A gap year spent on developing orienteering

Posted on | October 24, 2016 | Category: News, Newsletter

A young German couple is combining travelling with developing orienteering in smaller orienteering nations. Their trip starts in South America, and they will continuously write articles for the IOF webpage about their trip.

What do you do if you have a year to go travelling but cannot let go of orienteering? You try to fit as much orienteering as possible into your trip of course. That is the case for the German couple Felix Späth (25) and Susen Lösch (23) who, after finishing their educations, are grabbing the opportunity to experience parts of the world whilst also developing orienteering:

– We knew we would go travelling but we cannot live without orienteering. Then we got the idea to combine it. The plan for the trip is to help developing clubs and federations in the places we visit. We will teach them some orienteering and we will probably learn something from them as well. Exchange ideas, Felix and Susen say.

Felix and Susen started their trip in Santiago de Chile in mid-October. They plan to travel around South America until the beginning of next year, before they move on to Australia and New Zealand. Especially during their time in South America, they aim to help places where orienteering still is at a tender stage:

– Our offer is that we can help a club or a federation with mapping and coaching and in return get food and accommodation. We would like to help as many as possible while we are on our way. We have very few contacts in South America though so before departure, we were in touch with IOF regional coordinator in South America, José Ángel Nieto Poblete, Felix and Susen say.

The German couple has already got in touch with a few clubs, and are temporarily in San Vicente de Tagua Tagua, Chile hosting trainings and help drawing maps. During the last weekend of October, they will go to the South American Orienteering Championships in Valparaíso, where they will mingle with the more than 500 participants and hope to get new contacts. Felix and Susen are aware that the language can be a challenge in the mainly Spanish-speaking continent, but do not see it as a barrier:

– The app we use to practice Spanish says we speak eight percent Spanish so far. We will hopefully improve fast and until we reach a higher level, we will just speak with gesticulations and simple words. It works out fine if you are just open-minded, Felix and Susen say with a laugh.

When Felix and Susen start to work with clubs in South America, it will be possible to follow their work through reports they will write for the IOF webpage. Interested clubs from South America can get in touch with Felix and Susen on felix-spaeth@gmx.de.

Both Felix Späth and Susen Lösch participated in the WOC in Strömstad as part of the German national team. Felix is a physiotherapist and has had courses in coaching, while Susen has just finished her bachelor in biomedical engineering and is experienced in mapping.


A selfie from the big hill Cerro San Cristóbal, from where you can see most of Santiago.

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