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A Close Run Thing   Leave a comment

Last weekend was the Israeli Championship, the main focus of my season, with the goal of winning H40. Both days were near home – the first in Balfour Forest, a steep slope with very runnable forest and lots of tracks, and the second in Beit Keshet, not as steep, mostly semi-open with few tracks and fine vegetation and rock detail.

Based on the results of the previous races, I was obviously the favorite to win, but I wasn’t taking any chances and trained hard over the last few weeks. My plan was to run all-out on day 1, where the orienteering would be easier, and slow down for the technical stuff on day 2. I was also hoping to go into day 2 with a large lead (for a change), so I could run with my headcam.

In the end, it was much closer than that. We had good weather on the first day, and a fast course which I finished well, but still 33 seconds behind Tomer Weiner (though several minutes ahead of anyone else). I had one mistake, at control 11, which probably cost me the race, but there was another day ahead.

20200221_Balfour_Route

Day 1 – Balfour

Overnight it poured, and at Beit Keshet we had intermittent rain, and the ground was a mud-bath. The course was very technical and very tough, and for some of the time I was running blind – both because of my glasses fogging up, and because I couldn’t see the difference between the light green and orange on the map (I still can’t, sitting at my desk). Everyone was making mistakes, and apparently I made the least – my rough orienteering was spot-on and I lost relatively little time at controls. I beat Tomer by two minutes (3rd place overall  was 10 minutes behind him) and won my 5th championship in H40, out of 6 attempts (2010 – failed, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2020). But it was close – below is a chart of the gap between us over both days:

IOC Splits

The highlights from day 2:

  • 1 – Got snagged on the fence and lost 20-30 seconds.
  • 2 – I think he just ran much faster than me.
  • 5 – A textbook exercise in aiming off.
  • 6 – Lucky – I was just starting to slow down and landed on the flag. There were complaints later on that this control was hidden…
  • 8 – Lost at least a minute looking too far down.
  • 10 – Running blind, but I kept my direction, identified the patch of trees just south of the control, and found it.
  • 11 – Looks easy, but I couldn’t find it and then ran into it by mistake.
  • 14 – Went down too early.
20200222_BeitKeshet_Route

Day 2 – Beit Keshet

Roni ran D21A as usual (she’s nearly 39, but there’s no competition in D35) and finished second, just like last year. She was beaten by Bar Kalkstein, who is just over half her age and was Israeli champion two years ago as well (at 17) – definitely our most promising female orienteer for a long time. But the story of the women’s championship was our club-mate and great friend Bar Zrihen, who has been orienteering for almost 20 years (I used to coach her), but always ran D21B or C. This year, at the age of 33, she started running regularly and competing in D21A, and won the first day by 7 minutes! Then, at control 10 on day 2, she simply couldn’t find it and lost 30 minutes (her GPS track shows that she ran about 3 km looking for the control). I started 10 minutes after her (H40 and D21A are the same course), and if she’d only seen me passing through she would still have won the championship with a few minutes to spare. I wouldn’t have thought twice about giving up my race in order for her and Roni to be on the podium together, so when I finished and she wasn’t there yet I was devastated, but she didn’t really expect to win so she got over it faster than I did. Maybe next time?

Posted 28/02/2020 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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A Tale of Two Races   Leave a comment

I haven’t blogged for a while, because I’ve been busy with other aspects of life, but over a busy month I still managed to do some orienteering and compete in two races.

The first day of the Winter Cup was held on Friday 13th December at Nahal Hashofet, a new map of a partially known area. It was after the start of a period of unprecedented rain throughout the country, so the terrain was very wet, though it didn’t actually rain during the event. The second day was postponed due to flooding of parts of the map, and later cancelled.

I came into the race at peak fitness, planning to win H40 (reminder – I’m 51). This was made easier, but much less fun, by the fact that my good friend and rival Oded Verbin broke a leg at a local event a few weeks previously and is out for the season. I had a good race on a technically easy course, with only a small miss at control 11, but it was very physical and I didn’t expect to beat all the younger guys. In the end I won by over 4 minutes. Remembering that I finished 4th in both the previous league events, which were sprints, I seem to better in rough terrain and on hills. And in better shape.

Roni also won D21A, so she’s the women’s Winter champion.

