Category Archives: O Geekery

Scottish CompassSport Cup Heat

Last Sunday was the Scottish heat for the CompassSport cup. ESOC have a love/hate relationship with this event, we love to enter it and win the heat but have in recent years failed to get a team to go to the final. This has usually been down to the distance to travel as the final is usually held in deepest, darkest England. This year the final is in Scotland, only an hour or so South of Edinburgh. As a result of this we were keen to qualify but then so were the other clubs! This resulted in 3 clubs vying for a single spot in the final; ESOC, GRAMP and MAROC. We knew it was going to be a close run thing so Crawford had rallied the troops in order to get a strong team to show and we were quietly confident…

I was running the brown course (Open Men basically) and knew with a good run I could possibly sneak the 100 points for the win which would have helped as us fast ‘young men’ are not a strong point in ESOC. I actually had a fairly inconsistent run. Loads of mistakes in the circle cost me lots of time. Looking at the Overall Results I should have been more than capable of being around the same time as Roger Goddard. Because there are two competitions in points for the Brown Cup course I would have been very happy with 2nd (no idea who this Felix chap is, he’s quite fast) but am much less happy with 6th.

I videod the whole thing, again trying to play with my new headcam to try and figure it out. Bonus points if you watch it all ;)

The good thing is that we qualified! It was a very very close thing with only a few points between ourselves and MAROC. A bit of recalculation shows that the result could have been very very different very very easily. We will see all those pesky English teams in the final! :)

GoPro camera and my latest geekery

I have been meaning to get a headcam for a while now, but watching the XGames a few weeks ago made me want one even more! They filmed some very cool footage there, mostly made even more cool by how steady the camera was which was always going to be a problem for a running based sport. Nevertheless I decided it was time to get one so I splurged on the new GoPro Hero2. Then I rocked around the ESOC Sprint O with it attached to my head (albeit at a really crappy angle, sorry!).GoPro Hero2

As the angle the camera needs to be at isn’t something I’ve perfected yet I decided not to upload any files that were too large, so the quality isn’t great. Thankfully attackpoint has a really great feature of being able to link your gps data to both a youtube video and a QuickRoute map which then gets overlaid onto Google Earth. You can see this for the ESOC Sprint O here: Prologue and Chase

The other thing I experimented with was the nifty bit of software Jarkko (of Routegadget fame) wrote to combine the video with a map overlay. I definitely didn’t get the config quite right but as it takes time to process I didn’t want to do it all again with such a rubbish quality video. It also makes use of a VirtualDub plugin called Deshaker to remove the shakiness of the video at the expense of adding a black border that wobbles about. I think it makes it much more viewable but it’ll be way more effective when I get a better camera angle.

I really just bought this as a toy and something to analyse my orienteering. I can think of a view other uses though.. I’d like to create some sort of promotional video (who for, I don’t know, ESOC?) with filming from the St Andrews weekend. I’m also keen to try out the WiFi addon for it that comes out later this year. Live streaming to the arena at O races, anyone?

In other news I set a new 5k PB at the Edinburgh parkrun last week, 18.59. Not super fast but definitely something to step forward from, especially as I now have a place in the Great North Run in September to look forward to!

Return to running?

It’s been a busy summer / autumn thus far!

Earlier on this year, after spending most of the spring out with a calf injury, both my knees ‘went’ at about the same time and things got a bit depressing on the running front.  After my usual physio left the practice I went to I set off in search of someone new and did not go back to the same practice.  I guess it was partly my attitude towards the whole thing, combined with a near on 4 week holiday to the US, but it all resulted in no training and no racing, and pain whenever I tried to walk/run.  So on return from my holiday I decided to make amends and went back to FASIC.  Nearly a month later and after religiously sticking to my ITB/adductor strengthening exercises I was almost pain free and have been doing some shortish runs mixed in with some cross training (bike and cross trainer).  I’ve run in a few orienteering events which has felt amazing!

In other news I was heavily involved in the Park World Tour event, I organised a lot of the IT behind event including; timing sytems, lightgate finish, live results (at my new site!), big screen overlays, radio controls, commentary.  It was really amazing to see some of the top athletes praise our efforts, not only mine but Scott Fraser as organiser and Graeme Ackland as planner (as well as all the others involved in the event).  Øystein Kvaal Østerbø (1st) and Graham Gristwood (2nd) wrote about the event on his blog.  I would love to see WOC come to Scotland in 2015, we would do an amazing job of it.  I jogged around the men’s course both days, some of my first runs back, which I enjoyed immensely.

I was also involved in the timing of both the ESOC weekend and JEC last weekend in Fife.  It was amazing to be involved in a race in the town where I went to University.  I spent 4 years there wishing there was an O map and now there is!  I ran the short course, probably slightly harder than I should have, and enjoyed it so so much.  I had a clean race but lost around 1minute on a route choice I knew was bad but I wanted to see the bit it went through (normally private property so I never went there!), I ended up with the fastest time on the short which proves I can still do this orienteering lark but I want to be competitive on the long course.  I ran the Green course at Tentsmuir on Sunday which was amazing, to be back running in a forest with a map in hand is just where I want to be.  My calf has been a little sore after these runs but that’s to be expected after months of doing nothing about it, I have spoken to my physio again and am confident I can overcome that hurdle soon enough. Onwards and upwards!

