Tag Archive: orienteering


The only middle-distance race in the series was held on day 4 in Qinglonghu Forest Park, which was a world ranking event.

The hotel I was staying was near the long-distance bus station. I first took an express bus to Fangshan to meet my friend Eric Wong, and caught a taxi to the event centre.

IMG_20171027_094235IMG_20171027_101804

Qinglonghu Forest Park was a new place which wasn’t even on any maps I found. It is located in the region of the map below.

Qinglonghu Forest Park

The course was 6.5 km long and 270 m climb, which was much longer than middle-distance races in Hong Kong. However, the road network was extensive and straight lines were possible in many places, which meant that the general runnability was very high.
race 2 map

However, at the very beginning of the race, from 1 to 2, I already made a mistake getting lost after missing a road junction, which cost me 7 minutes. Also, as I didn’t have the physical fitness for running hills, I used about 88.5 minutes to complete the race, while the winning time was about 34 minutes, which meant I could only get the minimum score of 10 in the world ranking.

The split analysis showed my base time (speed index) was 226% and about 13.5 minutes mistake, which meant that even if I avoided the mistakes and performed better, I still needed about 75 minutes to run it, which could not gain me any useful score. Therefore, I would not go any middle/long WRE further because I didn’t have the physical fitness required for that, and concentrate on sprint and Trail-O where I still could perform better.

After the race, I and Eric took a bus back to Liangxiang, where we would stay for the coming two nights. There were no taxis around the event centre because there was very rural with few people outside the race.

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When I woke up in the morning, I received a message that my hotel booking on that night was cancelled because the hotel couldn’t accept foreigners. However, I ain’t a foreigner so I called the hotel for clarification. The hotel replied it could accept me, and I called Ctrip afterwards. Ctrip tried to recover my booking but it couldn’t because the refund was already made. I called the hotel again and was told to walk-in in the evening.

The first race of Beijing O Week was held at Hongluosi, about 6 km north of Huairou. There is only one bus serving Hongluosi, which is numbered H57, from Huairou. That bus run on about 40-minute interval, and was going to reduce to an hour interval a few days later according to a notice stuck on the bus stop.

Before the race, we took a group photo there.

PWT China Tour 2017 athletes

There was a start list shown, but all the local Chinese runners were missing.

The ticket for Hongluosi cost CNY 54, which I didn’t think it was worthwhile for me to recommend this place to tourists.

Hongluosi, as the name states, is a temple. There are a few places inside with a lot of statues, which makes orienteering very interesting. As the statues are made of rock, they are represented on the map (around points 10 to 13) using black dots. They all face to a particular direction.

Hongluosi map 1
Hongluosi map 2

The maps were given back to back, i.e. map exchange was done by turning over the map. However, on the start of race, I tried to find the start triangle on the map for a very long time, and found out that I was reading the wrong side of the map (i.e. the 2nd map)! This was a very large mistake, cost me nearly a minute.

As the place was on a hillside, there were many contour lines on the map. I was poor in running hills, wherever there was a upward slope, I would be very slow on otherwise perfectly runnable terrain. The map stated that the course length was 2.4 km, and the climb was 230 m, however I didn’t think the climb figure was true after running, which should be around half of the stated figure. The effect was clearly shown by comparing my performance on the first race with the most climb, and the last race with basically no climb. The winning time was 14 minutes and 25 seconds, and my time was 31 minutes and 11 seconds.

All the races gave prize money to the winners, but as nearly all of the competitors were world class elites, it was impossible for me to took any of them.

After finishing the race, I took the bus H57 back to Huairou, and went to the hotel for my second night there, which was a different one from my first night.

The hotel was near to a local market with cooked food stall, where the food was very good.

The second ranking event in October was held around Aberdeen Reservoir on 22nd October. This was a relatively long event with the expected winning time about 55 minutes.

When I got the map, WTF?!

5.5 km with 6 CONTROLS ONLY?!

This is just a cross-country run with route choices! IS THIS REALLY ORIENTEERING AT ALL???

