Jockstuffer of the Year awards

“Jockstuffer” is a term that was coined by Mikell Platt in early 1990. In Mikell’s words:

A jockstuffer is the masculine orienteering analog to a cyclist’s wheelsucker. When a jockstuffer finds a suitably skilled orienteer, he puts his map away and lets the other person do the driving. The feminine equivalent is “brastuffer”, of course.

In normal orienteering, it is frowned upon to tuck one’s map into one’s pants and follow another competitor. The Billygoat is not, however, normal orienteering. Following is explicitly permitted, condoned, and some even say encouraged. If you can follow somebody to glory, all the more power to you! Through the years, Billygoat runners have attempted this, with varying degrees of success. Those with the most interesting stories have been retroactively declared Jockstuffer (or Brastuffer) of the Year, as follows:

1979(interval starts)
1981(interval starts)
1982Roland CormierRoland managed to follow Eric Weyman for the first ten controls, at which point he was momentarily distracted by a branch in the face, and got something in his eye. (According to Eric, Roland hesitated when he hit the branch, and that was when Eric made his move and got away, not realizing until later that the branch had dislodged one of Roland’s contact lenses.) By the time he recovered, Eric was gone. Roland subsequently slipped from second to fifth place.
1984Bob LuxBob followed a mislocated Tom Delaney around in circles for two minutes, which confused Tom, since he expected Bob to be far ahead of him. In fact, Tom was looking for control #6, while Bob was supposed to be on his way to #9 (the course doubled back close to where it had been before). Tom figured out what was going on first, realized he was too close to #9, and went south to his control.
1985Charlie DeWeesePractically the entire field gets nominated for 1985, since all but two or three people headed out of the start in the wrong direction, everyone assuming that someone else had looked at the map. Charlie took things a step further by following the crowd all the way to just beyond the second control, when he glanced back over his shoulder and noticed a mass of people around a flag. Since this was before the skipping rule was introduced, Charlie had to go back to number one. What makes this story truly remarkable is that the course turned 90 degrees at the first control. In Charlie’s words, “Ninety degree turns don’t mean much to a guy who’s not looking at the map.”
1986Tim ParsonDescribed in the meet writeup as a newcomer, Tim reportedly heard that Larry Berman was pretty good, and decided to follow him. The problem was that the first two controls were very difficult, and Larry got lost, but not realizing this Tim continued to follow him for a while.
1987Jon NashJon followed Beth Elliot around the entire course.
1988Olaf TaburOlaf followed Beth Elliot around the entire course.
1989Beth ElliotBeth didn’t even look at her map for the first eight controls, but just followed husband John Rogers. John eventually abandoned her, but it was too late for him to claim any glory.
1990Wendy ReevesAn accomplished Nordic skier, but a novice orienteer, Wendy managed to take first place among the women by sticking with men. She was with Larry Berman for most of the course, easily able to keep pace with him on the climbs, but Larry finally lost her on the steep, rocky descent down the north slope of Mt. Norwottuck from the summit. Legend tells us that Wendy stood still and waited for the next runner to come by, but legend is apparently wrong in this case, since she finished one place behind Larry, only 77 seconds back. When asked at the finish which fork she had taken, around the mountain or over the top, she didn’t know.
1991Paul BennettPaul stated from the outset that he planned on sticking with Mikell Platt no matter what. A lead pack of Platt, Bennett, Dave Pruden, and Algis Draudvila formed, until the critical decision came after control #13. Mikell and Dave decided to go to #14 so that they could later skip #17, while Algis headed straight for #15. Paul thought Algis had the better idea, but decided to stick with his original plan, and followed Mikell. Algis won, Mikell and Dave tied for second, and Paul was fourth. If he had gone with his own instincts, he might have been second.
1992Chuck CrabbA top distance runner, but relatively new to orienteering, Chuck was told by his friend Eric Weyman to try to follow an experienced navigator. Chuck chose the obvious person, Eric, and followed him to an impressive third place.
1993Steve TarryNormally more of a leader than a follower, Steve apparently got caught up in the excitement of being in a pack, due in part to the fact that he was using the dubious “stick with Mikell no matter what” technique, and wasn’t paying enough attention to his map in the vicinity of control #4. Steve passed within 10 meters of the control, but didn’t notice the others stopping to punch, and made it all the way to #5 before realizing to his horror that he had missed it. Steve wasn’t in as bad shape as Charlie DeWeese was in ’85, since the “skipping rule” allowed him to skip #4 and continue around the rest of the course, but he commented later that #4 was probably the worst control on the course to skip.
