This past Saturday Toshi invited me to try some Urban Orienteering. I had read about these type of events before, so I was interested in trying it out. The basic idea is that you are given a map that lists various checkpoints that you are suppose to reach during a given time period. Different events have slightly different goals/rules. In this particular event we were given three hours to reach as many of 35 different checkpoints in San Francisco as possible. If you reached all 35 checkpoints, then the winner would be based off of the time when they returned to home base.
This event was hosted by terraloco. Home base was Sports Basement on Bryant Street. We were given a map of 1906 San Francisco with no street names at 8:30 a.m. The checkpoints were historical markers from buildings/sites that survived the 1906 Earthquake. We were also given a question sheet. When you reached checkpoint you had to answer the question on the question sheet. The question might be:"plaque in sidewalk for Audiffred Building begins with letter: A / B / C". You would have to answer the question correctly to prove that you reached that checkpoint.
|5th Floor of this Sports Basement. This is where we got our maps and people started designing their routes.|
|This has got to be the biggest Sports Basement I have ever seen...|
|1906 map of SF.|
|One of the "markers" or checkpoints we had to reach and inspect.|
|Up and down the SF hills.|
By the time I arrived at Sports Basement it was about 11:45, so I had 15 minutes to spare. I thought I had missed three checkpoints, but it turned out I missed one in the middle too. Then I found out that all of the other "runners" were already done. The winner got all 35 points in 2:12 or so, Toshi finished third after a sprint loss against his arch rival in like 2:30 something. Anyways, I was totally in awe of their performance and realized how important the planning and experience part of this was. I don't know if I want to do another big city type event. While I like San Francisco, dealing with the traffic and crowds was not that fun to me. I think a more rural event might be more fun.
After we were done we went and got some lunch, and then Jason Reed, Toshi, and I went on a SF "peak bagging" adventure. I didn't know there were any "peaks" in San Fran, but it turns out there are a bunch of them, and you can keep track of which ones you have summited. Jason was on a quest to get them all, so we went with him to get a couple. It was pretty fun and I definitely got a good day of nice slow running in.
Anyways, I recommend trying these orienteering events out. They are really fun. You can do them as a team, family, whatever, and you can pick the length of event you want to do. This event had a 90 minute and 3 hour option. The events are totally laid back. At one point I crossed paths with a dad, mom, and their son who were out trying to find one of the markers. It was fun to watch the boy running around with total enthusiasm trying to find that marker. I can see why kids would like this stuff, it is like a treasure hunting type of thing...