Looking for a sport a little different from other
Do you enjoy being out of
doors and in the countryside? Are you interested in sports that have that extra
element of challenge?
If you answer yes to all of these questions then orienteering could
be the sport for you.
Imagine that you have turned up at an orienteering event. What could
you expect? Your first task would be to decide what course you wanted
to try. Courses range in difficulty from "White" to "Brown". "White"
is about 1.5 km long and will take you along paths and tracks, while
"Brown" is the hardest course. A "Brown" course will be about 7 km
and requires knowledge of advanced navigation techniques as you will
have to travel across country. The range of courses on offer ensures
that there is something suitable for all abilities, whether you wish
to have a gentle stroll or require something more challenging.
After buying a map and collecting details for your chosen course it
is time to make your way to the start. Competitors are set off at one
minute intervals - each competitor has a copy of the course on their
map and will find their route around the course.
Everyone is aiming to navigate around their course as quickly and as
accurately as possible, visiting the controls in the order stipulated
by the course planner. At each control there is a red and white kite
marked with a code number (this enables competitors to check that this
is indeed the checkpoint they are looking for) and a punch or electronic SI box.
By using the punch to mark a special card or "dibbing" the SI box
competitors prove they have visited all of the kites on their course.
Many skills and abilities are required by orienteers - the ability
to concentrate, to interpret the map and to visualise how the map
relates to the ground are all as important as fitness. The super fit
person who lacks navigational skills will trail in well behind a less
fit but able navigator.
Orienteering is a sport that caters for one of the widest spreads of
competitors in terms of age and competitiveness. The age range, both
male and female, runs from about 5 up to 95 or more (and there are
courses put on at larger events that cater for children under 5). It
is also a sport that sets out to accommodate families participating.
While it is a competitive sport, a major part of the satisfaction
derives not from being quicker than others but from navigating well
between the kites - hence it provides enjoyment both to the
competitive and the less competitive natures.