Fall Adventure Run & Orienteering Race


Adventure Run


14 & Under

14 & Under

Orienteering Race


14 & Under

14 & Under

October 17
Cannonsburg Ski Area

Presented by Hurt the Dirt and Michigan Adventure Race. It’s a mash up!

Time trial format – when you’re ready, grab a map and go. Race on your own or with friends and family. Pick from one of the following two formats:

What’s an Adventure Run? It’s a trail race mixed with a treasure hunt! As you run (or hike) the 5K trail loop, use the map to keep track of where you are so you can spot six checkpoint flags hidden just off trail. You’ll earn a 1-minute time bonus for each one you find. 95% on trails, 5% venturing off the trail to snag the code on the flag.

What’s an Orienteering Race? It’s like an adventure run except the “treasure” is often located further into the woods and may require taking a bearing with a compass to find it (easy to learn online). Grab as many checkpoints as you can in the 2-hour time limit. 40-70% on trails, depending on how many shortcuts through the woods you take.

Who? You! And anyone who likes trails and the outdoors, especially those who like an extra challenge, reading a map, finding hidden things. Race on your own or with friends or family members (you can be a “team” but results are by individual and each person must register separately). Your kids will like the “hunt” part of the adventure. They will also be “ranked” on their own by age, but you can help them.

Where? Cannonsburg Ski Area, 6800 Cannonsburg Rd NE, Belmont, MI 49306 Cross the main bridge, we’re just to the left/east.

When? Saturday, October 17, 2020. Perfect timing for fall colors! Start anytime within 3 time blocks: 9-9:30 am, 9:30-10 am, or 10-10:30 am.

What’s the cost? $37 late registration (Oct. 12-15). Registration closes for good end of day Thursday, Oct. 15. Late entry fee for kids 14 and under is $25 (with adult registration, use adventurerunkids12d coupon code at checkout for their registration).

What do we get!? Every finisher gets a $10 Gazelle Sports gift certificate! We will have really cool age group wood medals for 1st and 2nd place finishers in each age group, similar to those shown here. Age groups for each race and gender will be 15-19 years, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60+. All kids 14 and under will get a finisher medal.

If you are not able to wait until the final set of participants come back, you’ll need to pick up your medal at Gazelle Sports Grand Rapids, Holland or Kalamazoo or we can ship it to you for $9 (postage and handling).

What about COVID? All staff, volunteers and participants must wear a mask during check-in. If you don’t want to do that, please don’t sign up for the race. We may also require a pre-race screening questionnaire. Because you will start the race on your own, you will not need to wear a mask at that point, unless you’re not physically distanced from those outside your family/social bubble. We reserve the right to adjust COVID precautions based on the latest guidance from the Kent County Health Department.

Registration is closed. Sorry, we can’t accept any Friday or same-day registrations – we are setting up the course.

RegisterWhat are my two options? Tell me more.

1. 5K Adventure Run. Follow the marked course like any trail race (click on map to the right). Leave the trail only to grab as many of the six or so checkpoint (CP) flags you can find. If you see someone NOT returning to the trail, they are on the orienteer course. Don’t follow them!

Flags are hanging from a tree or structure within 20 meters of the trail. They are not covered up intentionally but may not be obvious – for example behind some trees or down in a gully. No compass is required (and no phone/GPS allowed), but pay careful attention to where you are on the map or you may run right by one. Flags will be located near or on defined land features such as hilltops, creeks, lakes, and gullies. If you know where you are on the map, you should be able to locate the flags fairly easily (although we’ll make one or two a little more challenging to find).

For each flag you find, you will receive a time bonus of one minute per flag so, for example, if you finish in 40 minutes and you find all six CPs, your adjusted time would be 34 minutes. So run (or hike) hard but keep your eyes peeled! There is no cut-off time with the adventure run.

2. 2-Hour Orienteering Race. No marked course – create your own route! Checkpoint flags can be anywhere on the ski area property. The ability to take a bearing with a compass is recommended but may not always be required depending on map reading skills. The map will now be super detailed LIDAR, likely 1:7500 scale. You may not use a phone/GPS to see where you are (but please carry one for emergencies).

Flags will be located near or on defined land or man-made features. A few may be the same as the adventure run, but most will be more advanced and/or deeper into the woods, requiring a good compass bearing and bushwhacking/route finding skills. The orienteering race will use a greater portion of the ski area property, not just the area around the adventure run 5K loop. Expect to travel 4-5 miles to get every checkpoint with a mix of on-trail and off-trail trekking. Some people will NOT get every checkpoint by design. And that’s okay. You need to manage your time to get back BEFORE the 2-hour cut-off (penalties if you’re late, but less harsh than our typical adventure race rules). That’s part of the strategy, challenge, and fun!

