England Development Officer
Orienteering is a challenging outdoor adventure sport that exercises both the mind and the body. The aim is to navigate in sequence between control points marked on a unique orienteering map and decide the best route to complete the course in the quickest time. It does not matter how young, old or fit you are, as you can run, walk or jog the course and progress at your own pace. Orienteering can take place anywhere from remote forest and countryside to urban parks and school playgrounds. It's a great sport for runners, joggers and walkers who want to improve their navigation skills or for anyone who loves the outdoors.
World championships started in 1961, and are held every year. The largest annual individual orienteering event, the O-Ringen, has been held since 1965 and attracts 15,000 to 25,000 athletes to compete in the Swedish forests. There are new variations of the sport, including urban orienteering, ski orienteering, mountain bike orienteering, trail orienteering, and radio orienteering that attract diverse communities of athletes.
Not only is traditional orienteering called foot-O (as orienteering is such a long word often the abbreviation "O" is used). Cornwall Orienteering Club (KERNO with an invisible "w") also hold night-O events which are just the same standard as day events but competitors use a range of illumination ranging from a handheld torch to a head mounted "twin".
There is only one Orienteering Club in Cornwall and whilst having no particular clubhouse the committee meets monthly in mid Cornwall. The club runs its own "forest" league based on the various courses [created for increasing skill levels] that we hold each month. In addition there is a joint league with Devon OC where members of each club have to participate in a minimum number of events from the other club over the year. The remaining inter county league is a series of night orienteering events.
We also run training events and fun events where the concept of navigation from the special maps is developed. Training events are very low cost probably just covering the cost of access and maps. Our regular events cost £7 for non members of the British Orienteering Federation although having become a member the cost drops to £5 per event - junior entries cost just £2.
In the beginning while you are getting the hang of what O is about any clothing that you don't mind getting muddy or caught in thorns is fine and specialist orienteering clothing and footwear can be acquired later.
Cornwall via the club or the region has hosted many significant national O events here in the county. We have some first class terrain on the fixed dunes at Penhale and Hayle with contrasting areas of open moorland available to us. Orienteering does not have to be just in forests although many of our areas are. There are also 4 permanent orienteering course available to the public at Mount Edgcumbe, Idless, Polruan and Tehidy.
Beginners, including juniors are catered for at every event. Indeed the courses offered at each event are structured in such a way that there is a progression in both physical and technical difficulty as skills and confidence are gained. Assistance is available from the Club Coach. As juniors progress and if they have potential they will be asked to move onto the regional junior squad which comprises like-minded people from across the SW and will enjoy training and competing with their peers across the whole of the UK.
From the SW junior squad have emerged several elite athletes, British Champions and medal winners on the World arena. Two such are Oli Johnson (from Bristol) and Helen Winskill (from Truro and KERNO); indeed Helen has been British Champion in every age class in which she has competed.
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