Category Archives: Orienteering

Setting orienteering course for Sunday May 6th

Just got back from setting the long course for Sunday.

I waited for the rain to stop, but by 5:30 it was clear it wasn’t going to. So half of the time I was in the rain, and even though I had a plastic map cover, the water still got in. To the point where the top side of the map was so wet that the ink was getting smudged (yes, I only have a deskjet at home).

And for extra fun, I had to set the last 5 controls in the dark. Night orienteering is not easy at Umstead, when you’re looking for tiny orange ribbons.

The beginning of a new Orienteering year

For Backwoods Orienteering Klub, the month of September is the beginning of a new year. In part because membership is paid from September till next year’s September. But also because during the summer the only events are advanced and sprint ones, so this month does mark the return of regular events.

Today’s course was beautifully chosen. I got very tired very fast, I think I managed to kill my legs yesterday when I ran as a preparation for today. So it was a constant struggle to keep the appearance of running while on the course, but overall I am very pleased with the result. I made two minor mistakes which costed probably a few minutes each – I can blame the rest only on my slow pace.

Overall, between yesterday’s 6 mile run at Lake Bond and today’s 88 minutes of pain, I think I got over the goal of running 26 miles per week. (I ran 3.5 miles on Monday, a very fast 6+ on Loblolly Trail on Tuesday, a slow 6 on a combination of Company Mill, Graylyn and Sycamore Trail on Thursday) Props to the Raleigh Trail Runners group for giving me motivation to wake up early.

Sycamore Scramble

The local orienteering club, BOK, is organizing an A-meet (i.e. a national event), February 20-21. I’ve signed up to be one of the setter/vetters.

It’s very interesting how we decided to make sure we minimize the risk for mistakes when setting up controls, and in a way it’s an OCD-er’s dream. There are at least three setters that will go out and hang ribbons where the controls are placed. Then, two other persons (the vetters) have to go and vet (approve) the location chosen by the setter. Setters have the liberty to move the control from where the course designer suggested the location to be, for example if a feature is missing or is too dangerous to get to; vetters should try hard not to move controls, unless they were set wrong.

This gives you triple accountability for a control’s location, not to mention that some of the club members will have a practice run of the courses the week prior to the meet (which happens to be next weekend).

Today I spent more than 4 hours vetting. Now I am barely moving. Probably getting into the warm house after all that time in the balmy 34-36°F (1-2°C) did not help much. However, this is exactly what I need, hopefully the small injuries I’ve been accumulating over the past couple of months will eventually go away to let me go back to running on a more regular schedule.

I’ve also worked on a solution to download data from an Sportident box on a Linux computer (it might work on Windows too, since it’s written in python, and I believe pyserial does work on Windows. It has sound to alert users if their download was unsuccessful (more about that in a future post), and generates a PDF for the splits and total time; I think the printing part is going to be the one that will cause most of the problems, I seem to have bad luck with printers in general. (The printing part would definitely not work on Windows). At some point I will publish the code, maybe someone else has a use for it.

Fall activities

A quick update on my non-work related activities.

A lot of orienteering lately:

  • Quick white course at Lake Bond with my daughter a few weeks ago.
  • A very eventful Birkhead Wilderness run. You can read the report in the comments – I don’t think there was one single participant to get all the controls right. I messed up the first two and had a relatively clean run after that, especially after I started to pace count.
  • A quick Bond Park sprint. I kind of had the home field advantage, and I was still slower than the fast runners.

I ran for the first time with the Raleigh Trail Runners. I knew I signed up for pain, and pain it was. 2.5 miles at a slow speed, 6 uphill sprints on the Graveyard Hill at Umstead (off of Old Reedy Creek), and back 2.5 miles; last 2 miles were 7:50 and 6:50 minutes respectively. Maybe we were trying to make it back before it got too dark. As I said to the other (3) runners, it’s no surprise so few people sign up for hill sprints.

My daughter started to take piano lessons, so a piano had to be acquired. We got a digital piano which seemed like a good compromise of quality vs. price.

Between fixing stuff up around the house I’d like to get back to some recreational programming (picking up Flex would be nice).

