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Discussion: orienteering event in underground mine

in: Orienteering; General

Jan 9, 2011 2:20 PM # 
Anyone thought of organizing an orienteering event inside a mine ?

i noticed there are a few 5K running races that are held completely underground inside limestone mines.

"Groundhog Run" in Kansas
"Runnin' Outta Our Mine 5K" in Western Pennsylvania

here is a map of the Kansas mine
Jan 9, 2011 2:28 PM # 
Looks like you didn't do any Googling...

Not too much there but it has taken place before
Jan 9, 2011 2:34 PM # 
This was aparently put on in 1987.



In 1989 the JK had a novelty event at Monkton Farleigh Bath Stone Mine which I remember doing. I have not been able to find the map inline with a quick search. It was a good fun event to do I remember.

Jan 9, 2011 3:01 PM # 
It was done a few years ago in France too, near Fontainebleau/Larchant... but unofficially. I've seen the video; it looked v cool.
Jan 10, 2011 3:08 AM # 
here is a map of the Kansas mine

The maze of support columns (actually the UNmined areas) would make for an incredible sprint -- but the area used would have to be well lit.

I was in Subtropolis many years ago, and let me tell you: You* haven't experienced darkness, until you've been in the unlit parts of that complex. So dark, that car (1995 model) headlights, on high beam, barely give you about 25' of narrow visibility.

One more thing: It's actually in KC, MO.

* - except miners and spelunkers.
Jan 10, 2011 4:20 AM # 
but the area used would have to be well lit.

I would assume that it would be a night-O situation, and everybody would bring their own lights.

You* haven't experienced darkness, until you've been in the unlit parts of that complex.

It's unclear what you mean. Is it darker than no light at all? Does it have negative light? I've often been in places with no light at all. I have an interior closet in my house that, if it's nighttime, the house lights are off, and the door to the closet and the room it's in are both closed, admits absolutely no light. You can stay in there as long as you like, and your eyes will never adjust to show the faintest glimmer coming from anywhere. Does this mine have fine particles suspended in the air that sucks up light or something? (If it does, I want nothing to do with it.)
Jan 10, 2011 4:32 AM # 
Been there, done that!

Video by Rob Fell, Victoria, Oz.
Jan 10, 2011 6:22 AM # 
I would assume that it would be a night-O situation, and everybody would bring their own lights.

...which would be inadequate.

Closet vs mine: As dark as it might be in the closet, it is small enough that you could feel your way around, including finding the knob on the door to let yourself out. Subtropolis may be no darker, but its vastness (not a tunnel, but an immense underground room), and the very real possiblity of becoming completely disoriented in there, are very unsettling -- enough to make it feel darker.
Jan 10, 2011 6:41 AM # 
I'm not buying it. A headlamp should be as effective in a mine as it is in a cave, or in a full-canopy forest with no moon. You can't get any darker than completely dark. It's like a container that can hold an internal pressure of one atmosphere, which will not rupture no matter how strong a vacuum you pull on the outside. It will hold together in intergalactic space, because you can't get lower than zero pressure.

I will believe that you can get into a situation, if there are no pillars, where your light won't "reach" anything (other than floor and ceiling), which may be unsettling. Time to use the compass.
Jan 10, 2011 6:57 AM # 
4.5 sq km (
Jan 10, 2011 7:10 AM # 
An old dry coal mine can be very dark because the coal on the pillars absorbs more than 99% of the light that falls on it. Seeps of water, and particularly the limestone dust sprayed to suppress coal-dust explosions, noticably improve the visibility in active mines.
You are unlikely to get into a big enough cavity to be unable to see the ribs (walls) because one that wide is usually only marginally stable ( ie total failure some time in the next 1 second to 10+ years). The only thing worse than absolute dead quiet is very sudden cracking & rumbling.

I have had to navigate out of an old pillar panel when working alone & my cap-lamp failed - fortunately only took about 15 minutes but I was starting to imagine lights.
Jan 10, 2011 12:09 PM # 
Bergson Winter Challenge 2006 in southern Poland included a stage in a uranium mine - see - see "Forest Finale" page 2 of 3.
Jan 10, 2011 12:19 PM # 
I seem to remember the Monkton Farleigh mine event that Ifor refers to it was compulsory to carry a spare light (which I actually always do for night O now anyway since a couple of years ago when my light failed - could see fine by moonlight to walk but couldn't read the map!). It was eerily dark down there, but was fine with a normal headtorch.
Jan 10, 2011 1:47 PM # 
The Wicked Hard Night-O at Pawtuckaway has a mandatory spare light requirement as well, which is now rigidly enforced, after an "incident" a few years ago. On a moonless night, under hemlock canopy, in the rain, a competitor broke his light, and was left in complete darkness (he had rolled his eyes at the spare light requirement). He reported, "It was very dark, I was very scared". Our policy is that searching for a competitor at Pawtuckaway before daylight is going to be more of a compounding of the problem than a benefit, so we won't do it. Fortunately, the competitor in question was in the lead, and when the next two runners caught up, he followed them around the rest of the course. All competitors are now required to turn on both lights at the start line to show that they work.

This discussion thread is closed.