• Orienteers gather for first fall meet

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  • Connie Carpenter | Fort Leavenworth Outdoor Adventure Series
    Sunshine and unseasonably warm fall temperatures greeted very young and senior orienteers at the fall orienteer meet Sept. 30. Seven solo competitors and nine family teams studied the introductory, intermediate and olympic courses as participants planned their strategies for capturing multiple checkpoints ranging from technically easy to moderate navigational skills.
    Orienteering requires participants to analyze the terrain while determining the best route choice to and from each control. The warm fall temperatures led to considerable vegetation on the longer courses causing racers to develop attack strategies with minimum “fight.” Orienteers describe fight as heavy vegetation such as thorns, vines and poison ivy, accompanied by biting bugs and slithering critters. While beating through the bush, or bush-whacking, provides the shortest route, the short cut comes at a cost in consuming energy and makes for unhappy teammates.
    The orienteer offered a staggered start from near Gruber Fitness Center in which racers had flexibility in starting the competition at any time over a 90-minute period. A staggered start allows time and distance separation between competitors and prevents successive racers from following the lead racer to a navigational control.
    The introductory course consisted of approximately two miles of trekking to eight various historical landmarks near Smith Lake. Family Team Graves fielded a three-generation team consisting of grandparents Robert and Kelly Graves, dad Robert Jr. and mom Abby, sister Kathryn, and grandsons Tommy and Henry Graves. In the early 1980s, Kelly Graves served as an Army nurse at Munson Army Hospital where son Robert was born. This was the first time the extended family had returned to the post. Team Graves navigated and revisited familiar sites clearing the short course in one hour and 33 minutes.
    The intermediate course contained 12 controls stretched over 3.5 miles of urban and lowland vegetation terrain. First-time orienteers Team Scott — Chris, Elaine, and Juliet Scott — arrived at the start line well-prepared to conquer the course. Dad Chris and mom Elaine watched as daughter, Juliet, loaded her bike’s white, wicker basket with assorted race provisions, including a water bottle, race map, treats and a race buff. As Chris and Elaine dashed onto the course, Juliet pedalled closely behind pointing in the general direction of the control. Team Scott topped the family team leader board clearing the course in 47 minutes. Solo Mary Jones topped the overall intermediate leader board clearing the course and capturing three additional points in 1:05.
    The olympic course presented the greatest challenge with 21 controls scattered from east to west from Sherman Avenue to the woodlands trail system. Depending on the orienteers’ attack plans, the course’s distance ranged from 7.5 to 11 miles. For Team Superwomen Plus Dad — Gary and daughters Mara and Katelynn Lysaght — this was their first experience to orienteer as a family. Normally, new orienteers choose the shorter distance courses to gain familiarity with the sport and as a test for team management meltdowns. However, TeamSuperwomen Plus Dad were confident in their abilities to tackle the distance and elevation gains. Superwomen Plus Dad proved mighty as they cleared the course as the only family team trekking approximately 10 miles in 3:02.
    Page 2 of 2 - Team High Definition — Debbie Van Laar and Heather Miller — crushed the highly competitive field of veteran orienteers clearing the olympic course in 1:23.
    The FMWR Adventure Series continues with the Great Pumpkin Orienteer Meet Oct. 28. More adventure series event information can be found at FTLVAdventure.com or (913) 683-5634.
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