09 November 2013

My favorite outdoor activities: Orienteering

November 2013

Few weeks ago I published the first blog post about (very) short series of my favorite outdoor activities. The first post described about cycling. This time there's another great favorite, namely orienteering.

Using a map (in scale of 1:10 000 or similar) and a compass (optional) one try to navigate from point to point in a predefined route as quickly as possible. GPS devices not allowed.

In Nordic countries, Orienteering Clubs organise daily/weekly events (at least) during spring/summer/autumn months. Anyone can join and walk/run through a route (by usually paying a small amount).

Orienteering as a sport discipline is quite popular on Nordic countries and recent years it has increased its popularity in central Europe a lot. Orienteering is very much the whole family activity, too.

Orienteering is a good alternative for ordinary running. I cannot think any other activity where one has to concentrate fully on the activity itself, i.e. if you think about your work etc. while trying to figure out the fastest route to the point you'll most probably will not survive the route as optimally as possible, but circle here and there and will get angry against organisers about hiding points too much. A bit exaggerated though.

In orienteering it's about reading map and observing nature, observing alternative routes based on variety of terrain, hills vs. flat sections and dry vs. wet sections, and whats more, trying to figure out all the time where you are almost on any given second. Brains work like multicore processors calculating routes in nanoseconds, but humans make mistakes, and that's one of the best thing in orienteering (otherwise it would be too easy and not rewarding).

Perhaps the most important and most fascinating orienteering events are organised every year in Sweden and in Finland. In former, every spring there's a team relay event called Tiomila. In latter, every summer there's a team relay event called Jukolan Viesti. Media follows top athletes on these races closely on live, which is surely interesting, too. However, great thing there is that just ordinary hobbyists can join the very same relay events with their own teams, run the same routes, and feel the same atmosphere as any top athlete.  These events are magnificent to participate and to watch.

The following photos were taken on Jukolan Viesti event, during women's Venlojen Viesti, i.e. women's relay event in Southern Finland.


Anna-Maija Fincke (FIN) on top

Vroni König-Salmi not too far behind

Bäkkelagets (NOR) and Lidingö (SWE) teams are all-time favorites

Waiting time on exchange area can be long

Warming up area before exchange

Thousands of orienteers stay overnight on tents during the event

Top teams in peaceful harmony, I presume

Perfect running style, Heidi Östlid (NOR)

Finland's no 1, Minna Kauppi, one of the best ever in the world

Behind limelight are hundreds of enthusiasts living in their dream

Still smiling after giving everything

Speeding up, only 200 meters to go

I've never managed to raise my knees so high
on finishing line
Today's technology bring live GPS maps for spectators, superb!

TV and Radio commentators at work

When you get tired, getting control signed might take effort ...

... and sometimes it's so easy

Important skill: ability to read map and orienteer while running

Nervous face as a silly mistake behind, Natalia Vinogradova
Joy of winners, Halden SK (NOR)

Joy of runner-up, Paimion Rasti (FIN)

The best of all: Simone Niggli (CH)

Finishing line, giving everything

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