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Spring Meets Promise Open Woods, Fresh Smells, Bright Sun

Clark Maxfield, Club News Editor

The seven orienteering meets in the Chicago area this spring will offer variety and challenge, a chance to reacquaint yourself with the beautiful natural areas around the City, and the opportunity to get in shape, and become better at using natural features to find your way in the woods.

Before we begin a detailed summary of the spring local meets, a few general comments are appropriate. Spring weather in Chicago is often warm and delightful, with bright sun cutting through the bare branches, the smell of fresh earth in the air, and an absence of bugs and poison ivy. Until the last frost, usually in early May, most trees and bushes will remain dormant, making walking and running off-trail directly through the woods and fields much easier.

But this is Chicago, and winter can always reappear. Bring a nylon shell jacket and perhaps a polypropylene undergarment for good measure. And in a backpack, include a change of clothing and a warm sweater so that you'll be comfortable on the way home.

All meets start with a Beginner's Clinic at 9:30 a.m. for those that need a review of the fundamentals of the sport, and the first start times are usually handed out by 10 a.m.. Competitors may start anytime up until noon. But if you plan to take more than 2 hours to complete your course, please get there early since controls will be picked up beginning at 2 p.m.

Five courses of increasing length and difficulty are always offered...see course descriptions elsewhere. Generally, it is a good idea to start with a course you know you can complete easily; if you want more "O" after finishing, you can always mark your map with the next harder course and go out on that one too! No charge for seconds! But be sure you check out at the Finish before driving away...we keep tabs on you and will start a search if you haven't checked out within 3 hours of your start time.

Registration is $8 per punch card, with a $3 discount for Club members. Extra maps are $2 and compass rentals are $1. The Club long-sleeved Hanes tee-shirt is only $15 and sales benefit our Mapping Fund. So without furthur ado, here is a run-down on the local meets this spring:

March 9—Lincoln Park, Chicago
Clark Maxfield, Meet Director

The first meet this spring may be a bit cool. But it will be held in downtown Chicago where warm restaurants, bistros and cafes are not far away for warmth and refreshment after your short run. Although it will require orienteering skills such as map reading and route selection, the terrain is simple, flat and open, so it will give you a early-season chance to get some exercise and have some fun. But because it will involve crossing busy city streets, this meet is not appropriate for children on their own.

Urban or "park" orienteering is a new concept that has become popular in Europe over the past couple of years, as the sport tries to become more known and accepted by the mainstream public and media. Top orienteers from around the world are paid to appear and run short, fast courses through city parks for the enjoyment of the spectators, much like an inner city marathon, criterium or bike race.

For our first Park event, we will keep the activity quite simple and low-key. The meet will be a Score-O event with only a Long and Short course. As a Score-O, you will be given a specific amount of time to visit as many control locations as you can and return to the finish, without coming in overtime. More distant controls will have more point value than nearer controls. Overtime will be penalized at a rate of 5 points per minute overtime. Winners are determined first by their point score, and then by their run time in the event of point-count ties.

Afterwards, the event participants will be invited to retire to a local pub for a bit of socializing, lunch, and libations. Since it has been several months since you last saw these people, everyone should have some catching up to do. Sign-up sheets will be available for those willing to volunteer to help out at local meets this year. And the National meet schedule will be updated, so this is a good place to plan car-pools and traveling companions to distant events, such as the Cincinnati A-meet at the end of the month, and the 12-hour Indiana Rogaine in April (see Orienteering Calendar).

Bring a pencil!! Since no standard orienteering markers or punches will be used at this meet, participants will be required to mark their scorecard with a pencil, using information found at each control location. This is our first meet of this nature, so there may be a few glitches. If you a looking for a more finished product, skip this meet and come to the March 23 Swallow Cliff meet.

Meet Registration will be held in the small public park on the southeast corner of Clark and Belden Streets. Participants will then run/stroll along city streets to access Lincoln Park itself. In addition, some control features may require reentering city streets.

Public Transportation:

Because of difficult parking, use of public transportation is highly recommended.
Take Brown or Red "el" line to Fullerton station (with your bicycle if you wish—bikes are permitted on the "el" all day Sunday) Transfer to Fullerton bus if one is waiting, otherwise, walk/bike east on Fullerton to Lincoln Avenue (one block). Turn south for one block to take a left on Belden Street (John Barleycorn's Pub on corner). Walk east 3 blocks to Clark Street and Registration. And bring pencils.

Bring pencils; exit either Lake Shore Drive or the Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94) at Fullerton. Drive west/east to Lincoln Park on the lakefront where parking is available in the Park on Lakeview, Stockton and Cannon Drives. Also a public garage for paid parking is available on Belden Street east of Clark Street, one block south of Fullerton and across from Registration.

March 23—Swallow Cliff Forest, Palos Hills
Clark Maxfield/Natalia Babeti

Located on the ridge formed by the lakeshore of the pre-glacial Lake Chicago before Niagara Falls was formed, when the Chicago and Illinois Rivers carried most of the water from the Great Lakes, Swallow Cliff Forest is on some of the steepest terrain in our area.

