Here is the "A" loop map:
I had two goals at the start of this year's Trot. First, I wanted to stay
healthy -- don't get injured. Second, I wanted to finish. My plan was pretty
simple. I would avoid any big booms and walk almost all of the time. I walked
courses at Monkey Mountain, Clinton and Weston Bend. I figured I could do
about 15 minutes per km. I decided that I would walk the entire first hour,
then during the second hour I could jog for 2-3 minutes. I'd jog 2-3 minutes
during each hour after that. I guessed it'd take me four hours to do the
I did the A loop first.
On the way to 1, I took a look at the entire loop to see what controls looked
good to skip. Two and 5 looked like the best controls to skip. I thought that
skipping 5 would save a bit more distance and the route to and from 2 looked
easy -- so I decided to skip 5.
I couldn't keep up with anyone on the way to 1. But, when I got to the control
circle, there were a lot of people milling around (a bit to the east of the
flag). I got the control and left quickly (at a walk, of course). I'm not sure
if anyone even noticed that I'd taken the control. Certainly, people didn't
come streaming past me on the way to 2.
Around 2, I saw a bunch of folks -- Gene, Fritz, Dave and Julia B. I think
they all boomed 2 (they were coming from the east). I went straight to 2,
maybe they took the trail?
Gene, Dave and Fritz all passed me on the way to 3. But, I was able to keep
them in sight and they weren't really going much faster than me. I was
walking, but I think I was taking very good micro-routes -- following deer
trails while they'd get hung up in some rougher vegetation or rocky ground. I
suspect they were suprised (and annoyed?) that I'd caught them!
Gene, Dave and Fritz got away from me on the route to 4.
I boomed 4. I attacked from the fence/private property border. I thought I'd
gone slightly southwest from the attackpoint. So, when I got to the bottom of
the cliff, I turned north. But, I'd actually gone slightly northwest from the
attack. I corrected quickly. I probably lost a minute or so.
I skipped 5.
As I was going toward 6, I saw Gene on his way to 7. As I got almost to 6, I
saw Dave and Fritz leaving 6.
Fritz punched just ahead of me at 7. When I left 7, I saw Dave about 100
meters ahead. I didn't see Gene. Coming down the steep hill after punch at 7
was tough. Going down steep slopes is very tough for me right now. My leg
feels weak and uncomfortable on steep downhills.
To avoid steep downhills, I decided to use trails and the parking lot to get
to 8. Normally, I might have taken a straighter route. I passed Fritz on this
leg. He seemed to be getting hung up in the woods and bashing around a bit.
I went a bit north of the straight line on the way to 9. I hit the trail right
at the 90-degree bend. I saw the marker from a good 100+ meters away when I
was still on the trail.
I knew that we'd use the same last control for all three loops (I'd noticed
that on the description sheet) and I saw that there were two ways to go from
the last control to the finish. You could go a bit north and touch the trail
or you could go a bit straighter. I decided to test the routes on the first
two loops. That way, I'd know which route was better for the final loop.
Coming in from my first loop, I touched the trail. I took a split time on my
watch with the idea that I'd compare it to the other route when I finished my
second loop. Unfortunately, while I took the split, I didn't look at the watch
and remember the time!
My time for the first loop was 47:55. I was going much faster than I'd
expected. I realized I had a shot to get under three hours.
I also got a lot of confidence by being able to keep up with people who were
running. Gene, Dave and Fritz all beat me. But, I was able to keep up with
them pretty well. I was surprised. I bet they were too.
-- Michael (email@example.com), December 03, 2001.
To 1. Started out on A loop and noticed Mook going on A loop too so put my map
away and followed. Ran along cleared area that paralleled the road into the
parking lot and straight across the field. Punched in about 10seconds after
To 2. I ran pretty much straight and left the trail after about 10 meters.
Mook wnet down the trail to about the rockface. I arrived at the control just
before Mook maybe.
To 3. Down to the trail cut corner of trail and took it to where it went up to
cliffs got off trail and cut up to cliffs then down to clearing. Ran in
clearing while Mook was running on top of the cliffs. Mook went to the correct
cliff and I thought maybe he had punched and was trying to fake me out but the
control was on the next set of rocks up. Punched in about 15 secconds after
Mook. Could have beat him if I knew he hadn't found it and turned right but I
To 4. Straight South to the clearing, Mook came out futher West in the
clearing and had a good 75 - 100 meters on me by the time I crossed the creek
Mook was out of sight. Ran along the creek and saw Mook climbing up the hill.
Up and along the out of bounds and down to the control. Mook must have missed
it because he came into it right after me.
