Road to WOC #2: Snap of the cartographic works

10. 2. 2021


Road to WOC. Part 2 of the new series brought to you by the WOC 2021 crew and is ready. Today we will give you a snap of the cartographic works. What is the status of the map preparations? How many km2 have been mapped for the WOC? Read and learn the answers directly from the WOC head cartographer Aleš Hejna. 


What is the difference between map creation for WOC and the “usual” events? 

More work to do (laughing). Especially given the area: it has been 32 km2 in total that we prepared for both forest and sprint disciplines. There were 10 places together, 10 projects (and many more will be printed). Such a huge area asks for a systematic approach and a head cartographer position that I took in the end of 2018. 

As a head cartographer I have been responsible for coordination of map creation in various terrains, unified map conception, communication with course setters, sport director, controlors. 

I want to emphasize that I am just a small part in a perfectly working team of WOC organizers. Given the total area prepared, I mapped only a part and I put most emphasis on the coordination works. 

There are eight map makers in total: Zdeněk Sokolář, Honza Drbal, Tom Novák and myself mapped the sandstone areas. Granite terrains in the Jizera Mountains were the responsibility of Matěj Klusáček, Jirka Vištejn and Petr Mareček. Sprint maps were prepared by Radek Novotný and myself. 


What is the current status of WOC maps? What processes are remaining?

All the maps are almost ready. Now we will fine tune them before the championships, enter the recent changes or add the “buffer zones” according to the course setter needs. 

In the spring, we will review all the terrains. The plan is that each part of the terrain will be checked by someone other than the map maker and this will give us valuable feedback. Another important part will also be the cooperation with course setters who see the maps from a different perspective.


How was the mapping influenced by the pandemic?

Surprisingly, in a positive way (smiling). At least in my case. I spent more time in Czechia which I could use on the WOC preparations. I ran away from everything and enjoyed all the time in the forests because there has been quite a gloomy atmosphere all around.


One of the WOC partners is also OCAD. How did you use the software and in what ways did it help you?

OCAD is an invaluable help. I have been using it since 1995 when I created my first orienteering map. Those days OCAD 5 was distributed on a diskette! It is great that there is a cartographic program for orienteering that flexibly adapts to technological development as well as the new discipline creation. 

OCAD works perfectly with base preparation. In a short while it generates a hillshade, slope gradient or contour lines out of the laser data. It can also download the orthophoto. All packed together and you can set out to the terrains. 

Not all OCAD features are popular among map makers. One of the bogeys is the Check  Legibility. OCAD can match the whole map with the current map specification. It displays all the places which violate minimal object size or minimal distance among them. For the head cartographer, however, this is a blessing. You immediately see the areas where more generalization is needed. 

Some of the map makers also used Open Orienteering Mapper which is great for work in terrain with a tablet. 


You mentioned that you had laser data for mapping. It was a piece of cake then…?

There are laser pictures of the whole Czech Republic at disposal, so there is a 3D model of our whole country. However, the picture quality is variable. It depends a lot on the vegetation density. There are many cloven beeches in the deep sandstone ravines that slow down the laser rays. In these areas the contour lines were often broken. In these areas we had to do a lot of measurments. 

Another important aspect was also generalization. That is always tough in sandstones and rocky areas in general. Map specifications set both minimal rock size and minimal distance between them. Ideally, rocks are distinct and passages between them well readable on the map. However, there is a limited space on the map and the mapper has to balance these all the time. 


Do you have any mapping statistics for WOC 2021?

During the WOC mapping I climbed up Mount Everest! And almost passed the whole length of Czechia. Having the GPS on all the time I know that in total I climbed up almost 11 thousand meters and covered 415 kilometres by walk. I believe that this will be similar for all the WOC mappers. 


In 2020, three sprint races were added to the WOC program. Did it complicate the time schedule for mapping? 

It was mapped quite fast but to plot all the information to the map, that was a fiddly job. But I think we did it well. Christer Carlsson, chairperson of IOF Map Commission who evaluated the sprint maps declared: “The technical check gives no complaints, it looks really good, this is the first time I have no complaints at all to a sprint map.”


How would You define the WOC terrains with one word?

Challenging! The terrains are difficult and will be a challenge for all athletes. At the same time, they are beautiful and belong to the most interesting terrains we have in Czechia. 


Thank you for the interview! 

Aleš Hejna (1978) is a graduate engineer in economics. Since 2003 he has been mapping professionally. He created maps for WOC 2005 in Japan, WMOC 2005 in Canada or WOC 2010 in Norway. He was a member of IOF Map Commission between 2006 and 2015 and a member of ČSOS Map Council between 2002 and 2017.