I couldn’t finish this “cross-country run” within the time limit of 2 hours because I took a bad route choice. I attempted to go 1-A-B-3-C-D-2, while others took 1-A-E-F-2 or even 1-A-E-direct-2. However, there is a bit of 100% green near 2 from E so I didn’t took that, but other competitors reported that they successfully crossed that bit of green to the control.

I ended up with only 2 valid scores in this year in middle/long ranking.

As autumn comes, the orienteering season begins. There are two ranking events in Hong Kong in October, one in Cheung Ngau Shan, another in Aberdeen Country Park.

The event in Cheung Ngau Shan was held in 2nd October. The weather was still very hot, and the terrain was mainly open (yellow) and exposed under the sun.

As the terrain was open, on most legs, going straight is the most preferred route. From start to 1, I was misled by another competitor and attempted to find the point prematurely, but soon corrected. I performed well until 7.

However, on my way to 8, I intended to go north-west to the plateau and found the point there. However, after I reached the plateau and found a point, the code was incorrect, I checked my compass and found it was at the opposite direction, which meant I had got lost. I didn’t know where I was and I only blindly went north and attempted to match the shape of the terrain with the contour lines. I found out that I accidentally deviated south-west at the beginning when intended to go north-west straight.

After that, because the weather was too hot, I was overheated and couldn’t run at normal speed, and only walked very slowly. I reached a few points without errors, but from 15 to 16, I attempted to go straight but didn’t recognise the cliff face correctly. As a result I went to the top and went down again, costed me a lot of time.

I finished in 1 hours, 22 minutes and 37 seconds, which was much more than the winning time, 38 minutes and 5 seconds, resulting in a very low score.

WTOC 2017

World Trail Orienteering Championships 2017 was held last week in Birštonas, Lithuania. I was selected to be a member of the Hong Kong team in both PreO and TempO competitions, and this was the first international sports (as opposed to academic) competition that I participated in.

The official maps are published online and can be found from the following link:
http://wtoc2017.lt/2017/07/16/wtoc-2017-maps/

TempO

The competition programme began on 10th July with the model event in Birštonas. I familiarised the working of the TempO stations, including “loose or bounded, point or speak”, then competed in the qualification on 11th July in Harmony Park in the green group. However, as with all Hong Kong team members, I got poor result in the qualifications and didn’t get into the final. I didn’t realise that what I did previously was actually breaking the rules – I put the answered maps face-up on the table instead of face-down, and caught in station 2 leading to being marked X in questions 2 and 5. My end result was 575.5 seconds over 25 questions, placed 33 out of 40 in the green group.

PreO

Day 1

PreO model event held on 12th July and the day 1 competition held on 13th July. There were 21 questions in total with 2 questions voided, however, I only got 13 correct, placing me at 60 out of 66.

I answered questions 2, 5, 11, 12, 15 and 20 wrongly, which thorough analyses are below:

I found no idea even walking forward and back, drawing sighting lines and contouring from the cliff at the west, and guessed B. The solution was A.


My first instinct for question 5 was Z, suspecting that the flags were too low. However, I couldn’t verify the fact by whatever means, including compass bearing from various locations and contouring from 6, and finally chose B, but Z was the solution.


Although I suspected that B might be at the exact middle between the buildings, I couldn’t verify it and tried to draw multiple sighting lines. When I saw the marked line I chose A as the answer, but the solution was actually B.


It was out of my ability to note that B was off by a spur, and I wrongly chose B.


Although I suspected that the flags for 15 may be too far away, I couldn’t verify if it was true, and chose a letter for it. Someone reported that it was possible to confirm at the DP of 12 but I was not aware of that.


When I walked from south to north, I was flag A immediately and thought it was at the wrong place, and thought a flag B was hidden. When I walked to the point where I should be able to see the circled location, the flag did not appear at once, but when I walked further north a flag B appeared. Although I had thought about the possibly of Z I was too careless to answer B when I saw B appeared at the next forest corner, probably due to time constraint.

Question 13 was voided because the control description said A-B but there were 3 flags in the terrain. The 3 flags A-C also appeared on the solution map with the control description saying A-B, a very stupid mistake of the organizer.