1994Dave DunhamAnother accomplished runner with limited navigation experience, Dave ran with the rather more accomplished Peter Andersen, using “Team UNO” tactics: Peter read the map and Dave read the control descriptions. After some troubles early on, this duo reeled in and cruised past all other contenders... but they thought Joe Brautigam was still ahead of them. Dave had more juice left in him at the end, but paid no mind to Peter’s urgings for him to try to catch Joe. In fact, in the finish chute, Dave was courteous enough to stop and wait for Peter to catch up so that they could finish together. As it turns out, Joe had made a mistake that had allowed these two to get past him, thus making Dave the first person to ever follow his way to first place in the Billygoat.
1995Daniel BedeckerThe details of poor Daniel’s experience are murky, and it doesn’t seem to exactly involve following in the classic sense, but here’s what appears to have happened: as a relative newcomer to orienteering, Daniel was given a cursory briefing by his WCOC clubmates at the start, but some of the subtleties of Billygoat orienteering were either omitted or just failed to sink in. Daniel showed up at the finish area about five minutes before the time limit, but stopped about 20 meters from the finish line, and stood still, staring at his map. Amid cries of “Following is okay, somebody help him!” from the crowd, Joe Brautigam rushed over and assessed the situation: Daniel hadn’t found the last control, 500 meters away. Joe gave him directions and sent him off to get it, urging him to hurry, unaware that Daniel had been to ALL of the other controls, and was thus entitled to skip this last control. Had Daniel simply stepped over the finish line, he would have taken home a shirt, but rules are rules. Daniel also earned another distinction: although he apparently did not remain in the woods forever, he never turned in a punch card, thus being the only recorded person in Billygoat history to have not reported back to the finish, and not even earning an overtime finish. So close...
1996Jessica CosmusAt age 11, Jess was pretty good on the White course, but clearly not ready for the navigational demands of the Billygoat. Nevertheless, she did a lot of training in the months leading up to the event, and showed up with a belly full of doughnuts and a plan to stick like glue to her stepfather Charlie DeWeese, who was slowed down by a lingering ankle injury. There was some debate over whether Jess should even carry a map with her, since she didn’t expect to use it. The plan worked perfectly, resulting in an impressive sixth-place finish among the women (51st overall).
1997Bob LuxPound Ridge is a big map, bigger than the map cases that were available. The course didn’t use the northern part of the area, though, so the maps were run through a paper cutter to take about five inches off the north end to make them fit. Unfortunately, a couple of maps were facing the wrong way when they were trimmed, and five inches was removed from the south end. The organizers checked over the maps and discovered this problem, but one slipped through the cracks, and Bob got it. He realized the problem when he was leaving #2 and discovered that his map wasn’t folded... it was cut, and controls #3 and #4 were missing. Some folks would complain in a situation like this, but Bob took it in stride. He glanced around to see who he could follow, and Peggy Dickison was the most promising candidate. He told her of his plight and his plan as they ran along, and Peggy said he was welcome to follow her, but she was going to skip #4. That was fine with Bob, so he tailed her until they ran back onto his map around #5. He commented later that the following was interesting, and it felt like they were going at least as fast, but with about 20% less effort on his part than if he had had to read a map.
1998Rob MichaelsSomehow, Rob got had gotten pretty far along in his orienteering career without ever having participated in the Billygoat. Nevertheless, unlike some people who don’t understand the pack mentality of this event, Rob caught on right away. Now, he had plenty of good examples to study. There was an impressive knot of people glued to Peter Gagarin, and when Peter lost track of where he was in the neighborhood of control #5, they were mostly milling around, waiting for Peter to figure it out. But Rob fared much better than most of these posers, wisely joining a train led by Pam James, and hanging on for an impressive 14th place, only three places behind Peter (who had eventually run away from most of his entourage).
