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Discussion: WMOC Latvia sprint final: mostly VOIDED

in: World Masters Orienteering Championships 2019 (Jul 5–12 - Rīga, Riga, LV)

Jul 7, 2019 4:50 PM # 
The results for the WMOC 2019 sprint final show 40 of 59 courses voided. Before I add my own insights, I'm copying over the two comments about the final that were tagged onto the end of the qualifier thread.
Jul 7, 2019 4:51 PM # 
BlairTrewin wrote: "Almost every WMOC class is showing on the results as voided, but I assume this is a quirk of the results system because the event page has a Facebook post saying medals are about to be awarded."
Jul 7, 2019 4:51 PM # 
mellis wrote:

There was a closed gate that was a good route choice for some of the courses, including my W70A Final. - I took that route choice :-(

A lot of us wrote protests but the last I heard, the jury decided against the protest. I did not stay till the awards, however, by escaping a torrential hail and rain storm in a coffee shop!
Jul 7, 2019 4:57 PM # 
The official explanation (found at by clicking on the "07.07." tab):

"Information about Sprint Final voided results
In Sprint Final in many classes results were voided. Organizers received complaints and also several protests about a gate being closed (which is open on the map). Gate was closed because owner did not open it on 7.07 morning as agreed before. We reached to the owner over the phone and she organised a person with the keys but none of them worked. Jury went through all courses and voided results for classes where any reasonable route choice might go through those gates.
We apologise to all participants for not being able to solve this issue."
Jul 7, 2019 5:22 PM # 
The alley in question is west-northwest of controls 6 and 7 on the women's WOC 2018 sprint final map. (Accompanying article for the map here).

Edit: The WMOC map does not have any of the half dozen artificial (purple) passageway blockages that the WOC map has. Thus simplifying the route choice problems somewhat for us old folks.

Aside: Wow that map is crystal clear when I zoom in with my browser. The actual printed 1:4000 map for WMOC was practically inscrutable to me on the course. It is a very good print job but the symbols are so tiny at that scale. There was another recent AP thread about this topic, and it's not my intent to highjack this thread to that topic, but I can't help but wonder if the ISOM and the ISSOM are a bit contradictory, in that the former seems to dictate huge symbols for the older classes, whereas the latter seems to require microscopic symbols. But maybe I misunderstand, I am not a close student of these things. And I'm highjacking the thread. Back to voided courses.
Jul 7, 2019 6:46 PM # 
Here's my own personal anecdote about the voiding alley:

At this WMOC (which happens to be my first WMOC), Mrs. O-Maps and I are staying in an apartment with and sharing the rental car of a fairly serious competitor--understandably so, he's won a sprint medal at a previous WMOC. So our schedule pretty much tends to hew to his schedule.

Yesterday after the sprint qualifier, his schedule (and therefore ours) involved spending an hour or two exploring the Riga old town, the site of the sprint final. (The area wasn't embargoed until 8:00 this morning--for one thing, many WMOCers are in hotels in the old town, which they were advised they had to vacate before 8:00.)

Our friend had printed a couple of copies of the map from World of O, one of which he kindly provided to me (I'm not so foresighted to have done this myself) before heading out on his own to explore. It's perfectly reasonable that he went separately from us: our level of seriousness included such things as a nap on a park bench and the consumption of a slice of cheesecake from the konditoreja.

But we did spend the better part of an hour exploring the map. And my attention was attracted to the little labyrinth with the narrow alley exiting to the northwest. If it was deemed an interesting test for WOC competitors, then I figured the WMOC course setters might well make use of it too.

But the Mrs. and I couldn't find the northwest end of the alley, even after walking up and down the block in question of the central street. There were a couple of gates, and a little opening that seemed to be both private and a cul de sac. But nothing that we could convince ourselves to match up with the passageway on the map. So we took the long way around and explored what I'm calling the labyrinth (the area around controls 6 and 7 on the above-linked map).

When we got to the northwest end of the labyrinth, there was a promising passageway that seemed like it might be the passage in question. (With hindsight, it might have been the olive green off-limits passageway right next to the passageway mapped as open.) When we followed it, we came to a door, which didn't seem right, but we went through it anyway, found ourselves in a very dark bar/restaurant, which didn't seem right, but we continued anyway, and passed through another door into a retail shop, which didn't seem right, but then, voila, we popped out through the front door of the shop onto the street.

