Today I decided to give It a go: Mark trots off regularly with his compass coming back soaked and ragged from scrambling through bush but with all sorts of map tales from his journey, and discovers parts of the local area that I didn’t know existed. I don’t really get it, why orienteering is so interesting but I thought I’d give it a shot.
There’s a set amount of time the course is open for, and several options of course length and difficulty, it isn’t a case of ready steady go! Naturally we started with easy, which you don’t need a compass for apparently as most of the markers are close to trails and paths. This isn’t the case if you choose any of the other courses. You get a map and a wee electronic gadget that you wear on your finger. This has to be checked into the gate at each marker as you find it. They must be done in the correct order and you are timed.
Families with kids, serious orienteers with the suit and uniform and the works – people who look like runners, a wide variety of people seem to take part. With no intention of running at any stage, off I set wearing hiking boots, while Mark is in running gear ready for his solo outing after we are done on a more challenging track.
In fact, once I understood what some of the symbols were on the map it was quite easy to navigate. I’m sure that wouldn’t be the case with the other routes! It was actually a pleasant stroll through pine forests in an area that I hadn’t walked through before, with a bit of ‘where’s the next marker’ purpose about it. I wanted to stop to take photos but Mark kept saying ‘we haven’t time for this, it’s a race you know!
Not half as bad as I thought to be honest, in fact I might go as far as to say quite enjoyable! What made me smile even more was I came first (on the course that I did!)
I can now see what the attraction might be, go for a run, navigating difficult terrain relying on a map to get you back to where you started. More interesting than a jog around the block!
Ah, alright, perhaps I can see why people want to do it now!