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The problem with middle distance rules

Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 11 December 2004, 7:29 AM  
Great to see the entry forms for next year's nationals out already, it all looks very yummy,...BUT:

I was thinking of giving M21AL a try in the middle distance race, but I've looked at the entry form, done some sums, and by my calculation THE M21A COURSE WILL BE SOMEWHAT LONGER THAN THE M21E COURSE!!! Don't believe it? Follow this then: For the classic, M21E EWT is 105 minutes, M21A (course 2) is 60% of 105, equating to a course that the top M21E runner could complete in 63 mins. Fair enough. For the middle distance race "M21E and W21E estimated winning time 30 minutes; EWT for other classes based on 60% of single day times". I assume "single day times" are those used for the classic.

105 minutes x 0.6 x 0.6 = 37.8 "elite equivalent minutes".

So by application of the rules, our "second division" orienteers are obviously regarded as being capable of running hard through technical terrain on a course over 20% LONGER than the best in the country can. Does anyone else find this illogical?

I think this highlights nicely "the problem with middle distance rules" in this country. The problem being that the rules seem to consist of "course lengths based on 60% of long distance". When you apply that 60% to some of the shortest long distance red courses (33%, 27% or 18% of 105 minutes) it's no wonder that MD isn't taken seriously by a large chunk of the orienteering population, and we either don't have them or get clubs like NW who seem to have a policy of "give the elites their short race, but we all know everyone else only wants races as long as possible". Or short classics, or middle distance races by name, where the winning times creep up to an hour or more.

What we need is a course length % structure for middle distance races that is COMPLETELY independent of long distance, and designed to give all red and orange courses an EWT ranging from no more than 35 minutes for the longest to no less than 22 minutes for the shortest. The number of courses might even be able to be "compressed" - wouldn't organisers love that? - though courses that would be combined would be ones that already have a high demand unfortunately.

As for a short term solution to my immediate problem, I guess I've got the choice of A) being able to brag about doing a longer course than the country's top orienteers, B) getting absolutely dicked in M21E - but hey I'm sure my resulting world ranking of 1000-odd will be a good talking point, or C) sticking with M21AS and wondering if I'll ever develop any further in this sport...

Show Profile  Alistair Posted: 11 December 2004, 11:46 PM  
Without reading into the rules etc. I can say in Sweden the Swedish short course recommendations are pretty independant of the classic. And they combine a lot of grades (and maybe courses) together. For example often A and Elite run together for short courses as there is no reason that they shouldn't given that it should be a 25-40 minute (or there abouts) winning time. One other possible change that could be considered while developig new rules is the start interval for short distance can be shorter than for classic (useful for larger start-fields when A & Elite etc. are combined). AND THE SHORT RACE SHOULD BE THE DAY BEFORE THE CLASSIC. Then you'll find the best short-distance specialists - not the ones who are fit enough to run a classic the day before trying to run a fast short race.

Show Profile  onemanfanclub Posted: 12 December 2004, 7:35 AM  
If I was going to get as radical as combining grades, I'm not sure middle distance could quite handle 21E, AL and AS all being lumped together like they can for sprints, but perhaps convert 3 grades to 2 with 21A being "between" where AL and AS now sit. Hopefully the best A Long people would get the hint and run elite in MD.

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 12 December 2004, 4:40 PM  
I think that the simple proportion of long was favoured by the TC when it was trying to get organisers to adopt standard course combinations; there was a time when evey event was differentin this regard. It would have been harder if there had been one set of combinations for the long and another for the middle.

Since then elites have asked for the 30min wintime (which upsets the simple proportion), and I think organisers can probably handle a diffrent set of combinations. Which is what you are suggesting. Worthy of debate.

The other thing that has happened is that organisers have given up on providing the two-in-one-day. Now the proportion for a one-middle-in-one-day was set at the higher 60% because of the widespread view that "I'm not travelling all that way just for 30 minutes..." While onemanfanclub (and I) may enjoy a 30-minute race, I think that unfortunately there are many out there who equate value with minutes out on the course.




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