Monday, March 11, 2013

Night-O at Burnt Lands

Last fall I got the chance to experience the other side of orienteering that I haven’t really been a part of, the mapping and course setting side. It was very interesting to see what this side was like, and actually personally see how much time and effort goes into making this sport possible.

The area that I mapped is Burnt Lands Provincial park. The park is about one square kilometer but is a very unique area known as an alvar, which is an area with a very thin layer of soil above a limestone plain. Most of the area is very flat with short grass with areas of exposed rock, as well as some marshes and ponds. The area was a military ratio station in the past which left behind a high barbed wire fence that encircles a large part of the map, a small deserted building, and many concrete bases that once supported the radio towers.

Most of the mapping of the area could be done from aerial photos but when I had to get out of the house to field check, getting to the map was not a problem as it is only a 25 min bike ride away which also counted for a bit of physical training. I enjoyed the mapping as it was like creating a work of art but it took up of many, many hours of sitting at the computer which is not my favorite thing to do.

Once the map was finished I thought I might as well organize a race there. With the area being as open as it is the visibility was so good that running there wouldn’t be very challenging. So I decided to organize a night-O which would make it much more of a challenge, and we could always use more night-Os. I though it would be even more fun with a mass start so that’s what I did, using a butterfly loop for forking. The course setting took much less time than the mapping but was still a task to set  course that uses the terrain well, is interesting, and challenging, which I hope I succeeded in doing.

The evening of the race was a bit chilly but was otherwise a great night for a run. I was talked into racing it by the Ottawa elite guys to give them a little more competition  so I did. Even though I made the map and set the course I found it far from easy, it was like a entirely new area at night. At the end though everyone seemed to enjoy it and gave them a good challenge which is always good to hear.

Now that I have experienced this process of mapping and course setting I can appreciate all the time and energy that goes into making this great sport possible to compete in. Now I need to find a new area to start mapping.


  1. Alex, thanks for sharing! Looks like an awesome map! Good luck with your next mapping adventure.

  2. Hey Alex. Congrats on your mapping and course setting adventures! Great post. Thanks Alex.