Balls Bluff

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January 22

Balls Bluff

Pre-registration is now OPEN and will close FRIDAY January 21st at 12 noon; there is NO day-of registration.

Welcome back to Ball's Bluff Regional Park for a winter (and *Saturday*) orienteering event along the high bluffs overlooking the Potomac River near Leesburg, Virginia. It’s a pleasure for QOC to have club member CAPT Bill Johns (ret) and the NJROTC cadets from Loudoun County High School back running our Ball's Bluff meet again after a COVID-induced hiatus last season and we thank them for being willing to help the club by putting on this event. In addition, Matt Smith, course-setting a QOC regular-season event for the first time, has designed a full of classic courses for your enjoyment (full stats are now below).

Note that this year, we will be starting and finishing at the Ball’s Bluff Regional Park main parking lot. (We are NOT using Edwards Landing Municipal Park, as we have in the recent past). See this locator map for details. However, please also note that main Ball's Bluff parking lot is too small to accommodate all of those participating in our event AND all the regular park users.

Parking and check-in will consequently also be at a new location—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 801 Ball’s Bluff Rd. This address is at the intersection of Ball’s Bluff Rd and Battlefield Parkway. Orienteers will have the option of either taking a shuttle bus up to the main parking lot or walking the half-mile up Ball’s Bluff Rd to the park main entrance and in to the parking lot. The entrance road is narrow so please stay to the side to allow vehicles to pass. New! There will be a tarp laid down as a clothing drop point near the e-punch table at the Ball's Bluff parking lot.

Our thanks to the church for generously allowing us to use their parking lot. Please respect the grounds and facilities and avoid walking across any planted area on your way to and from the park. Port-a-johns will be located at the Ball’s Bluff Park parking lot—NOT at the church.

Also, we have once again received the generous permission of a local landowner to place some points of the southernmost segments of our courses on his land abutting the southern end of the park. Please be mindful of this dispensation as you negotiate the southern parts of your courses.

For those doing the white or yellow course, the northern part of the park has considerably less climb than the central and southern sections, so you can expect a less strenuous orienteering experience than you may have been used to at this venue.

ARDF Radio Orienteering Courses: We will also be offering ten-control "Fox-O" radio-direction-finding (ARDF) orienteering course designed by Mike Kholodov, a perfect complement to your classic course for those who would like to try a new orienteering experience. Click here for more details.

COVID Risk Reduction Protocols:

As with all 2021-2022 QOC events, this event requires pre-registration via the link below. QOC’s COVID risk reduction protocols, as also enumerated somewhat here, are in effect. Please read these guidelines carefully. Key points:

  • PROPERLY WORN MASKS AND SOCIAL DISTANCING ARE REQUIRED at all times when near registration, epunch and any other areas or queues where volunteers and/or participants are congregating.
  • No water will be provided. Provide for your own hydration needs before, during, and after the event.
  • There is no planned, on-site beginner instruction, but beginners are encouraged to watch relevant videos such as this one created by QOC's instructional guru David Onkst.
  • There will be eight 15 minute check-in windows followed by two 45min windows (as for most QOC events this season).
Other points:
  • For those who are interested, here is an overview of the Battle of Ball's Bluff, fought on October 21st, 1861.
  • The size of start teams (groups of individuals orienteering together with one e-punch) on a course must be no more than four (4) individuals (juniors and adults combined).
  • Port-a-johns will be at the Ball’s Bluff main parking lot—not at the church.
  • Pets are permitted in the park but must be leashed at all times.
  • You're Invited! QOC veteran Sidney Sachs will host a Zoom meeting on Tuesday, January 25th at 8pm to review selected course legs and analyze the routes various orienteers took. Please contact Sid Sachs for the invite link.


Balls Bluff Regional Park, LDS Church parking, Leesburg, VA (Classic)

RegistrationRegistration opens at 6pm on Monday, Jan. 17 via this link. Registration will close no later than noon on Friday Jan. 21.
Who's registered? Check by clicking here. Sorting by column is possible too - just click on the column name.

