"The 8 map format"

Yet an other format for an orienteering mass start race. Mass start, each runner gets 8 maps one minute before start *. They need to pick one and drop the rest. They can use as much time as they like, but after one minute time is ticking. they can also pick any map and start immediately. Those dropped 7 maps are scanned with bar code reader right after the start, so TV speakers / GPS tracking web spectators will know what spreading each runner is on.

Example map, all controls.

Spreading scheme example for the map above:

course 1: a-aa--bcaaadbb-a--
course 2: b-bb--caabbdca-a--
course 3: c-aa--abbcacab-a--
course 4: a-aa--babdbcba-a--
course 5: b-aa--cbaaabcb-b--
course 6: c-bb--acabbbaa-b--
course 7: b-aa--babcaabb-b--
course 8: c-bb--cbbdbaca-b--

To make co-operation and code yelling during the race slightly more difficult two sets of codes can be used. Aka at each control there is two codes, like 64 and 72. You have 72 in your map and your friend has 64, you can't tell just by the code will you have the same or not.

Objective is to figure out new, GPS tracking friendly, fun and reasonably fair mass start format. The idea here is to keep keep runners close together and have lots of spreading controls, so runners can't never be sure the pack is going to the right control. And if it goes to wrong one he can't see where it is, spreading controls are not printed on his map.

To avoid wasting so many maps, in training races (like Yökuppi) we might use some sort of ranking/point standings. Runners in files of eight runners, top ranked in the first row will receive 8 maps, they'll have 15 seconds to pick one, then they pass those 7 leftover maps to second row and so on. In last row they just one map and they will have to run that. Not that fair, but the advantage can be earned by running well before the event, and (it's just training after all).

At least in in low key events maps could be A4 (color laser) maps, given in one larger A3 sized plastic bag. Competitor takes maps out, selects one and puts that back to the bag and runs with it. Like this there would be no need for extra plastic bags and organizing would be easier (no need for putting 8 maps to bags for each runner in advange, A4 laser printers could be used, quite easy to slide 8 maps in on elarge bag).

I believe printing cost is about 15 cents per A4 sheet (paper & toner etc). So the extra cost of having seven extra maps would be about 1 eur per competitor.

Work in process, these are just random thoughts. Comments are welcome as email or at Facebook.

Some suggestions so far:
- If it is a race between teams/nations, each team/nation would team of 4 runners. Each team receives those 8 maps and they decide who takes which map. Like this team members can't get get same spreading and different courses will be more evenly spread among runners.

- no control descriptions, just ring, order number and code number by the ring and purple dot at the center of the ring showing the accurate location of the flag. Makes it more difficult to co-operate ( can't yell "I have 1.85m stone, NE side") and descriptions at map corners are so annoying anyway.

I think the best place for critisism is how the map choosing is done here. There is no point using time to examine carefully what is the best course, so one could say it is a lottery. But before judging this we should first define what is the best course. The fastest one may not be the best if it just couple of seconds faster than others but has slow last spreading. Aand it also depends on runner, someone who aims to get away in the end may like course with slow end and fast middle sectipn. And someone who aims just to hang as long as possible may like one with fast spreading in the first half of the race. And someone who coums on sprint finish might like to have intermediate spreadings, not the slowest one at any point making. Also what is the best may depends of what other runners will choose. And so on. So instead of trying to choose the fastest course runners posibly should have strategy. Like tying to spot a difficult looking spreading at one point and choosing fastest alternative there, and taking lead on the way there and trying to get away. So, it's not plain lottery, runners can control the lottery and have strategy, they can see a opportunity and go for it.

The luck factor related to this map choosing isn't anything new. Same applyes to the long route choise legs we already have today. It is not possible or optimal to always use time to make the perfect route choise, it takes too much time to judge accurately what is the absolutely fastest route choise and how much faster it is that some other ones. Runners often prefer choosing a fine looking one without using too much time, so there iwe alrady have the same choosing luck factor - route choises are sort of lotteries too, controlled lottery with runners having stretegies ("going straight is usually never bad choise in these terrains", "long race, I need to avoid climb and save strength").

So is that too bad after all? I think no one can tell without trying and running training races like that for couple of years. But I'd say it fair enough for training races and club champs, maybe even for national races if we desperately need to have a gps tracking friendly mass start race. But I guess some may see it differently and boycot club champs if it's done like this.

one mights think 8map has lots of similarities with the macr-o format and macr-o was't accepted that well by athletes. There is some essential differences between 8 map and macro: macr-o had no codes at controls and you got penalty loops, organizers had to check control card during the race to be able to assign those penalty loops, macro was intended for interval start races (not just mass start) and in macro runner had no choice, a course was assigned to you in advance. Also, these tricks and gimmicks were spread along the whole course. In the end macr-o isn't that similar to 8 map format. The 8 map format it most similar to first leg of a relay. There is just the map selection at the start, that's over in seconds and from that on it's just like a first leg of a relay with similar dynamics and strategies, somtehing runners are already familiar with. Some runners like first legs, some not.

* most likely it is better to let commetitors study and compare courses before start for about a minute. This may make make it easier to use map selection rules and build "teams" with same course and it also may make courses distributed less evenly, but on the other hand it makes map choosing less lottery. And it forces course setter to make courses evenly fast looking, to make them spread evenly. If we see team work as part of the game, it most likely is better like this.

Would this format do for WOC? I don't think so, I'd say there is too much luck factor in map choosing, one can't compare/study courses properly and can't know in advance what the vegetaion is like, how fast mashes etc are and so on, so athletes may end up choosing course quite randomly in the end. Would this do for national championships? I'd say no, for same reason. At least not until it's been used for years, athlethes and course planners are used to it and for ultra long with long unforked end. Would this do for local unofficial training erace? Yes for sure, might be quite good format for evening races before Jukola and attract runnes who like to get prepared for Jukola. At the moment there is no training event similar to Jukola first legs. Could those be national races counted in national rankings? Well, maybe. We already have mass start races with point reduction for not being normal race. That could open door for this format too. Maybe. This format is best at is fun training race for relay, especially preparation for big relay's 1st - 3rd legs.
Work in process...