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Discussion: 2023 Corn Maze Champs

in: US Corn Maze Champs (Sep 3, 2023 - Sunderland, MA, US)

Jul 31, 2023 1:30 AM # 
It's on for Sunday afternoon and evening, September 3. (Monday the 4th is Labor Day.) Mike's Maze in Sunderland, MA.

Note that the maze this year is, well, the first word that comes to mind is "weird." Not that that is a bad thing, any good maze has some weirdness, allows it to offer some unique orienteering challenges. But Steve Richardson, the course designer for the Champs the last few years, figures he can create courses that will be fun, challenging, fiendish, memorable, maybe even all of the above. And so we're good to go.

Click Corn Maze Champs for more info, including how to enter.
Aug 7, 2023 10:41 PM # 
I'm posting a list of entries received, Corn Maze Champs. Will update it regularly.
Aug 21, 2023 6:20 PM # 
Corn Maze Champs update --

Most importantly, the corn is looking very healthy!

The schedule of events (assuming Steve can work out event #3 to his satisfaction):

1. Sprint (start window roughly 3:15 to 3:45, no pre-assigned times, folks who think they might take a while might want to start early in the window).

2. Classic (start window roughly 4:00 to 5:00, no pre-assigned times, folks who think they might take a while might want to start early in the window).

3. Special event, tentatively called "The 2 Rs" (start window roughly 5:15 to 5:45, no pre-assigned times, folks who think they might take a while might want to start early in the window). Best bring your brain for this one.

And then a break for dinner. Because the next event is traditionally run on a full stomach.

4. Night. "Mellow mass start" (at around 8:00 to 8:10, the worse you do in the first 3 events, the more skips you will get in the Night).

Overall results for the Corn Maze Champs will be determined by your best 3 of 4 events, but 1 of the 3 must be the night.

Note, of course, that all this is still subject to change. But this is what it's looking like right now.

Entry deadline is Tuesday August 29.

More info, including how to enter and who has entered so far, is at Corn Maze Champs.
Aug 28, 2023 2:16 AM # 
One week to go, let the trash talking begin. Who will reign supreme in 2023?

Here's what I came up with for the history. (Unofficial until JJ, the keeper of all arcane O knowledge, can verify.)

2022Action!Keegan HarkavyIsabel Bryant
2021ImagineKeegan HarkavyJulia Doubson
2020Vote!Cory OhnaVera Iris
2019Cornstock!Keegan HarkavyJulia Doubson
2018Blackbeard the PirateGreg AhlswedePavlina Brautigam
2017Greetings From EarthEthan ChildsPavlina Brautigam
2016See AmericaIan SmithIsabel Bryant
2015Alice in SunderlandBen Gallup & Joe BrautigamEvalin Brautigam
2014Animal IntelligenceIan SmithAlex Jospe
2013The Dali~ramaIan SmithBarb Bryant
2012The Sower's BanquetIan SmithAlison Crocker
2011Noah WebsterMarek PetrivalskyCarol Walker
2010Campbell's Soup CanGreg WalkerCristina Luis

Can anyone challenge Keegan? Is Ian's record 4 victories in jeopardy? Does the Brautigam family total count?
Aug 28, 2023 2:40 AM # 
Ian is a legend.
Aug 28, 2023 2:23 PM # 
A DVOA junior aims to challenge the best. We'll see how she does (I gave her a pointer or two).
Aug 29, 2023 2:10 AM # 
Entry deadline is Tuesday August 29. That's tomorrow. Or maybe today by the time you read this.


And now, for those who weren't there at the beginning, a bit of history.

Early October, 2010. Gail and I and Ali (Crocker) and Alex (Jospe) are getting BBQ at Bub's in Sunderland. Somehow the conversation turned to orienteering. There's this really cool maze in town, I said, would be great for orienteering. Well, at that point we just had to do it.

Date was set for October 20. So much to do. Maps, courses, publicity, get some entries, all the other easy stuff. But as this was going to be the national championships, we needed sanctioning, which meant we needed a federation, which meant we need a logo. And a website, of course. So much to do.

The main thread, went live a week before the event.

The logo competition, went live 11:30 am the day before the event. winners announced 11 hours later.

The web site, went live 14 hours before the event (thanks, Cristina!).

And the maze, Campbell's Soup, it really was wonderful.


Finally, some important about this year's courses that you've all been waiting for -- yup, climb.

Haven't seen the courses, but here's the expected climb --

Sprint -- none
Classic -- 1 meter (though it is possible that it might be 2)
The 2 R's -- most likely 1 meter
Night -- perhaps as much as 5 meters if Steve has a control in the cemetery, which we really have wanted to do for the Night course. Will this be the year?

