Surebridge mountain

Posted by Ivan Nagy, 18 Mar 2010@8:00
Surbridge map sample (C) U.S. senior orienteering team

Surbridge map sample (C) U.S. senior orienteering team

Only a few orienteering maps have such a scent of legendary as ‘Surebridge mountain’ does. The stories  about mapping for WOC 1993 include some controversies, but the main fact is that the final product is a high quality map of world class terrain.

You can love it and hate it – at the same time

The WOC Classic race held on Surbridge Mt. map is still considered as one of the technically hardest WOC Classic courses ever.  Allan Mogensen, the winner of the race seems to have an almost ‘love/hate’ relation to the area: “I loved this whole area mainly because of the huge amount of details – rocks, contours and thickets spread all over the map. And it was a great feeling to run the WOC having 110% faith in the perfectness of the map.” – but on the other hand, Allan explains: “the technical challenges were very high, not just because of the amount of details, but more because of the stony ground, which I really didn’t like. It was not my cup of tea. I had a lot of respect for the terrain and could really never push myself 100% physically. To me, it was one of the biggest technical challenges ever.”

Two independent passes

The Surebridge mountain map was done in two independent passes. The first pass was done by Mark Dominie, Janos Soter, J-J Coté and Kroum Sergiev through 1991 and 1992. The second pass was done in 1993 by Steve Key, the Australian mapper who also mapped for WOC 1985 in Bendigo, Australia. The information we got is that the map was finished in a somewhat infected atmosphere, but apparently that did not affect the quality of the work.
An interesting fact about the Surebridge map is that it is owned by the U.S. senior orienteering team. Royalties of the map support U.S. elite orienteering, which means when you buy the map you buy it for a cause!

Harriman state park.
Photo by Bob Tullis

Gueorgiou versus Thoresen

The Surebridge mountain map regularly attracts visitors who want to run on the map before they die. When “King of the Middle Distance” Thierry Gueorgiou and part of the French Orienteering Team visited the U.S. last October, the WOC 1993 map was of course one of the main attractions. Gueorgiou’s goal: Beating the winning time of his former national team coach Petter Thoresen in the challenging terrain which is a perfect fit for Gueorgiou’s orienteering style. – Tero run 23:20 for the 4.75 km, would have been 3rd back in 1993, though the vegetation has changed some and it’s hard to know how much of an adjustment to make, Peter Gagarin wrote at the US Team Blog after Gueorgiou’s attempt. [Update 20/3: Note that the WOC 1993 short distance was on the Polebrook  map - there is an overlap between the two maps, and the last kilometer of the WOC 1993 short distance course is on the Surebridge mountain map]

More than just orienteering

The Surebridge mountain map is just one of the few in the Harriman state park, which is in total almost 190 km2 large. With more than 300 km of trails it is one of the more popular hiking destinations in the US. New Amsterdam is situated only about 50km south from the Harriman state park. Today New Amsterdam is actually called New York city , but it  is “too everything” to even try to write something about it on this blog. However, you can find some more information about it here.

New York city. Photo by David Illif, under GNU Free Documentation Licence

Why should you run on this map before you die?

So why did we choose this map as a candidate for 101 Orienteering Maps you should run on before you die? Well, this map was not only one of the first on our internal list, but was also suggested by quite a few readers. The terrain and the map really seem to be of high quality. The fact that the WOC was organized there is an additional plus. Harriman state park is a nice place even without orientering map and New York city is worth seeing too, as they say.

If you are looking for a possibility to travel to the area for orienteering – you have got the chance already in May for the Hatter’s challenge, a National class A 2 day event with WRE both days - only 60 kilometers away from Surebridge mountain.

