Orienteering is a sport that combines both a physical and a mental element. The basic idea in orienteering is to proceed from course start to finish by visiting a number of control points in a predetermined order with the help of map and compass. In order to choose the best possible route, orienteers look at the characteristics of the terrain, and the winner is determined by the fastest time to complete the course. What is unique to orienteering is that an orienteer must navigate and make quick decisions while running at high speed.
Orienteering is a low-cost sport suitable for both genders and all ages. In order to find out about the orienteering possibilities in your country, please contact your national federation.
The sport of orienteering was first practised in the military but nowadays it features a variety of different formats ranging from the more traditional long distance forest races to the more recently developed city sprints. With the use of electronic punching and GPS tracking, orienteering has become a sport visible to the audiences with real time broadcasting on TV and the internet (read article). To see what orienteering looks like, please watch the videos at http://orienteering.org/resources/videos/.
The International Orienteering Federation has four official disciplines: foot, mountain bike, ski and trail orienteering. The first foot and ski orienteering competitions are known to have been held as early as the 1890s. Mountain bike and trail orienteering are rather more recent formats that evolved during the last decades.
The International Orienteering Federation was recognised by the International Olympic Committee in 1977.
The yearly international championships events include World Orienteering Championships, Junior World Orienteering Championships and World Masters Championships. The IOF organises an annual World Cup. The international event calendar also comprises more than 100 World Ranking Events. Regional Championships take place in five out of six IOF Regions: Europe, Asia, North America, South America and Oceania.
Orienteering is also part of multisport games such as The World Games and the World Masters Games. FISU organises World University Orienteering Championships and World University Ski Orienteering Championships every second year. CISM organises yearly World Military Orienteering Championships, and ski orienteering is part of the CISM Winter Military World Games.
Photos: Pirjo Valjanen and Jukka Liikari