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.