And the expected winning times --

Sprint -- 4:55
Classic -- 11:20
The 2 R's --8:30
Night -- 18:50

At least that's what we are assuming that Izzy (last year's overall champion) is going to run.

More to come....
Aug 29, 2023 10:41 PM # 
Mike's posted a picture of the course:

2023 Corn Maze Map
Aug 30, 2023 12:15 AM # 
I don't think much of the maze predicting a thin king winner.

Although I hear that Gswede, like Cassius, has a lean and hungry look. Such men are dangerous, as Shakespeare assures us.
Aug 30, 2023 9:38 PM # 
A few notes on the logistics:

Easiest access to Mike's is from exit 35 on I-91. Go north at the end of the ramp, then take a right on Rt. 116 towards Sunderland and Amherst. Cross the Connecticut River and take a right at the light onto Rt. 47 south (also South Main Street). Mike's Maze is on the right in about 0.4 miles. Go past the first couple of building and then parking will be on the right.

The "arena" is by the NE corner of the maze. It includes a couple of bathrooms, picnic tables, shade, a viewing platform. Parking is within 100 meters. Starts and finishes are either at the arena or nearby.

Rules. There is one main rule -- no cutting through the corn. If it's mapped as corn, then you can't cut through, even if there's enough room to make it without touching any corn. Also, there may be newly erected barriers in places. They may be actual barriers, or they may just be streamer tape, but it's the same rule -- they will be mapped like corn and you can't cut through.

Next, while I suppose it's not a rule, is a request, especially to those running, and very especially to those running fast. Please try to avoid collisions. Look ahead, be aware that around every corner could be someone coming the other way. Collisions are not fun.

Map scale is roughly 1:1,000. Things come at you real fast. There are no contour lines. There are no north lines, but the farm buildings and viewing platform are on the east side of the maze and the tall trees in the cemetery are on the west side.

Daytime starts are self-service. Take a map, don't look at it until you have punched the start box. The count-down timer should beep every 30 seconds for the sprint, every 60 seconds for the classic. For the night we'll have a mellow mass start.

Download station is at the arena. Results will be on a monitor, sprints printed out. Results will also be posted on Attackpoint. Make sure you have downloaded before you clear your e-punch for the next event. The odds are that someone will forget....

Places to get dinner. It's Sunday evening and some places are shut.

-- Bub's Barbeque is open until 7pm. It's 3.2 miles south from the center of town on Rt. 116 towards Amherst. Unlimited sides with whatever you order. Maybe crowded?
-- Sugarloaf Frostie, also open until 7pm, is 0.3 miles from the center of town, also along 116 towards Amherst. Burger/fries, sandwiches, ice cream. Menu say cash only!
-- Blue Heron, center of Sunderland. Upscale, expensive, need a reservation, maybe not a good idea just before a night-O.
-- The Millstone Market is right across South Main Street, maybe 200 meter walk from the maze. Very small market but good, they make sandwiches. But they close at 5pm on Sunday so you have to plan in advance.
-- Or you can bring your own and hang out at the arena. Supposed to be a nice day and evening. Adult beverages are OK, but you have to provide your own.

And you can check out previous mazes at
Aug 30, 2023 10:11 PM # 
Bub's BBQ is a very fine place to eat between bouts in the corn.
Sep 2, 2023 1:59 AM # 
More info --

Check-in at the maze will be open by 2:00 pm on Sunday. "Check-in" just means paying, $20 per person. Cash is best, or checks payable to Western Connecticut OC. No credit cards or other forms of electronic payment. If you are borrowing an e-punch, be prepared to trade something you value for it, just to make sure we get it back.

First event is the Sprint. Start window from 3:00 pm until 3:45. This uses the smaller maze. Start is about 100-150 meters NNW from the arena, go to the right of the main maze and you can see it. Finish is over there too. 30-second start interval, self-service. Take a map, put it in a map case if you wish, when the clock beeps, punch the start box and only then can you look at the map. Download is back at the arena. Best to do it right away so you do it before you clear your e-punch for the Classic. And keep your map case for the next event.

Next is the Classic, start and finish back at the arena. Start window is 4:00 pm to 5 pm. Similar process to the Sprint, except the start interval is 60 seconds. The Classic may be a little shorter than usual; on the other hand, the Night may well be a little longer than usual.

