Great Pumpkin Brings Out the Orienteers

The Great Pumpkin Orienteer Festival brought numerous families and veteran orienteers together to enjoy the beautiful landscape and warm temperatures. Many thanks to Orienteer Kansas for co-hosting the event with us. Sixty-five competitors ranging in ages from 1 to 71 years participated in the October 25th event. The festival offered 5 events; a yellow and orange trekking course; a mountain bike orienteering course; and a night score-o. Each event signified an increasing level of difficulty and a greater course distance.  Family teams and solos chose the level of courses that best met their navigation capabilities and endurance.

Swashbuckling Pirates Swagger Across the Yellow Course. 

Nine family teams introduced their younger members to the yellow course.  A yellow course serves an excellent starter event for orienteering. Race staff placed navigation markers in open urban areas with low technical navigation rating. Team Pirates, Shawn, Wyatt, Grady and Gretchen Miller, swaggered their way across the course. Wyatt carried his plastic pirate sword ready to take on any intruding marauders from the Missouri River. For Team Nova, Mona, Andrew and Katherine Novakoski, the course provided their first adventure in orienteering. Mom Mona provided Andrew a short lesson in using a compass to determine a north azimuth. Approximately 40 minutes later, Shawnee Mission West JROTC Team #5WOTE, Victoria Saunders, Holly McCullough, Grant Turner, Dakota Cordala, and Jake Kolasa, crossed the finish line taking first place.

Three Wrong Turns Capture First on Orange Course. 

The orange course proved the most popular with 6 families and 5 solos

racers selecting the 11 control points, 4.8k event. The course provided a higher level of technical orienteering with participants having to recognize terrain features on a topographical map.  Family members and solos trekked trails and sidewalks locating orange markers in landmarks, light vegetation, and trailheads. The course provided a different challenge for veteran orienteers Paul Clatterbuck and Tom Herrnstein. In orienteering meets, participants use the “punch and go” strategy. Orienteers approach a control with a plan for the next control. Once a racer punches their passport, they immediately depart the area in the direction of the next control.  The practice works very well except when the control is placed within the 41 feet prison walls of the historic United States Disciplinary Barracks (USDB). As Clatterbuck and Herrnstein punched control #7 at the interior northern wall, they darted to the southeast for control #8. They soon resembled frantic prisoners attempting a failed escape plan.   The orienteers ran along the century high brick walls looking for exit doors or steps over the prison towers. They eventually discovered the disappointment of many prison inmates, when it comes to prison walls, there’s only one way out. Team Three Wrong Turns, Ryan Skinner and Mitch Brim, captured first place in a time of 44 minutes, 50 seconds.

20K Mountain Bike Orienteering Course Challenges Competitors. 

Two teams and 4 solos took on the demanding mountain bike orienteering course.  The course consisted of 2o markers with a distance of 20k.  The challenge possessed the highest level of technical orienteering, elevation gains, and endurance. The course proved too much of a challenge for 3 teams, as they returned to the start line having only found 5 controls in 1 hour. Mike Eglinski, John Schoen, and Blair Sutton, all cruised to victory after clearing the course in times ranging from 1 hours, 58 minutes, to 2 hours and 23 minutes.

Night Orienteering Brings Outs the Ghost and a Quick Score-O.

Orienteer Kansas hosted the  night orienteering with electronic punching and a challenging 60-minute Score-O. Orienteering under 6% illumination stresses racers’ sense of awareness and feet placement. The event consisted of a score-o where racers captured as many points as possible in a 60-minute period. With Fort Leavenworth being proclaimed as one of the most haunted installations, racers were fore-warmed about meeting a few ghosts and goblins on the course. Two teams and 4 solos ventured out into the darkness. Racers encountered the ghost of Catherine Suttler at the Santa Fe Trail historic landmark. Team Flaming Rabbits were true to their name. As Catherine approached them from behind, the team yelled out and flew off in another direction. Most racers maximized their available time with 4 competitors sprinting to the finish line within the 58-minute mark. Gene Wee topped the podium by capturing 120 points in 58 minutes, 38 seconds.


 Great Pumpkin Orienteer Festival Results.

The FTLV Adventure Series celebrated a full day and night of orienteering. Many thanks to the teams and solos who joined us for the events.  The race results are as follows. A special kudos to those racers who completed multiple events.  As always thanks to our volunteers and Orienteering Kansas for co-hosting the event with us. The spectacular race photos are at our Flickr website

