Billy Goat Running in the Woods: Orienteering Event at Shawnee Mission Park
by on January 11, 2009 in Orienteering

I suppose you could call it our first official “race” of the year, but running around the woods with a map has always been more about fun and reliving my early years working toward an orienteering merit badge in Boy Scouts than racing. Nonetheless, “race” we did, or rather, we spent an hour running in zones 3,4, and 5 as we attempted to collect as many checkpoints as we could in 60 minutes.

View photos & a map of our route

Bill joined Scott, Mike, and I for his first-ever orienteering event and we’re hopeful that it whet his appetite for off-road racing to some small extent and that one of these days we’ll see him at our side when we’re standing in the freezing cold about to embark upon a long-distance adventure race in the wilderness.

As always the crowd was a mix of die-hard orienteers, adventure racers, weekend hiking enthusiasts, and ROTC groups. This event was a one-hour score-o event where you get your map just moments before the race starts, required that you quickly develop a strategy as to how you’re going to get as many checkpoints, preferably the ones worth the highest number of points, and return to the starting line in 60 minutes or less.

We, probably quite naively, assumed that we could get all or most of the CPs within the one-hour time limit so we simply picked a circular route that appeared to be doable within the time limit. As always we set out a a dead sprint and, really, things never really let up until the end.

And it was near that end that it became quite clear that we were not going to get several of the CPs – it was a tough course and our hats go off to anyone who managed to get all of those CPs in 60 minutes. Our navigation was pretty spot-on in terms of efficiency and speed but we got hung up on one CP that was deep in the thick brush and we just didn’t have enough time to go for a second grouping of CPs in the end.

Nonetheless, we crossed the finish line with a couple of minutes to spare and got all but one CP along our planned route so it was a good effort. And a heck of a workout to boot. As always it is entertaining to watch the “real” orienteers fly around the woods as if on strings – their ability to fly through the woods in an incredibly efficient and accurate root always astounds.

Most importantly, it was a beautiful day and we got to go play in the woods for an hour – not a bad way to spend part of your Sunday afternoon.

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