So we managed to pass through at least approximately where the map showed the passage, but (you'red tired of hearing me say this) it didn't seem right. By this time, we were due to rejoin our friend at his parked car, and we went back to our apartment.

Forward to today: Two thirds of the way around M65C, what do you know, my leg 6 to 7 involves a route choice: Right, into the southeast end of the labyrinth, or left, through the now-infamous skinny obscure passageway. I had no confidence that I could even find it, based on the previous day's exploratory experience, and since the route choice looked pretty much 50-50, I unhesitatingly went right.

I had a nice clean quick run, unlike the day before, and was very pleased to end up fourth (in the C heat, but still). However now I'm wondering if many of my competitors might have lost significant time taking the left route and finding the passageway closed (or not finding it at all). I'll be interested to see the splits If they ever publish them for the voided courses.

Our friend, the serious sprint competitor, also had a route choice involving the magic passageway. But unlike on my course, his route choice was clearly in favor of the magic alley. He said a person was at the gate turning people away, and of course it cost him significant time. It sounds like many many people had a similar experience.
Jul 7, 2019 7:07 PM # 
Well, the correct answer seems to be, if gate not unlocked by first start time, don't start. If still not unlocked within a reasonable time, get out some pencils and start marking the maps, single red X per map, with all those volunteer kids you'd be done in under an hour. Just about everyone is here for the week, only a few may be in any way inconvenienced by the delay (only if, say, you came for the Sprint only and have a 1 pm flight to catch). There was not closed traffic; I was almost hit twice. So, it's not like the police would go overtime, or anything.
Jul 7, 2019 7:19 PM # 
Are you seriously saying it wasn't illegal to wander around the sprint final area with a previous sprint map of that same area? How bizarre.
Jul 7, 2019 7:27 PM # 
According to the embargo page on the WMOC website it is not: however use of orienteering maps, running training of all kinds and route choice testing is not allowed in the area.

Regardless, seems like the organizers forgot to put "ensure all passages are open" in their day-of-competition checklist. I'm sure there are a lot of disappointed people amongst both the organizers and competitors.
Jul 7, 2019 7:41 PM # 
The bulletin only talks about the “strict” embargo starting at 8am, so perhaps not surprising that some competitors would not have been aware of the requirement not to use prior maps to walk around.
Jul 7, 2019 7:48 PM # 
No, I can imagine that many of the competitors at a WMOC would not be familiar with the way things usually are in sprint embargoes and could easily make the mistake, thinking they were well within the rules.
Jul 7, 2019 7:53 PM # 
Yeah I read the bulletin and it wasn't really discussed so I can see how easily it would be done.
Jul 7, 2019 9:10 PM # 
Guilty as charged. Ignorantia juris non excusat. Although I can't even really claim ignorance. As tRicky and Charlie note, it's not "strictly" in the bulletin, but the reference to "strict embargo" should have been a hint that some other sort of embargo applied outside of the given timeframe. And Cristina's post has reminded me, I did in fact read the referenced embargo page, but that was weeks or months ago and I guess it didn't stick.

But I guess I don't have to turn myself in (beyond having flaunted my violation to the world on these pages) when the course in question has been voided.
Jul 8, 2019 6:30 AM # 
Do I understand that the planners used a "trick" from last year's WOC, on the courses for this year's WMOC? I use the word trick, as it seems underhand to mark a passage that looks very private, as a passageway. Urban areas are chock-full of places that look private, and ARE.

Excuse me if I have mis-interpreted this location as being the one which was not unlocked as agreed. But if so then the organisers deserve the resulting mess. My condolences to the competitors though.

Rider. It is easy to criticise from a distance, without the full facts:-))))
Jul 8, 2019 6:45 AM # 
Do I understand that an M69 had to run on a 1:4000 map drawn to the sprint specs? That's ridiculous, but I'm fighting this battle round here on a monthly basis.

Two years ago WMOC wanted to enlarge sprint maps for at least the older veteran classes and I understand the IOF wouldn't agree. Since then there has been a change in the IOF Mapping Committee, and a new sprint spec which says "For older age groups where reading fine lines and small symbols may cause problems due to deteriorating vision, enlarged maps are recommended." This new spec technically comes into force in 2020 but I think it is optional now. The scale thing might be the result of event people, not the IOF.

