Watch this   Leave a comment

If you’ve never watched an orienteering headcam video from start to finish before, now is the time to start. This is probably the best sprint orienteering terrain I’ve ever seen, captured by Daniel Griff:

The route is in part of the Old City of Jerusalem – the Jewish Quarter.¬†Unfortunately I couldn’t participate, but hopefully I’ll be able to go next time. Having seen some of the areas used for major international events over the past few years (and last week’s EOC sprint areas weren’t too bad), this would definitely be an upgrade. Much of the adjacent area outside the city walls is also mapped, and has been used before. I think the mapper, Alex Lipovich, deserves enormous credit for several years of work.

By coincidence, the first stage of the Giro d’Italia was held in Jerusalem a week before, proving that it is possible to stage a major international sporting event here, including television, security, closing roads, and all the other stuff.

So what next? Sprint WOC 2028 in the Holy City?




Posted 15/05/2018 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Rogaine 2018   Leave a comment

This year’s Rogaine was in the Jerusalem hills, not far west of Jerusalem. All credit to Noam Ravid for mapping and planning the event, on a very large and tough area. I know how much effort is involved and this was the most challenging we have had.

The terrain is hilly, mostly very steep, and quite rough. Some parts have lots of paths, some have very few and are also nature reserves, so cutting through the terrain is prohibited. There were 8, 5 and 3-hour options – we participated in the longest, of course, but there was a record low number of only 20 teams on this course (overall there were 133, including a 6-hour bike course). Compare this to our first rogaine in 2005, when 68 teams finished 8 hours because there were no other options.

We did well. Roni is totally out of shape – I think that since the last mini-rogaine in November she’s run less than the distance we covered, and that includes orienteering events. There was an hour for planning, which is plenty of time: our initial plan was to go east and north, but after 5 minutes we looked again at the route choices and the climbs and decided to make a plan for the southern part only, without crossing the steep valley (Nahal Sorek) in the middle.

It was a beautiful, relatively cool day, with great visibility as well. The race was fun, but hard, and this time Roni slowed us down considerably, but she’s my wife and I’m not doing this with anyone else as long as she agrees to join in. Some of the controls were magnificent caves and ruins, as were some of the paths, and a couple of climbs (85, then 82 to 52 to 56). We finished with 17 minutes to spare and 111 points – first place was a Lithuanian team with 127, then Israeli teams on 114, 113 and 112, so we were 5th. If Roni had been slightly fitter we could easily have picked up another 6 points (control 61 or 67) and beaten all our local competitors. We ran 42.1 km and climbed 1270m.

The analysis of the results is here, and our route is below. There’s also a great photo of us at control 56.


Posted 21/03/2018 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Maximum Effort   Leave a comment

Last weekend was the Israeli Championship. I don’t have many opportunities to race this season, so this was my main goal and most of my training was geared towards this event. I had decided early on to compete in H45 for the first time, mainly because it’s my last opportunity at this age group (next year I have to do H50), so I prepared for the shorter courses, after 14 years in H35/40, by focusing a bit more than usual on my running speed.

Theoretically I was the favourite to win, at least amongst the Israelis. There are two orienteers in this age group who can definitely beat me, Nir Yasur and Noam Ravid, but both are still sticking to H35. Nevertheless, I had no intention of taking it easy, and there were also a couple of foreign orienteers of unknown ability to contend with.

The first day was a middle distance at Sataf, a very steep and detailed area near Jerusalem that I had last visited 15 years ago and was newly mapped this year. The stone terraces are so close to each other that they were marked with grey lines, as the regular symbol with the black dots wouldn’t fit. On a chilly day, the warmup map was nice, and so was the long start run on a path in order to get oriented. The course was tough, and so was the terrain, but I managed to avoid any serious mistakes and get through the 3.5 km distance in 34:01 and first place, but just 4 seconds ahead of Estonian Margus Klementsov, with the others spread out from about 2 minutes behind us. My route is below, and so is the headcam video. You can see in the video that one of my problems is sweat on my spectacles, and I’m trying to wipe them down several times.20180223_Sataf_route

Day two was at Beit Anaba, another well-used map that had been re-made last year (I wasn’t at the event) and enlarged again this year. This time it was a “long” distance, though not very long for old people like me, on classic Israeli semi-open and pine forest.