Question 18 was voided after a protest where the jury found the map and the terrain were unclear and confusing.

Day 2

Day 2 competition was held on 15th July in Aukštadvaris. There were 28 questions and the time limit was 155 minutes. I attempted to solve the questions by instinct, which worked in the first half of the competition, where I got only 7 and 12 wrong in 1 to 14. However, the second half was total disaster, because the limit was too tight, I couldn’t even run along the trail to inspect some points far away, or had to answer something even when my instinct could not provide me a possible answer with no time to spare measuring angles.

For example, consider point 23 in the following map:

I tried to look at it from the north, but I couldn’t verify the shape of the hill there. After I reached the DP from the south-west, I had already no time left to return to the north to verify it again, and chose a wrong answer.

Furthermore, my instinct failed to provide possible answers for most of the questions in the latter half, except the most obvious ones like 21 where all the flags were clearly off from the correct feature:

Finally, I only got 16 correct out of 28, and placed 60 out of 64, giving total combined result of 29 questions correct over 2 days, placed 59 out of 66.

Relay

The relay was held on 14th July at The Capitals Golf Club, Pipiriškės. 20 teams of 3 participated in the open class. There were 27 questions in the field, each team member had to answer 9 of them, however, controls 11 and 18 were voided after protest and control 27 was voided because there was a missing SI unit. Our team’s total corrected time was 14’38” with place 17, while 2 teams were disqualified because they used a pen in the competition.

Conclusion

I didn’t do well in this world championships, mainly because I was not used to international-level sports competitions. Actually this was my first time I participated in world-level sports competitions. The silliest thing I did was the rule violation in TempO leading to huge amount of penalty in the results. Also, the tight time limit of PreO day 2 also affected me as I had never run tight in time in previous PreO competitions I participated.

I am currently not interested to join next year’s event because it will be held in Latvia, also a Baltic state. Maybe I will wait until 2019, and participate in more events in Asia these 2 years. Also, there will be world ranking events in TrailO starting next year, just like the other three orienteering disciplines.

Last Wednesday was the World Orienteering Day (WOD), club over the world organised many orienteering events during the day. In Hong Kong, it was unfortunate that it rained extremely heavy to the extent that black rainstorm warning was hoisted by the observatory, resulting in suspension of work and school. The orienteering events were no exception. Despite the heavy rain, I participated in 3 WOD events in the evening after the rain stopped.

The WOD event by MetOC in Kowloon Park, originally scheduled to start at 11:00, postponed to 16:30 (actually about 17:00 because the organiser needed more time to set up the controls).

I took light rail and metro to Tsim Sha Tsui. During the 30-minute metro journey, I opened the online photo-O game by HKOC and completed 25 multiple choice questions, asking which flag in the photo was the one circled in the map. The result was published the next day and I got all correct.

The event by MetOC was free of charge and we could choose between an easy (standard) course and a difficult (window + corridor) course. I ran the difficult course and left immediately because time was running short for the next event due to the delay. As I would like to take first-hand videos in orienteering races in the future, I played with my video camera before and took a test video during this event, and the result was satisfactory so I could take a production video in the next event.

I immediately went back to the scout centre and entered Austin Station. During my way to Austin metro station, there were many property agents promoting “Ocean Pride” (海之戀), a new development in Tsuen Wan. I took the metro for 2 stations to Hung Hom, got on a cross-harbour bus, pressed the bell immediately when the bus started, and got off at the next stop. The event centre for the next event was just next to the stop where I got off the bus.

This event was HKOC Sprint Series (stage 3), a standard cross-country sprint orienteering race. One of the scouts in the troop I lead, Tavon Yum, also joined.

As usual, I used my GPS logger to get a trace. This time I also used my video camera to took a video, which John Wangki Yuen already had been doing for multiple times. I additionally used QuickRoute and RGmapVideo to generate an annotated orienteering video.

My performance in the race was not very good, with many small mistakes scattered along it.

I didn’t read point 4 carefully and went to the south of the flowerbed where the point was located on the north.

