Today’s event was a chance to work on skills that can help us improve as orienteers. Bob Boltz set a course targeted at two skills.
First, continuity. Most intermediate orienteers treat each leg as a separate problem to be solved. Then, after punching the control, we turn our attention to the next control, stand still, spread out the map, and consider our options. Bob set out the first portion of the course today with an eye towards improving flow through the course as a whole. During this ‘control picking’ portion there were a series of 16 short legs with frequent changes of direction. The goal was to never stop moving. That meant that we had to, at the least, pay attention to what direction to head out to the next control after this one. This was mildly complicated by the fact that today’s maps were printed without any of the trails.
Second, attention to local features. The next 5 controls were not marked on the map. Instead, a wiggly corridor about 30m wide was indicated. Bob set the controls so that if we stayed within the corridor, we would encounter the controls. This was further complicated by the fact that the map outside the corridor was blank, so the only navigational cues available were within the corridor (see the map here!, or below in photos)
An intrepid crew of ~25 experienced orienteers took up this challenge, and I heard a lot of praise for how much this helped them. The weather was cool and drizzly, and it was pretty sloppy and slippery. Lots of good stories emerged, and I think our club’s average navigational skill ticked up just a little after today.
Many thanks to all our volunteers, including:
Director: Randy Mitchell
Designer: Bob Boltz
Registrar: Kim King
Control Pickup: Neil Dollinger
There was no ePunch available, so timing is all self reported, and using the honor system. If you have a time, and course feedback, send it our way.
This training is for orienteers that would like to improve their map reading skills and practice a smoother style as you traverse a course. Two different types of practice will be employed.
The map at top left is an example of control picking. There are many close controls with lots of direction change. The idea is to keep your feet moving, especially when you approach a flag, punch and immediately start in the direction of the next control. The thought process might go like this if you were leaving control 20: You would say to yourself, “21 left.” Now you have it in mind to immediately turn left and start walking/running when you punch 21. The seconds you save if you do this at every flag really add up!
The map at top right is an example of corridor orienteering. Only a narrow ribbon of map is left uncovered. Your goal is to use compass and all the clues given on the corridor to stay within it. If you stay withing the corridor, you will encounter control flags. Punching them will prove you stayed on course! This really teaches you to stay in touch with land and map.
You will really get your money’s worth at this event. Everyone will encounter 30 flags in a compact area!
There will also be two 100 meter pace count practice areas set up. One in the field and one in the woods.
Using handrails is an easy way to get from one control to the next. A handrail is a feature you can easily follow out in the woods, like a trail, water feature, distinct contour line (like running along a ridge line), or something similar. In the example below, the trail acts as the handrail from control 1 to control 2.
Orienteering mapping and course design clinic that will focus on both theory and application of course design, the practical and technical aspects of designing courses using software, and setting courses. For experienced orienteers only. Bring your own laptop if desired, but workshop will start in a computer lab with the software already loaded. After we learn the basics of mapping using technology, we’ll head outdoors to practice our skill.
Date, Time & Location
Saturday February 27, 2016
9 AM – 11 AM Workshop / Mapping Clinic (indoors)
11 AM – 12 PM Lunch (on your own)
12 PM – 4 PM Hands on Practice in the Woods, Campus (outside)
NEOOC Members receive discounts on selected events at Kenston. Use the coupon code ‘NEOOC’ at checkout to apply the discount. Using this coupon for the Mapping Clinic event will make the registration free for you.
The clinic / workshop will be co-taught by Bob Boltz, and assisted by Andreas Johansson (both NEOOC members)
By Andreas Johansson, NEOOC Member (cross-posted from http://www.eajohansson.net/)
I volunteered to pick up a few controls after the Python Goat event a few weekend’s ago, and got my assignment for which controls to grab. They happened to be controls on the part of the course I didn’t run, so I took my time in navigating to each one, paying particular attention to the finer details of the map, or micro-orienteering, that I normally would during a race.
Then it hit me! Picking up controls is a great way to do a bit of training on just that – the finer details, honing azimuth readings, and really paying close attention to the terrain around you. After the first control pickup, I got real serious about what I was doing, and took some photos of each control in order to share here the map for each, and what it looked like in real life. Hope you get a bit of knowledge out of it all.
The controls may not be in order here, and they are all based off the master control list either way, and not necessarily in the order for the course (they were all on the 10K Python Goat course).
Here’s a boulder on the map, and I approached from the south. The boulder was located on a mini-spur, but when I got there, I had drifted a bit east, and so had to do a sweep around to find it. In addition, the control was placed very well, low to the ground, and I missed it the first time because my eyes were looking a bit higher in the terrain.
