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Sunday, 18 August 2013

Getting all the information you can.

A good orienteer gathers any information they can to aid them in their performance. Never under-estimate the advantage that can be obtained by keeping your eyes open and your ears pricked.

For a start here, is a link with information regarding the coming Wellington Champs. Sometimes (especially in Auckland) events are held on areas that have been used before. Old copies of the maps can give you an indication of likely terrain and route choice.

Aerial photos can also be revealing, especially for Sprint events. A personal example that springs to mind for me is last years World Cup trial. It was mentioned in the program that there was an underpass between two areas of map. I thought I better check this out, and noticed that the underpass actually contained tracks on two different levels that led to quite different places. During the race I used this knowledge to my advantage to gain crucial seconds on Tane Cambridge, allowing me to get closer enough to obtain a lovely smooth tow through the detailed terrain that followed. See the aerial photo below, we were entering the underpass from right to left.

It is worth looking at the aerial photos for the Wellington Champs sprints, both in Eketahuna and Rathkeale college.

Imagining the Mysteries of Eketahuna
When you get to World Championship level it is quite common for athletes to produce rough ocad maps from aerial photos and google streetview, and then to even run on them in Catching Features. I'm not suggesting that anyone should do this, but that is the lengths people will go to get the small advantages.

Another examples that springs to mind is what can be obtained from the start/finish area. The obvious ones: spectator control, finish chute, feel for terrain, but every now and then something more crucial pops up. At the Nationals in 2012 at Hawkes Bay, there was a crucial route choice in the elite courses that crossed the route to the event centre. Before the elite start the junior elite had a similar leg and many were observed with the fastest route choice quite easy to suss out and spot for observors. I missed this trick, and paid for it with a poor route choice when I executed this leg.

Does anyone else have any examples of information they have gathered (or missed) that proved influential in a race?
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