When I approached point 9, I didn’t make the required left turn and ran straight to the stairs.

From 10 to 11, I didn’t notice there was a passage south of 10 and took a sub-optimal route, going down the slope and U-turned to the point.

I also turned into the wrong path when approaching 12, and ran a wrong route leaving 12.

After leaving 17, I ran to the wrong direction.

I finished the race in 16 minutes and 44 seconds, even slower than John who made a large mistake running out of the map. Maybe I didn’t have enough map reading during the race resulting in running sub-optimal paths.

The 3rd sprint orienteering ranking event was held in Fung Shue Wo last Sunday. The venue was fun, including both park and village terrain in the same competition, with legs of different lengths mixed together demanding high level of concentration in the race.

I ran the M21 course, with my target at 800 marks hoping to return to élite class next year. I performed well in the initial half, with only little mistake made, but my performance turned bad in the final part of the race, which made me not achieved my target. As usual, I have recorded my GPS trace for analysis.

There was no route choice and little skill involved in the first 2 legs, serving as an introduction to the terrain. From 2 to 3, it seems that crossing the northern bridge is the only viable option, so I took it and ran along the edge of the lake (marked in magenta), not realising that a shortcut (marked in blue) could be taken.

There are two route choices from 3 to 4, the orange and the blue routes:

I took the blue route simply because there were less contour lines as I am extremely bad in running uphill.

Controls 5 and 6 simply guided the competitors to another part of the arena, which is a village. Although there was really no technique in these 2 legs, I didn’t have the confidence to run full-speed along the drainage, and slowed down once in the process.

Control 7 was simply about running directly to the target in the right direction.

Control 8 was also easy by just recognising the high fence.

Then I ran to 9, 10 and 11, but after these easy legs I overspeed, missed control 11 into halfway of leg 12, and abruptly stopped when I saw an inappropriate geometric shape. I had to U-turn to the control and U-turn again to continue. Afterwards, I slowed down and jogged carefully to point 13, and passed the trap carefully to point 14. (If you turned left too early after point 14, you would enter the path south of the river.)

My performance turned bad from here onward. I attempted to run along the drainage to point 15, just like what I did to point 6, but this time the runnability was extremely poor. Moreover, I didn’t realise that the line symbol ending at point 15 was a high fence, rather than a high cliff or wall, therefore I stopped somewhere in the leg for nearly a minute trying to locate myself, and proceeded extremely slowly. Despite that I slipped and hurt my leg.

However, this was not the end of my bad story. I planned to turn right immediately after point 15, follow the blue route, turn left just before reaching a fence to point 16. However, I ran to a fence outside a park and became lost immediately, and had to return to the original position to re-orient myself. I found out later that I didn’t exaggerate my right turn enough to the blue route, and ran the red line instead.

I even didn’t know which path I was following in the process to point 17, then it was the end of the race.

Within a month, I returned to my “home stadium” for orienteering the second time. This event is composed of two parts: a team event and an individual Pre-O event.

Team Challenge

The team challenge is done by teams of 3. I signed up with Paul and Raymond, but at the event Raymond had got his leg injured so we started with 2 only. The race composed of compulsory points and free points:

  • Compulsory points: Points which every team members must visit in order.
  • Free points: Points which must be visited by at least one team member in no particular order.

Therefore, at the start of the race, we had to decide who would visit the free points. The simplest way is to directly draw a line on the map and assign each member to a region on the map, and meet at the finish expecting each member will return at roughly the same time:
team challenge map

I took the eastern part and Paul took the western part, and I went in the following order:
S-57-56-33-32-31-1-39-37-35-2-3-4-53-5-F

Paul returned to the last control earlier than me, and we read aloud the controls to confirm we really did visit all, and crossed the finish. However, Paul didn’t realise that he hadn’t punched the finish correctly, and resulted in a few minutes lost over our finishing time.

Pre-O Event

We all signed up for the Pre-O event in addition to the team challenge.

As John has already written a blog post about this event about the fundamentals of trail-O problem solving, and his brilliant photographs already serve as a great introduction to trail orienteering, I only focus on how I performed in the competition here.