20191213_Hashofet_Route

Nahal Hashofet

After that we went on Safari in Tanzania with Roni’s family, missing several nice events. I managed only one short jog there, and had other issues at home, so I came into the next league event at Kfar Hahoresh out of shape. This is where I planned the Israeli championships last year, so I know the terrain better than most, but I didn’t expect to win. I wasn’t even planning to run, but at the last moment Roni’s parents took charge of the kids and enabled me to join her at the race.

I started well. Control 1 was used last year, so I knew exactly where it was. Then I lost about 4 minutes at no. 2 (not sure about the mapping, but I was at fault anyway), slowed down a bit, and started orienteering properly. The course was tough, with lots of running in terrain and tricky features as controls, and I won again, this time by 6 minutes! Not sure what my competitors were doing, as I felt really slow.

So – two races, totally different preparation and mental mode, same result. I’ll stay in H40 because it’s still the category that fits my abilities best, and I hope to win the Israeli Championships next month (no complacency – I’m training hard). Until then I’ll try to get out into the forest as much as possible, because that’s where the fun is…

20200104_KfarHahoresh_Route

Kfar Hahoresh

Posted 18/01/2020 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Map Memory   Leave a comment

Part of my job is working with Tableau, a leading data visualization platform, and recently I had an idea for creating a memory game (matching pairs) using the software. When I succeeded, I posted it on Tableau Public, which is free for everyone to access, and then I added a set of orienteering maps as the pictures (the default set is colored emoticons). Anyone can open the page and play – note that you have to select the “Orienteering maps” theme on the left, and that refreshing the page rearranges the “cards”, so they’re not always in the same locations: https://public.tableau.com/profile/dan.chissick#!/vizhome/MemoryGame_15741092815080/Memory

Memory

I’ve made the same game with triplets instead of pairs, which is a bit more difficult: https://public.tableau.com/profile/dan.chissick#!/vizhome/MemoryGame-Triplets/Memory

Memory3

I’m not looking to make a business out of this, but it has potential, for two reasons:

  1. Tableau Public is free and can be accessed by anyone on the internet, with no limit on use. The games even work on a mobile phone, and the page can also be embedded in a separate website.
  2. The games are scalable – with very little effort I can add additional themes (all I need is a set of 24 images: other maps, IOF symbols, etc.) or increase the number of pairs, though I think 24 is enough as the maximum.

So feel free to play and share, and if someone wants a customized version or has any suggestions you can contact me at dchissick (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Posted 30/11/2019 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Is Green the new Olive?   Leave a comment

Last Saturday, at exactly the same time as the controversial World Cup race in China (the one with the mass non-disqualification which denied us a first ever world cup victory), we had a League event at Ne’ot Kdumim with similar issues, but no controversy, apparently because no-one cares enough about the results – which says something about our ranking system.

Basically, it was a sprint race on non-urban terrain, and the organisers decided that the new ISSOM 2019 standard was to be used. The main issue there is that the 100% green colour is now defined as impassable (and forbidden to cross), and there is no 100% green/50% black as before.

This map has lots of green, mostly thick bushes in open, rocky terrain, and mostly passable if you’re stubborn enough. Despite the fact that the rules were made clear on both the website and the noticeboard at the event, most orienteers that I talked to after the race didn’t have a clue that they weren’t allowed to pass through the green, and had done so at some point. In addition to this, many edges of the bushes are vague enough, so you don’t really know if you’re in the forbidden area or not.

I had an almost perfect race and enjoyed it, finishing 4th in H40. I’m not complaining, but there are some issues here:

  1. The new mapping standard doesn’t cover many types of “green” vegetation. Technically, most of the bushes on the map should now be 60% green, but that doesn’t represent the reality on the ground.
  2. There is a divergence between the regular orienteering mapping standard and sprint orienteering, which is going to cause lots of confusion.
  3. Organisers should make sure that the rules are applicable on the maps they use.20191026_NeotKdumim_Route

The previous weekend we really kicked off the forest season, with two events hosted by my club, which I enjoyed much more despite some really tough climbing. I ran the first one at Bar’am properly, and the second one at Amuka the day after, with no control flags, using Roni’s map – which is why my track misses controls 4-5 (I knew I hadn’t found them exactly, but couldn’t be bothered to go back and make sure).

