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Orienteering is where it's at

Participants can travel alone or in groups, running or walking. Some larger meets are races with prizes for those who finish the course in the shortest amount of time, but smaller meets, like the Saratoga one, are primarily aimed at just having a good time in the outdoors.

Boscoe has been orienteering only about three years, but he quickly took to the sport. Boscoe is a long-time runner and he teaches geographic information systems at the University at Albany, so orienteering "kind of merges two things that I do," he said, noting that he finds the sport "more interesting than running itself."

Hawkes-Teeter, meanwhile, has never been much of a runner, so "the whole idea of running through the woods didn't really appeal to me," she said.

But people can enjoy orienteering without putting an emphasis on speed. Hawkes-Teeter likes that orienteering offers both a physical and a mental challenge. "It's kind of like solving a puzzle," she said.

Tryson also cited the way orienteering engages both the body and the brain as one of the reasons the sport has become a favorite hobby for her family.

"The combination of physical exertion and mental stimulation has made it an attractive pastime for us for almost 20 years and gives us motivation to stay in shape," she said.

Boscoe expects about 50 people at the Saratoga meet, including some from as far away as Massachusetts and Connecticut. "It's not like a running race where you can find one every weekend," he said.

People of all skill levels are invited and encouraged to wear comfortable clothes, including long pants to keep their legs from getting scratched. No equipment is necessary, although compasses can certainly come in handy. Compasses will be available to rent.

The start/finish for the Saratoga meet will be at the Geyser picnic area. People will have to pay a $6 park entrance fee to park at the picnic area, or they can park free at the southern end of the SPAC lot off Route 50 and walk to the picnic area. Entry fees are $5 for EMPO members and $8 for nonmembers, with a maximum of $20 per family. Registration runs from 10 a.m. to noon.

For information on EMPO, visit empo.us.orienteering.org.

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