May 2014, Issue 8 - Course Planning

In This Issue

Controller's Notes

This last month as I have made my way around western Canada (Whistler, Comox, Kimberley, Calgary, Edmonton, Kamloops and Whitehorse) mapping and giving Orienteering Canada officials' clinics, I have been thinking a lot about course planning. When you strip everything down, our sport is about courses. Yes, the map makes a big difference but you can have interesting courses on terrible maps and terrible courses on interesting maps.

This issue of O Canada is about what makes some courses good and some courses bad, the challenges of course planning and what different types of competitors want in their orienteering courses.

The topic is huge and only covered here very briefly but there are many resources available online to make you a better course planner: 
The IOF Guidelines for Course Planning World Class Events
Barebones Course Planning Resources
rienteering Canada O100
Orienteering Canada O200
(I'm available to come teach if any clubs are interested!)
Orienteering Canada Course Guidelines  (including a summary of course planning goals for sprint, middle and long)

In my experience, good orienteering course planning is like good writing. First, consider your audience. Who are you doing this for and what are their needs? Second, create a structure. Have a beginning, a middle and an end. Have fast, exciting bits, long, twisty bits and a few surprises out of the blue. You are trying to keep your audience on their toes not falling asleep from boredom. Last, edit the heck out of it. Your first attempt is not the final version. It is a draft. Make sure each part serves a purpose and that you keep repetition to a minimum. Keep editing until you have just the right pace and tone. 

Good course planning takes time, thought and theory. With that in mind, and a focus on creating good legs rather than good controls, anyone can plan fantastic courses.

If you have any fantastic courses to contribute, something happening in your club, or a great summer orienteering vacation planned, let us know at  We would love to have more content from across the country.

Your O Canada Editor,
Meghan Rance

Update from the Orienteering Canada Board of Directors

See you in Whistler and Arnprior!
Another Orienteering season is underway! We look forward to seeing many of you in Whistler, BC for the Canadian Championships in August and Arnprior, ON for the North American Championships in October. Please do keep in mind that these championships are open to all experience levels and we encourage you to attend regardless of your competitive level – please don’t be intimidated by the “championship” wording in the title if you are fairly new to the sport. 
Here’s a quick update of a couple happenings from an Orienteering Canada perspective.
Future Canadian Championships
The 2015 Canadian Championships are shapely up nicely. The board has received a formal bid from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick for the COCs to be held in mid-August with the middle distance in New Brunswick, the sprint in PEI and the long distance in Nova Scotia.  It’s so exciting to have a 3 province COCs! We hope that this event will kick start some longer term orienteering activities in PEI.
We are looking for hosts for the 2016 and 2017 COCs. Remember that the 2017 is also Orienteering Canada’s 50th birthday party so we'll be be having some birthday festivities as well.