To 5. Skipped.
To 6. Pretty much straight, with Mook a little to the right. Watched Mook pass
in front of me on the trail going to the left. We both went too far left and I
ran to the right and punched in maybe right before Mook.
To 7. I ran across the creek to the big trail, Mook ran down the small trail
on the other side of the creek. He crossed over and was just ahead of me. He
punched into 7 just ahead of me. As he started to climb the big knoll I almost
shouted to him that it was the wrong knoll he was climbing but didn't have the
To 8. Down the knoll across the creek and up the trail past the water. I
didn't drink while I was on the course which is probably why I felt so bad at
the end. Northeast from the water to just left of the trail intersection right
above the gully. Mook got on the trail and gained about 75- 100 meters on me.
I crossed the 2 trails and up the hill into the control. Mook was no longer in
To 9. Mook did about the same as Spike. I ran Northeast to the trailbend arond
the North side of the pond and then the trail all the way to just past the
side trail and then into the control.
To Finish. Just like Spike the first time I touched on the trail and ran in.
Mook beat me in by 2 minutes and I was about 150 meters behind him at Number
8. I figure route choice to 9 cost me 45 seconds to 1 minute and not catching
the trail on the way to 8 for 75 meters cost me 30 seconds. The other 30 - 45
seconds was because I had slowed down to a realistic speed for the rest of the
-- Snorkel (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 03, 2001.
Daron Bennet posted a report on the KC Adventure Racing yahoo group. Here is
I understand the virtues of being humble, but somebody was really trying to
teach me a lesson today, regardless.
After a fall season of consistent O meets, I decided to give the Possum Trot a
shot and let's just say I got a good workout and learned alot. Looking at the
maps, they look like a Jackson Pollock painting with vegetation splatters all
over the place, changing every 50 yards or so, if even that much. Oh, and the
thorns. Holy sheep. My legs will never be the same.
Orienteering is a necessary skill for Adventure Racing, and a whole lot of fun
overall, but this one was a bear. I found myself tangled in dense brush
repeatedly, lost in canyons of dirt that were only a blip on the map and
standing in open fields that looked just like the one 100 yards to the east of
it looking for a marker. I was hoping for a little more than 20 minutes on
some kind of trail, too.
I do give the course directors and setters a lot of credit for a great event,
but it was definitely a tough one. The markers demanded absolute accuracy on
the smallest details, some of which escaped me, and there was hardly ever and
easy way from one point to the next.
Now, don't get me wrong, I read parts of the course really well and owe that
to the experience gained through the regular meets. I just found too many
challenges along the way to make it possible for me to finish in time, but I
would have been dead in the water a year ago. It really takes practice to
learn all the little details on the map, all of which add vital clues along
the way. One little dot or line can make all the difference.
Don't be dissuaded by my one experience, though. I just decided, as an
intermediate, to step up to the pros and got my head stepped on. Most of the
meets are very accessible and a good time. I highly recommend them as a
learning tool. Just rest assured that you will probably never find anything
like this in an Adventure Race, though.
In my experience, AR is much more of a large-scale type of orienteering with
easy points. Not like hiding a marker 40 feet up a gully, only visible when
you are standing on top of it. Literally. It really made me appreciate the
skill of some of these guys and the work that went into setting it. Kudos to
all the A Racers that took part, as well.
Chalk this one up as a humbling, but educational, experience.
-- Michael (email@example.com), December 03, 2001.
First I want to thank all those who made the great event possible: Volunteers,
Meet Director: Dick Neuberger; Course Setter: Mike Shifman, and the Mapper:
Dick Luckerman, whose map was absolutely outstanding!
My losing battle for 5th place!
I flipped my map over and saw I was on Map B. I oriented myself quickly but
decided I was going to hang back a little bit as the B’s moved north. This
year I was going to pick my skip early! I tried to determine who was also on
my loop (and who wasn’t). I recognized a few, and noticed we were all moving
tentatively, like everyone was being cautious. Once we turned from the trail
and headed due north for 10, the pace picked up through the woods. Sharon
split left, and I almost followed her, but I remembered that I wanted to skip
11, and that I should follow the small pack towards the road. I was feeling
slow and couldn’t keep up the early pace. When we hit the road, I went east on
the road towards the pond and then north, the rest of the pack had crossed the
road much sooner, heading NE. When I was just south of 12, I ran into the
dense vegetation and became very frustrated trying to get across it. It felt
like time was ticking away and I couldn’t make any progress against the
thorns. I finally broke through and saw Ian approaching 12. Due to my troubles
with the thorns and my slow jog on the road, I was sure that I was behind Eric
B., Dave, and Keith. As I crested the hill towards 13, and could see the other
path, I was confused by the fact that I didn’t see anyone except Ian. It never
entered my mind that I was ahead of them. Dave caught me at 14, (I wondered
why was he behind me) and we took similar routes until we hit the rough open
area. I opted to try and cross the narrow section of green, I think he went
around to the east and down the stream. Later, jogging along the road to 18, I
was shocked when Eric B. passed me (why was he behind me?) I figured that
Keith would soon be passing me if he wasn’t ahead of me. I received another
shock when Mary said I was 2nd (with Ian right behind me) on the B loop. I
thought I was navigating well but I sure didn’t feel like I was running well.
