EMPO Times Fall 1996

New York State Championships

On May 4 & 5, several EMPO members took part in the New York State Orienteering Championships, hosted by Central New York Orienteering in Dryden, New York. The event was well attended and well organized, although the weather did its part to make things difficult, not so much right then as in the days preceding the event. Basically, it was wet, as it was everywhere in New York this Spring. Nonetheless, the EMPO contingent acquitted themselves quite well, taking home New York Championships in four Classes. Both days featured a lot of smaller ups and downs, plus at least one major climb in all the "advanced" classes, while the juniors had to contend with some tough route choice decisions, a streamered leg, and using something besides a trail for a handrail. At the end of the two days, and after producing some pretty muddy wet laundry, Marty Hawkes-Teeter was the M12 Champ (for the second time in a row), Janet Tryson was the F40 Champ, Glen Tryson the M40 Champ, and Phil Hawkes-Teeter was the M45 Champ. Considering we only had entries in two other classes, that ain't bad. CNYO is sure to be holding Meets on this map again in the future, so watch out for when it's being used again, because it's worth the trip. Very interesting terrain, with a good trail network for the junior courses, and adequate facilities for before and after the event. All those who got there look forward to going back.

1996 Billygoat Run

Held every year since 1979, when it was instituted by many-time National "O" Champion Peter Gagarin, the Billygoat is a special "O" race with some different emphases. It seems to be about equal parts exhaustion and fun. That fun-loving but exhausted bunch, the EMPO Relay Team, decided it would be a fine tune-up for the upcoming US Relay Champs (part of the "O-Roundup", in August), so we all traveled to Mt. Wachussett in west-central Massachusetts to give it a shot. Our President and Relay-anchorman, Bill Jameson, has actually been doing this thing well near half his life. He currently is tied for 8th with twelve years of official finishes (completing the course in under 3 & 1/2 hours). The fact that you are considered a success if you can finish in 3 & 1/2 hours, which would normally be considered "Overtime" and disqualifying, highlights the exhausting part of the 'Goat: it's long, and there is lots of climb (they don't call this year's site MOUNT Wachussett for nothing). This year the distance was listed as 13.9k and the climb as 400m, but as we all know you always actually run further. My own route -- which I know quite well was far from optimal -- was about 2k more with 200 more meters climb. The general post race consensus seemed to be that this was one of the more physically demanding 'Goats of the last few years. Looking at my splits for each control, my minutes per kilometer sagged badly in the later stages of the race. At least I found everything without too much difficulty.

But, altogether it was still great fun. To begin with, it's a mass start race, which is unusual in orienteering because normally you aren't supposed to follow anyone else, and a mass start makes it almost impossible not to, for awhile anyway. But in the Billygoat, following is explicitly allowed, and in fact small groups of people working together frequently form, disband, and reform as the race goes along. So we all get our maps and charge off together towards the first control, stringing out more and more as things go along. I usually figure I will barely need to think for a few controls, and just try to have a rough idea where we are so when I get left in the dust I can continue on without too much difficulty. That moment came earlier than usual this year, as I found myself pretty much on my own after control two. Fortunately I did know where I was at that point, having not run too blindly, and was able to continue on, particularly since at that point all I needed to do was head towards a road which went up and around the mountain.

Another special rule which adds to the event's unique character is the one which allows you to skip one control of your choosing. The only time I crossed paths with another EMPO Team member was as I was taking what proved to be my ill-advised "skip". Which control you should have skipped is one of the big items for post-race re-hashing, and in this instance literally No One else chose to skip the one I did (this could be a sign of something: the same thing happened last year). As I was chugging back Up the mountain, Glen Tryson was zipping Down to control I had just left. I still don't think my choice was that bad; I just didn't execute it well, failing to see the correct trail turnoff and ending up climbing several hundred meters too far, then having to make a tricky descent to get back to the right level. Most people ended up getting the control I skipped and the next one in about the same time it took me to do the one. What a waste!

It would be fun to try another mass start race here in EMPO-land some day, but the difficulty is in getting everyone to show up at the same time. We have enough trouble getting people to show up, period. So, until the day our numbers increase to some magic level, we'll have to leave mass starts to the bigger clubs around us. In the meantime, I'll be sure to put next year's Billygoat date and location in the Spring newsletter.

