Discussion: Dead Weight?
in: Orienteering; General;
One of the things that orienteering event organizers have to do (and like to do) to get permission to use a venue is to convince authorities that we will leave the venue in as clean or cleaner condition than we found it. That task is not made easier by the practice of orienteers, mostly in the elite classes, discarding the wrapping of an energy gel packet after the contents have been drained. Recently I found a whack of them while cleaning up around a water control. I hope I got them all. But what is it that makes these packets light enough to carry when full but too heavy to carry when empty? This goes for general society as well where we see empty containers discarded all the time along roadsides and park paths while it was obvious the previous owner was able to carry the bottle/ wrapping/ etc until the contents were taken.
Will we have to have orienteers gel packets marked and registered before the start? I'm tempted to suggest it.
With gel packetes, maybe the question is: why are orienteers willing to run through swamps and finish covered in mud and blood yet unwilling to soil their clothes with trace amounts of gooey sugar stuff?
I couldn't agree more, and I think the suggestion is one that organisers of elite races should take up. At water controls here we always leave a bag for used cups, and most cups end up in the bag at non-elite water controls, but are scattered far and wide (along with the empty gel wrappers) at elite water controls.
If the packs are marked so that you know who the offenders are, what should the penalty be?
In adventure racing it's an automatic, no questions asked, no protest available, DQ. I've never seen it enforced, but the fact that it is stated in such draconian terms seems to have had the desired effect. I've rarely seen such things idly discarded in AR's (I'll admit that I haven't done one in a few years, so it may be there has been a culture shift for the worse as AR becomes more mainstream).
Triathletes are the worst - even now with pockets in *some* race wear the sachets are generally dropped on the road / path side. At one of our events in a very scenic forest area (Karri Valley Triathlon) I jogged a lap after the event to collect "some gel wrappers" from the pristine area - and ended up walking and having to make piles to come back and collect.
AR people - with the exception of the 1200+ people who do the Augusta Anaconda race (multisport on rough terrain) - are much less hasty and more in tune with their surroundings. But why orienteers are so lazy, I'm not sure. I put mine in my spent cup, or back in my pocket. The gel stain washes out just fine.
Simmo, what does an elite water control look like, other than being surrounded by discarded cups?
Gordon Pirie says "Any and all additions to the body damage running skill." Do you think thats what they had in mind?
Must say I'm attracted to the Buckley option (although it's easy for me to take the moral high ground here because I don't use gels).
The reason why gel packets get discarded is because cups get discarded. What's one more piece of trash?
Solution: stop providing water on courses.
Gels typically get discarded with water, since they're a bit gross otherwise. But I'm sure people will still use them if you take the water away, only the distribution of gels will be random and harder to clean up. So I'd say if you want the forest to be clean, provide water periodically to encourage the gels to be discarded at specific points, and couple it with trash bags (if you want people to use the trash bags themselves, tie them to some vegetation so people in a hurry don't have to fumble around with them, otherwise, be happy to put the trash in the bag yourself afterwards).
On the other hand, gels discarded at random points in the woods are always going to be hard to clean up. So add a line to the meet notes asking people to leave them at the water controls.
I'm afraid that feet's solution would mean gel wrappers discarded randomly throughout the forest. Aside from OA's determination not to stop providing water, as outlined very forcefully and succinctly by Hoggster in OA Tech News 2/2008
Will we have to have orienteers gel packets marked and registered before the start?
"Then they'll just put it in their pockets™"
I don't really see this as a problem. Having picked up controls at many water stops through the years, I found the empty gel packs almost always left beside the discarded cups. It takes a few seconds more to gather them up. The idea that we should ban gel packs or eliminate water controls because of this seems like overkill.
I agree with Geoman. Orienteers use a small number of gels - say at most two per person on a course, and generally consume them at water stops. A solution is to set up trash bags effectively as bshields suggests and alert competitors that this is a source of aggravation. Remind them to deposit their gels in the trash bags. This seems like it would be an effective and less painful solution than individually labeling Gels or trying to enforce Draconian disqualification reactions.
