You may have passed through Cincinnati on your way to Dayton, but you may not have realized that a radio club there has made it a hotbed of foxhunting activity. Monthly mobile T-hunts have taken place in all four seasons for over 15 years, usually bounded by the Interstate 275 loop that includes about six hundred square miles of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Hence the club name: OH-KY-IN Amateur Radio Society. The club also holds on-foot hunts at picnics, hamfests and Scout events.
More recently, these Cincinnati hams have developed their skills at radio-orienteering under international rules. Three of them competed at the 2002 Second USA Championships in Pine Mountain, Georgia. Not only did they bring home four medals, they paid careful attention to how the events were organized and administered, so they could do just as good a job in 2003 when it was their turn to host the USA National ARDF Championships.
The 2003 USA Championships were combined with the Second International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 2 ARDF Championships. They were open to anyone, at any ARDF skill level, from any country with an IARU Amateur Radio society.
It was a top-notch event with excellent food, lodging, courses, maps, medals and almost everything else. Committee Co-chairs were Bob Frey WA6EZV of Cincinnati and Dick Arnett WB4SUV of Erlanger, KY (at left). Besides overseeing all the planning, they set the ARDF courses and even test-ran them. OH-KY-IN ARS enlisted support from Orienteering Cincinnati (OCIN) plus several local sponsors and benefactors.
A true cross-section of ham radio, the competitors ranged in age from 11 to 70 and came from 14 states plus Hungary. Some had run in the ARDF World Championships more than once, while a few had never been on a full-size radio-orienteering course before. One received a kidney transplant within the past year and another has had heart bypass surgery. All were stalwart contesters in every sense of the word.
Most competitors slept in dormitory rooms and ate at food courts on the campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, about 30 miles northwest of Cincinnati. Thursday's practice sessions on that 250-acre campus were long enough for folks to thoroughly test their ARDF gear, but short enough that nobody got too worn out to be ready for the big two-meter hunt on Friday. Everyone was full of energy and excitement, so it was not much of a surprise to see one or two running right through the Miami University Marching Band as it practiced formations on the football field.
The exact hunt sites for the next two days were a closely guarded secret. There had been many guesses by members of the Georgia Orienteering Club, who had been to OCIN meets in the area. But they were all wrong. Friday morning's bus ride was well over an hour long, ending at Fort Ancient State Memorial near Lebanon, Ohio. In these 1100 acres were everything needed for a challenging two-meter ARDF event: Steep hills, deep forest, a network of trails and patches of impassable terrain. Despite recent rains and more in the forecast for hunt day, the ground wasn't too soggy but the mosquitoes were out in force. Concerned about some of the radio-orienteering neophytes, WA6EZV and WB4SUV asked everyone to fill out a form with a description of their clothing, just in case a search-and-rescue effort would be necessary later. The usual two-hour time limit was extended to three hours so that newcomers would have a better opportunity to find all of their required controls.
The five two-meter foxes transmitted for 60 seconds each in rotating sequence, sending an easy-to-recognize identification as explained in the International-Rules Foxhunting page of this site. Winners were the ones who found the most fox transmitters and navigated to the finish line in the least time. Besides their maps, they had a fox transmitter on a separate frequency to home in on at the end.
It took almost an hour to get everyone onto the course, because rules require separate starts of all competitors in an age/gender category. Start and finish corridors were 2.6 kilometers apart, demanding careful route choice to avoid bypassing a fox and having to go back. Shortest course distance for five-fox competitors (M21 and D21) was about five kilometers.
After hot showers, a full meal and a good night's sleep, everyone jumped into the buses again on Saturday for the 80-meter event. The ride was much shorter this time, just across the border to Mounds State Recreation Area on the Brookville Reservoir in Indiana. Weather, bugs and results were about the same. Competitors' times are typically better on 80 meters because HF signals don't suffer from terrain reflections like two-meter signals do. This time, that was offset by the tougher course, which was 40 per cent longer than two meters for 5-fox competitors.
