Sunday, 15 August 2021

My new 'Find It Checkpoint Challenge' event

I saw my cousin Roland a week ago when he passed through on his way to surf at J'Bay. Years ago in Jo'burg, Roland ran in a number of my Metrogaine - night-time, urban street orienteering - events. He naturally asked if I was organising any events here yet.

My answer was no, but that I think about course planning all the time! 

I've known about World Orienteering Day coming up in September for some months and I've had an activity in mind. Roland's enquiry was just the trigger I needed to make it happen. Every night this past week I've been working on the elements for the map and control locations - the dogs have been companionable location scouts. 

A big discovery came earlier in the week when I found the MapRun6 app, as recommended by the British. In fact, the concept of how the app works is nothing new. I recall Alec Avierinos' Nevarest app had the function - ahead of its time - of being able to use your mobile phone's GPS to pick up and log when you pass a control location. This was really quite revolutionary when Alec created it. At that time in my life I wasn't planning anything so I never really put it to work - although, we did load waterpoint locations one year for Forest Run (and, as I recall, it worked well).

MapRun6 is now a few years later and has been developed specifically for orienteering-style events with map overlays, KML and KMZ imports, and built-in scoring for line, score (rogaine) and scatter courses.

I started with a map that I'd already begun building a few months ago. I stitched captures from the Mapbox Satellite (with contours, 10m intervals) imagery from the Trailforks website, which I use all the time. I re-drew the tracks from Trailforks and added those not shown but that I know are totally traversable on foot and bike. The Mapbox imagery is, I think, not quite as recent as the Google Earth imagery, but it has contour lines, which is what I need.  George Municipality has 1m contour overlays on their aerial images, which is overkill. Mapbox is 10m. I'd like 5m, but 10m it will be. I didn't feel like re-drawing the contours and as I don't have the contour files, I'm using what is there.

It took me a while to figure out the map and course creation on MapRun6. It really is quite clever. I've created a map that only I can access for now. I used their 'CheckSites' function today to check that the app was working properly and that the locations I have planned are being detected. It is working very well. During this week I'll get admin access. I've been in contact with MapRun and I'll be the first content creator in South Africa. Yay!

My plan for the Find It event is that the course will be open for the duration of World Orienteering Day. This annual celebration used to be one day only but is now held over one week. The dates are 8 - 14 September 2021. 

I won't be in town between 8-13 September as I'm heading upcountry for a special friend's wedding, but this is an event that runs itself because people can access the course at any time using a downloaded map or the app.

I will put orange flags out on the course  to mark the control locations. Although this event can be run virtually using the app - with no location markers, I'm a bit old-school in that it is nice to actually find something out there, especially for those using the download-and-print map. In fact, it will be a win using a map but running the app at the same time to log your finds, tracks and results. I always worry that my flags will be taken so I'll put 'Event in Progress, please do not remove' tags, with relevant dates and links, on the flags.

This event is free and is open to anyone - on foot, bicycle or kayak. There are 8 controls on the dam that are only accessible by kayak. What I'm hoping is that the paddlers will use the marked exit sites to get off the water, collect some controls on land and then return to the water. 

There is quite a community in George to promote this event to - from trail running, mountain biking and paddling to similar groups on the Mossel Bay and Wilderness-Sedgefield-Knysna sides.

I've created a Find It Checkpoint Challenge (currently reads Find It Challenge, awaiting the name change) page on Facebook and a Find It Checkpoint Challenge event listing on Facebook. The tag is @finditcheckpointchallenge and the hashtag is #finditcheckpointchallenge. I'll start actively using these by the end of the week.

I've got a few elements to tie up over the next few nights - final print map layout, MapRun admin access, checkpoint testing and event instructions. Most of the really challenging tasks are done.

As for the name 'Find It'... I play a game with Rosy where I hide her ball while she patiently sits in the kitchen. I return to her and then tell her "Find it" and off she goes to find her ball. She loves this game and I thought it to be a fitting event name.

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