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Scottish Relay Champs thoughts

I think it’s helpful to review various competitions, and since the relay is in my mind, here are some thoughts.
Please post a comment with your views and thoughts.
Recent comments added.



Initial comments to Graeme Ackland, Competitions Convenor - Monday 12th Sept 2011.
Updated Rules & Guidelines distributed to Club Secretaries by email & made available on SOA website by Friday 23rd Sept 2011.
Further comments to Graeme Ackland no later than Monday 10th October 2011.
If necessary further changes made to proposed Rules & Guidelines - paper to Terry for distribution to SOA Board by Friday 21st October 2011.
SOA Board Meeting - Saturday 29th October 2011.

The debate

Mens’ Open seem to be fine, but Womens’ open hasn’t managed to attract elite teams for several years, and is habitually the last to finish.  Maybe it is time to combine it with the BCC relay?

Junior courses also seem to function fine.  40+ is a bit generous in that top 14s should maybe not be doing YYO, but team captains seem to be sensibly putting out yellow and orange runners of whatever age.

The handicap enables clubs with almost any combination of people to enter a relay. 
I see three issues with the handicap. 

First, the sport is aging, and a shortest course aimed at M65 is too long for some.  Second, men’s teams seem to dominate: maybe the women should have more points.  Third, some club captains are entering teams which aren’t realistically competitive in the handicap on too-long courses, so that they are eligible.  We need to get back to the idea of first pairing individual people with appropriate length courses, then assembling them into teams and only then worrying about which teams are eligible for the handicap.  I think the way to do this is to retain the overall age-based competition, but make each course open.  This would, of course, rely on the good sense of club captains not to stack short course teams with elite athletes, but if it results in some new faces on the podium, that’s good. 

Link to the existing guidelines for reference.

Specifics for discussion

Retain existing courses ABC, BCC, BDC, CDC and DDC.
Womens Open = BCC
All women +1 handicap point
ABCD Courses aimed at 35mins winning time for top M21E, M45/W21E, M60/W45, M70/W60
Overall points for veteran eligibility teams on courses 3-8 8+ 11+ 14+ 17+ 20+
Awards for first team in each course 3-8.
String course relay?

What do you think?

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Photo of authorPosted on 18th Sep 11
by Vacant position - Competitions Coordinator


Andrew Dalgleish says:

I think this all sounds very sensible, what I would be keen to see is a definition of what the handicap competition actually is.  Is it a way of having all the n handicap classes brought into 1 competition or having n different handicap competitions?  I would like to see one or the other but not both as we seem to have at the moment.

Posted by Andrew Dalgleish on 31st May 11 at 09:06 AM

Lynne Walker says:

Thanks for opening up discussion on the relay format. I agree that the women require another point (especially the older women as we generally seem to be slowing faster than the men). I do not quite understand what you mean by “Overall points for veteran eligibility teams on courses 3-8 8+ 11+ 14+ 17+ 20+”. Could you clarify?
I did enjoy Drummond Castle & Torlum but being a second leg runner had the advantage of the undergrowth being a bit tracked.

Posted by Lynne Walker on 31st May 11 at 09:16 AM

Graeme Ackland says:

You asked me to clarify.

If you look at the tables in the current guidelines,

First table…
Add one point to each Wxx.  Should add 75s and 80s as well!

Second table…
“Handicap: 6+ point” becomes Handicap:  8+ points
“Handicap: 9+ point” becomes Handicap:  11+ points
“Handicap: 12+ point” becomes Handicap: 14+ points
“Handicap: 15+ point” becomes Handicap: 17+ points
“Handicap: 18+ point” becomes Handicap: 20+ points

The A course stays as it is, while B, C and D all get a bit shorter.

Posted by Graeme Ackland on 31st May 11 at 09:40 AM

Andy Paterson says:

I do like the idea of retaining handicap eligibility. Otherwise you may end up with the daft situation you have in the 11person with teams sending out elite runners on Orange to win it - not what was originally intended I am sure.

I was drafted into the “top” Clyde team this time on HCap 9 due to my age not necessarily my ability. If it had been open i doubt I would have had that honour.

I also think we are missing the opportunity to involve novice adults in the relay with TD<5 courses. And the idea of a string relay is fantastic! As it was I left the family at home on Sunday as there was nothing for them.

Posted by Andy Paterson on 31st May 11 at 09:49 AM

Graeme Ackland says:


The original intention was that handicap is meant to be a single, big, competition which everyone took part in at their own level.  With a competitive prize for any team that happened to be old/female enough. That’s what the rules always were. 

Of course, its not “fair” in the sense that everyone runs the same courses.  So different people define different subgroups who they’re “really” racing against (same-age, same-course, same-club etc.).

You would know better than I, but there also seems to be a software issue with presenting the results as intended (i.e. a single relay).

