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Discussion: Arizona Orienteering Week Questions

in: Orienteering; General

Nov 9, 2021 3:02 AM # 
This event is on our list but wanted to double check it this will happen in 2022 and what are the dates? Website has different dates on different pages.
BIG QUESTIONS - 1. Are there many snakes in these parks?
2. How do you race there with cactus on the grounds? I hear that some type of cactus very hard to get out from your legs if you step on it.
Nov 9, 2021 3:47 AM # 
Yes, it's happening, February 19-27, 2022. I couldn't find where the 2022 dates are different on the website. Please let me know if you see something different somewhere so we can fix it.

1. Yes, though you probably won't see any of them.

2. Don't step on the cactus.
Nov 9, 2021 4:05 AM # 
Cristina - the schedule on the Logistics page is wonky.
Nov 9, 2021 4:18 AM # 
Ohmygoodness yes, they were very wonky. Fixed, thanks. I even checked that page multiple times—the fact that the first date was correct must've thrown me off!
Nov 9, 2021 4:21 AM # 
Also, there is an AP event listing for SWSW where I encourage people to post their snake and cactus stories.
Nov 9, 2021 11:37 AM # 
;-) Clearly, you know better to ask me these questions! Here's how I'd answer them:
1) Don't run with Anna. She is a snake magnet.
2) Don't camp with Anna. She is also a a cactus magnet, which is why our camping kit has some serious tweezers.

Can't wait! Hope you all join in.
Nov 9, 2021 11:17 PM # 
1) Oh please... Tucson is where all the snakes congregate in winter basking in the sun.
2) Do not sit on a cactus
Nov 10, 2021 9:44 AM # 
I wish to know the difference between serious tweezers and humourous tweezers.
Nov 10, 2021 11:26 AM # 
The humorous ones are not appreciated by someone on the verge of going into shock.
Nov 10, 2021 12:12 PM # 

Even a second spent worrying about snakes is a second wasted. If you're going to worry, 100% of your seconds spent worrying should be spent worrying about cactus. Especially if you are a balloon. In fact, if you're a balloon, even duct tape isn't going to save you.
Nov 10, 2021 1:32 PM # 
I lived in the Mountain time zone for four years, and have spent plenty of time out there hiking, orienteering, and rogaining. I have yet to see a venomous snake in the wild.

You can't spend 100% of your worrying on cactus, though, because there's also shindagger and catclaw acacia to be concerned with.
Nov 10, 2021 2:52 PM # 
You run lightly through the cactus watching where each foot lands, and as insurance carry a small comb just in case a cholla ball attaches itself to you (you can also use your map case).

I've yet to see a venomous snake* in the terrain in Arizona despite several visits for Southwest spring week. I finally saw a roadrunner in the wild last time we were there.

*They do have some at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Nov 10, 2021 3:14 PM # 
Well of course J-J is right: the other 10% of the 110% of energy and effort (some) people claim to have would be usefully devoted to incessant scanning for shin dagger and catclaw. That said, when you hit the shin dagger and catclaw (and in some areas, you are going to, it is inevitable), you will survive. Run into a cholla at full speed or fall on top of a barrel cactus, and all bets are off.
Nov 10, 2021 8:43 PM # 
If you are going to spend 10% of your 110% scanning for prickly plants, that leaves 99% concentration for orienteering. Those are pretty fair odds.
Nov 11, 2021 1:14 AM # 
I’d be more worried about the Javelina second to cactus… they stink
Nov 18, 2021 4:27 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
I've seen "huggorm", the only venomous snake in Norway, many times, but only once while orienteering and another time when surveying a new map when I almost stepped on a cluster of snakes sunning exactly at the spot I was about to land (running downhill).
I have however seen a rattlesnake while MTB'ing in the Cupertino hills above the Apple campus in Silicon Valley, I almost rode over it going up a hill.
Nov 18, 2021 4:46 PM # 
It does seem like snake sightings are quite rare while orienteering. I've seen rattlesnakes while trail running in Arizona but never while orienteering. Some of this is probably just a matter of a larger denominator, and also I'm just less likely to notice a snake when I'm busy avoiding cactus and reading a map. But a major reason is probably that we tend to orienteer in the colder months and generally in the mornings, and snakes just don't have the energy to be out and about then.
Nov 18, 2021 5:21 PM # 
The only case of snakebite during orienteering that I've heard of was in Sacramento's River Bend Park, then called Goethe Park. It's an area right along the American River, surrounded by suburbs.
I almost stepped on a coiled rattlesnake running downhill in north Joseph Grant Park near San Jose. Somehow pivoted in mid-stride and avoided an unpleasant outcome for both of us.
Nov 18, 2021 6:35 PM # 
Pink Socks:
I've seen four rattlesnakes while orienteering. Two at Fishtrap Lake (on two different occasions), one at Escure Ranch during a 10-hour nav race (similar terrain to Fishtrap), and one in the forest at a SAGE race in interior BC. (The last sighting was by far the most frightening for me).

