Mole Valley regional
Posted: 19 January 2009 02:04 PM   [ Ignore ]  
Green
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  22
Joined  2008-01-09

An otherwise enjoyable event at Pippingford was spoilt for me yesterday by leg 14 on the brown course which involved a chest-deep and very muddy river crossing. The problem wasn’t with the crossing as such (the flooded river at Monks Wood was just one of the challenges, like the weather, one chose to face that day), but the river was specifically mapped as uncrossable and so much time was wasted trying unsuccessfully to devise an alternative route. The other thing that suggests my route, and that of those with me at the time, was not the intended one is the fact the crossing was also encountered by much younger and smaller competitors on the green course. I presume they swam! If we were meant to use the bridge in the out of bounds area could not the purple line have been bent to indicate this fact? Anyone got any idea what was going on?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 January 2009 02:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  68
Joined  2007-11-08

My deteriorating eyesight meant that I missed both the break in the OOB and the black lines bordering the river. Fortunately my x-ray vision allowed me to identify a shallow section so I only went in thigh deep.

Jonathan saw the gap in the OOB but then encountered soldiers standing on the bridge firing guns and so decided to take a long detour.

Since there were no other sensible routes across the river the line should have been bent across the bridge (assuming that it was in bounds).

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 January 2009 03:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Yellow
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2009-01-19

Simon,
Agree completely. The final details certainly led me to believe that the whole area should be avoided.
Got to the river along the tall embankment. Saw the state of the river and it was justifiably marked as uncrossable.
Saw that the only viable crossing was at the dam upstream.
While getting there, saw on closer inspection that the OOB hatching did not cover the bridge.
Must admit I came close to just retiring at that point given the time lost.
Seems to be a failure in the controlling of the courses, as you correctly point out much younger competitors would have been confronted with one of
a) tackling a flooded river
b) using a very narrow bridge across fast flowing dam spillway a long way off the direct line.
The map should have had a mandatory crossing point going through the OOB in my opinion.
I notice from routegadget you were not alone in opting for the swim, which confirms that there was significant confusion w.r.t the extent of the OOB.
Barry

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 January 2009 04:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
Yellow
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2008-06-23

I didn’t see the gap in the OOB at all, but also failed to notice the fact that the river was mapped as uncrossable. When I reached the river, I was just about to launch myself in (thinking it would be waist deep), when an adult who was (much)taller than me jumped in, and began swimming across, his head alone above the water. I hastily moved on, looking for a way to cross. When the river seemed narrower, I jumped across, and clung onto the slippery steep bank on the other side. But the grass that I was holding on to came away from the bank, and I would’ve fallen if it hadn’t been for one kind man who grabbed my hand and pulled me up onto the bank.

It would have been helpful had the line been bent to show the way through the OOB, but it was still quite an interesting experience crossing the river, if not frustrating.

Lucy

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 January 2009 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
Yellow
Rank
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2009-01-19

I was more than a bit shocked with some of the safety issues at Pippingford. I cannot understand why the courses were even planned to go through the OOB in the first place, and final details were not explicit enough to say the road was in bounds. Added to that the soldiers were more than intimidating for most including some of you big burly men let alone Nick and Lucy who were severely disadvantaged by trying to find somewhere “safe” to cross the river.
There were also safety issues on the white/yellow course as they did the last couple of controls on the track where cars were being parked so doing battle with oncoming cars and searching for controls hidden by parked cars.
I have e-mailed MV Club Welfare Officer and event officials expressing concern about the OOB/soldiers/uncrossable river situation and car/competitor conflict on the white/yellow. I’ve asked to see the risk assessments.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 January 2009 09:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
Yellow
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  3
Joined  2008-07-17

24 hours later I am beginning to regain my composure on the subject and the steam is no longer coming out of my ears…
Of course, I have in the past heard too many news reports to believe the reassurances in the Final Details that the ‘soldiers’ would not be using live ammunition, and there was no way that I was going to deliberately get my socks wet by striding out into the aforementioned river - so after a long period of dithering around asking anyone who would listen how on earth I was meant to get across the river, I resigned myself to a tedious journey southwards to cross the river at some dam-type thing. I was not exactly delighted to hear on downloading that despite the final details saying something about not being tempted to go through the OOB, that actually the road through the OOB area was permissible (When I had checked the map during the race I was wearing glasses AND using a magnifying glass on my compass, but still thought it out of bounds - especially as the scary-soldiers were crawling all over the road!).
Anyway, I have personally grown accustomed to producing rubbish races and am able to ‘move on’ and see it as a ‘learning experience’. However, having heard of a number of juniors opting to cross the river I feel that I am not being overly-dramatic to suggest that the outcome could have potentially been a lot more serious. I too have submitted my concerns to the MV club welfare officers and hope that planners and controllers will learn from this whole experience (after all you cannot expect a teenager to opt for a very lengthy route choice when a quick splash across an uncrossable river could save many minutes..)