I was supposed to start two minutes after Margus, but luckily I missed my start time because we were delayed by the children. Why luckily? Lucky for him, because he made a big mistake at the first control and I would have caught him. Lucky for me, because it made for a fair race and that’s what I prefer.

I put in the maximum effort – all 110% of it, as I usually do in a championship. I made a few mistakes: got thrown off course to control 3 by a flock of goats and a wall of nettles, lost time at 5 and 8 because of blurred spectacles, and because of the same goats at 7. At 9 I took off the spectacles and continued without them (the map was 1:7500, so still readable), and at the end I was absolutely flying. I couldn’t go any faster, and finished the 6.4 km course in 57:09, but Margus still beat me by a couple of minutes, and we were both miles ahead of all the rest of the category. So I was second, but first of the Israelis, as expected. My course is below.


I put in so much effort that I got a severe head cold and still haven’t recovered, but it was worth it. The statistics show that I had the lowest mistake ratio on the course on both days, and I could hardly have performed better – well done to Margus for running fast and beating me. The courses and maps were fantastic on both days, and it was great fun. Next season… H50? Or maybe back to H35 or H40, because I still fancy a longer run. We’ll see. There’s still some stuff to do before then.

Posted 28/02/2018 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Tactics   1 comment

On Saturday I ran the Israeli Billygoat event, in which I last participated a couple of years ago. This time I qualified for the 50 and over age group, I was in a hurry (to save Roni from the kids), and I’m trying to work on my speed, so I opted for the Medium course. We had a mass start 8.6 km course in Ben-Shemen forest and could skip 3 controls.

Unlike on the Long course, I was expecting to be in one of the top places and to have some good competition, so I had all my tactics ready: don’t make mistakes at the beginning, read the map before you start running with the pack, choose the right controls to skip, prefer to skip towards the end of the course. All that went down the drain after 10 seconds… There were around 100 starters and I wanted to look at the map before I started, so as everyone pushed forward towards the starting line I kept back and a bit to the side. Then I opened the map, looked at it for 5 seconds, did a 180 degree turn and took off towards control 2.


my GPS wasn’t working ūüė¶

A minute later I looked back and I was alone. From that moment onward I was orienteering by myself, though I was overtaken temporarily at controls 4-5 by some of the juniors who had skipped control 3 (and are much faster than me) and a couple of others who had skipped both 1 and 3. The eventual winner, 14 year old Peleg Metzafon, went past me between 11 and 13, and I finished half a minute behind him, with all the others a long way back. So much for tactics.

My analysis of the results and control skips is on Tableau Public. I skipped controls 1, 6 and 12, and maybe 3 was better than 1, but then I would have been stuck with the pack for the start and I probably ran better while alone. It didn’t feel like running a mass start event, but the course was still fun, fast (as it should be – I ran 7.5 min/km), and with enough skipping options to make it interesting. Thanks to Itay Manor for the planning.


Posted 25/01/2018 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Naura   Leave a comment

Israel is a small country, and sometimes we feel that we’ve already discovered all the great orienteering terrain, and there’s nothing new left to explore. But last summer I discovered a gem while running the Gilbo’a single-track. A couple of weeks later I had a Lidar base map, and on Friday we held a low-key local event on the first part of the map of Naura.

Naura picture

The nice part of this terrain is the forested ravine that winds through, something quite rare in this country. The rest of the forest is also very nice and contains a few surprises in the small details. I really enjoyed the mapping, and planning the courses on such a tiny map was also a challenge (the long course is below). I used ISOM 2017 for the first time, but had no need of any of the new symbols.