Cascade had an event (also in scabland terrain) last May where the course setters removed two controls from the course because they encountered several rattlesnakes in that specific area, and then the course designers hung out in a spot where all of the courses passed through twice, giving us all updates on who had seen rattlesnakes, and where and when. (I had a late enough start so all of the snakes had been scared away by then, I suppose)
Nov 18, 2021 10:56 PM # 
I rarely see signs of snakes while orienteering in Pennsylvania. However, hiking is apparently quite dangerous.
Nov 18, 2021 11:43 PM # 
The only time I recall seeing a snake while orienteering was many years ago at an A meet somewhere in the northeast. I heard a loud gasp and turned to see a young lady from Sweden literally frozen in her tracks and unable to speak. Thinking maybe she was injured I approached and eventually spotted the garter snake she was pointing at. I had to reassure her it was harmless before she would move.

The only time I can recall being unnerved by wildlife while orienteering was after having crossed paths with a bear, which I didn't notice until it was pointed out moments later, at which point it was moving in our direction.
Nov 18, 2021 11:59 PM # 
I saw snakes at two meets this spring. One at Chattahoochee Bend and another at Moore's Bridge. The only snakes I have ever seen while orienteering. Both retreated but gave me quite a start, to be honest.

We're starting to get quite a few armadillos in GA and I have seen them at Hard Labor Creek State Park as well as Joe Kurz Wildlife Management Area. They carry leprosy, but you really have to eat one to get it. Even then, in needs to be undercooked. I'm not sure how cooked they need to be. 165F?
Nov 19, 2021 1:29 AM # 
Armadillos are so cute! I saw many in Rocky Branch, in Tuscaloosa area. In winter they let you approach them very close.
Nov 19, 2021 3:31 AM # 
O Joy:
I move much more slowly in the woods than everyone who has posted here, but I see at least one snake a year, usually black rat snakes and garter snakes, when orienteering in southern Indiana.
Nov 19, 2021 4:05 AM # 
Back to Angelica's question. There are venomous snakes in southern Arizona. I have seen several. I have also seen venomous Gila Monster on a southern Arizona golf course. However, the chances of seeing the venomous snakes in February are extremely slim to almost none. You are thousands of times more likely to see javelina or coyote, neither of which is particularly likely to bother you.
Nov 19, 2021 4:31 AM # 
Mike, I think you just covered more thoroughly my answer of: "Yes, though you probably won't see any of them."
Nov 19, 2021 6:17 AM # 
Ha, I am at par with Terje, I have seen "huggorm" once while orienteering in Norway and "kyy" (same species) once in Finland. Both were O training runs, not races. Couple of years ago i borrowed my gopro to a 10 year old kid who pretty much for the first time tried non-taped non-sprint forest course, he came back with a video of a such snake by a control. no-one got hurt or permanent fears or stopped orienteering (well, I apparently got lyme there but I guess not from that snake).
Nov 19, 2021 11:56 AM # 
For all Australia's reputation, I am only aware of three snakebites (none involving serious injury) in competition in the entire history of Australian orienteering.
Nov 19, 2021 12:23 PM # 
Super excited about getting back to Tucson this year!
Nov 19, 2021 7:28 PM # 
Same, barb! Looking forward to seeing you there.
Nov 23, 2021 11:21 PM # 
When might registration open?
The website mentions a preregistration?
Also is there an event Friday, I see conflicting info?

Trying to figure out travel plans…
Nov 24, 2021 1:55 AM # 
I remember being in a train of fast ladies during team trials when Pavlina (at the front) calmly pointed to the ground and shouted. Evidently it was to warn those of us behind of the snake she’d just seen so we could avoid it.
Nov 24, 2021 4:46 AM # 
MIclimber, we're currently testing our registration so I'd expect we could open it up within the week.

There will be an event on Friday. Not a lot of information yet but I've added at least a placeholder to the Events menu. It'll be some kind of fun mass-start format, I just haven't decided on the format... or actually the venue, since there's a chance we'll use a new area very close to the one listed.
Nov 24, 2021 12:02 PM # 
A story that has been recounted on AP before. Maybe around 1993, relay championships at French Creek in Pennsylvania. The last control was at a large boulder not far from the finish, and spectators were going back and forth watching the finishers. Someone came running back from the area of the boulder, shouting breathlessly, “there’s a copperhead at the last control”, followed by another person, even more animated, “no, it’s a rattlesnake, a diamond back rattler!” Well, this all seemed a bit improbable to me, so I went to have a look, only to find a harmless milksnake, and I shushed him off into the leaves before somebody smashed him with a rock.
Nov 25, 2021 3:24 AM # 
What I took from that US Relay Champs at French Creek: Fred Schmitt was fast and relays are fun. I think DVOA won on home terrain with a strong Matt Scott anchor run.
Nov 25, 2021 3:47 AM # 
Speaking of cacti we had an advanced runner last weekend at a local meet in Georgia (plenty of cacti in flat-rock area) who stepped on a cactus -- and had to be evacuated by his teammates as the result.

This discussion thread is closed.