Wednesday 13 August 2014

Sprint-discussion II

Thanks for all the comments on my last blog, some more constructive than others, but still it's important to get all views on this topic. One of the purposes of my blog about our massive preparations was to provoke a bit, because sometimes you have to push the limits of the rules, to be able to make some changes...

Most of the first comments discussed sprint in general, and I must say that I agree that the sprint has developed to be a totally different disciplin than normal forest orienteering, with different demands, and shouldn't try to replace it. Still I really like the different challenges a city-sprint gives, and I like the idea about splitting up WOC into a Sprint-WOC and Forest-WOC. Then it would be possible to find the areas suited best for both of the disciplines, and hopefully also make it more attractive to organize a WOC. I also don't think that the sprint is better suited to make our sport more popular than forest orienteering, but it's a good supplement, and we should make use of every possibilty we have to make our sport bigger. I don't think that fx cross-country skiing got smaller when biathlon was introduced or volleyball got smaller when beachvolley was introduced. And all the sports are now a part of the olympics.

The comment about us cheating and comparing us to Lance Armstrong (!) was maybe too much, but the comment about that we should have been disqualified according to the rules, because we had more knowledge about the terrain than others, is what this is all about.
There is no doubt that all particiapants are trying to get more information about the terrain and possible courses than the others, to get an advantage. In both sprint and forest-disciplines. Like all participants are trying to train harder and more specific than the others to get a physical advantage.
Did I forget to mention that the Danish Team also trained very specificly on the physical demands in Venice?
Interval-training on a route with stairs up and down,  a lot of sharp turns and control punching. Explosive strength-training and speed-training on stairs and flat. Heat-training every day the last 3 weeks, to get used to the hot and humid conditions in Venice. Several days with two sprints in full speed, to get used to perform the best in the final, few hours after the qualification. Is that cheating as well?

The difference between sprint and forest-disciplines is that you have much more tools to get information about the sprint, and it's even possible to make a pretty accurate map, without even having been there. And if someone should be in doubt, I'm not the first who have made a map of a WOC-sprint terrain. Every year different people and nations are trying to get an advantage by doing this and amongst most elite orienteers it's just considered as good preparations, not cheating.  

Since my last blog WOC 2015 Bulletin 2 has been published and now everyone knows in which towns the Sprint-relay and Individual Sprint will be. The areas are different than Venice and even though the Google Streetview is quite good in both towns, making accurate maps would be more difficult. But "luckily" the organizers (or IOF) have permitted access to the towns (why?), and even though you are not allowed to carry a map in the embargo, my guess is that I can still memorize most of it with some touring around. And making a map should be quite easy even though it would take some time...

I don't understand why they organizers are making it so easy for us to prepare and know exactly what the challenges will be.

First of all, why are they permitting access to the towns? I have no idea why it's necessary. Anyone who knows? And can you go anywhere, or is it just on paved roads? You don't really know because it doesn't say in the bulletin. Like in Palmela (EOC 2014 sprint town), my guess is that someone will stay on paved roads, others will just go everywhere, eventually others will find out that someone went everywhere, and so on. Even some nations lived inside the embargo at EOC, getting a possible advantage of others.

Someone suggested that the areas of the sprint should be kept a secret, and it's a interesting idea, but I don't really know if it's possible to keep it a secret? I would rather embargo a lot of areas, even different kinds of sprintterrains (forest, town, park etc), and maybe not announce the locations until the last bulletin some days before WOC. If 10-20 areas are embargoed, I would maybe look a bit on google street-view of the different areas (if possible), but I wouldn't try to make maps. Instead I think my preparations would be more general, trying to be good at all possible challenges.

At least we need some more clear rules both for the organizers, but also for the athletes, of what is allowed and not. And I don't think you can make it a break of rules to look at google streetview?

Just make it more difficult for the athletes to prepare...


Wednesday 6 August 2014


Many things have already been said about the individual sprint in Venice and about how the Danish success was possible due to massive preparations. Some people have questionned if these kind of preparations are taking away the essentials of orienteering: "navigating in unknown terrain", and it is a good question. 

But as I see it, actually these opportunities to prepare via pictures from the internet, are making the competitions more fair than usual, because then the aspect of "home-advantage" is not so big anymore. Everyone have the opportunity to prepare for the challenges, not only the ones who have been in the terrain earlier, or even lived there as we have seen earlier.
But why not then open the embargoed area for "tourism" as we have seen several times (including WOC 2015 in Scotland)? Another good question, but then it would just benefit the nations who can afford to send their runners on several "tours" (or even stay) in the embargo = not very fair. Everyone can use the tools on the internet without costs, and I can inform that the Google Street-view pictures are quite good in the 4 Scottish towns... :)
In Scotland next year they have embargoed 4 different towns, which is good because it makes it more difficult to know exactly what to expect. But it's more fair for everyone. I think they should also have closed bigger parts of Venice, or even other town/cities to make it more difficult to prepare for the runners.

Still everyone are permitted to enter the embargoed town in Scotland, just not with a map, running or routechoice-testing, and I don't really understand why it's necessary. It will just give the big and rich federations and runners living close to a bigger advantage, because they will probably travel more to Scotland than the smaller federations...

Anyway I like that the organizers now have tools (artificial fences), to make the challenges bigger and more different from what the runners have prepared for. Actually I would have liked more fences in Venice, because a lot of legs were quite boring, and I already knew the best routechoices. Of course everything has it's limits, and the limits were tested in World Cup Sprint in Imatra, where the use of artificial fances was too massive making some legs too difficult, and the question of succes more based on luck than skills.

What do you think?