Orienteering is the sport of navigation with map and compass. It’s easy to learn , but always challenging. The object is to run, walk, ski, or mountain bike to a series of points shown on the map, choosing routes–both on and off trail–that will help you find all the points and get back to the finish in the shortest amount of time. The points on the course are marked with orange and white flags and punches, so you can prove you’ve been there. Each “control” marker is located on a distinct feature, such as a stream junction or the top of a knoll.
Orienteering is often called the “thinking sport” because it involves map reading and decision-making in addition to a great workout. Any kind of map may be used for orienteering (even a street map), but the best ones are detailed five-color topographic maps developed especially for the sport. O’ maps show boulders, cliffs, ditches, and fences, in addition to elevation, vegetation, and trails.
Orienteering is a sport for everyone, regardless of age or experience. The competitive athlete can experience the exhilaration of running through the woods at top speed, while the non-competitive orienteer can enjoy the forest at a more leisurely pace. Most events provide courses for all levels — from beginner to advanced — and the sport has been adapted for small children and people in wheelchairs.
If you love maps, exploring, and the great outdoors, try orienteering. You’ll be hooked for life!