When you start orienteering, missing points (mp) are not really something you stress about, and go more like “ok, yeah, now that I see, I really didn’t go to that control” and you figure you’ll pay more attention next time and don’t worry anymore about it because it was so fun anyways.
But then you get more and more experienced and look at an event truly as a race and as a competition, so now you’re getting to know who’s who, the more frequent orienteers, the familiar faces and those that are at the same class and level as you. That’s when those damned mps start to get more annoying!
If you haven’t come to that yet, beware. If you have, that’s when you start to feel like a true orienteer!
It comes to the point when you end a race, take a breath, drink some water and that tingling and very tiny fear on the back of your head takes over as you approach your Sport ID to that box on the table where the “tech guys” are sitting behind the computers and “judging your performance” (I know it’s stupid because they’re not but it feels that way).
They are the ones that see it first, even before the printer spits out your blunder or your glory. I sometimes look at them to see if a frown is shown a few seconds before I get to see it for myself on that little piece of paper, but most of the times they keep their mysterious poker faces…
When I take it out of the printer, I don’t care about the time, I don’t care about position, hell! I don’t even care if my name is right or not! I’m just SEARCHIN’ for those evil mps!!
No mps!! The happiest person alive for a fraction of a second because then I get to see all the other crap I did in the race, but at least it’s not all lost. Better to do a not so good score than to score those embarrassing 10 points for a missing point (**)! I think the guy that invented the 10 points rule for a missing point is actually a sadist! I think he was smirking all the way through that like “here you go, take these lousy 10 points for your brilliant race! NOT!”
As you have guessed by now, yep, I’ve got my share of mps, and surely there will be still a few (or as lot) to come! I don’t believe there is one orienteer in the world that hasn’t had that experience and there isn’t one that won’t have it again. It’s a part of orienteering, I know… not all is fun.
I still remember (it’s actually very well carved into my brain) my last major blunder, 2 years ago in my first Porto City Race right at the end of the race, with only 3 controls till the last one, where I passed a control and though “this must be it” without checking the map. That city race was a long run that went through Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, on the southern bank of the Douro river, and to finish off like that!… well, to say the least it was a big disappointment.
Even a few weeks ago at this year’s (again) Porto City Race, I was almost doing exactly the same thing, but the whistles and bells all rang in time and only lost a couple of positions on the final standings (check out that post).
No matter how good or how bad your orienteering is or how experienced you are, missing points are a fact of life for any orienteer. I stress a bit about them mostly because 99% of the time they’re my own fault, but what da heck! What’s life without a bit of fright to keep the edge, right?
** In Portuguese events and the City Race Euro Tour, 10 points is the usual “compensation” for a missing point result. It may be different where you’re from.