This was a new type of orienteering event. As far as we know, nothing similar has been put on in New Zealand, or elsewhere for that matter. In many races we have had a short section timed out, usually for a road crossing, but extending this for a longer distance and using several completely different maps was new.
It seemed to be an ideal way of getting long courses on areas that would normally only be suitable for sprint events. New Zealand has very little terrain suitable for MTBO, so this concept enables the use of small areas which are not too far apart to create a long course.
Three of the maps were adjacent to each other, but the fourth was a couple of kilometres away.
Putting out signage to ensure that no one got lost between stages would have been impracticable, so we made a small-scale map to cover this. It was also used for instructions, start times and course closure times.
We didn’t want to pre-allocate start times but also didn’t want the confusion of folk turning up at the start not knowing just when they could go.
The instructions included how to use SIAC, and a description of how to get between stages as well as a warning to take care on public roads, that included SH8.
At registration each competitor had a label with their start time stuck to the instruction map, and that time put by their name at registration. That accommodated those who wanted to start right away and those who wanted longer to prepare. They then just turned up to the start a few minutes early. The starter recorded how many people started for each label so we could determine who was out on the course. Having a punch start, kept the timing accurate.
With 4 maps to sort out, printed back-to-back on 2 A3 sheets of paper we allowed 2 minutes for getting the map board organised before starting. Ideally, we would have issued each map at the start of each leg, but our club person power would not allow for that.
To simplify the organisation, we just had 2 courses, Long and Short. The Long got the maximum orienteering we could out of each map, whereas the Short took pretty much the shortest route and was aimed at beginners.
As the Long course would have over 30 controls, the maximum our Series 8 SI sticks hold, we hired SIAC sticks from Nelson (many thanks!). SIAC was new to most entrants. It was much appreciated, but a couple of folk were too hasty on the clear and check that meant ‘Air’ didn’t work for them. Lesson to us to closely supervise the clear, check and test.
Combining OCAD, the orienteering mapping program, Condes, the course planning program and MeOs, the timing system, took some doing, but now we know how, it will be easy.
Here is a summary, referring to the Long Course (the Short was set up identically).
We used Condes of the planning, with OCAD as canvases.
We wanted Condes to treat the race as one single course, with controls from 1 to 49.
Each of the 4 maps was a separate canvas which is easily changed.
A snag appeared in that for Condes to handle this the maps all have to be exactly the same scale and with the same base coordinates. These 4 maps had all been drawn at different times, with different base coordinates and some at a different scale.
To get round this you set up 4 new maps in OCAD, each with the same base coordinates, magnetic variation and scale. You then import the original map and “hey presto” it all works. You have to watch and maybe adjust the symbol size to ensure consistency across the maps. You do end up with multiple symbol sets on each map but that is irrelevant if there is no further editing.
I wanted to have a clear start and finish symbol for each stage, but of course Condes was treating these just as any other control and wouldn’t print an isolated start symbol part way through the course. I got round that by putting the start and finish symbols at an appropriate size on the OCAD map.
With adjacent maps, e.g. Stage 1 and 2, part of the stage 2 would have been printed over the legend and other parts of the surrounds of Stage 1. Prior to sending the PDFs to the printer, I set up 4 separate Condes event files, with the same data,
but a specific canvas for each so that these unwanted controls could be moved off the canvas. Obviously, this can only be done, once all the courses and controls are finalised.
We used MeOS (Much easier Orienteering System) software for timing. It is free, widely used in Scandinavia and is indeed easy to use. It handled the time out at the transitions perfectly. We were fortunate to have excellent cooperation from Central Otago District Council (CODC) who own most of the land, the Central Otago 4 x 4 club, Terrace School, Dunstan High School, and Central Otago Netball. Many thanks to them and the 2 private landowners between the Airport and Boot Hill. One of them owns Central Custom Engineering, who made all our control stakes. We can recommend them for precision engineering.
Almost all the comments from competitors, both beginners and NZ MTBO team members have been really positive and hopefully the format will be repeated elsewhere. Any clubs wanting to give it a go are welcome to contact me directly.
One small point relates to where you can and cannot ride. The NZ MTBO convention is that you are allowed to ride on the dark yellow but not on the pale yellow (rough open). We didn’t enforce that, as we knew many beginners would miss the instruction and ride on pale yellow anyway. We got a bit of criticism from the “professional” MTBOers, so should in future stick to the rules.
The whole event involved only 5 officials:
Penny Smale – Publicity, Registration and Timing,
Joe Sherriff – Mapping and Planning
Jo Wilson- Controller
Jacqui Sinclair – who put out and brought in all the Airport Controls and marshalled the start of Stage 3.
Judy Browning -who helped on the start.
Very many thanks to all of them.
By Joe Sherrif