My First Adventure Race

Today I participated in the Gleneagles Challenge. I must say it was a lot more fun than I expected from an event that takes 4.5 hours and requires you to be constantly on the move.

About 20 minutes of running, 30 minutes in the kayak, an orienteering course and a lot of bike riding. The bike’s odometer showed 19.33 miles when I got back home (that included about 3 miles to get to Lake Bond and back).

Thanks to Bryan, Rob and Justin for letting me join them. Overall I think we did pretty well, second place when we only aimed to finish the race in one piece.

What? No rain?

The past two events (Lake Johnson Night-O, directed by yours truly, and Schenck Forest) were extremely wet, coming after several days of rain _and_ with rain during the event.

Today’s event at Umstead didn’t look great either if you were to trust the weather forecasts at the beginning of the week. However, as the event got closer and the forecasts predicted the rain would stop some time Saturday night, we’ve seen a lot of people registering. I know because I happen to be on the list that gets the notifications.

Today was a bit windy, but otherwise sunny and – what a change – dry! Mostly. There was still a lot of mud everywhere, and on some steep hills I felt like skiing. But coming back with my clothes completely dry, that’s definiltely different.

Jozef designed a beautiful and very challenging course. The Green course was longer than our Red usually is (6.7km), and Red was 7.4km. If that doesn’t sound much, maybe I should add the elevation changes that pretty much killed my legs by the time I got to control 13 (out of 19). By then I was obviously no longer thinking straight, I lost probably at least 10 minutes looking for control 16 after I passed it probably by 30m. Then I lost a few minutes at control 19 (the last), a trivial one, because I took the wrong clearing (which was not mapped), instead of the obvious one with some man-made objects in it.

In a way I wish I stopped after #13 and call it a Green day; on the other hand I found out how out of shape I am (not that I didn’t know, having skipped some of my runs for wimpy reasons like “the trail is wet” and “I’m too tired to wake up”). 106 minutes of running (and walking towards the end) proved to be quite tough on those hills. Once the results are posted, I’ll know how bad I did compared to others.

I probably need to train for a specific goal, maybe I’ll set one after we come back from vacation in Romania, mid-May-ish.

To quote a slogan I read on a t-shirt: “procrastinators, unite tomorrow!”

(to be fair, I know I will not train while on vacation, except for maybe a food contest, so there’s little reason to plan for something now).

Gorgeous day for around-the-home activities and mapping at Lake Bond

After a stretch of cold days, today started at 34°F (at least started _for me_, when I stepped outside around 8:45 for a quick run). After that, trimmed the crape myrtle in front of the house (by then the temperature got above 65°F), went for a couple of hours back to Lake Bond with my son (throwing rocks and twigs in the lake is fun!), then back home for an hour and a half, then back to Lake Bond (third time!) to do some mapping on the North-Western side of the park – and I ran out of daylight.

All in all, a great day to spend most of the time outside.

Refreshing map at Bond Park

Sunday was the second day I spent doing map refreshes at Bond Park. As Vladimir described in several posts, the map is very outdated. I found lots of features missing from the map, and some mapped features that no longer exist. A lot of construction took place too, major trails are now paved, new buildings were erected etc.

Today I checked if what I recorded last week was accurate (and it was), and then handled the rest area North of the dam, around the rope course and South of the parking lot at the community center (or maybe Senior center, now that I think about it).

I am still learning, both how to go on the field and record features and how to use the CAD program for drawing the map. But it is a lot of fun.

January 25th orienteering

Another fun event with Backwoods OK. Great turnout (partly due to my friend Marty Wesley bringing a group of 30 that courageously adventured on the orange course, despite the low temperatures.
Vladimir added a 1km leg (which is *long* in orienteering terms, for a course 7.1km total, with 15 controls on top of start/finish). I happened to run that leg with no problem, but I did do some mistakes early on. The time splits will tell the whole story when they get published.

As usual, 35°F (almost 2°C) doesn’t mean much as soon as you start running, but it was a great feat for Vladimir, Tanya and Michael to man the start/finish shelter the whole time.

The maps printed at Kinko’s worked great too, I could not tell the difference from the ones BOK produces in general (using a special paper and printer) until I looked at them side by side.