Control 1 was easy, the correct answer could be identified by the correct railing.

Control 2 was also easy, the correct answer could be identified by the thicket corner.

Control 3 was a bit difficult. It was difficult to judge the height around the DP, so I had to go to the upper trail to estimate the distance.

Control 4 could be identified by walking down the stairs.

After control 4 there was a timed station. I didn’t performed well because I tapped on the answer board before I reconfirmed ABCDE when I saw the circled flag, resulting in the wrong letter tapped (I tapped on the letter B while my eyes were looking at slight left before I realised that there were no flags on the far left).

Control 5 could be identified by walking near the control cluster. The only purpose of the decision point was to identify which flags were A and B.

I chose the flag to be correct at control 6 because I found nothing contradicting the map.

The flag for control 7 was correct because it was clearly at the middle of the walls.

Controls 8 and 9 were the most difficult. I tried walking to the top of the platform on the east, along the circular path, etc. and thought that one of 8 and 9 would be Z because by viewing from the top of the platform, 8 and 9 were on a straight line but A and C weren’t. I could not find anything contradicting flag C to be control 8 so I chose C to be the answer of 8. However, I identified the valley where flag A was on incorrectly and didn’t realise that the circled valley was invisible for control 9, and made the only mistake in the course (excluding time controls). Control 10 was easy because there was no flag on the circled feature.

Control 11 was also easy because I could walk near the shelters. (The shelters were in forbidden area but the ground outside the building corner on the East wasn’t).

Finally I made one mistake but there were competitors who got all correct. I was not satisfied with this result because, being an elite competitor in Hong Kong, I expected myself to got nearly all correct, and the mistake made me to become just about average in the field.

In my 5 years of orienteering life, I mostly participated in individual race in my own, with only very few team races, because finding teammates was very difficult. This race, “Festival of Sports Orienteering Relay”, is held every year, but I didn’t bother to join because I was not confident about my ability to finish the race. However, as my technique improved, I would like to join the race this year. I looked for teammates among my club, other scouting friends, and also my ACM-ICPC teammates, but everyone was busy travelling, doing expedition, camping, etc., in the Easter holiday, or had already got a team at the moment I contacted her.

Luckily, at the MetOC ranking event in Tai Po, a couple, Hanifa and Raymond, approached me looking for the third teammate for entering the MIX (men and women) class. As I would also like to find a girl to enter the MIX class, I immediately agreed and filled in the online application form, which was on the due day already. We agreed to have me run the first lap, Hanifa the second, and Raymond the last. This arrangement was critical to our success in the event, explained later on.

Relay orienteering is different from individual orienteering that the competing units are teams of 3 (teams of 4 with at least 2 women for sprint relay). In individual orienteering, because everyone in the same class is running the same course, interval start is used to minimise following. However, in team orienteering, the situation is different. The teams of 3 are competing head to head, where everyone in the field are running similar but different courses, but the combined course of every team are the same, which forms the basis of fair competition. Mass start is used, therefore the one crossing the finish line first is the winner, but because everyone is running a different course, he cannot blindly follow the others and must use judgement to decide.

Note the string ABCBA in the above course. It indicates the variant of my course, which means the course contains 5 forks starting/ending with common controls with 3 variants each (labelled A, B and C), and I run variants A, B, C, B and A for the 5 parts in order. The length of the parts and the variants are unknown to the competitors, except that over all 3 laps we run all variants A, B, C for each part.

The relay rule is that, when the competitor running the first lap passes the spectator point, the next competitor enters the start area and prepare for the relay. The first lap competitor, upon entering the finish, clap the hand of the second competitor to start him, completing the relay. However, if the first lap competitor cannot return to the finish before a specified time (in this race 90 minutes after the start), all the second lap competitors are mass started without completing the relay, which make them rank below all the relaying teams. The relay between the second and third laps are the same. Therefore, the major objective for the first and second lap competitors is to return to the finish before the next competitor is mass started. Because of that, the placement of competitors is part of the strategy, placing the fastest competitor first gains time for the remaining laps. If the first competitor goes wrong, resulting mass starting of the second competitor, no matter how he performs the team already loses the race. However, if the first competitor is super-fast but the second competitor goes wrong, as long as he returns before the third is mass started, the team still has a chance to win the race, which actually happened to our team in the event.