How do I sign up?  Sign up here. If the race is cancelled in advance due to COVID, you’ll receive 100% cash back. If the race goes on but you can’t make it (or is a last minute cancel due to severe weather), you’ll receive a 100% deferment credit code for our Dirty Duel (next one 11/14/20) or Hurt the Dirt, valid any time in the next two years.

How does it work?

  1. When you check in (mask on please), we’ll give you a map of the course with several checkpoints (CPs) on it. CPs are represented by a red circle on the map and by an orange and white orienteering flag hanging from a tree or structure.
  2. One side of your map will be topographic (showing the shape of the land using contour lines; learn to read a topo map here or at our free clinic on Oct. 3) and the other will be a satellite view. Use whatever format works best. Some CPs will be easier to find by following the shape of the land, bends in the trail, water features, etc. while a satellite view may work best for others.
  3. Before you start and while staying in the general check-in area, you can take some time with the map to familiarize yourself with the trail and location of the checkpoints. For the adventure run, this shouldn’t take long since you will be on the trail for most of the time. For the orienteering race, you don’t have to stay on the trail and many CPs on your course (most are different than the adventure run CPs) will require you to venture off trail; plot the fastest route to get as many checkpoints as you can in the allotted time.
  4. We’ll start the clock when you’re ready and you’re off on your run/hike/scramble/walk!
  5. As you approach where the checkpoints should be, keep an eye out for them as you may pass them if you are not paying attention. They are meant to be found by those who know where they are on the map. When you see a flag, run/bushwhack to it and write down on the “scorecard” on your map the letter on the flag corresponding to the checkpoint number. The letter will be on a laminated card attached to the flag. Don’t forget to bring a writing utensil!
  6. Capture as many checkpoints as you can. If you miss one, you can go back.
    • For the adventure run, your ranking is based on your finish time, adjusted for one-minute time bonus you’ll receive for each checkpoint found.
    • For the orienteering race, your ranking is based first on the number of CPs you find and second on your finish time as long as it’s less than two hours (if you arrive back after two hours, you will have checkpoints subtracted from your total)
  7. We’ll report the results within a day of the event and those who win an age group medal can pick them up at Gazelle Sports Grand Rapids, Holland or Kalamazoo (sorry, we are not able to mail the medals due to cost; if you really want yours, you can contact us about paying for shipping and handling). Or, stick around until after the race and if you won a medal, you can pick it up then if results are final.

Are there aid/water stations? We’ll have water and Gatorade at the start/finish but bring your own hydration and food if you need them out on the trail. Some people carry water in a hydration pack or a small flexible “flask” in their pocket. Many are fine without hydration, depending on the weather.

What do I need to bring?

  • All participants:
    • Mask for check-in
    • Writing utensil to write down the flag’s letter/code on your map to prove you found it.
    • Zip lock bag or map case recommended so map doesn’t shred due to sweat or rain (do not cover your map with tape or contact paper – you need to write on it)
  • Orienteer Race participants (additional):
    • Whistle and mobile phone for safety (phone not allowed for determining your location other than for emergencies)
    • Baseplate or sighting compass (a compass may help Adventure Run participants know which direction to look as they approach a likely flag location if they aren’t great with directions, but it’s not required)

Can I bring my dog? Sorry, dogs or any other pets are not allowed on the trails during the race but spectators can have dogs on leashes.

How can I learn how to navigate and read a topo map?

  1. Free clinic on Oct. 3 at Seidman Park
  2. Learn More section on our Michigan Adventure Race site
  3. Navigation Lessons blog on our Michigan Adventure Race site
  4. Lots of other online resources

Is the Adventure Run course really a 5K? How many miles will orienteer racers travel? We walked the adventure run course with a measuring wheel, much more accurate than GPS-based devises. The trail is just under 3.2 miles long. The orienteering race will require participants to travel 4-5 miles on average (based on what we think would be an ideal route that mixes on-trail and off-trail mileage).

Are there refreshments? Yes! Although the Sweet Spot will be closed, Clara Cookies will have delicious cookies for sale as a fundraiser for Team Orphans and Cannonsburg will likely offer beer, coffee and/or cider depending on the temperatures. Details to come in a race update a week or two before the race.

Do you have a charity partner? Yes! Our charity partner is Team Orphans. They will be our volunteer crew for the races. Team Orphans works with 6 adoption agencies, including Bethany here in Grand Rapids, to provide adoption grants to families adopting kids with special needs. These include children with medical needs, keeping sibling groups together, and older children.

