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Discussion: Remote events run by retirees

in: Orienteering; General

Aug 28, 2021 4:17 PM # 
This came up in another thread, but maybe it warrants discussion.

This may be a pie-in-the-sky idea, but perhaps a collective of retirees could put on some national level events in remote parts of the USA.

There are some places with fabulous terrain that are near no population centers, and thus no club is likely to hold events in these places. But maybe a club could be formed of retirees who have spare time and would be interested in creating a traveling roadshow to put on some events.

The model is related to how we use to operate the 1000-Day back in its heyday. Back then, the core was just Swampfox, who did the mapping and a lot of the critical on-site duties, as well as a portion of the course setting. Other course setting, as well as registration/start/finish/results/control pickup were done by people who came in for just a brief stint.

I'm thinking in particular of some places in the USA where the terrain is interesting, but that could be field-checked very easily. Mapping tools have gotten much better in the past few decades, and if lidar data is available for some of these places, a map could be made very quickly. I know of some sandhill terrain, for example, that has no vegetation above ankle height (other than one dead tree), and all that would be needed in the way of fieldwork would be to put in all of the fences. And it would be terrific orienteering

As the orienteering population continues to age, could we get a group together to run events on what might turn out to be single-use maps? Are there enough retirees who would be interested in spending some spare time doing this sort of thing? There are a wide variety of roles that would need to be filled, some of which would require spending a bit of time on site in advance, and others that would need work only at the event (and some of those people would still be able to compete, if there were a big enough group). The up-front work of identifying terrain and working out permission and logistics would be the first job.

I'm still a number of years away from being part of such an organization myself (working full time to make up for the years when I was a contractor and had enough flexibility to be part of the 1000-Day effort). But maybe somebody else would in interested in spearheading it.
Aug 28, 2021 4:57 PM # 
Not retired yet, but I can see this being something Nadim & I would be willing/interested in doing.
I think it's worth exploring.
Aug 28, 2021 5:14 PM # 
My local mapper wonders how a single, or even 2 years in a row, event will cover the cost of creating the map? Probably not with our current cost structure.

But yes, neat idea. I know a retiree or two who might support.
Aug 28, 2021 6:15 PM # 
Good idea.
You should know that in many cases it is a myth that base maps have to be expensive. In these cases they can be created quickly and for free. That is they are free unless some entrepreneur wants to charge you for the little time that goes into creating the map.
Where are those areas? Check out this map of where LiDAR tiles are available for free through a USGS clearing house called National Map Viewer. That LiDAR added to a map started with Open Street Map information and Strava Heatmap, air photos of your choice and whatever else you want to add can give you a pretty good product in a pretty short time.
In most cases for an orienteering quality map they do have to be finished off with fieldwork but in probably all cases they are a darned sight better than the topo sheets being used for Rogaines and Adventure Races.
Aug 28, 2021 6:47 PM # 
The local mapper that cmpbllv is likely talking about is no stranger to making base maps with freely available lidar. Definitely not the expenses he’s taking about. Presumably this is with an intention to have national event quality maps rather than lightly-fieldchecked KP-style maps.
Aug 28, 2021 10:11 PM # 
+1 Cristina. Yes, we are assuming NRE-quality maps.
Aug 29, 2021 2:14 AM # 
A rule of thumb I've heard is that "typical" terrain takes about 40 hours/sq km to fieldcheck. Some terrain is more complicated in any of various ways, and takes more. The sort of terrain I have in mind would take significantly less, maybe 5 to 10 times less. Examples:

Those are both places where I've run. No green on either one, no rock, either.
Aug 29, 2021 2:58 AM # 
For certain types of events, this model might work well. It certainly has potential for me personally: I'm both a potential participant in and a potential organizer of National-Ranking-Event-quality meets in places with interesting terrain.

But what we are short of in North America is not terrain, it's orienteers. Especially younger orienteers. We're getting fewer and older. Rather than some additional high-quality NREs in remote places, I think we are much more desperately in need of frequent, simple, local events where potential future orienteers may be found--generally in or near metropolitan areas. And consistent marketing and publicity for these events.

Maybe there is some way elder-labor could be harnessed to deliver something along these lines, but to me the key words are "frequent" and "consistent", which suggests to me that the proposed drive-by model might not be a good match for this need.

Another way to say it, for those who have been paying attention to what's been happening in Montana, is that we need more Borises. Which is also another way of saying, I have no idea how to go about this.