National Orienteering Week 
The 9th annual National Orienteering Week 2014 was held May 3-11. There were over 22 orienteering events across the country that week. Thanks to all the clubs and volunteers that organized those events. National Orienteering Week is the perfect time to encourage newcomers to try the sport of orienteering. The board welcomes feedback on National Orienteering Week, please send any feedback to We are looking forward to the 10th National Orienteering Week in 2015!
World Ranking Event Advisor Clinic
A World Ranking Event Advisor clinic was held in Ottawa in April. There will be another one in conjunction with the NAOCs. Both are being taught by David Rosen.
More info about the April clinic can be found here.
Changes at Orienteering Canada
Charlotte MacNaughton has been the volunteer Executive Director and/or President of Orienteering Canada for the last 9 years. She is currently in the process of transitioning out of that role in order to devote more time to other priorities. The board is working on a transition plan to have staff/contractors take up some of the Executive Director workload, as well as making some changes to the way the board operates (for instance creating an Executive Committee) and working closely with the existing and new Orienteering Canada committees to ensure that Orienteering Canada’s priorities are moving forward. Fortunately, Charlotte has committed to continue to volunteer on a handful of projects and will remain as a resource to the board.
See you in the forest! With best regards from the Orienteering Canada Board of Directors & Staff: Alex Kerr, Dave Graupner, Ian Sidders, Jeff Teutsch, Bruce Rennie, Forest Pearson, Stan Woods, Tracy Bradley & Charlotte MacNaughton
What is your philosophy when you are course planning?
The most important thing is to create a fun course for the participant, with appropriate amounts of physical, navigational, and mental challenge for their abilities. For championship courses it is also important to design a course that will test all aspects of orienteering and fairly determine who is the “best” orienteer on the day.
What is your process for course planning? 
First thing is to figure out the logistics of the arena, parking, transport to the event site, etc. Then find great long legs. Then look for nice areas of detail for short, quick legs. Then join them all up.
What was your favourite course that you have ever planned and why?
So many favourites that it is impossible to pick. But some that really stand out: 
Barebones 2014 Ski O Sprint – this was ski orienteering and sprint orienteering at its very, very best. Super fast. Mentally intense. And everyone (all 14 of them ;-( ) finished with a huge grin on their face and the first word they all said was “FUN!”
Smoky Lake – one of the things I love about course planning is the tranquillity of being in the woods by myself, having all the time in the world to appreciate the map and the terrain. I was in Smoky Lake and a wolf walked past – truly an amazing experience
Canadian Champs 2014 – the race hasn’t even happened yet and it is already one of my favourites. The Middle Distance terrain is awesome, and working with Magnus J. is so much fun. The Long Distance too – we discovered the forest, made the map, set the courses – all that’s left is for people to come and enjoy it!!
What was the most challenging course that you have ever planned and why?
Possibly the 2007 Canadian Champs in Saskatoon. Part of the challenge came from the small area we had to share between Middle & Long races. Partly it came from the lack of parking, and the lack of a suitable arena. Partly it came from the 8 hour drive to make a site visit. But mostly it came from the mini tornado that blew through the terrain a week before the event and made some areas of the map absolutely impassable! We had to redesign the Long distance courses in a couple of days. It was challenging for sure, but like all course planning at a national champs level it was also a lot of fun. I must say, possibly the worst courses ever that were designed by me ;-)
Tornado damage on the Ebb's Trails (Saskatchewan) map one week before COCs 2007.
What advice do you have for other course planners?
I have lots of advice for course planners:
  • Make sure the controls are in the right place by visiting the control sites many times
  • Figure out which control you are least comfortable about, and double check it
  • Use super-solid features that nobody could dispute
  • Don’t tie flagging tape to branches, instead fold the flagging tape in half and put the “loop end” over a branch, then shove the two “tail ends” through the loop. This makes it super easy to undo and will make you a favourite of the vettors
  • Focus on designing great legs
  • Use proper course planning software (I.e. CONDES)
  • Make the courses fun, with appropriate amount of challenge, and you will become a loved course planner  

Route Choice Legs with No Route Choice at All

The Problem
The complicated choice on the route choice leg is so inferior (significantly more climb and potential for mistakes) that all participants will take the simple road route.

This turns the leg into a 1km road run with no serious decision points followed by a very short bearing into the forest from an obvious attackpoint.
The Solution
Aim to create route choice legs that reward the participants who take riskier routes and execute them well. This riskier route may involve a straight route through the terrain or the need to navigate a more complicated trail network. Route choice legs do not have to avoid trails, this is often impossible anyway, but they should require competitors to make multiple major directional decisions along the route.

Route choice can be created by forcing runners to cross rather than follow dominant features in the terrain. 

The solution route choice map above is far from perfect but it provides many more legitimate route choice options than the original leg.
How long have you been orienteering?
18 years

Are you competitive in your age class?
Yes, at least in Canada :)

What is your favourite course that you have ever run? Why? 
Hard to pick just one... And its somewhat about how I ran and the terrain in combination with the course.
Middle distance COC 2013 (Hamilton) Mineral Springs
Long distance COC 2011 (Yukon) Carcross Desert
What is your favourite type of orienteering course? Why?
Basically a course that uses the map effectively. This obviously depends on the map... It's generally about setting short technical legs in the more detailed areas and route choice legs in the less detailed areas. I like it when the course gives you varying navigation challenges.

What annoys you about a course?
If the legs are all around the same length (different length legs create different navigation challenges), or if they have not effectively used the terrain available (for instance you find yourself running through the same spot over and over, because the course was set in a way that encourages that).

