Availability: Sep 2020 - June 2024
ROYO (Run On Your Own) Orienteering Events
Welcome to pandemic orienteering! After so much time in quarantine, it's time to get outdoors and satisfy your orienteering cravings! We cannot congregate at a scheduled event in our usual fashion, so instead we are temporarily pivoting to a new style of "event" we're calling "Run On Your Own" (ROYO) Orienteering.
For a ROYO-style event, we set up 3 levels of semi-permanent courses at the chosen venue. Instead of the official orange & white control flags we usually use, we instead have placed 1" wide pink ribbons as substitutes for control markers (see sample photo below). Most ribbons are 1-2 feet in length. Each ribbon will be labeled with "FLO" and the control #, and will be tied to a laminated QR code (see photo below).
Be advised: You may find other pink ribbons in the woods that do not have these markings or a QR code attached. These are not ours, so please ignore them and leave them be!
Maps will have to be self-printed. We will post PDFs of course maps on the FLO web site and links to them will be in the Rah-Rah email (see below) for you to get to them. All maps will be on standard 8.5"x11" letter-size paper and can be printed with any inkjet or color laser printer.
We will be using a smartphone app called "iOrienteering
" for participants to time themselves around their chosen course. You will need to visit iTunes or the Google Play store and install this free app on your smartphone before you go to the venue (remember, you may not have good signal out in the woods!).
Once you get there, at the start/finish location, you will find a laminated sheet posted with instructions and 5 QR codes (see photo below):
- The first 3 QR codes are the course data for the 3 courses. Inside the iOrienteering app, you will scan ONE of these codes for the course you're planning to do. This loads the list of controls that the app is expecting you to "punch" in their correct order. Once your course is loaded, the app is ready to start timing you around that course.
- The remaining 2 QR codes are the START and END codes. Scanning these starts and stops your official clock, so don't scan them until you're ready to go.
Once you have loaded your chosen course and scanned the START code to start your clock, you are ready to go. Use your map to navigate around the course, visiting all controls, in order, just as you typically do. As you find each control, "punch" in by scanning the attached QR code with the iOrienteering app. The app will verify you have found the correct control and keep track of your splits times.
When you have completed your course, return to the start and scan the "END" QR code on the instructions sheet to stop your official clock. The app will calculate your total time and display your results.
SUMMARY OF COURSES
Note that the course lengths mentioned above are measured straight-line from point to point to point. Your actual route on the ground will often be on more winding trails or diverted around obstacles like ponds or dense tickets, so your actual distance traveled will often be 25-50% longer than the stated course length.
- YELLOW - For novices and casual family hikes. 2.4 km straight-line. Can be done mostly on trails. Map is 1:10,000 scale, with verbose control descriptions.
- ORANGE - For experienced orienteers. 5.8 km straight-line. Partly off trails. While most controls are near trails, the total length of this course is longer than a typical Orange course (more like a Green). Map is 1:15,000 scale, with symbolic control descriptions.
- BLUE - For advanced/elite orienteers only! 11.9 km straight-line. Mostly off trails. This is an extremely long "super-blue" course! Pace yourself, carry hydration for an extended hike, and pay attention to your fatigue level. Map is 1:15,000 scale, with symbolic control descriptions.
As usual, there is a 3 hour time limit on all FLO courses. If you take more than 3 hours on any course, RETIRE! The summer Florida heat can be brutal and heat exhaustion can sneak up on you. Carry a CHARGED cell phone for safety.
The Safety Bearing for all courses will be NORTHWEST to the paved road CR 445. This is noted in RED on all maps.
Special Notes and Instructions for Woodpecker West:
Keep in mind that in the ROYO format, there will not be any on-site event management while you are running these courses.
Be sure to carry adequate water, a whistle, and a charged cell phone for safety!! We cannot stress the first point enough! It's FL, it's summer, it's hot, and it's humid! You will sweat out fluids fast under these conditions, and heat exhaustion can sneak up on you. CARRY MORE WATER THAN YOU THINK YOU WILL NEED, AND DRINK AT A RATIONED PACE THROUGHOUT YOUR HIKE. These are hydration pack conditions. One bottle of water in your fanny pack isn't going to cut it, especially on the ORANGE and BLUE courses.
Be sure to wear shin protection and protective shoes. Briars and Prickly Pear Cactus are common in this venue. Thorns from the latter will go right through the leather upper of a shoe if you kick one carelessly, so watch where you step.
Another good reason to watch your feet at this venue: Although the underbrush off-trail is generally pretty easy to move through, in some places the terrain is shot through with barbed vines that like to grow horizontally about ankle to shin height. They are thin, brown, and well-camouflaged, and they intertwine with other ground cover so they are sometimes difficult to see and strong enough that you can't just bust through them. They therefore make excellent trip-wires. See photo below for an example of one that nearly tripped me while I was out setting controls. Eyes open, boys and girls!
