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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: MapRun on small-scale (big area) maps

in: Orienteering; Gear & Toys

May 11, 2022 3:14 PM # 
Wondering if anyone has experience using the MapRun app (MapRun6) on small-scale (i.e. big area) topo style or rogaine maps. I'm looking to try using MapRun for an adventure race type event and hoping to hear others' experiences before I reinvent the wheel.

I can appreciate the GPS challenges associated with accuracy on a small-scale (1:25k or smaller) map. Control locations will all be large/obvious point features (trail junctions, hill tops, monuments, etc.) and will be properly waypointed and/or georeferenced off satellite imagery or whatnot. I can't think of any issues associated with the smaller scale, given that the actual control feature will be an obvious location (no wandering through the woods in a wide indistinct reentrant waiting for your phone to chirp!).

Happy to hear about others' experiences. Especially happy if you had a "yeah it's no problem" experience. :)
May 11, 2022 7:01 PM # 
This will be the third year will use Maprun. I've assisted from the Maprun setup perspective and developed an Excel application that will grab results as runners upload and match these results with the registration list, allowing, after any adjustments, overall results to be issued. The organizer uses flags with attached laminated bits that include a QR code as a backup tin case any team has bad phone GPS. In addition runners have a sheet where they need to record a three letter code at each control which is also validated.

As you thought, using good control locations which have properly been checked with GPS worked just fine, Not sure if you are thinking of doing this without flags - I think it would work but more susceptible to phone issues and arguments afterwards.

I think the main issue is people showing up for their first race and not having spent the time to properly setup and test the app on their phone (detailed instructions are sent out). I had one team the first year that couldn't get Maprun to work - not a surprise as every time the phone asked if the app should have access to location data they clicked "NO"! In general the teams doing the 8 hr were much better prepared while the 3 hr teams less so,

Last year we added a small (three control) test course just around the arena. This was useful to let people make sure things were set up properly as well as us validate that the MapRUn Name they provided when registering was the actual one they were using.
May 11, 2022 7:45 PM # 
Thanks @Windcrest, great insight and really useful suggestions. I love the idea of a mini test course.

We're currently hoping for no ribbons (an ecological thing not a logistic ease thing as we probably have to waypoint the locations on the ground anyway). May have to come up with a creative solution instead (cairns?).
May 11, 2022 8:02 PM # 
Understand the ecological thing - could use bio-degradable tape but this will not handle the issue when cell phones die, or have really bad GPS. This would be my main worry but would really depend on how "serious" the event is. Maybe bio-de tape with codes written on them so people need to record the code. The tape could be picked up after but if any is missed the impact is minimal. The addition of QR codes we found very helpful but still just a bonus.
May 12, 2022 8:02 AM # 
Cellphone battery life? I've tested on 3hr rogaines but not sure if I could extrapolate to 8hrs. There will be a range of course.
May 12, 2022 10:44 AM # 
Find a method to strap a power pack to the phone whilst leaving the required functionality.
May 12, 2022 2:09 PM # 
OMG, I wish for a simpler life, a map, a compass, a flag in the forest ...
May 12, 2022 4:41 PM # 
Given that this is an Adventure Race format (<6 hrs), teams will have packs with mandatory gear so packing a charging block is no hassle (and backup phones always a good idea in teams). Our main challenge will be the lack of cell service at the stadium area, so teams will have to pre-load the courses at home in MapRun (or drive 10min back to cell service to do it).

Good idea on the biodegradable tape with codes for sure.

On the simplicity thing, tech like MapRun is pretty easy to use and dramatically simplifies the life of event organizers. Our club would have hosted way fewer events through Covid if we didn't have simple, contactless, equipmentless tools to offer virtual events. Simple is nice, but sometimes slightly complicated is the right tradeoff for inclusivity, more events, and less burden on organizers.
May 12, 2022 8:47 PM # 
Re lack of cellular coverage. Is there a way to share the course between devices (either computer to smartphone or smartphone to smartphone) or is it possible to setup a local Wifi network just to share the course file?

I like the use of orienteering control flags. It’s good to have physical markers at the checkpoints to confirm your location is correct. Better than relying on hearing MapRun to sound off. I’m not sure what the area ecological requirements are but if using stakes is out how about using portable folding stands? I’ve seen them used before for orienteering controls.
May 12, 2022 11:05 PM # 
There is no way to share the event files locally between phones/computers. Assuming no internet access available it must be done prior to arrival. Maybe not a bad thing as it would encourage everyone to install the app before. You can even provide a QR code in the instructions that , when scanned, will open MapRun6 on the phone and download the event. Personally I would not feel sorry for anyone who showed up without this done!
May 13, 2022 12:01 AM # 
All great suggestions, thanks folks. There's cell service about 10 min back down the road, so yes, people should pre-load the course, but not a dealbreaker if they have to drive back to civ and do it.

On flags: in many cases, leaving physical objects like flags in the area requires a government permit (in a park, so it's a pain) whereas informal events can run on the trail system without permits (especially if it's a start-yourself kind of event). Lack of flags also means no flag pickup afterwards, even if you have to go out ahead of time and waypoint all the sites. Last, not having flags can also force teams to be tighter on their navigation to the actual feature, instead of just looking for flags in the forest near the feature and running to them.
May 13, 2022 12:25 AM # 
There is no way to share the event files locally between phones/computers.

You do know of course that someone is going to prove you wrong on this.
May 13, 2022 2:25 AM # 
Last, not having flags can also force teams to be tighter on their navigation to the actual feature, instead of just looking for flags in the forest near the feature and running to them.

Hahahahahahahahahahaha. It also forces AR organisers to put the location in the right place, something that rarely happens on any AR that I've done. No flag means if the MapRun pinpoint is in the wrong place, you've got no chance of finding it. Alternatively if MapRun doesn't work (or the phone GPS isn't accurate) then you're stuffed, as happened to me in a MTBO event I did earlier this year when I was in the right location but the phone didn't register so I second guessed myself, did a big circle before coming back to the same location and finally having the phone ping. Technology is much better when you have a backup.

teams will have packs with mandatory gear so packing a charging block is no hassle

Nothing like having to pack 'just one more small item' in an already overloaded pack. I've seen teams fall for this before and ended up dumping 'not really necessary' gear at TAs (e.g. cameras, extra layers, food, etc.)

This discussion thread is closed.