The Greatest Orienteers   Leave a comment

Who is the greatest orienteer of all time? I can’t decide, but I’ve just published a visualization on the subject. Thanks to Iron Quest for the motivation. Click on the link at the bottom (or here) to go to the interactive page.

Posted 12/10/2021 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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How not to start a WOC   Leave a comment

No, not our national team, but the organisers.

I was following the GPS tracking of the Sprint Qualification this morning, and wondering why all the runners in Men C (where our top orienteer Nitsan Yasur was starting) were running round the fence after the first control, and then returning:

At first I thought the control description was incorrect, and the control had been placed on the eastern side of the fence instead of the west, but after an exchange of WhatsApp messages with Itay Manor (on-site at WOC and planned to run Middle and Relay) I understood that they had all been unable to see the black barrier under the control circle, between the building and the fence to the north-east of the control. Even I, at home in the air conditioning and with my glasses on, didn’t see it.

Technically, the organisers have done nothing wrong. But this is a big fairness issue and I guess they (and the jury, who would have had to make a decision) can count themselves lucky that it happened in qualification, where losing 10-20 seconds is not critical for most runners, and not in the final or the relay. In my opinion it’s a big drawing and controlling mistake, and I would expect an admission of error and an apology to the runners. As I’m not there, maybe that’s already happened.

I counted at least 16 runners (out of 34) in Men C who tried this route, and at least 10 in Women C – and we should remember that some would choose a different route choice to 2 in any case. That means at least 50% of them didn’t see the line. It affected Men/Women B as well, but not as the first control:

Can you see the black line under the circle?

I hope the championship continues without similar mistakes, because otherwise the courses and terrain looked very good. Our team had no success, with none of the three runners – Nitsan Yasur, Rotem Yasur and Rotem Yogev – qualifying for the final, but they had solid runs. On the GPS, it was interesting to see them being overtaken on the long legs for pure running speed by Scandinavian runners, and I wonder what would have happened if our top sprint orienteer, Matan Ivri, had been there. I understand that he’s focusing on JWOC this year, and he has track records of 8:16 for 3,000m and under 14:20 (I think) for 5,000m.

Posted 03/07/2021 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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How not to end a season   2 comments

Our orienteering season ended a couple of weeks ago, after a series of sprint races. It’s too hot now for competitive orienteering here, but good luck to our team at WOC!

Usually I don’t care for sprint races, even league events that count for the rankings, but after my back problem I needed a test run, so I went to the event at Ein HaHoresh, a week before our club relay. Nothing much to write to the world about – a very easy map and course, an almost perfect run, but very slow by my standards (and still 5th in H40). This only reinforced my indignation at the rule that says you can’t switch categories after the middle of the season – “can’t” as in “not allowed to register”, not “can’t be ranked in a different category”. What if it had been a forest event, with longer courses and more of a difference between the categories? Then I wouldn’t have been able to register for my age group (H50) in order to run a shorter course than usual while recovering from illness.

Ein HaHoresh

Next up was the club relay at Beit Berl, also a sprint event. I’d prefer a forest relay, but I have no complaints about that due to the COVID-19 situation during the season.

This race was marred by controversy. The courses were good and tricky, but the map was imperfect at best – I encountered several problems: a non-standard fence marking near control 11 (it’s actually impassable, but I lost only a few seconds), a blocked passageway on the way to 12, where I lost at least 20 seconds (both are highlighted on the map below), and a few more small issues. In the end I somehow managed to skip control 16 and was disqualified – without that my team would have finished 4th in the Veterans category.

The main problem was that 15 teams (more than 10% of the total) were disqualified for mispunching on the next-to-last control, no. 18 on my course. None had the presence of mind to check if the controls where they punched were too close to the correct ones, so no-one appealed and the results stood. Internal club decision: every relay from now we’ll have an experienced orienteer in charge of checking disqualifications. When the master maps were published we could see clearly that there were three controls in a row, all on trees, 25m apart (they are marked on the map below: less than the 30m minimum for similar objects). As a club, we would have won the relay if our elite team hadn’t been disqualified there, but what bothers me the most is that the organisers haven’t even been willing to admit their mistake and apologise – I know we missed the opportunity to appeal, and that’s our fault.

The event itself was fun, and our women’s team (with Roni on the anchor leg) won for the 8th time (I think) in the last 9 relays. But for me the season ended badly, in both health and orienteering. I’m slowly getting my fitness back, looking forward to following our orienteers at WOC, EYOC and JWOC, and waiting for opportunities to escape the heat and run in the forests.

Beit Berl – Relay

Posted 01/07/2021 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Back (pun intended)   Leave a comment

I’m back from a back problem, just in time for the end of the orienteering season and the start of high summer.

What happened to my back? Nobody knows, of course. It started gradually over a few days, and then I was barely able to move without acute pain. After taking anti-inflammatory pills for a while I got better and I could get back to work, and then slowly back to running. Two months ago I could hardly walk, a month ago I managed a 3 km jog through the pain, and now I’m totally pain-free and running single-tracks again.