I don't mean to nay-say the proposal that is the subject of this thread. It sounds like a good idea to me that may well have a place in our system. I'm just suggesting that it may not contribute much to our deeper and more fundamental problem.
Aug 29, 2021 5:09 PM # 
My negative reaction to this topic (now thread) is not because it isn't possible, or interesting. It is definitely interesting, and might be possible with the critical issues I see being addressed in the previous comments.

My reaction is based exactly on the thoughts which Steve has expressed above. Given what I value, I want my remaining work and other resources to be directed to efforts which will support the sport as a whole, ideally growing, but if not, at least maintaining what we have.

For those who share these values, I suggest that our primary efforts (work and $$$) are best directed as Steve has outlined, building sustaining organizational foundations, around the Boris(es?) that we already have.

These thoughts lead directly to the topic of growth, a word which I haven't seen in much (any?) O discussion lately.
I don't want to hijack this thread, but I wouldn't mind seeing this more somber topic discussed separately , since that is where my interests remain.
Aug 29, 2021 5:52 PM # 
Yes, I feel similarly.
Aug 29, 2021 6:10 PM # 
Fair enough, bad idea. Let's not do it.
Aug 29, 2021 7:38 PM # 
I’d love to see a 20/80 allocation of effort.
Aug 30, 2021 12:37 PM # 
I think there's potential to combine both JJ's original idea with what Steve and Eric have suggested.
Making new maps, even in remote areas has the potential to form new clubs and bring in new blood. As an example, how many large US cities don't have clubs? Making a map and doing local promotion can be a way to help new clubs get started. These might not exactly align with the most interesting of the areas that JJ is thinking of, but there certainly is potential for growing new clubs in places far from current clubs such as Omaha, Des Moines, Rapid City, Tulsa, Wichita, Memphis, New Orleans, Wilmington NC and many more. There is tremendous potential to re-start inactive or struggling clubs in places like Las Vegas, Little Rock, or Salt Lake City. If you get a few key people interested, you can have a strong orienteering community in even a very small town - look at the tiny town of Hartney Manitoba, that organized events up to and including the Canadian Championships, or a small city like Whitehorse which repeatedly hosts major events. With a map and the right promotion, perhaps a Scottsbluff or Rock Springs or Sioux Falls could be the next small city to become and orienteering powerhouse.
Aug 30, 2021 3:10 PM # 
The St. Louis Orienteering Club has not put on a national ranking event in many years. Our club leadership feels it is too much work. If a volunteer group of retirees wants to use our newest map (Don Robinson State Park) we would be happy to let them use the map for an event.

I am also working on mapping Rhodes France Scout Reservation near Pana, IL (central Illinois). I am sure this would be a good venue for an event if a group would like to put on an event.

The real question is do we lack maps for events or do we lack organizers to put on events? And how good does a map have to be before it can be used for a NRE?
Aug 30, 2021 3:22 PM # 
The BSA has lots of properties that would make great venues for events. I am sure that they would be happy to have a volunteer group come in and map some or all of their camps in exchange for holding a NRE. The Summit in West Virginia (which an orienteering map is already available for a large portion) or D-A near Detroit would be great venues.

Mappers/volunteers would have to be paid from the revenue generated by the NREs.