Photo Credit: World of O Louise's World of O athlete profile

Rising Star Award 

By Alison Price via the Team Canada Blog 

Orienteering Canada is delighted to announce that Pia Blake and Damian Konotopetz are the recipients of the 2014 Orienteering Canada Rising Star Award. Pia and Damian were chosen from a strong group of athletes, nominated by the community and self-nominations, by a selection committee. Both Pia and Damian will receive a cash prize of $1500 each, which will contribute to their travel and competition costs.
Pia Blake is a junior athlete from Whitehorse, YT who has been orienteering since she was 7 years old. Pia moved from Whitehorse to Trondheim, Norway, and then to Llantwit Major, Wales to complete her schooling and improve on her orienteering. This will be Pia’s second year representing Canada at the Junior World Orienteering Championships. You can learn more about Pia on her Athlete Profile.
“I am so very, very grateful to Orienteering Canada for funding this award, and through it helping Canadian orienteers to attend orienteering events and training camps both in Canada and abroad”, said Pia. “I hope that with the help if this award I will be able to continue to grow as an athlete and to improve as an international competitor, and then to bring that experience back to Canada!”
Damian Konotopetz has been competing in orienteering ever since he won races at the Asia Pacific Orienteering Championships in 2002. Damian has represented Canada 6 times since 2009 at the world junior, senior, and university championships. He is trying out for the 2014 World Orienteering Championships in Italy in July. You can find out more about Damian on his Athlete Profile.
“I am very grateful to receive this award”, said Damian. “Thank you to the many people who have supported the HPP program over the years and to the volunteers who make the program run smoothly. This award will help me out financially to achieve my goals in orienteering.”
The Rising Star award is presented by Orienteering Canada’s High Performance Committee (HPC) on an annual basis. It is typically awarded one female and one male member of Orienteering Canada’s High Performance Program (HPP). The goal of the award is to recognize up and coming orienteering athletes, and assist them with the high training and competition costs associated with high performance sport participation.
The High Performance Committee would like to thank the selection committee for their time, energy, and efforts. The selection committee this year consisted of Hans Fransson, Wil Smith, and Meghan Rance.
How long have you been orienteering?
Since 1973

Are you competitive in your age class?

What is your favourite course that you have ever run? Why?
Lewe's Lake, Yukon, and Slovenien karst terrain maps. Love the intricate detail combined with negative topography. 

What is your favourite type of orienteering course? Why?
My favourite courses have consistently challenging navigation, technical terrain and not a lot of green. I enjoy the challenge of interpreting the map in detailed terrain. I'm also a bit of a wimp in green areas; hence my preference for white forest!

What does a course setter have to do to make the perfect course for you?
Follow the Orienteering Canada guidelines for course planning <smile>. No bingo controls and one challenging long route choice leg on the long course.

Three (or More) Controls in a Row

The Problem
At first glance, there is no problem. The map above has two technical legs with controls on solid features. The problem is that the controls are lined up on exactly the same angle and, inevitably, several participants will forget the middle control. This strange phenomenon affects master, junior, elite and recreational orienteers alike. 

Since the course planner is trying to set fair challenges for participants rather than trying to trick them into errors, avoid situations where the likelihood of disqualification is high.
Solution 1
Break up the visual line by pulling one of the controls to the side.
Solution 2
Ask yourself if the middle control creates a technical leg, a route-choice leg, or a transport to set-up the next awesome leg leg. If the middle control serves none of these functions and is only acting as a place-holder, remove it. In fact, you should ask those questions of every leg on your course, regardless of whether or not they are on a line.

Not Every Course is Perfect

By John Rance

My most difficult course planning project was the 1998 COCs on Meadow Creek (1:15,000) in Logan Lake, BC. Since this was before the sprint, middle, and long format, we needed to plan two sets of long courses. That proved very hard to do on Meadow Creek even though there is much great terrain on the map.
Private land in the town-site, a lake, a golf course, a large hill with nasty green cloaking one side, and a deep, steep canyon with few reasonable crossing places limited options considerably. But, the most important factor influencing course design was the requirement to use the park at the south end of the lake as the assembly/finish area for both days.

