November 23, 2013

Boise City Streets Met with Sweat and Grit

After a very wet Saturday, our annual Street Challenge event was greeted with excellent weather and a correspondingly large turnout.  The bike and foot classes this year were about equally popular, with some healthy competition on each, and the time limit (and large number of controls) proved worthy this year as no single contestant had sufficient time to reach everything.  There was a 10 point per minute penalty for overtime, which a few pushed to the practical limit...especially with controls ranging between 10 and 50 points.
Greg and Melanie consider strategy before the mass start.

The starting line crowd, ready to score.
The bike class had 3 hours this year.  Mike Bading, driven by years of prior experience, his bike legs, and the sheer enjoyment of this format won while managing to include all but one 50 point control.   At the base of the monster hill for #57, he looked at his watch and knew it was simply too close to cut it.  Greg, Melanie, and Madonna gave him a run for his money - especially since they had practiced their own version at Greg/Melanie's wedding!  Jay took a very close third place, and it's worth noting he was the only orienteer all day who did acquire every single 50 pointer in every nook and cranny of the map.  Rest assured he got his hill work.  Scott and Mary DeWalt (Mary being a sponsor of the mini Library version of this meet a couple years back) turned in a very solid performance while eking in about 6 minutes over.  Doug LaMott (who did make the Ketchum meet last month!) was in the running just behind them.  Dennis Ahern, who has his own pair of healthy bike legs, lost his pen around the Firemen's memorial and went on memory on the way back until his brain was full.  Upon his early return he hastily scribbled down his answers - but he never did notice his own house was a control until later!  The Wright family pedaled their way around town with Katrina on the second seat to round out the results.

Results below reflect best scoring judgement of Dondi, who faced the difficult job of checking answers.  The % of total reflects # of points collected before the penalty - 1500 possible in total.

Below is Mike Badings's route choice - he did the south half (Bench) before the north.  I have rotated here to maximize viewing on a wide screen monitor:

Mike Bading's route.
On foot, two distinct tactics played out between Sergey Velichko and Ben/Chris Brock.  Ben came in only 3 minutes over, wiped out at the grueling pace he sustained in the time limit, while Sergey gambled on as many controls as possible and came in with the largest time penalty for the entire day.  Todd Dinkleman was equal to their task as well - until his quads cramped badly at the painfully distant #51.  He never did get release and staggered all the way back to the park to finish only 2 minutes over.   The Brocks took first, Todd second, and Sergey third after all was tallied and done.  Judging from their prone position and strained expressions, the pavement took a heavy toll on the fast ones.  John Murray and Alex Pusch, both impressed by the enormous scale of the map, played heavy on the north side and came in close behind the leaders.  Then came Karin D, perhaps down to savor the last of the great weather before winter socks in up north.  I report Bill Leahy here, who had hunting on his Sunday schedule so asked to do his own run on Saturday - in the rather miserable weather.  His vetting of the course led us to simplify answers on #24, which is much appreciated.  Jerry Stewart and Diane McGarvey of Y striders fame made their own impressive go at it, and undoubtedly spent the most earnest effort at counting Shu's dudes on his windows.  (In the end for those who were clearly there Dondi allocated their points due to the ambiguity of choices.)  Christina Uhlenbrock and James Eidson from Riverstone quite possibly had the biggest smiles of the day, and clearly enjoyed their time on the course.  The Corlett's arrived a minute or two past 10, and made a purely recreational day of exploring the nooks and crannies around the BSU campus, winners of the second biggest grins.

Below is Sergey's route choice, who collected the most points before the penalty was applied.  Note Sergey took the north half first, then the Bench:
Sergey Velichko's route.
For the observant, there were shortcuts available not visible from the USGS street grid.  Several took advantage of the railroad path from #41 to #48.  Greg and Melanie found the path around the mountain that let them cut from #32 to #57 without taking the road all the way around.  Many found the slight footpath shortcut on the road version as well.  It was a straightforward path past the softball field from #24 to #23 (or vice versa), which Sergey took on foot.  It was also possible to take the schoolyard gate to the north of #46 to branch to #35 - although I know of nobody who did that.