I grabbed map A and so ended my first loop.
-- Eric S. (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 04, 2001.
I realized I put my comments for loop "B" in the wrong place. Oh well-
I took a cup of Gatorade, a couple swallows of Hammergel, and then another
Gatorade before heading back out. After my two other experiences with the
dense vegetation, I decided I would skip 2 and take the trail to 3. Ian, Dave,
and I took different routes across the field, but reached 1 within a few
seconds of each other. Eric B. was out in front of us somewhere. It was
obvious that they were all going to 2. I left 3 west towards the trail instead
of going south to the clearing. I also stopped at the junction with the gravel
path and showed some of the ROTC guys where they were on the map. Halfway
between 3 and 4 Eric and Dave passed me, obviously going to skip 5 (like
almost everyone did). I intended to contour around 4, but ended up going up
and down near the north end of the cliffs. To 5 I crossed the field towards
the trail in the SW corner. The grass was pretty tall here. At least I got to
see an 8 point buck at close range on the way to 5. I also spent a little time
looking on the east side of the fence before I headed west. I was sure I had
lost time with my route choice (a continuing theme for me that day). I ran the
trail to 6 when I spotted Ian again punching at 6. The skips must have been
about equal. I ran the main trail on the east side of the stream and Ian was
on the west. By the time he scrambled up we were side by side again. I really
liked the large knoll at 7, I didn’t expect that! I tried to go straight
towards 8, but the gully was pretty deep so I ended up side tracking east all
the way to the bridge on the trail. I lost sight of Ian at that point but
nearly caught back up by 9 since he took the NE route towards the pond and I
took Michael’s route. We often choose different routes but arrived at the
controls at the same time. It was exciting to get near 9 and see others just
finishing up their second loop. I was the last of five entering the transition
area at the same time. I grabbed map C and so ended my second loop.
-- Eric S. (email@example.com), December 04, 2001.
I was on the wrong side of the start triangle to start the A-loop, but got
things going alright after a few seconds. I wanted to make sure that I
wouldn't regret skipping the first control, but saw that wasn't one of the
options. I wanted to skip 2 or 5, choosing 5 because it saved more distance
and I think there were plenty of trails between 1-2-3 even though the terrain
from 4-5-6 was slightly faster on average it didn't make up for the distance.
Snorkel was right there when I got past #1. Snorkel would be my constant
companion over the next 5 controls. We cooperated knowing that in the Trot
especially more eyes are better than few. We were in the lead of the A Loop
To #2, I went along the trail and turned towards the control once past the
cliff. Snorkel went a bit straighter.
Trail towards #3, then straight through the white woods. Snorkel was downhill
in the open area. We punched together again.
Pretty straight again to #4. I looked over the cliffs above the control and
didn't see it. It appeared there were boulders to my right (below the cliffs)
so headed that way first, saw nothing and then turned back. Snorkel was
heading in towards the control area now. He turned left once below the cliffs.
He reached the control before I did. At least 30 seconds blown there.
Pretty straight to number 6. Snorkel got there before me. There wasn't much to
see around the control area. I was a bit too far to the west of the control at
I think Snorkel described the route to 7.
To number 8 I got my first real taste of the vastness of the stream ditches on
this map. I ran up and down 2 of them while I could have avoided at least one
of those (on my more or less straight route to the control). When I left 8,
Snorkel was nowhere to be seen. I'd used him up and dropped him. Snorkel was
on his own now... but is Snorkel now Mook's new "sugar daddy"? Snorkel could
have had a Trot to call his own if he'd only arranged for Mook to attend the
ill-fated night-o champs instead.
I headed towards the trail bend just left of the line towards #9. The press
was hidden just uphill from the control.
-- Mook (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 05, 2001.