Posted by Graeme Ackland on 31st May 11 at 10:03 AM

Lynne Walker says:

Thanks for the response Graeme. As you say the B, C & D courses should be a bit shorter (B was W21, becomes W21E/M45; C was M50, becomes M60/W45; D was M65, becomes M70/W60).
However I am not sure about the adding of two points to each handicap class. This - it seems to me - would favour having women predominate in the higher number (17+, 20+) handicap teams?

Posted by Lynne Walker on 31st May 11 at 10:15 AM

Bill Melville says:

It seems odd that while orienteering is showing a swing to shorter courses (sprint& middle) relay courses seem to be getting longer (as per time taken).
(Forest sprint relays a possibility)
The system seems to ignore the fact that runners have been competing the previous day and that older competitors and leisure runners who are doing little or no mid-week training, are not going to recover as a fit M/W21 will do…. especially if they have been out for eighty minutes or more on the individual.
I can remember when relays were fast and furious fun events, but maybe I was just running faster in those days.
Would adding an E class make it any better?
Would using the ranking scheme to set the handicaps help? - older fit/fast runners would not be running D courses and setting standards that leave the majority out of their depth.

Posted by Bill Melville on 31st May 11 at 10:34 AM

Pauline McAdam says:

I agree with Andy about the lack of a course for adults that is less than TD5. This excludes newcommer adults from being involved in the relays for several years until they are confident at TD5 or it condemns them to being out for an incredibly long time and worrying about letting down their team.
Yet again, I felt that the courses were unnecessarily long. Because people were out for so long there was a lack of atmosphere and excitement to the event as the gaps between teams in most cases too big. The British Relays had a much better atmosphere in this respect. Had the weather been very bad it would have been a thoroughly miserable experience.
I agree with Bill as regards the fact that no consideration seems to be taken that this is a second race in two days and I too remember the days when the relays were fast and furious fun events and I don’t think I was running that much faster than I am now.

Posted by Pauline McAdam on 31st May 11 at 11:11 AM

Eddie Harwood says:

I certainly agree that the C and D at least have a spec that’s too long, and agree with those proposed changes. Not sure about changing the handicap points barriers.

This year was overlong, but I suspect Graeme, and I had not expected the wide range of times - we had expected fast head to head running in an area where there was little real TD5 terrain. The storm REALLY di change the runnability massively.

My opinion from a competitor is that whatever handicap class you run in you are competing against the other teams in that class. The overall handicap winner is something to hope for for a very few teams, and has so much luck in the balance of the planning that it is hard to take it too seriously.

Making all of them open would not be a good option in my opinion. There needs to be some criteria. However if people think that some eligibility sytem based on the BOF ranking list is workable that might be a better way of balancing teams.

Posted by Eddie Harwood on 31st May 11 at 12:22 PM

Claire Duncan says:

Adding the Mixed Adhoc and possibly ladies short (from BOC guidelines) would bring added value to the competition in my opionion.

Posted by Claire Duncan on 31st May 11 at 12:44 PM

Graeme Ackland says:

Having just planned it, I’d be very keen to avoid introducing more courses according to other guidelines. 
We also shouldn’t get back to having loads of tiny classes with no competition.  I can remember relays when the last legs of the silver medalists were waiting to start well after the winning team were finished.

But, team of three ladies on CDC = women’s short and ad hoc are available on all courses already.

Are you suggesting another allowed course combination like D O C ?  Maybe we could do that in place of the only-one-leg-different CDC?

The honest thing would be to make all courses formally TD4, which in practice they were on Sunday, and combine LG with the shortened D.

Posted by Graeme Ackland on 31st May 11 at 01:39 PM

Robin Strain says:

Graeme said “The original intention was that handicap is meant to be a single, big, competition which everyone took part in at their own level.”

So far I have not been able to see any way of doing this on the day with the results processing software that we use but I am planning to produce a combined handicap results list later this evening.
If there is a demand for it I will investigate further whether the format (as seen by the planner and computing team but not by team captains or runners) could be tweaked so that results can come out in one list.

Posted by Robin Strain on 31st May 11 at 06:32 PM

Terry O'Brien says:

Thanks to Graeme for initiating this very important debate. I’m sure we were all as disappointed as Graeme & Eddie when the times returned on Sunday were proving to be exceedingly long.

For many of us the Courses on Sunday were either as long as or even longer than the Saturday Champs - my wee legs just wouldn’t work after number 1.

Everyone knows that the Handicapping system isn’t a perfect solution but for me and a fair amount of others who chose to run the Short Class, in my case M50S, there is absolutely no doubt that I will never be in the same “orienteering class” as JT, MD, DP etc - so giving me and many others the same handicap as those of exceedingly greater ability doesn’t work either.

Fabian says that there were 540 entries for the Scottish Champs Individual. I was very surprised to see that over 360 competed in the Relays which I found surprising high but then again 540 wasn’t great for our SIC.

I would encourage everyone to contribute to this debate so that more and more orienteers chose to participate in the Scottish Relays.

Just wondering now if next year’s venue will present similar issues due to likely degree of climb.

