ISSOM aid – Passable/Do not pass


The above item appeared in the June 2016 issue of Sportsoho, a sport magazine in Hong Kong. Here I will not recall the circumstances behind this appearance, as I consider this case-closed (fellow orienteers will know; I have no grievances on this issue and I shall not discuss that again). However, I find it highly opportunate to explain how this item came into being.

Experienced orienteers will certainly get what information it reveals. (For the uninitiated: it shows which features you are allowed or not allowed to pass through, under the ISSOM rules, the rules that are in force in a sprint orienteering race. A sprint orienteering race is one that is usually held in cities and parks, that uses a 1:4000 or 1:5000 map, in contrast to races held in forests. By “not allowed” it means you get disqualified upon caught trespassing.)

I am not sure if there are any precedents in Hong Kong or elsewhere, although in Norway they have a “fair play” box on the map wherein impassable features are listed with crosses (search for maps from the famous Bergen Sprint Camp).

The impetus behind its creation was a need to differentiate the “Passable”/”Do no pass” symbols quickly during a sprint race. Characteristics to be distinguished include line width and colour. It can also render help to a competitor new to this orienteering format, or have difficulties differentiating these symbols. Although not initially the intention, a local orienteering coach has noted that it is currently used by coaches to teach ISSOM passability rules to children.

I designed this for a sprint map of Tseung Kwan O in April last year, and has included this in every sprint map I published since (most are for MetOC but some are for HKCEO and the aforementioned TKO map was for HKOC).

Ironically, I was disqualified in an important race last year because I trespassed an olive-yellow zone without even knowing. This has been a major blow to my motivation to compete ever since (combined with other factors such as coursework pressure). Perhaps prolonged orienteering fervour is not psychologically healthy and needs a rest.

The greatest thing I have learned from the ISSOM aid, however, is that you don’t often realize your full influence/contribution; keep on creating/innovating and you’ll be recognized and rewarded some day in the future.


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