Seiklushunt

ERC21 Vetter’s Comments


The terrain around Otepää is a particular mix of hillocks, marshes and farmland. Several segments of the terrain have used earlier for orienteering, but ERC2021 is the first 24-hour rogaine on this terrain. The ERC course will test a number of crucial rogaining skills: route planning, map interpretation, day and night navigation, route choice on legs, physical and mental endurance, and (last not least) team work. If you are good on all these elements, you are likely to be successful at ERC2021!


Having inspected the terrain and control sites, I’d like to offer a few hints and warnings. The forests in this part of Estonia are mostly of a mixed type – a mixture of broadleaf and conifers. There are only a couple of rather small sections of open pine forest. In practical terms this means the runnability of the forest is generally not good. Passability is often reduced by fallen trees and undergrowth. On the other hand, once you are in the forest, it is mostly not too bad either, at least compared to the overgrown older clear-cut areas. I found the passability tends to be somewhat better on hillocks and knolls than in the marshy areas, except that at times it is the other way around … In the forest areas, some of the weak tracks and rides may be difficult to detect, in particular for the first ‘trail-maker’ teams or during the night. When inspecting the course I relied more on contours rather than on those weak tracks. However, it may be expected that over the event these tracks become more visible …


Human activity in the area is considerable – many people permanently live on the terrain, but the area around Otepää is also a popular place for summer houses. As not all of these people are happy to see sportsmen running in and over their possessions, please strictly obey the boundaries of out-of-bounds (purple and olive green) areas. Please consider these carefully already during route planning and take extra care not to enter these areas during the race. If you enter, you will be disqualified. So it’s advisable to keep some extra distance from out-of-bounds areas to stay on the safe side.


Human activity also means the terrain is in constant change – forests are cut, crops are harvested, fields are plowed, constructions are going on. So be prepared to see some recent changes on the terrain, which are not reflected on the map. Nonetheless, for experienced rogainers, these changes should not affect navigation. In my assessment, the map is of good quality. It is certainly possible to locate all controls with this map – so if you are lost, it is more likely that you have made a mistake rather than there is something wrong with the map …


Beyond human activity there is also wildlife. Beavers have made dams, some streams and marshes are flooded. On the other hand, the dams are at times handy to cross those streams. The beaver dams spotted by mapmakers are on the map, but there may be some more, while some may have been meanwhile destroyed by humans. I didn’t spot bears while traversing alone on the terrain, but traces of their activities have been seen, so they are active in this area. One control is near badger’s burrow – a better chance to spot during the night as they sleep over the day. I also encountered two wild wasp nests on the terrain – fast legs saved me from stings.


Overall, expect this ERC not to be a walk in the park, but rather a mix of different types of challenges. You can practice road and track running on some legs, but there will also be slow legs in thickets and marshes. You can enjoy nice view on some hilltops, but there are also hilltops with no particular views. Low temperature at night? That’s what they promise. Wet feet? Yeah …
Be prepared and have fun!

Lauri Leppik

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