The map has many assembly/start/finish areas that are excellent for small events but only the park near the lake has the space, parking, toilets, electricity, covered areas and sense of place that a COC type event requires. Unfortunately, these assets are isolated from the good terrain.

The decision about the assembly/finish area came after site visits and much discussion between me, controller Adrian Zissos, and event director Mark McMillan. We made test runs to prove that acceptable, if not optimum, finish corridors could be created. (These are shown as dashed lines and travel through areas considerably less slashy on the 1998 map).
Once the finish locations were decided and the finish corridors agreed upon, we looked for the best possible legs for the various courses. Then we worked backwards to place the starts. This may seem an odd order: finish, middle, start, but it was necessary. The organizational and logistical needs of the event required the finish location we chose. That led us to identify corridors leading to the finish from the best terrain. The location of the finish corridors dictated which terrain we could use. Finally, we looked for start locations.
The map shows four starts for day 1 and three for day 2. We planned at least a partial set of courses for each of these sites before deciding that 1.4 and 2.3 were the most suitable locations.
Start 1.1 is a fine location (near the road, connected to the trail network, close to detailed, runnable terrain) but fatally, it is too far from the finish for the shorter courses. 1.2 and 1.3 worked for the shorter courses but were very cramped and lacked suitable warm-up terrain nearby. Finally, we settled on 1.4 which has a good warm-up area on the little used road to the north, a blind start, and sufficient room. It lacks a hand rail leading from it so we had to flag a route to the fence near 1.3.
The day 2 start was also difficult to establish. 2.1 seemed ideal until the lower courses were considered. It was either too close to the finish via northerly routes or too distant via routes to the west and then north. We corrected this with 2.2 but then realized to get sufficient length, the longer courses would need to go north and then south near the start to access the finish corridor. Eventually, we decided that these out and back courses would be squeezed too narrowly between the deep canyon to the east and the access route and call-up area to the north. Finally, we settled upon 2.3 which we had wanted to avoid because of the big climb to the top of the hill and also because we wanted to keep away from the day 1 finish corridor.
In addition to locating the starts a suitable distance from the finish to accommodate courses 1 and 2, we flagged parts of these courses because suitable handrails were lacking. Also, we cleared brush and logs to create paths along the handrail fences.
The courses we created for this event were far from ideal but I was proud of them because I knew that they made the best use of the available terrain. Unfortunately, Meadow Creek was hit by Mountain Pine Beetle and then a “Fire Smart” thinning programme so it is not now possible to enjoy the wonderful running navigating legs that once characterized the eastern half of the map. Still, I remember fondly the many challenges we faced designing our first event there.  

The Octagon

The Problem
The course consists of (usually around 8) legs that are all approximately the same length and turn at approximately the same angle towards the next control. Even if the individual legs are good, this style of course planning often produces a sense of monotony in the participants. The competitors become accustomed to the distance and control exit angle and are not forced to be active in varying their strategies or direction.
The Solution
Plan courses that vary leg length and direction. Try to have some short, control picking legs in technical terrain, technical or route-choice medium legs and at least one longer route-choice leg. On an elite long distance course there should be at least one leg longer than a kilometre. Place more controls in areas that are interesting and fewer in areas that are not.

Each control should change the direction of the course. Have some legs turn left and some legs turn right. Plan legs with large directional changes (although not large enough to dog leg) and legs with small directional changes (but make sure that the controls don't line up in a row). The goal is to provide as much variety for the competitors as possible.

It is OK for a course to cross back on itself but make sure that the course is still easily legible by the runner. The location of the next control on the map should never be confusing.

How long have you been orienteering?
20 years

Are you competitive in your age class?
Yes, at least in Canada :)

What annoys you about a course?
Lame gimmicks like butterflies, spectator loops, and other loop things. Of course, if the area is small then the course setter has little choice.

What is your favourite course that you have ever run? Why?
Day 3 at Nordvestgaloppen 2008 in the mountains near Voss, Norway. This is partly because of the cool terrain, but the course is also one that I liked. I liked that you could see far away hills that you knew you had to run over later in the course.

 Here's my course (not my route though)

Volunteer Recognition - Making it Count!

By Tracy Bradley

Last issue, I wrote about being volunteered to come up with a volunteer recognition plan for my son's baseball club. I laid out my initial thoughts about the project and promised to update my progress.