1999Dave YeeDave’s orienteering experience was limited, but he had done the previous year’s Billygoat, so he had a handle on following. Tagging along with various packs for the first half of the race, he eventually found himself following Nancy Duprey on the way to #12. Nancy made a clerical error, and mistook the #2 circle on the map for the #12 circle, navigated perfectly to #2, then left as if she were going from #12 to #14, skipping #13. Dave didn’t know what was going on (he knew they had just gone to #2), but thought this might be some cool orienteering trick that he didn’t know about yet. The terrain near #2 was similar to the terrain near #12, so Nancy didn’t immediately realize her error, but then she encountered people going between #15 and #16, which was confusing… and then suddenly nothing made any sense. Dave continued to follow her, until she stopped, completely baffled. As she tried to figure out what was going on, Dave said, “Well, when we were here at number two…”, and Nancy replied, “TWO?!”. It was then clear to her, and she recovered, while Dave cheerfully continued to lope along behind her for the rest of the course.
2000Nic DucaNic had it all together, he had multi-year winner Mike Waddington in his sights for most of the last part of the race, and it was going to come down to a sprint. Okay, so he probably wasn’t doing much following. And he particularly wasn’t following when he left control #22, pulling away from Mike with just one control to go. Or was there? Nic had one more control, but… Mike hadn’t skipped yet! And Nic didn’t realize this until he was approaching the finish chute, and Mike suddenly appeared up ahead, coming in from the right, having taken a faster trail route that bypassed the last control. The cry of anguish was reportedly really something.
2001Charlie ToulminCharlie is the brother of Tim Parson’s wife, and had orienteered two or three times, at no higher than the Yellow level. But he was in good shape, so Tim and his sister Anne Dentino counseled him on selecting an appropriate person to follow. Worried about selecting a hostile host, Charlie opted for Anne’s husband Steve. Thus Tim’s two brothers-in-law trundled happily around the course, with Charlie about 20 feet behind. At the finish, Charlie thought it proper for Steve to finish first, but Steve, in an attempt at gallantry, stopped just short of the line to finish hand-in hand with Charlie. Charlie didn’t understand what was going on, and was carried over the line by momentum. So although the results make it look like Charlie was a horrible parasite who outsprinted his gracious host at the end, it was really just a misunderstanding.
2002Tim GoodTim was crowing at the finish about how he had finally fulfilled his lifelong ambition of following Peter Gagarin around the entire course. Probably a good year to do this, as from the look of Tim’s rain-hampered glasses, it probably would have been pretty tough for him to do any detailed map reading. And there wasn’t much left of his map after water got into the map case, either.
2003Rich VailRich had done the artwork for the T-shirt, and the finish crew was worried that maybe he wouldn’t get one of his own shirts, since his orienteering experience was very limited (although he had done quite a bit of hashing). In particular, they were reluctant to point out a fast person for him to follow, for fear that if he couldn’t keep up, he might get very lost. So Rich just hopped on the train, there were plenty of people to follow, and he was plenty fast, being the 21st person to cross the finish line. As he was handing in his punchcard, he was heard to say, “Never looked at my map at all!”. But then a little later, someone asked which control he had skipped. Rich thought a moment, and admitted that he really didn’t know, and in fact thought that maybe he hadn’t skipped any. J-J Coté pointed out that the group he was in at the end had skipped #23, and then a concern arose: a lot of people had skipped #6, and what if Rich had been in a 6-skipping crowd early on the course?… uh oh… but a check of the punchcards revealed that he had skipped only #23. Whew!
2004Ken Walker, JrFacing a very strong field, a small group including Ken, Boris Granovskiy, and Clem McGrath decided to make an early move, and skipped control #4. This saved them 12 lines of climb, and gave them an easy leg with the potential for some trail running, ending in an easy control with a solid backstop (ski slope) immediately past the control. Unfortunately, everyone figured that somebody else was reading the map, and they somehow wound up low and confused. There was enough expertise in the group that they were able to relocate, and did reach the control… just ahead of a group of people who they would normally have left in the dust. But these other orienteers hadn’t skipped yet! So Ken and company were behind where they should be, and they had wasted their skip, to boot. The best that any of them was subsequently able to salvage was a 17th place by Boris. Everyone in this crew is a candidate for the honor, but Ken, as the winner of a previous Billygoat, gets the nod.
2005David OnkstThis is actually one of the more tragic tales in this category. The 2005 edition was very gnarly, considered by some old hands to be the hardest ever, but David was doing great. Up through control #10, he was with one of the leading groups, and his skip of #9 had put him in a very favorable position. But like some others in the past, he managed to go right past #11 without seeing the others stopping to punch. It wasn’t until he was almost to #12 that he realized what had happened, and asked the others around him if they had punched at #11. It was about 650 meters back to the control, which, though certainly a substantial penalty, wasn’t necessarily crippling. But #11 was close to the edge of the map, in an area that might not have been fieldchecked as carefully as some other sections. David managed to drift off the edge of the map. Time lost on the leg was something on the order of 85 minutes, and by the time he bagged the control, there wasn’t enough time left to get a shirt. A possible top-15 placing had turned into a discouraging overtime finish.