Next is the The 2 R's, start and finish at the arena. Start window is 5:15 pm to 5:45 pm. Similar process to the Sprint, start interval is 30 seconds. The 2 R's is devious. You will turn your map over after you punch the start box and your first thought will be WTF. But the map will have all the info you need to do the course; you just need to figure it out.

And the 2 R's? You remember the 3 R's from elementary school? Reading, Writing, 'Rithmatic. You're not going to be doing any writing, but reading and counting would be very useful skills. Enough said.

After a break for nourishment, there will be the Night. Plan on being ready to go about 7:45. Skips will be allocated based on how you've done so far; the worse you've done, the more skips you'll get. If you think you didn't get enough, you can always ask for more.

The night course has been printed in two parts to make it more legible, the first half on one side of the page and the second half on the reverse. We'll line up by the start punch, best (ie. fewest skips) first. Maps will be given out starting at the back of the line (so they'll get a little extra time to plan). When the person at the front of the line gets a map, she punches the start box and off she goes, followed as quickly as possible by the rest of the line. A truly mellow mass start.

After you've finished, please download right away.

Awards will follow. Overall awards are based on your best placings in 2 of the 3 day events and the Night.

And then for those wanting a little more night orienteering, some help in gathering the controls would be much appreciated. Should be able to get them all in 10-15 minutes.

Other stuff --

-- Fair play. Just the usual. We're not collecting maps, so when you've finished a course, don't talk about it with, or show the map to, anyone who hasn't yet gone. No cutting through the corn, or past a barrier. And if you do happen to knock down a barrier, put it back up. Of course, after you've finished the Classic, studying the map prior to running the 2 R's is fine and might even be a good idea.

-- In some years in the past, the maze has been rototilled just before we had our event, resulting in a very soft and slow running surface. This year that was done a couple of weeks ago, so the ground will be firm and fast.

-- Zero collisions is the goal.
Sep 4, 2023 1:08 AM # 
What news? The world wonders.
Sep 4, 2023 1:26 AM # 
Excellent event until the night (which I left early from and cannot report from). The competitors defeated the organizers at the 2 Rs.
Sep 4, 2023 1:55 AM # 
Wyatt Riley won the night-o and that’s about all there is to it? I think?
Sep 4, 2023 2:52 AM # 
Oriana’s right^

The only good news is that
Sep 4, 2023 3:47 AM # 
Splits are up for the Sprint, the Classic, and the Night. Overall winners were Keegan Harkavy and Evalin Brautigam. Still pondering what to do about the 2 R's, brilliant (and daring) in its imagination, sadly lacking in the minor aspect of organizer execution. Many thanks to as enjoyable a group of participants as I can ever remember.
Sep 4, 2023 3:48 AM # 
Would someone explain the 2 Rs to those of us who could not attend but still want to know? (I mean besides that they stand for reading and 'rithmatic.) Thanks!
Sep 4, 2023 3:56 AM # 
Winners of the Classic (from left - Izzy (3rd), Evalin (2nd), Bridget (1st), Keegan (1st), Greg (2nd), Danny (3rd)). Photo by Sydney Dixon.

Sep 4, 2023 4:02 AM # 
The 2 R's course --

Sep 4, 2023 4:07 AM # 
Sprint map --

Sep 4, 2023 4:09 AM # 
Classic map --

Sep 4, 2023 4:11 AM # 
Night, part 1 --

Sep 4, 2023 4:13 AM # 
Night, part 2

Sep 4, 2023 11:46 AM # 
Thank you!!
Sep 4, 2023 12:09 PM # 
Here are "results" from the 2 R's, based on time from start to #2 and from #4 to finish. Still need to be taken with a large grain of salt. Use them as you wish. :-)