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 January 2009 12:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  85
Joined  2007-09-25

The problem with the OOB area, bridge and river (described by all those above) detracted from an otherwise very good event. What a shame - unfortunately that will be what most competitors will remember most about the event.

I had the same issues with traversing the OOB as everyone else and these ask big questions about both safety and competitive fairness of that part of the course.

It was necessary to cross the river somewhere on the leg to get between the two control sites, but conflicting information made it impossible to make a fully informed decision about the legality of the bridge route (which seemed to be the crux of the leg).

The information available was:
An explicit instruction in the final details not to cross through the OOB areas;
OOB hatchings which did not clearly stop at the bridge;
the course line not diverted through the bridge;
no explicit crossing point shown; and(to finally confirm my suspicions that it was not a valid route) soldiers patrolling the bridge (i.e. it was part of their exercise).
If I had seen other competitors crossing the bridge in front of me unimpeded, then I would’ve drawn a different conclusion - how can this be fair?

Thus, the river had to be crossed, but the most obvious method was not available. A reasonable assumption was that the planner was not expecting everyone to make the long detour to either side of the straight line and therefore a direct crossing of the river was anticipated. The river was both very deep and had steep sides (neither factors obvious until tested) getting out on the other side could present difficulties. In the end, after a few abortive tests of suitable places to cross, I found a tree which was sticking part way into the river from the other bank and used that to assist in crossing.

There were major safety issues with this river crossing:
fairly fast flowing;
very deep (not possible to wade) - drowning risk;
difficult to get out;
cold water and cold air - hypothermia risk.

I’m hoping that no-one really suffered from their experiences (I didn’t hear of any complications) and I hope that a lesson has been learnt by the particular and future Organisers, Planners, and Controllers.

What to do now?

In my view: an explaination/apology in the event comments about the situation; and removing the offending leg from the course results by the organising club.

Peter

Profile
 
 
Posted: 20 January 2009 08:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
Yellow
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2007-11-15

My experience was very like Barry’s. I even saw a very experienced orienteer going over the bridge in the OOB area, but so strong was my impression that the hatching covered the road that I assumed he was cheating! I then headed for the river, only to find two other runners retreating from it having failed to cross. They then went over the bridge, so feeling very uneasy, and amidst the not very friendly cadets, I did too. (Then I mucked up finding the control in the clearing in the wood, but that was my own fault!) What a difference an extra couple of mm break in the hatching would have made.

Anyway, I see that there is now an explanation from the planner on the MV website, and that the leg has indeed been voided.

As others have said, it was a very enjoyable event in many other ways.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 January 2009 04:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
Yellow
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2007-11-15

I went straight across the bridge (on the Short Brown course).  I looked at the map and to me the hatching did not cross the road.  That together with the fact that the line between controls 9 and 10 went straight through the hatching rather than around it convinced me that it was in bounds.  I saw the CCF Cadets on the bridge but just ignored them - maybe my background gave me the confidence.  I don’t see that there was any alternative or that one would have been intended by the way the controls were set. I didn’t know there was any controversy until I came across this topic.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 January 2009 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
Yellow
Rank
Total Posts:  6
Joined  2008-05-19

I had the same experience as John.

For me it was leg 18 to 19 on Black, so I was already tired and emotional. The red line went straight through the OOB. On reflection I think I chose to assume that the hatching stopped at the road, rather than coming to that conclusion after studying the map in detail. My thought process was something like…the road must be in bounds, otherwise it’s a ridiculously stupid leg and no-one in their right mind would have planned it like that! So I used the road and forgot about it until I saw this thread.

Looking at the splits, everyone else on Black must have used the road. Maybe the position of the post-OOB control influenced whether people considered the road OOB or not?

There were grumpy looking, rifle-wielding soldiers around when I crossed but we were equally disinterested in each other. They probably realised their army-issue rifles were no match for my left-handed thumb compass should it come down to one-to-one combat.

I guess the moral of the story for the planner is check, re-check and triple check, expect people to do the unexpected and keep asking yourself “what if…?”!

Interesting though, how people respond completely differently to the same information when under stress…

Re Julia’s point on the junior courses…I was very unimpressed with letting a 7 year old run down a road for 2 legs, looking for controls between parked cars. Goes somewhat against what you try to drum into them every other day of the year…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 21 January 2009 11:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
Yellow
Avatar
Rank
Total Posts:  9
Joined  2007-11-15

From the splits, it looks like at least a dozen people on Blue (and probably more) misunderstood the OOB hatching.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 January 2009 11:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
Green
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  22
Joined  2007-11-17

my experience was different: i was neck-and-neck with someone else and we had a short conference before deciding that the bridge simply could not be OOB because it had a road on it, even though the hatching suggested it was indeed out of bounds. we charged across it, waving and saying a cheery “wotcha!” to the CCf lads, and all was well.
but my daughter looked at the hatching and followed the stream/torrent for quite a distance, and found herself at a bridge that had a sign saying “danger do not use”. At that point she, quite rightly in my view, gave up.
is it true that the event controller saw the maps only the day before? or merely rumour?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 January 2009 07:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
Green
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  22
Joined  2008-04-09