Surbridge map sample (C) U.S. senior orienteering team

Map: Surebridge mountain
Scale: 1: 10000 & 1:15000
Equidistance: 5 m
Year: 1991, 1992, 1993
Mappers: Field work: first pass: Mark Dominie, Janos Soter, J-J Coté and Kroum Sergiev, second pass: Steve Key
Terrain type: Broken relief, many rocky and contour features, some thickets and marshes, stony ground, large pathless sections.
Estimated top speed: 6.5 min/km
Interesting points: Technically very difficult map, big sections with no paths. Situated in Harriman state park. New York city just 50km away.
Links of interest: WOC 1993 courses in, buy Harriman maps, U.S. orienteering federation, Harriman state park, New York city
Events on map: WOC 1993, National events, US team trials …
Country: USA


Please note that the map being presented in this article does not necessarily mean that it will also be included in the final selection of the 101 maps – and in the paper book. It only means it is currently on our candidate list.

Do you know about any similar areas in US but outside Harriman state park? Do you find some other maps from USA more interesting? Have you run on this map? What was your experience?


Thanks to Allan Mogensen, J-J Coté, Cristina Luis and Wyatt Riley for help with the article. Thanks also to Bob Tullis and David Illif for letting us use their photos on the blog.

Cappadocia: Terrain presentation

Posted by Jan Kocbach, 10 Mar 2010@8:00

Cappadocia scenery. Photo: Aleš Hejna

The Cappadocia region in Turkey is very special, and orienteering among the special Cappadocia rock features will be extraordinary. All that is needed is an orienteering map – the work towards getting this remarkable terrain mapped has been started.


According to Czech mapper Aleš Hejna, who has recently been in Turkey evaluating the terrain and its suitability for orienteering, the terrain can best be described as a “stony forest”. The stone features are  sandstones, not unlike what you find in many interesting areas in Hejna’s home country. However, the sand stone features in Cappadocia are often even more eye-catching than the Czech variants, due to them being located in non-forested areas and the more yellow color.


The relief consists of a high plateau over 1000 meter in altitude, that is pierced by volcanic peaks. In this area, there are a lot of interesting sandstone formations, which are actually volcanic deposits. Many of the sandstone formations create labyrinths, rock cities and passages – making the terrain very suitable and interesting for orienteering. The volcanic deposits are soft rocks that the people of the villages at the heart of the Cappadocia Region carved out to form houses, churches and monasteries. According to Hejna’s reports, this most detailed terrain around the villages can be mapped as a sprint map – giving some challenging orienteering.

- Turkish runners are also waiting with impatience to run this area the next years, Turkish elite runner Alen Gavar and one of the organizers of Turkey’s biggest orienteering competition Istanbul 5 Days explains, when asked about Cappadocia. - I hope a map will be ready at the end of this year. There are also a lot of other interesting terrains in Turkey still waiting to get mapped. In the meantime, you can find several other Turkish maps in – one of the most famous ones being the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

Cappadocia - still unmapped. Do you know about other areas around the world which would be perfect for orienteering - but which are not mapped (yet). Please add a comment in the discussion area below. Photo: Aleš Hejna

Why should you run on this map before you die?

It is a bit early to choose this map as a candidate for 101 Orienteering Maps you should run on before you die - as there is still no map there. But when there is a map, this will definitely be a candidate – and we will surely want to be among the first travelling there to try out the terrain. This area is interesting because the sandstone formations will give interesting orienteering in an area which gives a lot of spectacular views. The terrain looks like it is a mix of the Czech Sandstone terrain with the openness of a mountain plateau. The Cappadocia region is also on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

Points of interest: Webpage of Aleš Hejna (Olle’s maps), Hejna’s report about Cappadocia terrain, UNESCO entry for Cappadocia, Orienteering maps from Turkey


Map sample by Aleš Hejna

In addition to finding the best areas which are already mapped, the 101 Orienteering Maps project will also try to identify the great areas which have not been mapped yet – and the Cappadoica region seems to be one worth waiting for. Maybe a good reception from the orienteering community will help some map projects towards realization?

