February 17, 2020

Eagle Island Meet Report

For those of you who paid attention during geometry class the idea that two lines in a plane cross at one and only one point is a truth that has been around since Euclid developed his geometry 2300 years ago. For the rest of us it's just intuitive that anything that drops into the big end of a funnel must fall out the small end (assuming no traffic jam or inversion of the funnel). But, when the funnel is on the ground in the form of two converging ditches somehow that knowledge can elude us. So it was on the Intermediate Course at Control 6 where the feature marked by the control bag was at just such an intersection. I have an insight into the course setter's 
mind. He intended it to be just about the easiest, surest navigation on the course. Just position yourself between the ditches and head into the funnel. I heard from some folks that Control 6 was a bit of a problem. It was out of sight in a ditch surrounded by knee-high grass, so you couldn't see it until you were within a couple of meters. I don't know that Pam had any problem at all finding Control 6. She did provide us with photos of the control and her great smile. Thanks for the photos, Pam.

If you are wondering why I write about Control 6 to the exclusion of the 25 other controls on the four courses, it is because it illustrates an important principal of orienteering: Navigate to the feature, not the control. If you have orienteered for a while, you have heard this precept ad nauseam, and you are resigned to hearing it again. If not, prepare yourself because it is unavoidable. In a field of tall grass you could wander for a long time before blundering onto Control 6, but by following two linear features to their intersection you can go directly to it. And, that is what the course setter had in his sometimes inscrutable mind when he placed Control 6. Of course, if you did not know you were between two converging lines, then you had a different problem. You were not in contact with the map. You violated another important principle: Stay in contact with the map. In other words, know where you are before taking each step.

OK, enough of the orienteering object lesson. Your meet director also got a lesson Saturday. Before a meet the control stations should all be synchronized because over time in storage some of the internal clocks will drift forward or backward. When two controls have significantly different times it's possible to record an earlier time at the second than at the first. Well, it wasn't that bad on Saturday, but it appears to have been enough. Have a look at Win Spits for the Intermediate Course  and observe the fastest time from Control 12 to 13 was 8 seconds clocked by Bill Leahy and the team of Jackson, Angela and Torin. That leads me to great sympathy for Andy Olnes, who followed by a mere second. The reason for my sympathy: That's a world record sprint, 250 meters in 9 seconds, and it won't go into the record book because Andy lagged by a second. All of which illustrates the misinformation we get when we neglect to synchronize the control stations.

What is accurate is the total elapsed time. Jackson got a new compass for Christmas. He, his mom, and his dad took first place in the intermediate competition by a margin of more than three minutes. With the exception of the aforementioned Control 6 they performed consistently at or near the top for every control. We had several first time participants and others who only recently joined us.

I advertised this event as orienteering in terrain where, unlike city parks, reading the vegetation was important. Look at Elaine's hat. There on her hat over her right eye is proof that she got into the vegetation. I wish I had a photo of Andy Olnes, who brought home a bushel of burrs and stickers attached to his clothes. I believe they had a good day, but it wasn't a walk in the park, not in the city park anyway.

Next month Norma will direct a meet at Veterans Park extending into Willow Lane and Esther Simplot Parks on a map newly updated by Sergey. Please join us for our last city park classic orienteering event of the spring. Consult our Meetup City of Trees Orienteering group for other upcoming events.

John Murray
Meet Director

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