A coach once told me that if you never have a bad day, your expectations are
too low. After a very good fall season, mine have apparently been sufficiently
raised. I didn’t think I had a serious chance to win the Possum Trot, but
aside from the obvious favorite, Mark Everett, I felt competitive with the
rest of the field. A second- place finish at Kansas Champs the day before
confirmed that view.
However, most of my events this fall have been in relatively open areas where
speed and route choice are paramount. The Burr Oak Woods map provided a much
different challenge. A patchwork of rough open and moderate to very thick
woods, the map was also divided by a deep streambed fed by many steep gullies
and complex reentrants. Just the sort of area where an inattentive runner
could give away big chunks of time. That’s basically what I did.
I very much missed the usual stampede from the start. Splitting the field into
two halves introduced some fairness issues and took away much of the
excitement that comes from knowing (or at least having some idea of) where you
are in the field. Of course, I was so far behind after the second control it
really didn’t matter.
I ran the B loop first so if you want a chronological account, read that
At the exchange I made the mistake of getting water prior to picking up my new
map. I should have taken the map first so I could choose my skip control while
drinking. This turned out to be a costly mistake that I’ll discuss a bit after
sharing the details of the loop.
I considered running the trail all the way to 1, but decided the field looked
pretty fast, so I cut across the field and then picked up the trail about 50
meters from the control.
I exited quickly and headed for 2, taking the high route. I was trying to keep
moving quickly to stay out of contact with Dave. I boomed the control and
ended up running almost all the way to the trail to the south. Coming back
Dave spotted me and joined me on the way to 3.
Dave took the low route to 3, but I went high, attacking it from above the
rock face. I beat him to the control site, but as the control was not there,
we hooked up again and found the control one rockface to the north.
We both ran directly out to the field and then picked up the trail. When we
crossed the stream, Dave kept running on the trail. I took off straight west
along the stream along with Eric S. who had skipped #2 to get ahead of us. I
crossed the spur along the out-of-bounds fence which led directly to the
boulder. Unfortunately, the control was again missing. I could clearly see
that I was at the northernmost boulder, but figured it was probably just
misplaced a bit to the south. Indeed, I found it on a different boulder about
50 meters to the left. I remembered that Dick Nueberger had warned me that the
control sites had not been vetted. After the meet Mike Shifman admitted that
he was a bit uncertain about that one.
I skipped 5 and aimed off to the right for 6. I hit the trail about 50 meters
from the bend, ran to the bend and then attacked the control. The visibility
was very poor so I went carefully and found the rockface. Again, no control. I
was saved by the voices of one of the adventure racing teams (still on their
first loop) rejoicing at finding the control 30 meters to my north. I didn’t
take the time to verify the location, but I’m pretty sure this bag was also on
the wrong piece of stone. Several other runners reported missing left and 30
meters is a pretty big miss with such a distinct attack point right at the
edge of the circle.
As with the big boom on 12, 3 suspect controls in a row would ordinarily
rattle me, but I really wasn’t phased by it. Besides, the total time lost on
all three was certainly less than a minute and Dave was still behind me
(albeit not by much).
I crossed back to the big trail and ran down to 7. I forgot to check the clue
and just assumed that the control would be on the far side of the knoll. After
contouring around, I looked up and saw the bag on top. I then got caught up in
the deep ditches on the way to 8. As a result, Dave caught me again just
before the control.
I ran straight east across the field and passed just south of the small pond.
I picked up the trail right near the bend and ran along it for about a hundred
meters before cutting back into the woods to 9. I got hung up in a little
thick stuff and Dave got ahead of me. We punched together and then ran into
the exchange area. My time for the 4.1K loop was a more respectable 37:30.
Now, about that skip. The top four finishers all skipped 5 but I think this
was a mistake and, at least in my case, a costly one. The leg from 4 to 5
can’t be much more than 30 seconds longer than 4 -6. So the added time of
getting 5 is basically just the 400-meter trail run from 5-6. Lets be
conservative and say that in total 4-5-6 is 3 minutes slower than 4-6.
On the other hand, 1-3 is certainly faster than 2-3 since more of it is on
trail. That means that the difference is at least 1-2, which is nearly 400
meters through light green hitting a point feature on a broad spur. That might
be 3 minutes on a good day, but in my case it was 5:09 because I boomed it.
The two minutes is very significant because it allowed Dave to get back in
contact. As I lead into all but the go control, I think he’ll admit that I
helped him a lot more than he helped me on loop 2. But the real problem was
not that I might have spurred Dave along, but the truly disastrous measures I
took to get rid of him on loop 3.
-- Eric (email@example.com), December 05, 2001.