MOSQUITO SWAT (July 10-11, 1999)

Artillery Spring

July 10

Attendance at today's event was outstanding, and some orienteers even showed up as well--always a good sign.

At first there was some grumbling from the crowd. "Where are the damn mosquitos?, they wanted to know. "We heard there would be mosquitos!". The Meet Director made no attempt to respond, since, while you can lead orienteers to the mosquitos of Artillery Spring, you can not make them annoint themself with life-saving protective repellents and sundry ointments of oily nature. One couple even insisted on heading for the woods clad only in t-shirts and shorts, muttering with disgust, "There are no mosquitos here..."

But if you looked and listened carefully, on an awesomely fine and unusually calm and quiet Wyoming day, was there a hint of a faint whine in the distance? And why were the aspen leaves off in the distance moving ever so slightly? Why indeed?

Well, of course there were mosquitos! They were just hanging out in the forest, where the Meet Director had advised them to wait. "Look mosquitos, why not wait on the thicker hills? That's where the orienteers will be moving slowest!" Foolish non-believers will get what they deserve. Kitty Bladt and Pete Naseth broke in mid-course for the long walk back to the start area, where they at once demanded massive medical attention and all the available mosquito repellent in Albany County. Later, they headed back out, but only after they had dived into giant trash bags and fogged themselves with OFF (tm).

Meanwhile, George Bramhall was out not finding many controls, but he did come back beaming about the "really nice meet signs today." Which he had made himself, as if nobody knew that! C'mon, George!

While the mosquitos more than proved their mettle, sadly, the Meet Director was not proving his. First, there was the case of the mishung pine tree control (what's a tree between friends?). Then, control codes were switched for 2 consecutive controls on Green, and while the Meet Director tried to pitch the line it was a ruse to see if the Green runners had enough confidence to punch at controls in the right location, nobody was buying that line.

All in all, however, it was just another solid Laramie O-event success just like you would expect, said success being ensured by the abundance of some incredible displays of wildflowers. Really, they were so fine it would not have mattered if *all* the controls had been bogus.

Top finishers included Joel Swisher on Blue (crushing all opposition, including the infamous "Mad Swede" from Golden), Mark Everett on Red (I'm saving it all for Scotland, not to mention Tucson), and Scott Bohle on Green (ha, ha, ha--the home advantage he loves). But the happiest finisher was Dan Snow, because he didn't find any. Snow, that is, since it had all melted. No, not really, Dan was happy because he had beaten his personal min/km goal he had set for himself. Sverre Froyen had the day's best Babemobile. If a snazzy convertible won't catch 'em, what will? Susan Eberlein was given the Gamest Female award for running Blue, but there were questions later as to whether it was the "gamest" or "gamiest" award in question. A dispute which undoubtedly will never be satsifactorily resolved.

Crow Marsh

July 11

The second day of the infamous Mosquito Swat Weekend brought a little more variety than we are accustomed to. First, we were parked right along a part of the Laramie Enduro Bike Race, a 100km mountain bike race. Though it was at nearly the halfway point of the race course, most bikers appeared to be still smiling and were moving faster than running speed. Though it was difficult to be 100% sure, some of the bikers may have been drug-free. Second, it rained! Granted, only one couple still out on the red course caught any of the precious moisture, but...rain! Most folks have still never seen rain in Wyoming and many do not believe it is even possible. While there was some overlap between the crowd on day 1 and day 2, there were also new faces on day 2, and dueling for biggest surprise were the Spriggs family, who came all the way from Australia just to sample Wyoming orienteering--yes, our fame and notoriety is that widespread--and Georgian Bill Cheatum and clan, who moved to Denver from Athens, Georgia *yesterday*. Bill admitted that had it been just regular orienteering, he probably would have waited at least until he could have got a few boxes unpacked and filled up the waterbed, but he knew better than to pass on a rare chance to race in outstanding Wyoming terrain during prime mosquito season. And who can argue with that logic!

Well, we will call it a tie. The Spriggs will be here for 3 years and the Cheatums are likely to be here for a year or 2 longer, during which time Bill will commute back and forth to (--you think you have a bad commute?) - Georgia!

But that wasn't the end of the surprises. Also showing up was a pony-tailed fellow who claimed to be Mark Rowan. Yes, *that* Mark Rowan. And come to think of it, this fellow was ugly enough, so possibly he was telling the truth. Top honors today went to Mark Everett on Blue, Mark Rowan on Red, and Scott Bohle on Green. Gamiest orienteer of the day was Bill Cheatum. Or was that Gamest Orienteer? Oh, well!

Cheers to all men good and women fair, Mikell Platt