All the doctors asked if I had any severe stress, so maybe they’re right – a combination of hard work, organising orienteering events (a rogaine), and the usual day-to-day grind with kids. And age (53). I dialed everything down until the last week or so, but now I’m getting back to normal, carefully, with lots of back and core strengthening exercises as well.

I also discovered, unfortunately, how a month of nothing can impair my fitness: I can confidently say that I haven’t been as unfit as this for at least 30 years, and bouncing back from various ankle sprains and an appendectomy was much faster (maybe because I was younger). I’ve had my holiday, so now there’s a long, very hot summer of training ahead of me in order to get back to my usual level by the start of next season.

I managed to jog through two of the end of season sprint events, so I’ll write about those soon, and hopefully I’ll be able to blog about the various international events and our team through the summer.

Posted 20/06/2021 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Israeli Championships 2021   Leave a comment

Last weekend was the highlight of the season – The Israeli Championship. Already a bit late in the year, with the undergrowth growing a bit tall, but we had very good weather and two great new maps of well-known areas, making up for a very compressed schedule for the organizers. Both areas were also quite close to home, so we could manage the kids easily and Alon was able to finish the children’s course alone on both days.

The first day was in Alon Hagalil – steep but fast pine forest, so a very physical race with very few tricky controls. Our course (H40, D21A and others) had 7.3 km with 370m climb, and I finished it in 64:39 but 5th place, as it favoured the faster (and younger) runners. Roni ran 72:54 on the same course – not bad for a 40-year mother of three who doesn’t have time for any running or orienteering training at all – and finished second in D21A.

The second day was at Megido – much thicker vegetation and rocky details, so expected to be slower and more technical. I was only 3 minutes behind second place, which was the goal, so I felt confident I could close the gap. The course was 7.0 km with 255m climb, but much slower, and I ran 72:54 – second on the day but third overall, 19 seconds behind silver. All of the damage was done at control 5, where I lost contact and had to search around for 2-3 minutes. The second half of this race was peak orienteering for me – I was “in the zone” physically, flying through the forest, knowing what I was doing at every point and enjoying every minute. Great fun!

Roni finished second again, in 79:11, but third overall. Most interestingly, the Israeli Championship for men was won by Matan Ivri, age 18. Matan is the only Israeli orienteer ever to have achieved a podium place in an international championship – 6th in EYOC 2019 M18 sprint – and is already at a running level on the verge of the national athletic team: his PBs are 8:20 for 3,000m and 14:35 for 5,000m! Unfortunately he’s already missed out on his last year at EYOC due to COVID-19, and on a JWOC year as well, but if we ever had a chance of a medal in sprint orienteering, this is it.

We have about a month to go before forest orienteering slows down and gives way to sprints due to the heat, then we can start thinking about making up lost ground next year, and hoping it will be a “normal” season.

Alon Hagalil

Posted 27/03/2021 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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A Changing of the Guard   Leave a comment

The season has started (very late, of course, because of COVID-19), and the first two national events are behind us, with the Israeli Championship already looming on the horizon – next weekend. But this time the landscape has changed.

Usually the various age categories, excluding the juniors, have more or less the same people as last year, and the same results. Once in a while someone goes up to an older age group and slots in amongst the leaders, but there’s no massive change. Lots of older orienteers stay in a longer course and age group even as they grow older (just like myself, running H40 at age 52).

But this year we have a major shift, a “changing of the guard”, in three of the toughest categories. In both H35 and H40, the previous leaders were thrashed (by over 10 minutes) in the first two races by Alexey Marchenko and Daniel Griff respectively – two of our best ever elite orienteers, who have reached the age, are superbly fit, and are therefore much better than everyone else (that includes me, of course). I won’t be winning the Israeli Championship in H40 this year, but I won’t be “running away” to H50 either, and my goal now is second place behind Daniel.

By the way, the previous time I can recall something similar was in 2004 – when I myself reached the H35 category, as the first of the previous generation of national team orienteers with elite experience.

In H21A, the situation is different – a whole crop of promising young orienteers has taken over, with the top 5 places in the rankings, at the moment, occupied by under-20s. This is a bit misleading, because our top orienteers weren’t in action in both races, but it’s now obvious that they’ll have a fight on their hands.

There’s nothing bad about this change, of course. Some categories will become more competitive, and maybe we’ll see some orienteers deciding to run their real age next season, and not 2-3 age groups younger, which will cause a ripple-on effect. I haven’t decided regarding myself yet – for now I’m staying in H40.