1 Will Hawkins WCOC 05:19
2 Brendan Shields CSU 05:38
3 Evalin Brautigam WCOC 05:47
4 Stephen Pepe DVOA 05:56
5 Nils Peters NEOC 06:15
6 Joe Brautigam WCOC 06:53
7 Wyatt Riley DVOA 06:57
8 Keegan Harkavy NEOC 07:05
9 Izzy Bryant NEOC 07:06
10 Paige Suhocki DVOA 07:07
11 Mori Finlayson-Johnecheck NEOC 07:48
12 Tor Webb CSU 08:01
13 Pia Webb CSU 08:07
14 Matey Kirkbride 08:11
15 Pavlina Brautigam WCOC 08:21
16 Julia Doubson BAOC 08:27
17 Danny Riley NEOC 08:28
18 Greg Ahlswede DVOA 08:33
19 Kristin Hall NEOC 08:43
20 Kseniya Popova HVO 08:49
21 Oriana Riley DVOA 08:56
22 Andres Pena Tauber 09:07
23 Magnus Bjorkman NEOC 09:13
24 Alex Bowman 09:23
25 Meglena Zapreva 10:02
26 Lina Spokauskaite HVO 10:08
27 Terry Costello NEOC 10:27
28 Jackson Codd 11:09
29 Lukas Webb CSU 11:59
30 Gail Richardson WCOC 12:35
31 Daisy Hguyen HVO 12:51
31 Adam Caplan-Bricker 12:51
33 Patty Carrigan DVOA 13:37
34 Bridget Hall NEOC 13:44
35 Mark Webb CSU 14:02
36 Anthony Parfenov WCOC 14:10
37 Patrick McNeal NEOC 14:35
38 Charlie DeWeese WCOC 14:39
39 Nadine Leisgang CSU 15:23
40 Diane McNamara 15:57
41 Tessa Lancaster MHC 16:18
42 Dean Sturtevant NEOC 16:52
43 Jared Girouard NEOC 17:19
44 Guy Olsen HVO 19:03
45 Phil Bricker WCOC 19:41
46 Nadezhda Popova HVO 19:48
47 Susan DeWitt WCOC 20:21
48 Ken Walker Sr CSU 21:35
49 Zhendong Li WCOC 26:02
50 Quan Qi WCOC 26:25
51 Summer McGrane DVOA 28:26
52 Barbara Lamay NEOC 29:02
Rick DeWitt WCOC DNF
Kirsten Mayland DVOA DNF
Isla Finlayson-Johnecheck NEOC DNF
Wendy Johnecheck NEOC DNF
Sydney Dixon QOC DNF
Sep 4, 2023 12:26 PM # 
The snafu with the 2 R's was that the third control (#50) was said to be at the "2nd h". In fact, #50 was at the "3rd h". And to add to the snafu, there was actually a control (#45) at the 2nd h, which was going to be in the Night course. Obviously the results above don't reflect the impact of the snafu on how hard someone was trying on the rest of the course.

In creating splits, the software, OR, seems to want to include the split from 2 to 4 in the total time. Trying to figure out how to keep that from happening. I may just post the splits like that, in which case the total times would be bogus, but the individual splits may be of interest.

What a pain, self-inflicted. But actually, still a smile on my face because we had such a fine group of people at the maze, some of whom are now sitting around our breakfast table. :-)
Sep 4, 2023 2:26 PM # 
Between the Corn Maze and the Laramie Daze it seems almost everybody who is/ was anybody in US Orienteering was either competing or organizing on Labor Day Weekend.
Sep 4, 2023 3:45 PM # 
Thanks so much for a lovely wacky friendly event! Where does one find the splits? Thanks!
Sep 4, 2023 3:59 PM # 
If you click on the event title, the page it brings you to has four sections of splits at the top, one for each of the races!
Sep 4, 2023 4:25 PM # 
Thank you!
Sep 4, 2023 6:01 PM # 
Check out the blog post on the National Team blog about the event yesterday!
Sep 4, 2023 6:05 PM # 
I agree with the magnificence of Wyatt's night victory! Clearly he's someone who can still do hard things. Very inspirational to those of us that may be (cough) aging much less gracefully.
Sep 4, 2023 6:23 PM # 
Overall, a super competitive field this year. A lot of national team experience in the start list. Speeds were exceptional.

With Keegan's overall victory this year, there is now a tie for the most engravings on the trophy ... should we ever produce one ... and we really should. Will Ian ever return from retirement to defend his record? And maybe one side of the trophy should be reserved for just Brautigams?

Hope to see everyone again next year.

(FYI, the CMOUSA steering committee have met, and will be assigning remedial arithmetic lessons to certain individuals ...)
Sep 4, 2023 11:42 PM # 
Thank you for a great event, and some challenging courses - and the 3 skips which was _just_ enough to hold off the pack of speedsters (that, plus correctly counting the long vs. short walls for the turn to the finish) in the Night O'. Excellent 50th birthday week present (the event, and the lucky night. :)
Sep 5, 2023 1:14 AM # 
Brilliantly done, Wyatt. Must be 50 years (minus 4 days) of clean living and serious training. Really cool.

