Orienteering Details

Details about each day's orienteering. This page will be updated continuously.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9


The terrain in Arizona mostly consists of lightly vegetated desert and grassland. The visibility is often quite high and the running speed very fast. The terrain ranges from true desert orienteering at elevations around 2500'/750m (Tucson) and 1700'/525m (Phoenix) to mountain foothill grasslands at 5400'/1600m. There is plenty of cactus and other vegetation that can hurt you but it is usually easily avoided.

Day 1: Classic courses at Kentucky Camp (Saturday, Feb 17)

Course setter: Mark Everett
Registration opens: 9:00
Starts: 9:30 - 11:30 (no assigned start times), courses close at 1:30
Beginner clinics: Instruction will begin every 15 minutes between 9 and 10. Free! 

Classic courses in the beautiful, grassy foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains. Today we have a full slate of color-coded courses.

Exit I-10 on Highway 83, heading south toward Sonoita.

After about 21 miles, turn right on Gardner Canyon Road. From this point you will drive on dirt roads for about 4 miles to the meet center. These roads are in relatively good shape now and okay in a passenger car at 15-20mph. There will be some signs directing you at this point.
Although our map is known as "Kentucky Camp", you should not follow road signs all of the way to Kentucky Camp.

Take Gardner Canyon Road about 0.9 miles to the next junction. From here, turn right onto forest road 163.

Take road 163 about 2 miles. This public road will pass through an area of private land.

Leave road 163 at another Y junction, taking the right fork onto forest road 4060.

Go about 0.5 miles on 4060. After you pass through a cattle guard, the road splits again. Take 4060A toward the orienteering center.

NOTE: The US Border Patrol has now set up a checkpoint along Highway 83 between the Box Canyon and Gardner Canyon Roads. They stop northbound traffic, so people leaving going north will have to stop. Those who are not US citizens or permanent residents would be well advised to have passports or whatever appropriate IDs they have along for the ride.

Course setter's notes:
The terrain is mainly open or scattered trees with high visibility and low-to-medium sized hills. Since the map was first made, there have been a lot of dying trees. Some single trees that are mapped
no longer appear alive, but are still obvious. There are some loose rocks in many areas (hilltops and sides mainly) and high grass almost everywhere, which will slow your pace. Low-lying flat areas are
usually devoid of the loose rocks and offer fast routes. There are barbed wire fences to cross on many courses (white and brown are exceptions). Cross carefully. Everyone on the same course is delayed by the same obstacles. There are opportunities to use gates in places (e.g., the yellow course should be able to use these). You should close a gate behind you if you find it closed when you arrive. The map is open rangeland and there will be cows as well as evidence of their presence.

The courses cross areas mapped by different mappers. The effects can be seen in the interpretation of the vegetation, which can be mapped differently because it consists of areas of open with scattered
trees surrounded by open areas.

Course stats:
White – 2.7 km / 55m climb
Yellow – 4.2 km / 125m climb
Orange – 4.1 km / 130m climb
Brown – 3.3 km / 115m climb
Green – 5.4 km / 200m climb
Red – 6.2km / 215m climb
Blue – 10.3km / 350m climb

Day 1: Contour training at Kentucky Camp (Saturday, Feb 17)

Self-serve contour training available to do any time after you've run your course. Map included in your registration for Day 1. 

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9

Day 2: Classic courses (National Ranking Event) at Box Canyon (Sunday, Feb 18)

Course setter: Jeff Coker
Registration opens: 9:00
Starts: 9:30 - 11:30 (no assigned starts), courses close at 1:30
Walk to start: 300m
Parking: 31°47'29.6"N 110°44'48.0"W (along Box Canyon Rd.)

From I-10: Exit 281, take State Road 83 south for 17.2 miles where you turn right onto Greaterville Road (which leads to Madera Canyon and Continental). After 3.2 miles the pavement will end and you reach a junction where you take the right fork (Box Canyon Road, improved dirt road). Take Box Canyon Rd and follow the Orienteering signs 0.90 miles to the meet site where the Arizona Trail crosses Box Canyon Rd.
Parking will be along Box Canyon Rd.

Course Setter’s Notes:
This area burned in the Sawmill Fire in April of 2017. This was followed by a record monsoon season which has produced waist high grass in the low lying areas and some hill sides, while the grass on the high ground is knee high. The fire was fast burning which allowed most of the juniper, oak and mesquite trees to survive, but there were a few trees that were killed and are still standing. The vegetation boundaries have only been changed where trees were completely burned to the ground. The terrain is very runnable, but watch for rocky ground on the ridge tops and some of the hill sides. I strongly advise wearing long pants and gaiters, as there are many thorny plants throughout the map that are currently leafless and blend in well with the tall grass. Also be prepared to spend some time picking grass seeds out of your shoes, socks, gaiters and pants.

Course Stats:
White – 2.12 km / 50m climb
Yellow – 3.00 km / 100m climb
Orange – 4.05 km / 130m climb
Brown – 4.4 km / 190m climb
Green – 6.6 km / 235m climb
Red – 8.12km / 300m climb
Blue – 9.53km / 355m climb

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9

Day 3: Handicapped mass-start at Catalina State Park (Monday, Feb 19)

Check-in at the Picnic Area Ramada between 9:00 and 9:30
Distance to start: 1.5km from Picnic Area Ramada / parking
Start: mass start 10:00am (maps distributed + pre-race briefing at 9:50am)
Course closes: 12:00pm
Registration/Finish: Picnic Area ramada
Course Setter: Cristina Luis
32°25'28.5"N 110°55'12.5"W

Note that there is an entrance fee for Catalina State Park: $7 per vehicle or $3 per individual/bicycle

For today's course we move north of the city and have a bit of mass start fun in the style of the famous THOMASS races from southern Ontario. The course begins with a free-choice "box" of controls (score-o style) and each competitor will be allowed to skip a number of controls as determined by their age and gender handicap. The course concludes with mandatory point-to-point  controls, same for everyone. First to the finish wins, no matter the age or gender!

