:38 AM # 
Wyatt, you were clearly a leader with comfortable margin until #14! Very impressive! I hope no injury or such.
Sep 22, 2009 5:39 AM # 
I noticed that, too. You were like a guided missile.

I hope no injury also. Although I think it is possible to injure one's psyche on #14.
Sep 25, 2009 3:06 PM # 
Glad to see y'all watching. Yes, it was a solid race and I'm quite happy that I can orienteer well for nearly 2 hours. Physically I'm fine, but I was just over-trusting of the map, not even considering that the area from 13-14 could be totally un-field-checked at US Champs until it was way too late...
Sep 25, 2009 8:52 PM # 
So I'm not the only one that is disturbed that there wasn't even a mention about the un-fieldchecked parts of the map in the course/map notes, right?

I've been hesitant to make a bigger fuss about this because I had a shoddy run, and most of that was not the map's fault. To complain from my position is to appear a whiner. But you ran really well for most of it, so I feel like you have a better platform. Why is everyone so accepting of this situation for a US Champs? Even just for an A meet course?
Sep 25, 2009 8:54 PM # 
I posit that some of the comparative indifference may result from less enthusiasm in the O-community about the Ultralong champs. Were this the two-day (or one-day, apparently) classic champs, I imagine the response would have been more furious.
Sep 25, 2009 8:58 PM # 
I lost 10 min. on these two controls, but in other direction than Blue course.
Sep 25, 2009 9:07 PM # 
Dasha lost a lot, too.

I think Ian may be on to something. I am not sure what the implications of that are, however.

Anyway, for me it is mostly conjectural. I don't get nearly as excited about US Champs of any sort (besides the US Relay champs) as other people do.
Sep 25, 2009 9:15 PM # 
I've seen people get pretty riled up over comparably minor map issues for other, non-champs A meets. Which is why I'm surprised at the lack of hullaballoo, especially since I have read in many logs about 'issues' people had. Even if no one lost any time, I would consider the exact circumstances to be unacceptable.
Sep 25, 2009 9:21 PM # 
Here's another idea. The issues with the map meant that the penalty was very high if you needed to relocate. In F-21, Pavi handled the map just fine, probably because she never needed to relocate. I, however, did have to relocate, in a shoddy area, and lost a lot of time because of issues with the map. In other words, *first* I screwed up, *then* the map became an issue. Other times, when I ran through bad areas, it wasn't a problem because I knew where I was.

Basically, clean runs remained clean runs, unclean runs just got worse. So, with a possible exception of Wyatt's run, in most classes the order of finish was probably unchanged, with just a larger spread. Perhaps people think this isn't unfair?
Sep 25, 2009 9:32 PM # 
At least on the men's side, I did think fairness was preserved. The ordinal results probably makes sense. With the exception of Wyatt's outcome.

I will say, for better or worse, well by the time I got to 14, I knew the map was bad. I had already started modifying my technique prior to that point to accommodate the sketchiness. I took the safest route I thought possible to 14 and was still very scared and was talking to myself the whole way in.
Sep 25, 2009 10:03 PM # 
A bad map is unfair. I was scared by the lack of anything between 13 and 14 - fieldchecked or not - so I took the road to the pond. Even if a blank white space with a couple of formlines was accurately fieldchecked I'd be scared to run across it without something stronger to collect. I think I run too conservatively most of the time. Occasionally it pays off.

Clem, remember the discussion at the beach about mapping corridors? I was dinking around with some software to calculate the minimum amount of area on either side of a leg that needed to be mapped given estimated errors. Not sure why I was doing that, because I think its all bogus. If you are handed a map it should be entirely fieldchecked. You can talk and talk about how people will go this way or that way, but invariably someone will do something different or make an error and come from way out. I was already spooked by the rattlesnake map after I went out on the model on Friday. Some things were very weird over there. I ran a leg there twice (down the fall line on a bearing) because I had missed badly to the right. On the repeat I did exactly the same thing. Wasn't sure if it was me or the map. And there was a vast area of white-mapped hillside that was covered with greenery...all nominally inside the "fieldchecked area" box on the model map.

