Romping Through the Woods Like Royalty

This past weekend QOC hosted the Royal Romp two-day NRE in Prince William Forest. Lots of team members raced and had lots of fun! Let’s get into it!

My weekend started at 11:20 on Friday afternoon when my drive down to Virginia with Phil Bricker, Peter Gagarin, and Charlie DeWeese began. The four of us had an adventure, driving past massive crashes that had people driving onto the grass to get around them, as well as crossing the grass dividers to turn around and head the other direction. This worked out better for some than others. One unfortunate car did end up at the top of a steep embankment that they definitely would not have gotten down.

A beautiful drawing of the car on the top of the embankment that um…definitely makes the image clearer…right?

After a solid eight hours drive, I got dropped off at the hotel where I met up with Lily, who had also just done an eight hour drive just from the south instead of the north, and Grace, who had been touristing in DC all day and had gotten a ride from a stranger when she found out that the busses weren’t running because of a strike.

Some people went a different route and woke up at 5am on Saturday to drive and get to their starts on time. I can’t imagine having done that. Kudos Paul and Shawn.

What people did to keep themselves entertained during their rides:

Bridget – I knit a sock! Well, some of one at least. It’s my first time making socks so I’m not very quick, but there was significant progress. Felt nice to do something productive with my time. (I also wrote most of this blog post because efficiency is key, and I needed to be able to remember things to write so I did it while everything was fresh in my brain).
Zariah – During my travel form Washington State to Virginia for this race I was traveling with my parents who are relatively new to orienteering so much of the travel time was spent going over maps and talking about what the races would look like for them.
Joe – Listened to music and my brother complain about life. 
Anna – Homework, mostly Computer Science. And stared out the plane window while I was procrastinating.
Lily – I jammed out to music in the car with my dad!
Diana – I slept (my drive was only about 90 minutes so it was not that bad).
Danny – I went through maybe four or five cycles of reading until I fell asleep and then reading once I wake up.
Alex – “You, you and me, I feel so high when I think orienteering”
Kirsten – drove myself down, so just listened to music and vibed

Day 1: Orienteering time!!

Saturday’s terrain was compass heavy, with mostly shallow contour features and very little else. A lot of people struggled, but here are some of the best mistakes from the day.

Courses (Green X, Red, Blue)


Thoughts about day one:

Anna – I got rather lost on the first 3 controls, which reminded me to slow down and get into the map for the start of the second day’s course.
Paul – The course was tough; a lot of hurdles to jump over, quite literally with the number of fallen trees. Nothing short of a challenge!
Zariah – The first day was a really cool and frustrating race, I had been moving very confidently and smoothly through each checkpoint until the 9th of 10 checkpoints at which point I got turned around by similar terrain and had a much longer time on that split than I would’ve liked.
Danny – What a beautiful forest, but also, 1:10000 scale with 5m contours spread out as far as they were maybe played games in my head as I struggled to actually estimate distance.
Alex – Day 1 went okay. Navigationally I wasn’t super strong, but I think I was able to recover from my mistakes fairly quickly.
Joe – Good to be on the right side of a close race. I think the vague terrain suits me, because in more detailed areas I get distracted by reading every little thing.
Diana – My navigation for the first day was good (except for one control). Out of the two days this is the day that went the best for me.
Kirsten – vague contours are difficult.
Lily – Day one I was running really fast – too fast – and made a mistake. BUT I thought it was really fun and enjoyable to read the subtle contours and details that I don’t normally get in Georgia.
Bridget – I had a pretty rough start with a big mistake on control two due to bad compass work, but I was able to pull it together more as the course went on. Gentle, vague contours are not something I am used to.

After running people went their various ways for lunch and then got back together to play some cards before heading out to the very well-advertised Happy Hour. After chatting about courses there, it was then dinner time. I’m not sure what everyone did, but Lily, Paul, Kirsten, Victor, and I went to Cava to get some lovely bowls (falafel and avocado yumminess). Then it was back to the hotel for more cards (under ten lets goooo) and then bed time early because daylight savings was stealing an hour of sleep from us 😦 .

Happy Hour!

Day Two: Features Galore (at least compared to day one…)

Sunday’s terrain was much less contour heavy as the contours were significantly more distinct and easier to navigate with. Majority of people had cleaner runs this day, though it was physically demanding with all the climb.

