Welcome to the latest edition of OT's Technical newsletter. Topics covered in previous editions can be found on the OT website HERE.
Safety at Events (Sally Wayte)
At the last OST event at Royal George a young competitor became injured and disoriented, necessitating a search and rescue operation at course closure. Fortunately she was found safe and well by one of the search teams.
This is a good reminder that organisers need to be aware of the appropriate safety precautions as well as search and rescue procedures. Safety at events is the ultimate responsibility of the controller of the event. All event organisers must read OT's Event Safety Policy (on the Organiser’s Toolkit) prior to events. A copy of this is also in the trailers, and a brief version of Search and Rescue procedures is being prepared.
CONDES tricks and tips (Greg Hawthorne)
Have you ever wanted to have a partial marked route (e.g. for a leg that contains some difficult navigation for the classes running the course - in the example below from the start to the track, but once competitors reach the track you want them to navigate the rest of the leg), you can have a partial marked route to the track, as in this example:
The control description will appear as follows:
This indicates that there is a marked route of 400 metres to the track, but there are no markings beyond the track and competitors are expected to navigate to the next control from the end of the marked route (note that when the map is printed, the small blue triangle shown in the example does not appear).
How is this done?
In the Condes tool bar, there is a small triangle symbol with a dashed line into the triangle and a straight line from the triangle (it’s the fourth symbol from the top, not to be confused with the larger start triangle which is second from the top. When you hover the mouse over the symbol, it’s described as “New end of marked route”).
Select the “New end of marked route” tool and click on the map in the position where you want the marked route to end in the same way as you would place a control on the map. After the course has been defined, the leg will go directly between controls (or in this instance, from the start to control 1). Select the leg, then click on the “Insert a control into a leg” tool – it looks like this
and move the leg line to the small blue triangle to create the partial marked route.
Another case where it can be used is for spectator controls where you want competitors to run through the arena but have them navigate from the arena to the next control. You could simply have a control in the arena with a marked route to that control, but occasionally competitors forget to punch the control in the arena and are disqualified, which is not what we want to achieve. Using the “Follow taped route away from control” option (see 15.1 of the IOF Control Descriptions 2018 manual) avoids the possibility of competitors being disqualified for simply forgetting to punch a dummy control.
SI Unit numbers in Condes (Jeff Dunn)
Each control you create in Condes is assigned an SI Unit number. If you already know which SI units are available for your event then put the lowest number in the dialogue box when you create the first control, and the number will increment for all following controls.
The control numbers are passed from the Condes file to the SITiming event software so it understands the courses. When taping control sites in the bush, write the SI number on each tape to help ensure that each unit is at its intended site. I saw an Aus MTBO Champs organiser grieve when he realised that the last couple of controls he put out were switched, and the elite courses would have to be voided.
If you start Condes work before knowing the SI numbers then you can renumber all controls in one go later. Renumbering all controls is irreversible, and obviously just wrong if some sites are already taped and numbered! However if needed it is achieved in the Control > Renumber Controls… menu.
Auto-numbering by Condes skips those numbers which can be mistaken if read upside down. These include 66, 68, 86, 89, 98, 99. That is, Condes will allocate only 44 controls between 51 and 100. If you really need all 50 controls in that range you can manually renumber in Condes to fill the gaps. If you are so bold then make damn sure that 68 and 89, say, are not adjacent in the terrain.
To manually change control numbers, double-click on the control and overwrite the number in the Code box, top-left of dialogue box. [Actually I rarely double-click on controls because a shaky hand can bump the control off its location. Instead I click in the Edit Controls list on the left of screen, or if scrolling through many controls (tweaking control descriptions or circle cutting), I will use the ‘next’ arrow in the dialogue box. See red arrows below.]
Crossing points and marked routes. (John Brammall May 06)
At times the course planner has to consider the possibility that the route choices might be restricted because of various hazards or other limitations
Let’s think about each of the following examples:
There are dangerous features, such as high cliffs, in the area (eg. Sandstone Valleys, Golden Fleece).
There are numerous watercourses with thick vegetation (eg. Littlechild Creek).
The land manager has asked that certain areas be avoided because of stock or protected plant species.
There are difficult fences which some competitors might have difficulty crossing.
In the interests of risk management and fairness these need to be carefully considered:
Obviously, physical dangers such as high cliffs have to be avoided and the course planner should avoid route choices that can put competitors at risk. If this is not altogether possible, then competitors need to be alerted to possible dangers: Control descriptions can include the ! symbol to indicate that there is danger near-by, and dangerous features such as mine shafts can be taped. Event information on the day needs to make mention of these. (For further advice on this, consult Darryl Smith!)
John Brock and Paul Pacqué who were the course planners for the Australian Championships on Littlechild Creek last year had to grapple with the problem of the thick vegetation along the creeks. As well, the creeks were difficult to cross in places. Their solution was to provide a number of marked crossings, siting some of them on obvious crossing points for some courses, but placing others so as not to influence route choice excessively, while still leaving it open for runners prepared to tackle the green to do so. In this way, the crossings provided safe and fair options for competitors.
When some areas of the map have to be avoided (because of stock, crops, etc.), then the course planner should be able to work around this. Sometimes, though, it is necessary to ‘guide’ the competitors around an out of bounds area, and this is done by having a marked route that runners are obliged to follow.
One of the more difficult situations is where a property might have fences that for some competitors (eg. small children or older runners) are very difficult to cross, while for others on the course, the fences pose no problems. This is a potential threat to fairness. In Tasmania, with our small number of courses, and the requirement to plan courses for winning times, we sometimes overlook the mix of people who might be running a particular course. Consequently, where there are difficult fences (or other obstacles) on a course, the course planner and controller have to consider the fairness to all competitors and if necessary provide crossing points (eg stiles, gates, sacks, etc.).
When providing crossing points of any kind, there are a few guidelines that we need to follow:
Crossing points can be provided either as ‘marked crossings’ which are there for a competitor to use if she or he wishes, or as ‘compulsory crossings’, which competitors are required to use. Maybe there is an in-between category where the crossing might not be compulsory, but competitors can be encouraged to use it. For such a crossing and for a compulsory crossing, there should be a control close by to ‘lead’ competitors into the crossing point (which might well double as a drinks control).
A crossing point becomes another point feature on the map, and must be placed exactly on the map and in the terrain. This can have some disadvantages, because these points become extra aids to navigation and reduce the quality of some route choices on courses. Many of us have competed in events where drink stations are put along tracks. It might be quite tricky normally to pinpoint where you are crossing the track, but with drink stations set along it, that task becomes an easy one. (This is one of the major reasons why in Australia we have the convention of putting drink stations at actual controls rather than creating new points on the map.)
Any crossing point must be marked clearly on the map and on the ground (in the terrain). Competitors need to know what coloured tapes have been used to mark the crossing, and these tapes need to be visible from either side of the crossing. Even if the planner feels certain that everyone will be approaching from a particular direction, because it is a marked feature on the map and in the terrain, a competitor may well use it to navigate by or relocate from.
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