The Rise of Orienteering—No path, No rules
By Alex Hutchinson
Coincidentally, Alex is a cross country runner, a successful one in fact, who now uses his running skills to compete in orienteering races. However, as Alex had learned, the sport requires much more than the ability to run for far distances. His first race did not go well. He and his partner were both notably runners, however they failed to get a lead among other racers because they were unable to find paths of least resistance. By this, I mean that they would constantly take "shortcuts" that would lead to terrain that was extremely inefficient as in thickets, muddy swamps, and thick forests. Orienteering is all about choosing the right path and navigating under pressure. You also have to learn to assess terrain on the fly, so that you know instinctively what to go over, around, or through. Simply knowing what direction to go will not be what wins the race.
Orienteering is slowly growing in popularity. Specifically trail and adventure runners are beginning to take more of an interest in the race. According to executive director of Orienteering USA, Glen Schorr, orienteering is seeing an increase in participants by about four percent each year.Last year, races across the country registered about 50,000 entries!
In order to become a true competitor for the sport of orienteering, the best way to improve is experience. Practicing the techniques we use in navigating will help when it comes time that there is a sense of pressure. It is all about being efficient.
Hutchinson, Alex. The rise of orienteering—no path, no rules. Men's Journal (March 2015)