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Short-O or not Short-O?

Show Profile  Malcolm Ingham Posted: 22 April 2002, 11:19 AM  
In the results booklet for the Nationals the organisers ask for comments on the format of the Short-O. I am probably in a minority - an ageing competitive orienteer who is more concerned with the quality of the event than the $/km, but I do think we need to rethink things.

First and foremost, what we have now at the Nationals is NOT a Short-O. It is a split race Classic event. The total distance and time involved is about equal to that the we run in the Classic Champs. A Short-o is just that, one short race (winning time ~20-25 minutes) in which one mistake is deadly. Sure if the decision is to retain the present format, so be it, but please let us not call it what it is not.

Secondly, a chasing start may be exciting but I do not regard it as orienteering. As an example, in the recent Nationals in M55A the first 3 finishers in the morning were only 7 seconds apart - they all finished pretty well together in the afternoon too, wonderfully exciting for spectators at the start and finish, but was it orienteering or a cross-country race? In our major Classic events we go to great extent to have block starting i.e. everyone in a grade starts in 1 block at specified intervals. This si to ensure that, for example an 45A doesn't get pulled by an M18 starting 3 minutes behind him while his main competitor gets no such advantgae. It is in the interests of fairness. Why then when we come to our 2nd most important event, the National Short-O, do we throw all this out of the window and, not only, mix everyone up but even let the M45A and M18 start together if they happen to run the same time in the first race?

Having said that I accept the comments of Michael Wood that there is a degree of "consumer" resistance to having a single Short-O race. Let's then go back to the way the Short-O started in 1991. Initially the two races were a qualifying race and a final. Only the first 50% of the field went into the A final, the rest into the B final. To boost numbers the grades were wide e.g. M35-44. The title was based only on the second race and starting order was in reverse of finishing order in the qualifying, i.e. fasted off last. I suggest we revert to this system. Even with wide age grades there can still be a champion in each actually class e.g. if M35 and M40 run together the 1st M35 finisher is M35 champion, 1st M40 finisher is M40 champion. B finals can be set slightly shorter and different courses so that they can be run in parallel with the A finals rather than before or after. Such a system would have the benifits of retaining two races, but only having the result determined by the second. It would also get rid of the non-orienteering aspect introduced by a chasing start. Additionally it would be the way the rest of the world does things......

Malcolm Ingham

PS As you may have noticed I put my feelings into practice by declining to run in the chasing start at Tekapo. I appear under race 2 as DNS. Why though under total do I appear as DSQ?

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 23 April 2002, 10:15 AM  
Good to get some feedback on one of those questions in the nationals programme, there's been very little so far. At this rate the relays will probably stay the way they are!

As one of those M55's Malcolm referred to, yes I DID feel it was orienteering I was doing in the afternoon short-distance race, though different from a classsic event. As it should be.

I led for a while, then Dave and I strayed off line in the green and Wayne got significantly ahead. Then the two of us did our own thing and we both caught Wayne when we came into the linear clearings. The mapping was strange thereabouts, and we all grappled with the problems in different ways - I relocated on the power lines and got into the lead again. Then it was a sprint to the finish, but even on the last leg I went down the reentrant where the last control was in the morning while Wayne ran straight.

I imagine this is the sort of orienteering you get in top-level relays - some of the navigation is replaced by the pressure from the opponents, you make silly errors, and I find it very hard to stay cool. They have relays in the World Champs, its regarded as worthy orienteering isn't it?

Michael Wood

Show Profile  Dave Barr Posted: 2 May 2002, 9:43 AM  
I agree that chasing starts are both orienteering and fun.

I also agree with Malcolm that the chasing start format is not real orienteering. A competitor can be clearly beaten in the morning race, clearly beaten in the p.m. race and still win overall.

When this happens the "National Short-O Champion" is someone who does not have the ability to win a short race. This is a proverbial camel/ horse.

If people are so attached to chasing starts, why not have the national title decided on the a.m. race and a p.m. chasing start for fun?

Show Profile  Royce Mills Posted: 5 May 2002, 10:00 AM  
I would like to thank the organisers of this year's Nationals for going to the trouble of organising a two-race short O with a chasing start in the afternoon. It gave the whole day a focus and was great fun. I personally have been disappointed at the trend over recent years of only having one race, and have chosen not to travel to such events or have entered out of my age group to get a run that is likely to be more than 20 minutes. Once again thanks to PAPO.

Royce Mills

Show Profile  Jamie Posted: 13 May 2002, 5:18 AM  
I would like to question Peters comment that the current "Mixed Long Relay" is beyond most clun members. I think if anything it is anti elite.

I don't provide any justification for my argument suffice to say Peters comment is bullshit. Nor did he provide any reasons to convince me otherwise.

