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Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: photos

in: WPOC - Frick Park (Dec 1, 2012 - Pittsburgh, PA, US)

Dec 2, 2012 12:48 PM # 
sherpes:
photos
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Dec 3, 2012 4:43 AM # 
DangerZone:
woods look awesome. wish i was there but was out in ohio
Dec 3, 2012 3:55 PM # 
gordhun:
129 photos, some 250 people go orienteering and only one 'orienteering suit' in sight.
Seems there were more fire hydrants in the woods that people in O-suits.
The people at WPOC could teach a lot of us about promoting an event 'by every means possible'.
Dec 3, 2012 5:09 PM # 
sherpes:
Well, Gordon, looks like you triggered a discussion here...

I was going to post some thoughts about this unexpected attendance and the possible theories behind it, but didn't want pollute AP with such hyperbolic thoughts. But your post got me motivated.

First of all, this is a urban park, adjacent to a highly educated and somewhat affluent demographic. The park is somewhat large, considering the proximity to a high-density residential area, and has areas with a definite wilderness aspect, and terrain features that make it look wild, like steep slopes and cliffs.

On one side, the demographic are academics, doctors, lawyers, bankers, public figures, and on the other side the demographic is low income and chronic social issues.

The park is heavily cherished by its users: hikers, bird watchers, dog owners, families with children, mountain bikers, runners, nature lovers, city people that don't own cars.

Novelty factor: nobody heard of "orienteering" and hardly used "topographic map".

Presence of an alternative charter school called "Environmental Charter School", a place of schooling that has become "fashionable" among those that see the non-traditional teaching and learning opportunities that exploits the park in the school backyard as a teaching classroom.

A plug-in by an influential blog and its 4 minute of airtime on a 6:45 AM Friday annoucement on a rock music radio station.

Fliers on bulletin boards, libraries, utility poles, laundromats, business show windows, hand-out to folks standing on line at REI store garage sale events, monthly meetings of outdoor clubs such as the mushroom club, geocaching club, explorers, hashers, mtbikers.

... and then, the internet-based social media factor, like Meetup and Facebook and email-based groups.

And yes, only one O-suit. As a matter of fact, very few people of the "usual suspects" participated: the mountain bikers were on their own thing, for the hashers it was too early in the day and no beer, the adventure racers saw it as a gimmick being not a true wilderness endurance event.

The great majority of participants were families. Kids. Mothers. Fathers. Communities of friends. An excuse to do something pleasant outdoors. Do something with other friends. School friends.

The event did run out of maps. But because of a fortuitous request of a private printing of a set of 50 extra maps, it was possible to use that stash of non-planned maps to draw the White course on. One volunteer was suddenly deputized to do just that. No one got turned away.

The parking lot was full and additional vehicles were parked not-exactly-legal. Luckily nobody got ticketed. Others parked in the city streets and walked a longer distance to the registration.

And yes, fire hydrants are cool. Specially those vintage ones, in the middle of nowhere. Past vestige of past civilizations in the Planet of the Apes. The Fricks, Carnegies, and Mellons used this land as their playground and golf tournaments in the age of the Steel Industry.

We hope that a "buzz" gets created, and that these newbies and first-timers come to our regular meets, out in remote places like state parks, reachable only by car.

Incidentally, a few years ago a bunch of Carnegie Mellon students and others volunteered on an experimental scavenger hunt project in this very identical park. The idea was funded by Disney, researching new ways to entertain people. Don't know the results or outcomes.

In our event, we used old-fashioned paper and compass, technologies that the ancient Greeks and Phoenicians used two millennia ago, and looks like we succeeded in equally entertaining.
Dec 5, 2012 4:25 PM # 
sherpes:
Happy to report that one of the participants who ran the Red course, is now a proud father of a baby girl. Due date for the would-be-parents was the same day of the meet, and until the last moment, it wasn't sure whether Jim was going to run. He did run, but with a cell phone strapped on him. He did get a phone call, and it was from the wife, and he HAD to stop and take the call, thinking that time as come, and that he had to quit the course and run back. But no, the wife was just calling in to check on him. Other competitors saw Jim on trail while he was on the phone. Jim was able to finish the course. Happy times.
Dec 5, 2012 5:22 PM # 
fpb:
Great story!
Nov 29, 2018 9:18 PM # 
sherpes:
Moved photos to this album

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