I suggest anyone who wants to take this to the next level contact OUSA's scout liaison Brian Coleman (BSA Compass).
Aug 30, 2021 3:28 PM # 
tanZ already holds great annual rogaining events on their fine map of Summit Bechtel. These are full-service, full-fee events not lacking in attendance, and run by not-retired professionals.
Aug 30, 2021 4:05 PM # 
Salt Lake City has an active club. We attended one of their events earlier this summer.
Aug 30, 2021 4:12 PM # 
I think it is fair to say that Whitehorse's success isn'tt due to a map, but a Boris named Ross.
Aug 30, 2021 4:19 PM # 
I'm very pleased that outfits like tanZ are able to make things work (and I note very specifically that they are not the only ones who are at least making a try of it). I've been to one of their events.
Aug 30, 2021 4:20 PM # 
@Tundra - yes TANZ has rogaine events at Summit. A portion of Summit is mapped to full orienteering standards by Plamen D et al, partly funded by OCIN.
@Eric - definitely Ross is the Boris of the Yukon. But who will be the next Ross or Boris or Mikell? Only by exposing more young people to O, will we help create the next ones. Likewise who will be the next Barb Bryant or Gord Hunter? I think there’s room for optimism.
Aug 30, 2021 6:14 PM # 
The next Gord Hunter? Heck I didn't think I'd gone anywhere. Same with all those other folks. Mike Minium, too.
At one point some 50 years ago it was who will be the next Harold Wybe. Harold moved on but he left a legacy.
It's true people who want to get involved in supporting orienteering don't come along every day so when they do come along, often by way of a post to our clubs' web pages or Facebook pages we have to recognize them, help them, encourage them and make sure they are not turned away by a 'no can do' answer.
Case in point: A woman wrote to a club's Facebook page asking if there was anyway her girl scout troop could do some orienteering. Yes, was the club's reply, drive (200 miles each way) to our next event on such and such a day. I don't think they made the trip
Wouldn't it be easier to make a simple map of a park in her area and bring the orienteering to her and to all the other girl scouts in the area. Recruit her and her troop to help run the orienteering day and give her troop a share of the event revenue. Your club will still make a lot. You then have a local partner for your club.
Making the map? It is quite easy. These are beginners. They deserve a good map but they don't need an NRE quality map.
How about making that map? I know it can seem mysterious and sometimes it is but the truth is you can map the country without leaving home.
Aug 30, 2021 7:03 PM # 
You don't have to be gone yet for there to be a future you in the future tense.
Aug 30, 2021 11:27 PM # 
For anyone in Tennessee, I have a map of Maryville College
Aug 30, 2021 11:54 PM # 
I respectfully request Bandon, OR and Mullen, NE to be added to the docket. Thank you.
Aug 31, 2021 12:10 AM # 
I know what you're saying about Mullen. Bandon is less obvious.
Aug 31, 2021 12:21 AM # 
Well, self indulgent in both cases, as it would afford me a chance to engage in remote orienteering and golf on the same trip. But, yes—I’ve been waiting for orienteering in the sand hills since I first laid eyes on it 20 years ago.
Aug 31, 2021 12:22 AM # 
Have you been to Manitoba?
Aug 31, 2021 12:25 AM # 
But just a bit south of Bandon—Laurel Lake area? That looks sweet! However, the Bandon golf guys are planning one more course south of town… if I were them, I’d be very attracted to that parcel.
Aug 31, 2021 12:26 AM # 
I have not, to my utter regret. I realize that Manitoba overlays an additional dimension to the orienteering that the grass oceans of Nebraska lack.
Aug 31, 2021 12:27 AM # 
Do said retirees care if anyone goes to the event they work on? Because the problem with Manitoba is not the terrain but the low attendance at races.
Aug 31, 2021 12:31 AM # 
If there were a golf course on par (so to speak) with Sand Hills, I guess I’d finally find a reason to go. But getting there is generally not easy or cheap from the US.
Aug 31, 2021 12:33 AM # 
Bandon- Based on what I saw over a decade ago, the Bandon terrain requires serious clearing of vegetation before the great underlying topo becomes usable for golf or orienteering. This is not cost prohibitive for high end destination golf.

Mullen, NE, more likely to work for the orienteering.
Aug 31, 2021 12:40 AM # 
Look here: (43.0285886, -124.4373767)

Probably as clear as where they just held the world masters.
Aug 31, 2021 12:43 AM # 
Although you’re probably right… Google Earth shows lots of gnarly deadfall in the woods. But, still probably a fund place to run around the clumps even if you assume the woods is fight.
Aug 31, 2021 12:55 AM # 
@ 43.0285886, -124.4373767,
Sure there are some open strips, but then there's the other stuff, which hardly looks like easy mapping or easy event arrangements.
I'm willing to indulge in some O fantasies, but sorry, this looks like too many harsh realities.
Aug 31, 2021 12:57 AM # 
Maybe a KP map area, but that's not what I thought this thread was about.
Aug 31, 2021 1:23 AM # 
Manitoba is hard to get to (but worth it, I've been three times so far). But one of those samples I posted is a 40 minute drive from the Denver airport.
Aug 31, 2021 1:54 AM # 
I'd love to see a sprint at the International Peace Garden on the Manitoba - N Dakota border.
Aug 31, 2021 9:40 AM # 
It looks as if orienteering maps of the area around Mullen NE would be easy enough to make. This one has 2 meter contours. I would suggest a slightly larger contour interval.
Aug 31, 2021 10:32 AM # 
Strange thing about mapping the International Peace Garden Mike is that the easily available LiDAR from USGS only covers about half the park. The strangest thing is that the LiDAR information is not divided along the border but on a seemingly arbitrary north/south line. This contour interval is 1 meter. So whoever did this map would have to go looking for more LiDAR.
Aug 31, 2021 4:45 PM # 
There are probably many small clubs who could benefit from a new map and the publicity surrounding a big event. They do need to have super terrain nearby. It shouldn't be hard to assemble an old crew to do the fun parts of putting on an event: course designing, vetting, control placing, results, etc. The challenge of course is making the map. If you can't afford to hire a pro then you either get one old guy to do the map or a team of old guys to make the map. I'm not sure you could talk one old guy into spending that much of his remaining time on earth wandering alone in the forest. (Plus we're all pretty busy.) On the other hand, I wonder if there is any protocol in place in which 5 guys could work on a map and have the features consistently depicted throughout. Has this ever been done? Finally, if we are going to all this trouble, the event should be a USOC or a NAOC with at least one day a WRE.
Aug 31, 2021 5:41 PM # 
There are definitely maps that have been done by multiple mappers, to great success. There are also some famous cases where that was done and similar things were depicted very differently depending on what part of the map you were on.
Aug 31, 2021 6:08 PM # 
Mr Wonderful:
Can we invent a sport where the map is more or less auto generated, brushed up with open source trails, and covers cool terrain, but has point to point courses on it.
Aug 31, 2021 6:38 PM # 
It depends on the terrain. In some places that can work fine. I participated in such an event a few years ago. In other places you can't have a reasonable competition without fieldchecked vegetation, or else luck becomes too much of a factor (I've participated in events like that as well).
Sep 1, 2021 10:07 AM # 
@j-man: I'm curious as to what prompted you to go to a 9-hole golf course that, with the exception of the town (Mullen), is literally in the middle of nowhere.
Sep 1, 2021 12:11 PM # 
Manitoba land initiative has lidar coverage in the Peace Park area - unless it stops exactly on the border it should cover the whole park.

