Connie Carpenter | Fort Leavenworth Outdoor Adventure Series
“This is going to be epic!” 4-year-old Gavin shouted to dad Craig Arnold and sister Ashleigh as Team Bulldog orienteered in blowing snowflakes.
March madness often refers to the college basketball bracket; however, March 4’s unseasonably low temperatures and falling snow gave a new definition to the term.
Eight family teams and four solo racers demonstrated their adventure spirit as they dodged snowflakes and trekked the Spring Break Orienteer course. Racers gathered around the snow-covered registration table near Gruber Fitness Center eager to capture navigation controls and to catch a few snowflakes on their tongues.
The spring break meet offered a staggered-start format where racers entered the race course between 8-10:30 a.m. The staggered start allowed time and distance separation between competitors and brought brief pauses between waves of light snow.
Three male solos developed an attack plan that encompassed 12 miles of lowland, urban and the western woodlands trails system. The three racers set out on the 27-control course breaking fresh snow with their tracks.
Course leader Barrett Campbell set a fast pace as he trekked through the lower elevations and progressed into the higher woodlands trail system. The orienteers used each other’s tracks in the snow to gain advantages in locating markers. Racers examined the footprints’ directions and kept abreast of their competitors’ clockwise or counter-clockwise approaches for the course.
However, the elements created a challenge for Campbell as the falling snow masked the orange portion of a low hanging control. Only the marker’s white portions remained visible. After a short hunt and a few kicks of snow, Campbell found the marker leaving a noticeable trace for others to find. Despite the setback and the advantage for following orienteers, Campbell cleared the course and topped the leader board at two hours, 45 minutes.
Family teams took to the course in various forms of attire to include junior ski suits and teddy bear and pink-striped beanies. The smallest adventure racers were bundled up in strollers with their little eyes peering out from massive arrays of blankets.
Team Tiger — Stephen G., Ashley, Joshua and Stephen A. Redmon — was accompanied by family pet Rocky who was smartly dressed in a bright blue winter scarf.
Despite the cool weather, the competition was heated. Team Bulldog and Team Kersey — Adam, Nicole and Ellie Kersey — quickly jumped out to early leads. Team Bulldog captured 18 controls in a northeasterly circular motion, snagging the urban markers and the lower woodland trail controls. Team Kersey also used a circular approach attack plan, capturing 18 centrally located urban controls. Team Bulldog edged out Team Kersey at the finish line by six minutes, topping the family team leaderboard at 2:45.
Page 2 of 2 - The FMWR Adventure Series continues with the Bing-O Orienteer April 1. More Adventure Series event information can be found at FTLVAdventure.com or (913) 683-5634.