Posted by Terry O'Brien on 31st May 11 at 08:08 PM

Sarah Dunn says:

Thanks for opening up this discussion.
With regard to junior relays, having only 2 classes is ok, but at the moment the classes are the wrong TDs. Both junior classes are presently heavily weighted to male teams because the TDs are too low.
I’m not sure if it’s in the rules, but having no gaffling on the M/W40- relay, as has been the case for the last couple of years, is a nonsense and has turned it into a cross-country relay. The TDs are too low relative to the ages that can be run, leaving it open for 2 M14s and an M12 to be running YYO. Perhaps the class should be modified to M/W38- ? or the TD increased to YOO with gaffling included.
The M/W48- relay is even more below the suitable TDs for this age class - I am embarrased at asking decent W16s to run an orange course. I would propose either G/LG/G or LG/LG/G. Perhaps this could be combined with a new “novice adult” relay class open to any orienteers who have “started” within say the last 2 years.
As for the senior races, I have felt that the handicap system works pretty well. There seems to be an argument for giving ladies +1 more point, although Maroc won the overall trophy last year with 2 ladies and 1 man in their team. Perhaps the extra point is only required for W55 and over ? I can’t see that the overall handicap results can ever be anything other than a bit of a lottery and shouldn’t completely replace the class competition.

Posted by Sarah Dunn on 01st Jun 11 at 07:14 AM

Eleanor Pyrah says:

Firstly, I must say I really enjoyed the D course on Sunday. I think the area and TD4 level were just right for a relay and, as Graeme suggests, I think the guidelines could be changed to make this the norm rather than TD5. We had 2 runners from ESOC who are relative novices (been O-ing less than 2 years)and they coped with the TD. (In fact one was delighted to find himself in a winning team.) I wouldn’t like to see an Orange course introduced because it would probably mean us oldies being asked to run Orange, as is sometimes the case with the 11P relay and mixed ad hoc classes. Novices that are still at Orange level don’t usually want to even try a relay and if they do, why not do as we did one year and have an experienced runner, who has already run, go round with them, n/c of course.

However the Handicap courses on Sunday were far too long with only the best people managing under an hour.  The guidelines say 35 mins for good M21, W21, M50, M65 on ABCD respectively and I think if these were adhered to the handicap system would be just fine as it is. Maybe they could be even shorter, say 30 mins with frequent controls like middle distance races. We don’t need an E course.

As an older woman I would of course welcome more points; we all know the rate of decline with age is (sadly) not linear, so the points system we have with one point increase for every 5 years probably favours people in their 40s and 50s, but I think we have to keep it simple and that probably means leaving it as it is.

Regarding the question of whether it should be one big handicap competition, or 5 separate classes (thanks to Robin for producing the combined list BTW), I don’t see why it can’t be both; recognition of the winners in each category with small prizes, preferably for 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and the trophy for the overall ‘lottery’ winners. (It was very disappointing one year when no mention of the category winners was made at prize-giving, and only the overall trophy awarded.)

To summarise, yes to fast and furious head to head racing; no to any radical overhaul of the current system.

Posted by Eleanor Pyrah on 01st Jun 11 at 12:52 PM

Mike Rodgers says:

I won’t comment on the senior classes but having looked after 4 junior teams last weekend I’d like to add to Sarah’s comment.

I agree about YYO being too easy for 40-. That said, I think it’s extremely important that we accommodate the youngest juniors or those who are new to orienteering. We had 4 Moravian kids who had never been to a big event before, never mind a relay, and they absolutely loved the exciting head-to-head team format (as did their parents, once they’d worked it out!).

How about 40- increasing in difficulty to Y/O/LG and aimed at the experienced end of the market? Than add a 3rd junior class using 3 Yellows (gaffled if possible) called Junior Novice. This would hopefully encourage clubs to bring along newcomers to experience the excitement of it all, while providing more of a challenge to the better 12s/14s. The Y/O/LG combination would also give clubs the opportunity to throw a promising M/W10 in to a team with a couple of their better juniors.

Posted by Mike Rodgers on 01st Jun 11 at 10:41 PM

Andy Paterson says:

Having spent some time watching the spectator control on Sunday I noticed the juniors coming through in batches in the main, with the possible exception of the one or two best - who were ahead, and the few “less best”, who couldnt keep up.

It is possible that the spectator control (TD4?) wasnt representative of the rest of the courses, but there definitely seemed to be a confidence issue among the juniors which kept them together. I noticed at one point a group of 8 or so leaving the spectator control heading one way round the building, then 30s or so later the entire group came back through the control heading out the other way. I think any changes to these courses, in the form of gaffling etc, need to be carfully thought through, starting with what are you trying to achieve at that level? I’d suggest what you want first and foremost is for the kids to have an enjoyable experience of orienteering racing head to head, with secondly the fastest and most confident orienteers coming through on top. My concern would be that gaffling at that level MIGHT simply result in a lot of mps and disappointed youngsters. Be interesting to hear what some of the experienced junior (M/W 10-12) coaches thoughts were on the subject (apologies to Mike/Sarah if they are - dont know their background).