The park itself is nice but nothing special from an orienteering point of view - no different to an average urban park. The only reason to map a park like that in such a remote location would be for the novelty value of orienteering across an international border.
Sep 1, 2021 12:24 PM # 
Don't dis the Mullen Golf Course. It is probably the only golf club in the entire Nebraska Sandhills, perhaps among golf course in any sandhills anywhere in the world, that does not have a single sand trap or sand bunker on its course, not even a waste area.
Now that is my kind of golf course!!
Why even the rancher next door has more sand pits than the golf course does.
Sep 1, 2021 4:16 PM # 
@GuyO (and others?)- Many miles south of town, but still with a Mullen address, is a world famous (among a certain demographic) golf course.
The course itself lies north of the Google Maps designation.
Sep 1, 2021 5:45 PM # 
Unlike the Mullen 9-hole course, the Sand Hills course does have a lot of bunkers (and also looks far more interesting, not that I know much about golf).
Sep 1, 2021 6:00 PM # 
EricW> The course itself lies north of the Google Maps designation.

It's spot on in OpenStreetMap (or OpenTopoMap, but that's got rather limited bandwidth).

And in Apple Maps. When there is a discrepancy between Google and Apple maps, it seems like 90% of the time Google is the correct one, but this case apparently is in the 10%.
Sep 1, 2021 7:12 PM # 
In defense of Google, I think they've nailed the facilities, but the actual course is unusually remote.
Sep 1, 2021 8:11 PM # 
Yeah, Google shows the clubhouse/headquarters/cottages area. I suppose you drive a cart the mile or so to the first tee?
Sep 1, 2021 8:55 PM # 
I believe Sand Hills is a private club although non-members can play if they have a member with them.
Sep 1, 2021 10:28 PM # 
@ JJ- Yes, looks like it, with a possible stop along the way for the practice range.
@SH- Our j-man has a shot at making a connection. The rest of us can enjoy all the photos we can find online and in magazines.
Sep 2, 2021 12:40 AM # 
We have always been happy to volunteer to help any club hold an event. Clubs seldom seem to ask for help. Many orienteers, retired or not are willing to help as long as get a chance to run. I often hear that a club has a good area mapped, but is hesitant to put in the extra time and effort to hold an "A" level event. ROC always found that holding a successful large event gave our club members a big boost of adrenalin and a desire to do it again.

As Good knows we have wonderful orienteering terrain in northern New York and southeastern Ontario that is just outside the range of any New York or Ontario/Quebec clubs. Gord has been working on maps in these areas for the past couple of years. The problem seems to be that without a local club or a commitment from a distant club the maps will never likely be used. We have held clinics and set up a permanent course at Wellsley Island State Park, but are yet to find any local contacts willing to form a club. NCO has helped with clinics, but is very small and concentrates on a couple rogaine style events each year.