I have cleaned up a few water controls from A-meets, and I find that scattered cups at water stops are more of a problem than gels. However, both take a minute or two of time.
I'm not sure encouraging people to carry them out would work. For instance, it is much easier for me to take stuff out of the pockets on my tights than to put it back. While I'm not adverse to stuffing a gel back into my pants, it's likely the gel wrapped, poorly stowed, would fall out as I run. It is much easier to dump it at the water stop - in a trash bag if one is available.
I have also picked up water stop trash. Any trash within 15 meters of the stop, I consider fair. I would also give elite runners (and wannabes) more latitude. Being more of a casual runner I try to get my trash in the bag or nearby.
I see a parallel with water stops in big road races. After a race it's common to see the road littered with plastic cups.
I'm not an elite runner by any stretch of the imagination but I am competitive and I don't want to lose a couple of seconds to somebody with whom I've been racing neck and neck because I choose to dispose of my cup more responsibly than that person. I don't know whether there are non-elites running at eight minute or ten minute mile pace who take the same approach (this seems reasonable given that there are non-elites running at five minute mile pace who do so), or whether later runners figure that as the road's already strewn with cups one more won't hurt.
However, if there were large trash cans positioned by the side of the road after water stops such that I could drop my cup in without breaking stride then I'd use it. If there were a request at the start of the race that I try to aim my cup into the trash can, I might even deviate from the racing line to do so.
I suspect the same applies to orienteering. If a large trash can were positioned (and somehow held open) so that cups and gel wrappers could be thrown inside, I'd expect that it would see more use than a closed sack on the ground.
In general, I have to say that most orienteers are pretty conscious of not leaving trash in the forest or at the event sites. At water controls, you expect to have to pick up a few cups, in the immediate proximity. I have been annoyed by finding a cup or two 50 or 100 meters away at elite controls - unlike a road race, checking far down every route by which someone could possibly leave a control is much more time consuming, with no guarantee that every cup will be found. But most orienteers discard the cups right by the water, as they should.
At most water controls at OCIN events, we use a plastic crate, which we line with a trash bag and place conveniently next to the water. Because it is easy to toss a cup in the basket instead of having to fumble with opening a trash bag on the ground or tied to a branch, we seem to get a very high percentage of cups and other trash ending up in the bag. Since I really don't enjoy picking up slobbery cups, I appreciate that when I make the trash bag easy to use, most people will use it.
One thing that is an annoyance that has grown in recent years is finding used gel-packs at NON-water controls. When I'm picking up non-water controls, I generally don't have a trash bag or gloves, because I'm not expecting to have to pick up somebody's sticky, spittled gel pack. So I guess my one peeve would be - if you need a gel and you aren't at a water control, please take the empty pack with you.
I think both feet and sgb are spot on. Both as a (trying to be) elite orienteer and as the race director for the particular event Gord is referring to I've never considered discarded gels with discarded water cups to be an issue. Having water is an accepted (and important) practice as is cleaning up said water stations after... why should we worry about it? I've never cleaned up after a water station myself though so what would I know?
That said one possible way to make clean up easier is to have a large tarp on the ground that you ask people to toss their garbage onto which you can then grab at the corners to haul the garbage out with. Minimal work on the part of the organisers and gte participants don't have to slow down to toss trash into a small target.
Meet organizers take the cups to the water stations. They should expect to clean up the cups. The best way to minimize that effort is to put some stakes in the ground near the water, put a few cups upside down on the stakes and the orienteers will quickly get the idea to stack the cups on the stakes. Same goes with water at and on the way to the start.
However, orienteers carrying full gel packs should expect to carry away empty gel packs. (But I agree, we triathletes are far worse at this practice.)
That said one possible way to make clean up easier is to have a large tarp on the ground that you ask people to toss their garbage onto which you can then grab at the corners to haul the garbage out with.
Just imagining my doing this through our green woods, along with 6 epunch stands & stations.
You can cut down on discarded cups by providing a trash bag or can, or stakes, or a tarp, but there will still be some competitors who pour a cup of water and take it along to drink on the first 50 meters of so of the leg, then drop it.
