Winter Adventure Running Series (WARS)
WARS is “real” cross country. It is an on and off-trail running series that requires the use of the mind and the body to achieve top-level results. Participants are challenged mentally and physically.
This series is a training to assist competitors in developing skills to compete at National Level events (also referred to as A meets). Orienteering Cincinnati has hosted an A meet called the Flying Pig orienteering race for over 20 years. This meet occurs in April and this winter series assists in preparing competitors for this race.
This is a recreational series. Please don’t take it too seriously. The primary purpose is for participants to have fun and build or improve their skills.
How does it work?
Participants receive an extremely detailed map with various marked locations, called controls, which must be visited in chronological order. Each participant plans and selects a route to each control. Participants check-in at each control with an electronic timing device that is worn on the finger and is referred to as an E-Punch or SportIdent.
Participants start during a 2-3 hour start window and following others on the same course is considered unsportsmanlike. The fastest are not necessarily the fastest runners as route planning is extremely important.
It takes time and effort to become proficient at map reading and route planning. The skills are developed over many years. However, the challenge makes completing the course much more fulfilling than simply running a typical race. Anyone can follow a course on the road or on trails, not everyone can combine the mental aspects of map reading and route planning with running to persevere.
How much does it cost and what do I get?
A season pass costs $75 and includes the following;
• Prepaid registration for all 15 events
• E-punch and thumb compass rental
• OCIN membership
• Discounts at other OCIN events
• Emergency whistle & OCIN sticker
• Eligibility for awards and prizes
• Invitation to awards ceremony
What gear or equipment do I need?
Map – The map is the most important piece of equipment and you will be provided one at each event. The maps are prepared by professional cartographers who are among the best. It is important to become familiar with the map symbols.
Compass – A map and your eyes are the primary tools used for navigation, the compass is secondary. A traditional compass is sufficient for beginners. (However, the better the compass the more accurate and steadier the needle.) A thumb compass is much more effective and the use of one is included in the WARS season package. Non-season passholders can rent a thumb compass for $2 at each event. Thumb compasses can also be purchased for $40-100.
SportIdent or E-Punch – This is the electronic timing device that records when you visit each control. Rental is included for season pass holders and they can be rented for $2 for non-season pass holders.
Shoes - The most important gear are your shoes. Traction is paramount. Trail running shoes with aggressive traction are preferable. There are manufacturers that make shoes specifically for these events, such as, Salomon, Icebug and VJ Sports.
Clothing - Dressing for the weather is important. Layering is recommended as well as wearing gear that can provide ventilation. For runners, it is important to start a little cold as you’ll generate a lot of body heat when running, especially when going up and down steep hills. Everyone is different, and it will take a bit of trial and error to figure out what will work best for you.
When it comes to clothing, keep in mind that there are often stickers and burrs when you go off trail. Thus, it is not advisable to wear items that snag or rip easily. Nor is it a good idea to wear your newest or best gear. More experienced (or serious) competitors wear knickers and shin guards for protection. Many wear nylon pants which are far easier for burr removal.
My personal preferences:
• Upper body - A well-worn base layer and a wind breaking cycling vest if it’s cold. I find this keeps my core warm and enables me to regulate my temperature by zipping the vest up or down.
• Head & ears - I wear a Headsweat hat (keeps sweat out of the eyes and provides some warmth) and add a fleece headband in colder weather. I almost always find a stocking cap to0 warm and end up carrying it.
• Legs – Knickers and shin guards. I’ve used the same set for 4 seasons, they are well worn but get the job done.
• Feet – Wool socks and, if it’s wet, I wear Gore-Tex socks over them. This keeps my feet completely dry and warm, even when crossing creeks and running in the water. The Gore-Tex socks are an expensive luxury and certainly not a necessity. I wear Salamon and Icebug shoes. I haven’t found a set of shoes that provides too much traction. I would like to see a shoe developed with aggressive spikes in the toes to enable running up steep gullies with minimal slippage.
How many races are there?
There are 15 events in the WARS season. The first event was November 18th and the finale is currently planned for March 17th.
The series will take you to parks and properties within a 50-mile radius of Cincinnati. You’ll explore and discover areas of these parks and properties you didn’t know existed. Events are held at state, county and city parks as well as on private property. For a full and updated list of the events and locations visit the OCIN events page.
Who will I compete against and how will results be determined?
There are categories for men and women as well as by age. Age categories are 19-29, 30-49, 50.
Participants must complete the age-appropriate course to receive points toward rankings and the age-appropriate course must be the first course completed at an event. In other words, if the red course is the appropriate course for an individual that person must complete the red course before any other courses at the event. Completing another course first will give an unfair advantage and is therefore prohibited.
The course assigned to the age category are generally as follows. However, participants should always confirm the course at each event.
To accumulate points you must complete the requisite course for the age group or a more difficult course.
Points are assigned based upon the amount of time taken to complete the course. Missed controls result in zero points for the event.
Each participant’s 6 highest scores determine their overall ranking for the series.
Why is this in the winter?
This series takes place in the winter for a number or reasons.
1. The ability to read topography is greatly enhanced when the leaves are off the trees.
2. The impact on the environment is greatly reduced, as the ground is often frozen and plants are dormant. This is especially important for those going “off trail.”
3. The risk of poison ivy is greatly diminished.
4. The cooler temperatures are more comfortable for running as compared to the heat and humidity in the summer.
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