After 40 years of orienteering I have no good answer for this problem. It seems to take a Gord in Florida, a Mike in Ohio/Wyoming or a Boris in Montana to make it happen.
Sep 2, 2021 2:35 AM # 
Or a Rick and Linda in New York.
Sep 2, 2021 8:50 AM # 
Perhaps that remote Nebraska golf club should change their name to Sandhills Golf and Orienteering Club . I think I might have seen that golf course once before... about 25 years ago from 35,000 feet up as I was in a plane traveling from Toronto or Chicago to somewhere in California. It sure stuck out in the terrain and in my memory.
Sep 2, 2021 12:49 PM # 
25 years ago would have been shortly after it was built.
Sep 2, 2021 7:38 PM # 
On the retirees topic, how about a snowbird orienteering series, featuring several weekday events (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) build around/within easy reach of supporting a few local orienteering club scheduled weekend events?
Or an orienteering tour, connecting few local orienteering club scheduled weekend events by filling in orienteering events during the weekdays between the weekend locations?
Both of these ideas could use existing O maps, perhaps maps that get little use because of their location or distance from club population. Such events would support clubs, retirees, and possibly orienteers looking for an O holiday tour.
Sep 2, 2021 7:47 PM # 
That's basically what the Tucson club has been doing most years in February.
Sep 2, 2021 7:53 PM # 
Snowbird orienteering?
We in Florida are all for it.
Several folks commenting here have already participated in wintertime (or Spring training time) orienteering in Florida. We have also hosted 'orientours' from Europe.
C'mon down.
We have mapped areas from Pensacola to Jacksonville to Key West (well that last one needs a bit of work) We will have events almost every weekend from early October to mid April. (School holidays excepted)
Florida Orienteering has a number of venues set with MapRunF courses. We also have traditional permanent courses.
Do you know where you will be in Florida and there is a park nearby but you don't see an orienteering map there? Don't worry we will make the map. Just ask.
.I doubt if we have the experience to organize tours but we certainly have the resources to support them.
Sep 2, 2021 8:26 PM # 
If anyone is interested in a contract in Bermuda, I might have a lead.
Sep 2, 2021 10:55 PM # 
Brian, an O holiday tour is exactly what the Southwest Spring Week has been designed to be. In the past we have had out-of-town retirees providing critical support for an event or two, and then they have 8 more days of orienteering and mountains and sun and great food to enjoy! Anyone interested in course setting or bag hanging for SWSW, hit me up! Free entries and eternal gratitude await.

If there are retirees itching to contribute in some other way in the US, may I suggest helping out on the public event/publicity side for The World Games in Birmingham next year? It's a great chance to put on a smiling face to people who are generally open to weird sports (it's the World Games!) and potentially attract a few new people to *our* weird sport.
Sep 3, 2021 12:39 AM # 
I've contemplated Puerto Rico as a place to start some orienteering action after I retire. Maybe an urban sprint in San Juan? I've never been there, so I really don't know what the terrain is like.
Sep 3, 2021 6:47 PM # 
BorisGr and Cristina, thank you both, I looked SWSW up and wowee, how did I miss that event (maybe because of the pandemic my travels to the USA have not been possible as of late). I'm just into discussions about a Grand Canyon river trip mid Feb to mid March next year (2022) which unfortunately encompasses the SWSW dates Feb 19-22, 2022.

gordhum, sounds like a lot of good things are happening in Florida, from weekend events to MapRunF and permanent courses to fill in some weekday O training. I've been whitewater canoeing in Tennessee in March a few times and I'll look at visiting Florida next time I'm in the SE.
Sep 4, 2021 4:37 AM # 
[looks at othet threads]

remote events?

run by retirees?

when you can't get close-by events attended well enough to not be canceled?

If there's a group utterly incapable of introspection...


Try the opposite. Close-by events run by professionals.

Pay enough in entry fees to show you respect and love them. Not fake thank-yous after, although these don't hurt.

Maybe then.
Sep 4, 2021 1:53 PM # 
If you did look at the other threads, you'd see that this started with a suggestion (by me) that there would be advantages if we had enough interest to really support events run by professionals. And then after just a little discussion in this thread, I said you're right, this is not a good idea.

After that, the rest is just dreaming about orienteering in exotic golf locales.
Sep 4, 2021 3:20 PM # 
Right. And to get this thread back on topic, I respectfully submit here: (44.1356863, -89.8647174)
Sep 4, 2021 3:46 PM # 
Thanks JJ, I see we have agreement
Sep 4, 2021 4:46 PM # 
Agree with Tundra/Desert and JJ
Sep 4, 2021 5:58 PM # 
@ (44.1356863, -89.8647174)
Good one, probably, for both agendas.

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