Cunningham Falls

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September 8

Charcoal PlatformWelcome to the third edition of Platformpalooza, an orienteering celebration of that rare in our area but nevertheless humble remnant of the era before fossil fuel dominance, the charcoal platform (a grassier than usual for this event Scottish examplar of this trace of human impact on the landscape is pictured to the right). Thanks to course setter Sam Listwak, we now have extensive course notes (see below) for the six courses on offer for this event. Pre-registration is now open as well (link is below), and it is mandatory since the park does not allow us to collect fees.

Speaking of collecting fees, we believe the park levies a per person entry fee - $3 for MD residents, $5 for out-of-staters, childrens in booster seats no charge. These fees may have increased. The park website also warns of possible traffic issues due to construction and they also state that on crowded weekends they may turn away visitors at the gate. However, since we have a permitted event, you can tell the ranger on duty you are attending our event in order to be let in.

Wondering who's registered? Click here


Cunningham Falls St. Park, Manor Area (Platformpalooza 2019)

RegistrationPre-Registration Is Now Open. Click here to register. Note that day-of registration at the event will not be available due to park rules.
Start TimesStart any time between the specified times (usually 11am - 1:30pm).
ScheduleSunday, September 8
11:00 am - 3:00 pmPlatformpalooza 2019:
Event Director:Mike Stasiowski
Course Designer:
Location Details

Platformpalooza 2019
Cunningham Falls St. Park
Manor Area
Google Map

From US-15, 11 miles north of Frederick MD and 2.7 miles south of Thurmont, turn west onto Cunningham Falls Park Rd. After entering the park, keep following the road around to your left, past the parking lots, playground, visitor center and aviary, then park in the large parking lot at the bottom of the incline south of the aviary. Registration will be in the pavilion near the northeast corner of that parking lot.
Course DetailsPlatformpalooza 2019
Course NameLength (km)Climb (m)No. Controls
White 1.93016
Orange 2.410015
Brown 3.810011
Green 4.816016
Red 6.221015
Blue 7.629021
Course NotesPlatformpalooza 2019

There are six courses offered for this event.
One Beginner (White), one intermediate (Orange) and four advanced courses (Brown, Green, Red and Blue). The White and Orange courses will share the same Start and Finish location whereas, the Brown through Blue courses have their own separate shared Start and Finish locations.
The White course is designed along trail systems and will take the runner into the woods for a bit (where the climb exists) as well as taking one to the other side of Route 15. PLEASE NOTE: Route 15 is a high-speed divided highway. The course is designed such that a control is placed on the only safe crossing (a bridge) that is permissible. The runner will have to punch the same control twice, once on the way out and once on the way back. (This also holds true for a second bridge crossing, across a stream, where the runner has to punch the same control twice as well). The course will take you to visit the ruins of an old historic iron furnace as well as the ruins of the associated iron master’s mansion (the purpose of crossing over the highway).
The Orange, intermediate course, has elements of a beginner course along trail systems, of a true intermediate course with linear features to guide you and short legs of a more advanced nature where some familiarity of taking and following a compass bearing will be necessary.
All the advanced courses (Brown through Blue) will share the same Start location located somewhat uphill along a trail from the parking lot. In addition, they will all have the same finish location, separate from the Finish for the White and Orange courses. I am continuing with the previous two meets’ theme of using predominantly charcoal platforms as control locations, since they are so accurately mapped and present a different type of orienteering experience from what Quantico terrain usually offers.
The overall course distances for this meet may appear to be on the shorter side and this was done for a reason. The two previous meets at this park had winning and overall times that were on the long side. This may have been for a variety of reasons, high temperatures at one meet and pouring rain at the other meet, the unfamiliarity of so many point feature charcoal platforms as control locations or that the courses were just too long. Since one cannot control the weather, I have attempted to test if course length was the culprit. I may be quite wrong, but the only way to test it is to try it.
Footing in certain areas of this park can be challenging and I believe it played a role in the slower times. There are areas of small tree debris on the ground and well as small areas of unmapped small rock. In addition, at this time of the year there is seasonal vegetation such as ferns that may obscure one’s footing and slow a runner. I have tried to route the courses in more runner friendly portions of the park, but that may not always be the case. Generally visibility is quite good, but, there are areas where the seasonal vegetation obscures one’s view. Where the larger rock features are mapped, there tends to be more significant rock present as well as increased rocky ground. If I have used a boulder or cliff as a feature, it will be distinctive in the terrain and there will be several distinctive non-rock features present near the control location. The rootstocks mapped are quite accurate and distinctive and can be of navigational use, but like all parks there may be a few newer ones that haven’t been mapped.
Most of this area of the map occurs along a hillside of the park bounded by Route 15 at the bottom and the top of the hill. There is one trail that that goes up the hillside (along which the Start is located) then transverses the top of the hillside. All the Advanced courses stay within the area bounded by this trail at the top and Route 15 at the bottom.
DO NOT under any circumstances use the shoulder of Route 15 as a route choice, it is clearly marked as out of bounds.
As always, have fun and enjoy the courses. Test your navigational skills. Keep in mind that this map has never been fully fieldchecked to orienteering standards. Except in the more or less immediate vicinity of the Manor Area parking lots, it is a base map with excellent contours and earth features, quite good representation of thicker vegetation as long as that vegetation is mountain laurel and similar evergreens, and rock features and rootstocks added to the map only in places where a course designer happened to pass within sight. So in addition to new rootstocks that may have fallen since the last visit by a course designer, it should be kept in mind that rock features are undermapped - most or all of them may be on the map where rock features are sparsely distributed but in areas where rock features are abundant, not all of them will be on the map, regardless of their size and prominence in the terrain. Adjust your navigational tactics accordingly.

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
  • If you wish to become a QOC member you should join online in advance via this webpage (which also explains the member benefits). Membership is completely optional.
  • 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) can be purchased from online vendors 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.