1. The event
I drove 2 hours northwest to Peoria, IL to participate this orienteering event. The weather forecast was scary. There would be heavy thunderstorm in Peoria around that time. However, I still decided to go because there should be some break of heavy rain.
While I was driving on the day of the event, I could see that the patchy dark clouds gave some ominous feelings about bad weather. However, the real threatening weather came when I got really close to Peoria. Super dark clouds, lightning, and heavy rain were all there when I arrived at downtown Peoria. Look like this orienteering would be muddy.
I had done orienteering under heavy rain and thunder before. In April 2009, I was in Chicago Busse Woods. The weather was the worst for outdoor activities. Adding to the fact that Busse Woods has a lot of marshes, the entire body was wet after finishing an orienteering course. I still remembered that one control was in the middle of a water-filled depression and one could not reach that without getting the feet wet.
Fortunately, the rain got lighter when I arrived at the start point. When I started the course, the rain virtually stopped and only a few thunders were heard.
This is a brown course. In the US, the advanced course can be in colors of brown, green, red, and blue. Brown is the shortest. Green is the second shortest. Red is the second longest. Blue is the longest. The difficulties of these four color courses should be similar.
Although orienteering events in Peoria are usually small scale, the area can sometimes be hilly (as evidence by many contours) with a lot of easy running forest (“white forest”). This makes the orienteering event challenging. Chicago has several large forest areas, but the terrain is generally flat.
Going back to this brown course, this is a course that is 4.6 km long and has 225 m climb. I used 1:43:16 to finish this course. A traditional punch system was used, so there is no split time available.
Overall, although the course is relatively short, it is challenging. Some legs provide route choice questions that I could not answer immediately. There was a control that was wrongly placed, and the course setter admitted that, but that did not ruin the fun of this course. One more good news: there was no heavy rain when I did this course. The forest was foggy at times, though.
My control-to-control comments:
Start à 1: I probably had not warmed up yet. I did not see the trail on the map (see red dotted line in the map). Instead, I went into residential area and went down slope into the forest to meet the trail. I can certainly do faster for this control.
1 à 2: The compass lead the way. The spur between control #1 and #2 tracked how far I had run.
2 à 3: I did not even need to use the compass. I could run along the ridge of the hill and keep running straight when going downhill. Using compass is actually slower than using identifiable features to locate oneself and decide running direction.
3 à 4: I almost used straight line distance to control #4 because there was a hidden trail along the way. I could also count numbers of re-entrants (i.e. opposite of a spur, some says it is a valley, but orienteers like the term re-entrant) to get to control #4. Another route choice could be following the river and going up along the re-entrant (see red dotted line in the map). I did not know if the alternative choice would be faster.
4 à 5: The control was placed at the wrong place! The leg to control #5 was short, and I was sure I was at the right location by looking at the contours. I saw another person doing the same course, and we helped together to find this misplaced control. The approximate actual location of the control was marked in the map.
5 à 6: Follow the river and pay attention to the number of re-entrants passed. If I am not careful enough, I may run too far away and I could not see any features that can tell me that I ran too far away (i.e. lack of catching features). I had to praise that this control was well-hidden. I did not see the control until I was a meter away from the control and looked down from the top of the gully.
6 à 7: Climbed a lot of hill and then went down a lot. The bending of stream helped me to locate myself. A physical leg.
7 à 8: I used a compass to set an approximate bearing so that I could meet the trail. Then I ran along the trail and went off trail to the west after going downhill.
8 à 9: An exercise of running with compass bearing. Not too bad.
9 à 10: Another compass bearing exercise. Perhaps I could just use the contours to lead myself.
10 à 11: I went back on trail and ran most of the trail. Then I ran off trail to get to the edge of deep valley area. I somehow walked too far away, but I finally found the control after backtracking.
11 à 12: This is my favorite control of this course. It was a route choice question: should I go straight line distance to control #12 so that I had to cross the deep valley and face a lot of undergrowth, or go west to use the trails almost all the way (see red dotted line in the map)? It was a hard choice for me, but I eventually decided to go for straight distance, since I like climbing up and down and I did not see a lot of undergrowth in my eyesight.
The post-orienteering review told me that I made a bad choice: after making through the deep valley, the undergrowth turned out to be a lot of thorns and sticky seeds. I also could not go fast in this area. After this orienteering, I had so many seeds to take out of my clothes at home.
12 à 13 à14àfinish: These controls were completed uneventfully.
a. Devices that track orienteering progress
After finishing the brown orienteering course, I met a person who owned a very nice video camera that one can attach it to the person. He used the camera to record what he had done during the entire orienteering course. He also gave me the brand name of the video camera so that I can search online. The link is the following: http://www.goprocamera.com/products/hd-hero-960-camera.php. I think if I have money, I would like to get one (this product costs ~$180 USD).
If I have a GPS in my pants, perhaps I could track my entire orienteering route. This way, I could track down how I got lost in the woods.
I only picked up a geocache from Robinson Park (see above map). I also picked up some geocaches along the drive between Champaign and Peoria (see the map below).