Indoor orienteering becoming increasingly popular in Latvia

Posted on | July 18, 2017 | Category: News, Newsletter

The Latvian Orienteering Federation has been seeking a way to attract more people to the sport of orienteering and has found a great solution – indoor orienteering in popular public buildings. On the 5TH of May, the current stage of an indoor orienteering series took place in Liepāja, which is among the biggest cities in Latvia. The number of runners was about 200. The venue was seemingly quite unsuitable for a sports event – it was a concert hall!

The concert hall “Lielais dzintars” (which translates as The Great Amber) is very impressive due to its architecture. Matīss Ratnieks, a representative of the Latvian Orienteering Federation and organiser of the event, admits that the building is very appropriate for hosting indoor orienteering races.

“The building is shaped like a cylinder, and it can be justly called a real maze. The passages are circular and lead you to strange remote nooks and corners and little weird staircases. It is not unusual at all that the staff occasionally get lost themselves, let alone the visitors”, Matīss Ratnieks comments. “I nevertheless did not expect that even the best orienteers would find the course that hard.”

Alvis Reinsons was the winner in the strongest men’s group in the sum of two courses: his time was 15:38 in the first race and 10:26 in the second race. Madara Šadrina was the fastest among women and her time was 13:34 in the first race and 13:03 in the second race.

Indoor orienteering events have become very popular in Latvia. Last autumn was the seventh year in succession when the Indoor Orienteering League was organised in Riga. It comprised six events, where Latvian orienteers competed in six different age groups.

On average, competitors need more than 30 minutes to complete the course, which makes about an hour for the two races. The leaders’ time in the sum of two races is between 20 and 25 minutes.

To attract more participants to the competitions, symbolic and popular public venues were chosen, such as the Fashion and Entertainment Centre “Rīga Plaza” with Halloween theme, the new building of the Latvian National Library or the premises of universities and schools.

Since the early days of the Indoor Orienteering League eight years ago, the number of runners has increased five times. Currently the number of unique participants has reached 529. Following the success story of the Indoor Orienteering League, indoor orienteering became increasingly popular in Latvia. In the 2016/2017 winter season, all in all, 15 indoor orienteering events took place in Latvia, and the participants even expressed a wish that we have a Latvian Championships in this sport.

As more and more indoor orienteering events are being organised and as they are gaining popularity, the Latvian Orienteering Federation decided to draw up rules for indoor orienteering, thereby implementing a single standard for all events – they would be held in the same format, meaning that each participant has to complete two courses and the result is the total time of both.

These rules were approved by the Latvian Orienteering Federation Congress. The next step towards Latvian Championships in this discipline is uniform specification for mapping. There are no analogues elsewhere in the world, and this would make Latvia a pioneer in this sport.

 

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