On 11 December the RSS Glasgow local group and the Operational Research Group of Scotland hosted a joint meeting on Statistics in Sport at the University of Strathclyde. The meeting was preceded by the local group AGM where Dr Ben Torsney, who stepped down from the committee, was presented with a gift to mark his many years of service in various roles on the committee.
The speaker for the meeting was Professor Phil Scarf from the University of Salford. Professor Scarf gave a talk titled 'A statistical excursion in the isochronic hills'. He began by giving the audience the task of choosing the best route to take for one section of an orienteering challenge. The question raised was: is it quicker to go over or around a hill when trying to get from a point A, on one side, to a point B, on the other? Naismith’s rule was introduced which has been used since 1892 as a way of calculating the equivalence of routes over gradients to those on the flat and hence make the decision of the optimal route. Professor Scarf then analysed some data from orienteering races and showed that the equivalence was often different from that calculated by Naismith’s rule and appeared to vary by gender and age, amongst other variables. He concluded the talk by considering whether there is a similar rule which could be used in cycling events.
Following the talk there was an interesting question and answer session, enlivened by a number of orienteering enthusiasts keen to improve their race performance using the information from the talk. The debate continued over the post-event wine and mince pies.