Sporty orienteering

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Sporty orienteering - with Globe Chaser App

One of the basic needs of us humans is to want to grow beyond ourselves and to keep developing. We want to discover new things and always set ourselves new challenges. This applies both to the sporting sphere and to the mental sphere. That is one of the reasons why orienteering is so popular. 

Because here you can combine your running training and growth in physical fitness with a training of the senses, adventure and nature experience. Basically, it is a combination of running training with encountering wild animals, being in fun company and solving interesting logical challenges. What other sport can offer that.

What is orienteering?

Orienteering is a sport in which participants have to find control points in a confusing terrain with the help of a compass and a map. The competitions take place in the city, in the forest or in the countryside. In the classic version, the athletes run and try to achieve both a physical and a mental peak performance at the same time. So it's about physical fitness as well as orientation with map and compass in the terrain.

The winner is the one who finds all the points and reaches the finish line first. The most important characteristics of an orienteer are speed and route choice.

The history of orienteering

The term orienteering was coined by the Scandinavian military in 1886. It refers to navigating with a map in unknown terrain. Orienteering for civilians began in 1918, when interest in athletics declined so much that something had to be thought of to motivate young people to take up the sport again. Orienteering was perfect for this and since then the sport has enjoyed ever-increasing popularity.

What special challenges does orienteering have in store?

One of the biggest challenges in orienteering is the ground conditions. You have no lanes and often no solid ground. Roots, potholes, stones, mud, puddles, all these can get in the way. In addition, it is much more strenuous to run on very soft ground than on a firm ash track. You can test this by exercising on a sandy beach. Just don't overdo it, because this kind of training can easily lead to overtraining.

In addition, the surface is constantly changing. Path, forest, moor, stones, branches, tree trunks. It is impossible to develop a universal pattern of movement. The body adapts differently, it starts to train endurance in a way that you would never achieve with "normal" running training.

Far more than just running!

Running is one side of orienteering. No less important is the mental work: speed of decision-making, attention, spatial imagination, the ability to keep several objects in mind at the same time and to find them quickly. Without these qualities, you won't get far in an orienteering race.

The athletes orientate themselves by a map showing roads, forests, clearings, swamps, cliffs, pits and hills, in some cases even trees. This information has to be taken in and translated into a decision-making process in a matter of seconds. Where do I run to? What is the fastest way to get there? How do I save energy in the process? 

The brain solves several tasks at once

She analyses the map and notes the typical features of the terrain: "There is a clearing on the right, after 200 metres the path turns left, and at the end of the ravine there is a checkpoint.

This will give you an idea of what the terrain will look like in reality: how dense the forest is and how far you can see it, which landmarks are good and which are hard to see, how difficult it is to walk on the terrain, etc.

You should remember landmarks and know where you are in relation to them so that you don't get lost. You have to watch your feet to avoid falling or hitting a tree. You have to keep an eye on the map so as not to lose your bearings....

The psychologist George Miller published an article in 1955 containing the results of a study on human attention. He found that the average person can hold 7 objects or data in their mind at the same time. However, this number can be increased through training. A strong orienteer has up to 11 things in their head at the same time, one and a half times more than a normal person. Some orienteers plan their way to the next checkpoint even before they have reached the first one.

This doesn't seem too difficult, but take speed into account. Can you memorise a shopping list for the whole family while jogging at 12 to 16/km? And still run up a hill over sticks, stones and mud puddles? 

It depends on the overall view

When planning the route to your next destination, you should not only determine the shortest route, but also properly assess your options. You can choose to walk straight through a bog and swim in it for 20 minutes. Or you can walk a diversion, lengthen your route by half a kilometre, but end up in first place because you are much faster on a path than when you are up to your neck in mud. 

So it depends on various factors: You have to assess the terrain correctly, but also your own strength and abilities: Endurance, speed, error-free analysis and route planning. This approach offers an almost infinite variety of tactics and course options. Therefore, each participant within an orienteering race also has a different route than all his or her competitors. Only the time on the finish line shows who is really right.

Variations of orienteering

In addition to the classic orienteering described above, there are four other variants in which world and European championships are organised:

The Ski Orienteering

The ski orienteering race is available as a post race and as a marked orienteering race.

The course here is comparable to summer orienteering, only on skis. The participants move mainly on slopes, as it is not easy to climb through the bushes on skis. Like summer orienteering, ski orienteering is about taking a series of checkpoints and being the first to finish the course.

The Marker Orientation Run

This is the Russian form of orienteering. It was developed because it is quite costly and complicated to prepare a network of courses for a particular direction. To avoid this, the Soviet coaches came up with the idea of having the athletes follow a single course. The participants find control points and have to mark their positions on the map. If a point is not marked correctly, the athlete receives a penalty time. The final result is the time taken to complete the course and the penalty. It is the most technically demanding form of orienteering and is now only practised in Russia.

The bicycle orienteering race

The bicycle orienteering run is similar to the winter orienteering run. Instead of tracks, roads and speeds are marked on the map, as well as hazards for cyclists, such as tree trunks.

The Trail-O

Trail-O is an orienteering race for disabled people. Here, the route and the course of the course are given, and the participants have to find out. Which of the possible routes corresponds most closely to the one on the map. This does not have to correspond to reality, so there is often no perfect solution, but only approximations. Whoever manages to find the route that most resembles the one on the map and makes the fewest mistakes in the process wins the tournament. 

As the participants are very different and have different handicaps, the race times are not counted.

The sport continues to develop and more disciplines are introduced such as canoeing, cave and maze orienteering, sprints, night orienteering, etc.

Our conclusion

Orienteering is an exciting sport that combines running training with playful moments and logical challenges. The competitions in this discipline are also entertaining and especially interesting because they depend on very different skills of the participants, so it is not easy to predict who will win in the end. 

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