About SOAR

SOAR is the acronym for Suncoast Orienteering.

Wouldn’t that be SO?

No, SOAR stands for Suncoast Orienteering and Adventure Racing. We have hosted some bike orienteering and rogaines, and this year we expect to hold our first-year canoe orienteering event. However, mostly we are just doing good old “foot orienteering”.

We are a registered non-profit club known as Suncoast Orienteering, Inc.

We started operating in 2012 as a wing of Florida Orienteering but in 2014 we incorporated and moved out onto our own. We have continued to grow ever since. From an original three events a year, this year we will be hosting nine from November 2022 to March 2023.

The events feature different length courses based on navigating to a series of checkpoints (controls). You can race (run) the course for speed or take your time (walk). It’s up to you.

The common theme is that participants are using a detailed map and a compass for navigation. A GPS device is not needed, and not allowed except to record your route.

Events are family-friendly and usually pet friendly too, however, this depends on the venue (some have pet rules). Courses vary in length from about 2.5 kilometers (1.7 miles) for a novice-level course to an 8-9 kilometer (5-5.5 mile) expert course.

Entry fees are low and reasonable, usually no more than $10, which includes the map for navigation. Some events have a park entry fee. Compasses and electronic finger-sticks, for checking in at each control marker, are available to rent. Many choose to own their own compasses and finger sticks.

At most of our events, you will see a lot of high school-age students. Chances are they are competing on the JROTC side of the competition. At each event, they are there to compete for medals, trophies, and ranking points. Some people come to our orienteering events just to watch the JROTC competition. Well, they are parents and friends of the cadets who are there to watch the action

As a not-for-profit organization, SOAR operates on a tight budget. We keep entry fees down and largely can do that by having volunteers step up to take on many roles in hosting an event. When we do accumulate some money, we are able to support our young orienteers by supporting their participation in national-level events. In 2021-2022, we granted close to $3,000 to JROTC teams going to two national championships.

What is in it for the volunteers? They get to participate in the event free of charge.

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