Originally, I sat down and brainstormed four starting points for the project. Below are those starting points and what I did with them:

1.  I know that most volunteers are volunteering because they have to, not because they want to.  No one wants to paint lines on the field in the rain….Some people sign up for duties, others are begged because of their particular talent – all deserve some form of thanks.
Our board agreed that everyone deserved some form of thanks. We asked everyone for input – even the athletes and got some great ideas! I have to say, I was impressed with all the ideas and I think we used almost all of them. Even the youngest kids (5 year olds) had ideas on how to thank the volunteers.

2. I’m going to get to know the newbies. I will ask questions about what they like and what their preferences are. I think it is important to recognize people in ways that are meaningful to them.
We made this part of the registration process. Online registration had a mandatory section where parents had to fill out their volunteer preferences, such as how many hours they had to commit to the programs and some of their basic interests.

3. I’m going to match the recognition to the achievement. Long term volunteer duties will receive a different kind of recognition than a one-off task.
We chose to recognize our longer term volunteers, those that had year long “jobs”, at the end-of-year banquet. Shorter-term game day helpers, canteen & BBQ helpers or one off project helpers were recognized after they finished their “job”.  This is where we got some GREAT ideas!

4.  I’m going to make the recognition timely- doing so may make them more motivated to help out again. (…and again and again….)
This has proven to be true!  Those that helped at the beginning of the season with tasks such as creating marketing materials, signs, etc., were willing to help again when asked a few months later. Be careful. Volunteer burnout is a big risk!

Here is a list of ways we thanked our volunteers. Some of these were even ideas from our little 5-8 year olds!

No cost- low cost recognition ideas
1.  Kids wrote thank you notes and drew pictures to give the volunteers

2.  We took pictures of the volunteers setting-up. We created a slide show of our volunteers in action with a cute sign above saying “Thank you volunteers”  We played this slideshow on a laptop and put it out on our registration table during event days. This was actually a HUGE hit! 

3.  A parent, who was an excellent baker, made cupcakes and cake pops for the volunteers - we did double duty here as this was her volunteer contribution

4.  We had postcards made through a website called Vistaprint for about $15. Everyone was encouraged to write a thank you to a volunteer. After the event, we mailed them. They also LOVED this.

5.  Tim Horton’s donated some coffee to the volunteers (you need to ask well in advance).  We called it “Volunteer Fuel”.  As a follow up, we took a photo with the volunteers and gave it to Tim Horton’s for their bulletin board.  As a note here: If one Tim Horton’s says no, ask another- since they are independently operated it’s worth it to ask around.

6.  Thank yous and pictures were put in our newsletter and website

7.  We set aside one silent auction donation to be used as a volunteer thank you - we put all the volunteers names in for the draw

8.  Those that had volunteered before and were “experts” were given a bit more responsibility and leadership. This meant that they could “own” this part of their job and delegate accordingly

9.  We had various parents taking note of specific actions by volunteers at each event.  At the year-end
 event, we plan to make a speech with very specific thank yous

10.  We bought small picture frames from IKEA (3/$4). The 5-year-old group took them home to decorate. We will be putting pictures of the volunteers in there and the five-year-olds will be presenting these picture frames to the volunteers at the year-end event.

This was the top ten list.  Some we’ll be using during our busy season and some we will spread out throughout the year. I’ll be adding to this list and posting on the website.
If you have a volunteer recognition idea that you would like to submit, please send it to me.  All ideas are welcome!
Tracy Bradley
Assistant ED

Dog Legs

The Problem
The legs are set-up so that participants have to exit back through the terrain they just entered the control from.
Why is this a problem? It is boring and frustrating for the participants, it is technically easier since competitors already know where they are going, and it is unfair since runners exiting a control may give away its location.
The Solution
A good way to spot doglegs is to look for controls that create acute (tighter than square) angles. Extremely tight angles are almost always doglegs. If you have to bend the line to keep it from passing through the previous control you need to find a solution.

There are two main solutions to doglegs: adding a transition control or moving a control.
In the map example above, an extra control was added between controls 1 and 2 to lead participants across the top of the extremely steep cliff (please don't do this in non-theoretical course planning) to bring them down between the next set of cliffs instead of the way they came up. Even though the angle of 1-2-3 on the solution example is still acute, it is unlikely participants will travel back upon themselves because of the barriers in the terrain.