The one in the family who’s participating in all the events is Alon, on the children’s course. He’s slowly improving and can finish a sprint course with minimal intervention, but needs some more help in the forest. Following him is always fun.

20191018_Baram_Route

Bar’am

20191019_Amuka_Route

Amuka

 

Posted 02/11/2019 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Start of Season   Leave a comment

The orienteering season kicked off officially last weekend with a league sprint event at Ramat Hashofet, only 20 minutes from home. This enabled all three of us (Roni, myself and Alon) to participate, in that order – because neither of us can follow Alon before we finish our own courses. That’s the only real advantage of sprint races over forest orienteering; otherwise it’s usually a waste of time and money, in my opinion.

I’m running H40 this year, so I can have a challenge and some competition (H50A is too short, and in H35 I’m too far off the pace). It’s also Roni’s course in D21A, so we can compare routes. I finished 4th in 17:26, while Roni was 3rd in her class with 19:01. I simplified some of the route choices too much (especially 3-4) and probably lost 20-25 seconds overall, but that wouldn’t have changed my position. I’m aiming for the forest races anyway, and anything less than a podium finish there will be a disappointment.

The next league event is also a sprint, not so close to home, and we’ll probably skip it, with the first league forest race only in mid-November. Luckily there are some local races to look forward to before that, and I also plan to do some training in the forest.

It’s been a long summer (and it’s not over – no sign of rain yet), but I have been training regularly and doing various orienteering-related stuff:

  • I got elected to our Ethics committee and then made chairman.
  • Prepared and delivered an advanced course planning workshop.
  • Started mapping an extension to my map of Naura, but postponed it because of nasty vegetation and half the existing map being charred from a forest fire.
  • Finished mapping my home town of Ramat Yishai (it’s a large map – A3 at 1:5,000) and held a successful early morning training event.
  • Started mapping an extension to my Ramot Menashe rogaine map (by running with a headcam) for our 2020 Spring rogaine. I’ve already covered 74 km there, with more to come.
  • Planned and marked a training course (in the forest) for our club.
  • Read Michel Georgiou’s new book “The Winning Eye” – it’s not written very well, but very interesting and useful.
20191005_RamatHashofet_route

My route – GPS was a mess as usual in sprints

 

 

 

Posted 09/10/2019 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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The Book   1 comment

For the past five years, I’ve been writing a book. I’ve also kept it secret, so I managed to surprise everybody at the General Assembly of the ISOA (Israel Sport Orienteering Association).

The book is my orienteering autobiography, and I called it “ניתוח ציר – סיפורו של נווט”, which translates as “Route Choice – an Orienteer’s Story”. Obviously it’s in Hebrew, with no translation available (the cover is below), and it includes 317 pages, 229 pictures/maps (in retrospect, I should have added more), and about 118,000 words.

The main reason I wrote a book that I had less time for outside pursuits because of the children, so I found a way to use my “armchair” time. I also felt that a lot of our orienteering history is going missing, with few options to expose newer orienteers to it, and this is my contribution. I’ve been heavily involved in Israeli orienteering for almost 30 years, in almost all areas (competing, national teams, mapping, clubs, instructing, planning, management, etc.), so the book covers a lot.

I’ve printed 200 copies (at my own expense) for now, and they are being sold at a reasonable price (50 NIS, about 12€) and going well. I hope both newer and more experienced orienteers find it interesting.

I intend to publish some of the charts from the book later on, translated to English, and they summarize parts of my career.

Book cover

Posted 05/07/2019 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Sprint Relay   Leave a comment

Our club relay this year was a sprint.

The event was initially scheduled for January (in the forest), then postponed to March, then May, June 15th, and finally June 22nd. And at this time of year it had to be a sprint because of the heat.

I don’t think our only major relay race should be on a sprint map, and lots of people agree with me. I participated only because the club needed me. The event was on the Tel-Aviv University map, which is flat and very easy, so for any team with three competent orienteers it was basically a running race, and the fastest runners won.

After the event someone actually suggested that we can have a sprint relay like in international championships – two women and two men – but here it would have to be three men and one woman in each team.