What’s next? If you enjoy adventure running, the next step is to try our Dirty Duel trail race on 11/14, Michigan Adventure Race: Winter Edition on 1/23, pending covid (on foot but with a snowshoe leg and Amazing Race challenges) or our warmer weather adventure races later in 2021 (orienteering, trekking on foot, biking, paddling). Check our 2021 calendar.


Race Update
We’re looking forward to seeing you all on Saturday! We’re especially excited for those of you trying a trail race or navigation event for the first time. This is a fairly small race so with three separate starting time blocks and a huge start/finish area, there will be plenty of space to spread out, both at check-in, start, during the race and after.

If you think of others who might enjoy the event, make sure they sign up by midnight tonight (no Friday or same day registration). If you can’t make it, you have today to transfer your entry to another at no charge (edit/transfer link in your www.runreg.com account). Or request a credit deferment to a future on-foot race before 2023.

Thanks to:

  • Gazelle Sports for providing a $10 gift certificate for every participant!
  • Cannonsburg for allowing us to use their land. Please support Cannonsburg events, skiing, etc. Check out their Haunted Forest!
  • Team Orphans, our charity partner and source of volunteers. They will also sell their tasty, high protein Clara Cookies as a fundraiser – guilt-free deliciousness! Team Orphans works with 6 adoption agencies, including Bethany here in Grand Rapids, to provide adoption grants to families adopting kids with special needs. These include children with medical needs, keeping sibling groups together, and older children.


  • Now: Here are the racer lists (we’ll add late registrants to this). Make a note of your bib/race # and provide that at check-in. If there are any errors, please email us today if possible. While you can race with anyone, every one receives their own finish time and ranking based on their age.
  • Friday: No Friday check-in. Please do not explore Cannonsburg EXCEPT you may attend the Haunted Forest as no checkpoint flags are located there.
  • Saturday: Arrive for check-in sometime during the time block for which you registered, 9-9:30, 9:30-10, 10-10:30. If you are a few minutes early or late of that block, no worries. The goal of the time block is to avoid large groups before or after the race.

What do I need to bring?

  • All participants:
    • Mask/buff
    • Sharpie/marker and ballpoint pen to write down the flag’s letter/code on your waterproof scorecard/passport to prove you found it. Bring one of each or at least two total in case you lose one.
    • Zip lock bag, contact paper, tape or map case recommended so map doesn’t shred due to sweat or rain. It is not waterproofed.
    • Clothing layers, ideally breathable, water resistant outer layer. It will be chilly – good motivation to keep moving! For those of you new to racing, a good rule of thumb is to dress as if it’s 10-20 degrees warmer than the feels-like temperature (upper range if running, lower range if hiking). The race goes on despite bad weather except windstorm, thunderstorm or tornado. You may shelter in your vehicle and delay your start to let bad weather pass.
  • Orienteering Race participants (additional):
    • Whistle and mobile phone for safety (phone not allowed for determining your location other than for emergencies)
    • Baseplate or sighting compass (a compass may help Adventure Run participants know which direction to look as they approach a likely flag location if they aren’t great with directions, but it’s not required)


  • The race will be at Cannonsburg Ski Area, 6800 Cannonsburg Rd NE, Belmont, MI 49306 .
  • Walk between the two main ski buildings, cross the bridge over the creek, we’re just to the left/east, below the zipline tower
  • Know your race number for quick check-in. Grab your race/bib #, map, scorecard/passport, and Gazelle Sports gift certificate. If you don’t need multiple copies of the map for your group, we can recycle it but keep everything else. Note: To keep entry fees lower, we didn’t do shirts for this race in case you’re wondering.
  • If we haven’t already completed this for you, write down your name and bib/race # on your passport/scorecard (example shown to the right). If other family members are joining you, write down their name and number on their passport. You will be scored and ranked as individuals so everyone must have their own passport filled out.
  • Your map will be an 8.5×11 sheet, not waterproofed. See map details below.
  • Portajons are located on the north side of the creek, just to the east
  • Aid station: We will have water and Gatorade at the start/finish only. They are not bottled so bring your own hydration if you prefer and if you need it out on the course.
  • Merchandise: We’ll have Michigan Adventure Race gear for sale. Credit card, check to Michigan Adventure Racing or exact cash only.
    • $30 Hoodie
    • $22 Long sleeve tee (women’s with v-neck, men’s with crew)
    • $17 Short sleeve tee (women’s with v-neck, men’s with crew)
    • $10 Buff/headwear
    • $10 Stainless steel pint
    • $3 Sticker ($1 if you put it on your vehicle)


