1999 US Individual Championships
by Evan Custer, meet director
BAOC hosted the 1999 US Classic Distance Orienteering Championships at
the Lake Tahoe-Nevada State Park at Spooner Lake on Sept. 25-26, and
it was a smashing success! More than 450 orienteers from all over the country
and some foreign countries came to the beautiful Lake Tahoe basin for 3 days
of orienteering in lovely Ponderosa pine forests. Almost all of the
participants thought the event was excellent, with challenging and
interesting courses, nice runnable terrain, excellent map, beautiful
weather, gorgeous location, and excellent organization. The orienteers who
did not go probably missed one of the best events of this millennium.
In addition, a recreational event
was held concurrently with the US Champs,
and White, Yellow, and Orange courses were offered. About 50 people each
day, many from the Lake Tahoe region, participated.
Since this was a championship meet, a model or practice event was held on
Friday afternoon, the day before the weekend event, on the southeast corner
of the map. This allowed the competitors a chance to see the type of
terrain, the mapper's and course setter's style, the type of controls used
and their placement, and a mockup of the start. About 300 people attended
this practice event and most found it to be very helpful.
The first day of competition was held on US Forest Service land west of
Highway 28 from Spooner Lake. The forest service had removed many dead and
small trees in the spring and summer and had burned them in piles on-site.
Although this resulted in very fast terrain, it also required Bob Cooley,
who set Saturday's courses, to send many hours remapping clearings that had
been changed by the tree removal. It also left a large amount of dust from
the burning. The southern two-thirds of the area was fairly bland hillside,
with the northern portion containing a lot of rock features. Thus, all
courses had several long legs which allowed route choice, plus some shorter
legs in the more technical rocky area.
Sunday's competition was held in Spooner Lake park itself. Competitors
on the Orange and advanced courses were shuttled by bus to the top of
Spooner Summit, and then walked in an additional 700 meters to the remote
start. Although this helped reduce the amount of climb, Sunday's courses
were still quite physical, particularly the Red and Blue, with a relatively
high percentage of climb. The courses were generally about 10% longer than
the desired winning times.
George Kirkov, who field-checked and drew the
map, also designed the advanced courses for Sunday. He felt that the
terrain had many large features, and long legs would be too easily
simplified and be made into a cross-country running race. As a consequence,
he designed his courses to take advantage of the many smaller knolls and
rock features, forcing the competitors to be constantly reading the map.
The Blue course ended up with 29 controls in 8.6 km., possibly a record.
Congratulations to all of the
1999 US Orienteering Champs!
Full results are available for all courses.
10-time winner of the US Champs, retained his title and
standing as the best orienteer in the country. There was a strong field in
M21, with over 50 competitors, including most of the best orienteers in the
US. Mikell had a lead of over 1:40 at the end of Day 1, and although he
came in a little less than 1 minute slower than Marc Lauenstein on Day 2, it
was enough for him to keep his lead and win the US Championship in the men's
elite class with a total 2-day time of 2:24:57. (Since Mikell lives at a
high altitude in Wyoming, he was acclimatized to the relative lack of oxygen
at the 7,000-foot elevation, as opposed to the gasping for breath that most of
the competitors who live at sea level were experiencing.)
Mikell had a near-perfect run on the very demanding Blue course on Sunday,
except that he
overshot Control 23 (a shallow pit in a relatively bland hillside that has
been hotly debated as to whether or not it was a bingo control), and lost a
minute or two. Marc was the second-fastest person on Blue for the two
days, but he was ineligible for the US Championships, so Eric Bone won the
silver medal, and Joe Brautigam the bronze.
won her first US Championship in the elite women's F21
category with two solid runs, although Regula Hogger from Sweden had the
fastest overall time for the two days. Fifty-plus Sharon Crawford
won the silver medal. Peggy Dickison, long-time winner of F21, had the
fastest time on Sunday (1:28:37), but had a lot of problems on Saturday, and
ended up with the bronze medal. The biggest disappointment probably goes to
Sandra Zurcher, who whizzed through Saturday's course in 1:03:58, but
unfortunately did not finish on Sunday.
The closest race of the weekend was M40 on Red. Kent Ohlund won the
gold medal by 1 second over fellow BAOC teammate Steve Gregg. Tom Strat, a
former BAOC member transplanted to Virginia, won the bronze.