Start TimesStart times will be by windows (to be defined for this event before registration opens).
ScheduleSaturday, January 22
10:00 am - 3:00 pmClassic:
Event Director:Bill Johns
Course Designer:Matt Smith
Location Details

Balls Bluff Regional Park
LDS Church parking
Leesburg, VA
Google Map

Take the Dulles Toll Road or Rt. 7 to the Rt. 15 by-pass in Leesburg. Turn right and proceed for about a mile; turn right on Battlefield Parkway; drive 0.2 miles and turn right onto Ball's Bluff Rd; then immediately turn right into the parking lot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Directions to Ball's Bluff Regional Park parking lot from the church: Follow Ball's Bluff Rd 700m from the church parking lot to the park entrance and then 200m more along the park road to the parking lot. Use caution in crossing Battlefield Parkway at the crosswalk. See locator map for details.

Course DetailsClassic
Course NameLength (km)Climb (m)No. Controls
White 2.110012
Yellow 3.315011
Orange 4.312013
Brown 4.216513
Green 5.620013
Red 7.224019
Blue 9.435020
ARDF 3.916010
Course NotesClassic

Update as of Jan. 21: Tomorrow's forecast is for sunny and cold. The terrain is pretty good (for January) and very runnable in the woods. The ground is frozen and there is no mud, snow is thin & patchy and more crunchy than slippy, on a couple of the trails there are some frozen puddles, etc. - trail runners especially need to watch their footing. Some control locations have been placed to avoid what might be particularly steep/slippy (control circles and descriptions remain accurate - WHITE control 117 is located trail-side at the tower instead of the southwest side.)

Previously posted comments:
- The venue is relatively small and skinny; map scales are 1:4000 for White, 1:5000 for Yellow and Orange, and 1:7500 for all Advanced courses with 3m contour lines and 250m between magnetic north lines
- Lots of trails, watercourses, reentrants, up&downs, and the bluffs present route options for trading between distance, climb, vegetation, or terrain
- Bluffs marked black and inlets marked blue-with-black-outline are considered impassable and uncrossable, however the pond on the west side of the map is effectively dry and depending on weather at worst marshy and crossable
- Running surface will depend mostly on weather; there has been snow and if it’s melting there may be mud in spots. There are lots of leaves underneath whatever we get
- Vegetation is down for the winter, while there are sporadic and sparse thorns, you’ll more likely fight wet or snowy spots than green
- Fences aren’t kept in repair – there are intermittent gaps that are not always mapped; some short lengths of fence are not mapped
- Many rootstocks, new and not so new, are not mapped
- Some pits, ditches, or uneven ground are not mapped
- Most trails should be visible and followable but some paths through snow might not be trails, colored blazes on trees can be used to identify trails
- There should be no advantage or motivation to, but in any case DO NOT cross the National Cemetery
- Xs and Os identify various man-made objects; The prominent features at control locations marked with Xs are ruined vehicles
- The southern-most area is private property used by permission and bounded by a trail that may be run along but should not be crossed. Red and Blue may see signs in the woods marking the property line.
- The course setter (Matt) would appreciate any/all feedback on the course design using the link above or via email.

Entry FeesIndividual Entries

Note: juniors = under 21

Club Member, adult Club Member, junior Non-Member, adult Non-Member, junior
$10 $5 $20 $5

Group Entries

Participants are welcome to orienteer together as a group (up to the maximum for that event; usually 4). Each member of a group is charged their individual rate as shown above, up to a group total of $30 (maximum), and each receives a map. A group receives one epunch. Individuals or groups desiring to compete on a second course after completing their first can do so for a reduced fee of $2/map subject to approval at the event by the Event Director.

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 will be loaned one 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 (such as car keys) when borrowing a compass or epunch.
  • There is no planned, on-site beginner instruction, but beginners are encouraged to watch relevant videos such as this one created by QOC's instructional guru David Onkst