Posted by Andy Paterson on 02nd Jun 11 at 08:19 AM

Graeme Ackland says:

A question about gaffling.

Is it essential that each team runs exactly the same set of legs by the end?  In the past SRC hasn’t bothered (e.g. any-D any-C and any-B course, which gives gaffling but isnt (in some vague sense) “fair”.  This year we made sure that we had 6 gaffles on each of ABCD and at least 3 options in every lap in every class, and it was “fair”.  This does constrain the planning quite a bit, but everyone seemed to enjoy/be_confused_by the sections on the sills which were gaffled the same way on each of ABCD.

Eddie thinks this is crucial for “fairness”.  Mike, by suggesting a gaffled Y,O,LG relay, obviously thinks it doesn’t matter.

Notice that if you think it is important to have gaffling *and* “fairness”, you are pretty well ruling out relays with mixed ability legs.

Posted by Graeme Ackland on 02nd Jun 11 at 09:12 AM

Eddie Harwood says:

As a controller and as a planner I am adamant that the siting of all controls on junctions is vital. The control must be placed in the direction that the runners are going to go. This makes gaffling on yellow nigh on impossible, and in the terrain we often use the chance of being able to find even 2 line feature routes of approximately the same length that just about kyboshes the idea altogether.

I believe it will normally be impossible to gaffle yellows as they will no longer be yellow. We compromised on yellow standard with the spectator control (which was TD3, definitely not 4 Andy.

Regarding gaffling of senior courses the only way to offer fair gaffling is to have section(s)of all of courses A, B, C, and D follow the same 3 gaffled courses.

2 years ago I planned and the course were gaffled from the start to almost the finish of D, after which A, B and C were unique.

Last year Andy Dale split this up and had 2 sections of the courses gaffled.

This year Graeme had only a short common gaffled section but provided gaffling in other parts of each of the courses. This made his administration far more complicated, but it certainly seemed to work.

Posted by Eddie Harwood on 02nd Jun 11 at 09:29 AM

Sarah Dunn says:

I agree that for the youngest juniors success is of the utmost importance, and for a mini relay of M/W12 (e.g. as at the British) then 3 x Y is fine, and gaffling is less important - especially if just leads to mispunches. My point is that the Scottish relay at M/W40 is for juniors up to 14/14/12 and by this stage they should be well capable of a gaffled relay at e.g. Y/O/O (can always keep the Y ungaffled). I would support a separate mini relay.

Posted by Sarah Dunn on 02nd Jun 11 at 11:16 AM

Dick Carmichael says:

What an excellent debate !
As controller for JK 2012 relays at Newtyle next spring I was determined to do my first relay in years last Sunday to get a feel for the event type. TINTO having had too few members for relay teams most of the 24 years since it’s inception I have had very little experience of the relay format since controlling the British relays in Dipton wood in the late 80’s. Personally I still prefer the M/W60 + that JK and British use but at least the Scottish is inclusive enough to let tiny TINTO in anyway possible.
Whilst waiting for my leg three 18+ handicap C course, (our team of two W60 and an M60 actually had 22 points), I was urged to join two mass starts but declined as this would apparently according to the officials make our team non competitive. I cannot find this in any rule book for any relay and Robin and Sheila managed to reinstate all the times of all the mini mass starters. 
As the first mass start was 15 minutes late and the other mass starts were deliberately quite early to get people on their way for the long drive home (to England?) it was surely unfair to suggest that mass starters be non competitive and if true it would have resulted in almost half the teams being disqualified.
In conclusion I support the concept of reducing winning time targets, reducing the need for mass starts of leg 2 and leg 3 runners. I applaud the organisers for allowing me to wait for my team handover and stay competitive starting as the very last starter at 1303 hours. I also forgive Robin and Sheila for reinstating all the teams I thought we had unfaitly triumphed over.! Thanks to all involved for a great day on Sunday. I hope to see you at the JK next April where after three days of running we will definitely need to get the times TD gaffling right to get people home to England without too many mass starts.

Posted by Dick Carmichael on 02nd Jun 11 at 12:04 PM

Mike Rodgers says:

Graham - I only suggested that the Y/Y/Y mini relay be gaffled, although I can see the problem with that from reading Eddie’s comments. I think the fact that a single Yellow course would produce nothing more than an cross country race isn’t important. I think the excitement and achievability factors would make it a great wee competition for the kids. That said, I thought that it was only White courses that needed controls siting in the next direction of travel.

Could 40- (or whatever) use ungaffled Y/O/LG with teams running them in different orders? I’m not an expert on relays but can see how this might dilute the excitement of a head-to-head race.

Posted by Mike Rodgers on 02nd Jun 11 at 12:25 PM

Andy Paterson says:

BOF guideline F says teams starting in a mini mass start should normally remain competitive. Having said that it also makes sense not to have a mini mass start until the leading few teams on each course are already out.