Because I am bad running in the woods, I did my course slowly in the event, but I still went wrong at a few places:

From 3 to 4, I aimed at a wrong rock having another control, but corrected immediately after checking the code, only minor mistake here, but after 4, I tried to go straight to 5, but I deviated from the correct direction, couldn’t find the path and the spur and got lost. Also I had to stop and check feature many times from 5 to 6.

From 9 to 10, the technique of following came to play. After crossing the stream on the west of 10, I saw a competitor in another class going up the wood to a cliff in the direction where control 10 was in, so I followed him hoping that the cliff he was going was the correct cliff, and the result was really correct. I read the map to control 11 when going up the hill, therefore I immediately walked down at full speed directly in the correct direction aiming the hilltop of control 11 and passed him, then he in turn followed me to my control 11. I checked the code was correct, punched it, and left the control, but when he saw the number he found that it was out of expectation (because his control was different, not directly at the hilltop), and immediately got lost. This clarify the importance of locating myself continuously even when following someone.

I mass started at 10:30, and had to return before 12:00 or else my next teammate would mass start. Despite the mistake I made, I returned to the finish at 11:32, nearly half an hour before the mass starting deadline of the 2nd lap. Hanifa ran 92 minutes for the 2nd lap, more than the 90 minutes time allocated for each lap before mass starting the next, but because I returned early in the 1st lap, she still returned on time to start Raymond normally, who ran 64 minutes for the last lap, resulting in a total of 3 hours and 38 minutes and got the 3rd place, where only 3 teams could finish the race normally by relaying all the laps. The placement was crucial to our winning because the 4th team, although the overall time was slightly faster than us by 16 seconds, the 1st teammate ran overtime for 100 minutes, therefore couldn’t make her way to the finish at the mass starting deadline for the 2nd lap, even the remaining two laps were completed in about 59 minutes they had to be ranked below us, effectively giving their prize to us.

I think it was plain luck that we got medals in this event, because that among the 15 teams that started, 10 teams got disqualified (most probably because of mis-punches), 1 team ran overtime, and 1 team mentioned above ran over the mass-starting deadline because of the ordering, resulting in only 3 teams completing the race normally. Actually we were very slow, only hoping to complete the race, but completing the race is enough for the prize.

The result is posted below, note that the total time for the 4th place is less than us at the 3rd place:

http://www.oahk.org.hk/uploads/file/20170420_Relay%20Final%20Result%20v2%20170420.pdf

And here is my GPS trace:

http://3drerun.worldofo.com/index.php?id=-414921&type=info

HKOC Sprint Series this year started last Saturday. The first stage was held in Kowloon Park, which is my club’s “home stadium”.

This race is not a gazetted event, which means it is mainly a practice event in my own view. However, as I was too familiar with this field, although I did generally well, I still made some mistakes.

The first mistake I made was at point 2, where I ran too fast onto the field directly to the opposite site without looking carefully at the stairs in the presence of people practising kung-fu.

Then to point 11, I also ran too fast overestimating the distance between controls, and stopped when I saw something inappropriate.

The circle on the west of point 12 was blocked, so I had to avoid it when going 11-12 and 18-19.

In leg 21-22, I wrongly reduced my speed on an earlier junction when running down the slope, unnecessarily reducing the speed.

For leg 24-25, I might have taken a bad route choice by going upstairs after crossing the tunnel, unnecessarily reducing the speed where I could accelerate till the end of slope and keep the momentum under the canopy.

Although all the above are minor mistakes, in sprint “every second counts”, and a few minor mistakes already accumulate to difference between the first and the middle of the field.

Overall I got the 4th place in class M21 among 11 starting competitors, which is in my expected range. More information can be found in the links below:

Results: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B68fxJcatQoBNGotcmZwQWczdDg/view
My trace: http://3drerun.worldofo.com/index.php?id=-414918&type=info