May – HKOC Night-O

May marked the end of the hectic period; one last task on hand was the night orienteering event organized by Hong Kong Orienteering Club.  Trevor Lam and I were assigned the task of course setting.

Due to our different personal schedules the work division was thus: Trevor plotted the control locations during March and April, while I took over the work and set the scores for each control (this being a score event), plus deciding which course difficulties will have which controls. I also had to tape the controls (for ease of placing markers on event day).

To decide the marks for each control seems to be like something of a bus tariff problem. I decided to use a system of concentric ring zones with incremental scores, adjusting for the difficulty of individual controls. Although the venue of the event, Aberdeen Reservoir, is known in the orienteering community as full of paths but lacking in passable woods, Trevor had “discovered” and mapped several very-difficult-to-pass paths,  some on the hill ridge and some leading to deep river valleys. Such paths had greatly increased the excitement of the orienteering event (and are very good traps for orienteers!). The decision of the score values was somewhat an arbitrary one, one that was however quite funny even for me, some sort of a “loud bang” – the six score tiers were 10, 20, 30, 50, 80, 130, derived from the Fibonacci sequence (yes). One advantage that came with it was that far-away or very difficult controls were correspondingly very rewarding. According to testimonies of start officials at the event, the competitors were surprised when they saw the score tiers (very good!). :ppp

The next step is to decide which course difficulties take which control. I attempted this by grouping nearby controls in three to five, and solve the problem group after group. Trevor subsequently modified the outcome to optimize.

Taping was no enjoyable task; the wet summer is a deterrent to long trips in the hills. My long time fear of snakes did not help either. I was fearful enough to find my dad to accompany me on the taping trip. Even so, the task had to be separated in two days.

The event went very smoothly, thanks to the hard work of all officials. But to carry out field patrolling work in the summer heat was no comfortable task, the darkness of the night complicating it. My thighs were “baked” in my shorts long enough to give skin pain. Nevertheless, it was a proud experience to see the successful implementation of previous work.


Since Monday (9th June) I have been going on a two-month long vacation that will bring me to Germany, Estonia, Austria, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Hungary. I am now in Berlin, staying in a hostel near the Greifswalder Strasse S-Bahn station (on the Ringbahn). This is my second time in Berlin, during which I will attend a concert of the Berliner Philharmoniker performing Mahler’s 3rd Symphony (conducted by Gustavo Dudamel!). Next week I will be in Tallinn for a 6-day orienteering series, the Tallinn O-Week. I will talk more about orienteering in Tallinn by then.


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