Bug spray on your shoes, gaiters, and pants is also essential for going off-trail. Ticks and chiggers are open for business this time of year, so wear chemical protectant, and do a thorough tick check when you come out of the woods and when you shower after getting home.
Ocala National Forest is one of our best local venues for orienteering, because so much of the terrain is what we call "whitewoods" (woods thin enough to run through, which are colored white on an orienteering map). Almost the whole map is accessible and can be used for control placement and routing. The flip side of this however, is that much of the woods "looks the same", meaning it can be easy to get lost in. (Sorry, orienteers don't get "lost", we get "temporarily misoriented". ;-) Keep this fact in mind as you hike, and stay in touch with the map as you travel so you always have a good idea of where you are. Remember, no matter where you are on this map, going NORTHWEST as a safety bearing will always bring you out to the paved road CR 445, and from there you can make your way back to your car.
As a precaution, if you are competing alone, let someone know where you are going, and how long you plan to be out there. We also suggest that you leave a copy of the map in your car, or with a friend, in case someone needs to come out to find/help you.
PARKS CONTAIN HAZARDS NOT NORMALLY ENCOUNTERED
In case of emergency you should call 911.
Test runner's note on the Blue course: When leaving control #1 headed for control #2, watch out for a yellow jacket nest in an old pine tree stump - don't step in it!
Printing your map(s):
By printing the map for any of these courses you are agreeing to the following Waiver of Liability:
As a condition for participating in this orienteering event, you hereby release Florida Orienteering, also known as FLO, and each of its officers and member and others who have planned or participated in this event from liability for any personal injury or property damage that may occur to you or any member of your group as a result of your participation at this event whether caused by negligence or otherwise, and you hereby indemnify Florida Orienteering (FLO), its officers and any organizations or authorities sponsoring the event from any liability for injury or damage or expense caused by yourself or other members of your group.
To display the map of your chosen course, click on the appropriate link in the list of courses below, then use your browser to download or print it. If your print menu offers the choice, make sure the "Actual Size" option is selected.
You can also print your own copy of the iOrienteering instructions and the course/start/end QR codes, just in case the sign at the trailhead should go MIA:
A suggested donation of $7 for FLO members, or $9 for non members, may be made through Zelle. In order to use Zelle you will need to register for Zelle through your bank's website. Alternatively go to www.zellepay.com/get-started for guided instructions.
Once you have registered for Zelle, through your bank, you can send a donation to email@example.com and then select the 'Florida Orienteering' account.
There is no individual day use fee for the park at this venue.
The trailhead where the Florida Trail crosses CR 445 is marked at the actual crossing point and with small signs 1/4 mile in either direction, but the spot is still easy to drive right past. Since this is a ROYO event, there won't be a pile of cars/people or a FLO registration tent to guide you in. For this reason, the best way by far to drive to the right place is to use the what3words address below. If you haven't yet embraced the what3words smartphone application, NOW IS THE TIME!
Driving Directions from w3w?
If you haven't already, watch the 2 linked O-Tube videos above to understand what what3words is and how it works, and how to use the 3-word address to obtain turn-by-turn driving directions to that exact spot from your favorite navigation app. This will get you to the right spot with minimal fuss.
If for any reason your nav app isn't working, you can follow the signs to the entrance to Alexander Springs State Park on CR 445, and then drive 1.1 miles west from there to reach the trailhead.
Once there, you'll see the Florida Trail sign on the south side of CR 445 with a trail junction right in front of it. The iOrienteering instructions and course QR codes are posted on a pine tree just to the left of the sign as you face the trail junction (see picture below).
Course Availability Window:
The courses are in place and ready to be used as of September 12, and will be out there until further notice. However, be warned that these woods are open to various kinds of hunting between now and the end of January:
We highly recommend that you avoid the various gun hunting seasons after Oct 23, and it is advisable to wear something orange during any flavor of hunting season.
- Archery season: Sept. 19 – Oct. 18
- Crossbow season: Sept. 19 – Oct. 23
- Muzzleloading gun season: Oct. 24 – Nov. 6
- Youth deer hunt weekend: Oct. 31 - Nov. 1
- General gun season: Nov. 7 – Jan. 24
Remember to be courteous to other users of the venue, and disturb them as little as possible. We want to play nice in the sandbox (especially as regards people carrying various weapons). :-)
We hope you enjoy these courses as a way to relieve a little COVID-related stress with some awesome woods time! While you're out there:
Be Safe! Be careful! Be Smart! Remember, because this is a ROYO event, there will be no one on site to call for help.