May 20, 2001
Swallow Cliff Forest Preserve
Dave Macaulay, Meet Director
Like the Swallows of San Juan Capistrano who return every March 19, a
flock of orienteers in multi-colored plumage returned to Swallow Cliff
Forest Preserve on May 20. The tall cliff is home to Bank Swallows and
is annually visited by map-carrying humans who sometimes get lost in the
many reentrants that eat their way back into the cliff.
The weather was perfect and the woods were filled with lush foliagepretty
to look at but sometimes difficult to run through.
The 1.5 km-long White course followed a long reentrant to the top of
the cliff before circling and descending. Some people noticed a new unmarked
trail and used it to avoid the last rocky part of the reentrant. But then
they had to return to the reentrant to find the third control.
The Yellow course was very popular and some folks did Yellow after completing
White. The 2.8-km course started and ended the same as the White but the
middle portion offered additional challenges and opportunities for shortcuts
through the woods. The trail to control 8 was somewhat tricky to find.
It was possible to save time by leaving the trail and going through the
woods to controls 5, 6, and 7. Unfortunately, late in the day, someone
removed the markers at controls 5 and 6. The nine groups with an asterisk
(*) next to their name were all slowed because of the missing markers.
One group did spot a marker lying on the ground at a wrong location and
rehung it at control 5.
The controls on the Orange course ended up being more difficult than
I wished. The design guidelines for Orange call for "moderately but
not extremely difficult navigation. The controls and best routes should
invite the intermediate orienteer away from strong linear features (trails)
that the beginners must rely on. However, the penalty for navigational
errors should not be extreme. An Orange control may be placed in an area
of intricate small features, but only if there is at least one good attack
point nearby (preferably several) to help the competitors find it, and
also a catching feature nearby to which they can ‘bail out’ if they become
I spent the morning warning intermediate orienteers about the technical
and physical difficulty of the course. Despite my warnings, the 4.4-km
Orange course was the most popular. Congratulations Orange orienteers,
you did well on a tough course!
The design guidelines for Green and Red require that "the advanced
courses (Green, Red and Blue) should be designed to be as technically
difficult as terrain and map permit." Controls should not be placed
on too large a feature or too close to collecting features. Routes should
not be parallel to obvious linear features or too close to catching features.
CAOC’s maps differ significantly in their technical difficulty. The map
we used is one of the most technically difficult areas and any advanced
course on this map is guaranteed to be more difficult than on most other
maps. In designing the Green and Red courses I tried to offer long legs
with many route choices. However I probably placed controls on features
that were too large or too near to linear features. Although many (most?)
of you were well challenged by the Green and Red courses, I believe the
advanced courses should have been more difficult. The map permitted tougher
CAOC provides a course reviewer to assist the meet director but I was
too pressed for time to take advantage of the service. The Orange, Green
and Red courses would have benefited from such a review.
Many CAOC members volunteered their time so that everyone could have
a fun outing in the beautiful woods. Rob and Lisa Blake, Tom Favale, and
Scott Stanton worked the registration table. Brad Rogowski and Jim Marshall
provided instructions to beginners. Mikhail Pekour, Joe Sehnal, and Jeff
Schafermeyer picked up markers at the end of the day. Grace Eck was a
tireless worker and was helping people all day long. Sarah Miller volunteered
to assist with tabulating results. Thanks to you all!
Someone left a set of house keys at the meet. If yours, please call Dave
Macaulay at 847-991-4977. If you found a pair of sunglasses on the Orange
course, please also call.