Posted by Andy Paterson on 02nd Jun 11 at 02:54 PM

Eddie Harwood says:

Regarding non competitivity I was aware that teams lower down the order would still have their total times recorded. However there was an issue with the women’s open where only one 2nd leg runner had returned. Sending the other teams off in a mass start would be very invidious and not make a fair competition for places. Rather than try to explain nuances of non-competitiveness in a gale, I kept it simple by sayiong that teams would be non-competitive - I meant for trophies not for lower positions.

Posted by Eddie Harwood on 02nd Jun 11 at 05:55 PM

Dick Carmichael says:

Of course all this debate may prove irrelevant as if you read the newly published British Orientering Governance Review on the BOF website asking for feedback by July and dated 26 May future events in all Association areas including Scotland will have their rules and even dates of events set by the Board of British Orienteering. As Scotland does not have a board member and the current Association event advisory Area fixture structure is to be dismantled it is quite possible that BO Board of directors might insist that all relays are standardised across the UK. If like me you are concerned at the loss of Scottish Orienteering’s control of our own destiny may I suggest you check the BOF website for the well hidden Governance Review and get your feedback in sooner rather than later.

Posted by Dick Carmichael on 02nd Jun 11 at 07:14 PM

Dick Carmichael says:

More thoughts on Mini mass starts following controller Eddie and planner Graeme’s comments.
1) As the relay started 20 minutes late and some courses were 20 minutes too long (eg D M65 35 min winning time was 55 min)why not delay the mini mass starts.? The Saturday race had course closure at 1730 but the last mini mass start on Sunday was 1230.
2) If teams were told they would be non competitive because on the Womens elite so few teams had returned that an unfair race might result from pack running by second and third leg runners why not put these competitors in seperate mini mass starts 5 minutes apart.
3) The intent of BOF Rule F is obvious. To keep as many teams elgible for the results as possible. Mini mass starts are purely an organiser’s tool for effective management of the day’s race. Let’s firm up the guidelines for the use of this tool for future relays!

Posted by Dick Carmichael on 03rd Jun 11 at 05:40 AM

Phil Smithard says:

The Scottish Relays with Handicap is all about fun and inclusion as well as effort and competition. 
I get the drift from the comments above that the atypical conditions for the years Champs is influencing thought and comment, when perhaps this year should be ignored (but noted) as regards course leg times.  The efforts that Graeme and his Team made to ensure a fair and time prescribed competition is exemplary and an example that might be well noted.
I am more than a little surprised and also quite disappointed to learn from above that minimass start teams were declared non-competitive on the day.  I am not aware that this has ever been the situation before, tho’ there will be others better qualified to comment.  It is not supportive to the overall slower team, the person who has a really bad run or the person who is injured and struggles on to complete for the sake of the team.
The more than commendable SOA attitude of inclusion and ‘O-for-All’, typically expounded by the current Scottish Relay format should not be compromised by making teams having minimass starters non-competitive, that is described in earlier comment, correctly in my view, to be an organisational tool to allow most to be home for tea. It also allows those involved to feel that they are still having a bit of a competiton with others involved at this stage.  In the extreme to save even more time, each leg could set off at 5 minute intervals and should see everyone home for lunch, but this paramater cannot be an over-riding priority for an event that has the objective of catering for everyone regardless of their ability or fitness.
I always understood that a non-competitive run was there for those who declared an unfair advantage as regards a competition i.e. prior and recent knowledge of the location or running out of class the wrong way because of say injury, but do we really want it to cover taking too long on a relay leg?
From a Club Captains point of view it is quite difficult for a small club with a good spread of ages and abilities to add another variable for overall cumulative time limitations. 
No, let’s keep as many teams competitive as possible in the overall scheme of things to encourage involvement and to continue keeping the Scottish Relays popular, supported, enjoyable, “O-for-All” and inclusive.

Posted by Phil Smithard on 05th Jun 11 at 11:42 AM

Robin Strain says:

as you said, there were factors that were probably unique this year.
Eddie was trying to ensure that the final result of the Women’s Open class was not changed by the fact that third leg runners did not start with the correct gaps.
Teams in mini mass starts will not be made non-competitive and the software in use this year makes it easy to have as many mini mass starts, or indeed individual starts, as are necessary to improve the day for competitors and officials.

Posted by Robin Strain on 05th Jun 11 at 07:30 PM

Paul Frost says:

The SRC Rules and Guidelines page has now been updated following this debate.

Posted by Paul Frost on 08th Jul 11 at 01:41 PM

Dick Carmichael says:

I still don’t see any guideline relating to mini mass starters remaining competitive ? I can see how with the W21 situation they had at SRC11 it would be difficult to have a firm rule that all should be fully competitive, but surely a guideline indicating that where ever possible mass starters times should be counted as valid would not be a bad thing ?

Posted by Dick Carmichael on 08th Jul 11 at 03:20 PM

Graeme Ackland says:

Maybe there should be a firm rule about this.  There are many possibilities.

