How do I learn to navigate?

Orienteering is the most convenient and best way to train navigational skills. And it is far better to spend R40 to learn from mistakes at an orienteering event than to spend R1000 at an adventure race and compromise your team’s success through poor navigation.

Orienteering events take place once or twice a month in Gauteng and Cape Town. They’re open to everyone, from toddlers to the aged – family attendance is encouraged. A number of courses of different distance and technical difficulty are presented to accommodate participants of all ages skill and fitness levels. Participants can go out on their own, or in a group (max 3 people).

  Although map scales in adventure racing are smaller than orienteering, the techniques applied to navigating accurately from one point to the next are the same. Orienteering teaches accuracy, precision, map interpretation and off-road running. In adventure racing, map scales are usually 1:50,000. In orienteering, specially drawn maps have scales that vary between 1:5,000 and 1:7,500 for short course events to 1:10,000 and 1:15,000 for longer ‘colour-coded’ events. Orienteering maps also contain more detail, using colours and symbols to depict vegetation and significant features.

With the short course series kicking off in Joburg, these Q&As will help you understand how things work – and there are always friendly people on hand at events to assist.

Tania Wimberley answers some common questions.

What course should I do?

For maximum enjoyment of the event, choose the most suitable course:

  • String    (suitable for children under 5 – its very short, around 600m ) 
  • Novice  (suitable for family groups, beginners & young children-about 2 to 2.5km)
  • Ladies   (suitable for ladies & experienced groups, it’s technical but shorter than the men course- 3km)
  • Men  (technical & the longest-around 3.5km)

Expected winning times on the novice, ladies and men’s courses are around 20 minutes. Walkers are likely to take double that time.

If entering your first event, try the Novice course. It’s designed to be easy so you find everything.  If you cream it and are back in time you can always go out again on a second course.

Older children may also enjoy doing the string course after their main course – they are welcome to do so. There is no charge for the string course.

Points for the Gauteng Log are awarded to individuals who are members of clubs only (& not groups). All individuals on the novice course get points but men don’t get points if they do the ladies course and visa versa.

These course distance are rough estimates & may vary-actual distances will be advertised on the day.

Do I enter as an individual or group?

You can do the event alone or in a group, what ever suits you. Groups should preferably be 2 or 3 people, but no more than four.  A family of 4 should preferably break into 2 groups.

What is an EMIT & do I need one?

An electronic timing device (EMIT) is used on the ladies & men’s courses ONLY. If you don’t own an EMIT and are doing the ladies /men’s course you can hire one for the event. Each group only needs one EMIT. Novice & string courses use a manual punching system.

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