Orienteering – A Wild Woods Workout

u like a gnarly trail run, you’ll love orienteering. A terrific sport for amateurs and professionals alike, all you need is a compass, a map and your local orienteering club for a wild woods workout.

Orienteering is a sport requiring map and compass to navigate a pre-set course in unfamiliar terrain. At an official orienteering event, you’ll receive a detailed map with a set of control sites listed. It’s then your job to walk, jog or run wild through the landscape clutching your control card to locate each site flag. A visit is verified by punching your control card with a tool hanging next to each flag. To figure out the fastest, most reasonable route from flag to flag, you may need to shoot compass bearings as you simultaneously rely heavily on the map. Perhaps you jump the creek and the next racer scrambles around it — route decisions and navigational skills cost or gain you time.

Staggered starts prevent traffic jams, and multiple courses are typically available for beginners to experts. If you’ve never held a compass, you can learn basic skills at the event, then tear it up on the beginner course. Europe is big into this sport; Scandinavia originated it and is definitely still in the lead. Hey, maybe you’ll meet a European Mr. or Ms. Right — I’ve heard lots of foreign accents at Chicago-area orienteering events, and the sport definitely attracts the slim, adventuresome type. If you’re looking for a physical/mental outdoor challenge, check out the map of U.S. orienteering clubs and tons of other resources at the U.S. Orienteering Federation.

Author by Bev Sklar