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, 12 Feb 2010@8:00

One of the worlds best known educational centers, the city of Uppsala, offers not only exceptional possibilities for studying but also some great areas for orienteering. Namely, just some 10 kilometers away from the city main square one can find an almost pathless wilderness, a 20 km2 big mozaic of fine  hills and bogs of all sizes. The Lunsen area.

Just go straight!

Lunsen is one of the best areas mapped around Uppsala and many would argue it is also one of the best in Sweden. Members of local clubs train here frequently as they are lucky enough to have this area at the doorstep, but even the orienteers  from farther away come often to Lunsen for technical practice.

Lunsen is special in many ways, says Tomas Stenström, OK Linne’s elite runner. – The map is really big and there are big sections of terrain with no roads or paths. The terrain is demanding and unless you are 100% focused, you can get totally lost. We are often performing night Orientering in this area, and there are not many harder things than having Lunsen under control at night.

What about tactics in such terrain? – Route choices are almost none in Lunsen, continues Tomas. – Therefore the best way to navigate is to hold to the line and be really focused on where you are and where to go. Top runners in this type of terrain are able to see which object to use for fast navigation and to keep high speed all the way to the control. You need to be really technically trained to succeed in Lunsen. I think some top runners have serious problems with this type of terrain and even when they think they have done a good race, they can be several minutes behind  the best.

Lunsen. (C) Therese Olsson OK Linné

More than just orienteering

Uppsala is a city rich in history and renowned educational center. Uppsala university is the oldest University in the Nordic countries and it dates to 1477. Perhaps the best known Uppsala student is Carl Linneaus (also known as Carl von Linné).  Linné laid the foundations of modern taxonomy (categorising livig organisms) as well as set up the scheme of binomial nomenclature (scientific nomenclature of living organisms).
The Lunsen area itself is a nature reserve, where they try to maintain and re-develop biodiversity. It is interesting that after the reserve was formed in 2003, some wetlands were restored by filling up about 20 old  forest ditches. Foot-bridges have been built in many places so you can walk through the wetlands. For instance, there is a 120 meters long bridge with passing places across Micksmossen.

Part of the Lunsen map. (C) Upsala IF

Part of the Lunsen map. (C) Upsala IF

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? One of our readers commented that “Swedes say that once you manage to orienteer there you can orienteer anywhere.” While one could argue on that statement, the fact is that Lunsen is technically very challenging and at the same time very enjoyable area (I have actually tried this terrain on a few trainings). The forest is big, wild and beautiful. Lunsen was also on the list of the 10 best Swedish areas published by Alternativet. The proximity of Uppsala is additional bonus.

Map: Lunsen
Scale: 1: 10000 & 1:15000
Equidistance: 2,5 m
Year: 2009 (constantly updated)
Size of map: overall area cca. 45 km2 , last update cca. 26 km2
Mappers: Field work:  Kampfs Kartor (Thomas Kampf)
Terrain type: Diffuse relief, many marshes, bogs of different sizes.
Estimated top speed: 5.5 min/km
Interesting points: Technically very difficult map, big sections with no paths. Proximity of Uppsala one of World best known university cities. The area itself is a Nature reserve.
Links of interest: Owner club Upsala IF, World of O maps Lunsen entry (see for example Albin Ridefelt’s long leg training),  Wikipedia on Uppsala
Events on map: Some national events.
Country: Sweden


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 quite a few Swedish maps on the final list. Do you think Lunsen should be there too? Have you ran on this terrain? What was your experience? Do you know about some similar even more interesting areas?


Thanks to Tomas Stenström and Thomas Kampf for help with the article.

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101 Orienteering Maps you should run on before you die!

Posted by Jan Kocbach, 26 Jan 2010@8:00

Some of these maps might make it into the final list of the 101 Orienteering maps you should run on before you die.

With so many magnificent orienteering destinations, it sounds a bit like a mission impossible to select the 101 Orienteering maps you should run on before you die. Yet, we have now started this mission – and you will be able to both follow and shape the list on this blog. We will surely need the help of our readers all over the world in order to get a good result!

… most of all we want to enjoy the process of determining those 101 maps

Our ultimate goal, to produce a real paper book about 101 orienteering maps which every orienteer should run on before he/she dies is clear, but not set as a “101% must”. It depends on many people and circumstances how the project will develop. We will of course do our very best to complete it, however most of all we want to enjoy the process of determining those 101 maps.

101 Orienteering Maps Blog

The “101 orienteering maps” blog was started by Jan Kocbach & Ivan Nagy with the general aim to open a discussion not only about the most outstanding orienteering areas of the world – but also about different aspects of orienteering maps, mapping and to some extent about the essence of the sport itself. We have both had the idea for a long time, an idea which was sparked again after reading a story at a few weeks ago.

In the map presentations here on the blog, we will go beyond the map itself  - and also try to present pictures from the terrain and area and interesting information related to the maps. In some cases we will also present an interesting leg or a course on the map. Expect much more of this additional information in the final paper book – when we, hopefully, get there. A map being presented on the blog is no guarantee that it will make it to the final list.

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Pictures from some of the terrains that might make it into the final list. Both in the blog and in the book we will present pictures from the terrain. When an orienteer gets a map and a picture, it is nearly like being there...

How to get on the list?

The first question that pops to your mind when seeing the title of this project, is surely which criteria we plan to use to determine the 101 maps. We have put a lot of thought into this question, and this is surely one question where we will need YOUR input. Here are some of the criteria we plan to use:

  • Maps which have a characteristic terrain type or vegetation type which you will not find in many places. Of course, in many cases there will be several maps of similar terrain type. In this case, other criteria will be important (including the ones listed below).
  • Maps may be chosen because they have a special history attached to them.
  • The nature and surroundings of the map will surely be important along with the other criteria. One of the most special experiences as an orienteer is to orienteer in an area where magnificent views make it nearly impossible to concentrate on the map.
  • In some cases, geographical position might be a criterium to choose a map.
  • Some maps might be chosen due to a special competition being held on the map.
  • Navigational pleasure – that is how much fun it is to navigate on the map. This is probably one of the most subjective criteria – very difficult to define – and  thus this might give some interesting discussions. However, we think that the pleasure you get from moving through the terrain, taking in the forest and scenery while reading the map, should still be one of the most important criteria to get on the list.

Win your free copy of the book!

The first map will be presented tomorrow – from then on we will present maps with irregular intervals. The first person who manages to guess which map will be presented as the first map tomorrow – and adds it to the comments below – will get a free copy of the final paper book (assuming that we reach our goal and get the book to final print). Note that anyone affiliated with the map owners of the first map, who have been contacted ahead of this first map presentation, can not win.

Help us with your Feedback

Your help is highly appreciated. Use either the Feedback-button to the very right of the webpage, our Facebook-page or comments to the blog-posts to suggest maps and discuss our choices.

Which criteria do you think should be used to determine the 101 Orienteering Maps you should run on before you die? Have you got any suggestions about maps which should be on the list?