Final course notes for Fountainhead
- I write this now three days out from QOC's season opener at
Fountainhead Regional Park this Sunday, September 5 with starts from
noon to 2pm. We will be using the Fountainhead East map, and the final
course stats are as follows:
Course Distance Controls Climb
White 1.40km 10 65m
Yellow 2.34km 12 120m
Orange 3.94km 11 210m
Brown 4.56km 11 190m **
Green 6.36km 12 270m **
Red 7.79km 16 355m **
Blue 10.20km 17 440m **
** Option to run the course as a contour-only exercise, i.e. on a
pre-printed map with the trails removed. Good technique practice.
Only guaranteed by pre-arrangement for which the deadline has passed
but some extra maps have been printed - ask about map availability at
registration if you're interested in trying this.
Comments on the map and terrain in general:
The map is 1:15,000 with 5 meter contours (1:7,500 with 5 meter
contours for White and Yellow). The offset printed map of which the
club has copies in stock was originally made in 1981. 23 may be young
in human years but not in map years, particularly when those map years
encompassed most of the growth of mountain biking from a fringe to a
There are many new and heavily travelled trails used for mountain
biking. There are also some trails used by horses which are not shown
on the map. If you think it will help, these meet notes will be on
display at the meet site alongside a copy of a map of the mountain
bike trails and a copy of the orienteering map with the very
approximate locations of some of the unmapped horse trails sketched in
in purple. Keeping careful track of one's location and ignoring
trails not shown on the map (they tend to take rather circuitous
routes since the mountain bikers and horseback riders are both more
interested in the journey than in the destination) is also a viable
strategy and an easier one for the old map memory.
Aside from the new trails, the forest has thinned out over the years.
This is reflected in the light green slow running areas on the 1981
map having been left off the map when it was digitised in the 90's.
White forest on the map is almost uniformly extremely runnable except
for isolated areas of deadfall.
Also, erosion has continued to work on the landscape. I don't know
whether this would tend to steepen the slopes, make them less steep,
or both in perfect balance - steep slopes are plentiful in any case.
Of more significance to navigation, the top edges of some reentrants
appear to have crept uphill slightly, though any effect of this is
subtle enough to be easy to lose in the 5 meter contour interval.
There is an archery range on a depressingly large piece of private
property east of the start. Signs mark its boundaries. They are also
drawn on the master maps (the boundaries, not the signs). No one
should be tempted to take any route passing through the range but
please respect its boundaries (and stop to relocate) should you
somehow find yourself about to cross them.
There is also some new housing just off Hampton Road (the northern
boundary of the map) and very near the Orange and advanced courses.
The area affected by this is depicted on the master maps. Orange
runners should merely be aware that the housing and associated
unmapped clearings are there so as not to be confused. However, not
being able to pass through the settled area could affect route choices
on advanced courses.
Hazards: There will be many mountain bikers about unless conditions
are wet. Most of the trails open to mountain biking are narrow so
please keep an eye out for them while travelling along or crossing
these paths (blazed with red squares and showing evidence of heavy
bicycle traffic - trust me that they're unmistakable) and get off the
path to let them go by. I have not seen any horses in the park while
setting courses but the possibility can't be discounted. Please give
horses a wide berth - my experience is horseback riders frequently get
nervous if you approach closer than twenty meters.
I advocate the wearing of adequately thick lower body protection as
well as complete coverage to thwart ticks. I wore only one pair of
socks in the forest last Sunday and they apparently weren't adequate
to fend off something in the small gap between my shoes and gaiters -
I still have rather itchy ankles.
It appears the weather will be tolerably rather than excessively hot
on Sunday and there will be approximately 17 gallons of water out on
course. Everyone should nevertheless drink up at the start before
Comments on particular courses:
White: The White course will use maps pre-printed out of OCAD at
1:7,500. The trails in the area visited by the course were updated
Yellow: Same comments as for White.
Orange: The Orange course will be run on the 1:15,000 offset printed
map. Participants will copy their course from master maps and should
make sure they're aware of the no go areas mentioned above - the
archery range and the newly settled area. Be aware that not all of
the trails in the terrain are on the map. Examine the mountain biking
trail map before your start to get an idea of the location and extent
of the new trails.
Brown: Brown runners may either copy their course from the master map
onto an offset printed map or choose to run the same course as a
contour-only exercise on a pre-printed map from which the trails have
been removed (by pre-arrangement or while supplies of extra
pre-printed maps last). Note that the map is a bit dodgy around
control 108 but the control is hung high in the middle of the only set
of ditches in the area which are located where the map shows them even
if they don't quite look like Mikell originally drew them to me. Find
any of the ditches (I admit that I thought it was an area of broken
ground until I actually visited the place) and all will be well. Note
that the slow run areas from the original map will be absent from the
pre-printed trailless maps; they've thinned to good runnability in any
case. Be aware that not all of the trails in the terrain are on the
map. Examine the mountain biking trail map and the orienteering map
with horse trails sketched in before your start to get an idea of the
location and extent of the new trails. Or skip that step if you run
on one of the trailless maps available for this course and would
rather just ignore all trails.
Green: Same comments as for Brown except that you'll be spared
control 108. And the far eastern parts of the map haven't thinned
quite as much since 1981 as the areas visited by Brown - still white
woods but not quite so open.
Red: Same comments as for Green, except the dubious joys of control
108 (see Brown) are back.
Blue: Same comments as for Red.
Directions: From I-95 exit 163 in Lorton, go west to Route 123, Ox
Road. Continue west to Hampton Road, route 647. Left for several miles
to park entrance. Follow orange and white orienteering signs.
From I-66, exit in or around Vienna and find your way to Ox Road, take
that south past Burke Lake Park and turn right when you reach Hampton
Road then follow directions as above.