My new favorite thing is rogaining (sometimes called street orienteering here). Jeremy has gone twice this fall. I went with him on Wednesday and we ran it together for my first time.
Rogaining is based on orienteering, with a few differences. In orienteering, you are given a map with control points and you have to find those control points in order, in the fastest time possible. In rogaining, though, you have a set time limit, and you find as many control points as possible, in any order you choose. The different control points have higher or lower values, depending (it seems) on how hard they are to find or how hard they are to get to. If you exceed the time limit, you are docked points (pretty severely - it really doesn't pay to be late). The way the organizers know you really reached each control point is by having you answer a question about the location - it could be a letter or number they've posted there, or it could be as simple as asking "what is the house number?" or "how many padlocks are on the fence?" You write the answers down during the race on the back of your map, using a Sharpie.
So here's the map we were working with on Wednesday. The time limit was one hour, and the clock started as soon as we got the map. The value of each control point is its first digit - so all the 50-something numbered control points were the highest. What kind of a route would you plan on the fly? Would you go for all the 50-value control points and hit any others you could on the way? Would you stick to the streets/trails you know? Would you go for the lower values, and hit more of them to make up for not getting the 50s? How long would you spend deciding all of the above, considering that every moment you spend standing there planning is a moment you are not running wildly through the dark?
Because oh yeah, the funnest part about all this was running wildly through the dark with other like-minded crazy people. This particular rogaining series runs weekly, which means that once every seven days, a certain neighborhood of Turku is invaded by 100+ athletes decked out in reflective clothing and headlamps clutching maps and Sharpies in their hands. It is hilarious to watch (I've noticed them around town before) and even more fun to be a part of. (But please note: the first rule of rogaining is that you do not acknowledge others who are rogaining. This is not a asocial event.)
Here is the route we ended up doing (roughly clockwise, with the starting line at lower-left-ish), complete with a few rookie mistakes. In hindsight, without the pressure of the clock, it's easier to make better decisions. But I'm happy with our results - 56th place out of 123 people. It would have been higher except we made two mistakes - one legitimately wrong answer (wrong house number) and one error where we wrote the right answer but at the wrong control point.
I think rogaining is perfect for people who enjoy sport and exercise and maybe even running, but don't see the point of (or are bored with) just going for a jog. Rogaining injects purpose and urgency into a run, while effortlessly changing up your route and pace. In 59 minutes of rogaining, Jeremy and I ran 8.5 kilometers, essentially in 5-10-minute speed intervals with brief rests at each control point as we figured out the answers and wrote them down.
There's a rogaining event in a couple of weeks that starts at Turku Cathedral. I can't wait!