First, one of…

A/  All mini-mass starts non-competitive.
B/  Mini mass starts competitive but ineligible for
C/  Mini mass starters fully competitive

Second, one of…
1/  Final position by finishing time
2/  Final position by total running time of team

Third, one of
a/  Mini mass starters placed behind all non-MMS teams
b/  Mini mass starters can beat other teams

Thats 12 possible gaffels!  Opinions?

Posted by Graeme Ackland on 08th Jul 11 at 08:13 PM

Phil Smithard says:

In view of my previous comment, I have to go with C2b.  To have any other combination would contradict my ‘inclusive’ argument especially the third one, a or b, since this would be unfair to the teams that had a bad first or second leg that would be penalised when the team that had a bad third leg would not.
Keep it seemples - all runs count for the same competition.

Posted by Phil Smithard on 08th Jul 11 at 09:30 PM

Dick Carmichael says:

I would also go for C2b as a preference. The mini mass start is merely an organisers tool and it would be the job of the controller to ensure that unfairness did not creep in. He/she could do this by having lots of little mini mass starts seperating the second and third leg runners who may have similar gaffling and thus keeping the competition sound. The leading teams should be benefiting from the head to head up front anyway. If in doubt the organisers/ controller could delay some teams in the mini mass start for 2-5 minutes but best of all keep the course lengths shorter in the first place to achieve the stated winning times and don’t shorten the day jusdt because some teams may want to travel home early after the long weekend.
Conclusion. There must be a guideline and the best option is C 2 b. Now with two votes.

Posted by Dick Carmichael on 09th Jul 11 at 03:15 PM

Eleanor Pyrah says:

Here’s another vote for C2b. Also I very much agree with Dick about keeping the courses sufficiently short to avoid large numbers of competitors going in the MM starts. The aim should be for the leading teams in a class to run in a ‘proper’ relay, with the all their runners going one after the other, but if it so happens that a 3rd leg runner is slow and the team gets overtaken by another team involved in the MM start, then so be it.

Posted by Eleanor Pyrah on 09th Jul 11 at 04:53 PM

Lynne Walker says:

And another C2b vote! The timing of the mini mass starts is also something that has to be thought out carefully and clear announcements made about them. Ideally they should not be required but if, as was the case this year, the underfoot conditions change so drastically that runners take a much longer time then they are a way of bringing the timing back into something acceptable to the competitors.

Posted by Lynne Walker on 09th Jul 11 at 05:35 PM

Jon Musgrave says:

What proposals are you making for the junior relays.  As flagged up by Sarah Dunn, these are of a grossly under-technical standard.  They need to be moved up a grade so the juniors are running a more appropriate technical standard for their age.  We don’t have M55’s being told to run light green courses, so why are M/W16’s told to run Orange standard?

Posted by Jon Musgrave on 04th Sep 11 at 07:32 PM

Graeme Ackland says:

At the moment there are no proposals to change the junior relays.

M/W16s are not “told” to run Orange standard. M/W48 has two light greens and one orange.  Elite M16s can and should be running TD5 the open classes, as Chris Galloway did this year with notable success. Yes, there’s scope for a team of elite juniors to run down, but there *has* to be flexibility for weaker runners.  The age limits are generous, typically one notch lower than needed to avoid forcing people to run up (YYO = 12B/12B/14B ;  LOL = 16B/14B/16B).  In theory there’s probably a case for lowering to 38 and 46, but I don’t see any evidence that te system is being abused, and I’d rather give juniors the chance to enter something if their club don’t meet the demographics.

Probably the key disagreement I have with Sarah is where she says M/W40 is meant for 14/14/12.  It isn’t. It’s aimed at two yellow runners and and orange runner, e.g. three M12s, with the option for small clubs with only (say) weak 16/14/10 to join in without being noncomp or DQ.  Over the years club captains, Sarah included, have shown very good sense in not abusing this for a cheap victory.

It would be great in the ideal world where all clubs were as strong as MAROC and we can have 10 teams in a W16 relay.
Until we get there, people will just have to race those of similar ability, regardless of age.

There does seem to be a clamour to hold the event on areas where everyone has to run light green standard though.

Posted by Graeme Ackland on 04th Sep 11 at 10:19 PM

Roger Scrutton says:

I was the day organiser for the SRC this year.  It was an exceptional set of circumstances that contrived to make the courses tougher than they would normally have been.  Even on the day there was quite a lot of stress that had to be dealt with. I do not think we should embark on any major changes to the format and guidelines without taking the longer-term picture into consideration.  Almost certainly, because of changing age structure, the longer-term picture includes review of the individual handicap points and perhaps the TD of the courses we use alongside this.  However, the excitement of the event, both in the forest and in the arena is to have teams hard on the heels of one another, and therefore I’d be in favour of erring on the shorter side for leading times.  My view is that the overall structure is about right.  Reward for effort is very important and I believe there ought to be prizes for the handicap classes as well as the overall handicap trophy.  I would be sad to see the loss of the Womens Open by incorporating it into another class, especially as it is part of the UK Relay League which enhances the status of the event.

