Register | Login
Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Star Trek "Prime Directive" and orienteering

in: Orienteering; General

May 30, 2018 2:36 AM # 
Was wondering if any mapper out there, or course designer, found themselves with a mapped feature that they didn't quite like its location, so much that the feature was moved and map modified accordingly.

Found myself in some woods with some man-made junk, and was thinking of moving the junk some 15 meters to a different location to make it more "interesting", but then remembered Star Trek's Prime Directive and was wondering if in the orienteering community there is a similar credo of leaving things as Nature positioned them.
May 30, 2018 2:45 AM # 
Our eastern states counterparts frequently stick man made objects near the arena as spectator controls just to have a cross on the map to put a control next to. Remember also that if you can move it, there's a good chance that someone else may also decide to move it and ruin your map.
May 30, 2018 3:18 AM # 
There aren't enough rocks here to qualify as rocky ground. Are there enough to build a cairn? Will a cairn here be of any course setting use?
May 30, 2018 3:18 AM # 
When mapping Surebridge, Mark Dominie and I had a challenge to see if either of us could find a boulder that was big enough to appear on the basemap, but that was perched precariously enough that we could get it rocking and tumble it down the hill. We tried, and I think we came close.

(Nature didn't position that junk that you found, unless it was some woman whose hippie parents named her Nature.)
May 30, 2018 3:34 AM # 
There was a man made cairn (about 0.5m high) on the Easter day 2 map this year that was only there because there was nothing else to use as a control feature for about 500m in any direction.
May 30, 2018 4:23 AM # 
A plastic rock was used as a control at a WRE sprint in the USA a few years ago. When controls were picked up, the rock was missed. A few months later, the rock's owner asked for it to be returned, and after a hasty visit to the event site, it was found still in the forest.
May 30, 2018 4:44 AM # 
For the past several WOCs, starting in Denmark 2006 I think with a replica of the Little Mermaid, a transportable man made feature has been used as the last control.

We used to build cairns in WA as many of our maps had few features but lots of small patches of small stones. We stopped because a) moving even small stones changes the environment - I found small lizards, spiders, and even scorpions had made their home under 20cm stones, b) locating the cairn on the map was problematic (no gps in those days), which caused c) orienteers failing to find the cairns.
May 30, 2018 9:00 AM # 
Back in day circa 1990 when we hand drew maps and used letraset symbols for rock feature. We had a stray boulder appear on the final print of Spice Brook map in Western Australia, it was in a critical spot so rather than dump 1,500 blank maps we built a cairn - I think it is still there!
May 30, 2018 9:20 AM # 
1500 maps? I don't know what you're so concerned about. That'd barely last 15 years at our current event numbers (presuming we held an event there every year).
May 30, 2018 9:55 AM # 
World Masters Games Orienteering in Alberta, Canada 2005: a statue of a giant grizzly bear was positioned to be the last control for the final event. It was probably one of the most photographed last controls of any WMG O ever.
May 30, 2018 9:55 AM # 
We used to think big back then
May 30, 2018 1:38 PM # 
My dad told me stories of the early days of orienteering in the USSR, back in the early 1960's. An event organizer would arrive at the area and be given the use of a battalion of soldiers. He would then draw a map, including features he wanted to use as controls: clearings, ditches, trails, knolls, etc. He would then give the map to the soldiers and supervise as they created the terrain to fit the map.
May 30, 2018 1:47 PM # 
I'm not sure about leaving junk untouched, however contrary to Star Trek, who were visiting from "another time and dimension", we are in the here and now and probably do have the right to change "our" nature if advantageous for orienteering (within legal limits, naturally).

Re temporary objects: I have seen a full-size excavator used as a spectator control (marked on map as black X, building company was event supporter), and I have seen a bucket of water (honestly!) dubbing as a water-hole.

Last Sunday, in the very hot vineyards of Rheinhessen (South-West Germany), the "Meinolfstein" was placed for the sixth time. Built of wood and plaster and wallpaper and paint, it was donated to the main organiser, Meinolf, for the 25th jubilee of his annual vineyard-o event, also a tongue-in-cheek joke as he had the tradition of a control object "stone" in a level-2 green that mysteriously "moved" some 50 metres each year depending on routechoice requirements (and, usually, was little more than a heap of pebbles, around 20cm height).
May 31, 2018 1:10 AM # 
I seem to recall that there was a 1980s O-ringen where it was discovered at a late stage that a cliff had fallen off the map (this used to happen occasionally in the days of Letraset symbols) in a critical area, and the Swedish army was called on to use its demolition skills to convert the cliff to rocky ground.
May 31, 2018 1:36 AM # 
That was 1987. The cliff that was removed was on this map:

