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Get fit while using a map and compass

Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health

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What is it?

The simplest definition of orienteering is that it is finding your way from one point to another, using only a map, a compass and your brains. Orienteering is usually done in the woods, hills or parks, with the participants on foot.

Each course consists of a series of checkpoints (or “controls”) marked by a brightly coloured, distinctive Orienteering flag. Participants are given a map with the locations of the checkpoints circled. The starting place, the sequence in which you visit the controls, and the finish location are also shown. Then, using the map and a compass, it’s up to the participant to find his or her way from one control point to another in the order specified.


How do you do it?

Orienteering can either be a race, or a simple recreational activity, depending totally on your own attitude towards the event. You will find people of all athletic abilities. Orienteering is considered a competitive sport by some; the winners being the ones who've been to all the control points in the least amount of time, usually running the whole way.

But, it's also considered a recreational activity by casual walkers. People come out alone, with friends, or with family,  taking time to appreciate nature. It can be considered a walk with some mental challenge added.

The easiest way to start Orienteering is to go to an event. Almost all events will have a course that is suitable for beginners. Look through the fixtures list for one that is convenient to where you live. Alternatively, you could contact a member of your local club who will be able to help get you started. When you are registering at the event explain that you are a newcomer. For the vast majority of events, you can just turn up and enter. A small number of events require pre-entry.

Where can you do it?

There are orienteering courses all around the country 

What do you need to take part? 

All that you need to start orienteering is:

  • Clothing that is suitable for a walk in the woods, and you shouldn't mind too much if they get dirty. A pair of boots or strong runners is a good idea. In wet weather a raincoat is pretty much essential. You should avoid jeans, especially if it is raining.
  • A change of clothing for after the event.
  • A whistle. Sometimes, the organisers insist that you carry a whistle to call for help if you injure yourself.
  • Approximately € 6 - 8 per person.
  • You do not need a compass but, if you have one and know how to use it, you may find it useful.
  • There is other, specialised, orienteering and running equipment that you will see other orienteers using (eg. studded shoes, compasses, light-weight clothing etc.). But there is absolutely no need for you to get any of this unless you start orienteering regularly.

Who would it suit?

Orienteering can be for anyone, but it will particularly suit someone who likes to run and has a competitive edge

What are the benefits?

There are loads of benefits to Orienteering: 

  • You can work individually or as part of a team which allows you to meet new people. 
  • Your fitness can increase due to all the extra exercise.
  • Time spent in nature is a great way to unwind and destress.
  • Not only does your body get a work out, but your brain gets a work out too!
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Published December 7th, 2015
Last updated January 5th, 2017
Tags exercise fitness get fit have fun
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