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Middle Distance

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 18 October 2005, 8:13 AM  
I'd like to chew over the future of the middle and sprint distances. In some ways this has grown out of the 17-20 discussion which throws up quite different issues in the long distance compared to the shorter ones.

The Auckland Champs programme says "we have attempted to overcome the middle distance not being value for money so we expect winning times to be longer than usual". I don't think its good to thumb your nose at the rules but I think they ARE responding to a feeling among ordinary orienteers that they want to be out on their course for about an hour. This is emphasised by reduced entries for the sprint distance.

Elites on the other hand can see that the middle and sprint are different disciplines and dollars per minute don't come into it. Why don't we forget about the middle distance for most classes except elites. And those heading towards elite-dom. And the few who are trying to recapture the glory of youth, eh Jeff?

For a "middle distance" day, clubs could serve up the usual "long distance" courses (except without C1). Somewhere down the list of course lengths would be one that M21E would do 30min on, and another that W21E would do 30min on. 20A or 17-20E or whatever you like to call it can run on those same courses. So can the old guys who like to run fast. All the competitive people can compare against each other.

Not sure it would work for sprints which are often in terrains that wouldn't support a long. But lets stop pretending about the middle.

Show Profile  jeffg Posted: 18 October 2005, 9:48 AM  
Ah, the glory of youth...
Feel free to correct me anyone, particularly if you have set, controlled or run middle distance WREs, but it is my impression that a well-set middle distance course would look different to a higher number long-distance course of equivalent length on the same map. The middle distance course would tend to have more legs overall, more shorter legs in areas of intense terrain detail, and fewer looong legs with significant route choice.

To quote the rules:
"Courses for Middle Distance and Sprint events shall require, in particular, a high level of concentration throughout the course, detailed map reading and frequent decision making. Courses for Long Distance events shall require route choice."

It may be that many NZ middle distance races are not on suitable maps, but don't you think that if you offered your average crumbly an intricate 18 control middle distance course with as much orienteering as they would normally get in an hour or more that they wouldn't come back whining about being short-changed?
I think most people currently believe that middle distance is just a short classic with fewer controls, and contend that this is not and should not be the case.
Of course the distinction between middle and long "styles" will be difficult to achieve on the very short red courses but the one publicly aired complaint I am aware of was from a longer vets course.

Incidentally I didn't enter the Auckland Champs sprint because it is the day after the long distance and it is an invitation for muscle tears in old guys who like to run fast. CMOC tried but unfortunately couldn't get access to the sprint map on the Saturday.

Show Profile  Greg Posted: 18 October 2005, 10:20 AM  
Its a set mentality, thats all it is. From my experience in Sweden there are normally more entries (almost over all grades) for the middle distance than the long, when held in conjunction on a weekend, why is that??

Show Profile  rob.g Posted: 18 October 2005, 2:25 PM  
nothing has pissed me off more in recent times than the middle distance races we have had in the last 12 months. I am certain the average oldie does not want to travel to the forest for a 30 minute race, especially when a lot of travel is involved, and especially on a long weekend. Most of us, as slow as we are, go at a very similar speed whether it is 30 mins or 60 mins, and feel we are being hard done by because the elites want these races. Please give us what we always had in the past, or give us 2 middles in the same day, which is what NWOC is planning for next year's Queens Birthday event.

Show Profile  Jamie Posted: 18 October 2005, 3:30 PM  
Bring back the chasing start for elites!!!

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 18 October 2005, 3:30 PM  
Jeff, you're right that there should be a difference between middle and long course styles. (Actually I think that we are mostly provided with extended middles in the guise of long rather than the other way round. Especially in sand-dune terrain.)

But I'd like to focus on a way of providing oldies with what they want alongside the elite need for 30min intense racing. It starts with acknowledging (or confirming) that oldies don't generally want middle distance events.

Show Profile  HeadHoncho Posted: 18 October 2005, 11:23 PM  
Jamie if you want chasing starts go and run social grade.

Show Profile  Jenni Posted: 19 October 2005, 12:18 AM  
I'm not sure whay the chasing start -social grade link is - Oringen last day is a chasing start in all grades and I wouldn't describe all the grades as social grades?

Greg is right that here in Sweden the oldies seem keener to run middle distance than classic - just a couple of weeks ago there was a middle on the Saturday, long on Sunday and there was definitely more entries on the Saturday. Carsten thinks they're just getting wimpy here. It doesn't seem sensible to force middle on people who don't want it even though we know it's he most fun distance.

Show Profile  Jamie Posted: 19 October 2005, 1:02 AM  
New Zealand elites biggest problem...we don't run hard enough or fast enough, the best way to solve that...chasing starts.

Do you not think all those relays the rest of the world does helps aspects of their traditional "time trial" orienteering?

Show Profile  HeadHoncho Posted: 19 October 2005, 1:18 AM  
"all those relays the rest of the world does" didn't help their cricket.

"Chasing" someone down who starts 15 seconds in front of you and running a course together is not the best way to solve NZ elites biggest problem.

If O-Ringen was the goal Jenni I'd agree with you ... how many international races that NZ supposedly is wanting to do well in (i.e WOC etc) have chasing starts in their format? None.

Why practice a format in the limited number of decent events that are held in NZ when it has little relevance to the international events that NZ elites should be aspiring to?

Yes, chasing starts are good fun. Relays/chasing starts may help aspects of traditional time-trial orienteering in that you know what to do when later starters catch you up in WOC Jamie, I'll agree with you there. But I don't agree that chasing starts are the "best" way to solve "NZ elites biggest problem"

Anyway this is slightly off the original topic. Start another thread if you want to continue the discussion.

Show Profile  Alistair Posted: 19 October 2005, 12:54 PM  
"we don't run hard enough or fast enough, the best way to solve that..." is to train more and train smarter!

Show Profile  HeadHoncho Posted: 20 October 2005, 12:06 AM  

Show Profile  Jamie Posted: 20 October 2005, 1:54 AM  
I think there are many things we have to do...for me training harder and smarter would (among other things) involve doing mass start/pressure races to become accustomed to orienteering at the speed and intensity required, such racing allows you to learn off your peers and see the cost of your mistakes.

I repeat this is an opportunity that the best orienteers in the world get all the time....they are almost always running around other people, we almost never do.

Back to the thread, is the percieved disdain of middle distance races by veterans the result of a lack of desire for technical excellence?

Show Profile  Michael Posted: 20 October 2005, 6:42 AM  
Yes I think so. The big majority of veterans are not fit. When you add unfitness to aging you get a big reduction in speed. When you can't run fast the knife-edge between too fast and not fast enough is not apparent.

But we don't need to know the reason. What we need is simply confirmation or otherwise of the proposition that vets prefer the long. And (getting back to the 17-20 discussion, confirmation or otherwise that juniors (both talented and those who have yet to impress) would prefer a 30min middle target rather than the 60% of long.

60% of long for M20 is 42min, for M18 is 36, for the girls the figures are 36min and 33min. If the targets were all 30min then I think 17-20 classes would be fine.

Show Profile  Martin Posted: 20 October 2005, 7:46 AM  
how hard would it be to get a voting thing in here like other forums have?

i'd be keen to see the 20s winning time stuck at 30min instead of 60% of the long, makes a more drastic difference.

I'm looking forward to the chasing start at QBday '06, they're fun. Fun keeps people in the sport.

Show Profile  thomasr Posted: 20 October 2005, 1:01 PM  
i think that bring m/w17 -20e in line with elites as much as possible is a good call. 30min winning times would be great.

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