A high east-west ridge intercut by steep-sided ravines and reentrants runs the length of this map, and allows some interesting courses to be set. Should you run up and over the big ridge in front of you, or follow the meandering trail around the reasonably flat valley? And how accurately can you follow your compass once you get to the top of the broad, featureless plateau...? Can you dependably continue 300 meters and hit the small side reentrant where the control is located?

While White, Yellow and Orange courses will be located in the trail network to the east and north of the start, the Green and Red advanced courses will cross the road and plunge into the extensive Cap Sauers Holding map to the west.

Public Transportation:

Take Pace bus #381 from the 95th Street Terminal (in the middle of the Dan Ryan Expressway) on the Red elevated line at 8:30 a.m. Get off bus at end of line at Moraine Valley Community College and walk west on 107th Street one mile to turn south on Hwy 45 (96th Avenue) which takes you across the Sag Channel. Turn west again on Calumet Sag Road (Hwy 83) for a mile, then turn left on 104th Avenue and up the hill half a mile to Registration. On the return, ask someone in the parking lot to drop you at MVCC where return buses depart every 30 minutes all afternoon.

From the north, take LaGrange Road-South from Stevenson Expressway (I-55). Exit at cloverleaf just after crossing the Sag Channel on Hwy 83-West. Turn south on 104th Avenue (next left) and then follow orienteering signs into the first parking area and follow the trail south to registration. This is the overflow lot; the lot near the Registration shelter at the top of the hill has limited capacity and will be full by 10 a.m. Do not park on 104th Avenue!! The Club will be cited by Forest Preserve police if congestion or dangerous parking occurs. Please co-operate.

April 13—Country Lane Woods, Palos Park
Tom Favale/Carl Larsson/Gary Klaben

An orienteering clinic will be taught today beginning at 10 a.m. by Carl Larsson and Gary Klaben. Both Carl and Gary have extensive orienteering credentials. Carl grew up in Sweden as a very competitive orienteer at an early age. And Gary attended West Point Military Academy where he was a member of that prestigious orienteering team. We are fortunate to have them instructing Club members for the cost of a normal entry.

Various orienteering techniques will be presented and practiced including:

  1. pace counting,
  2. running a compass bearing,
  3. fine and rough navigation techniques (sometimes called red-light, green-light orienteering), and
  4. corridor orienteering.

These techniques are important to master if you are going to develop your skill to move through the woods in a fast, efficient manner, and are discussed elsewhere in the newsletter. This session is especially intended for adventure racers who have only recently begun to orienteer.

Normal White, Yellow and Orange courses will also be offered. After training, advanced runners will be given a combined Red/Green "control picking (many short legs)" course on which they can practice the skills they learned earlier. The meet today will not count toward the Club Championship, so plan to come early, and take your time, running repeats on the same legs several times to develop your skills. And then, for the remainder of the season, you'll be a better navigator and more confident orienteer.

Public Transportation:

Take Pace bus #381 from the 95th Street Terminal (in the middle of the Dan Ryan Expressway) on the Red elevated line at either 8:30am or 9:30am. Get off as the bus turns left at 88th Avenue about 40 minutes later. Walk west on 95th Street about 1-1/2 miles to Country Lane parking lot on left.

From the north, take LaGrange Road-South from Stevenson Expressway (I-55) approximately 4 miles to turn right at the traffic light at 95th Street. Proceed west about a mile to enter the Country Lane Woods parking lot on your left.

April 27—Poplar Creek, Schaumberg
Richard Gaylord/Bill Bollig

A Pink Course will be offered on this new map along with the standard courses. A Pink course is as long as a Red course, but as easy as a White course....it is perfect for your runner friends who have always wanted to try the sport of orienteering, but didn't like dealing with complicated compass courses and route choices. Invite them to come with you today! The Pink course is also good for people who just want to go for a nice long walk, with a purpose.

Poplar Creek was a famous summer music venue with a widespread reputation from the sixties all the way to the nineties, until Sears, Roebuck Co, anxious to leave the Sears Tower in downtown Chicago, made the owners an offer they couldn't refuse. Many a youngster had their first concert experience at this somewhat antiseptic outdoor music theater. Jefferson Airplane, Peter Frampton, Whitesnake, Bon Jovi.....

Well, the music may have died, but the orienteering is just beginning. Although the Sears campus is on the north side of the Northwest Tollway (I-90), the large forested area on the south side of the Tollway is the Club's newest map, thanks to Rich Gaylord and Joe Sehnal.

Public Transportation:

Very remote and difficult to reach—bring your folding bike! Metra train arrives in Bartlett at 9:30 a.m. Jog/bike north on Oak Ave to Hwy 20. Jog left then right and continue north on Bartlett Road; left on Bode Road; right on Sutton Road for the last mile into parking lot on west side of Sutton (6 miles from station) On the return, ask someone to drop you back at the station.

Northwest Tollway (I-90) 19 miles west of O'Hare to Exit 11—Sutton Road-South (Hwy 59); proceed south 1.5 miles to turn right into parking lot a mile south of expressway. Registration is at second (western) shelter.