One could argue that Wyatt went out too fast for a 19km course. But I won't ;) Feet had the fastest feet of the day, judging by the splits.
Sep 25, 2009 10:29 PM # 
That is why you need to read the Briar Patch, aka the Scientific Journal of American Orienteering. Of course, we had an article on this subject. I'll cite it here for everyone's benefit. (One could also say that you could join in this illustrious tradition if you got your contribution to me ASAP, but I won't.)


Every leg a course setter sets will offer route choice in the trivial sense that orienteering has no set routes - even between controls where an obvious route "jumps off the map" there always be some room for variation in route actually followed on the ground. Often however, course setters intend to build route selection problems into legs (usually called "route choice" legs) and it is this sense of route choice that is our topic today. Route choice legs are one of orienteerings "sacred cows" and as such they loved for their own sake and seldom questioned or scrutinized. It is time to do so. The paramount thing to note is that legs that offer route choice are inherently more unfair than those that don't. If orienteering were all, rather than mostly, about navigation then perfect orienteering fairness would involve offering each competitor roughly the same ideal line to navigate. In offering route-choice we both introduce route problem-solving as an additional orienteering skill and we greatly magnify the potential for unfairness. Concerning route problem-solving as an orienteering skill, I have nothing to say here - other than to express my personal opinion that the problem-solving skill demanded by a leg should not out-weigh the navigational skills it requires. Orienteering is not riddling, nor is it chess. So let's move to the other aspect of route choice -- its potential for introducing unfairness.

Route-choice legs introduce (at least) the following "openings" for unfairness:

First -- Orienteering maps are not perfect. The best route "on paper" may present unforeseeable problems in the terrain. In offering a route-choice the course setter is making a promise that the correct solution to the route-choice problem will be rewarded. So clearly there is a special responsibility on the part of the course-setter to make sure that such is (as near as is possible) the case. The best route on the map must be the best route on the ground. This is of course a desideratum on non-route-choice legs also, but on route-choice legs it is essential.

Second -- The course setter must be even more wary than usual of "runner's route" options such as trails, roads, fields, streams and other handrail features. The unfairness here is that such "runner's route" options reward running speed over navigation and may allow a strong runner deficient in navigation skills to prevail. Rather a leg's route-choice should allow the running orienteer to reach the control considerably more quickly than the orienteering runner. One too often encounters route-choice legs where even the skilled navigator would be foolish to decline the runner's route option.

Third -- Since some long orienteering course legs are both desirable in themselves and offer greater scope for route-choice, route-choice legs are often long and this compounds the previous "openings" for unfairness. So the course setter's responsibility for on the ground checking of long legs is greater and danger of unfair runner's routes is also magnified.

Finally -- I am not trying to discourage course-setters from offering route-choice legs. I am encouraging them to take a more thoughtful approach to route-choice -- well done, it adds greatly to the interest and enjoyment of our sport. But I would say that badly designed route-choice legs are a significant source of unfairness and frustration.
Sep 30, 2009 12:54 AM # 
I could whine, perhaps justly - but what is the remedy? We can't go re-run the 2009 US Long Champs, so the only remedy in my mind is in product reputation.

I didn't know much about ROC course setting, but up until now, I've thought it was decent in my mental box of 'upstate NY orienteering'. ROC course setting, when not attached to a name I associate with quality (e.g. Will Hawkins course setting ranks quite high), has dropped IMO, and probably CNYO as I lump the upstate NY clubs into one box in my head.

My impression of Mark Dominie mapping, which I've traditionally found to be beautifully readable and among my favorite maps, now has a stain for potential lack of completeness, at least w.r.t. the planned areas to be mapped and coordination with the course setters that allows for just enough map to be completed in Mark's fine fashion.

In response to this, I will, for example, be less likely to attend upstate NY A-meets, unless I know the Course Setter and have an exception for him/her, and getting on a new Mark Dominie map is no longer a priority - I'd rather let others test drive it.

I agree with Eddie that I went out too fast, but if the map to 14 had been reasonable, it would've been much more interesting to see if my (rapidly) failing speed around the 2-2.2 hour point would've more than countered the gap I'd created in the aggressive run to that point...

This discussion thread is closed.