Eric Mayer

Byzantine Blog

Get Email Updates
Cruel Music
Diana Rowland
Martin Edwards
Electric Grandmother
Jane Finnis
Keith Snyder
My Incredibly Unremarkable Life
Mysterious Musings
Mystery of a Shrinking Violet
The Rap Sheet
reenie's reach
Thoughts from Crow Cottage
This Writing Life
Woodstock's Blog
Email Me

Admin Password

Remember Me

1481395 Curiosities served
Share on Facebook

In the Dark in the Park
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (0)

Last weekend I completed two runs at an orienteering A-Meet for the first time in eight years. My performance was dreadful, even though I was competing beneath my class, on non-expert Orange, in parks with which I was familiar, but since the two courses I struggled through doubled the number of courses I've done this year, I was happy just to finish. Orienteering is about as well known in the US as interactive fiction, but unlike interactive fiction, it is popular in a few places, notably Scandinavia. (Check out the US Orienteering Federation site for information.

The meet was staged by my old club, Rochester Orienteering. I enjoyed visiting with friends and met a few new ROC members whose names I recognized from the newsletter. I couldn't help regretting that I now live in a sort of orienteering twilight zone, on the fringes of several clubs but not within easy reach of any local meets. Of course, living in the US, I am fortunate to even be on the fringes and able to attend an occasional local meet by driving five or six hours.

The first day of competition was at Letchworth, the so-called Grand Canyon of the East, where the winding Genessee River creates some spectacular vistas, especially on a morning when the foliage atop the mist wreathed cliffs is ablaze with autumn color. Sadly, the spectacular leaves which had made it to the ground obscured many of the paths in the woods, turning a few Orange legs into Green ones for which I was not prepared. After finding the first control at a quarry easily, I failed to see a convenient path which would have led safely to the second control, wandered off with some sloppy compass work and no real plan, and thus began my own version of Lost Weekend. I ought to have learned by now that tramping off, more or less in the direction of the control and hoping to notice something helpful along the way never works.You tend to end up off the map, more or less.

There wasn't a mistake I neglected to practice -- checking random controls I happened to notice (just in case), following others to the wrong controls, getting the map turned the wrong way and heading north while thinking south. I haven't been orienteering much and I had a lot of catching up to do.

The second day was at Mendon Ponds, a park even more familiar to me than Letchworth and the venue for countless local ROC meets. I was determined to do better. Unfortunately, concentrating on how you're doing or what your result is going to be, rather than paying attention to what you're doing, is probably the worst orienteering mistake of all. I somehow managed to be even slower. On the plus side, I did get to see a LOT of a beautiful, glacier sculpted park, including some particularly attractive areas the course setter had not arranged for me to visit.

I did also finish which is not a given in orienteering.

This was the first time I had used an electronic e-punch, which records your time on each leg as well as your overall time. Thanks to this technology I was able to see that I can do any Orange leg faster than Peter Gagarin can run an entire Green course. For nonorienteers Peter Gagarin is a legend in US orienteering? You doubt me? He's been on a Wheaties box! He also has kindly posted the Letchworth and Mendon Ponds maps showing his run.

I should also note another great orienteering resource I just discovered, Mike Eglinski's orienteering blog. Mike is at the opposite skill end of the spectrum from me, an elite competitor to whom orienteering is what it should be, a test of speed, endurance and the ability to make decisions under stress, not a treasure hunt for controls.

I should note that the ROC meet was truly enjoyable, featuring the usual warm hospitality of all ROC meets, spectacular scenery, courses that kept even an Orange competitor like me out in beautiful open woods the whole time, warm spacious lodges at the start/finish and classy t-shirts.

O Log offers a good acount, and maps, of the Rochester meet.

Read/Post Comments (0)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.