The Python is now a regular Fall season offering by the Northeast Ohio Orienteering Club. At the beginning, it was a 12-hr rogaining event. Then, more recently, it got downgraded to a 10-hr event. Being so close to home, we have always attended, since it doesn't require an overnight stay before or after the event.
The start location usually alternates between the Boy Scouts camps of Camp Manatoc and Camp Butler reservations. The two are adjacent, so it doesn't make much difference.
This year, the event started in Camp Butler.
The public lands terrain used for the event is in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The different parcels of public land are not adjacent, and the participant must walk/run on paved roads to connect the different areas. In addition, the event includes into its orienteering format, the area of a corn maze owned and operated by a commercial agricultural farm and country store.
In the past events, the date was always in mid-October. This year, it was in late September. A bit more daylight, and a bit more vegetation.
Three maps were handed out, each in scale 1:13000, each printed on paper sheets in size 10.5 by 17 inches. In addition, a micro-map of the corn maze was also handed out.
During the day, an area of the park was used for a cross-country invitational, in which 1500 teenagers participated. It did happen that while running one of the trail, had to "merge" with the participants of x-country runners.
The morning to mid-day hours was hot and humid. The Akron marathon was happening on the same day, and a heat advisory was issued in that event. Eventually, rolling dark clouds moved in during the afternoon, and a few areas did get some very light showers, cooling the paved road surfaces.
Under the covered bridge, the water of the creek was clean and inviting, and on the creek shore, bent into my knees to the ground and immersed by head and face into the water. Once up, and refreshed, looked at the family and the small toddler staring at me, and said: "See? grown ups do it too..."
Given the considerable road pavement
to be covered while doing the event competitively, I would categorize this event primarily as an endurance running event. There were situations where bushwacking orienteering style between two controls was the shortest distance, but for a conditioned runner, it made more sense
running on a paved road and circumventing the woods and its shrubbery vegetation, and yes, it would result in a longer distance, but taking less time and saving energy on the participant.
This year, followed a clockwise route
Given that last year ended up at the covered bridge/corn maze area with just one hour left, and had to be vehicle-lifted to the finish, advertised to all that this year was going to do the same, but in style, having a "rogainer limo" pick me up, where I would change clothing into a tuxedo, and at Camp Butler, emerge from the limo, "Bond, James Bond", and download my SI card. So, I did instruct the spouse to be ready for that eventuality, and had her stationed in the town of Peninsula, just by the Winking Lizard tavern, at 7 PM, one hour before finish time. Well, fortunately, all these precautions turned out to be unnecessary, as I reached Peninsula at 5:50 PM, well ahead of crisis time, and with a resurgence of energy in the legs. At that point, I knew I was going to finish by human energy alone without the assist of a motorized vehicle. As I told Kevin Fisher whom I crossed into an hour later, I tried to explain the mysterious powers that got me propelled forward, by saying "I saw Jesus".
Towards the end, completely missed a control
, worth 40 points. And in the very last seconds, almost missed the finish.
. Days later, analyzing the route and map, noticed a little bit of triangular area "gap" of missing "out-of-bounds" vertical magenta lines, and played it into a fortuitous find
Overall, a good event and result. But the format of the event and the long distances on paved road make it suitable only for those that are physically conditioned for endurance running, if a competitive result is what you want.
Having said that, I would suggest to the organizers that a 6-hr format be offered, so that orienteer-types and older types, that don't run on long stretches of paved road, would then choose to cover only the wooded terrain area east of the Cuyahoga Valley.