Courses (Green X, Red)


Feelings about day two:

Lily – Day 2 was hillier and I took it much more cautiously. I learned my lesson from day 1 and came away from it better overall. I thought it was really funny and ironic how the course went straight back into the flat green sections in the beginning of the course.
Diana – Day two was much hillier than the first day, but it was still fun. 
Joe – Glad with how I was able to run without getting in my own head. Even though it was less technical, I’ve been known to make really dumb mistakes in situations like that
Paul – Day 2 was a bit hillier making it hard to visualize the terrain which made precise compass essential.
Kirsten – At this point, this sickness was starting to kick in, so not a tone of thoughts tbh, I was just in “keep moving” mode
Alex – Day 2 sucked. Physically I felt okay, but mentally I was crumbling, leading to not being able to put my best effort into the race.
Anna – I did great getting into the map.  Then, I tripped and went head-over-heels and it took me a little while to get myself to run again. I was able to pick it back up again, though – just in time for Kirsten and Angelica to catch up to me so I could run off in the wrong direction like a crazy person. And then I saw what looked like a puddle and ran through it, but I went waist-deep in mud. That pretty much sums it up.  You’d think by now I could tell the difference between a puddle and a mud pit!
Danny – I wonder what would’ve happened if they put the easier day two course on day one; everyone would get super confident and decently fatigued then explode on the vague day one map. Maybe it’s a good thing I’m running in and not organizing these. 
Zariah – I had again a quite lovely race until the end, where on my 13th out of 14 checkpoints was a bit of a mistake because I misread my control code and thought the number for 13 was going to be the number for 12.
Bridget – Day two fit my strengths as an orienteer a lot better, and it definitely showed in my navigation. I had some less-than-optimal route choices, but I executed everything pretty well which felt good.

After people were done, the winners of each category were crowned royalty (though there wasn’t any real award ceremony because so many people needed to head out).

Peggy (F60), Lily (F20), Bridget (F21)

Overall Results!

Then, just as it began, the weekend ended with lovely long journey’s home again.

Takeaways from the weekend?

Lily – My biggest takeaway was that I have the ability to read a map fast from looking over my splits, but I need more experience and technical skill to truly race clean.
Danny – Deciding when to use a lack of expected features as a sign of having made a mistake and when to use a presence of unexpected features. Day one I think I weighted too heavily the former when I should’ve probably concentrated more on the latter, given the terrain.
Zariah – Overall this weekend was an absolute blast and a really nice experience with getting more practice orienteering in differing terrain.
Kirsten – Make sure to check the weather ahead of time and bring enough layers
Alex – I still have a lot to work on. And I seriously need to work on my mental health, I’ve been putting it off for too long.
Joe – On flat terrains can often lose more time then gain trying to “minimize climb”.
Paul – Having done my first blue this weekend, I know that being more deliberate in my route planning and thumbing along will be necessary at Flying Pig in two weeks. Unlike Red courses, blues require more collecting features on longer routes which slowed me down.
Anna – Slow down, get my head into the map before I try to pick up the pace.
Diana – My biggest takeaway is that I need to work on my speed, because my navigation was mostly fine this weekend. 
Bridget – I need to slow down and let my compass settle before I speed off, and I still have a long way to go with my fitness.

Favorite thing about the weekend?

Diana – My favorite moment was seeing everyone, especially people I haven’t seen in a while.
Kirsten – Standing around the fire at Tori’s campsite and talking with everyone
Zariah – Some of my favorite moments came from getting to talk about the races and spend time with the other racers.
Paul – Catching up and meeting with some orienteers from all over the east coast for a drink at Bar Louie!
Anna – It was good to see friends.  Hanging out with all my friends was awesome, especially having Zariah and her parents at the same hotel. It was really nice for Kirsten to help me understand what introductory computer science courses are like in other schools.
Alex – Playing Under 10 with the juniors
Bridget – I think I sound like a broken record with this question, but just seeing everyone again was absolutely lovely. Also, it was lots of fun to run in terrain that is so different from anything that I run in in New England.
Danny – Hearing stories from someone who medaled at JWOC.

And I’ll leave it off there! Thank you so much to QOC for hosting this NRE weekend. Hope you all enjoyed reading a bit more about the Royal Romp Weekend, and stay tuned for an recap of US Nationals in two weeks!


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