2006Ted GoodJust because the comments that he put in with his splits on AttackPoint dwelt so much on how he was following, running with a group, and worrying about being dropped so that he’d actually have to navigate.
2007Bob HuebnerAbout 2/3 of the way through the course, Bob found himself even with 10-year-old Stephen Koehler. Neither had skipped yet, but Stephen and his tour guide J-J Coté decided to skip control #16 to save some climb in favor of a flat trail run, while Bob saved his skip. Bob closed the gap by #19, which put him in an advantageous position. When he did skip, though, he picked control #22, which he practically had to run past anyway, and then proceeded to blow the next control, allowing himself to get caught again. With ample time left and only two controls to go, J-J turned the navigation over to Stephen, and at this point the group also caught up with Valeriy Doverov. Valeriy was the first to leave #24, and he inexplicably headed east instead of south, going directly toward the top of the giant escarpment that formed the edge of the map instead of up the hill to the final control and the finish area. Bob, it would seem, had a choice: follow the veteran navigator, or the little kid. He picked wrong, and charged off toward the cliff while Stephen looked up from his map and asked J-J, “Isn’t the last control that way?”. Bob and Valeriy did turn around before plunging into the abyss, but not soon enough to avoid getting beaten by a White course runner.
2008Randy HallSuch a classic tale: Randy had decided on a control to skip (#18), and was running with a pack near the end of the race that headed off toward that control. His race tactics were working perfectly, this was his chance to skip, get ahead of the pack, and pick up several places. Now, some people don’t agree that #18 was the best one to skip (although it was good enough for the winner), but it’s pretty clear that none of the controls after #18 were any good at all. And did Randy execute his race plan? Nope, he followed the crowd as they went to #18 and skipped #19. It’s not clear why that group, led by the Saeger sisters, decided to climb the 65 meter hill that #18 was on top of, but maybe Randy went along just because of the scenery.
2009Jon TorranceAccording to William Hawkins’s Attackpoint log, Jon was 3 meters behind William from control #3 to control #21 (out of 23), after having tried the same plan unsuccessfully the year before. When Erik Nyström caught them near the end (having skipped a different control), William and Erik were able to push the pace and supposedly dropped Jon, but he did hold on for third, only 18 seconds out of the lead.
2010Samantha and Hillary SaegerWhen the gun went off, J-J Coté went tearing across the start field in an arbitrary (and not particularly smart) direction, yelling, “I’m in the lead! I’m in the lead! Maybe…”, and a crowd of 20 – 30 people blindly chased after him. Among those, the meet director felt that the two women who finished in the top places had the greatest obligation to have known better. Of the others, Bob Lux was the lone person who returned to the field to start over, not that it did him a lot of good.
2011David OnkstIn a good position for most of the race, David, along with about half of those in his group, skipped #33, the fourth control from the end. His position at that point was probably in the top 25, but as he approached the 34th control, he realized that he didn’t actually know if had skipped something prior to that. He hesitated for a while before punching, looking for someone he could ask, unsure whether he needed to go back to get #33. Eventually he moved on, finally getting confirmation from Nadim Ahmed that they had been to all of the first 32 controls. This uncertainly may have cost him as many as ten places.
2012Angelica RileyA pack formed around Joe Brautigam, who was playing tour guide to Anna and Elina Breton (because they needed somebody faster to go with than their father Bernie). Joe was nursing an injured toe, which meant that he was moving at a casual enough pace to do a little mischief-making. When leaving control #10, he announced, “We’re skipping #11”, (an entirely reasonable thing to do), but then headed toward 11 anyway. When the train arrived, people punched in, but Joe noticed that Angelica really didn’t seem to be paying much attention to where she was going, so he blocked the view of the control with his body and coughed to cover the beeping. The course then made a 90 degree turn, and Angelica continued on with the pack, unaware that everybody had just punched at a control. Later on, she moved ahead when leaving #17, and everybody else skipped #18, finishing several minutes ahead of her. So Angelica thought she had skipped #11, and she had, but didn’t know that she had passed within 10 feet of it. At the finish, when Joe revealed what he had done, at first she didn’t believe it, but then shrugged and said, “Well, at least I got a good workout”.