Posted by Roger Scrutton on 08th Sep 11 at 08:55 AM

Angela Dixon says:

Another one supporting C2b but preferring courses to be short enough for slower folk that mass starts aren’t needed for most folk. I’d also support junior teams being competitive even if composed of juniors from different clubs to get as many juniors as possible running relays. Adult teams could have 2 clubs and still be competitive provided they are only composed of 2 clubs so that more folk could compete and not for pothunting purposes.

Posted by Angela Dixon on 11th Sep 11 at 04:43 PM

Graeme Ackland says:

Roger:  Nobody is suggesting abolishing the women’s open, just changing the course to BCC.

Angela: that’s pretty much what the current rules are…

Teams comprising members of different clubs will normally be non-competitive, subject to rules covering “alliances” of neighbouring clubs… alliances of neighbouring clubs may be accepted at the organisers discretion.

Posted by Graeme Ackland on 11th Sep 11 at 07:02 PM

Pete Lawrence says:

As usual probably way behind the curve on this but for what it’s worth I’ve a request and an observation:

Request:  Reduce the winning times across the board to increase the chances of head-to-head racing for 2nd and 3rd leg competitors, increase activity around the changeover/finish area and therefore have a better ‘buzz’ throughout the competition and shorten the whole affair.

This is not in response to this year’s courses, I’ve often thought there’s way too much hanging around with nothing much going on an hour into the competition in previous years as well.

Observation:  What are the handicap relays for?  The Open classes are clearly to find the ‘champions’ and that’s easy to understand.  Of course, with only one class per sex, there’s no Junior or Veteran Relays Champions, does this matter?  The handicap system is obscure to many competitors (‘just tell me when to run and who’s in my team - the rest is too complicated’ is a common refrain heard prior to the event) and totally incomprehensible to outsiders and therefore there’s little cachet in being a 15+ (or whatever the right number is) champion.  The handicap system does seem to promote competition, which is fun but is it worthy of making ‘champions’?  I’d suggest we look at three championship classes for each sex and the handicap being merely for fun, in which case the angst over how they should be formatted may be reduced.

Posted by Pete Lawrence on 18th Sep 11 at 03:08 PM

Dick Carmichael says:

great comment! Agree entirely. However time is maybe running out for radical new initiatives !
1) relays should be shorter in length and more exciting- eg commentary, third leg gps tracking, large screen.
2) championships imply other competitions in same format we only have JK and British and 11 person and harvestor. all different teams format?
3) championships need age group purpose as well as handicap mop up. More active nation orienteers in age groups over 35 and under 21( maybe 75%) even in big membership clubs have no real SOA relay championship purpose? 

Radical suggestions for short term rules until we have 2000 plus not 500 plus in our clubs:
1) 2 person teams ?
2) husband/wife/partners ..spouses competition.
3) under 20, senior vets, super vets, M/W/M , W/M/W

Posted by Dick Carmichael on 18th Sep 11 at 06:32 PM

Angela Dixon says:

I think some of our club who are ambivalent about relays would not be happy with being GPS tracked or on the big screen, fine if you’re having a good run….

Posted by Angela Dixon on 18th Sep 11 at 09:13 PM

Graeme Ackland says:


Completely agree that there should be Veteran Relays Champions.  That’s why there are.

QUOTE:  “Classes are mens and womens open, juniors and a handicap system for veterans.”

The current vets champions are FVO:  Ben Stansfield/Jason Inman/Martin Dean

Posted by Graeme Ackland on 19th Sep 11 at 08:35 AM

Jason Inman says:

“The current vets champions are FVO:  Ben Stansfield/Jason Inman/Martin Dean”

Try getting this into your local paper - “FVO are veteran winners of the Handicap aged class…..”

As I’ve said before - we need proper names for relays - something that jo-public can understand.

Posted by Jason Inman on 19th Sep 11 at 09:44 AM

Graeme Ackland says:

You tell the paper that you’re Scottish Vets Relay Champions in Orienteering.  How is that hard to understand?

Chucking in a whole bunch of extraneous detail is being perverse: you wouldn’t describe Oleg as the champion at the 13.6km distance 33 control course.  He’s just Scottish Champion. 

And you wouldn’t describe me as the champion of the over 35s (excluding faster people aged between 40 and 45, but including those over 45)

Posted by Graeme Ackland on 19th Sep 11 at 10:22 AM

Jon Musgrave says:

I’m a little worried about the lack of interest in the junior classes at Scottish Relays.  The current combinations are very poor, the suggested options are that juniors can run 2 technical levels lower than their individual races.  how is this to inspire decent juniors?  The junior classes need to either change the courses so they more closely match the technical levels of the individuals age classes allowed or the age totals need to be changed to make the technical levels offered more appropriate.

