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Port Orchard Street Scramble celebrates start of summer
Saturday’s Street Scramble in Port Orchard will be a lesson in concentration as much as it will be a lesson in the city’s lesser-known treasures.
During the event, participants will race to as many landmark checkpoints as possible, the winning team being the one that hits the most — and can correctly answer a related question — before time is up.
“It’s a different kind of discovery,” said Eric Bone, co-founder of the event and one of the country’s top orienteering athletes. “Instead of discovering natural terrain you’re discovering something about your own neighborhood you didn’t know before, a piece of public art or a shop you hadn’t seen before.
“It’s all about using your powers of observation and concentration on what you see on the map and on the ground. It’s really about looking with new eyes, really intently around you.”
Registration for the third annual event begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 26, in front of the Kitsap Bank at 619 Bay St. in downtown Port Orchard. Maps will be distributed at 9:30 a.m., and the race begins at 10 a.m. Participants can traverse the city’s streets between 30 different check points for either 90 minutes or three hours on foot or on bicycle.
“We get the whole range of people, from families with strollers to adventure racers, triathletes and ultra-marathon runners,” Bone said.
Checkpoints are situated around the marina, downtown businesses and hillside residences. Each has a point value, and can be found on the accompanying event map, which lists a question that must be correctly answered for each checkpoint in order for points to be earned.
Last year, 150 people entered the Scramble, which includes competitive divisions for seniors, teens, families and corporate groups. The cost to enter is $5 per person or $20 for a team of four or more that includes at least one adult and one child under the age of 12.
“It’s a fabulous event,” said Port Orchard Chamber Executive Director Coreen Haydock Johnson, who began the event to coincide with the weekend’s Fathoms O’ Fun happenings, which include a parade and a 5k race on Saturday and waterfront craft and vendor show that runs Friday through Sunday.
Gig Harbor has run a similar Street Scramble for four years.
The Scramble sends participants to a wide variety of destinations, and asks them to pay attention to details, from the wording on a manhole cover to the location of a yard gnome.
The sport is similar to geocaching, though GPS systems aren’t needed. Each participant is given a bright orange safety vest to wear if they choose.
Bone, 36, of Seattle, has been competing in similar events since high school, when he was first introduced to orienteering, the non-urban version of a street scramble.
“I stuck with it after that,” he said. “I like being outside and I like exploring new places. There’s a sense of adventure and discovery.”
He started the orienteering team at the University of Washington, and has competed for the United States in the World Orienteering Championships each year since 1995.
He described the events as cross country races in which competitors must pass certain checkpoints, but may choose their own route between.
His company, Meridian Geographics, created Port Orchard’s Street Scramble and puts together similar events for other cities and organizations. The company is also behind Northwest Trail Runs.
“A lot of people, they think they know a city and then they get out and do one of our events,” he said. “We get a lot of people saying ‘I never knew that was there.’ They’ve discovered something new and they’re really excited about it.”