Originally I had figured I would be more than done in for the year by serving as Meet Director for EMPO's 2-Day "A" Meet in April, but as the Reeds tried to work out a local meet schedule for the rest of year, I relented. I had done a meet at Peebles Island in June 2005, and had updated the map then, so I figured I was I pretty good shape to use the same map and host a local event six months later.
Since I had done that recent meet at Peebles, and have set courses there once before, I thought it might be useful to enlist another Course Setter to create something a bit different. Son Marty was home for a week in October, and while I couldn't get five distinct courses out of him in that time, he did design one: an Orange course, which we both thought could serve as the base for designing the others.
That design, however, was created with no new field survey, and in late October, when I got around to looking over the Control locations he had selected, I discovered some new (to me) problems with the existing map. So, I took lots of notes, and hoped I could get the map corrected and the courses designed in time, since I was going to be tied up each subsequent weekend.
I managed to get everything set (courses designed and entered into OCAD; map updated and entered into OCAD; control locations all marked with flagging tape; maps printed, with extra copies beyond the number of expected). I was feeling pretty good about all of my preparations. Then the Weather changed.
There were major rains Thursday (not so much right here in CapitaLand, but within the Mohawk River drainage basin). As I attempted to hang the Controls on Friday afternoon, I discovered that the water table situation had changed significantly. While the mapped interior marshes had roughly the water level shown on the map, or slightly higher, the marshes around the perimeter of the island, which are directly affected by the water level of the Mohawk River, were significantly higher than as mapped. The difference was approximately 3 feet, or 1 meter. There were stream crossings which had water up to your waist, and areas mapped as woods with a foot of water.
After my experience attempting to hang the flags on Friday, I changed the courses. Twice. First at 9pm; then again at 6am after a sleepless night of worry over all Red runners and mistaken Green/Orange runners trying to cross-over 3 feet of moving water. I got all of the changes made and maps and notes re-printed by 8am, and raced off to the Park.
Thankfully, Sue and I had worked out our relative responsibilities in advance, and Bob Lange had said he would be there at the Park early. So, when I got back to the Registration/Start area after hanging the remaining flags and setting out the water & cups, everything appeared to be in order. I carried a couple of other items to the Registration area, which had been in my car, and moved on to set up and handle the Start/Finish task. Meanwhile the Trysons arrived, and proved to once again be essential as they handled the instruction for the Scouts and other newcomers who needed to have some idea what they were about to embark upon.
Meanwhile, I should note that Grant Staats was single-handedly hosting/directing/instructing/managing an event for approximately 60 Midshipmen (MDN) (and Midshipwomen? I don't know exactly how the Navy differentiates between the sexes in their titles, if they do at all; but I noticed a significant number of females in the group). Because of the water-level changes I made at the last moment, Grant & I missed noticing one, which left the MDNs searching through knee-level water for a flag I had removed from the course. He had decided to keep the Orange course Marty had originally set, so they were already pretty wet; and, thankfully all of them returned safely as well.
Grant had offered to collect all of the controls, since his MDNs were going to be finished later than most EMPO members. And indeed, all EMPO competitors were out by 2pm. We passed out awards to the Club Champs still around (and if you won, and didn't receive your award, send me a message, and I will get it to you); then we shut down, collected all gear except the controls, and left Grant to complete the day.
As I had been sure, Grant cleaned up. In his own words:
"All of my ROTC folks were off the course by my designated "Drop Dead Time" (a directly ordered time for all to be standing tall at a given location).....No issues what-so-ever. Finish times ranged from 103 minutes to 180 minutes for the 5.7km course (a combination of controls from the courses set for EMPO). Remember, my Orange derivation consisted of: 3-loops of aerial/utm/sport-o with each loop coming back to the Start for check-in. Lots of wet, cold and fatigued kids at the end....all had great attitudes though and enjoyed the outdoors....remember, these are Navy Sailors not tough Marines."
Actually, I was pretty impressed with the toughness of these Sailors, along with that of our EMPO members. The most common response I received after they completed their courses was that they were disappointed by the lack of water obstacles they had to negotiate. I suppose I may have ended up setting somewhat wussy courses, but I believe that in the end safety concerns have to outweigh everything else (and I thought there were still enough vegetation issues to make things problematic if one made a bad route choice). The fact that none of our future Navy Officers drowned on my original course is not enough to convince me that I was wrong in easing the swimming requirements for EMPO folks.
Thanks to all of those who helped out at the meet: particularly Sue, Bob Lange, Glen & Janet Tryson, Dylan Thies, and at least one other person whose name I can't remember. Your assistance is how we go on and expand.
I hope to see all of you next Spring, and maybe even at Ski-O events over the Winter!
-- Phil Hawkes-Teeter
last updated: --Wed Nov 22 2006 09:51:13 AM EST--