Solution: stop providing cups at water stops.
Solution: stop providing cups at water stops.
But.... uh.... that means.... that....
we'll have anti-trash people against the anti-lips-to-jugs people.
Stop providing orienteering events. Problem solved.
Wow, that's not a bad idea. No more misplaced controls, no more poor maps, no more stacked form lines, no more aging demographic, no more high permitting fees, no more poor logos, no more ticks, nettles, and poison oak, no more lack of volunteers (and no more intense scrutiny of those volunteers), no more poor public perception, no more trash in the woods, no more drinking from jugs, no more following, no more GPS smuggling, no more pajamas, and no more negative (or smartass) posts on AP.
Dagnabbit people, you're keeping me up
What a range of interesting solutions we have. The challenge will be making them gel.
Disqualification, why not?
For this event http://www.nswrogaining.org/AboutEvents/Events/06W...
the most pleasing thing post event was the thanks from the land mangers -national parks - who expressed an expectation that the campground would be a mess yet they found nothing, five of their staff actually competed and reported the same as it should be leave nothing but footprints take nothing but pictures.
I can still be a smartass even without orienteering! Just ask anyone.
You'll never change some people's attitudes though. You can provide all the bins/plastic bags/tarps/cups on sticks that you like and you'll still get rubbish in the bush. Don't know how you can stop it. Cash incentive for every bit of rubbish brought out of the bush by an elite? One second time credit on each split? New set of pyjamas?
On long races I run with water as well as using gels. Most of the time I try to take my gel at a water station, because as iansmith mentions it is harder to stuff an empty and gooey gel pocket back into tights than to take it out, and empty gel pockets often fall out of my pants while running. So trying to take empty gel packets back out of the woods actually leads to a more random distribution of them in the forest. Since most of the time at a water stop there is a spread of plastic water cups around the control, I never thought it was much of an issue to discard my empty gel wrapper as well.
I think that the best option is to have a clearly set up trash bag where everything can be discarded, and to make it clear in the meet notes that it is unacceptable to drop your gel wrapper or plastic cup anywhere but in the bag. If you don't want to take the extra few seconds to make sure you are using the water stop properly, then don't use the water stop at all.
What is this phenomenon that causes empty gel wrappers to fall out of pockets but not full ones?
If a person is racing to win, carrying out trash, stacking cups, depositing things nicely is not their priority, and why should it be?
If they are out for a nice hike in the woods, I might expect a little more concern for the environment.
It is an incentive issue. Just saying.
I would have been happier at control 8 of the Billygoat if only a few cups and gel packets had been scattered by the fastest few, and the rest were placed in the two bags there. As it was, there were maybe 3 gel packets and 6 cups IN the bags. I picked up at least 50 cups, and multiple gel packets including torn-off tops hidden under leaves in the area. This water stop was 200+m from the Day 1 starts of the 2010 A-
meet we had at Moreau. Not a convenient place to cart a milk crate (a la OCIN) or other bag-holder in addition to the water/cups.
Human nature tRicky, human nature. i.e. pre-event I must stow carefully my full power gel receptacle as to go Full Gas I need my energy. However, upon rapid consumption of said contents the formerly Very Important wrapping becomes Unnecessary - and therefore not much effort is devoted / spared to stowing carefully. It's a pretty trivial matter if they are to be discarded at water points, not so if chucked willy-nilly in the forest. Probably irritation rather than issue at most events.
"If a person is racing to win, carrying out trash, stacking cups, depositing things nicely is not their priority, and why should it be?
If they are out for a nice hike in the woods, I might expect a little more concern for the environment."
Between the racing to win and the nice hike is this graceful curve:
Walk to the start
from the '83 O-Ringen.
j-man- Do you find it acceptable for people to throw their McDonalds wrappers out the window and into your front yard if they are in a hurry?
McDonalds wrappers are paper or recycled cardboard, and degrade in a matter of weeks. Gel paks are aluminium foil, and can last for thousands of years
in the environment:
...Aluminum foil can chemically degrade if exposed to acids or alkalis in soil or groundwater. If not exposed to this physical degradation aluminum will last for thousands of years...
