What is a
Farsta? Think of a relay. The farsta is a
start event. You do two or more loops. But, instead of changing runners,
the same person does every loops. During the course of the
loops, you will go through some shared controls. That is, on each loop,
you will visit some of the same controls you visited the time before.
But, you will enter them from different controls and leave them for
By the time you complete the entire course (all loops), you will
have run exactly the same legs as everybody else on your course. But,
you will do the legs in a different order from most other runners. There
can be 8, 16, 32 or even more different combinations!
The best way to understand is to look at the example below. This
course has two loops. You might start out to control 1A. About half
of your competitors will also be going to 1A. But the other half will be
going to 1B. So, if you randomly follow someone else, you might end
up at the wrong control.
After 1A or 1B, everyone comes back together at control 2. From
there, your next control might be 3C. Again, about half the competitors
will head to 3C and half to 3D. But, you do not know who will be doing
what. The person who just ran with you to 1A and 2 might now be doing
the "D" segment instead of "C". Follow him or her and all hope is lost!
illustration by Mike Minium in ocad 5
Not all Farsta courses are this simple. For example, segment A might
have 3 controls while segment B has only one. Sometimes there are 3 loops
instead of 2. But, generally speaking, we try to keep the lengths of each loop
very close to the same. Within the loop, each pair of segments is usually fairly
close to the same length. Since this is a mass start event, each time you see
a competitor, you can guess that they are fairly close to your pace. So, it is
a head to head competition, but the ability to follow is removed by the
forking. You get the thrill of head to head competition, but still must do
your own navigation.
When the Farsta is used with electronic punching, the computer has been
programmed to match your specific map. It is very important that you pick
up the correct map at the map exchange. If you use the wrong map or just
follow another competitor, the computer will catch you!
Why is it called a Farsta? Farsta is a town in Sweden where this type of
event originated. I believe the Norwegians call it something else, which
they claim to have invented.
Farsta or Motala? A Motala is similar, but once you start a loop, you are
doing the same complete loop as other runners who have started the same loop.
In a Motala, you generally do not visit the same control in more than one loop.
For a Motala, maps can be prepared in batches. For a Farsta, each map (or a
very small number of identical maps) must be prepared individually. Motala is
also a town in Sweden. Don't start with the chicken and egg questions. I'm
not even going to speculate which came first!
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