Suncoast Orienteering - a Winter Treat!

With winter dragging on, I was looking for any good excuse to travel to some place warm, by the sea, and not too far away. I knew that Gord Hunter was organizing the Suncoast Orienteering Championships near Tampa, Fla. so I wrote him and asked if he needed any help. : )  

Fortunately he said yes. With 240 cadets pre-registered, and another 40 public orienteers expected, it was going to be a busy event.

So, a couple of days later, Gloria and I hopped on a jet to Sarasota where Gord and Lise have been hiding since last fall. Their rented house hides behind these bougainvilleas in full bloom. Winter seemed so far away!

Gord has been mapping and organizing O-meets all over central Florida for the past few years. This year his "main event" was to be the Suncoast Championships at Fort Desoto - a former military post and training area transformed into a campground and day-use recreational park. It has some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida.  

Gord had designed five courses, the longest being the split-map blue course. It was about 7.1 Km long with 29 controls. Click HERE to open the complete Part 2 map.

On the day before the meet, we headed up to Fort Desoto for a long, hot day of hiking the forests and beaches setting up controls. Real hard work, but somehow we persevered. ; )

From these photos you can appreciate the difficulty we had setting up the courses.

The scenery was so darn distracting!

Controls 8 & 10 on the blue course.

At left, on the lagoon side of the map, Gord found this little inlet among the mangroves. Very spooky! Control #14.

On the right is what happens at high tide to your low-tide course setting. The stream junction near the inlet east of Control #9.

On race day, there were lots of spectators. Among others, a great egret, a white ibis, and a great horned owl in the woods near the finish chute. On the map, you can see the temporary fencing set up to protect her nest from the snoopy public. Thank-you to Blaik for this shot with his monster lens.

Here is the link to the FLO page:  Click results to find the meet details.

Thanks Gord for your hospitality and congratulations on your highly successful event. For sure we will be checking the FLO schedule next winter.

Cheers, Bill & Gloria.