Yellow Course, 3.2K

1. Team 5Wole, 7 Controls, 40:47

2. Team Awesome People, 7 Controls, 49:30

3. Team Quicksters, 7 Controls, 52:30

4. Team Alphas, 7 Controls, 55:25

5. Team Family Malicoats, 7 Controls, 1:01:45

6. Team Jake, 7 Controls, 1:07:50

7. Team Pirates, 7 Controls, 1:12:15

8. Team Nova, 7 Controls, 1:21

9. Team Blue Angels, DNF (Injury)

Orange Course, 4.8K

1. Three Wrong Turns, 11 Controls, 44:50

2. Tom Hernstein, 11 Controls, 51:40

3. Gene Wee, 11 Controls, 53:00 (Afternoon Meet)

4. Paul Clatter, 11 Controls, 58:58

5. Team Brewdog Family, 11 Controls, 1:16

6. Team Les Explorateurs Caldwell, 11 Controls, 1:24:50

7. Team Baby, 11 Controls, 1:30:40

8. Reta Roe, 11 Controls, 1:41 (Afternoon meet)

9. Team Go Royals, 11 Controls, 2:52:40

10. Mary Jones, 6 Controls, 36:11 (Afternoon Meet)

11. Team Fanning, 6 Controls, 1:38:50

Mountain Bike Orienteering, 20K

1. Mike Eglinski, 20 Controls, 1:58 (Afternoon meet)

2. John Schoen, 20 Controls, 2:08:40

3. Blair Sutton, 20 Controls, 2:23:40

4. Fritz Menninger, 5 Controls, 1:04 (Afternoon Meet)

5. Already Lost, 5 Controls, 1:48 (Afternoon Meet)

6. Team Kelly. DNF (Lost Passport)

Night Orienteering, Score-O, (Race splits at Orienteer Kansas)

1. Gene Wee, 120 pts, 58:38

2. Tom Hernstein, 110 points, 54:34

3.Team Brewdogs, 90 points, 58:24

4. John Schoen, 90 points, 58:49

5. Flaming Rabbits, 70 points, 58:26

6. Reta Roe, 60 points, 54:39


Choose Your Event : On Foot, On Bike or Under the Stars.

Late October brings Fall foliage, crisp temperatures, open fields, and orienteering events in full throttle. The Fall Adventure Series continues with our Great Pumpkin Orienteering Festival on October 25th. Participants can register for and start the morning course anytime between 8am to 9:30am, Gruber Gym, Fort Leavenworth, KS. The meet is designed for new orienteers and families wanting to discover the sport and for navigators honing their skills for the next 7 months of prime orienteering season. The Festival is being co-hosted with Orienteer Kansas (OK), a premier orienteering club from Lawrence. Club members include national and international champion orienteers. In addition to developing the detailed orienteer maps, OK is hosting the night orienteer with electronic punching. We are truly excited in having these orienteering veterans join us for the festival.

The Festival offers 3 different types of events; traditional orienteering with 2 levels of technical rating; a mountain bike orienteering course; and a challenging night orienteer. Participants have an all day/night access pass to all the courses for 1 registration fee of $15.00 or a family rate (3 members) of $30.00.

UPDATE: Several out-of-towners requested the opportunity to trek both the day and night courses. In the spirit of the orienteering festival, we are offering an additional daytime orienteering meet at 3:30pm. Racers can compete on the Orange and Mountain Bike Courses from 3:30 to 5:30 pm. Capture the day course, grab some dinner at one of the many Leavenworth restaurants, and come back for the 6:30pm night orienteering. Again a single registration fee of $15.00 offers an all-day/night pass to any event. 

 Traditional Orienteering Courses: 3.2K Yellow and 4.8K Orange (Course Maps).

The introductory Yellow Course consists of 7 navigation markers hung in easy to find, urban areas. The 3.2K Yellow Course is an excellent walking adventure for new orienteers and family teams with children. The course is fairly level. Participants learn how to establish a pace count, shoot a bearing with a compass, and find navigational markers in light vegetation or on historical landmarks. Participants receive a Google Earth photo and an orienteering map depicting the terrain and the location of the markers. The 3.2 K orienteering course is posted below. The numbered red circles indicate the number and placement of the marker. Note there are lines between the markers. The lines indicate the distance between the markers as the “crow flies”.  They also indicate the sequence of markers. Racers must follow the course in numerical sequence.

The 3.2k Yellow Course is family friendly with markers hung on sidewalks and historical landmarks.

The 3.2k Yellow Course is family friendly with markers hung on sidewalks and historical landmarks.


The Intermediate Orange Course consists of 11 navigation markers located in slightly higher technical terrain such as on trails, near terrain features, and urban areas. Participants should be familiar with an orienteering map and a topographical map. We recommend racers be able to recognize terrain features such as spurs, contour lines, and streams. The course length is approximately 4.8 kilometers (as the crow flies) with minor elevation gains. The course offers several different route choices. Similar to the Yellow Course, racers must follow the numerical sequence of the markers when capturing the points. Failure to follow the proper sequence results in a “Did Not Finish (DNF).

The Orange Course provides a variety terrain and incorporates route choice strategies.

The Orange Course provides a variety terrain and incorporates route choice strategies.


 Gremlin Cache with Goodies Hidden on the Course.

