Les Bouzigasses

Posted by Jan Kocbach, 02 Feb 2010@8:00

Part of map Les Bouzigasses. Map copyright CDCO12.

Aveyron sounds like magic in the ears of many orienteers – the reason being the very special terrain which is both very runnable and very technical. The Aveyron terrain gives you a lot of navigational pleasure – if you manage to adjust your speed to the orienteering skills – and the open terrain with the big rocks give a special atmosphere.

The question is not if there will be an Aveyron map on the list of the 101 Orienteering Maps you should run on before you die, but rather which Aveyron map to choose.  For now, our choice has landed on the map Les Bouzigasses, which was used for the Junior European Cup long distance in 2007 and for the 5th stage of French 6 Days in 2008.

The hardest technically

This was not an easy choice – we had to confer with the master of the Aveyron terrain and the King of Middle distance, Thierry Gueorgiou, to pick Les Bouzigasses: – There are many good maps in Aveyron – so it is difficult to choose only one of them, Gueorgiou responds when asked to pick a single one. When only one has to be chosen, Gueorgiou lands on  either Le Patus or Les Bouzigasses. – Les Bouzigasses has a very nice part with narrow passages.  Le Patus is special because the map contains several different types of terrain [Editors note: Le Patus was used for the 4th stage of the French 6 Days 2008]. In the end Les Bouzigasses was chosen for this article because of its very special north-western part. We invite you to discuss this choice in the comments below – we include links to several other Aveyron maps below in the Discussion section so that you can make up your own mind.  One of the competitors wrote the following on his training log after the race on Les Bouzigasses during French 6 Days 2008: – The hardest technically so far, and I ran too fast, making too many mistakes. I ended up running almost 4km further than needed. Interestingly, my HRavg was the lowest it’s been for a long time in an orienteering race.

The terrain in the Aveyron area is open with big rocks and bushes lowering the visibility.

Photo by Sergesal, CC-ASA License

Unique terrain

When Gueorgiou says that he has not met more difficult terrains, that tells a lot about the Aveyron terrain. – The terrain is quite unique as there are a LOT of details and even if the terrain is open and very runnable, the visibilty is in most of places not that good because of the big rocks and small bushes. I haven’t met more difficult terrains, because you can really run fast because the ground is nice, but you are limited by your orienteering skills.

…it is definitively a challenge to rise your head from the map and look ahead

Actually, Gueorgiou has just spent several days training in the Aveyron area along with Anders Nordberg and Kiril Nikolov (you find many of the maps from their trainings here)

How to navigate in Aveyron

In case you ever end up in Aveyron on an orienteering map (which you definitely should), here are Gueorgious tips for navigation in Aveyron. – My best advice for this terrain is to have a good plan for the whole leg, because you will loose lot of time if you get stuck in the bushes. So, it might be clever to run longer to avoid very detailed areas and dense vegetation. As always in very detailed terrain, Gueorgiou advices you to use his “Full speed – no mistake” technique – in which you use the visibility of details that stick out in the terrain to maintain full speed all the way. – It is also clever to look as far as possible to try to catch some nice and visible features like single trees or big rocks. But it is definitively a challenge to rise your head from the map and look ahead, because you are already struggling to know where you are NOW.  So it is even more difficult to know where you will be in 2-300 meters…

Part of map Les Bouzigasses. Map copyright CDCO12.

Why should you run on this map before you die?

So why did we choose this map as a candidate for 101 maps you should run on before you die? The navigational pleasure you get from orienteering in this terrain is certainly one important reason. Thierry Gueorgiou put it this way:  - This terrain has to be in the list, simply because if it is not in the list, no other terrain can enter in the “101 Orienteering maps you should run on before you die”… (Article continues below the map)

Map Les Bouzigasses. Map copyright CDCO12.

Map: Les Bouzigasses
Scale: 1: 5000
Equidistance: 5m
Year: 2008
Size of map: cca. 3.4km2
Mappers: ARCANIS ANGHEL Marius, COTIRTA Marian, ROSCA Dinisle
Terrain type: Calcareous plateau composed of many rocks. Semi-open vegetation (of the type found on limestone plateaus). Fairly high race speed, although some areas of great technicality oblige to slow down a lot (areas of micro-reliefs, high density of rocks). The terrain can be described as a Labyrinthique zone with reduced visibility.
Estimated top speed: 6 min/km
Interesting points: Thierry Gueorgiou says he hasn’t met more difficult terrains.
Links of interest: CDCO12 (the owning club)Les Bouzigasses full map JEC 2007Les Bouzigasses full map French 6 Days 2008
Events on map: JEC 2007, Aveyron 6 Days 2008
Country: France


Please note that the map being presented in this article does not necessarily mean that it will also be included in the final selection of the 101 maps – and in the paper book. It only means it is currently on our candidate list.


