Orienteering a differing kind of sport

By: Brett Ransford Telegraph Correspondent
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Navigation was the name of the game at Folsom Lake on Sunday morning and it had nothing to do with boating. Gold Country Orienteers, a local membership in the competitive international sport, which combines racing and navigation, held its first meet of the year at Granite Beach in Folsom Lake State Recreation Area. An average of 200 participants chose from nine designed courses. Racers navigated the park in search of controls or marked stations. The event included Gold Country Orienteer’s first mountain bike orienteering courses. Gold Country Orienteers is a 15-member group, including event director Paul Keeton and course setter Mats Jansson, who both organized the meet. David Takacs, a member for more than 10 years, was working the finish line. “We give them a little training if they haven’t done it before, but some of the more experienced racers will do more than one course,” Takacs said. “The idea isn’t distance, it is challenge.” One group in its first orienteering meet was Folsom Boys Scouts Troop No. 134. After a brief training, troop leader Danielle Blacet, her son Brody, 11, Mark Snodgrass, 11, Jason Tran, 14 and Nimish Saxena, 13, set out to earn their respective merit badges. “We need to use a map and compass to go to a destination of over one mile,” Brody said. “I’m a Scout right now, but I’m about to be a Tenderfoot after my board of review.” Six courses with increasing difficultly were available according to color – white and yellow for beginners, orange for intermediate and brown, green and red for advanced. Yellow is the first course which requires the use of a compass off-trail. “Usually the only opportunity Scouts get to do this is in summer camp, but this is cheap and available so Gold Country Orienteers is great for doing this,” Danielle said. On their way to the first mountain bike orienteer control were Jakeb Henriksen and his wife, Annaliza. Jakeb has more than 25 years orienteering experience. It was Annaliza’s first meet. “We like both mountain biking and orienteering so it’s a chance to do both,” Jakeb said. “It’s not my first race, but it’s my first orienteering. We’ve just started so I’m excited,” Annaliza added. The orienteering group meets once a year and plans about six events, three in spring and three in fall. Courses and meets are open to new members and day-of registrants. One group — Tim Godwin and his daughters Katelin, 12, Alaina, 10, along with friend and daughter of the course setter, Emma Jansson – even included Toby and Cooper, the Godwin’s mini Australian Shepherds. For more information visit