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Course Setter's Notes for Saturday's Short Courses
Course Setter's Notes for Saturday's Short Courses
I wanted to have the short-course format because the short course is exciting, fast paced, more spectator friendly, requires detailed map reading, frequent decision making, and adds variety to orienteering. Burton Creek has the ideal terrain for a short course since it is relatively flat and has lots of boulders that can be used as point features. The short course is a well recognized format in orienteering, and is one of the three types of courses held at the World Orienteering Championships, the others being the classic distance and the relay. However, short courses are not held very often in the U.S., partly because some people feel they "don't get their money's worth" for a race that has a winning time of 25-30 minutes.
Many orienteers say they don't want to drive several hours or travel across the country to do a race that only lasts about half an hour. However, in other sports, short events are quite common, and in fact very popular, such as the 100 meter and 400 meter. There are some orienteers who like a short course, but they are in the minority. As a consequence, in an attempt to provide both the short course format and also satisfy those who feel they want to spend a longer time in the woods, this event will have a two-stage format. There will be a prologue, or preliminary race, held in the morning, followed by a modified chase final race held in the afternoon. The fastest runners will start last in the afternoon, so that many runners will be arriving at the finish line at about the same time, resulting in an exciting finish. There will be a spectator control near the end of the course. The results will be based on the cumulative time of the two stages. The disadvantage of the two-stage format is that ideally competitors should be running at top speed, and having to run two races in one day may cut down on performance.
I became interested in this format after reading Geraint Edmonds' guidelines for the Canadian Short Course Committee. They established several criteria for a short course.
Short O courses shall require a high level of concentration throughout the course with detailed map reading and frequent decision making. The courses should have the following attributes:
The target winning times shall be 25 minutes for all categories, except the M20 (US M21) category which shall have a target winning time of 30 minutes.
In order to give all the competitors adequate rest and also to take advantage of the cooler time in the morning, the first start for the Saturday courses will be at 9:30 am instead of 10:00 am as previously announced.
Also, there will be a conventional chase start for the afternoon final race with the zero hour of 1:00 pm for the brown, red, and green courses, and 1:30 for the blue course. Your start time will be the time it took you to complete the preliminary course plus the zero time of 1:00 or 1:30, respectively. The first person to cross the finish line will be the winner.
I have tried to incorporate as many of these guidelines into my short courses as possible. Since the blue courses are about 4.66 k, the red 3.4 k, the green 2.6 k, and the brown 2.0 k, this will require the blue winner to run 6.4 min/k, the red 7.4 min/k, the green 9.6 min/k, and the brown 12.5 min/k to achieve the estimated winning time. Because of the short legs in very technical terrain, this will require constant concentration, rapid decisions, fast running, and the use of fine orienteering skills, such as pace counting and compass bearings, for most of the course. Clean execution is essential to having a good performance. I have tried not to make any easy sections of the course.The preliminary statistics (subject to change) for the event are:
Course Length Climb Number of controls Blue prelim 4.675 km 80 m 20 Blue final 4.65 km 95 m 23 Red prelim 3.375 km 45 m 15 Red final 3.45 km 80 m 19 Green prelim 2.7 km 35 m 12 Green final 2.475 km 45 m 14 Brown prelim 2.075 km 25 m 10 Brown final 2.025 km 40 m 13
There will be a large number of controls in the field, many of them quite close together. I have tried to maintain at least 60 meters separation of controls on different types of features. However, there may still be some white and yellow control markers from Saturday's morning courses in the field for the final race on Saturday afternoon. This should not be a problem since they will be on obvious white and yellow control points, mainly on or near trails. However, be sure and check the control code before punching.
Recreational courses will use standard paper-punch cards.
The contours are reliable, and most of the rock features are well mapped. However, Kirkov was inconsistent when he mapped boulders. In areas with few rock features, he would map a boulder as small as 0.5 m, whereas in areas with higher density of rock features, he would not map these small boulders, but he would use the boulder field symbol, the small isosceles black triangle, to indicate multiple boulders scattered in the area. Large boulders are usually 2.0 meters high or larger. I have tried to use distinctive boulders as control points in very rocky areas, or else to have another distinctive feature nearby to aid navigation and in an effort to eliminate bingo controls, or controls that depend more on luck than navigational skill to find them. The dimension listed for a boulder is the height of the boulder, not necessarily its largest dimension. Some boulders listed as 1.0 meter may be quite large because of their length and width.
There are a lot of smaller rough open clearings mapped that may be difficult to distinguish in the field. Many of these clearings now have smaller trees growing in them. The larger clearings are reliable. Also, Kirkov used a green X to indicate a lone or distinct tree, either alive or dead, and a green O to indicate a small copse or group of trees, or a tree with two trunks. Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish which tree or clump of trees he meant by these symbols. I have tried not to use the symbol as a control feature unless it is quite distinct. Also, some areas have been remapped with elimination of the smaller clearings, and the green X's and O's (unless they are truly distinct), and replaced with rough open with scattered trees. The brown X may indicate a true rootstock (i.e., a tree that has fallen down and its root ball is showing), but it may also indicate a tree stump, or a dead standing tree. Sometimes there is a brown line extending from a brown or green X indicating a fallen tree.
The large clearings are quite reliable. However, there are numerous small clearings which may be difficult to discern and should not be relied on for navigation. Similarly, individual trees (green X's), small copses (green O's), and the brown X (either a rootstock, large stump, or standing dead tree) are sometimes difficult to discern in the field. In addition, many stumps and downed trees are not mapped. Therefore, these symbols may not be the most reliable features to use for navigation.
However, there are many, many other unmapped stumps and fallen trees. Part of this is due to the initial inconsistency in mapping, but also there have been several major storms in the area since the map was first made, and many trees have been blown down. I would suggest that you not rely too heavily on these features for navigation. Large areas of deadfall are mapped with vertical green lines. Actualy, there is a lot of unmapped deadfall because of more recent storms and inconsistent mapping.
There are new unmapped logging tracks here and there. We will make map corrections for the ones you are likely to encounter, but don't be surprised if you see a short but obvious unmapped track to a clearing just off a main logging road. There is also a road-to-trail conversion project being undertaken in the park, so some of the trails may be slightly different than mapped.
There are no rattlesnakes or poison oak. Black bears are occasionally seen, but they usually are not aggressive. Be alert for mountain bikers on the trails.
The safety bearing is south until you reach a residential area or Highway 28.