  • Adventure Run 5K
    • Make note of where the 6 checkpoints (CPs) are, but no extensive planning is needed since you’re on a set course. NOTE THAT WE ARE INCREASING THE TIME BONUS FOR EACH CP FOUND FROM 1 MINUTE TO 2 MINUTES to reflect greater value for finding them.
    • Here’s the course map. The version you get Saturday will have 6 checkpoints (circles) added to it. You can use the topographic map on the other side for changes to the land, water features, etc. that may help you know when to really start keeping your eye out for next flag. We’ll also have arrows at intersections. No trail monitors, just a sweeper at the end.
  • Orienteering Race (2 Hours)
    • Plan your route to the 14 checkpoints, on or off trail. All CPs are optional. Get as many as you can within 2 hours. Consider setting an alarm for at least 15 minutes before the 2-hour cutoff so you get back in time. If you are late 1 second up to 3 minutes, we’ll subtract 1 CP. If 3-6 minutes late, we’ll subtract 2 CPs, plus an additional CP for every 3 minutes late beyond this.
    • Your map will be LIDAR (highly detailed topographic), 1:7,500 scale, all 14 CPs pre-plotted. It is already adjusted for “magnetic declination” error so use the blue north/south lines or edge of the map to get your bearing (“un-adjust” your adjustable compass if you are using one). As a result of the great detail and updates to the map from the original 1972 USGS map, you won’t have a satellite view as originally stated on the website.
    • Note: the bike/running trails are on the map to help you navigate but they twist back and forth and may cause more confusion than they are worth in those tight areas. In one place southeast of CP 12 I noticed that they cross over on the map due to gps error, but they definitely do not cross over in reality. Trust your bearing and the terrain first, trails second (particularly where they are crammed together).
    • The map legend has small type! Bring reading glasses if needed. 🙂
  • Record the letter (not the number) on the card attached to the top of each CP flag (example above) in the appropriate numbered box on your passport/scorecard. We are not using the traditional barbed punches in order to stay touch-free. If you are racing as a family/group, each passport must be filled out.
  • Leave your warm-up clothes in your vehicle, have a mask with you, plan hydration if needed
  • Come back to Greg at the end of the check-in area and he’ll record your start time when you are ready to go. You’re off to the races!
  • Rules
    • If you decide to drop out, you must still turn in your passport so we know you are safe. You can request that we not score it… but this is for fun, so no worries if you missed some CPs or had a not-so-fast time. It’s just good to be outside and active!
    • If you are doing the race with others, you must stick together. You cannot split up, capture some CP letters and meet up later to pool your findings.
    • No GPS/electronic guidance


  • Make sure your race # is visible on your front side as you cross the finish at the Michigan Adventure Racing banners so volunteers can record your # and time.
  • Drop your scorecard/passport in the boxes on the tables just beyond the finish line. We’ll pick them up and get them scored.
  • Please have your mask back on if you need to closely approach staff or volunteers or other racers not in your bubble.
  • Grab a delicious Clara Cookie, a fundraiser for our charity partner Team Orphans.
  • Cannonsburg may have beverages for sale as well.
  • Results: Results won’t be available when you finish because everyone is starting and finishing at different times. Also, we don’t have chip timing and it will take time to count your checkpoints. If you are finishing late morning or shortly after noon, we will likely have results. You can check and are welcome to hang around. However, we may have to email results later in the day or on Sunday. In that case, wood medals for the top two in each age group will be available for pick up at any West MI Gazelle Sports starting Monday, until the end of October. Email us to request a drop off and to what store or to request that we mail it to you ($9 shipping and handling).

Age Groups and Awards

  • 6 age groups for each of the two races, 1st and 2nd places, male & female: under 20, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60+
  • Small medals to all kids 14 and under. They can grab one off the table as they finish.

Trail Tips/Etiquette

  • Be aware that the trail is open to mountain bikers. We have given them a heads up on Facebook, but some will not be aware that there’s a race going on. They will approach from behind on the Adventure Run course (yellow direction) so they should see you in plenty of time and communicate a desire to pass. Give them a couple feet and they will be out of your way. If you need to stop and look at your map, step just off the trail.
  • We recommend no music during the race so you are aware of others on the trail.
  • No dogs on the trail during the race. Spectators may have dogs on leash.

We don’t anticipate another race update. Email us with questions. Just a reminder to grab a marker/sharpie and a pen for writing down the flag codes.

Hope you’re excited to be active among our beautiful fall colors! See you soon.

Mark, for Greg and Lin