Sunday, July 17, 2016

Bad and good way to organize sprint course

On the picture you can see a bad way to organize sprint course. The example is from SM-sprint 2014. Several top-athletes (Jonas Leandersson, Emil Svensk, Pavlo Ushkvarok, Ralph Street and some others) came to the trap: artificial fence crossing the street. It is really difficult to see such un-natural obstacles.

Another bad example is from WOC-2011 (FRA):
This is the part of the WOC-sprint qualification map. I have been their (like Russian coach): olive inside the circle is just usual grass without flowers. 44 (!!!) runners were disqualified by stepping on the grass (there were no Russian among disqualified runners, but such situation is terrible for the international event!).

I am against traps in sprint orienteering!

And here are some good examples of sprint organization from recent EOC in Czech Republic:

There are some artificial fences on the course. And this is good way to create some nice route choices, but all new fences have a red stripes behind. It is easy to see obstacle and keep focus on the route choice and navigation instead of searching of traps! Well done!!

Some more good decisions are:

Taped areas helps to runner to recognize forbidden situation, avoid breaking the rules and keep focus on the navigation.

Dear organizers of #WOC2016, #WOC2017, #WorldGames2017 and so on! Please, count good experience of EOC-2016 and exclude lottery moments from sprint courses! Many thanks in advance!

P.S. Another suitable case of using fences to make good route choices (from SM-Sprint 2016):
It is easy to recognize fences on the map and this creates nice route choices. I like it!


  1. How about this?

    1. In fact no one was disqualified at the event you have mentioned (Russian Cup 2016).

    2. Here is just your 2nd example. I can say about this: if you accustomed to this, you dont put over olive area. So, in my opinion, WOC 2011, wasnt bad example.

    3. There is difference between Russian Cup 2016 and WOC-2011. At Russian Cup organizers used olive for every-thing. At WOC-2011 early at the course absolutely same situations were drawn like a yellow. And only to the end - suddenly olive came to the map. Take a look at the location of the last control. Border between white and olive was exist only on the map! And 44 disqualified runners is a good lesson to avoid traps and such inconsistency in the future.

    4. 44 disqualified runners in France means mainly that there were a lot of runners that didn´t read there map when running to last control. From the map it was easily to see that anything than the tracks have been out of bounds.

    5. @StH - if it is so, then why 3 runners (including Scott Fraser) among disqualified after protests from their team officials passed to the final?..

  2. I completely disagree.
    It is a "trap" only if you are not careful enough. Reduce your speed, look at the map -- everything will be ok!
    What is really bad is when it is not fair. For example, if the map does not comply ISSOM. Your examples are fair -- everything is according the rules and same for everyone.
    If it is fair, then "trap" and "unnatural" are words of losers.

    1. Orienteering is not a solving puzzles! Our mind uses patterns. Wide street is the pattern "I can run through". With jogging 5 min/km you can get as much information from the map as you want. But with the speed of 3.00-3.05 min/km you got another feelings: 0.4 mm lines are on the edge of our perception. As for example I mentioned before (SM-sprint): there is lottery moment - in fact many runners with left route choice did not see the fence, they just made this route choice and fortunately there were no obstacles (instead of right route choice of J.Leandersson and other top-runners). It is easy to avoid such things - draw red stripes behind and lets runners focus on the orienteering, not puzzle solving

    2. Orienteering *is* solving puzzles indeed. Any route choice is a puzzle -- with known rules.
      If you do not want to solve puzzles then athletics is for you.

      Your speed is your choice. No one cares. Win the race with 10 min/km speed -- get the glory.

      Your argument about lottery is just nonsense, because you can say it about absolutely any control with route choice. (The winner took left just by luck, he did not do any choice at all; but he is still the winner in a fair competition).

      If you complain that 0.4 is on (beyond) the edge, you may complain to IOF. You may try to change the rules. But for now it is a rule, and it is a sensible one for me and many others.

    3. Sprint is pretty specific competition. It is orienteering on the edge. Check carefully every leg and you will find your-self at the bottom of the result list. Last EOC World class runners Maja Alm and Tue Lassen over-jumped control and lost time, great sprint runners (Emil and Andrei) was making the same mistakes over career several times. Why this happens with best of the best athletes? Are they loosers as you call it?? No! Thats the part of the game. Thats the sprint competitions. You have to perform everything on the edge (otherwise - welcome to hobby level runners). But still counting correct order of controls is possible to train (there are some techniques - invite me to make the lecture/seminar). The recognition of control point location is the part of the skills (and once more - there are some techniques).

      And by the way, route choice is not a puzzle solving! It is the part of the O-skills. But looking for some shity tiny fences across the street (especially inside the area with dozen other details) - this is lucky/lottery thing (I am not talking about labyrinth sprints like World Cup-2014 in Finland ( - there is another way of thinking/desicion making in such sprints.

      If you want more trouble with getting information from the map - use bad quality of printing, draw every tree and bench on the map or cut circles (around control point), use olive in random base (actually - this is another challenge, cause private territory exists only on the map), put some fences in unexpected places. But I am against it!

    4. If they say that day "ok, I lost today. It is my fault, I did not see what I should. Next time I will see it. And I will win." then they are not losers. If they say "I lost today because this rubbish fence is unnatural" then they are losers. It is their choice.

