Last week Meranda from the blog Fairytales and Fitness commented that she’d like to see me write more about geocaching on this blog (see my RunFessions post from last Friday here). Since I haven’t been geocaching much lately (hardly ever, truthfully) it’s not something I think much about, at least in terms of blogging. So this week for Friday Five I thought I’d share some ways that running and geocaching go perfectly together. First, you need to know some of the geocaching lingo:
DNF: Did Not Find
Muggle: A person who does not geocache. Cachers like to be sneaky about their geocaching so muggles won’t wonder what they’re doing. Any time a muggle notices me and asks, I flat out tell them, and often it leads to a great conversation!
Log: The place inside the geocache where you sign your geocaching name. It can be a notebook, or just a small strip of paper depending on the size of the container. It also refers to the story you post on the online cache page about how you found (or didn’t find) the cache.
BYOP: Bring Your Own Pen. You need to sign the log with something. Some larger caches have pens inside them for this purpose, but smaller ones don’t.
There is a good chance that geocaches are hidden along some of your favorite running routes, waiting for you to find them. This makes geocaching super convenient! First, create an account on Geocaching.com (basic membership is free), enter your location, and you’ll be able to see where the caches are. Once you’ve decided which caches you’re going to look for on your run, load up your favorite geocaching app (I use c:geo; other people like Cachly or Geocaching’s official app), and your phone can lead you right to them. Just keep in mind that sometimes geocaches can be tricky to find, and you might find yourself wandering around looking for a cache instead of running. Sometimes I will give myself a limited amount of time for a given cache–say, five minutes–and if I can’t find it I just take the DNF and move on. You would also need to BYOP. I try to keep small pens on hand to carry in my belt or the pocket of my handheld bottle.
(Near a cache I found last summer on a long training run)
It’s a great way to find new places to explore on the run. Once you’ve found all the caches where you usually run, that’s a great time to find new routes and trails!
(I ventured into unfamiliar territory on the Quarry Trails in Fredericksburg to find this ammo can.)
Attending an out-of-town race is a great opportunity to find geocaches in the vicinity. Like when I found my personal record of six caches in one day when I arrived at the Air Force Half Marathon expo early so I could find the surrounding caches before the area was inundated with muggles. (Die-hard geocachers would find this laughable. Some of those folks can go out and find a hundred on a single weekend.) Or when I found the oldest cache in Virginia at a race at Burke Lake in Fairfax County. AND, I’ve personally never done this, but you could even–theoretically–geocache during a race. Of course you would have to be absolutely certain that you could find the cache quickly without being noticed by muggle runners. Much harder than it sounds! But The Geocaching Vlogger did it when he ran a marathon; check it out!
When you’re on vacation, you can plan your running routes by looking at where geocaches are hidden. This takes quite a lot of planning, because you want to make sure you’ll be running where it’s safe. Is it a designated running/walking/cycling trail? Are there sidewalks? If not, is there a shoulder wide enough to keep you at a safe distance from traffic? Will you be running in a safe neighborhood? This is where Google Street View can be very helpful. You can also ask around (maybe starting with a hotel desk clerk) to find out where people run, and hopefully there will be caches there too!
(A cache on Maui, along a beautiful running route. In fact, it’s along the course of the Maui Oceanfront Marathon. Someday…)
If you hide geocaches near places where you run, it is easier to maintain them than when you hide them in more out-of-the-way areas. Geocaches develop wear and tear over time: containers fall apart (hopefully your container will be durable enough to stay intact for a long time, but some can be flimsy), water gets inside, log sheets fill up, caches go missing. Hiding a cache means you’re willing to take the time and effort to keep it in good shape and fun for everyone. This is much easier if they’re convenient for you. Of course the tradeoff is that they are also convenient for other people to find, so you’ll probably have to do maintenance on them more often.
(The view from one of my geocaches. I run by it all the time.)
–6 (BONUS) —
When you log your geocache online, you can mention how running led you to this particular find. Were you in town for a race? Was the geocache near the start/finish line, or at the packet pickup location? Were you out on a training run in your hometown? Exploring a new trail? For me, logging geocaches is almost as much fun as finding them. Cache owners love to read stories about how people found the cache, and the more details you include the better. And I love it when I see other people’s logs about how they found a cache while out for a run. Found one today at least. Nice spot. Nice view. Will be running past here in about a month during the historic half. That’s a recent log for the cache that goes with the photo in #5. I know there are more of us out there!
How about you? Are you a geocacher as well as a runner? Do you have a hobby that you can pursue while you’re running?
I’m linking up with Running On Happy and Fairytales and Fitness for the Friday Five 2.0. In a future post, perhaps I’ll give you some reasons why you should start geocaching, or why the $30 annual fee for premium membership on Geocaching.com is totally worth it. And for my story of how I got started with geocaching and running, click here. Have a great weekend!