Race report: O-Cup orienteering race at Rockwood Conservation Area

When I first starting orienteering in the fall of 2016, the thought of getting to look at the map just a few minutes before a race was terrifying! Now, it’s not such a big deal.

For the O-Cup race at Rockwood Conservation Area hosted by the UKR Gators and Toronto Orienteering Club, we received our maps just 10 minutes before the race was to begin. At the same time, we were told that the race was “complex” and route-planning would be really important!

Essentially, there were 15 mandatory controls on the big map (numbered 1 to 15), 5 mandatory controls in the “micro-o” (a small section of the map between controls 1 and 2 that was blown up to be its own map), and 6 dog bones (controls done in pairs with none in between), but some of the dog bones could be skipped depending on your handicap (mine was 3, so I could skip 3 dog bones). The micro-o had an added twist – there were multiple versions of the map (mine was version “C”), so we were not all looking for the same controls. You definitely couldn’t just follow people!

Scan 65

Entire race map.

In addition to the map, we were given control descriptions, so that we knew not only where to look, but also what to look for (e.g. a hilltop, or a pit, or a cliff). Most of the races I do don’t use these tables – instead, they use word descriptions – so I don’t practice reading these enough and forget the symbols. Note to self: study symbols!

Scan 68

When the race began, I headed for the dog bones at the north west corner of the map (in the campground). I found D, A, B and C in that order, then headed for 1. I wasn’t the only one with this plan, but many other people started the race with 1.



After 1 I was with a small group of people all running for the micro-o. They all punched a control marked 128, but I had 129 in my head and didn’t punch it. It was when I got to 129 that I realized my error! I didn’t punch 129, ran back to 128, punched it, then ran back to 129 and punched that one. Wasted time! The other controls in this section weren’t too hard, with the area being so small, but it was quite icy and careful steps were needed – I wasn’t wearing spikes on my shoes!

From the micro-o I ran to control 2 and then 3, which weren’t hard to find. Then we had to run all the way around the lake to 4, either going clockwise or counterclockwise (I went counterclockwise). I missed the small trail I was looking for, ended up at one closer to the road, realized my error and bushwhacked to the correct trail. Finding 4 and 5 was easy, but I overshot 6. Thankfully, I had seen 7 earlier when I was running on the higher trail, so when I saw it again I knew exactly where I was and ran back to 6.


Picture doesn’t do it justice – it was quite pretty!

Controls 7 and 8 were easy to find, but somehow I walked right by 9. I must have turned 270 degrees instead of 360, and missed it completely. I ran too far, asked a couple if they had found it, and they said “Yes, it was right where we met you (earlier)!” Sigh. I ran back. Wasted time.

Controls 10 and 11 were easy, but at 12, I hesitated to go into the ruined building because it seemed that a wedding shoot was going on! I did go in and found the control. After 13 I ran for the last of 3 dog bones that I had to do, finding F and E quite easily near the campground.

Only 2 controls left, and I overshot 14! I had to backtrack, but did eventually find it. Wasted time!

And finally, 15 was easy to find because I had seen it when running for 1. From there I ran up the grass and many many stairs to the finish!

Overall, the race went well, but the few errors I made ate up too much time!

After the race, we were treated to a hot lunch, including chili, lentils or soup, hot chocolate, and a loaf of Rudolph’s delicious bread each.

Race results:

  • Time: 1:37:57 (46:42 behind the race winner)
  • Placing: 30/39 (only 33 had official times – 6 people mispunched)

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