      Of course it is a part of the game. The rules of the game are written. If the game is prepared according the rules -- go and win it. If you cannot -- do not whine.

      Rules say nothing about "edge". No one cares if you run on edge or with 100 bpm. In any sport, even in athletics.

      If route choice is not puzzle solving for you, why do you say that seeing a fence is a puzzle solving? You are given a map with known specifications. Go and use it as good as you can. The winner is the best.

      Bad quality of the printing, hidden pieces of the map are against the rules. Therefore, it is not orienteering. Rubbish. Mapped fence is according the rules. Perfect, go and win it!

    5. It is possibly to cut circles around control point position (to better recognition of some detail on the edge of circle). This is according to the rules. If you cut circle several times then you are still inside the rules. But I saw many times like such practice leads to overjumping of control. A lot of un-necessary details on the map is also inside the rules. But this is the way to confuse runner! And proper generalization helps to make better the process of information extraction.

    6. [Sorry, I misunderstood what you said about cutting circles]

      No, it is not according the rules. Because controls are mapped by circles (with just some sections possibly omitted). If it is not a circle, then it is not by rules. Over jumping usually happens when it is not a sensible circle. Otherwise, it is the problem of the runner.

      Same with unnecessary details. Only those details should be mapped that are important for navigation.

      Of course, all these is subjective. So you should use your common sense when the rules are ambiguous (and this common sense may be different for different people). But the cases you describe in your post are of completely different kind. They are no doubt fair and comply the rules.

    7. I agree with Jegor.

      I was setting the courses for SM Sprint 2014 mentioned in this post. Of course I knew beforehand that some athletes, even top athletes, would hit that fence. That's because they didn't invest enough time in their route choices. Sometimes you get away with that, sometimes you get punished. It is part of the game.

      Blaming the course setter for one's own mistakes seems a bit lousy to me. Such an attitude will never take you to the top.

      In fact, none of the top athletes mentioned complained as far as I knew.

    8. I have a huge respect to you, Mats. I use QuickRoute and WinSplits Pro, and donated for you, cause I think you have made a great contribution to O-analytics tools. Many thanks!!!

      But I can not count you like an independent expert in this particular question (you was involved to this course setting). Ask some elite runners: what is the better option (SM-2014 or EOC-2016 way to mark obstacle on the map). I am pretty sure that almost every-one would say that red stripes together with artificial fence is a really good idea!

  3. I totally agree with Mikhail !

  4. Does being skilled coach with known name but not an organizer or course planner of big championships make you legitimate to write "bad and good way to organize sprint?
    And, of course, articular doesn't mean artificial (nor does artichoke :)

    1. thanks for correction of this word!

      As for opinions. WOC-Sprint is not Kant's 'Ding-an-sich'. Who is the consumer of Sprint Courses? Runners! If runners consider such tricks like some-thing bad, then we should write about 'bad way to organize sprint'

      And if you believe that this is wrong opinion please, write your ideas. That how democracy works. Right?

    2. Lets say - in your country during World Cup event we saw boring qualification sprint course (especially the beginning - with stupid bushes and high grass) and brilliant final sprint (I am gonna to vote for it in the World of O nomination "The course of the year".

      Everyone (coaches, runners, officials, organizers, spectators) has a right to say his/her impression about these courses! Whats the problem?..

  5. It seems to me that with ISSOM the Mapper & Planner need to be extra careful to avoid any mapping areas that are difficult to interpret - at any speed, let alone elite racing speed.
    Small lengths of "uncrossable" boundaries at the end of narrow passageways are not always easy to see and sometimes need to be enhanced (thickened) - OK, not standard but if it helps......?
    Oh, in the EOC2016 "good" example, is there a legitimate way out NE of 15? It looks like the boundaries of the "road" (?) are crossable but are thicker than normal. How would I interpret that?

    1. Actually, in the EOC2016 control 15 example, I've just spotted the crossing point overprint which would indicate that there is a way underneath that "road" and imply no access to it.
      The crossing point symbol is lost in the uncrossable wall on one side and the embankment on the other. I rate that as unacceptable - it should be enhanced by moving it to one side so that it becomes easily visible.
      Just shows how careful you have to be!!

  6. Back to the point. Natural and un-natutal fences are two different objects to me and cant be mapped in the same way. Runners should get this information from the map and this is all what could be done. Nobody expect fence in the middle of the street, so it must be easy to see this obstacle and differentiate from natural fence because the runners can put more fokus on this leg to read in advance what is good route choice for this leg. If there is normal leg you lose just time with bad route choice but with un-natural fence your race is finish if you dont see this kind of fences. That way I support the CZE example and what Mike is trying to present in his post.

  7. I think it is very difficult to judge what is a "trap" and what is just good course setting. I believe we don't need only easy readable route choice legs like you somehow suggest Mikhail. I believe we also need legs where (very) careful orienteering is necessary. With natural and unnatural fences.

    Where I agree with you - it should not be the aim of a course setter to disqualify as many runners as possible.

    to conclude... do you think this is a puzzle? or just very fun orienteering?

    1. Thanks for your opinion. I think that open wide discussion is the best way to solve problems in our sport. As for your link: this is cool sprint! I like it.