For the first time, I could run in the Senior category (50+), and we had a strong team and finished second – in my opinion, on more technical terrain we would have won. Our women’s 7-year winning streak was ended because we had to put a first-year youth on the anchor leg, and she made a large mistake (but she’ll be great in a year or two). My route is below – nothing interesting and no mistakes (the GPS went crazy between the buildings, so I drew it manually).

20190622_TelAvivU_Route_small

Posted 25/06/2019 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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The Next Generation   Leave a comment

I mean the next generation in my family…

Last Saturday we went to a sprint event in Jerusalem. Roni ran, and then Alon (8 years old) did the family course with me. I showed him where to start, made sure he crossed the roads safely, and corrected him once when he left a control in the wrong direction. Apart from that he completed the entire course on his own. He knows how to orient the map, make route choices and execute them, find the controls, and of course read the map symbols. He’s made lots of progress this year, and is also very enthusiastic about orienteering. And his dad is proud of him.

20190601_Nahlaot_Route

Route choices of an 8 year old

Thanks to Emek Hefer O-Club and especially Alex Lipovich, who is steadily expanding the mapped area in the centre of Jerusalem. Below is an overview of his work to date.

Jerusalem_overview

Jerusalem_mapping

 

Posted 10/06/2019 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Bad Timing   Leave a comment

On Friday we had a small Long-O mass start event in Kiryat Ata Forest, not far from home. It was organised by the youths of Technion Carmel O-Club, who did a great job, but for me personally it was a case of bad timing:

  1. Not the right season – the heat wasn’t an issue (the start was at 6:30), but the vegetation in the open areas is terrible at this time of year. I would have loved to run the course in November (and I probably will – for training).
  2. Not in shape – I finished my season after the rogaine, so I haven’t been training for a couple of months – just jogging twice a week in maintenance mode. That’s enough to win a sprint in flat terrain, but not for a 12.8 km competitive course in the hills.
  3. Not awake – I’m not a morning runner, and for me this was a bit too early for a race. I was also a bit tired from other stuff going on.

To cut a long course short, I quit mentally after control 4 (crossed the path without seeing it) and physically after control 9. This was no fault of the organisers, who did a great job technically and logistically. The second half of the course was probably nicer than the first, so I’m sorry I missed it.

The course planning was good, but I didn’t like the binary legs: contour through the thorns or go up/down, along the path, and then down/up. I would have really liked to see a massive route choice leg in such a course, for example from 9 to 19.

20190531_KiryatAta_Route

Posted 03/06/2019 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Sprint Season   Leave a comment

It’s already sprint season here. There are very few forest orienteering events planned, and even some of those are being cancelled because of hot weather. Combine that with a very wet winter that caused lots of cancellations because of rain, and the growing trend towards sprint events anyway, and it’s been a rotten season.

But we take what we get, and last weekend the last two league events of the season were sprint races near home, so there was no reason to ignore them. I skipped the first (on Friday) and stayed with the kids, while Roni ran D21A and then assisted Alon on the H12 course, which was much too difficult for children. Then on Saturday Roni wanted to ride home, and I had an early start, so at the last minute I decided to run there in the morning.

So I jogged from Ramat Yishai to Mizra (below), 19.8 km at 5:40 pace, basically crossing most of the Jezreel Valley. Then I had 25 minutes to get organised, and ran the H50A course – slower than usual, of course. Roni arrived later with the kids, ran her course, followed Alon again (on a more suitable course), and then rode home on her bike using the same route as me.

Strava 20190518

Unbelievably, I still won the category, though some H45’s beat me. I had no interest in the league this year, so I can only imagine what would have happened if I’d tried to win. I won all three sprint races (out of four) that I ran, but I didn’t run any of the eight forest events in this category – and I’m definitely better in the forest. Maybe next season I’ll give it a go.

The whole weekend of races was an anti-climax to the league season. The organisation wasn’t great, they combined the Long and Medium+ courses (all 6 top categories) for no real reason, and Saturday’s area (Mizra kibbutz) was much too easy for an important league race. If I was racing for a ranking position I’d be very disappointed.

There’s nothing much left – a long, hot summer, with very little orienteering. I’ve been on maintenance mode since the Rogaine in early April, and I’ll start training again in mid-June, focusing on strength and core exercises until it gets cool enough to hit the forest again.

20190519_Mizra_Route

Posted 25/05/2019 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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