Interesting to look at the impact of the skips and the mellow mass start on the top finishers --

Start Finish Elapsed Skips
1. 8:13:27 8:27:52 14:25 3 Wyatt Riley
2. 8:13:23 8:27:53 14:30 2 Mori Finlason-Johnecheck (age 16)
3. 8:14:02 8:28:37 14:35 7 Alex Bowman
4. 8:13:20 8:27:56 14:36 1 Danny Riley
4. 8:13:19 8:27:55 14:36 1 Greg Ahlswede
6. 8:13:25 8:28:07 14:42 2 Evalin Brautigam
7. 8:13:21 8:28:14 14:53 1 Keegan Harkavy
8. 8:13:49 8:28:59 15:10 5 Tor Webb (age 13)

I spent a while during the dinner break coming up with the skip allotment. It was based on results of the sprint and the classic. First rule was that the fastest got a skip -- that makes it more interesting than just having to get them all. Second rule was that there was a slight preference given to the best; it seemed that folks getting more skips should have a chance for a high placing, even a win, but they would need to be orienteering really well. Still, they should have a chance.

The next thing to understand is the mellow mass start. It's close to a mass start, but just close. Everyone gets in a long line, those with the least skips at the front, those with the most at the rear. And then they're off, everyone punching the single start box. So everyone had a different start time, though the differences might be very small. But that meant that at the finish, the order of finish might, or might not be the order of results.

So Wyatt was first to punch at the finish in a mad dash with Mori, the difference just a second. But Wyatt with 3 skips had started 4 seconds after Mori, so the difference in the results is a full 5 seconds.

Third in the results, Alex Bowman, had seven skips. All I had to go on was his 23rd place in the sprint and 43rd place in the classic. Seven seemed a reasonable number. Alex started about 40 seconds after the first starters, and he kept things simple by skipping the first 7 controls. If you look at the splits, he was then leading the race all the way through the last control. It looks like he wasted a bit of time getting to the finish, but I'm not sure. He finished after the first wave of finishers came in, but because he started later, his time was just 10 seconds off Wyatt's, good for third place.

A side note. Alex came up to me just before the awards, asked me not to give him an award, he'd had too many skips. He was serious, so I agreed. But he finished third and that's where he is in the final results. Really cool. And I'd say he had exactly the right number of skips. Next year, he probably won't get 7. :-)

And I should point out the fine result by Evalin, with just 2 skips. She flew in from Europe the day before to make it to Mike's Maze, so some serious jet lag. Bravo.
Sep 5, 2023 1:54 AM # 
It looks like it was a fantastic event! I was quite impressed by how effectively the barriers created maze complexity and decision challenges. Well done to PG and stever for their organization of a consistently excellent and prestigious event.
Sep 5, 2023 7:59 PM # 
Fun fact. This year's maze contemplated the deep philosophical question:

In the age of artificial intelligence, what makes us human?

The first answer that Mike's maze proposes is "Thinking". But Mike also
suggested a second answer. Did anyone notice?
Sep 5, 2023 8:05 PM # 
Corn maze orienteering?
Sep 5, 2023 8:06 PM # 
Nice, but not it.
Sep 5, 2023 8:31 PM # 
Izzy B:
Sep 5, 2023 9:06 PM # 
We have a winner!
Sep 6, 2023 12:06 AM # 
Complete with bubbles... :)
Sep 6, 2023 1:31 AM # 
jjcote: I see. Very nice, and appropriate.
Sep 6, 2023 1:33 AM # 
Thanks again to Peter and to Steve for organizing and hosting and running this event, and for Izzy planting herself at the wayward control in the Night-O to make sure folks had heard the update, broadcast while running, and for Gail, who kindly stepped in as my guardian angel, having taken note of my serious uncertainty in trying my first Night-O. The 12 (count 'em!) skips were just about perfect, allowing me to "finish" with some measure of dignity, well after most folks had finished (the maze was getting quieter and quieter, kind of freaky in a way...) but before controls were being retrieved. I had only planned to try about 3 controls, not 8, but thoroughly enjoyed this. And for any other newbies considering trying a Night-O, I will just pass along the tidbit I learned all by myself, which is that it might be fairly hopeless trying to use the red setting on one's headlamp, b/c as soon as it shines on the map - the circles and numbers for controls nearly disappear!!!!! Being at the end of the line (I walk only), I had just enough time to mark the numbers at least in black in in the margin, which helped a LOT. Still baffled as to how a Night-O is run in a different setting - forest?? Truly?! (It definitely helped a great deal that by the time this Night-O was run, it was the 3rd time through the maze, and there was the benefit of having seen the aerial view as well, online.) Thanks again! Delightful.
Sep 6, 2023 11:13 PM # 
Progress, I think, on splits for the 2 R's without the time for the bogus control. Now if I can get Kenny to remove the previous version....

In the new version the course is called "2 R".
Sep 7, 2023 12:31 AM # 

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