25th Blue Hills Traverse

Blue Hills Reservation, Milton, Massachusetts
November 23, 1997
by Jeff Saeger, event director

It is funny how weather changes and cycles. For every Blue Hills Traverse I have hung controls in beautiful autumn weather. Jogging through the sun dappled woods, feeling warm and limber over the rocks and hills, admiring the scenic woods and nice views, I wonder why the field is so small. The Billygoat attracts big fields every year, but the Traverse gets a third of the competitors. And the Traverse is easier in many ways, many are familiar with the maps and lots of trails are available to reach the controls.

Then Sunday dawns, with icy rain or frigid temperatures. I guess for many it's too much, a long run in the dim woods with chilly toes and fingers. For some competitors, though, the weather adds greater dimension and adventure to the whole affair, making it truly memorable in the worst of years.

This year, being the 25th, I wanted to have a re-running of the original event. Virtually everyone from the first event is no longer in the area, or has long since lost their original map. But, I know some orienteers never throw away maps, or anything else, and there just had to be a map out there somewhere.

Sure enough, Terry Hatton, now in Michigan, a competitor and star NEOC'er from the club's early years had one in his files. Upon receiving the map, which was in nice shape considering its vintage, I was amazed anyone finished the course. The 70s copy machine left much to the imagination. Fortunately the USGS maps of the era were quite detailed, as I found out when I tried to substitute a recent USGS to make new copies from. I got wonderful copies, of a pretty inaccurate map!

So then the search went out for a 60s era USGS of the Blue Hills. Of course, our founder and original Blue Hills mapper, Hans Bengtsson, had one in his files.

From some comments received when the flyer appeared at meets, I realized that by today's standards a black and white map of an 11.7 kilometer yellow course wasn't going to thrill the competitors.

The final map was a melding of the new and old. Controls 2 to 8 of the original traverse were there on the black and white map, but an additional first four, middle four and last three controls on color overlays on the B/W maps, all done at 1:15000 scale, were there to break up the field a bit and make them really map read sometimes.

The field did string out, but five stayed together until the food stop, and four stayed together to the end. The winner was again Peter Gagarin, with newcomer David Lamb and perennials Tim Parson and Ernst Linder hot on his heels.

This year the owner of the Blue Hills Ski area, Sam Beers, graciously lent us the lodge, where everyone could keep warm before and after. The hot soup was cooked and ladled again by the best helper I've ever had, Judy, and the food stop and registration by my best, but non-orienteering friends, Steve Bauman and Ray Jalette. Recreation course design and registration were by the best daughters ever, Sam and Hill. Corinne Maitland, Valerie and Cameron Murray, John Marold worked the recreation start/finish while Donn Springer and Joanne Sankus checked in the Traversers. Mark Early (FLO) left his home in sticky, warm Florida to hang controls in beautiful weather here in New England, thanks Mark.

It's too bad if you again missed this great adventure, I don't plan to anymore. Next year I hope to be "in the competition," and I hope those beautiful autumn days I've had hanging controls stay with me when I punch in at them.

The Traverse     13.3 km     350 m climb     19 controls

1Peter Gagarin(1st M50)54:131:44:21
2Ernst Linder(1st M40) 54:151:44:26
3David Lamb(1st MNovice)54:271:44:33
4Tim Parson54:301:44:42
5Mark Elgood56:201:49:29
6Jenny James(1st FNovice)63:021:57:25
7Alar Ruutopold62:152:00:57
8Rob Michaels70:352:08:05
9John Hansman54:402:08:20
10Steve Tarry70:352:08:37
11Scott Turner70:352:20:07
12Charlie DeWeese70:362:20:18
13Sam Levitin81:542:46:45
13Ed Kotowski81:542:46:45
15Hans Bengttsson(1st M60)88:552:53:40
16Steve Dentino90:443:01:13
17Nancy Koehler105:153:17:58
18Erin Olafsen(1st FJr)98:303:22:59
19Steve Olafsen98:283:23:01
20Liz Kotowski110:153:25:03
20Paul Regan110:153:25:03
20Jon Nash110:573:25:03
23Tora Olafsen106:503:29:40
24Tracey Olafsen106:503:30:00
25Peter Amram111:153:30:11
25Joe Sternfeld111:003:30:11
27Kathy McArdle113:113:44:06
27Eva Ruutopold113:113:44:06
29Barbara Bryant118:304:15:41
29Geoff Pingree118:304:15:41
31Jeanne Walsh139:505:35:00
31Bob Walsh139:505:35:00

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