From Tucson, drive north on Oracle Road; the park is 6 miles beyond Ina Road.

Map notes:
The terrain in Catalina State Park varies greatly in terms of runnability. This is partially because there are a lot of rocks out there. Only the very big boulders make it on the map so you are likely to come across individual boulders and even boulder clusters of modestly sized boulders in the terrain while only seeing white on the map. If it's on the map it is big.

Beware of the vegetation. In most places there isn't a lot of it to get in your way, but most of what there is is prickly even if it looks benign.

Caution: one steep, rocky slope is marked with magenta exclamation points. It is not forbidden or impossible to pass but it is also not particularly recommended.

Special symbol: green dot is a prominent, mature saguaro cactus. They stand alone and are armed.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9

Day 4 morning: Training at Ironwood (Tuesday, Feb 20)

Start: 9:00 - 9:30am
32°11'51.8"N 111°08'03.8"W (Ironwood Picnic area off of S. Kinney Rd.)
Course: 5km with options to cut

Compass training in this unique desert terrain! This morning's training is a window exercise with only a limited area around each control visible. Control locations marked with flagging tape. This activity is a good one to do with a partner of similar speed.

Directions: From Exit 257 on I-10 drive west on Speedway Blvd. After approximately 5 miles Speedway Blvd. becomes Gates Pass Rd. Continue another 5 miles through Gates Pass until reaching the T-intersection with Kinney Rd. Turn left on Kinney Rd and drive south 1.5 miles until reaching the entrance gate to the Ironwood Picnic Area on the right. Follow the orienteering signs to the event registration area. The trip time from I-10/Speedway Blvd to the event site is about 30 minutes.

Day 4 afternoon: Training at Cat Mountain (Tuesday, Feb 20)

Start: 2:00 - 2:30 pm
Parking: 32°11'24.5"N 111°04'33.6"W (Sarasota Trailhead)
Course: 5km with options to cut

This afternoon's training is a fun course tucked away in the Tucson Mountains. Corridor + regular orienteering. Control locations marked with flagging tape.

From Tucson, take Ajo Way (AZ 86) west to Kinney Road (4 miles west of Mission Road). Turn right at Kinney and go northwest 0.9 miles to Sarasota Blvd. Turn right at Sarasota and drive 1/2 miles until you reach the Sarasota trailhead parking. 

From the Ironwood Picnic Area, Desert Museum, or Old Tucson Studios, take Kinney Road south and turn left on Sarasota Blvd instead. Follow signs to the start, about a 20min walk up to the pass.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9

Day 5: Street-O in Bisbee, AZ (Wednesday, Feb 21)

Start: 10:00 - 10:30 am
Time limit: 2 hours
Start/finish: 31°26'29.6"N 109°55'15.0"W (in the park next to the Bisbee pool)

Bisbee is a quirky southern-Arizona hill town renowned for its arts and music scene. Our street-o will take you on winding stairs, past historic buildings and outdoor works of art. It takes almost 2 hours to drive to Bisbee from Tucson so plan on making a day out of it!

The course is a score-style course with answers to questions about each location serving as punch confirmation. The map is an aerial photo with some additional details added.

Take I-10 eastbound from Tucson to exit 303, a brown sign marked Benson/Tombstone. Take Highway 80 southeast towards Tombstone, with the Dragoon Mountains on your left. Continue through Tombstone on Highway 80 until you arrive at Bisbee. See park location.

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9

Day 6 morning: Sprint training at The University of Arizona (Thursday, Feb 22)

Start: 9:00 - 9:30am
Parking: Sixth Street Garage 

To get to the start/finish of the training please use the map snippet below. The start triangle is at the northeast corner of the 6th St. garage, located at 1119 E 6th St. The start/finish/gathering is just east of the Chemical Sciences building (1305 E. 4th St.).

Start off with a sprint corridor to get your brain into sprint mode, and finish off with a traditional sprint course around campus. These are untimed training courses, no markings in the terrain.

Day 6 afternoon: Sprint training at Reid Park (Thursday, Feb 22)

Start: 2:00-2:230 pm
Location: Ramada 7
32°12'26.6"N 110°55'28.2"W (Parking lot next on the north side of 22nd Street between Country Club and Lakeshore Lane.)

The afternoon training is a start triangle / map orienting session, taking advantage of the open terrain at this small park in central Tucson. 

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9

Day 7: Training at Catalina State Park (Friday, Feb 23)

Start: 9:00-9:30am
Picnic Area ramada (same as Monday)
Parking: 32°25'28.5"N 110°55'12.5"W

Try your hand at a variety of challenging training options on a manipulated map or ask for a normal map and just go find some controls!

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9

Day 8 morning: Desert sprints at Needle Vista  (Saturday, Feb 24)

Start: 9:00 - 12:00

Two short desert orienteering courses, likely one about 1-1.5km long and another 2-2.5km long. Easier navigation and fast running!

Day 9: National Ranking Event at First Water (Sunday, Feb 25)

Start: 9:00 - 11:00
Location: First Water Trailhead (35mi NE of Phoenix)

GPHXO's first National Ranking Event! Classic distance courses.

1 comment:

  1. I found more Day 8 / Saturday details at http://gphxo.org/Events/2018/20180224_NeedleVista.htm