Once I swooped around from east to west, using the water feature as my definite limit, I found it. The lesson learned here was looking lower than I had before, as it was placed right on the downslope side of the spur, and behind a bunch of debris.
The stream junction control was pretty easy to pickup, but here I also approached from the south (disregard the legs on the map) and I was able to run in using the southern most stream bed, and navigate right to the control. In the picture, that’s the stream in the top-right hand corner of the photo.
However, the control was placed just around the corner, again a bit lower, so seeing it required extra attention to the area. This type of placement though is pretty easy, considering there are some major features to dial in on like the two stream beds, and they catch you, especially coming from the south.
Depending on the direction of approach for this control, it may have been a different story, and I think for the Python course, runners approached from the west off of a pretty long leg, with additional navigational challenges, which made this one a bit tougher.
The earth cliff was located right on the border of the allowable area to run, so navigating to it wasn’t too hard. I again approached from the south. My initial approach was to navigate in and around the hills / saddle to the south, coming in from the south-west, but I ended up running more directly to the east of the saddle, and right in line with the border line (and found to my surprise a neighborhood to the direct east, about 200m out).
I found the water feature (sort of a dry stream) which was very deep / steep, and followed the edge of that in to the control. I figured based on the placement that it would be located on the back end of the wall, and indeed there it was.
I hopped a few rocks and mudbanks, and got the control unscathed for pickup. In this case the control was placed high, but didn’t matter as the approached was quite hidden from either direction (south, or from the west) and one needed to get right to it.
With a control location like this, I look for the obvious feature like the bank / cliff itself, and try to follow that in. Usually, as was the case here, it’s a matter of finding some good foot placement, but following the water here was not an option (at least not in it…).
Top of Knoll
I spotted the control here way early, by luck (see photo #1) and got right to it. If the control had been hung differently, I don’t think I would have seen it as early. It’s always a good idea to start scanning for the obvious placements once in the red zone, or even earlier, depending on your style of orienteering. I like to keep my head up as much as I can to spot the orange and white, and have good luck with that generally, as was the case here.
The nice thing about this control, is that it was placed just west of a major feature – the water. So regardless if coming from the east (which was the case) you can run fill steam until the water (assuming you’re okay with a basic direction / azimuth) or follow the terrain downward.
Once I hit the stream, my eyes went scanning and found it. It would have been more difficult had the control been placed a bit farther in, say up the ride to the west…
I really learned a lot about myself, and about the terrain here. I truly enjoyed being able to take it a bit slower, really get down to the fine details, and concentrate on being spot on. I use my step-count quite a bit, and find that I’m pretty accurate with that in wooded terrain at semi-running pace (~61 lefts per 100m). It really helps, especially making sure I don’t overshoot a control (as in going too far) before scanning and sweeping for the location.
By paying real attention to the terrain details, the compass becomes secondary, and just used for longer legs through multiple areas. But, at running speed, I try to combine the two to make sure I don’t get off course.
Here’s my track for the pickup, as logged with my Garmin 310XT, using QuickRoute to overlay the route on the map. Pretty easy to see where the controls are, but just in case, there’s one with them mapped as well.
So the next time you get a chance, volunteer to pickup a few controls – you might learn something in the process!
Here are five basic skills that you need to practice to help you get better at orienteering.
1. Fold your map – Always make sure that you fold your map so that you can easily see the part of the map where you are.
2. Orient your map – Always make sure that your map is the correct way round or oriented. This means that the features which are in front of you on the ground are in front of you on the map. You can also orient your map using a compass by making sure that the north lines on the map point the same way as the north or red end of the compass needle. Each time you change direction you should change your grip on the map so that the map is still oriented to north.
3. Thumb your Map – To help you know where you are on the map it helps if you mark your position on the map with your thumb. As you move along the ground you should move your thumb to your new position on the map. It is common to move your thumb to the new position at a ‘check point’ such as a path junction or some other obvious feature where you will stop or slow down and check where you are.
4. Check your control card – Once you have found a control you always need to check that the code on your control description sheet matches the code on the control. You should also check that the control is situated on the correct feature on your map. You will then know for sure that you have reached the correct control.
5. Have fun and enjoy yourself – This is the most important skill to remember. Orienteering should always be fun and enjoyable!
Here’s a great video compilation of Thierry Gueorgiou running – both what he sees, as well as GPS / map tracking as he goes a long. A great visual, and some good learning tips from a master of orienteering.