Mason Neck

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February 21

Mason Neck WoodsWelcome to Mason Neck - an orienteering venue quite different from most! Unlike typical QOC terrains, Mason Neck has few hills and the map has 5 foot (not 5 meter) contours. The steeper areas are along reentrants leading down to marshes and the tidal water. For the most part, runners will be pleasantly surprised as this park has predominantly open, runnable woods and is generally flat with subtle contour features. There are large areas lacking trails. This can present a real challenge as runners may need to rely on their compass and pace count; for additional tips, make sure to see the course setter notes below.

Event registration will be from 10:45am - 1:15pm. Start your course anytime between 11am - 1:30pm, but be back before the courses close at 3pm. There is an entrance fee for the park ($5 (in state) or $7 (out-of-state) per car).

The courses offered this year at Mason Neck will also be a little different. We will offer White and Yellow courses for our novice/beginner orienteers; the map scale for these two courses will be 1:5000. For our intermediate and advanced orienteers, the map will be on 8.5x14 paper at 1:10,000 scale, and, we are going to do a Score-O but with a twist .. so we are calling it a Twisted-O.

Here's why: It will have 26 controls with most controls being worth 10 points each. Some controls will have different values. Runners will have 75 minutes to find as many of the controls as they can within that time frame. For each minute over 75, you will have 20 points deducted from your total score. For example, if you return with a time of 76:24, your deduction is 40 points. Max score is 276. Tie scores will be broken based on faster times. (No surprises so far.)

Now, here is where the twist comes in:

1. Mandatory Controls: Some of the controls are "mandatory". In other words, these controls must be found otherwise the participant receives a “missed punch” ("MP") for the Twisted-O event. (Don’t worry! None of the “mandatory” controls are located at the other end of the park or above Orange level in difficulty.) These controls will be identified on the map with a different marking (not yet chosen) instead of the usual purple circle and have a value of 1 point each.

2. Bonus Controls: There are also bonus controls that are worth 20 points each, and each of these bonus controls have something in common. However, neither the clue sheet nor the course setter notes will identify these controls or what they have in common. When a runner locates a bonus control while on the course, the control bag will have a special marking on it that identifies it as a bonus control. It will be up to the runner to figure out what these controls have in common and determine whether they want to adjust their strategy to locate other bonus controls. Note to Early runners: don't give away what the bonus controls have in common to later runners!

Park Information:

Mason Neck State Park is also a great place for exploration on the water or by bike (a very smooth and family-friendly bike path runs through much of the park). Of note:

  • There's a fine playground quite near our registration area.
  • Dogs are welcome in the park, but must be on a leash of length 6 feet or less at all times and "with a human on the other end", as a park ranger said.

Any 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.

zpizzaquiznos Special Post-Race Meetup Discount Good at Two Adjacent Eateries! zPizza and Quiznos are hosting our Mason Neck event post-race meetup. At either location just show them your map and get 15% off your order. zPizza honors your appetite with food from their delicious artisan menu made from better-for-you ingredients satisfying healthy appetites & healthy lifestyles. Quiznos is the place to go for offering flavorful chef-inspired menu items, including sub sandwiches, grilled flatbreads, soups, salads and wraps. As you leave Mason Neck State Park, both are located less than a mile from the intersection of Route 1 and Gunston Road in the Lorton Station Marketplace. zPizza is at 9451 Lorton Market Street, and Quiznos is at 9433 Lorton Market Street, on Google maps (here) just east of the I-95/Lorton exit 163.


Mason Neck SP, Mason Neck SP, Lorton, VA (Classic)

RegistrationNo advance registration required. Just show up and have fun!
Start TimesOnce you have registered, you may start your course any time between 11am - 1:30pm.
ScheduleSunday, February 21
11:00 am - 3:00 pmClassic:
Event Director:Rae Ann Hicks
Course Designer:Mark Hicks
Location Details

Mason Neck SP
Mason Neck SP
Lorton, VA
Google Map

From southbound I-95, take exit 163 (Lorton). Go left onto Lorton Rd at the end of exit ramp. Go under the 2nd overpass and turn right onto Lorton Market St., then go about 1.5 miles to the traffic light at Route 1. Go straight through light (the road name changes to Gunston Rd) and go about 5 miles to the right turn on High Point Road (it's about 1.2 miles after the Pohick entrance). Once in the park ($10 entrance fee per vehicle), follow the signs towards the Visitor Center. The registration area will be to the left just before the Visitor Center; look for the banner.
Google Maps Link
Apple/iPhone Link
Course DetailsClassic
Course NameLength (km)Climb (m)No. Controls
White 2.32010
Yellow 2.63511
Score Score
Course NotesClassic

The courses are quite open and very runnable. The recent snowfall has gone away with minimal residual effects.

There are several areas marked as out of bounds. Some are for conservation purposes and are identified with park signage. Another is the Ranger’s residence located near the registration area. Please do not run through his yard. Finally, there is a short length of trail that I marked with the “forbidden route” symbol (series of “X’s”). The park has blocked the trail and deemed it as a Park Service Area.

White: Because of some possible confusion with the intersection near the Park Service Area described above, I placed a control at this location. This intersection is mapped as a “T” intersection, but when moving along the trail, it looks more like a bend in the trail.

Yellow: Runners on this course will use trails, but I also designed the Yellow course to move runners off trails and to use other handrails during some segments. If you are not familiar with handrails, I recommend checking-in with our instructors before heading out on this course.

Twisted-O: Shortly after entering the park, there is a small, unmapped parking lot and trail on the north side of the road. According to the park map, the trail is 400m long and extends NE from the parking lot to a marsh. Runners attempting the eastern most controls will see this trail.

The root stocks are weathering well. They are still 1 to 2 meters high and are distinguishable from other fallen trees. For most control locations, I selected point features due to the subtle terrain at Mason Neck. However, some point features had their limits. A few of the mapped knolls are now below the 1m threshold. Marsh areas will tend to be slightly larger than mapped, but any controls located near them are still accessible without getting your feet wet.

Update Feb. 19: Because of last weekend’s snow and rainfall, some of the low lying areas are saturated with water or appear to be unmapped streams or marshes. Mapped marshes are definitely larger than depicted on the map. Also, some pits may be mistaken to be waterholes. The trails are soft in many areas so be prepared for your shoes to pick up a little mud. All controls are still accessible, but Twisted-O runners could have some wet feet depending on route choice. Bring a change of shoes and socks particularly if going out on the Twisted-O.

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.