I’ll start writing more about races and doing maps/gps tracks again when I’m feeling a bit more competitive and have some more time, watch this space.

As part of my venture I’ve set up a site to showcase my skills as a developer and this will be where any technical blog related stuff will go, it’s called – I love the design! :D

Orienteering Geekery

Orienteering is a sport in which it is very easy to become obsessively geeky over.  SI punching, GPS and the growth of the internet have all contributed towards made this easier than ever, taking the conversations along the lines of “how did you get from control X to control Y” to a whole new level.  At a very informal local event recently I was surprised at how fast I’d run compared to others (a somewhat unusual situation) and as there was no punching I used my gps trace to check I’d been to all the controls!  I use various tools to log and analyse my orienteering / training so thought I’d share them all here!


The catalyst to all this geekery is undoubtedly my wrist-worn GPS.  I use a Garmin Forerunner 305.

Garmin Forerunner 305

I like this device, it’s easy to use and has some nice tools, when I’m just running I use it for pacing but more importantly (for me anyway) is for orienteering analysis (mostly in QuickRoute, below).  My Dad has a 405 which is smaller, sleeker and meant to be more advanced, but I found it somewhat painful to use.  I’ll be sticking to my chunkier, uglier but easier to use 305 for now.  I use a bit of software called SportTracks to analyse and store all the data from it. I don’t use SportTracks much as I have other tools I’m about to explain that I use a lot more, but it’s a nice place to store data from the GPS device.  I also have a heart rate monitor I wear with this, but I rarely analyse this data.


QuickRoute is an excellent piece of software developed by a top Swedish orienteer – Mats Troeng. It allows the user to superimpose their GPS route onto an orienteering map.  After scanning (or obtaining from the organisers) your map you can create a new QuickRoute file by selecting the map and the GPS route directly from your device.  You then need to match the route to the course, the vast majority of the time this is very simple as GPS is very accurate, it is made even easier if you take splits at each control (I always seem to forget) as these are displayed.  The ‘line’ displayed on the map shows your pace by default (as a colour, red for slow going through to green for fast) and you can change lots of settings to do with this or even change the line to show your heart rate or other such numbers.

Here’s an example of a gps trace from a recent event I attended:

Barr Wood QuickRoute

If you open the above you will see the route from the start, through the controls and to the finish (eventually).  You can see I made mistakes at numbers 3 and 14, just before the control.  I also made a mistake coming out of number 7 and got stuck in the thick forest for some time.

There are some excellent new developments with QuickRoute, you can import any file generated by it as all the data is stored within the image file itself which is great for analysing routes from other people.  It also means you don’t need to save any of the data yourself, if you have the image you’re good to go!  Another is integration with Google Earth where you can overlay the map onto the actual terrain so you can visualise the hills in intricate detail!  The final thing is that Mats has released the code as open source, on Google Code, it’s written in C# so I probably won’t be offering any assistance but I certainly wouldn’t mind a look at some point!


DOMA, or Digital Orienteering Map Archive, is another excellent piece of software from Mats, though rather being a desktop application, this is a web application you need to install yourself.  You can access my install here.  This is a simple but highly effective place to store my map files, most of which I generate using QuickRoute.  One of the best features of this is a web service which allows you to upload files directly from QuickRoute without having to create the image file, log in to DOMA, upload the file… It does it all in one click!

I really like this tool, it takes away the pain of dealing with uploads through ftp, creating links and all the other drudgery that comes with website maintenance.


I’ve been using Attackpoint for a year and half now, and it has completely changed my approach to orienteering.  It’s an online training diary built by an enthusiastic American orienteer, Ken Walker Jr.  I had heard about it prior to using but never really thought about even keeping a training diary.  Between leaving University at the end of 2004 and the start of 2008 I didn’t really orienteer that much and when I did I was a bit crap as I hadn’t been training.  So after attending (and loving) the JK2008 I decided to put a bit more energy into orienteering and actually see if I could get half-decent at it, attackpoint was a major catalyst in this process.  It adds a’peer pressure’ aspect to training that I’ve never really had before having never been part of a regular training group.  This might sound a bit odd a concept but basically I’m a lazy lazy person, I love orienteering and I love running but unless I have good reason to do it… I won’t!  So this helped coerce me into doing more, I love it!  Injury (see previous post) is the worst thing about it though as all you want to be doing is getting out there and doing some training, but I seem to be becoming less injured as time goes on (sitting on your arse for 3 years is bad, kids)

At the moment I sometimes write a bit about the races I run in Attackpoint but I’m thinking I might alter my approach and write a blog entry for each race (or race weekend if it’s a smaller thing) and link to that from Attackpoint, we’ll see how it goes!