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Orienteering is a fun sport that not many people really consider. But if you want to get active and have a good time too, it’s something that you definitely shouldn’t rule out. You can have fun with friends and even make it competitive. It’s hard to understand how enjoyable it can be until you’ve given it a try for yourself. You get to keep fit, solve challenges and see amazing sites.
Orienteering dates back to near the end of the 19th century. It was in 1897 that the very first public orienteering competition took place. It was sponsored by the Tjalve Sports Club and was held near Oslo in Norway. Back then, there were three control points, far fewer than are used now. A map and compass was used, as is the case now. And the winner of the competition managed to finish the course in 1 hour and 47 minutes. This was the first ever competition, and the sport has developed, advanced and changed from there.
Not long after that first race, the authorities in charge of sports in Stockholm thought it would be a good idea to get more children involved in orienteering. This made sense because if the sport was to grow, young people had to be onboard with it all. It was a cross country even that contained aspects of orienteering, but it wasn’t exactly like the orienteering competitions we know today. It included around 200 racers, and it was 12 km long. It was after this race that the general rules of the sport were put in place and the modern sport started to develop.
It’s maybe not so surprising that the country with the most gold medals in orienteering is Sweden. This is one of the countries that adopted the sport early, and it remains more popular there than it is in other parts of the world. The second most successful orienteering nation is Norway; they have 42 golds. They also have 130 medals in total, compared to the 153 that Sweden have. These two countries have dominated the world sport for a pretty long time now.
The UK is one of the countries in which regular participation in the sport is being tracked. Currently, 6700 people take part in it regularly, and this is slightly down on previous years. About ten years ago, closer to 12000 people were taking part. So, action might need to be taken to get more people taking up the sport and trying it out for the first time. In other countries, particularly in Scandinavia and Russia, participation is far higher, but precise numbers are not recorded.
As strange as it sound, orienteering can actually be risky business. If you get lost, you need to ensure that you have everything you need to both survive and help with being rescued. You have to think about everything from your clothing to medical packs and emergency products. Ensure you always pack things like a Fleece jacket and a first aid kit. Here’s a handy guide of how to keep safe.
If you are interested in orienteering and want to do it competitively, you will need to use a map. These are usually not given to competitors until the race is about to start. And when that does happen, they will be designed in very particular ways by the governing body. The scale used is usually either 1:15000 or 1:10000. That’s something that has to be kept in mind.