Excuse me, as above. Rider, as above:-))))))
Jul 8, 2019 6:59 AM # 
Must have been okay given M80 and above and W75 and above were the only official results :P
Jul 8, 2019 7:23 AM # 
Gruver, yes, the door at Kaļķu iela 10 looks just like a door into a first-floor business. I believe it's the one going into "RĪGAS MELNAIS BALZAMS/Black Magic", not the one to its right; the latter has a mailbox and an ashtray.

At the 2018 WOC, the course flowed in reverse, so the runners exited through Black Magic. I don't know what the entrance to the corridor looks like on the other side, there is no Street View inside the labyrinth.

Given razors and such and the "none of the keys worked" tell, the most likely explanation is that the owner of Black Magic either didn't want 4000 non-revenue customers through her property, or there was an unresolved disagreement about the price of such passage. Remember the WOC only had <100, and a production budget, in comparison.
Jul 8, 2019 8:25 AM # 
I remember reading this on Kris Jones' log last year. I hope he doesn't mind me reposting this........but this sounds like the passage.

WOC sprint, 10th.
Bit of a difficult one to process.

The rain started before the first man and with it came much cooler temperatures, so I was pretty happy about that really. I felt good on the warm up and was excited for the challenge.

The wet cobbles and crowds were more stressful that I would have liked but I started ok. I missed the alleyway to 7 due to a pedestrian blocking the entry but minimal time lost. To 8 the best route went through an opening that they had opened for the race - basically indoors through some corridor. I ran in and got to a fork with no indication of which way to go and took the right hand fork down some steps into a restaurant kitchen. I lost ~17 seconds to the fastest time on this leg and a big chunk will have been this. I wasn't the only one who did this and it 100% needed to be taped or marshalled.

This made me more stressed and it was difficult to relax and let it go. I ran the next section well but ultimately pushed too hard and didn't see the blocked alleyway to 16, running down the dead end. I lost 22s to the fastest time on this leg and that was the medal chances gone.

I went back through the corridor by 7 on the way to 17 and this time I was certain I knew the way. Except I didn't, ran up the stairs to some landing and then back down, losing more time (+10s to the fastest on this leg). I'm not ashamed to say that my language at this point was far from PG.

So 10th, +38s to gold and +18s to the medals. I'm annoyed about that corridor, but ultimately my performance could have been a lot better if I hadn't let it affect me as much. That is sport though, sometimes things just don't go your way.

I don't want this to sound like sour grapes, it's just frustrating. Ultimately I could have controlled things better, it was a stressful race all around - so full credit to those at the top. I could have been better at controlling my race. It's a missed opportunity, but I have another opportunity tomorrow.
Jul 8, 2019 9:03 AM # 
Runners in the kitchen! no wonder they "misplaced the keys" for next time.
Jul 8, 2019 10:13 AM # 
Maybe we can blame it on the tornadoes.
Jul 8, 2019 10:55 AM # 
Can't speak for other controllers/EAs (and I'm conscious of not wanting to tempt fate, being responsible for a World Cup sprint in the not too distant future), but for me, standard operating procedure for sprints is to run all controls on the morning of the event. Fortunately I haven't yet had to deal with something being closed which should be open; we have had the reverse, but that's an easier problem to solve (we put an official out to stand in the gate concerned).
Jul 8, 2019 11:36 AM # 
Given the preparation possible for an urban sprint race, including being able to walk the area prior to the event, I can understand why organizers might employ temporary walls / fences and look for unexpected passageways so that the route choice options are less predictable.

What's the typical practice for event notes when this is done? Are competitors told to expect passageways through buildings or impromptu fences and how that might be marked on the map, or do we expect them to figure it out as part of the test of reading a map accurately on the run?
Jul 8, 2019 8:04 PM # 
Backstreet Boy:
Has any other World-level competition sent participants through a restaurant?

I would never expect to have to run through a business on a course, unless specifically told so. I would totally hesitate
Jul 8, 2019 8:13 PM # 
I went and looked at it today. It is not an alley and there is no gate. It’s just a door (closed and presumably locked). On the 2014 version of the map there is no opening shown in the building there, and certainly no opening visible today.
Jul 8, 2019 8:34 PM # 
Jon X:
I was there today too (and in fact it was open and unlocked, then someone appeared with a bunch of keys and locked it!)
The mapped route is not through the Black Magic cafe/bar or indeed any other restaurant, the entrance is two doors further right (it is the white door in this picture).

There I think the door is partly open but it still looks very private – and when you look through the open door it still looks private, like someone’s hallway rather than a public way through.