Thank heavens orienteering isn't a real race, or we'd have real problems to worry about:
It's all still unsightly rubbish though.
@tRicky, are you referring to the stars, stripes, cups or all of the above. ;-)
And pretty easy for orienteering organizers to pick up cups and a few gel packets so that the racers can race, as they will.
This is what happens in races. People pay good money to enter, which is fortunate as the the provision of the race entails costs (closed streets, police, trash pickup, medical, etc...)
Maybe we as orienteering organizers don't feel sufficiently well paid to pick up cups, and maybe it is true... a $10 entry fee (or whatever) establishes a certain no frills mindset. Which may be tacitly shared by some of the competitors, but at the end of the day, competition is pretty primal and when push comes to shove, this (e.g., the scene above) is what will inevitably happen.
Do I like it? That is obviously completely besides the point.
Sorry I can't see the picture on my work computer, stupid firewalls. I'll get back to you once I get home and will proceed to abuse the US flag at my leisure later :P
j-man - I've heard the same argument from festival goers regarding paying an entry fee that includes rubbish collection, which then gives said goers free rein to toss rubbish on the ground. I'm sure entry fees would be lower if they were not required!
For what it is worth, as people who know me well can attest, littering and SUV limousines are two of my largest pet peeves. It is really sort of absurd how apoplectic I become when I see either.
There is obviously a broad and continuous spectrum of "littering" and I suppose in the conventional context one could (but I doubt that most do) reason that their tax dollars somehow provide for someone to clean up after them. However, most of the time there are laws against littering, so these people are breaking the law and being heels.
@j-man, CO2 emissions are an example of littering too but http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/georgemonbio...
Most of what I say on AP can be construed as littering but there's no law against it (yet).
I can totally understand your vehemence towards SUV limos.
You were certainly vehement towards yours when you flung it off the road into that patch of small boulder field that you didn't like!
Why one earth do orienteers feel the need to use gels during a O race that lasts between 60 and 90 minutes????
You may find this hard to fathom, MrR, but some of them don't walk the whole way.
Juffy, even when I was running at O events, gels weren't heard of at OAWA events. Heck, I've even run the odd ultra without thinking about gels. Double heck, the best I did, when training for ultras was to stop at a public drinking fountain and have a drink. And I know I was a fair to muddling plodder. I also know for a fact that the routine for the Comrades training group in Perth was to stop along the pipeline and at Mundaring Weir for a tap drink in their weekly 40-50km group run. Now it seems you can't run 10km without having stashes of sports drinks and gels to get you through. What changed in the last 5 - 10 years?
Lots and lots of advertising.
On the back of PowerBar wrappers they have "Trash the competition, not the planet"
On a box of Coco Pops they have "Nutrition Information".
On a box of Rogaine they have "clinically proven", foam, unscented and use twice daily.
I must have gone to a different clinic then. :-)
Back in the '60's beer cans had small sharp metal tab "pop-tops" that detached and were flung around the environment. Everyone from Jimmy Buffet to my brother cut their foot on them, and "had to cruise back home."
I think it was consumer pressure that forced the packaging industry to change the design of beer cans. Why not write to a couple gel makers to suggest they design a better package to (1) eliminate the tear-away tab, and (2) provide a neat, goo-free empty pak that could be returned to the pocket for later disposal? And include a couple of gooey empty paks with your letter to underscore your point.
Yes, CO2 emissions are an example of littering. Both are externalities and those have generated a copious amount of economic analysis over the years. There are economic solutions to both. But, CO2 emissions strike me as better example; I'm not sure what economic benefit the person who litters gets from the act... factory production, on the other hand...
Still, both could be outlawed. Or, better... "taxed". Or, better yet, Pigoued.
I only ever see gu packs at water controls, where it's really not an arduous burden on the organizer to pick them up and have an end to all the agonizing over environmental destruction. Do you people who are complaining about this really find them strewn randomly about the woods, or are you just complaining about having to touch someone else's gu pack?
