Scotland

Try: Orienteering

Despite years of being out on the hills, I’ve never taken part in an orienteering event. Sunday was my first, and I flipping loved it!

Orienteering is a combination of two things that I enjoy – running and navigation – so I was pretty excited to give it a go. The event I took part in was run by STAG Orienteering, one of the local clubs for Glasgow. They are a really active and busy club, and I know a few members who have been encouraging me to come along for ages.

Orienteering events are split into lots of colour coded categories, so there is something for every skill and fitness level. There were load quite young kids taking part, some walking with parents and others heading out on their own. Kids normally take part in routes that stick fairly close to the start & finish point until they build up the confidence to venture further.

Since it was my first event, it was recommended I take part in the Orange route. It was a brilliant introduction, and probably the grade I would recommend to anyone with some navigation under their belt already. Challenging enough to be engaging, but easy enough that I never felt lost or overwhelmed.

I’m used to athletic events with mass starts, so this was very different. People trickle down to the starting point in dribs and drabs, and no one starts on the same coloured route at the same time. On reflection, this makes a lot of sense as it ensures that everyone has to do their own navigation.

From the start, I had eight checkpoints on the map to find, making up my route. This event was using electronic dibbers – small timing chips that you tap at each checkpoint to keep time and make sure you’re following the correct route. On an orange route, the order you should go in is marked. However, as you progress up the grades part of the challenge is trying to decide which order around your checkpoints will be most efficient.

Off track navigation requires a sacrifice of blood. Apparently,

Off I went, and after the first two points I was feeling confident and really enjoying some muddy, off-road running!

The event was based in Drumpellier Park in the middle of Coatbridge. Despite this pretty urban setting, I spent a good bit of time off of tarmac, and I saw six deer on my route! Be wary of the kind of ground labelled ‘Woodland: runnable’. That’s where I managed to cut my leg on some low thorns.

Hua & I at the finish! Success!

I thoroughly enjoyed my first orienteering event, and will definitely be taking part in more!

Interested in getting involved? If you’re Glasgow based get on to STAG orienteering and check out their next events. If you’re elsewhere, check out Scottish Orienteering or British Orienteering to find your local club.

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