Now I plan to continue the map to the north and west, and next year we’ll probably hold a larger event. I intend to do much more mapping this year than during the previous years, but I still haven’t decided on a major project after this one.

Naura course 20180112.Long

Posted 17/01/2018 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Forest Ruins   Leave a comment

Saturday’s national event was on the ruins of Lavi Forest. Literally ruins, because the forest is undergoing renewal and there’s not much left of it, and also much of the area contains actual ruins.

The first map of Lavi was made in 1980, and then I remapped it in 1999. My map contained 239 wells and pits, and apparently this one has 242, so not much has changed on the ground. We used the map for lots of events, including our first 100-control race in 2006, but stopped a few years ago after the forestry work started.

I enjoyed my run and placed first in H45, but in my opinion making a new map was a waste of time and resources. Much of the area looks and feels like a wasteland, some parts already can’t be used because of more recent felling and new fences, and as soon as some of the newly planted trees start to grow orienteering will become almost impossible. I don’t think we’ll orienteer here again in the near future, and in 2030 a new map will be needed again.


Comparing my map (on the left) and the new one makes me quite proud of my work. Apart from the obvious changes in vegetation and man-made features, nearly every feature that I drew is there – and this was before LIDAR and laser rangefinders, with just a simple base map and an aerial photo.

Lavi Comparison

Posted 25/12/2017 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Autumn updates   Leave a comment

First, good news: Eytan Amiaz, after suffering a cardiac arrest two weeks ago, has beaten the statistics and is alive and conscious, though still far from well. Hopefully he will orienteer again, but I think it’s unlikely anyone will allow him to carry on as ISOA chairman.

I ran the national event at Nachshonim where it happened, but luckily I forgot my GPS so I can’t display my rubbish orienteering. I was in totally non-competitive mode, but still managed to finish 3rd in H45.

Last Saturday was more fun. We managed to arrange for Roni’s parents to look after the kids for half a day (not easy at all) and so we were able to participate in the Adulam mini-rogaine together. This was a 5-hour rogaine in relatively gentle hills, and we ran much farther than expected – 32.4 km in total, winning the women’s category easily and finishing 6th overall. The detailed split time analysis is here, and there was also live GPS tracking using mobile phones for many of the teams. Our route is below:


We are well into the season here, Autumn is the best time for orienteering (not too hot, very little undergrowth), and there are events every weekend, but most of my activities are limited to Friday mornings, when the children are busy but I’m not working. On Saturdays we can’t drag them to every event, and even then only one of us can run. On the Fridays I’m in charge of club training sessions, doing some mapping work – I added a section to my 2009 map of Akbara and now I’m mapping a new area – and hoping to put in a few long runs. Roni is slowly adapting to life as a Maths teacher (long nights preparing lessons) but she’s also starting to run and ride her bike a bit more than previously.

Posted 10/11/2017 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Praying for Eytan   1 comment

Eytan Amiaz, chairman of the Israel Sport Orienteering Association, suffered a massive heart attack yesterday during the national event at Nachshonim. He had retired from the race feeling unwell, but seemed to be OK and then suddenly collapsed. Luckily, because he was at the assembly area, there were a number of doctors nearby and also a defibrillator, and an ambulance arrived quite quickly.

Eytan is now in intensive care in hospital and we are all praying for him to recover, but no-one knows yet how much damage his heart and brain have suffered. He is 58 years old and one of the leaders in the H55 category, so quite fit, and obviously passed all his annual checkups as required.


Posted 29/10/2017 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Consistency   Leave a comment

Last Saturday we (Galilee O-Club) won the relay again, repeating our feat from 2014. Dan_glasses

The system was the same – your top three teams from the four categories (open, senior, women, youth) count for the total. Our women’s team won for the fifth year in a row.¬†The seniors won for the first time – we’re always one of the favourites, but this time no-one messed up. And in the open category, my team managed to stay close enough to the winners to get the necessary points.