Some statistics from the scoring:
  • Almost everyone collected one 50 pointer, the most accessible being Freak Alley (#50) and Shu's (#55).
  • No one control was visited by everyone.
  • Not counting the "S" control (which was given to all even if not reported; it was the demo control visible from the start), the most visited 10 pointer was the library (#14).
  • Most visited 20 pointers:  the assay building (#23) and the capitol monument (#29).
  • Most visited 30 pointers:  the dragonfly (#32) and the O flag at our house(!) (#37).
  • Most visited 40 pointer:  the F garage (#42).
  • Least visited control:  #39 - only two visitors met the frog.
Of course...some controls were disputed.  Perhaps one of the more contested (but many got it right) was the color of the mailbox at #20.  As RD, I should have picked a third color choice that could not be confused on a parallel street error.  Here is that very local mailbox:
control #20.
Surprisingly, given the number of amazing murals to peruse for #50, there were no difficulties I know of.  Hopefully many orienteers appreciated being off the main roads for a moment.  The alley is a popular photographer backdrop for urban scenery.
control #50.
Dennis Ahern did not learn of the control at his own house until he got back, a control only visited by 3 people given the point/location balance of the Manitou park area in the route choices.  How many of you can remember the small details of something you see every single day?
control #28.
One more control not many got to see - much creativity is out there to be found on the street challenge, not merely window counting (but sometimes fire hydrant numbering).
control #5.
Special thanks go to my co-director, my wife Dondi, who helped split the load for scoring and kept me sane with a bit more of her organizing lists in advance of the meet where it's all too easy to forget some details.  We can all thank John Murray for creating the stitched map of the north/south USGS quads (new as of 2010/2011), a vast improvement over earlier meets.  He had no idea that I would leverage so much of the area, much to his chagrin.  Andy Hill handled printing of the massive 11x17 maps, doubled-sided with the Q&A on the back side, roughly a 1:22000 scale to fill the page.

Future meet directors:  I recommend taking a camera out on your q&a scouting expeditions.  It will save you much time in coming up with alternate answers that aren't possible when standing at the spot, permit easy vetting of the control at home, and may even serve as the final sanity check when scoring the questions.

It's now time to look forward to a brand new map and meet directors - thanks to our Riverstone branch!   We will see you on Saturday, December 14, 11am!  The 2014 schedule is forthcoming.

Jeff Black

November 10, 2013

Takin' it to the Streets

As Russ Pilcher has moved down to Arizona, the traditional street challenge has moved back to Boise!  For those unfamiliar with the event, it mostly follows the convention of a Score course, where controls may be acquired in any order, are worth varying points, and there is a time limit to meet or points are deducted.  In the Street Challenge, there are a few more twists:

* the area is much larger than a normal club meet, a large portion of Boise.
* there are no traditional orienteering controls, but rather multiple choice questions to be answered at the control circle location.
* there is both a bike and run class of competition.  Choose your favored mode of transport!  Less time for bikers this year, to make the mass finish easier and level the competition a little.

For those who remember the last Boise version, the map was very dated.  Now thanks to USGS updates in 2011/2012 (thanks Russ for pointing those out) and our dedicated club mapper John Murray to stitch north and south quads together in a 1:20,000 scale, we have a much more relevant map on our hands!

Date:  Sunday, November 17 (least amount of street traffic)
Time:  Maps passed out at 9:30 for study; mass start at 10:00am.
Start:  Municipal Park (we will be under the shelter if available if the weather is wet)
Classes:  Bike (3 hour limit), Foot (3:30 limit).
Cost:  $5 per map, free to CTOC members.

Bring:  a couple pens to circle your answers (if you use a map case, a sharpie is the easiest way to write on the plastic) and plan your route, shoes and clothing for a few hours outside, water as you need while on the course, cell phone for emergencies.  A compass may be handy to keep your map oriented.  It's also important to bring your eyes and ears for traffic.  This ain't no woods meet!

Given that the maps are larger and the attendance for this meet can vary widely, please RSVP to me (jeffwrites AT if you are attending so I will have a solid map count in advance.

Fall in the city of trees.
Until next weekend!

Jeff Black, Meet Director