Geocaching Mega-Event MOGA – Sock Hop and Caching Competition

Editor’s note: Groundspeak Lackeys are traveling thousands of miles from H.Q. throughout the year to share smiles, shake hands, and make geocaching memories at nearly twenty Mega-Events worldwide. Nicole Bliss, aka Louie Bliss, attended the Iowa, USA Mega-Event MOGA 2012 (GCQM9C). Nicole has been a Lackey since 2010 and works in Customer Relations. This is Nicole’s account of her trip.

Written By: Nicole (Louie Bliss)

Nicole (Louis Bliss) with local geocachers

Location: Rathbun Lake outside Moravia, Iowa, 60 miles south of nearest large city of Des Moine.

Time: 1pm, April 28, 2012

Who: 200 cachers competing (more than 1000 in attendance), including kids, elderly and one stroller

What: Midwest Open Geocaching Adventure 2012, aka MOGA 2012

The Goal: Find as many caches as possible in 2.5 hours

Terrain: Bushwhacking through prairie, sand dunes, climbing trees

Weather: Luckily dry, mostly cloudy and a mild 60°F

The scene: Everyone lines up at the starting lines. Teams plan out their strategies. The 40 caches are all downloaded. Most people have already found 1 to 200 caches in the last few days on the way to MOGA and they are hungry for more. Director Bumanfam makes a motivating speech and blows a whistle. The competition is on!

Crowd of geocachers at MOGA

Most people go to the closest cache and then quickly disperse.  To make the process faster, each cache is a decon container with a nail punch inside. Each team has a punch card. They punch this card when they find the cache, and then run on to the next. It’s a race against time and other cachers.

MOGA is different from many other Mega-Events. It is mostly based around this competition, although there are plenty of other activities and side events.  There are 1st, 2nd and 3rd place medals for three different age groups and three categories – male and female individual, two-person and four-person teams. This gives ample opportunity for people to get an award.

I’m proud that I participated with my new caching buddy, ScorpioRed48, and we found 13 caches with minutes to spare. Three other teams found all 40 caches within 2.5 hours. The overall winning team found all 40 within 1 hour and 41 minutes, and one of the participants even swam across the lake to race ahead. Very impressive!

This year’s theme was a 1950’s sock hop. People dressed in poodle skirts and danced to Elvis all weekend. The traditional night-before-MOGA event even had a live band to keep people dancing in the brisk night air.

Geocachers dressed in sock hop apparel

This was my 6th Mega-Event including the Groundspeak Lost & Found Celebration and Geocaching Block Party, so I thought had a good idea of what to expect going into it. I had no idea the competition would be so much fun. Most people joined for the social aspect, but of course there were the die-hard athletes.

At the event, I spent some quality time with past and present the MOGA organizers. It was really eye-opening to see the detailed planning that goes into an event like this. Given all the possibilities of what could go wrong, I was amazed at how smoothly it ran and any minor hiccups were quickly resolved and attendees had no idea.

I think this is because the directors of past MOGAs stay on as advisers and support organizers each year. This way, they don’t have to reinvent the wheel and start from scratch, especially with the Mega-Event being in a different location every time.

This is the 9th annual MOGA event and fourth one that’s achieved a Mega-Event status. Well over 1,000 people pre-registered and plenty more showed up that day to join the festivities.  For a very rural area that was suddenly bombarded by 1,000 cachers, I’m sure the local farmers were wondering why there was so much traffic and people were pulling over to the side of the road every .1 mile. Nothing to see here folks, just a Tupperware container at a road sign…

MOGA 2012 (GC3GN2E) will be in Shelbyville, Illinois. Next year’s theme: Cachelot – Quest for the Dragon’s Cache. If their YouTube video is any indicator, it’s going to be epic.

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