Orienteering - Speed and Map Skills Make a Winning Day!

Orienteering combines speed and skill into one challenging activity for individuals and groups. All you need to get started is a map, a compass, and a positive outlook. 

A Map, A Compass, Fresh Air, and Fitness!

Orienteering continues to grow in popularity for good reason: It combines speed and skill into one challenging activity for individuals and groups. All you need to get started is a map, a compass and a positive outlook. 

Orienteering is one of the most popular sports in Sweden, often attracting more than 100,000 runners to a single event.

Participants run a course, following checkpoints marked on a map, getting to each as fast as possible. It’s a family sport too, with courses created for a range of physical strengths traveling through almost any type of natural areas – through swamps, over rocks, into fields and woods. Participants are “kept honest” by receiving a unique stamp at each checkpoint. You can kick off the orienteering craze in your neighborhood with these simple steps.

Choose your course

Use one of these methods to design a course. Start simple with your first event:

  • Map your neighborhood while you go on a family walk
  • Go to a wilderness area and use their maps and your compass
  • Go to a park and use the mapped walking/running paths

Identify checkpoints within the course 

  • Make each checkpoint easy to see
  • Enlist family and neighbors as “checkers” 
  • Position a person at each checkpoint with a stamp and ink pad
  • Create a looped course that starts and ends in the same spot
  • Create age categories for competition, designing courses of varying degrees of difficulty for each group

Start the race

  • Start each runner at 3-minute intervals, partnering small children with parents or older siblings
  • Provide each runner with a map that must be stamped at each checkpoint

Finish with a smile and go again!

If you’re first to finish, start over and try to beat your own time!

This article originally appeared on USAF FitFamily©, a publication of the U.S. Air Force. Republished with permission.

USAF FitFamily©

USAF FitFamily© is a web based goal incentive program. Families have the opportunity to set goals and monitor their progress. The FitFamily website provides resources, ideas and goal setting tools to help Air Force Families be active, make healthy nutrition choices and have fun in an effort to promote overall wellness. FitFamily is open to all active duty, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, DoD and civilian families.

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