course planning resources
"I am still learning." Michelangelo
Nothing makes so big an impact on orienteers' enjoyment than the quality of the courses they are given to run. To help course planners be good ones, here are some resources to help you set fun, fair, and challenging courses.
Note that although many countries use different terminology & color schemes to refer to courses and technical difficulties, this lack of standardization should not cause any serious confusion for we students of course planning.
From the UK
The British Orienteering Federation's website has a number of good course planning resources on their "Event Information" page. Some of the best include:
- Setting junior courses - an excellent series by Barry Elkington.
- Insights into Sprint orienteering
- General and thorough overview of the planning process by Graham Nilsen
Splitting techniques to avoid pack formation
- Brian Mee's Map Design: A guide to good looking maps
- Adrian's Map Layout Checklist
- Adrian's Map Layout elements
Printing the courses
Once the courses are designed then the next challenge faced by Course Planners is how to print the course maps, maintaining precise colors (as per ISOM/ISSOM specifications), crisp lines and edges, correct symbol sizes, legibility, and proper over-print effect (so that the purple lines don't completely obscure map detail underneath them). The ideal situation is to use offset printing, however this is far too expensive for almost all events with under (say) one thousand participants. The challenge, then, is to simulate as closely as possible the look of offset printing but using cheaper technology such as inkjet printers, laser printers, or digital printers. The main concerns stem from limits that printers have generating specific colors and their resolution (dpi) (i.e. how to get symbols' sizes within the specified tolerances). These issue manifest themselves in line quality, symbol size, color accuracy, legibility, and over-print effects.
Making high quality course prints is surprisingly difficult and gets into many complicated issues involving computer color management. Here are a number of resources that will help you navigate through the challenges:
- Orienteering Australia's Printing Orienteering Maps - great overview of the issues, with many good links
- Orienteering Australia's Simple Guide to achieving best Digital print - simple step by step instructions using Condes or OCAD
- CONDES' Color Printing - made simpler. Specific for Condes 8, which uses Windows' Color Management system with vastly improved results.
- IOF's Guidelines for using non-offset printed maps in World Ranking Events - how to obtain approval for non-offset printed maps for IOF-sanctioned events (i.e. WRE races)
- IOF's PrintTech project - an overview of printing options. Perhaps a little bit out of date, but full of great information. Includes the PrintTech Test Sheet - something everyone should have a copy of!
From Adrian Zissos
- My IOF Event Advisor report from the 2008 Canadian Sprint Distance Champs, describing our use of the IOF's experimental sprint rules.
- PowerPoint presentation from the 2008 COF Conference session on Course Planning at the 2008 Canadian Champs in New Brunswick.
- A description of the 2001 Barebones Course Planning Contest with good tips about how to set enjoyable, fair, and challenging courses.
Course Planning Software
- Condes is my tool-of-choice for course planning. It provides superb features that support the entire course planning process, and many different course types (point-to-point, score-O, butterflies, relays, ski-O, mtbO, TrailO). Plus it has great map layout features and allows use of multiple maps (eg: maps created at different scales) for the same event.
- Here is a Condes tutorial in pdf format
- Here is the same tutorial, as a web-based document in the Condes online help.
- Play a game that can help optimize control pickup planning (you may need to hit "Refresh" a few times).
If you have suggestions for other course planning resources to include on this page, please email them to adrian 'at' barebones.ca