Grant Park Score-O: Sunday June 28, 2020


The original plan was to hold this event in May, but due to the COVID crises it was pushed back into the hotter month of late June.   The woods at this time were also thick and planning regular orienteering courses would not be ideal.  With all the new map updates that included private property boundaries, I decided it was possible to do a Score-O instead.  This allowed participants to use the public access points into and out of the park without fear of being on someone’s private backyard.  I also wanted to use areas that were typically inaccessible in the spring due to the larger amounts of rainfall that frequently flooded Holes Creek, making it impossible to cross safely.  With it being so dry and hot I think it was a welcome relief for some to splash around the ankle-deep waters to retrieve markers on the other side of the creek. 

The Score-O consisted of thirty markers spread around all of Grant Park and neighboring schools.  Point values ranged from one to four with four being the hardest to find and furthest out from the start.  Participants had two hours to find as many markers as they could before a penalty of one point was deducted for every minute late.  There was a total of 62 points, but as you will read shortly the most anyone got was 60.

The cause/curse: Lucky #13 was placed on the wrong boulder.  In my haste to put out some of the orienteering markers the day before I made an error.  I mistakenly followed an unmapped parallel trail that also had a boulder in roughly the same elevation.  This what happens when you know the park so well and don’t even bother to look at the map.  The trail was mapped in previous years but this map is brand new as of last year and I never had a chance to verify if it was even still there.  Actually, there is a lot of areas that need mapping improvement.  It’s just finding the time to do it.  Now with the new Lidar contours I feel more confident that I have an accurate base map to work with.  The map is getting better every year and darn if I won’t add that small little stupid trail!  Anyways, when participants starting coming back saying they couldn’t find the boulder I rushed out with another orienteering marker.  Imagine my surprise when I found the boulder with no marker…and the boulder seemed a helluva lot bigger than I remembered from yesterday!  I began to question myself.  You see I had a little bit of a hangover from last night.  After setting markers at Grant, then going on a group run, then going to a bar with friends to drink three-dollar craft beers…you kind of understand the self-doubt.  I knew something was wrong.  The boulder didn’t just grow in size overnight!  I started looking and found the parallel trail, then the smaller boulder with lucky #13 hanging next to it.  I went back to the correct big boulder and put the substitute marker I was carrying in its place.  In this way everyone would get zero points including people who found the flag.  It seemed to be the best solution for everyone; however, before I could make the switch one individual did find the wrong boulder with the marker and got an extra two points!  Well darn!  He got extra credit and probably deservedly so. 

Other than being stressed out over boulders, the event went fairly well.  Everyone seemed to have a great time.  There were even some people that we haven’t seen in a long-long time.  Bob Thobaben and his large family came out.  They even provided some much-needed cheese and crackers…which helped my current condition.  Thanks Bob!  After it was all over Matt Bond helped pick up the majority of orienteering markers.  That was a huge help!  And of course, his wife Sharon helped with registration.  Thank you both!

Steve Barnhart


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