October 17 2022, by Gord Hunter
Usually behind the scenes and way before an orienteering event occurs a key event official gets to work. The person responsible for designing the competition courses starts looking over the map and assessing where control points might be placed. Somewhat like a painter planning the layout of a canvas or an architect designing a building the orienteering course setter wants to get all the pieces in the right places.
When the participants come to our events it is the course setter’s responsibility to provide them with navigation challenges right for their ability and with route choice options that will create decision-making challenges along with the distance test of the course. Someone choosing to go on a novice-level Yellow course will not get the same distance or navigation challenges that someone on the Advanced-level Green or Blue courses will face. That would be like tossing a non-swimmer into the deep end of a pool.
Just as in the worlds of art and architecture where some are considered better than others, so it is with orienteering course setting. For the 2022-23 season, Suncoast Orienteering has reached out to some of the best, most experienced course setters in North America for their advice on course setting for our events. Four have agreed to give up some (perhaps a lot) of their time to design courses. In each case, we expect their advice will be over the Internet and involve the important initial design on the computer. Wish we could afford to bring them all in for field checking but nonetheless, I am thrilled that they have agreed to the initial course design and follow-up revisions from a distance. At least two of our guests have experience orienteering in Florida.
Mike Minium of Cincinnati has been involved in orienteering at all levels since as long as there has been an orienteering club in southwestern Ohio. He has set courses for events up to the Nationals and from Sprints to long distances. Mike is one of the few IOF event advisors in North America. Mike coaches the orienteering team at Union County (Indiana) High School and Middle School, the 2022 National Champion team for Middle School. He has been the amazing director of Orienteering Cincinnati’s Flying Pig National Event annually (except 2020 and 2021 due to COVID) since 1996. As busy as he is, Mike will be the guest course setter for the Dec 3rd event at Elinor Klapp Phipps Park in Tallahassee.
Charlie Shabazian has been a sparkplug for orienteering development in Chicagoland and Wisconsin where he founded the Badgers OC. When you start a club you do it all until you can bring in others to share the load and you teach those others as you go. Charlie will be lending his experience to the courses for Alafia River State Park on Feb 18th
Stefan Bergstrom started orienteering course setting as a teenager in his native Sweden where he was the course setter for two major events in the early 1980s , one national event in the Stockholm area and once for the Stockholm district relay championships. He also set courses for many smaller club events. In Canada he course set for the 2010 Canadian Middle distance Championships and many local events. He was the controller for the NAOC2014 in Ottawa, and Event Advisor for the NAOC2016 in New Hampshire, and of course the World Games 2022.
Jonathan Campbell, currently living in the Boston area, learned his orienteering, both as a competitor and event leader at the US Military Academy at West Point. As Jon and wife Tori, also a West Point graduate, have moved to different postings around the US an uptick in the quality of orienteering has followed wherever they have gone. Most recently our older orienteers were raving about the job Jonathan did as course setter for the 2022 US Masters Nationals in Connecticut. Jonathan has agreed to be the guest course setter for the State JROTC orienteering championships being held on March 25th at the Holder Mine area near Inverness.
I know you will enjoy the experience of benefitting from our guest course setters.