Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Setting a Course

Orienteering is the ultimate navigation sport.

Competitors must use a very detailed map (for example-showing 2 foot high boulders) to find checkpoints along a mapped course.  Once an athlete can succesfully complete beginner and intermediate courses they start the journey on the advanced level courses.  An advanced level course requires woods running, endurance, speed, compass work, contouring, and route choice.  It is the ultimate test of pushing your physical and mental limits.

That said, some people just come out for a hike in the woods.

Another aspect of the orienteering community is that we are building the sport.  It is completely volunteer driven and non-profit.  Each week in the spring and fall, Delaware Valley Orienteering Association puts on an event.

The past three years (2012, 2013, 2014) I was the course setter for an event at Antietam Lake Park (Mt. Penn) near Reading, PA the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  The event takes several months of work scouting the land, verifying all of the checkpoints, seeing what would make a good challenge, and preparing the maps.  I even did some of my own mapping- adding all of the trail building, much by the local mountain bikers.  If you want to get good at navigating quickly, or just like the idea of running in the woods, orienteering is the sport for you.

If you go to this site you can see all of the courses and even some competitors routes: RouteGadget! .

And the results: Results!

Here are some highlights:

The end of the long leg #6 on the long advanced course.  Reaching the checkpoint required good skill in reading contours and rock detail.

This checkpoint was a boulder only a couple feet tall.  Competitors come from the other side of the boulder so that the flag is blocked, having the navigator see the feature (boulder) before the flag.

Pat running the edge of the pond at the Fruit Farm before finishing the course:

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