We won because our orienteers were consistent – everyone performed on the day, despite the fact that we had five “first team” orienteers missing and only five of our teams finished the race. We’re not a very large club any more, and we’re ranked 6th in the league. I would have expected some of the leading clubs to have no problem beating us, but either they weren’t performing or their team selection wasn’t very good. They definitely entered many more teams than we did.

With our only elite runner, Asaf Avner, on World Cup duty, I was the anchor leg for our two top H21B’s – Alex Kozlov and Yair Shemla. I didn’t have a clue that my run would affect the overall result, and I was running alone anyway, so it was more like a regular orienteering event for me. I started out in 5th place, expecting to catch Lev Hasharon Club’s Hagai Lederer who had a lead of a few minutes, and to be passed easily by Aram Yaakoby (HaSharon) and Alexey Marchenko (Emek Hefer) who started just after me, and that’s exactly what happened, so we finished 6th.

The course itself was on an updated map of Nachshonim forest, which we’ve been using forever, and was nice but didn’t feel like a relay. I think the different options were a bit too spread out and also differed in length. I was using my new glasses for the first time, so I could see the map again after a few years of slow deterioration of my eyesight, and that made the orienteering easier than what I’m used to, but I haven’t raced for three months and my speed is non-existent. I’ll be¬†working on that¬†again soon.


Posted 03/06/2017 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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Home Run   Leave a comment

This year’s Rogaine was right next to home, in the hills between Nazareth and Alonim. The western edge of the map is about 2 km from our house. So our race¬†was a home run,¬†but in more ways than one.

There were 4, 7 and 10 hour options, and we chose 7 hours (only) for two reasons – mainly because we couldn’t leave the children with my parents (average age: 75) for so long, but also because Roni hasn’t been training at all and I’ve been neglecting the long distances in order to focus on other things.

I wasn’t expecting too much. I hadn’t trained properly over the month since the Israeli championship due to a head cold and a niggle in my right knee. Roni had a cold and I didn’t know if she would hold up. We were worried about the children. I always slow down with severe knee pain after 5-6 hours. And so on…

But this was our tenth Rogaine together, and experience helps. Once we got the map (30 minutes before the start) everything clicked into place. The planning was a no-brainer: nearly all the points were on the southern and eastern side of the map, so we planned to start south and circle from south-east to north-east. Points were from 1 to 6 (the first digit of the control number), so we totally ignored the ones. I had the whole route written down within 7 minutes, based on an expected straight line pace of 4 km/hour, slower than our usual, and we then planned some additions in case we had time.

Once we started, Roni was her usual rogaining self and couldn’t be stopped. The first part was the steepest, but included the most points, so after 3 hours we had 42 of our total 72 points, and the rest of the race was a much more moderate long distance jog. We finished with 6 minutes to spare and won the 7-hour race overall with 5 points to spare (note: the very best teams were doing 10 hours, of course), covering 29.2 km in a straight line (just faster than planned) and 41.2 km in the terrain. My knees didn’t act up, and apart from general fatigue and sore muscles we were OK at the end. My parents even brought the kids to meet us at the finish.

The most difficult part was the recovery, because there wasn’t one – just take three small children home and manage them until bedtime!

Thanks to the organisers for the planning and effort, and to nature for a beautiful day and millions of flowers. Next time the children will be slightly older and easier to cope with, we’ll be better prepared, and hopefully we can choose the longest¬†option.

I now have three rogaine maps within a 20 km radius of home, covering about 200 square km of terrain and making for infinite running opportunities, if I have time. And if I have time I’d love to start work on a fourth, but I can’t see it happening very soon.



Nazareth in the background (photo by Dalia Ravid)

Posted 28/03/2017 by dchissick in Uncategorized

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