More Surf-O

Attempts to e-mail last Spring's EMPO Times met with very mixed success. Some people got it, some got gibberish, and some got the words but in a strange format. Given the wide variety of e-mail clients and word processors in use, it just doesn't seem like we'll be able to settle on a format which will make it worthwhile to continue with e-mailing our newsletter. Instead, we'll try to get it on our World Wide Web page, where anyone with a modem and a Browser can read it. The last one was put there in a mostly text form, and this time we're trying to add some of the graphics. Much thanks goes to our non-resident WebMaster, Stina Bridgeman, for her efforts in keeping our info available to the surfing public. You'll find the EMPO Homepage, and this newsletter, schedule, et. al., at http://empo.us.orienteering.org/. In the future we'll try to be a bit quicker about getting local race results out there too.

New Officers Elected

EMPO was down to just one official Officer, so a secret election was called and the following persons were stunned to discover they had some new titles, and maybe even a few new duties:

President and National Representative: Bill Jameson
Vice President/Schedule/Newsletter: Phil Hawkes-Teeter
Treasurer and Principal Quilter: Janet Tryson
Secretary and Chief Carpenter: John Beatty
Ski-O/Youth Program Director: Eric Hamilton
President Emeritus: Ed Downey

North American and US Champs Week: GROW

One of the better ideas that seems to be taking root on the national orienteering scene is to put together an extended package of orienteering events covering two weekends and the week in between. Not everyone can just take off for a week in the middle of the Fall or Spring, but by putting together a series of interesting events, it makes it worthwhile for people to try to see if they can. This year, the Great Rivers Orienteering Week (GROW) has been scheduled with the North American Championships on October 19-20 around St. Louis, Missouri, the US Championships on October 26-27 around Cincinnati, Ohio, and "A" level events in between on Monday the 21st, Wednesday the 23rd, and Friday the 25th. There will be opportunities for sightseeing, gathering with fellow O-gypsies, and generally having a good time, along with the best competition on this continent. So if you've got a spare vacation week, cancel that timeshare condo reservation and head to the Midwest. Don't think you can be really competitive? It doesn't matter. Big events like this offer the best maps and courses for all levels, plus a string of events together offers a great chance to work on improving your "O" skills in a relatively short timeframe. There a many sources for more information (Orienteering North America magazine and the Internet, to name two), but feel free to contact me as a start if you might be interested.

Think Snow! Really!

Considering the winters we've been having, it's never too early to start our collective brainwaves on doing their best to get us a decent year of ski-O-ing. This Winter we'll have a particular interest because EMPO is hosting the US Ski-O Championships, the Empire State Games Ski-O competition, and the New York State Ski Racing Association Champs all in one big event on March 1 & 2, 1997. Not only will we need snow, of course, but we'll need YOU too, both as competitors and Meet helpers. It will be quite exciting and a good time for all, so be sure to mark your calendars early. And get those brainwaves started!

Junior Camp by Willen Oswald

Two of EMPO's Juniors took part in this year's United States Orienteering Federation Junior Camp. Both had a great time, and felt they learned a lot. Here's the report of one of them.

On June 14-16, a group of young orienteers and some of their parents came to Linden Hill School in Northfield, Mass. Some came there to improve their orienteering skills, others just to have fun. All of us do some kind of orienteering: some do run-o others do ski-o, and some do both. People came from all over New York, such as the Rochester, Ithaca, New York City and Albany areas, as well as other parts of the Northeast. The camp was organized by Jeff Seager (USOF Junior Program Director).

The group met on Friday at night to discuss what everybody was going to do for weekend and to talk about orienteering. The next day, after eating we all headed to Northfield Mountain by car, just 5 minutes away. The park on the mountain has a large information center and picnic tables outside. In the park are permanant controls. That helps course setting a lot. We did many activities that day. One of these was memory-o, this is where you look at a little piece of a map and you have to memorize it and go to a spot on it, where there is another piece of the map, and so on. We also did an exercise in groups of 4 or 5 people. One person was the leader and took everyone's maps. The leader picked a point on the map and ran to it with all the other group members following him or her. When the leader got to his or her destination he or she would hand back all of the maps and all the other members would have to pinpoint where they were. They would keep on alternating leaders until everyone got to do it.

The camp was a lot of fun and I met lots of new people. Hope to see you next year!