Having being told by a man(cadet) in uniform that the track and bridge was not to be used it was the neck deep river crossing after at least 5 attempts to find a safe way across. Anyone ignoring such instructions should be immediately disqualified having violated BOF rule 6.
I note that the relevant leg in the results has been removed but this is surely not good enough since the quarter hour wasted trying to cross and the subsequent cold due to the crossing is not equal to just running across the bridge.  The effort on that leg was more than equivalent to the effort used on the rest of the course hence regrettably to only fair options are to void the courses effected completely or at least void the courses from the control before the crossing.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 January 2009 10:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
Blue
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  43
Joined  2007-12-24

The planner’s thoughts on the subject may be read here. Edit: can’t get the link to work, have cut/pasted the planner’s comments below.

Mole Valley regret the fear, discomfort, and danger to which some competitors were subjected, and accept that some aspects of the organisation could have been better. The out-of-bounds overprint should have had a bigger break each side of the road, the final details should have been explicit about the dangers of deep water, and the car parking team should have kept better control of where drivers were going.

Nevertheless, the primary blame for out-of-control boys playing at being soldiers, and taking pleasure in intimidating civilians into deep water, surely lies with army?

Voiding a leg is not a satisfactory solution, but I would suggest that it is the best solution available. Voiding complete courses would make every competitor’s efforts a complete waste.

Edit: paste from the MV web site:

A note from the Planner

Two “problems” arose on the day, one of which was totally unexpected whilst the second had, I thought, been sorted out well beforehand.

The second of these “problems” requires, for all those competitors involved, a full explanation, so here goes:

In December the Training area authority told me to avoid the area in the vicinity of one of the troop shelters (F). This was easy, but knowing there were another units on area I contacted the Authority but hit the Christmas break. On their return in January I was informed that the unit was Tonbridge School Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and to ensure that there would be no conflict of use contacted the Officer Commanding the unit after their Christmas break (January 7).

I found out where they would be, on the Middle Bridge, and explained where we would be. He had no problems with orienteers crossing the bridge that all the courses in that area had been planned to cross. (The stream/river in that area, as many now know, is fast and deep even without the previous night’s rain swelling it by 2 or 3 feet.) In order to ensure de-confliction with the CCF unit an out-of-bounds screen was added to the course overprint, and in the cool light of day on the computer screen and on the ink-jet proofs it appears obvious to me that the road is useable. With hindsight I should have put an edge next to the road or a crossing point to make it more obvious.

On the Sunday morning, after all the controls were out and checked, I went to the area the CCF unit were training in and had a conversation with the Officer Commanding them, explaining where the competitors would be coming from and he again said there would be no problems with orienteers crossing the bridge (I even gave him timings of between 10:30 and 1:30 so that he knew it would be an extended period). I do not now why the CCF Cadets were stopping runners from using the bridge, as at no time was it suggested that this would happen.

As a result of the problems encountered by some, the leg from control 218 has been removed from the final results. The ranking data will be submitted using the final results and the allocation of the badge time has also been done on the final results.

Now the for the strange but true problem concerning control 217:

10 months ago an unknown control collector for the JK dropped control 213 in the woods about 100 metres from where it had been collected. On Sunday Charlie Turner (SLOW) found it about 25 metres from control 217. Neither the planner nor the controller had seen it in a total of 5 visits, probably because we were never looking for a control. After Charlie had found it a large number of other competitors also found it, some saw it was the wrong code and continued on to the correct one, some saw it was the wrong code and thought it to be a planner’s error (after all why should there be 2 controls on the same feature) and punched it and some just punched it because the code was 21?. (Some never saw it at all). As all competitors visiting 217/213 punched at at least one of the controls no one has been disqualified for not punching 217. The split times for 217 have been adjusted as the rogue controls timer was about 2 minutes different from the real control’s timer.

(It should be noted that the battery on SportIdent BSF8 units will last at least 10 months in the forest and survive at least 6 consecutive days below freezing, but by then the kite will be covered in moss and lichen).

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 January 2009 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
Green
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  22
Joined  2008-04-09

Ian,
I understand your point but what if instead of a stream it had been an impassable cliff?
Impassable means just that hence the impassable stream given that there was no alternative should indicate the end of the course.
The event did turn out to be a waste of time as far as statistics, ranking etc. for competitors on the courses having to cross the river.  Some will have gained a significantly benefit if they used the bridge whilst most will have been disadvantaged by having to cross the river and that can neither be fair nor in the spirit of the competition.
As far as blame is concerned I do not point the finger at anyone, that is for others to do.

Profile