MapRunF mobile app

I have had my eye on this app for a while and with the current restrictions in place and my access to a brilliant local map within my 2km zone (thanks to Pat and Conall) I decided to put a bit of work into trialing the Australian orienteering app MaprunF.

The MaprunF app claims to make it easier to try GPS-Orienteering Yourself, as well as quick to start an event , control site checking, result flow and adjustment. Well it definitely does that! (There are additional benefits I haven’t yet tried too, such as Live tracking!)

I found the app a fantastic resource and would be particularly applicable in an urban and parkland setting. Under the current restrictions it could be used as a club resource should the 2km restriction be lifted. If orienteering events remain restricted a league could be set up with competitors doing the courses in their own time. Scatter type courses would also reduce the likelihood of competitors meeting as controls would be visited more randomly. The courses can also be locked and only accessed with a code, so clubs could charge for courses if desired.

Rather than explain the whole procedure which is covered brilliantly on the MaprunF site right here, I thought I’d highlight the few hiccups I had on the way so maybe you can give the app a go, without duplication!

I used a forest map; I wasn’t sure if the map was geo referenced so I made a basic map via Open orienteering mapper and then transposed the course via purple pen to the real OCAD printed map for the trial, using simple controls on path junctions only. Interestingly the paths within the OOM/ forest map were inaccurate and the controls were not in the position I thought they would be! Possibly the paths on OOM are made considerably wider than they are in reality making some of the controls off by up to 15 metres! (yes I did zoom in enormously to ensure pin placement was in the centre of the path). The checksites app did however allow me to see where I was on the map via my phone so it would allow for changing pin placement and adjusting should it be necessary when back home.

If you are using a new urban location where OOM is generally accurate, then a simple beginners map can be generated very easily and a new location used without the need for a traditional map for a quickstart approach. The combination of using streetview via google and OOM/Google earth professional can give a very accurate usable course.

So first off to make an event on an exsisting map, (it was geo referenced after all) I needed a copy of the geo referenced map in kmz format, this can be accessed via ‘OCAD save as’, unfortunately the starter version of OCAD to which I have access doesn’t have this option! Most clubs however have access to a full version of OCAD so as they say, phone a friend! (thanks Dave Masterson)

The forest I used has quite dense pine forest in some areas and has always had ‘dodgy’ GPS signal in spots, my GPS watch has been known to show me running on water or across the river Nore with no bridge, at times. To make it easy for me, I started the course near my home, unfortunately this is where the GPS signal is the worst so getting the app to locate the start and finish was not great. On my second try I placed the start nearer to a road and open canopy of the forest and it worked well. There is an additional option within the app to use the GPS of an additional device via bluetooth, rather than your phone GPS signal, I haven’t tried this yet, but may work well or better in some settings depending on your device.

On a forest map, it is essential that GPS location is checked at each of the control locations to make sure your competitors will get a positive punch when they reach the location. This is easily done with the checksites section of the app. Just to make it clear, you don’t have to punch at all, you just need to visit the area and your phone will auto punch, like SI-AIR, as long as you have the always on GPS and awake option on your phone. Conall wasn’t impressed at having to carry a phone around, but it can be attached to your arm or in a pouch and ignored for the duration. It even auto punches the start too! So just run around with map in hand and visit the controls.

The MaprunF site explains you need to start your sequence of controls with S1 and end with F1, these must be capital letters! The controls placed on google earth appear in sequence as your course. They can easily be dragged on the left hand side bar to rearrange if you get them in the wrong order or need to rearrange for multiple courses. Do not forget to save your sites on google earth if you wish to go back and change your course. The course can also be set via OCAD if you are more familiar with that software.

When the file is uploaded to the MaprunF CheckSites page you need to add a code to the end of the event to indicate the type of event it is, ie. scatter, timed scatter, standard line course etc. Make sure you use capital letters here too! The list of course types is available via a link on the check sites page. Next have your pen ready when you upload your files! A code is given to enable you to access the file online on your device, it doesn’t stay on the screen for long!

When you have your course uploaded you can access it on your device almost immediately. Before you start you can alter the parameters of your course in ‘Options and Settings’ , allowing your location to show always (good for checking) and alter the default setting for punch tolerance- distance from control for punching to increase or decrease the accuracy required on your course. This helps to double check your map vs control location are accurately matched.

I must say that the video instructions found on the MaprunF site were very useful and helped me, the novice, with the step by step instructions in the initial stages.

Ber O’Sullivan of Bishopstown Orienteers and Andrew Cox of Waterford Orienteers have also been giving the app a go in different settings. I also understand that it has been used by one of the LVO members on a recent trip to Australia. So hopefully we’ll get some further feedback from perhaps some more GPS friendly areas.

If anyone has any questions let me know and we’ll start a MaprunF thread on the forum where we can share our findings. If you aren’t registered on the forum, it can be done in a few simple steps and is an interesting source of discussion on a wide range of orienteering matters!

Looking forward to hearing about your own trials and trying out some more courses further afield once we’re allowed!