I'm not trying to convince you of anything, just trying to discern whether you have a real problem or not.
It's common on ARs to find them strewn along the track. Yes I realise that's not orienteering. I don't tend to see anything strewn about anywhere at orienteering but then I haven't been to any events this year.
I am with MrRogaine - 60-90 minute rigorous exercise does not require refueling. Even for exercises lasting more then 2 hours fueling might be considered but not necessary.
l have observed that many runners experience more of psychological boost after consuming gels. It takes at least 30 minutes to benefit from food just consumed but most beneficiaries claim that it kicked it withing 5 minutes of "energy" supplements.
All of us have about 2000 fast release calories available before starting exercise assuming that we properly rested and refueled since last rigorous exercise. 2000 calories is about what elite runner needs to run a marathon and some. Rest of us will "hit the wall" sooner once fast release calories are depleted and body switches to fat reserves as primary resource of energy. Refueling during exercise requires body to channel some of the energy to process food/gels just consumed.
Therefore physiologically you are slowing yourself down by consuming food/gel during short (under 90 minute) exercise.
However if you strongly believe that consuming gels helps during middle/long distance courses then continue to use them. Bernd Heinrich set series of ultra-marathon records in 80s while refueling on cranberry juice. I am not a nutritional expert but I have studied subject of nutrition while exercising for a year or so and I honestly don't have a theory how would cranberry juice give any competitive advantage over other foods, liquids. I don't think cranberry juice works against you but I think it was more physiological impact then physiological
I always get a bit annoyed when I see cross-country skiers drink on a 15 km freestyle race in sub-zero temperatures and cloudy weather at sealevel. At EOC it happened again, people actually drank while on the relay course. Come on! Do you really think you need to drink for a 37 minute exercise?
I always get annoyed when the most interesting man in the world doesn't drink beer.
Boy, those athletes, it's like they don't even want to win. That must be why they're consuming all those gel packs and throwing them on the ground. Maybe they've been bribed to throw the results by some nefarious Swedish betting ring! OMG!
Yep, it doesn't make metabolic sense to take a Gu during a short race. But it still improves performance.
Why not write to a couple gel makers to suggest they design a better package to (1) eliminate the tear-away tab
@J-J -- that's basically how I treat my GU package; I don't tear the top all the way off.
To those who say that this short stint of exercise does not require refueling... maybe for straight road races, but I found my orienteering (mental and physical) skills improved when I started using GU at about 40-45 minutes into a race (if I knew I'd be out over a hour). Less tripping because I was better able to lift my legs over obstacles, and less mental bonking. I'm pretty sure it's not all psychological.
Maybe I have too much energy (taking the gels too early?), but when I rip off the top of the Clif Shot, about half the time, I end up ripping the whole thing off anyway. Or maybe I'm just too muscular or something.
You should really ease off the weight room, socks. Getting a little bit hulkish.
I think your point is a good one Janet. I wouldn't expect to need one for 90 mins on the road, but I'm not sure if any of these studies hink about cognitive ability whilst doing so. It would be a really interesting one, that's for sure!
When I was growing up, one of the basic mantras in orienteering was "leave only footprints". Now it seems to be "leave it for someone else".
Why do I get the impression that the over riding thought is "I'm racing and the pursuit of first place relieves me of all social responsibility while that is happening"?
I always get a bit annoyed when I see cross-country skiers
tRicky- Doubt that happens too often in Perth.
But it's probably really annoying when it does.
Perhaps a sculpture afficionado would appreciate the beauty in the random agglutination of a dozen or so Shotz gel packets post-12hr or 24hr rogaine after their sticky journey in the designated 'waste' pocket of my pack? Note, in AR it's easier to put several serves in a teeny-tiny squeeze bottle - but to do that running you'd end up looking like some shaven-legged person with ironman syndrome, utility belt 'n all. *Shudder*
Now it seems you can't run 10km without having stashes of sports drinks and gels to get you through. What changed in the last 5 - 10 years?
did. I must have seriously had, like, two gels in this event, maybe even one! Look how it improved performance.
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