There are many areas around the world which would be perfect for orienteering – but which are not mapped (yet). Have you got some good examples? Please add a comment below and tell us about your dream terrain! We are also interested in more information about terrain containing sandstone areas. The areas in Czech Republic and in part of Germany are famous. Australia is another country which can offer interesting Sandstone orienteering. Do you know about others?


Thanks to Aleš Hejna for providing pictures and information for this article!

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Posted by Ivan Nagy, 02 Mar 2010@8:00

Irbene sample. (C) Latvian orienteering federation

Classified as top secret military radio spying center by the ex-soviet army, the Irbene area opened up to the wide public only in the 90’s, after Latvia gained independence. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why this great orienteering terrain waited so many years to be mapped.

Varying terrain

As a matter of fact, it was not before EOC 2008 that this area was used for the first time. One of the best Baltic mappers Leonids Malankovs, equipped with the laser scanning data, created a masterpiece which served as a base for one of the technically most interesting Long courses in the last years of international championships. The top runners’ comments all seemed to agree in one thing – the race was truly difficult. Eva Jurenikova for example wrote on her blog: “The long final yesterday was one of the technically most demanding long distance races I have ever run.” And she has run many. In the Orienteering achievement of 2009 interview Swiss multiple World Champion Daniel Hubmann said that the Irbene map is one of his favorites.

The often pointed out fact about this map is that it contains several different terrain types, each of which requires different orienteering technique and running speed. Parts of very runnable forest are exchanging with low visibility green areas, where extra care is needed. Sand dune forms are exchanging from very dense and intricate to rather straightforward features. A big portion of the map is covered by marshes, sometimes quite deep ones, which can slow running severely and can therefore be used as route choice “obstacles”. Interestingly, in the western part of the map there even exists a Sahara-like section, pure open sandy area.

Few different terrain types on Irbene map.

Few different terrain types on Irbene map. (C) Latvian orienteering federation.

More than just orienteering

In the western part of the map there is an interesting Radio Telescope, one of the Europe’s few of the kind (supposedly there are about about 30). Telescope’s “32-metre, fully steerable parabolic, centimetre-wave range antenna (RT-32)” is nowadays used mainly for cosmic observations by VIRAC. According to online information it was built by the Russian navy for spying purposes during the Cold war and was kept secret until 1993. Close to the antenna there is an abandoned military village. Guided tours in the area are possible.

The Irbene radio telescope.

Photo by slayerphoto

Why should you run on this map before you die?

So why did we choose this map as a candidate for 101 Orienteering Maps you should run on before you die? There are many nice sand dune areas but we decided to present this one first for its diversity. The Europan Orienteering Championship was organized here. “City of ghosts” and the radio telescope are interesting points to see.

Big part of Irbene map. (C) Latvian orienteering federation.

Map: Irbene
Scale: 1: 10000 & 1:15000
Equidistance: 2,5 m
Year: 2008
Size of map: cca. 8,5 km2
Mappers: Field work: Leonids Malankovs
Terrain type: Sand dunes with different levels of intricacy, many marshes, some open “desert like” parts.
Estimated top speed: 5.5 min/km
Interesting points: Technically very interesting map, providing different terrain types and therefore different skills. Interesting radar  and “ghost city” from Soviet times are on the map. Close to sea.
Links of interest: EOC 2008, Latvian orienteering federation, VIRAC, Wikipedia entry on VIRAC, photos of abandoned village and radar., Irbene map on Worldofo maps, Daniel Hubmann’s route from EOC 2008 on the Irbene map
Events on map: EOC 2008, KAPA 3 days.
Country: Latvia


Please note that the map being presented in this article does not necessarily mean that it will also be included in the final selection of the 101 maps – and in the paper book. It only means it is currently on our candidate list.

There will probably be a few sand dune maps on the final list. And also maybe even more than one map from Latvia. For example, we are also thinking about the Liepaja map. Do you think the Irbene map should be on the final list? Have you ran in this terrain? What was your experience? Do you know about some similar even more interesting areas?


Thanks to Anatolijs Tarasovs and Mārtiņš Līsmanis for help with the article!