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Manchester & District
Orienteering Club

Virtual controls are here!

A whole new world beckons. No more putting out controls and no more collecting them. Downloads are direct to the internet. All you need is an App called MapRun.

Peter Ross explains ...

01st May 18

What is a virtual control?

At present a control is a white and orange kite stuck in the ground on a cane with something that allows an orienteer to record his or her visit.

Many years ago that ‘something’ used to be a clipper with pins to pierce a pattern onto a control card. A technological breakthrough came with the introduction of waterproof Tyvek control cards. No more soggy cardboard.

A further, huge breakthrough came with electronic punching: the ‘something’ became an electronic box of tricks that recognised a dibber - and vice versa. A whole new world opened up: no fixed start times, no manned controls. Splits!

The kite, box and dibber are all physical, but a virtual control is not. It is no more than the position of a control contained as data in a smartphone App downloaded from the internet. The App constantly compares its actual location - taken from the smartphone’s GPS facility - with that of the control, or in the case of a score event, many controls. Once a relevant pair coincide the App does the same job of recording the relevant details of the visit as a box and dibber. As it ‘punches’ there is a ‘beep’ and on the screen, the purple control circle turns green.

So there is no need for any of the physical stuff at the control site. Indeed, there is no need for any physical computing at registration or indeed anywhere else. After the run the App is used to upload the details, via the internet, to the Event Results.

Another whole new world beckons. No more putting out controls and no more collecting them. Downloads are direct to the internet. Dare I say it, we will also have the freedom to run some events whatever day it pleases.

How do I find and run in a virtual event ?

You need the App. It is called MapRun and there are Android and Apple versions. It’s free.

Once the App has been installed it is easy to search for and download an event. Look for the UK folder, and then Manchester. You will find six events based very much on two recent NSL events (Fallowfield and Sale West) plus four GMOA permanent courses (Heaton Park, Chorlton Water Park, Wythenshawe Park and Lyme).

For, now all the events have been set up as 75 minute scores.

You will need a pin number to run the course. You will also need a paper map and control descriptions. 

When you are ready to run, stand at least 30m away from the Start. You do not need the internet at this point, just use the App to call up the previously downloaded event and start the GPS. Walk towards the Start. When you hear the App beep and see the clock start you’re good to go.

The first control visited enables the Finish control to function, and the Finish only works once. So, having visited one control, don’t go near the Finish unless you want to finish.

You will need the internet to download and view your time and splits.

Want to find out more ?

Read Peter's presentation:

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