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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Course setting in the US

in: BorisGr; BorisGr > 2018-11-04

Nov 7, 2018 10:09 AM # 
What is your opinion? When I see courses from local meets but also national or championships I often find that they have the same "look" i.e. in a circle and not a lot of controls. As a community, is there talk about course setting and differences to courses in Europe or on the world cup circuit? Is there a course setting course people can take?
I can imagine that the juniors in the US are sometimes surprised or overwhelmed by the style of the courses in Europe or at JWOC if they have never been before...
Nov 7, 2018 1:29 PM # 
Hey Sandra, good question, and very timely!

So first of all, course setting in the US varies widely by club and area. Second of all, course setting at national events tends to be quite good, with a (usually) robust course consulting process in place. There is a surprisingly large (given the small size of the orienteering community) number of very good course setters and consultants in the US, who have international experience, so the quality at large events really does end up quite good.

At QOC local events, the level of course setting is mixed, including courses that are fairly boring, like the one you pointed out. However, the club just held a course setting course that eight people completed. The students on the course worked to design the courses for the Fountainhead local event this past Saturday. Check out my route gadget link for the blue course, for example: . A big difference!

So at least QOC is working to address the uneven quality of courses, and I think it's helping. There was talk about instituting a course consulting process for local events, but I am not sure that has actually happened yet.
Nov 7, 2018 6:03 PM # 
I was of the impression that there were a lot of people setting good courses in the US. Maybe not always inventive, but challenging.

It helps having terrain where a big circle can be a really fun course. Norwegian courses sometimes have the same feel.
Nov 7, 2018 10:00 PM # 
The big circle type course is probably a legacy of the pin punch era when the type was used to prevent “cheating “. Certainly are mixed types these days, but that also is the case in Europe at times.
Nov 8, 2018 2:56 PM # 
Do you have the material for that course setting course? Legacy of the pin punch era. Texas is still rocking the pin punches and I am trying to get them to upgrade.
Nov 8, 2018 3:39 PM # 
Jordan, the course was run by Francis Hogle. I will ask him if he has materials he can share.
Nov 8, 2018 8:38 PM # 
Thanks! I'm putting together products to teach the course designers here. Trying to expand the knowledge takes work.
Nov 9, 2018 9:40 AM # 
This is an excellent (if lengthy) document:

Note page 13!
Nov 9, 2018 4:28 PM # 
That's a good document. I especially like the explanation for TD1 difficulty, something a lot of people have trouble getting right.
Nov 9, 2018 4:47 PM # 
As a parent of a young-un, you will spend the next several years trying to think of diplomatic ways of bashing that section over course-setters' heads. Because yeah, too many of them will say things like "I thought there should be an opportunity for some route choice."

And you will fall all over yourself praising the occasional ones who get it right, hoping that others within earshot will somehow take notice. But they won't because nobody cares about the white course except the parents. And they care probably far more than they really ought to.

Autobiography? yeah
Nov 9, 2018 5:38 PM # 
Actually the easy technical courses are almost always well planned in the UK, because the definition of TD 1-2-3 is so clear that everyone knows it, certainly all controllers do. (Although it normally means that the White course needs an entirely separate set of controls which sometimes means that course isn’t offered.)

The quality of TD 4-5 (hard) course setting is probably as variable as anywhere else, particularly at local events. There is also a peculiarly British problem of putting too many controls on each course (often 30+ on the longest ones)...
Nov 10, 2018 6:33 AM # 
One of my usual tests as a controller for a long distance event is to see whether the course would be improved by the deletion of every second control. (This does not apply to state championships in New South Wales, which have acquired a reputation for very long legs - last year I had 6 controls in 9.3km).

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