First Event at Eagle Lake Park: A Success!
On December 6th 2014 110 JROTC cadets and 54 other members of the public converged on Eagle Lake Park in Largo FL to participate in the park’s first ever orienteering event.
Eagle Lake Park is not your typical Florida orienteering venue. Large by urban park standards the park is miniscule compared to the large tracts at Croom, Ocala Forest and even Lake Louisa. However I felt what it lacked for in area it made up for in terrain and vegetation detail. I thought it would make an interesting area for those who preferred navigating by the map more than the compass. So, with some important help from Jason Scott, permission from Pinellas County, a detailed study of on-line air photos and more than a few visits to complete field work a map was created and an event scheduled for the local JROTC units. Elliott Berman and Robinson HS NJROTC volunteered to be the host school. Then with a few requests it was decided to open the event to the public and FLO members. “Okay,” said Pinellas County, “but if you do there will be a $110 special event fee to pay.” That is why there was an extra charge on the entry fee. We made up $66 of that $110.
However much it cost it was money well-spent. Thanks to Gordy Hawkins mentioning the event to his hiking Meet Up group a lot of very fit and very nice –shall I say ‘older’ – people came to get their first exposure to hiking by map and compass. From the reports heard at the finish they all seemed to very much enjoy their time in the park and the extra dimension that following the map directions gave to their hike.
There is a lot more I can say about the help given by Gordy Hawkins. He started by pre-running the Green course several days before the event and giving it a thumbs up. He arrived early the day of the event and checked every control location to make sure the flags and punches were still in place. He helped with registration and with giving basic instruction to the many neophytes at the event. Then if that wasn’t enough for a day he and Tracy Acuff combined to pick up all but a few of the controls and their stands. Thanks Gordy for all your help and to you and Tracy for helping me get everything wrapped up and cleaned up before 3 PM.
Back to the event: New to this event – and I think I will continue it – was the chance for participants to choose the option of not being timed and not having their control cards checked.
However there definitely was a competitive side to the event. Despite being a small park I discovered I could put in a Blue course by having entrants run the Green course and then a special advanced second loop. Blaik Matthews was the only person to complete the two loops for time. Several cadets rand the second loop ‘off the clock’.
Blaik bested the Green course but not far behind were Rich Sands, Elizabeth Jones and Zach La Cross. High school student Adam Fahey ran an outstanding Orange course followed in the results by Jennifer Gilpin. Another thing worth noting about Sands and Gilpin is that there were students by the same family name running on the same courses. How did they compare? The younger Sands beat the elder on Green but the tables were turned on the Orange course. Score in the Family Challenge: Parents 1 Teens 1.
Tough luck to Team Sharkey, Adventure racers competing in their first orienteering race. They did not realize that in orienteering one must visit the controls in the prescribed order.
The Travel Award goes to the Francis Marion team, Sandy Clardy and his scout troop and the OMG team, all of whom made the two hour trip from the city of Ocala to participate at Eagle Lake. We’ve GOT to get an orienteering map made in the Ocala area. Silver Springs, anyone?
Thank you to all the participants for making the event so much fun.
Final word comes from a gentleman, a park employee whose job it is to clean up the park and empty the trash bins. He came over just as we were wrapping up. “Thank you folks for leaving the area so clean,” he said. See, they do notice and they do appreciate the effort orienteers make to keep their environment clean and neat for the next users.
|Team White Chocolate||36:53|
|Mrogan & Fisher||1:07:00|
|Zachary La Cross||58:13|
|Roxie & Jason Scott||1:01:55|
|Ed McLean pair||2:08:43|
|DNF||Did Not Finish|
|DQ||Disqualified (Missed Controls)|
|OT||Over 3 Hour Time Limit|