I participated in the first national event in HaMeginim Forest, and finished second, 10 minutes behind Daniel and with the rest of the pack 4 minutes behind me. After that I sent Alon (nearly 10 years old) alone to the children’s course, and set off after him with Matan (6.5). Alon managed to lose his SI card (it was my old one, 12-13 years old, so no great loss), and he joined us in the middle of the course, but both of them enjoyed themselves. They’re not going to be great athletes, but they definitely have good map-reading ability. Maybe it’s inherited…

Posted 13/03/2021 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Looking Forward   Leave a comment

The 2020-2021 orienteering season has just started. After the “training” events of December we had another month of total lockdown, and another month of training, but now competitions are allowed and they’re trying to cram the whole season in before the summer. So in the next couple of months we have 6 national events (including the Israeli championship), 2 rogaines, and lots of other interesting events.

I’ve run some training courses, the best being one of the five set out by our club as “permanent” courses for the past month, in Zippori (map below) – makeshift controls, register online and pick up your map from someone’s front garden whenever you want. I also prepared one of the courses, recycling a pile of medal ribbons as the controls. The weather has been fantastic over the winter, not too cold, and quite wet but almost always in the middle of the week, so it’s a real shame we couldn’t hold any events.

I probably won’t be running too many races – one of the problems is that you can’t yet have an “assembly area” at events, so coming as a family and mixing up with all the other kids is not a good idea. Add some mapping work and organising, and I’ll probably run 5-6 races this season. But now is the time to look forward, start planning for the end of the Corona era, and enjoy the forests.

Posted 03/03/2021 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Forest Time   1 comment

Despite COVID-19, we’re allowed to hold “training” events – which are basically the same as regular events, except that there’s no registration on the day (so no contact), no official assembly area, no drinks controls, and no results (but you can still use SI and get your split times). As far as I know, competitive events are planned to start in January, unless there is a third lockdown. The season is going to be compressed into a few months, and hopefully we’ll be having a lot of forest time over the winter and spring.

Today we went to a training event at Ma’anit, on a partially new map (of an old area). There were 280+ orienteers registered, the assembly area was full, and the forest was busy. Alon (aged 9.5) successfully finished his second solo forest course, and I ran the long course at cruising pace. It was fun – peak orienteering season, beautiful countryside, nice weather, and good terrain. Apart from my headless chicken routine at control 21 (where I don’t agree with the map, but I was still off course) I was more or less OK, but a bit rusty.

Last week I also started mapping in the forest again. I had planned to expand my small map of Naura ( back in the summer of 2019, but then I discovered that the vegetation in the new section was awful, and that half of the existing map had just suffered a serious forest fire. After that I was busy with Rogaine mapping, then COVID-19 came along, and now I’m back. The vegetation is nicer at this time of year, and much of the forest has recovered from the fire, so we can think of planning an event on the expanded map. Below are aerial photos of almost the entire map for 2018, 2019, and 2020, where you can see the effect of the fire.

Posted 12/12/2020 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Restart #2   1 comment

Lockdown no. 2 came just after the first few events of the season, and lasted until a week ago. We actually managed to hold a club training camp just before, which was great fun despite the (still) hot conditions, and then all activities closed down: not a 100 meter limit like in April, but 500 meters (increased at some point to 1 km), and any individual athletic activity provided you start from your home.

So I ran around home quite a lot, getting acquainted with new routes, but the conditions were still hot throughout and I managed to orienteer only on the last weekend, when it cooled down a bit – running 5 km to the nearby map of Alonim, doing a 6 km training course (without controls, of course), and then back.

Now lockdown has been lifted, but we still can’t hold official events, so there are lots of informal trainings – register, come and take a map, go out into the forest and find the controls. On Friday I went to a Window-O training (some call it “Swiss cheese”) at Hosh’aya, which was tricky but better than nothing. The forest is quite open, the fact that the map is from 2007 doesn’t matter too much when most of it is erased, and the main problem was the very rocky terrain, which made running in a straight line and pace-counting very difficult. I managed to find all the controls except no. 7/11 – apparently there is an unmarked rocky knoll slightly to the west of the correct one, and that’s the one that I arrived at twice.

There’s lots more training coming up, and hopefully the season will be able to restart within a few weeks, just when we have the best orienteering weather and vegetation conditions.

Posted 24/10/2020 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Back in the Forest   Leave a comment

After a summer of early morning sprints, we’re back in the forest at last. I was out and about last weekend as well, marking controls for a club training camp, but yesterday was the first real event of the season – in the midst of an unprecedented heatwave.

My club was organizing, but I wasn’t involved this time. Despite the heat and humidity, the decision to go ahead – with shortened courses and very early start times – was made, and the event was successful. It was really humid: Strava says 83%, but it felt like 200%, and I was soaked in sweat after the first few controls, despite being acclimatized from training throughout the summer. My strategy was to choose the least physically demanding route, which is usually close to the fastest anyway, and I had an almost perfect run, mostly enjoying the lack of undergrowth.

Thanks to Gil Rinat and the other members of Galilee O-Club for planning and organizing. I think we’re going to have a great season, and this is just the start!

Posted 06/09/2020 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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