Posted by Jon Musgrave on 19th Sep 11 at 11:35 AM

Andy Paterson says:

Assume Jon is talking about older juniors here. I think the relay question is a very complex one. Lots of different perspectives to accommodate. For most of us, the relay just ends up being the same as anyother individual race. Anything that can be done to increase the likelihood of me (ie not a likely winner) racing other people rather than just myself is a good thing. I suspect these days that means simplifying things to increase the numbers on each course.

Posted by Andy Paterson on 19th Sep 11 at 12:47 PM

Robin Strain says:

What about making day two of the Scottish Championships weekend the Scottish Middle Distance Mass Start Championships.
I think I am joking, but it would solve Andy’s problem.

Posted by Robin Strain on 19th Sep 11 at 01:47 PM

Mike Rodgers says:

I agree with Pete ref winning times, hanging around and handicaps that are of little interest to the bewildered masses. I suggest reducing from 9 to 7 classes:

Men’s elite (as it is now)
Women’s elite (ditto or whatever Graeme’s suggesting)
Men’s Open (20 mins winning time per leg TD5)
Women’s Open (ditto)
Junior Boys (2x light green and an orange or 1xLG 2xO)
Junior Girls (ditto)
Mini (3 x yellow)

Juniors running at TD5 simply join the open or elite teams. As a sacriligious 50+ I couldn’t care less about having veterans handicap classes that are meaningless to the uninitiated. I don’t expect to be taken seriously but honestly, I’d far rather be part of one big exciting race where and come nowhere than come near the top of some contrived handicap competition.

Posted by Mike Rodgers on 19th Sep 11 at 01:58 PM

Dick Carmichael says:

“The current vets champions are FVO:  Ben Stansfield/Jason Inman/Martin Dean”
1) Who are the current Women’s Vet champions? 
2) What are the mixed sexes club teams competing in/for?
3) How does this prepare Scotland for the 13 classes of the JK2012 relay ? eg W165+ W48-

Posted by Dick Carmichael on 19th Sep 11 at 05:55 PM

Angela Dixon says:

I would not favour seperate junior boys and girls teams, small clubs have enough difficulty getting a mixed team for kids, plus with prepubertal kids there isn’t much difference between the sexes.
I would probably keep the junior teams as they are, although I do wonder if by age 48- they should be running TD5, and wonder if we should have a 40- category and then have the same courses in 48- but without the age restriction so adult novices could compete as well. The current Scottish champs relay structure has nothing for adults who aren’t at TD5 yet, or who may be injured and not want a TD5 course.
The idea of just having 4 TD5 relay classes and doing away with the handicap system is appealling, as long as the legs of the open courses are short enough for older or less fit competitors.

Posted by Angela Dixon on 19th Sep 11 at 06:08 PM

Angela Dixon says:

Robin’s idea is attractive, and I suspect may appeal to my club more than a relay, we could have 3 or 4 mini-mass starts at 15 min intervals.

Posted by Angela Dixon on 19th Sep 11 at 06:10 PM

Sarah Dunn says:

So if we already have Veteran Relay Champions, what about Junior Relay Champions (16-20)? Isn’t that equally important? The year before last the “Veteran” handicap was won by Coombs senior, Dunn, and Coombs junior. So who won what then?

Posted by Sarah Dunn on 19th Sep 11 at 07:23 PM

Dick Carmichael says:

Robin. Great idea for a new format but are we not trying to agree on the relay ?
JK relay has 13 classes
JK Trophy L S L target 32,25,32 mins
Womens Trophy L S L target 32 27 32 mins
Mens short L S L 2/3 trophy distance TD5
Womens Short L S L 2/3 trophy distance TD5
Senior men 120+ L S L TD5
Veteran men 165+ L, S ,L TD5
Veteran women 165+ L,S, L TD5
Int Men 48- green orange green
Int Women 48- green orange green
Junior Relay M/W40- Orange yellow orange
Mini relay M/W12 and under yellow x 3
Mixed ad hoc   green green orange

At SOL 6 2011 we have today club particpants:
MAROC 64, GRAMP 46, ESOC 29, INT 27, INVOC 22,FVO 17, MOR 14, KFO 12 all others under 7
1) Surely we should pick and mix from our BOF partner’s International event selection rather than reinventing the wheel?
2) Who in SOA is in charge of growing small clubs, forming new ones and making events that undermine that process more user friendly.?
3) Great debate !

Posted by Dick Carmichael on 19th Sep 11 at 07:28 PM

Graeme Ackland says:

One more question for you to chew on…

How many teams do you need to make a relay class worthwhile?

Posted by Graeme Ackland on 19th Sep 11 at 08:20 PM

Graeme Ackland says:

This is rather super…

Posted by Graeme Ackland on 20th Sep 11 at 08:18 AM

Andy Paterson says:

Are you thinking along the lines of “How many teams usually enter?” and then divvying up the total into a suitable number of classes? That would sound sensible to me. But I’d change the question to course rather than class. No reason why some classes couldnt run on the same course is there?
At least 10 as a starter.

Posted by Andy Paterson on 21st Sep 11 at 09:11 AM


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