Similarly the beer garden of Black Magic is not the mapped way through, the beer garden is the olive green that a runner heading north would need to jink left then right to avoid (beer garden mapping has the olive green also blocked by a closed gate, but this is potentially open too, as it was on Sunday pm and also here).

The restaurant/kitchen that caused the trouble in WOC 2018 is neither of these entrances, it is steps in the short distance as you head north between the beer garden and the exit to the street.

And there is also yet another gate in that short distance, a metal bar one immediately adjacent to the Black Magic beer garden entrance.....that gate is actually the mapped way through but by Sunday pm that one too was locked....

I would think the next map of Riga will revert to having these various gates and ways through all shown as a blocked/forbidden route...
Jul 8, 2019 9:40 PM # 
Will people ever learn?
Jul 8, 2019 11:03 PM # 
So which people, and learning what?
Or in your nearby posted words the " non-core technical issues" , or "the endemic ones".
Is this a suitable place "for other conversations".
Jul 8, 2019 11:58 PM # 
I'm cautious about relying on these reports without being there. Nevertheless it underlines a basic principle that it should be abundantly clear where you can and can't go. Perhaps this is not written down anywhere? There are similar issues in MTBO, where according to the jurisdiction one might be restricted to tracks, or have limited places where one may go off-track. (I often flag junctions to avoid ambiguity - and this could be done in urban sprints too.)

The difficulty here is well illustrated by Tundra and Jon, on the spot and without being under competitive pressure, disagreeing as to which doorway is the start of the mapped passage. And if we respect Kris Jones' ability, it may have been wise to tape the whole passage!
Jul 9, 2019 5:10 AM # 
My statement about Black Magic was entirely speculative. I did not choose the passageway on my run because it looked like a narrow, slow passageway on the map. When I went back, it was the end of a hailstorm, so I didn't spend enough time surveying the area. It seemed fairly clear that one could enter Black Magic from both ends, so I deduced that being the passage as the simplest explanation.
Jul 9, 2019 7:06 AM # 
Assuming it is the passage to the west of control 12 on this course

Then the eastern entrance has to be the orange archway in this photo You can see the tree which is the green dot on the map - the low fence is not mapped. The gateway with 'Black Magic' above it is mapped as a thick black line and the courtyard behind it as olive green.

The western entrance has to be the brown door with the number 10 top left in this photo - on the map the entrance to the 'alley' is right next to the purple area which represents the covered street cafe area - so it must be that brown door. Not Black Magic Cafe.

EDIT: re-read Jon X's post above. He is right it must be white door in the orange building. In the photo I linked to above that is the door under the cafe canopy, behind the bush. The map shows the door not under the cafe canopy but obviously the canopy has changed - the street view photo is 5 years old. In the photo below, the passage way is clearly part of the orange building, which rules out the brown door.

This photo must be taken in the 'alley': the pebble area is the small olive green area on the map to the south of the passageway. The archway with the woman in the tweed coat in it is looking east. To the west is a door, so it seems the western part of the passageway on the map is inside the building. My guess would be that the building has apartments or offices and the tenants gain access from that passageway.
Jul 9, 2019 7:18 AM # 
This is a shot inside Black Magic looking west to the entrance in the main street. Hard to imagine that would be the intended passage.

It does look like a good place to go AFTER the race.
Jul 9, 2019 10:34 AM # 
From memory, someone made a video going through this passage at the WOC. I thought it looked very suss at the time. Video should be on the interweb somewhere, but I can't be bothered to look for it.
Jul 9, 2019 11:28 AM # 
Old people have no patience these days.
Jul 9, 2019 12:11 PM # 
Here's that passage around 1:10 I think. The door is white? :).
Jul 9, 2019 12:46 PM # 
Yep at 1.07 the Suisse girl is running through the passage east to west. - the cameraman is on the edge of the pebbles that are shown on WMOC map as the small olive green patch to the south of the passageway. She goes through a white door and then comes out on to the main street with cafes at another white door and turns right. But still we can't see what happened inside (between the white doors) which is presumably where the confusion was at WOC last year.
Jul 9, 2019 1:41 PM # 
So, it is conclusively the white door two doors to the right of Black Magic. Not the red door one door to the right.