Control 4 (5 in the solution example) was moved completely to widen the angle.

The course in the dogleg example is extreme but a course planner should carefully look for doglegs in any area where there are clear paths of travel or features that constrict the terrain (cliffs, lakes, big hills, etc.)

It is not always possible to avoid doglegs on all potential routes. However, the best routes should not force participants to travel back on themselves.

How long have you been orienteering?
20 years

Are you competitive in your age class?
I compete at my age level, 80+

What is your favourite course that you have ever run? Why?
WMOC Sprint in Sydney Australia in the Olympic park, because it was flat and open, lots of nooks and crannies, buildings and decorative statues, lots of people on various courses, so you really had to concentrate on the map. Also, last year's WMOC Sprint in Sestrierre Italy, in an Alpine village, for the same reasons

What annoys you about a course?
Courses that take too long for me to complete. Straight line courses

What does a course setter have to do to make the perfect course for you?
If it is not possible to plan a W80 course, a score-o option could be given to me. This has happened before and ended up being very enjoyable, intricate terrain. This could work with more than one competitor if the group of controls was identified by a circle on the map 

How long have you been orienteering?
I have been orienteering since 1984, 30 years

Are you competitive in your age class?
I run my age class, W55-64, but am not competitive because I don't run
What is your favourite course that you have ever run? Why?
This is difficult to remember as there are so many years to go back through and I haven't kept many maps to recall from. I do remember a course that Louise Oram put on several years ago at Sumas Mountain.

I loved it because of the open forest with very little undergrowth and barely any green on the map, a delight for us on the WET west coast. There were lots of features: boulders, rock cliffs, reentrants, knolls, and contours. I like the variety.
The area is very steep but the course was set so that you didn't feel like you were climbing steeply up and down all the time. There were few trails and so route choices were through the technical terrain. A most pleasant day.
John Rance and Louise Oram investigating Sumas Mountain for mapping
What annoys you about a course?
  • Hidden controls especially in thick areas
  • Controls on top of big hills that you simply go up and straight down again
  • Dog legs
  • Courses going through an area of map that hasn't not been revised eg. unmarked long high fence placed directly in the path of the best route choice to control--it confused the heck out of me
  • Sending people through very thick bush over and over again until they are exhausted!

Vague Control Locations

The Problem
None of these controls is on an acceptable control feature. Controls must be placed on features clearly identifiable on the map and in the terrain. If it is ambiguous, it is not a good control location.
The start is in the middle of the trail. Control 1 is on the side of an indistinct vegetation boundary. Control 2 is hanging out in a flat no-man's-land. Control 3 is on a broken narrow marsh (if the end of the marsh section is clear in the terrain, it could be a solid feature)
The Solution
Choose control locations that are clearly identifiable on both the x and y axis, think about each control having at least 2 converging points of reference. Write a control description for the location. Can you describe it using the orienteering symbols available? Pick point features or locations that need descriptions such as eastern edge, top, foot, end, junction and inside corner. Middle of ______ is almost always asking for trouble unless you are describing a control between two hills, boulders, thickets etc.

If you can send five experienced orienteers to look at a control location and they all independently choose the exact same spot, you are on the right track.

The controls on the course above have been shifted to acceptable control locations. The start is now on a trail junction. Control 1 has been moved west to the passable cliff. Control 2 is slightly north on the southwest edge of the hill. Control 3 has been pulled down to the reentrant. 

Remember to check your control locations in the terrain. If you aren't certain about a control, don't use it!