The big hill by Le Caylar. Photo: Thierry Gueorgiou

As noted above, while the choice of Aveyron was obvious, the choice of Les Bouzigasses was not an easy one.  Here are the maps which we have considered:

Did we choose the most fitting map from the Aveyron region? Are there other interesting maps from the Aveyron region that we missed? Have you ever run on these maps? Please let us know in the comments below. We would also like to know if you know about other areas in the world with comparable terrain to Aveyron. As far as we know, there are terrains in Portugal/Spain with some similar characteristics – and even this map from Kazakhstan seems to have something in common with Aveyron.

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20 Comments to “Les Bouzigasses”
  1. Jan Kocbach says:

    For some of the maps in the Aveyron-region (e.g. Le Mont Merdous), we did not find the location. If anybody knows, please click the yellow box on the map-page in omaps.worldofo.com and add the correct location. The same goes for several of the maps suggested in the comments of earlier posts here at 101 Orienteering Maps and the Kazaktstan map.

    Note that you can see the position of all the maps in the Aveyron region for which we have position data here (slow link).

  2. Anatolijs says:

    Ran JEC Long distance (http://anatolijstarasovs.com/maps/2007/competitions/jeclong_web.jpg) in 2007 on this map. It was no doubt one of the greatest experiences in my orienteering life. The labyrinth part in the north-west of the map is spectacular. 100% in!

    • Jan Kocbach says:

      Thanks for the JEC-07 course, Anatolijs. I’m really looking forward to run there once – rather sooner than later. Going to bring my camera and get some nice photos for the book..

  3. Diogo says:

    I ran JEC and 6 days and this is for sure one of the best maps I’ve ever ran. It is incredible how a map with a 1:5000 scale looks like it was 1:15000 in some places because of all the details that make the navigation so pleasurable during all the race. Great choice!

  4. Erik S says:

    The terrain is great, but most of the Aveyron maps are so far from ISOM that it’s almost a different sport running there. Generally the vegetation is unecessarily overmapped and the contours are in many places impossible to see. Have any good mapper actually tried to make a strict ISOM-map in the area and what do they have to say about the matter?

    • Ivan Nagy says:

      Erik, thanks for the comment. I answered in more detail under the Steffen’s comment (currently the last one).

  5. Nick says:

    By far one of the most amazing maps in the orienteering world. Ran on it during JEC and was challenged all the way. You have to be ahead the entire time and make those little route choices through the green and rock corridors. i think that if it was to be mapped to ISOM it would not do the area justice.

  6. Eddie Harwood says:

    Surely terrains as specialas this need more than 1 map in the final 101. I cannot believe that there will not be maps at least as similar (Scandinavian maybe) as any 2 from Avyron in your final pick.

    • Jan says:

      Maps from other terrains which are similar to the Aveyron-terrain might very well make it into the final list, indeed! That’s also why we ask for more maps/areas with similar terrain characteristics. It has been quite quiet in that regard so far. Does nobody have any maps? I know there was a Portugal Orienteering Meeting in a somewhat similar terrain a few years ago – but I couldn’t find the map.

      Putting in two different maps from the Aveyron-region does not seem that probable, though.

  7. Steffen says:

    I was there at the six days 2008. The terrain looks great but the quality of the maps were really bad. The maps were completely over mapped with useless details. I could not advise anybody to run there.

    • Ivan Nagy says:

      This is a second comment (along with Erik S’s comment above) saying the maps were overly mapped. It is an interesting point and we will try to make a discussion about this on one of our later posts.

      Acually, there has been a discussion about this problem recently at:
      http://news.worldofo.com/2009/12/15/route-to-christmas-day-15-2009/ (see the end of the article).

      This particualr map (the detailed one) was not the final version and it underwent some “sweeping” of non important details. So, now, there are actually 3 versions of the map :)

  8. Philipp says:

    It was pretty hard to run on these maps. Indeed the quality of the maps was not very good but the terrain is simply amazing. I would pick a map from Aveyron but not this one. I liked the training maps from the six days 2008 the most and they had a scale of 1:10000 I think.

  9. Anatolijs says:

    It was a pleasure to run on this map. Those few mistakes I made in the JEC long distance were only my own fault and had nothing to do with the map. I was amazed that somebody could map this at all and I would never call it a bad map. Thierry ran the same course after us (JEC competitors) and beat the winner by more than 10 minutes, and I have never heard him complaining about the map quality (neither then, nor one year later during the French 6-days), and Thierry surely knows the deal in orienteering maps. ;)

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