Note that in some versions of Google Street View the white door is physically under a restaurant canopy that should, according to ISSOM, be mapped light purple and is therefore uncrossable. I don't know what the situation was this past Sunday, as I said I wasn't at Kaļķu iela 10 or 8 (but did visit 12; highly recommended. They didn't kick any orienteers out for stumbling in in wet clothes, which another neighboring establishment did to me.)
Jul 9, 2019 2:52 PM # 
Just a question on terminology -- the official explanation was that a "gate" was closed. But subsequent discussion seems to say it was a "door" that was closed. A gate and a door are different -- which was it? I'm guessing it was a door, in which case, why did the official explanation refer to a gate?
Jul 9, 2019 3:08 PM # 
because save the face
Jul 9, 2019 3:23 PM # 
or simply a language thing - the organisers are not native English speakers - the distinction between the words for gate and door in Latvian may not line up exactly with the English equivalents.
Jul 9, 2019 4:04 PM # 
Yes, it certainly could be a language thing, and the translation from Latvian to English.
Jul 10, 2019 3:21 AM # 
Can't find the video, but here is a link to the World of O analysis: scroll to leg 7-8 to see the leg, then continue scrolling down. Seems like the stairway shown in the passage west of 7 led to a restaurant kitchen (see Kris Jones' comment). I remember from the video that there was a definite fork to take the correct route left, while the stairway appeared closer to straight.
Jul 10, 2019 4:37 AM # 
All very entertaining. Glad I expressed caution as more info comes out. Preliminary conclusion that a trick from 2018 was used in 2019 negated by opposite directions of travel. Perhaps. Worries persist.

A tangential issue (literally). Inside the passage there's a set of stairs. The spec gives no way of showing whether they go down from the running level, or up. Or conceivably down-up or up-down and back to the running level. Perhaps this is where Kris Jones went downstairs into the restaurant kitchen. Would his map vision have been temporarily reduced going from corridor open to sky into passage?

I have been using a thick black line across the end of such stairs to indicate they "go nowhere". Sometimes where the stairs continue or level out, they become a canopy on the running level. The Danish JWOC mappers this year said such stairs would not be shown at all. Less information than one would like, but I can't think of other solutions.
Jul 10, 2019 7:22 AM # 
To me it appears from the map as though the stairs are an alternative way through the passage, although there's no contour to indicate a slope. So yes, a thick black line or don't map the stairs. Either way, the stairs should be taped off or a marshall in position to block entry.
Jul 10, 2019 9:27 AM # 
My point of view from WOC last year:

The map was wrong - the WMOC map does a much better job of showing that you must make a turn in the alleyway. On the WOC map it doesn't matter if you take the turn or the stairs, both are passable. At the time, and probably still now, I was disappointed that the organisers didn't see the mapping as an issue - the response I got was that it was my fault for not reading the map enough. The fact that it has changed perhaps means that the issue has been recognised. Would this have made a difference to me? Possibly not. As gruver points out, it is difficult to read the map when you go into a passage, as the eyes take a little time to adjust to the light, and I would have planned to next look at the map when I was back out in the street - rather than read the map in the alleyway.

I think that it should have been taped or marshalled - I wasn't the only competitor to make the error and, regardless of whether I should have been able to discern the correct route from the map, it is a bad look for the sport if competitors can 'accidentally' run out of bounds without realising it. I'm in favour of making things as clear as possible on the ground so that there isn't any ambiguity for the runner. I understand that it is hard for the organiser and they won't be able to foresee every possible issue, so I don't blame them - hopefully we can keep learning from these issues though.

I have some extra motivation for 2020 at least.
Jul 11, 2019 7:17 AM # 
Making orienteers being used to enter regular doors when they see open ones at high speed. Why not, what could possibly go wrong?
Jul 12, 2019 11:43 AM # 
Kris is a class act. Super talented runner and orienteer and a great ambassador for our sport.
Jul 13, 2019 7:50 AM # 
I was at the event and like most A finalists suffered from a voided result although my own race was unaffected. Our leg using the offending door/passage was 50/50 and I choose the other way.

We went and had a look at the doorway a few days later. Personally I wouldn't have tried to map it - it looked pretty marginal to me as a thru way. It really was just like the hallway of a house as Jon said.

Two days after the race, I heard a full version of the decision making around said passage on the morning of the final (from a placegetter), which casts the organisers in a very bad light. However I'm reluctant to tell the story without further verification from another source. It does seem though that the organisers knew the gate was locked at 7am on race morning and didn't make the right decisions.
Jul 13, 2019 5:19 PM # 
Remember the good old days, when orienteering used to be known as 'the forest sport"?...........

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