We continue a Great Pumpkin tradition by hiding a gremlin cache on the course. Upon arriving at a navigational marker, participants receive a bearing and the meter-measurement to the location of additional clues and the cache. The cache contains gremlin goodies guaranteed to spike your sugar level. You will need familiarity with how to read a compass (free loaner compasses provided at start), how to shoot a bearing, and your 100-meter pace count. Not sure of your pace count or how to shoot a bearing? We will have a 50-meter pace line at the start with veteran staff able to show you how to shoot a bearing. You maybe able to talk these experts into helping you find the first marker on the course.

 Have the Need for Speed ? Try Mountain Bike Orienteering, 20K Course.

Mountain Bike Orienteering is becoming a popular sport. Fort Leavenworth offers an abundance of old gravel roads, trails, and lightly traveled paved roads. The 20K course crosses over the southeastern section of the post following the Missouri River and the century old Oregon and Santa Fe Trails. Expect some elevation gains as you bike east to west from the Missouri river to the old artillery post, Fort Sully, located on post’s high ridge. Riders receive a topographical map and an orienteering map. Due to the long distance of the course, below is a partial posting of the bike course. Several other points are located south of the orienteering map. Racers receive a topographical map and the below orienteering map. We recommend you arrive early for the bike orienteering in order that you can post your topo map with the all controls. A marked topographical map with all the controls will be placed on a table with red and blue markers. Racers mark their own topographical map with the location of the controls. 

The map contains a partial view of the mountain/cross bike course. Several markers are located in the southern portion of the installation.

The map contains a partial view of the mountain/cross bike course. Several markers are located in the southern portion of the installation.


 Night Score-O Course Under the Stars.

Night Orienteering offer spectacular lighting, stars and crisp night air.

Night Orienteering offer spectacular lighting, stars and crisp night air.

Night orienteering presents one of the biggest challenges for an adventure racing and orienteering teams. Locating terrain and navigating in the dark brings an entirely different element to the sport. The 1-hour Score-O course will test your orienteering, pace count, map reading skills, and strategy for capturing as many markers as possible in a 60 minute period.  Since an instrumental part of a Score-O is the racers’ strategy, we decided not to post the map. The course challenges racers with excellent use of terrain features and trails. Bring a strong headlamp or flashlight as urban illumination is limited on the multi-use trails. However, the course also offers good use of urban terrain where illumination is much more abundant. Bottomline, the 20 control course offers both experienced and new orienteers excellent opportunities to capture markers under the stars and moon.

Members of OK are setting the course and providing electronic punching. Versus punching a passport the old fashion way with marker pins, racers receive an electronic punch, which records your splits between markers and total times. It is rare to race a night orienteering course in the metro-Kansas city area. Take advantage of this unique opportunity under a 6% moon in a safe and secure environment. Registration is at 6:30pm in the Gruber Gym parking lot. The race begins with a mass start at 7pm. Racers receive an orienteering map. To meet safety and installation concerns, please dress in reflective clothing (ie, belt, jacket, shoes). Note the markers have reflective tape. Thus its important you bring a flashlight or headlamp to “light-up” the marker. Racers receive a military grade 12-hour chem light at registration for emergency use.

and yes…Fort Leavenworth is known for being haunted.  You may run across a ghost or 2 on the course. 

General Information.

The one-time $15 per person and $30 per family registration fee includes entry to all events, maps, course clue sheets, passports/electronic punches, loaner compass (upon request), customized race patches, tactical chem lights (for night course) and refreshments of hot cocoa and cider, assorted cakes and cookies. Adventure series water bottles presented to top solos and teams. There is no pre-registration, however, you are welcome to contact us if you have questions. Race day registration is from 8am to 9:30am race morning. Racers can start the morning races at anytime during this period. The finish line closes at noon. An additional afternoon meet is scheduled from 3:30 to 5:30pm. Night course registration is at 6:30pm. PLEASE NOTE: We can only accept cash or check for the night course registration.

For Out of Towners.

Views of the Missouri River and the post are dotted along the course.

Views of the Missouri River and the post are dotted along the course.

Fort Leavenworth, KS, is one of the oldest, active military institutions in the nation with some buildings being a century + in age. Upon entering the main entrance at Fort Leavenworth  proceed to the far right security gate. The Security Police will ask you where are you going, the purpose of your visit (Gruber Gym, Orienteering Meet), and request your driver’s license. You maybe required to open your car hood, trunk, and doors. The SP will conduct a walk around of your vehicle. The whole process usually only takes a few minutes. In return, know that you are orienteering in a very safe and secure environment.

Upon leaving the gate, proceed north. Go straight through 2 stoplights. At the 3rd stoplight take a right (east towards the Missouri River). The running track and football field will be on your left. Go about 150 yards and Gruber Gym is be on your left with parking on your right. Note: Gruber Gym is a renovated horse riding arena. General George Patton trained inside the arena with his cavalry horses back in the day.

The Great Pumpkin Orienteer Festival is part of the Fort Leavenworth Adventure Series. Participants competing in 5 of the Adventure Series events are awarded a custom race jersey. Further information on the Great Pumpkin call Connie Carpenter at (913) 683-5634.