How long have you been orienteering?
5 years

Are you competitive in your age class?
Probably excessively so
What is your favourite course that you have ever run? Why?
It's difficult to say a favourite course without being swayed by a favourite map. I think that even on a bad map, a person can come up with a clever course that can make it really interesting anyway. Plenty of maps in the UK are exactly like that. However, one I keep coming back to benefited by being a super cool area and having some clever course design. That is the World Ranking Event in Wansheng, China.
Larger map 
No question, in an area like this just about any course could be made difficult, but I think the course design was also quite good. 3-4-5-6 was a great example of setting up a few short controls to minimize a runner's time to plan the 5-6 leg, which had an easy long way around, or sneaky but tricky shortcuts if you were able to read ahead. 15-16 provided the classic "over or around" conundrum, and 18-19 was a tough leg to find the good routes through illusions of passable routes. It had short legs, long legs, changes in direction. There were traps where you could hit a dead end, but they were not unfairly placed to be either catastrophic or ambiguous
What is your favourite type of orienteering course? Why?
Orienteering is about combining navigation skills and running speed. The courses that allow the runner who does both best to be the victor are my favourites
What annoys you about a course?
I think what frustrates me the most are the courses that don't get designed with the participants best interests in mind, courses of convenience. I've done many courses where it was clear the planner didn't put themselves in the runner's shoes. You can't design a course and "hope" that people will do what you want them to do. It needs to be designed anticipating what they will actually do! 
Some examples
  • Having a clever idea for a leg but not realizing that there is an obviously easier and significantly more boring option that most runners will take.
  • Not realizing the optimal route is a dog-leg and many runners will run back the way they just came
  • Forcibly sending runners through incredibly miserable marshes, thick forest, rose bushes, brambles, etc.
  • Incredibly, incredibly boring travelling legs.
I sometimes feel that these course designers didn't ask themselves, "would I enjoy this course?" If the answer is no, then don't do it!
What does a course setter have to do to make the perfect course for you?
I like to have a little bit of everything. Courses I design will typically feature small clusters of tricky controls followed by a longer leg. Changes of direction or passing through already passed areas but at different angles can really jazz up small areas. I like to have a fast area here, a technical area there, BAM a route-choice, a quick few controls and then BAM another route-choice. Did you read ahead during the last route-choice leg? 
A course should award the runner who can be the most clever. I love those course designs that aren't so mathematical in their course design (aka, a maze), rather, they reward noticing small details, taking risks, thinking outside the box, and being a Wile E. Coyote. Magnus Johansson seems to make courses like this, they would be good examples to think about.

From the Archives

Orienteering Canada Spring 1987

Orienteering Canada has recently posted PDFs of all its old newsletters dating back all the way to the 1960s. Check them out to see young faces, vintage orienteering ads, and much more!

Here is a quiz of Canadian orienteering logos from fall 1987. How many can you guess? How many defunct clubs had you completely forgotten?

Quiz Time

Sage Stomp 2014 Sprint at Thompson Rivers University
Answers are at the bottom of the newsletter

Around the Refreshment Table

Carol Ross and Greg Walker celebrated their marriage with family and friends in Tahoe City, California on March 29, 2014. Carol represented Canada at the World Orienteering Championships from 2009-2011. Greg has been a member of the U.S. ski-O team since 2007. They met at the 2010 Western Canadian Orienteering Championships in Whistler, BC.
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Quiz Answers
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1. Greater Vancouver O.C.(Vancouver, BC)
2. Guelph Gators O.C. (Guelph, ON)
3. Peterborough O.C. (Peterborough, ON)
4. Parkland O.C. (Innisfail, AB)
5. Niagara O.C. (Niagara Falls, ON)
6. Spartan O.C. (Kelowna, BC)
7. Valley Navigators (Langley, BC)
8. Fredericton Foxes (Fredericton, NB)
9. VictOrienteers (Victoria, BC)
10. Coureurs de Bois (Grand Falls, NB)
11. Cowichan Valley Orienteers (Duncan, BC)
12. Ottawa O.C. (Ottawa, ON)
13. Foothills Wanderers O.C. (Calgary, AB)
14. Hamilton Kings Foresters (Hamilton, ON)
15. Sage O.C. (Kamloops, BC)
16. Shaughnessy Orienteers (Willowdale, ON)
17. Toronto O.C. (Toronto, ON)
18. Ukranian O.C. (Toronto, ON)
19. Prince George O.C. (Prince George, BC)
20. 2nd Dixie Scouts O.C. (Mississauga, ON)
21. Edmonton Overlanders O.C (Edmonton, AB)
22. Forest Adventurers of York (Aurora, ON)
23. Loup Garou O.C. (Ottawa, ON)
24. St. John's O.C. (St. John's, NL)
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