Saturday, May 9, 2009

Some thoughts about Dolomites Terrain

So i'm sitting here having a look at one of the maps from Italy and thought i would share what I'm thinking. Will be very stream of consciousness and feedback would be great if you think there are things I'm missing from the terrain, or ways i could improve my theoretical orienteering. For those of you that are non-orienteers can act as a guide through what we do.

San Martino - Sud
Supposedly similar to the long terrain. Straight away hit by the steepness of the area. Some sections would be unrunable. Vegetation, lots of changes, will be important to get a mental picture of green vs white vs yellow in the training weeks. Tracks everywhere, look fast and good for contouring as they hold height pretty well. Rock detail seems to have lots of cliffs with lots of individual boulders. 1:10,000.

The course, which is from the website so i guess could potentially represent the style they are going for at JWOC. Has a basic format of tight loops of controls linked by longer transit legs. The transit legs have most of the route choice and some tricky control approaches too. Im thinking key techniques; contouring, compass, height control. A bit of bravery could come in handy with a couple of the route choices having long wide routes to avoid substantial climb. I think that this will be pivotal in the races, getting the choice right and not haemorhaging minutes on a long leg. 1,3, 10, 16 all have nice attackpoints off tracks. 5 through 8 could be from an hb map and if the open really is fast and open could be very fast (and steep!). Slumpy area around 12, 13 has caught my eye, a break from the slope that would need a switch from contouring into a detail and compass focussed technique. Lots of form line detail, so subtle. Lots of small clearings too, wonder how well these are mapped...

Route choice, looking 8 to 9. My initial call on the route choice is leftish of straight. Down the open, down steep gully with creek, up to opposite track then up the ascending track to the road and along that to attack up off the boulder cluster in the clearing by the road corner. Safe route choice with track running. Looking more closely and centre right looks on too; bomb down the big slope on the red line then around the base to the pond on the road then ascending up ticking off boulders from near the intersection south of the control. I think trying to hold height on this leg involves too much deviation to the left. Any one got any other routes?

Also 15 to 16. Im for dropping straight into main gully then up track leftish of center, over the rough open and down the gully left of the red line taking care to turn early and not overshoot the control. attacking the control is the risky part of the leg, especially with the green.

Thats what i think. Have a look below and see what you think.


  1. I have run this course! =) or part of it (shorted it down from 8th to 12th). The boys run the whole race. and the route choice 8 to 9, if I remember right your second proposal (the one around the base to the pond) was the best one! But I think the most important is that you found a way there you can run fast, both up for the hills, and down the hills. And down the hills - found away with the right steep so you can run, and often is better to run on ridges than the depressions (there it is alot of grass). the small clearings can be difficult to see, they consist of grass, and because of that they are not so fast to run on.

    On the whole it's really fun orienteering, and sometimes it's much difficult than you think, so be aware! I am sure that you will enjoy Italy and the orienteering there! You can't do other than love it! =) Keep the good work up! And hope to see you in Italy :D

  2. Hey Tom (and others),
    The map looks cool. A lot like the ones we had in JWOC in Switzerland. With the long route choices it's best to look at the control first and the best place to attack from. That way you can then plot your route choice from there. I drew my routes on here for 8-9 and 15-16, cos I hate trying to explain it :)
    From 8-9 I think you want to avoid 'bombing' straight down that steep slope. I have a feeling it's a lot steeper and rockier than what you'd expect to see in NZ. The track to the right is good (I think faster too). You can run hard and don't have to read your map much, and you don't risk breaking your ankle (or your neck). Next you want to attack the control from the top of the clearing where it shos and you have some big rocks to guide you straight there. It's all on tracks so you can run hard the whole way with no steep ass climb at the end.
    15-16 it's kind of unavoidable that you have to go straight down and up that track. I think I would opt for running along that big track for a while and attack the control from above those cliffs. This way your attack point is much closer and safer and you can again run hard the whole way (and read ahead for the next tricky controls).
    Hope this helps!

  3. A couple of comments to you all. I've run in the Dolomites a few times including a 3 day in Trentino on maps exactly like this one (maybe I should dig mine out...).

    Underfoot in the forest can be heavy going sometimes - as in Scandinavia with blueberry-like plants. At other times soft and sometimes leafy underfoot depending on the tree type. Not really too rocky anyway.

    The light green generally isn't too bad although the forest in general can be a bit scrappy. The darker green gets worse the later in the summer.

    Remember that often more important than picking the right route-choice is executing the route-choice you choose correctly. It's few route-choices which ever make more than 1-2 mins difference even in extreme terrain like this.

    In choosing any long route-choice, try and take any steep slope longer than about 5-10 contours on an angle. You can then keep the speed up...

    The biggest time loss risk in this terrain is looking for controls on these steep slopes. It's really easy to lose 2-3 minutes or even more here. It's worth taking an extra 15-30secs on these legs getting them right - then run faster on other parts of the course. (I remember making some bad mistakes here - it was not a successful 3-day).

    Alistair L.