Suncoast Orienteering Championships
“It’s a beautiful day in Paradise.” That’s an expression I use up in Canada to describe the rare occurrence of my favorite weather – temperature in the 70s, approaching 80s, low wind, low humidity, cloudless sky.
Well it certainly was a most beautiful day in the paradise of Ft de Soto Park for the Second Annual Suncoast Orienteering Championships. Thousands of people streamed to the park beaches to enjoy the sun and surf. A modest 200 to 250 came to the park to experience a new venue for orienteering.
200 to 250? That was DOUBLE the number at Lake Manatee for the first Suncoast Orienteering Championships. While most of them were energetic and enthusiastic JROTC cadets from eleven high schools our ‘civilian’ turnout was over 40 including numbers who had come from Daytona to Naples as well as Iowa, Holland and Sweden. Our visitors were universally impressed with the enthusiasm and the deportment of the eleven JROTC teams in the competition. So was I!
Setting the courses proved to be a bit of a challenge as the wooded area was quite small. The trails and cut lines were close together. A significant part of the area was off limits due to the requirement to protect a bald eagle nesting habitat.
For every problem there are solutions. One solution was to produce a competition map at an unprecedented 1:5,000 scale. That made the detail stand out more which was good for most competitors but some found they always or sometimes overran features they were seeking as map detail went by faster than expected. The small area solution for the Blue Course was to have a map exchange part way through the course plus a significant amount of parkland and beach running near the end. For the Orange and Green courses, participants were required to show their punch card to officials part-way through their course to prove they were punching in order.
The best course times on the 7.1 KM Blue were what you would expect for FLO members – James Nici was tops in 85:27 followed by Bob Putnam. However Erik Wallin of Sweden, an engineering student studying at USF posted a fantastic 62: 18 to win the day. He then went out and posted an unofficial fastest time on Orange.
Ever the best of hosts FLO/ Suncoast members ceded the best time non-cadet time on Green to Giel Pardoel of Holland. However two cadets bested his time.
Students Peter Bosche and Adam Fahey posted the best ‘public’ times on Orange and Yellow course respectively. Although their schools did not enter teams in the event the students and two friends rounded up parental permissions and entered on their own.
The top three male and female finishers on each course received awards that were framed montages of park scenes.
Thanks? Yes lots of thanks are due? Where to start? Thank you to Pinellas County and to Park Supervisor Jim Wilson for being so welcoming to in allowing this first orienteering event at Ft de Soto. As Mr. Wilson said, “I hope this will be the first of many orienteering events.” The park is looking to establish a permanent orienteering course.
How about thanks to Elliott Berman and the team of parents and students from Tampa’s Robinson High School. They handled the massive jobs of registering the cadets, timing the Finish and calculating the JROTC results. Thanks also to the team of students from Central High School handled the Start. Great jobs, all round!
A special thanks to my friends Bill Anderson and Gloria Rankin who came down from Ottawa for a week’s vacation and to help with the event, to James Nici who donated the printing of the maps and to my wife Lise who with Gloria handled the citizen registration as well as selling tee shirts.
Two FLO members were instrumental in helping – Blaik Matthews who before and after his course contributed however he was asked. Kris Mante saved me a lot of miles by agreeing to take the borrowed FLO event equipment back to Orlando.
This concludes the brief 2013-14 Suncoast Orienteering Season. Lise and I now head back to Canada. But we shall return for more events running next November through March.
Post script: As you look at the Results you will notice a few names with question marks where their time should be. Unfortunately during the clean up a few cards, their cards, were misplaced. We will continue to look to get a valid time in place. In the meantime I have offered my apologies to these individuals.
MY DAY AT FORT DESOTO
Or: “The King is Old, Long Live the King”
Last year at this time, Gord Hunter declared the final Suncoast event of the Spring season to be the Annual Suncoast Championships. I went down, ran the blue course and got myself named 2013 Sun Coast Champ. This year it was different. A couple of guys who can really run showed up: James Nici and Erik Wallin. Congratulations to the New Blue Course Winner (King): Erik! Check out their times on the FLO Results web page. Erik is a visiting student who was given a ride to the event, from Lakeland, by Lammi and Boris (many thanks to them) on their long commute to this Remarkable event.
Remarkable for several reasons:
I used this event to experiment with my head-hand mount mini camera, so as soon as I can figure it out I may have some footage to share. Reviewing it, I see that half the time I thought it was on, it wasn’t, and vice versa. This first time will be more opportunity for comedy than instruction, but my ultimate intent is to use it for instruction in various O-techniques by posting some sample legs on the FLO web page for all to see and use.
Because Janet and I had a date with our daughter at the Pirates-Phillies game in Bradenton at 1, Gord allowed me to run early as soon as he had (most of) the controls placed, provided I did my own map switch at control #10. So I folded map #2 into the back of the map case, stapled both control cards together in the map case and learned the hard way that (a) no human can punch through all that with the needle punches on-the-stick, and (b) you can’t possible reach the proper boxes to punch with all that stuff-making-it-stiff in the bag. And then everything went really flooey when I tried to re-configure it all at Control #10 for map #2 – not neat. In the end the finish line people had to take my word for it that I’d found and (attempted to) punched all controls. Thank you all.
I think I had a fairly clean run, with a few exceptions: Control #4 on Map #1 was very close to Control #3 on Map #2 and I was disappointed in myself after moving through that little area once, and not very efficiently, I was unable to do any better on the second pass through there. I also goofed on Map #2 from #8 to #9, since I found myself on the beach south of #10 before I realized where I was.
The adventure of the day occurred between #4 and #5 on Map #2, after crossing westward over the big wooden footbridge, there is a ‘canal’ to cross – this is where I tried to short-cut it through the chest deep milk shake. Lost more time just getting out of the water there than I did running a longer route over the trail across the ditch. At least I didn’t ruin a cell phone in the deep water there, as Tracy Acuff did.
All in all, a fine day, fabulous courses, fascinating terrain and a great turnout. Here’s hoping this event sparks this kind of attendance on a regular basis. Thanks to Gord for all his efforts in firing up Sun Coast Orienteering. Congratulations to the Winners and to the JROTC Leaders, parents, and crew for a successful day.
|Giel Pardoel||40:54 Holland|
|Pat Glynn||2:04:45 Iowa|
|Erik Wallin||1:02:18 Sweden|
|DNF||Did Not Finish|
|DQ||Disqualified (Missed Controls)|
|OT||Over 3 Hour Time Limit|