Medals, custom-made for the event, were given to the top three US
Championship-eligible competitors, and to the fastest person overall in each
class, regardless of eligibility. To have been eligible for the US
Championship, one either had to be a US citizen or hold a green card and
have lived in the US for the last 6 months, and also be a member of USOF in
good standing. The medals were quite large, and were double-sided, with the
USOF logo on one side, and the BAOC oak tree logo on the other side. The
winners seemed to really appreciate them. In addition, plaques were given
to the winners of M21 and F21.
The Junior Club Championship
was held concurrently with the US Champs. To
be eligible, a team had to have at least 3 members 16 years of age or
younger, all from the same club and members of USOF, and had to run in their
age category or higher. The scoring was on a cross-country race style,
where the winner in each class got 1 point, the second place person 2
points, etc. The scores of the top 3 people of each team were calculated.
BAOC won this year's Junior Club Championship
with a perfect score of 6.
The members of the BAOC team were Rachel Care, Kirstin Haag, and Tania Haag
in F-10, Katie Anthony in F-12, Malcolm Wyatt-Mair in M-12, Lauren Wolfe in
F-14, Daniel Ohlund in M-14, and Anneliese Steuben and Hillary Wolfe in
The rangers at Spooner Lake, particularly senior ranger Bill Champion,
were most helpful and encouraging. Spooner has a very nice covered pavilion
with picnic tables, water and 110-volt AC power in the group picnic area,
which was used as the event center. One of the biggest logistical problems
was parking, which was exacerbated when the off-site lot that had been
planned for parking was torn up by the Nevada Department of Highways for
reconstruction two weeks before the event was to take place. Fortunately,
the rangers agreed to allow us to park on maintenance and service roads.
Mike Schuh from the Seattle area was the announcer, which added a lot of
interest and information for people watching the competitors finish. I want
to thank Mike, not only for the great job he did in announcing, but also for
providing his own public address system.
The headquarters hotel was the Forest Inn in South Lake Tahoe. This hotel
was very convenient, had good amenities including free continental
breakfasts, suites with full kitchens, and several swimming pools, and they
gave us excellent group rates.
The Saturday night banquet was held at Planet Hollywood in Caesar's Casino,
probably one of the most unlikely places to hold an orienteering dinner.
Although the dining room was crowded, and many people had to wait to get
served because of the large turnout (290 diners), the food was good and
plentiful, and Karen Sessler, who was in charge of the dinner arrangements,
was an excellent master of ceremonies. Course reviews were held following
the meal. Door prizes were provided by Scarborough Orienteering, Bruce
Wolfe's California Orienteering, Maptech, and Planet Hollywood.
Although things in general went very smoothly, there were a few problems
and some areas that I would change in the future.
The biggest complaint
that I heard was that some of the control markers were hung too low. The
flags were purposefully hung relatively low because the visibility in the
area was generally very good, and we wanted the event to be a test of
navigational skill, not running ability to the obvious flag. However, there
were probably several controls in which the markers probably should have
been higher, and both of those involved relatively shallow pits: control
number 7 on Red Y on Day 1, and the previously mentioned pit on the Red and
Blue courses on Day 2.
Also, several people thought that the courses for
Day 2 were too physical. It is true that the 4% maximal climb guideline was
not followed on the Day 2 courses, but the terrain made staying within that
guideline very difficult to follow, and the quality of the courses as a
whole would have suffered. However, since the courses affected everybody
the same, there was not a problem with unfairness.
From an organizational point of view, in the future I will erect a results
tent near the finish line, and provide battery power to run the computers
and printers. Having the results area at the event center made posting and
announcing the results somewhat awkward and slow. I was enamored with the
lovely pavilion that was available at Spooner, and didn't realize the
difficulties that the remote results would have. Also, in the future, I
will have a dedicated construction crew to erect the start and finish areas,
so that the start and finish crews will not have to break down and set up
new areas after they have already spent a long day manning their stations.
Many people helped out at this event, and it certainly would not have run
as well as it did had there not been
so many helpers. However, I do want to mention
that all of the technical aspects of the event were handled by
including directing the production of the map, setting courses for
Saturday's events, vetting courses for Sunday's event, and printing over
1000 maps. Thanks, Bob, for a great job.
I also want to acknowledge our sponsors. Joe Scarborough helped underwrite
the cost of the chest bibs, paid for the F21 trophy, and provided door
prizes at the Saturday night dinner. Bruce Wolfe's California Orienteering,
Maptech, and Planet Hollywood also provided door prizes.