Campuses, Cliffs, and Controls: US Nationals Recap

Oriana Riley

Thursday, 11/10

A whole three days after my fateful return from Portugal, I abandoned my college friends for another weekend of orienteering. This time, I replaced an unbearable 13-hour flight with a significantly more entertaining 6-hour drive. On the ride down, I was joined by AJ Riley (chauffeur supreme), Julia Doubson (‘who’s 57?’ hater), and Briana Stevens (our resident Kiwi.) After a long drive marked by weird traffic, back roads, and gas station burritos, we made it to the Airbnb we were staying at outside LA and crashed immediately. 

Friday, 11/11

By the time I woke up on Friday, the rest of our Airbnb guests (my parents, Jeremy Colgan, and the Frolenkos), all on East Coast time, had already departed. While the Frolenkos had touristed themself over to the Hollywood sign, my parents and Jeremy were a few streets over at a cafe where I joined them for this beautiful breakfast. 

A large stack of blueberry lemon ricotta pancakes sits in front of Oriana while she slurps down a fried egg. 

After a slow morning, we made our way over to Pierce College to socialize with the other eventgoers before the campus sprint that afternoon. Though I thought the mapping was pretty darn cool, I felt crap about my race. I made several avoidable mistakes and my body felt bogged down (though I guess that’s what happens when you have a race less than a week after the end of JWOC.) Since Ali Crocker decided to jog due to a hamstring twinge, the F-21+ podium went to Tori Borish (gold), Julia (silver), and me (bronze). (Briana crushed me by a few minutes, but due to the whole being-from-New-Zealand thing, she didn’t qualify for a medal. She got a cookie though, don’t feel too bad.) 

Julia’s favorite part of the weekend was “getting to see people from all over,” something she’s been missing since moving back to the less densely orienteer populated West Coast. 

Red map for Pierce College Sprint

Joe Barett swept the floor with the rest of M-21+, taking gold while AJ took silver and Will Enger took bronze. (Once again, an international — Jan, from Switzerland — technically placed third. Once again, got a cookie.) This was AJ’s favorite race “because [he] finished.”

 After that race, we (Briana, AJ, my parents, Julia, and I) drove over to Malibu to watch the sunset (and also, climb a sandy hill — because what type of orienteers would we be if we didn’t.) We ended the night with Thai food and well-needed showers. 

Saturday, 11/12

After a solid 11 hours of sleep, I woke up primed for my second to last F-20 course ever. If you haven’t heard of Vasquez rocks, it’s been the backdrop for a century of cinematography.

A screencap from Start Trek using Vasquez Rocks as the set of an alien planet

It also has a pretty cool, somewhat Portugal-esque terrain which made for an epic map. I really enjoyed this course, two small mistakes as well as an apple-stem-sized cactus thorn in the toe threw me off a bit, but ran between, around and alongsome pretty amazing cliffs and traversed some complicated contours. Felt physically okay, although still tired, but pushed my way into a silver medal and a race I was pretty darn happy with. 

This event was my favorite of the weekend, I ran into the finish smiling, Anna did my cool down with me, all and all it was a splendid experience. 

F-21+ saw the return of Ali Crocker, blowing everyone out of the water to win a gold medal. Briana would have taken second if she magically became a US Citizen/permanent resident on her course, but since she’s only here for her Masters (sad), Tori grabbed silver and Julia bronze. 

The “Vasquez rock map with its complex cliffs and rocks” was, however, Briana’s favorite part of the racing. (She also noted enjoying getting to tell everyone back home she’d “run on a movie set.”)

AJ couldn’t find a few controls, so first, second, third on M-21+ went Joe, Jan, Will (but Will got second and Erin Schirm took bronze. Jan, Swiss, Cookie, you know the deal by now.)

Though he didn’t finish this run (or, spoiler alert, Sunday’s), AJ still appreciated the “super cool landscapes.”

Sunday 11/13

Sunday’s Red Rock Canyon Red Map

Red Rock Canyon was amazing. Though my race went splendidly bad (I’d throw in excuses here, but they’re already on my Attackpoint), the terrain was unlike anything I’d ever seen. From being able to see controls a kilometer away to epic hills and cliff sides, it was a darn impressive map.

This map was also Julia’s favorite since “it was fun to run through the crazy desert terrain and see all the Joshua trees.”

F-21+ once again went to Ali, who smoked the competition even with a few self-admitted and Attackpoint confirmed mistakes (gosh this woman is FAST.) Tori followed in second and Julia snubbed third from Briana by a SINGLE SECOND. (Maybe our resident Kiwi should have dived for the finish control.)

Joe rounded out his weekend of M-21+ golds with a sneaky Eric Bone appearance as American second (Jan as international second) and Will as third.

While I had a minor cry about my race in the car, everyone stood in the freezing wind to accept their medals. (So who’s the real winner there?) 

This was some of the coolest orienteering I’ve done in a while, but my main takeaway disregards the sport entirely: 

The desert, it turns out, is FREAKING cold.

The event recap with all the results and photos can be found here.

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