Swanson Road

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December 18

Swanson Road in Winter Welcome back to Swanson Road, more formally known as the Patuxent River Park Marlboro Natural Area. It is a lovely location that QOC has not enjoyed since 2014. Our course-setter reports that this is a small but fun area. Be sure to read the course setter’s notes below for the course information farther down the page; some areas of the park are best avoided.

Intermediate Training: Not only will this be an opportunity to burn off some of those extra holiday calories, but intermediate orienteers (advanced yellow and up) may benefit from special training provided at 1:30 p.m. from Mihai Sirbu. He has generously offered to provide some exercises for precision pace counting, and route choice. Look for Mihai near the registration table a bit before 1:30.

Beginner Instruction: There will be beginner’s instruction, as always, as well. If you are interested and don’t see who is giving it, ask at the registration table. A QOC member will show you how to read a map, teach you how to use a compass with your map and give you hints on how to navigate your choice of course. Besides that, just wear a smile and the clothes you would for a hike or run in a local park. Bring a compass, if you have one, or borrow one at the event.

Dogs (on leash) are welcome too.

Sign Parking: Driving directions are below. Look for the sign on R. 301 to the Prince George’s Radio Control Club for the turn-off. There is very limited parking near the registration. Most parking will be along the entrance road between the paved cul-de-sac and the two barns. Please park compactly to leave room for others and follow directions from QOC volunteers.

Registration opens at 10:45 and ends at 1:15 p.m. People may start anytime between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Everyone must be back to download by 3 p.m. Don’t forget to download even if you don’t finish, so we don’t need to send out a search party!

Youth or large groups attending, please contact the Event Director so that we can coordinate pre-registration for your group; the group registration and waiver form is part of the information on our Group Leaders page.


Swanson Road Natural Area, North end, Upper Marlboro, MD (Classic)

RegistrationNo advance registration required. Just show up and have fun!
Start TimesYou may start your course any time between 11am - 1:30pm.
ScheduleSunday, December 18
11:00 am - 1:30 pmClassic: Start window
3:00 pmClassic: Courses close: everyone must be back to finish
Event Director:Jane Leggett
Course Designer:Craig Shelden
Location Details

Classic, Classic
Swanson Road Natural Area
North end
Upper Marlboro, MD
Google Map

From the Washington Beltway, take exit 11 to MD-4 South/Pennsylvania Avenue. After 8 miles, exit onto US-301 North. Drive 3 miles then turn right onto Swanson Road. Stay on Swanson Road for about half a mile, then instead of turning right for Swanson Road, continue straight onto Swanson Road Spur. Follow Swanson Road Spur for another half mile then look for parking along the park entrance road.

If your route brings you south on US-301, turn left onto Swanson Road - it's the next junction south of Leeland Road, with the right turn being onto Beech Tree Parkway and the left turn, crossing the highway onto Swanson Road, then follow directions above.

If you need a street address, use 17110 Swanson Rd Spur, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772.
Google Maps Link
Apple/iPhone Link

Course DetailsClassic
Course NameLength (km)Climb (m)No. Controls
White 3.1509
Yellow 3.610511
Orange 413010
Brown 41908
Green 6.623012
Red 7.826015
Course NotesClassic

The Patuxent River Park Marlboro Natural area (Swanson Road) is a fun but small park. It combines Patuxent River marshy lowland with typical mid-Atlantic spur and reentrant terrain and some cultivated regions. The late Fall season has mitigated most of the greener sections and visibility is much better than late summer or early Fall. Due to its small area, the longest course offered will be Red.
Many of the mapped erosion gullies and small waterways may be wet or totally dry, depending on recent weather. The park has numerous sample wells scattered throughout, and these 4 inch white vertical plastic pipes are mapped with Blue Xs – as special water objects.
Some of the fields have been cut over the summer and are mapped as open ground; but some appear to have been left fallow, and are mapped as rough open. This equates to thin vegetation between 4 and 6 feet high in some areas – a person can see through it, but it's not easy running.
The Prince Georges Radio Control club airfield occupies a large portion of the map and is marked off limits. Foot traffic around the perimeter of the airfield is allowed and encouraged, but if anything is airborne, the field must remain clear. The park also holds several buildings and these are also off limits.
We are using a new map for this event. Rootstocks have been mapped in detail in the southwest portion, but only in limited cases in other parts of the map. Park boundaries are shown with a light pink line. Map feedback is welcome and requested.

Course Specifics: White and Yellow map scales will be 1:7,500; all others will be 1:10,000. The contour interval is 5 meters.

White: May be a bit longer than average for QOC events, but is designed for a fun beginner experience.
Yellow: Competitors will likely be rewarded with time savings if leaving the path – but they'll also need to look to their sides for controls that are a bit off the most obvious track.
Orange: Competitors will likely be able to use hand rails and catching features, but will be rewarded with time savings if they are willing to leave the trail.
Advanced courses: Each has at least two relatively long legs that I hope provide some fun route choices. I've avoided the low visibility marsh area closest to the Patuxent river.

Entry FeesIndividual Entries

Note: juniors = under 21

Club Member, adult Club Member, junior Non-Member, adult Non-Member, junior
Epunch Owner $5 $5 $10 $5
Epunch Borrower $10 $5 $15 $10

Team or Group Entries

Participants are welcome to compete together as a single team entry. Teams containing one or more nonmembers are charged the nonmember individual rate. Teams containing one or more adults are charged the adult individual rate. For teams to receive member or junior rates, all members of the team must be members or juniors, respectively. Each extra team map beyond the first is an additional $2. Individuals or teams desiring to compete on a second course can do so for a reduced fee of $2/map.

Important Notes
  • At the event, we can only accept payment in cash or check; online, you may use a credit card or PayPal account.
  • If you have access to a smartphone, you may become a member at the event by joining online via this webpage (which also explains the member benefits). Membership is completely optional. If you wish to join or renew, we strongly recommend joining (or renewing) online before the event rather than at it to save time and because it's easier.
  • Most of our events use an 'epunch' timing chip for electronic timing. Individuals or groups without their own epunch pay a higher entry fee (see above), which includes the loan of an epunch for that event. Loaned epunches that are lost incur a $40 replacement fee. Epunches (also known as SI-cards or finger sticks) are usually available for sale at each event as described here.
  • Former QOC members who have let their membership lapse pay non-member fees.
  • Compasses are available at no charge, but if lost incur a $15 replacement fee.
  • Please provide collateral (driver's license or car keys) when borrowing a compass or epunch.
  • For additional safety, whistles are available for sale at $1/each.
  • Free beginner instruction is always available - just ask at the registration table.