We had twenty eight orienteers show up for this park-and-desert course today. Jeff Coker blew away the competition (again), clearing the course in 37:43. Julian Almazan from the ROTC group was in second place, clearing the course in 49:09. Caleb Forehand, Julian Forehand, and Alan Craig also cleared the course within the one hour time limit. There were a total of seven ROTC members competing, as well as eleven members of the Southern Arizona Hiking Club who walked it recreationally.
Thanks to two orienteers who vetted the course for me. In early May, Jeff Brodsky walked the complete course and gave me great vetting feedback for improving control locations and clues. Also in May, Wayne Contrell (who lives in California) was in town and ran the entire course (except one control he blew right past) in 57:42, plus he gave me some additional vetting feedback. Special thanks to Heather McLean for helping me with check-in and timing, and Cristina Luis for handling the online registration.
It was fun and challenging to set up this course. Having the question/answer clues provided an entertaining highlight to the event, plus an additional benefit in that no bag hanging or control retrieval were required.
We had one glitch occur. Control #23 was a mesquite tree on the west side of a trail. The closest attack points were a small clear area directly across the trail, and an obvious trail junction 50 meters to the south. The marker was a small rock cairn underneath the tree. Sometime between Friday morning, when I last checked it, and Sunday morning, someone apparently scattered the rocks. After several orienteers brought it to my attention, I gave point credit to all who went to the mesquite tree but didn't find the cairn. Several orienteers spent minutes fruitlessly looking outside the circle for another mesquite tree or cairn.
There is a lesson to be had here. The control marker (usually a bag with a punch, but in this case a cairn) is simply a way to prove you were there. If an orienteer ever finds that a marker is not at the control feature (in this case a mesquite tree), my recommended procedure is:
· doublecheck that you are at the correct feature inside the circle, until you are confident you are correct
· once confident, look one more time for the marker at the feature
· do NOT waste valuable time searching for the marker outside the circled feature
· continue to the next control and finish the course
· file a challenge with the meet director
The meet director will then verify whether the marker is missing. He will either send someone (or himself) out to the location, or he will check the results to see If other orienteers found the marker without incident.
There is no hide-and-seek in orienteering. The purpose is not to find the marker. It is not an easter egg. The purpose is to navigate to the circled control feature. Once at the feature, the marker should be in plain sight. The purpose of the marker is not to prove that the feature is correct, it is to prove that you are correct. It may seem like a minor distinction, but it is an important one.
I apologize if I misspelled anyone's name or miscalculated a result. If so, email me at b48jeff at gmail dot com.
Regards to all,
* Southern Arizona Hiking Club
** Junior ROTC
***Did the course in May.