Sunday, December 5, 2010

Follow Your Own Path

Today was the annual Possum Trot XIV. What is such a thing? Well it is the big annual orienteering event put on by the Possum Trot Orienteering Club and is held at the Heartland Presbyterian Center out in Parkville, Missouri. It is a mass start event and covers about 15 Kilometers of some rugged terrain.

Part of my off-season training is to better my navigation skills and running skills. I will need both for the planned adventure racing in 2011. It has been nearly two years since my last orienteering event. Over the time period I forgot everything I learned on that day and was basically starting over. The Possum Trot is a mass start which you would think would make it easier. Well for the first three controls it is. Until you lose your pace setter :-)
Today I got to try out my new Rudy Project Rx glasses that Carolynn bought me. I got the new Magster model with transition lenses. With age my eye sight has gotten so bad that I just can not ride off-road anymore and see the trail - this is part of the reason crashed last month. And yes the chops are coming in nicely.

Here is the course we had to do. Let me tell you there are a lot of hills on this thing and a heck of a lot of briars and thorny plants. No I know why most everyone was wearing these funky things on their legs.
Before the start I was looking for anyone who might have earned their Orienteering Merit Badge. I did find this one guy who had a nice Cow Town hat that I need to get. He was having nothing of my offer to buy it. Eventually I did find one and once the gun sounded I was on his heels. In hind sight I should have followed my own path and used today's event to actually learn something. Well, I got all competitive and decide I would just follow this youngster. Like I mentioned above this worked for the first three controls. By the time I left control 24 I lost my young merit badge winner and was lost in the woods. I got my trusty compass out and tried to use it, but gave up once I saw a couple of my fellow participants. It just seemed easier to follow someone who knows where they are going. This only lasted for two more controls until we all got lost. I soon realized that I just needed to settle down and follow my own path.

I found control 30 on my own and felt good about myself. I then used my compass (based on my limited knowledge of said device) and plotted a path to 31. Things appeared to be going well and I gain felt a sense of accomplishment t when I spotted another control. Only problem was it was not the control I was looking for. After wondering around for about 15 minutes I decided to head up to a clearing and find a location on the map (like a pond) that I could reference. Being down in a frozen creek bed was just not working for me. After just about giving up hope and deciding to give up I finally found a reference point. A large cross out in the middle of a field. A quick look on the map sure enough there was cross - I had found the holly grail.

I took my time and 2 hours 15 minutes later I finally reached the finish line. I learned several good lessons today namely that you should always Follow Your Own Path in life and in Orienteering events...

The Possum Trot club put on a very nice event. Great vibe at the event, plenty of hot food and I for one am looking forward to the next event - Shawnee Mission Park 1 Hour Score O. Until then plenty of Gravel Grinding to do and of course some more map reading practice.


Tim Greene said...

I have done a couple of these. One of my co-workers did some of the mapping. I did one of the first score-0 for mountain bike at Kill Creek. Running at the time was not for me.

Mark Thomas said...


Back in the day I used to do some O.
There was a great scene here in the 80's. I ran for Possum Trot and Kansas Orienteering. Guys like Mike Eglinski were tearing it up. I think he was on the podium at Nationals several times. I could run with those guys, but didn't have near the navigation skills. Red courses would kill me. Orange level I would do OK. I might have some old O suits and a good thumb compass you could borrow.

Rich Anderson said...