Occassional thoughts about orienteering

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Why make a map?


I've spent a fair amount of time in the last couple of months working on a sprint orienteering map of an area near my house.

Why bother?

I'm certainly not going to turn a profit. I'm not getting paid to do the work. When we use the map, the orienteering club will break even. But that's only because I'm donating my hours. If I charged for my time, we wouldn't cover the costs of the map.

There are all sorts of other things I could do with my time. I could do more running and biking. I could do some work around the house. I could get in touch with some of the local juniors and set up a little training camp for them. I could get around to editing the photos I took in Yellowstone. I could work on a presentation for work. I could work on a trade to strengthen my fantasy football team. There's no end to the other things I could be doing if I weren't working on the map.

I enjoy some aspects of mapping. Where the base map is good (and for the most part it is quite good), I like fieldchecking. I don't like bashing through thick forest to figure out if a little clearing I can see in the distance is large enough to add to the map. I don't like picking sticktights and burrs off my socks after mapping. Drafting is, to me, tedious. There are actually quite a lot of things that I don't like about mapping.

Having the map finished will be nice. We'll be able to use if for events. Maybe we can host some beginner clinics and grow the sport locally. But, we've got other maps we could use. Having another map won't really make a difference.

Why bother?

Well, the map's first use will be for a sprint race Orienteer Kansas hosts the day before the "Possum Trot." We do it every year. Most of the runners will be locals, but we also get runners from other parts of the country. In just the last couple of years, we've had runners from Colorado, Wyoming, Manitoba, Texas, and Missouri. Over the event's history, we've had runners from Japan, Sweden, and England. Organizing the event and hosting those runners is fun. We travel a lot for orienteering, so hosting an event that others travel to is part of the sport. It is an obligation, but it can also be really satisfying.

I'm looking forward to this year's event (the December 12/13 weekend). I think we'll have a good map (assuming I get finished!) and the "Possum Trot" is at Knob Noster, easily the best terrain within a few hours of Lawrence. We're hosting a few visiting orienteers, which is always fun. I'm looking forward to OK putting on a quality event that we, as organizers, can feel good about. I'm hoping the competitors will enjoy their races.

Hosting the event can be a bit of a chore. It can be cold and wet. The day of the race can be long and draining. But, the meet director always does a good job of recruiting workers. We get clear assignments and the work gets spread around pretty well.

Why make a map?

I guess the answer is that it is something that I do as a member of Orienteer Kansas and as a participant in the larger U.S. orienteering scene. I make a map so we can put on an event and people who travel to the race and run it can have fun.

Back to okansas.blogspot.com.

posted by Michael | 5:20 PM


Is this post a comment on whether hosting JWOC is a good idea?
It isn't unrelated. But a personal decision - like making a map - is a lot different from an organizational decision. If it were up to me, USOF would bid on the JWOC. But it isn't. Given the lack of consensus, it probably wouldn't be worth the trouble of bidding. I wish there were consensus for hosting the JWOC. But, there are lots of things I wish that aren't going to happen!

One of the reasons I have invested my orienteering volunteer efforts at the local level rather than the national level is that it feels more satisfying. Local organizing is fun and feels positive. The national level hasn't felt like that to me. The one exception being the junior camps in Texas.

The discussion of JWOC has given me plenty of blog-fodder. Maybe I'll write about "burn out" tomorrow!

To me, map making is like some sort of handcraft. Like woodworking, for instance. Some might find that tedious, but many, as they get into it, can find it satisfying and engrossing.

Do you feel that way about mapping?

I also love making maps. I do not make any money. Actually, I spend money and time, but I don't care. For me, it's a hobby like painting or art. If you like making maps, go ahead and do what you like, even if it doesn't make any sense.

I think I'm a lot like Angelo. I like making maps even if it doesn't make any sense!

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