You'd think it would get easier, doing event after event in a
particular location. However, perhaps because of some persnickety
aspect of my personality, I find it gets harder and harder every year,
as I have to keep trying to come up with new ways to make the courses
different and interesting, but still legitimate. This year I resorted
to making a number of additions to the map so that I could send the
runners into some previously unused areas. This made the course
setting easier, but of course I had to actually get the map updates
right. That meant a heck of a lot pace counting, bearing calculation,
and cleaning mud off my shoes and clothes.
Yep, it was amazingly wet this Spring. Our only venue with the capacity for absorbing that much water was probably Blueberry Hill; but unless we used it three times, we were going to be in the mud much of the Spring. Fortunately, the group who ventured into the muddy jungle which Thacher Park had become by June 10, were a hardy bunch of real troupers. Almost everyone finished their course, and actually gave every impression of having enjoyed themselves! The Red course winner, Grant Staats, even charged right through the Great Central Marsh (to wash off the mud he'd picked up so far?), which gained him a few minutes on runner-up Glen Tryson. I'm not sure if he actually had to swim any of it, but the map doesn't show it as "uncrossable", so I guess the water level never quite reached his nostrils. To me, that's the definition of "resistance training."
Our planned cycle for different venues is to use each of them no more than every 18 months. Since the last time we had been at Thacher, a new mystery cropped up. As I checked control locations and did the field work for the map updates, I kept coming across long lines of string, deep in the woods, in widely varied sections of the Park. My first thought was "kites!" Wrong. Too much of it, below the tree-tops, and wrapped around too many things. I went through a lot of other possibilities, (try-outs for "The X-Files"?) before finally settling simply on "Aliens!" But somehow I didn't quite accept that either, so I offered to resolve any race ties in favor of the competitor who gave the best explanation (true or not) of what was going on. It didn't help his placement any, but Eric Hamilton was able to give a pretty cogent explanation: the string was the residue of Search & Rescue practice exercises. Essentially, they use the string to mark off ground they have covered. From my perspective, the fact that they leave the string afterwards puts them in the doghouse with the Cross Country and Trail Runners, who leave paint and streamers all over the place for months and years later. Orienteers try hard to leave as little trace of their activities as possible. We picked up all our streamers, along with the flags, cups, bottle caps, etc. Let's all try to remember that no matter how deep we are into whatever wilderness we go, someone WILL come along behind us. Don't let them know you were there first!
-- Phil Hawkes-Teeter
|Rick Kline and company sign in at the Registration table||The O'Neill Gang nears the Finish|
|Eric Hamilton nears the Finish||Robert Lange heads to the Finish Line||Jo and Ron Farra finish through the picnic tables at Thacher Park|
last updated: --Thu May 27 2004 07:58:28 PM EDT--