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Friday, 5 June 2009

Making Decisions at the Right Time

The map above is the beginning of the elite mass start event held as the finale of the recent Queens Birthday event. The terrain is a plantation of pine trees on top of steep ridge and gully systems. The bogs were horendous. A track system remains principally from when the area was farmland in a previous generation.

In this blog one of the themes has been making navigation decisions at the right time. Staying ahead of the game. Attempting to orienteer like Georgiou. You know 100metres in the future or whatever. So I thought I would reflect on where on this course I was making key decisions, feedback welcome if you agree/disagree or have any other ideas or strategies...my course went 1-7-8-9-6-12-13-14-10-3-4-5-15-16.

It is easier to read the map running or walking up hill. If you attempt to read the map on a sharp downhill it will affect your running speed and leave you vulnerable to making hasty decisions. Before the control 1 I had a good idea of the shape of the first loop. 7 was easy but the pack hesitated coming into 8, not knowing which way to turn. In retrospect the key moment here was the track crossing adjacent to the earth bank halfway along the leg. A few seconds here confirming our location and we would have attacked the control with a lot more confidence.

The next two loops followed a similar pattern investing time early, specifically when walking (it was that sort of terrain) up the hills and you reaped the rewards in preparedness for series of shorter downhill controls followed by route choice. There was plenty of planning time on the hill up to 11, and again immediately before 13. But you had to be two legs in advance because 14 was downhill and easy and there was time to be gained by optimising the route choice to 15.

Likewise the hill to 3 was followed by three quick downhill controls 4-5-15 and a crucial route choice to 16. The short controls would look after themselves with bearings so I used the hill to make my route choice decision (right). While I lost some time to the guys chasing me up the hill I am comfortable that it was time well invested.

I'm thinking when you are analysing your mistakes maybe don't look so much at where you went but when you made that mistake. Was there a moment you didn't master. A decision you didn't make at the right time? Or was there a part of the course during which you could have planned ahead more to give yourself a better chance? We had a quote up a few days ago which I quite liked "chance favours the prepared mind..."

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