I visited the spot when I was updating the map a few years later. If my memory is right, the cliff that was removed was in the general area of Vidingsjo motion centrum.
May 31, 2018 1:49 AM # 
I'm noticing a common thread about how one alters terrain to match the map..."you and what army?"
May 31, 2018 1:57 AM # 
Not the Australian army. It'd first have to do a three year feasibility study on how removal of the cliff would affect the surrounding water table and whether any endangered species used the cliff for shelter. The government of the day would also have to take a trip to at least five other countries to find out the best method of cliff removal and how other nations dealt with pesky cliffs before scrapping any suggestions put forth and coming up with their own tactics. After the cliff was removed there'd be a five year moratorium on the area to revegetate the surrounding land and then it'd be declared a National Park and not to be used for recreational activities but in the meantime a new government would have come to power and would want the cliff put back in its rightful place, heritage listed and preserved for future generations to admire (a fee may or may not be charged to view the cliff).
May 31, 2018 5:11 AM # 
Swampfox built a couple of cairns, I believe, on the Lake George map, by carrying rocks up a hill while doing hill repeat training. He wanted to have a good assortment of control sites within view of the corral for maximum relay spectator opportunities. He also created some mappable pits while prospecting for crystals. And at one point he talked to me about the idea of building a charcoal terrace there. I told him that I thought it was a really bad idea, until he explained that he just wanted to build the terrace, he wasn't actually planning to make charcoal. I don't believe that project ever happened, though.
May 31, 2018 9:53 AM # 
A charcoal terrace doesn't need building does it? Its just a place in the middle of nowhere on which a control is put.
May 31, 2018 11:12 AM # 
Environmentalist in me thinks we should allow placing controls anywhere, not just on feature, just if giant enough flag is used. Something like this would do:

Not just to erase the need to make control features, but also remove erosion at features we now regularly used as control sites. it would also make it a lot easier to make interesting route choice legs.
May 31, 2018 11:34 AM # 
At another 1000-Day race, Swampfox sent me the courses for printing, and the last control was just in the middle of a large open area. I asked what the feature was, and he said there wasn't one, it was just where he wanted the control to go. At the time, I was using a custom font to create control descriptions, which had a symbol that would not typically be used: a control flag. So I used that as the column D feature, the control was just at a control, and it was just in the middle of the field (normal size control, but very visible).
May 31, 2018 12:29 PM # 
Jagge, I expected something a bit more like this.
May 31, 2018 12:49 PM # 
tRicky that's for 45+ age classes, used together with 1:7500 enlargement maps.
Jun 1, 2018 9:53 AM # 
tRicky forgot to mention the consultation with the traditional owners - that's got to add at least another year onto the process.
Jun 4, 2018 1:42 AM # 
In general I am not aware of moving a feature but plenty of features have been created over the years including:
* A fence was built in ohio in the middle of nowhere so a control could hung there,
* For a notional championship, A rock pile was mis-mapped on the wrong spur so we built one where the map said it was.
* Plastic rocks.

The closest example is removing features, not moving: Rockstocks have been knocked down so they are too small to map, strands of Barbed wire have been removed from Quantico Marine Corp base maps.
Jun 4, 2018 2:39 AM # 
A charcoal terrace doesn't need building does it?

Charcoal terraces in the USA are different than they are in some other places. Here they are distinct round level spots on a hillside, created by excavating dirt on the uphill and using it to build up the low side. I've seen kolbottens in Sweden, on the other hand, where I was standing at the control and trying to imagine what could possibly make this spot special.
Jun 4, 2018 9:33 AM # 
I mostly agree on the visibility of a Swedish 'kolbotten' since they very often don't differ much from the surrounding terrain. Once you start kicking up the dirt though you'll find the charcoal that is left from this ancient production method.
Jun 4, 2018 10:11 AM # 
In 2004 I ran in a middle distance event in Silesia (Czech Republic), with a spectator area in an open field toward the end of the course.

In the field were controls on a large number of planted trees, stumps and ditches, placed there specially to create maximum confusion for the competitors and amusement for the spectators.
Jun 4, 2018 10:28 PM # 
Joe Scarborough, the founder of BAOC, kept a large paper mache rock in his garage. It was a joy when encountering that boulder as a control site at a BAOC event. He would anchor it down with tent pegs. Before OCAD, a map correction would have to be made by the competitor prior to the race.

Please login to add a message.