The Mixed Short grade needs to divided into two, Juniors and Seniors (individuals of both being able to run mixed long if they desire).

Blatant burglary by top M40's needs to be prevented.

The current relay format would serve elites well...if the long course was red. Why isn't it?

Show Profile  MAMBO339 Posted: 13 May 2002, 10:10 AM  

What are you doing up at 1.56 am on the internet?
Kids asleep?

Edited by - fraser on 13/05/2002 19:05:12

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 13 May 2002, 4:50 PM  
Peter's comments are welcome. The Technical Committee has had so few that its just about decided to stick with the status quo for the relay and short-o issues in the nationals programme. A few practical points from the committee which has to make the rules WORK.

Orienteers appear to have been happy for many years with self-chosen A/B/C/AS classes, avoiding controversial promotion/relegation formulas. If you feel eligibility is required, you need to suggest how you would do it.

It may be appropriate to re-examine the difficulty levels for juniors and the Technical Committee would take advice from the Coaching Director as this is a learning issue. It would also want to hear from parents of less gifted juniors. The word "re-introduce" suggests we once had the suggested structure, but as far as I know we never have.

30 starters in a relay doesn't strike me as a problem, I recall a couple of hundred first-leg runners in my first relay in Australia, and it was EXCITING! The TC sees a responsibility for making the present relay scheme work better, but as for re-working the thing from the ground up I think it is reasonable to require a request from clubs rather than individuals. (PS I personally like the North American points system, but I know the workload on the TC.)

Mixed long is made orange precisely to enable clubs to place most of their members onto one of its legs, as Jamie says elite needs are thereby compromised. I don't see anything wrong with providing something to keep the kids amused too, that is exactly what the Mixed Short is provided for. Necessary, but hardly evil!

Best regards, Michael

Show Profile  Greg Posted: 13 May 2002, 7:29 PM  
For the Junior classes I totaly agree with the shift up a colour per grade. Not only have we got alot of younger juniors to cover for a M/W10 grade but also to be on the same level as the Australians. As for the less gifted isn't that what B grades are for?

The relay, most clubs are made up of Juniors, Seniors (18 - 40) and Vets, so why can't we have ONE relay with legs based on this. Then it can also be split in Men and Women taking out the agrument that women can't match the men on 1st leg in Mixed long. This solves the course suitable for Elites, take cares of juniors, also includes the older Oers who are also part of the clubs and should also include more clubs into the tiltle chase and make the whole thing more EXCITING! (I've just ran a relay here in Sweden where I started with about 50 other runners in my grade)

Show Profile  fraser Posted: 14 May 2002, 2:25 AM  
"Mixed long is made orange precisely to enable clubs to place most of their members onto one of its legs, as Jamie says elite needs are thereby compromised."

Surely the majority of orienteers are red level? I don't think that it is just the elites that are being compromised but any A grade orienteer over the age of 18!

The relay format has the potential to be the most fun and exciting format, as it is overseas, but while the Technical Commitee continue to impose ridiculous restrictions it will continue to be a substandard event.

Edited by - fraser on 14/05/2002 09:34:44

Show Profile  fraser Posted: 14 May 2002, 2:27 AM  

Edited by - fraser on 14/05/2002 09:33:20

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 14 May 2002, 5:28 PM  
Fraser wrote...
Surely the majority of orienteers are red level? I don't think that it is just the elites that are being compromised but any A grade orienteer over the age of 18!

True. But those who actually do the thankless task of forming their club's relay teams have to grapple with how to place their LAST few members: say an M21B, a newish M16 and a not very good W60. It doesn't help to have separate M and W teams here either Greg. Rejigging your club's better teams to absorb them is not a great option either, its disappointing for those who feel competitive.


Show Profile  Greg Posted: 16 May 2002, 11:53 PM  
Michael you say that everyone is compromised for only a couple of people from each club. WHY? Espically at our National champs. This should be the premier event of our calander yet as it seems for only a few everyone has to put up with a B level event! So what if a few extras are left over in the relays, just let them run a yellow course unoffically there are plenty of other events in the year for them to enjoy rather than compromising everyone else at the nationals.
It seems that everything gets compromised for something nowadays, I'll pick on the Nationals again but really it was a *@#¢en joke. There was no way in hell our National Classic Champs should have ever been held on that map, but it was so that it was close to the short-o (Classic compromised for the Short) WHY? We should be trying to make our events better, we had international people running the Nationals I would hate to know what they really thought about the quility of them.
If NZ is ever going to get serious internationaly we have to stop worrying about hurting a few of the less gifted or left overs at our major events, they are normaly there because they enjoy oing and we shouldn't compromise the quility of the event just make sure that there is a run for them.




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