The best overall performance was by 44-year old Gyuri Nagy HA3PA/KF6YKN on 80 meters. He found his required four transmitters in just 1:08:43, despite having knee surgery in 2002. Gyuri put on a week-long training camp for members of Team USA and Team Australia in his home city of Pecs during the week before the 2002 World Championships in Slovakia. Participating in the training camp was Gyuri's teenage son Daniel, who had never been in a formal ARDF competition. Dad's training paid off, because Daniel captured Overall Division gold on both bands in the M19 category. His 4-fox time on 80 meters was less than ten minutes more than his father's.
Best all-required-fox performance by a female was the 1:12:59 time of Nadia Mayeva on 80 meters. In Slovakia, as a member of ARDF Team USA 2002, she had placed fourth among D35 category competitors from all countries on 80 meters. Nadia brought her 13-year-old son Emil (pictured at left) for his first ARDF event. Home training paid off for him, as it did for Daniel. Emil earned gold on two meters and silver on 80 meters in the IARU Region 2 Division, M19 category.
Year 2003's youngest competitor was 11-year-old Emily DeYoung (pictured at right), daughter of organizing committee member Brian DeYoung K4BRI. (After the Championships, she got her own ham license and namesake callsign -- K4MLE.) Emily found two transmitters in 1:24:57 to earn a gold medal in D19 category. Another youthful winner was Jay Thompson W6JAY, recipient of the 2003 Newsline Young Ham of the Year Award. In IARU Region 2 Division, M19 category, Jay captured gold on 80 meters and silver on two meters. Other gold medalists, in alphabetical order, were Martha Carr KG4WVM (D50, both bands), Bob Cooley KF6VSE (M60, both bands), Jennifer Harker W5JEN (D21, 80 meters), Jay Hennigan WB6RDV (M50, both bands), Charles Scharlau NZ0I (M21, 80 meters) and Sam Smith N4MAP (M21, 2 meters).
California was the best-represented state at these championships. The nine hunters from the Recall State took home 18 medals, almost one-fourth of the total medals awarded. The four radio-orienteers from Georgia were second among the states, taking back ten medals. The hams of New Mexico had hoped to rank high in the medal count but Jack Stump KD5OEO, a gold medalist at Pine Mountain, had car trouble. He and his son Chuck KD5BYU had to turn back on their way to Ohio.
Congratulations and thanks to WA6EZV, WB4SUV and everyone else who made the Third USA ARDF Championships a success. Other officials on the event committee were Joe Haltermon KD4PYS (medals and artwork), Carol Hugentober WA8YL (registration/lodging), Rick Haltermon KD4PYR (start/finish), and Brian DeYoung K4BRI (transportation). Other helping hams in the parks were Judd Sexton N8RVR, Ken Croll N8ASV, Lynn Ernst WD8JAW and Phil Smith KG8AP. First-aid was provided by April Moell WA6OPS.
Click here for KØOV's album of sixty photos from the Championships. Links to some other participants' photos are at the end of that album. Complete results, including running times and number of fox transmitters found for each competitor, are in these PDF files: 2 meter results and 80 meter results. A detailed report on the Championships was featured in CQ VHF Magazine's Homing In column for Winter 2004.
Joe Moell KØOV
USA ARDF Coordinator
Go to Photos from these championships -- Four pages of action shots
Go to Championships Foxhunting News -- Recent and upcoming ARDF championships events
Go to International-Style Foxhunting Comes To The Americas -- How we're getting the ball rolling
Go to Equipment Ideas for Radio-Orienteering -- Simple and inexpensive receiving and transmitting solutions
Go to Radio-Orienteering News for Southern California -- Results and stories of recent radio-orienteering events in southern California, plus announcements of upcoming ones.
Go to Foxhunting for Scouts -- Let's get the kids involved
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This page updated 7 July 2008