May 18 - Palos North/Country Lane, Palos Hills
Gale Teschendorf/Dugalic Dragovan
First Annual "Curse of the Goat" CAOC Billygoat-style long-O

This is going to be a Long, Long race on the combined maps of Country Lane Woods and Palos North, which comprise a triangular area 4-1/2miles on a side! The winning time will be over 2 hours, and most orienteers will probably be out on the course at least 4 hours. The event will hopefully challenge both in-shape orienteers, and our Adventure Racing membership. A somewhat shorter Green course will also be offered, along with the standard White, Yellow and Orange courses. See article elsewhere in this edition of Chicao-O.

This will be a Billygoat-style event, so there will be some differences in the rules for the meet: A mass start will occur at 10 a.m. for both the Red and Green runners. And the course will officially close at 3 p.m. Following will be allowed, and competitors may skip any two controls of their choosing. A special Curse of the Goat T-shirt will be awarded to all who finish the course in under 3 hours.

Public Transportation:

Take Pace bus #381 from the 95th Street Terminal (in the middle of the Dan Ryan Expressway) on the Red elevated line at 8:30am. Get off as the bus turns left at 88th Avenue about 40 minutes later. Walk west on 95th Street about 3-1/2 miles to turn left on Wolf Road, and then south to Registration at Pulaski Woods.

From the north, take LaGrange Road-South from Stevenson Expressway (I-55) approximately 2miles to exit on Archer Avenue-West. Proceed southwest approximately 4 miles to turn left on Wolf Road at intersection with 95th Street. Continue south on Wolf Road to parking lot on right for Pulaski Woods.

June 1—Deer Grove Forest, Palatine
Michael Collins/Drew Bolda

In addition to the five standard orienteering courses, this meet will feature geocaching, a sport described as "treasure hunting with GPS." Geocachers use published coordinates (latitude and longitude) to find weather-proof containers (e.g. ammo boxes) to exchange items with one another. Today, however, they'll be looking for the same controls as everyone else.

Instead of getting a map with the controls locations circled, they will get a blank map and a list of the coordinates of each control. They'll then have up to three hours to find as many of the controls as possible. Or, they'll also be able to choose to run a particular course (white, yellow, orange, etc.) with GPS instead of a marked map.

We tried this out for the first time at the Snowgaine in January, and it worked great. For more information, check out the geocaching website. There will be folks around at the start who will be happy to explain and demonstrate how it all works.

The vegetation will be plenty thick by June 1, but the path network should make it easy to get around. Nonetheless, the folks on the Green and Red courses should expect some good fight. Pre-marked maps will be available to people who pre-register on the club website.

Public Transportation:

A Metra train arrives at the Palatine station on Sundays at 11:24 a.m. from Union Station in Chicago. From there, you walk north on Smith Street, past a 19th century cemetery, to the Bike Path which will lead you directly into the Forest Preserve and Registration just prior to the noontime cut-off (2 miles walk).

Take Route 53 north of I-90 for 6 miles. Exit on Dundee Road, turn left, and go west 3 miles to Quentin Road. Turn right and go north 0.5 mile. Turn left into the forest preserve. Turn right at the first intersection within the preserve (toward grove 5). Continue to the end of the drive to the shelter near the toboggan slides. Watch for the red and white orienteering signs to direct you to the registration area.

June 8—Waterfall Glen, West Lemont
Bev Hartline/Fred Hartline

We have obtained permission to open the western access gate to Waterfall Glen. Therefore, this meet provides a rare opportunity to visit the southwest area of Waterfall Glen, which is normally 5 km from normal road access on the east side. This is only the second meet set in this area since the map was updated in 2000. It features easy-running, open forests, expansive meadows, easily-avoided thickets, and considerable topographic detail.

This DuPage County forest preserve has performed considerable work to eliminate invasive European plants and return the area to its original appearance featuring open oak forests interspersed with meadows and prairie. It is located on the north side of the original Illinois and Michigan canal: evidence of old locks, building foundations, and ancient earthworks are present along the southern side of the map which also features several steep cliffs.

Public Transportation:

Bring your folding bicycle for this one, too. Take Pace bus #381 from the 95th Street Terminal (in the middle of the Dan Ryan Expressway) on the Red elevated line at 8:30am. Get off as the bus turns left at 88th Avenue about 40 minutes later. Bike west on 95th Street about 3-1/2 miles to turn left on Archer Avenue. Follow Archer (Hwy 171) southwest to turn right (north) and cross bridge on Hwy 83—Kingery Expwy. On north side of bridge, turn left on Bluff Road, and after a mile, continue through gates into forest preserve. Ride paved/gravel roads of forest preserve southwest and west to Registration, near the model airplane field, in the Southwest area of preserve.

From I-55 take Lemont Road-South exit. Turn left onto Bluff Road at the bottom of the hill (before crossing the bridge over the Des Plaines River, Ship Canal, and railroad tracks). Drive through the forest preserve gate, where the pavement ends and park along the west side of the road from the gate to the model airplane field.

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