Honorable mention goes to Vladimir Gavrilov, who was following Peter Gagarin when Peter fell and thought he had lost his glasses. It eventually dawned on him that he wasn’t wearing glasses, but had a contact in (which had not come dislodged), but not before he spent a few moments scrabbling around for his spectacles in the leaves. Vladimir had been assiduously following Peter, and stopped to help him look for them, and even offered Peter his own pair.
2013Craig Weber and Paul ReganAt the start of the Billygoat, many people pay more attention to those around them than to the map, for at least the first leg. Sometimes a whole group of people run along all assuming that one of the others is doing some navigating. Heading off toward the first control, there was a pack of at least five who were in this situation, with the only one paying attention to where they were going being Charlie DeWeese. Unfortunately, Charlie wasn’t doing a very good job, and before long found himself on a plateau with ponds and fortifications and all manner of features that he couldn’t find on the map. Needless to say, that was because this group was not on the map, they had climbed too much and were on top of the ridge. Charlie finally relocated at the finish area and decided not to continue, while the others in the pack dropped off one by one and DNFed. The exceptions were Craig and Paul, who finally started navigating for themselves, got straightened out, and completed the course together. Had they chosen a better control to skip, they might have even gotten shirts, but instead they were five minutes over the time limit.
2014Ari OfsevitHis Attackpoint log started out (referring to his strategy compared to his two previous Billygoats): “I decided that I was orienteering too much and not following enough, so this year I was all about following, bashing, and orienteering, in that order”. Mostly he seems to have followed Adrian Owens, a fine choice.
2015Kirsten MaylandThere was an option given for each competitor to get a 1:10000 or a 1:15000 map. Although her mother/guide took the 1:10000, Kirsten opted for the 1:15000 – less paper to carry around, and it wasn’t like she was planning to look at it anyway.
2016Peter GagarinPeter announced his retirement from competitive orienteering the following day, having realized that with advancing decrepitude and the distractions from his new hobby of birding, the only way he was able to get around the course was by following the younger and spryer Charlie DeWeese.
2017Alan YoungAlthough the Head Goat named Giacomo Barbone for this dubious honor, due to a report (possibly apocryphal) of his having followed the race leaders for half the course despite suffering from the effects of a night of partying, Alan had a particularly ignoble story. Yes, he was in Wyatt’s back pocket the whole way around, and turned in his fastest time in 10 finishes, but he wasn’t the only Young there that day. His daughter and two friends were attempting the Billygoat for the first time, and… they went overtime. Seems like maybe Dad could have been a leader rather than a follower…
2018Kristin HallIt being Mother’s Day, it was nice of daughter Bridget to lead her mom around the course. Would have been even nicer if she had let mom win. Yeah, they claimed that they intended to tie, and that’s the way the points were awarded, but the precision electronic timing said otherwise. Hard to believe that Kristin’s one outright victory in this event was 26 years earlier.
2019Mike LyonsMike finished two seconds behind his father, so clearly Mike must have been following his dad around the entire course. So nice of Walt to play tour guide for his little boy, even if they were a few minutes overtime. Okay, so the “little boy” in this case was 56 years old, and Dad was the oldest person ever to make it around the course, a week shy of his 78th birthday. But surely Walt could have gone faster if he hadn’t had to drag Mike and grandson Nate around… right?
2022Anna CampbellIf you’re going to follow, it helps if you follow somebody who is trying to get around the course. The splits analysis shows that Anna lost four minutes on control #14, a 400 m leg. How did she manage that? Orienteering USA’s most notable herpetologist was following a snake. A garter snake. In the process, at least three people got past her, and the time loss might have cost her another couple of places. That girl is going to be pretty disappointed when she gets to college and finds out that she can’t take Parseltongue to satisfy her foreign language requirement.
Honorable mention to Lori Huberman and Sam Coradetti, who took a somewhat similar approach, relying on Presto the Geriatric Whippet for their navigational needs.
2023Mori Finlayson-Johnecheck Although originally registered for the Kid Goat, Mori switched to the full Billygoat with a specific plan: to see if he could keep up with Danny Riley – for a while. And that he did, as far as the first aid station, at which point he stopped his watch and eventually wended his way back to the finish, which was his intent all along.