[Image credit Turku Street-O]
I did my first solo street orienteering (rogaining) course last night, with the competition map centered on Turku Cathedral and extending up the river and around the campus of the University of Turku. Santa himself was handing out the maps at the starting line. The finish line was the huge Christmas tree in front of the steps of the cathedral, and there was glögi on offer.
Jeremy was there, too, but I wanted to run on my own to see how I could do without his help. A few notes on what continues to be my new favorite sport:
1. Truly excelling at this sport requires a balance of skills encompassing speed, navigation, and precision in answering the clues. You can't win if you are only fast, or only a good navigator, or only paying attention to detail.
2. There is a science to how long you fuss about finding a particular control point, and I still haven't figured it out. I spent forever looking for a 10-pointer (the lowest value) when I should have just let it go and moved on. (But I did eventually find it.) Then there was a 40-pointer (second-highest value) that I spent seven minutes on. Should I have let that one go? Is seven minutes out of sixty worth spending on 40 points?
3. You almost need to talk out loud to yourself constantly during this sport. I found myself repeating certain refrains out loud: "next left, two buildings down, number of steps on the far staircase." "Clue 22 is letter E." "Control point 111 then 51 then 43." Etc. If you lose the thread, it can easily lead to wrong answers and getting lost.
I placed juuust this side of the third quartile of competitors, but I was right in there with some friends from the girls' orienteering club. I had a great time. The highlight was when I was in the campus area and an international student stopped me and asked, "what's going on?" I guess he was confused by the hordes of people decked out in headlamps, reflective vests, and stretch pants running around with maps and sharpies. I told him it was an orienteering competition. Jeremy told me later that I should have said it was the zombie apocalypse. Dangit.
Now that my first solo street-o is out of the way, the next challenge will be trying a course in an area I am not familiar with. Then I'll have to rely entirely on navigation skills, rather than a mix of the map and my own previous knowledge of the terrain!