Friendly Encounters (includes graphs)

There’s a lesson to be learned in everything. It’s not always a good lesson, but the experience should be worth something. In orienteering, it’s well said that mistakes are the best way to learn.

We made a mistake today. A U-turn at traffic lights in Poland, straight into the waiting arms of the Police. Fearing the worst, we were surprised to be greeting by a round grinning face, who clearly understood the embarrassed expressions on our faces. Of course, a Norwegian registration plate probably means the occupants don’t speak Polish. He greeted us in English. A brief telling off for the U-turn, for which we received a warning, luckily. He kept us for 10minutes giving us directions to a shopping centre where we could buy food. He was clearly keen to practise English!

It’s been a busy few days. Just endless alpine passes, motorways and Polish roads. If you’ve ever driven in Poland, you will understand. At one time it was nice asphalt. Now, with several thousand heavy vehicles transporting goods to and from Russia each day, they are pitted and scarred. Everything shakes. Occasionally there’s a larger bump to break the monotony.

We stopped in Liberec, Czech, to ride the courses from the WRE a month ago (a big thank you to the organisers for providing us with the maps). Beautiful forests and fast riding. It was great, and I even managed to beat HJ on two of three intervals! It took 11 hrs to drive there from Italy, and then another 8 hrs to get to Warsaw. We stayed just east of the city and rode on a map I found on the internet some years ago. It seems to be well used for local Warsaw MTBO and rogaining races. Unsure of the scale we thought it would be a good place for training. Unfortunately the map was a little too out of date and the navigation technique most used was ‘fill in the blanks’. A slight guessing game at times, but nice to stretch our legs after so much travelling. Dotted paths were fast. Medium tracks; slow, and anything else was wet!

MTBO intervals in Liberec from WRE in early July. Start – 4 (9.28), 6 – 12 (13.38) and 12 – 17 (7.50) were race speed.

This weekend, we hope to be in Belorussia for the WRE events. ‘Hope’ is the operative word as we have just one day in Bialystok to get the visas. It will be fun to race in Belarus, our first races since Sweden. Our intervals on Wednesday were really good so it will be exciting to the race some of the Russians there and experience a small corner of a new country.

I was however, incredibly bored on the drive. HJ wanted to listen to his Norwegian audiobook, so I was left for hours just sitting in silence. In this silence, my mind wandered, and I started to consider the red group start possibilities for WOC. This year, we have four Finns and three Russians in the top ten. The other three are individual nations: CZE, GBR and SWE.

I started to wonder whether any start position in this top ten was more or less likely than the others given that no two athletes from the same nation can start consecutively. After extensive Excel analysis of about 2500 different possible nation start lists for the Red Group (RG) (yes there are more than 2500 different national combinations for the start list, and I calculated them all!), I reached the following probabilities:

  • The Finns have the highest probability of starting first or last in the RG at 12.8%, while the individuals (IND) have the lowest at 7.4%.
  • The second and second last start places are most likely to go to Russia at 11.7% while the Finns had the lowest at 8.3%.
  • The third and third last start places are most likely to go to the individuals at 11.1% and least likely to go to the Russians at 9.2%.
  • The remaining start places are fairly equal between all three groups.

I even made a useful graph to demonstrate the probability! (I was really bored). An individual nation can still be seeded to start last, but the likelihood is far less than if a Finn gets that position. Now it will be fun to see the actual start lists…

Start position probability per nation in Red Group for WOC 2014

Start position probability per nation in Red Group for WOC 2014

 

 

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