The weekend of October 17-18, 2015 saw an inaugural event take place within the Petrified Forest National Park borders. The Greater Phoenix Orienteering Club (GPHXO), with support from the Tucson Orienteering Club (TOC), hosted an “Arizona Event”- two days of orienteering featuring a 4 hour mini-rogaine each day.

A family trip to the Petrified Forest N.P. inspired Ron Birks to pursue staging an event in the park, as it offered room to run, challenging features and unique natural beauty, along with being dog-friendly. The park service expressed interest in hosting an event to draw visitors to the area and had a desire for further mapping of the backcountry. The project was initiated, with Ron taking on the bulk of mapping the proposed rogaine course countryside. Fortunately, this area has plenty of room for orienteers, so we were welcomed warmly by the national park staff each day.


Painted Desert 2

The Painted Desert in Petrified Forest NP


Saturday’s course featured quite a bit of climbing, with controls being well-placed and in interesting areas. Ron made the course challenging for all, although one person almost cleared it, missing only one control due to oversight (folded map gremlin!). To avoid congestion and any potential accidents, Ron wisely placed the start at the bottom of the hill, although to test our metal, he made us finish half way to the top of the hill! Dave and Windy Marks (aka Team Miles, accompanied by Miles, the dog), had an exciting finish, squeaking in just under the time limit Saturday.

Sunday’s course was advertised as a runner’s course, being slightly flatter, and set by Glenn Haselfeld. One person managed to clear it, visiting all the controls in under 4 hours! At the awards ceremony, he stated it was well worth coming from White Horse, Canada, to participate in the events. Overall Kimball Forrest missed only one control during the weekend! Participants attended from Arizona, Alaska, New Mexico and Canada and everyone was wowed by the scenery.

Scores were tabulated immediately following Sunday’s event, while orienteers shared route choices, challenges and misadventures over snacks. Awards were presented immediately following Sunday’s event. Medals and trophies featured a design from the nearby petroglyphs. Volunteers who helped make this event a success included: Ron Birks, Glenn Haselfeld, Tom Allen, Forest Brown, Erik Ringnes, Gary Hickey, Kathi Douglas, Russell Pilcher, Jerry Stewart, Joe Walker, Brad Poe and Yvonne Poe. They each covered different tasks, some multiple tasks, including mapping, course setting, meet directing, publicity, hanging and/or retrieving controls, registration, timing, manning water stations, results tabulation and a beginner’s clinic.


 O Meetup

Organizers and Participants Get Ready in the Painted Desert Inn Parking Lot


Overall results may viewed here.  Tucson O-club was well represented with several members traveling to Holbrook to partake in the event(s). Jeff Brodsky (1M) and Ludwig Hill (2M) took home medals, as did Peg Davis (1F) and Team Tubac (2TX-Brad and Yvonne Poe). Everyone shared stories, stating that the new venue was exciting to navigate.

Both clubs look forward to future joint ventures with the Park Service. We have already been invited back in 2016 to hold another event in the Painted Desert area! A good time was had by all and the rainy storms held off, so the weather and temperatures were perfect for desert running.

Here are a few more photos of the first petrified forest O event.  To see the full-size pictures, click on the thumbnails.  Photos on this page were provided by Yvonne Poe or Ludwig Hill.

Painted Desert 1 Colorful O Banners Terrain Closeup Painted Desert 4 Tucson Orienteers Boulders
The Painted Desert O Terrain on Cloudy Day 1
Petrified Forest Headquarters with Banners
More Intimate View of the O Terrain
Another Nice View of the Petrified Forest Terrain
Tucson Orienteers Yvonne & Brad Poe, Jeff Brodsky, Peg Davis, & Ludwig Hill
Fun Terrain From the Orienteer's Perspective