Chile ready to host their first South American Orienteering Championships

Posted on | September 30, 2016 | Category: Newsletter

Things are going fast for the Chilean Orienteering Federation. A month ago, they became one of the latest full members of the IOF, and in late October they will host the South American Orienteering Championships (SAOC) 2016.

Some decisions are landmark. For the Chilean Orienteering Federation one of those was made back in 2014. A new strategic plan for developing orienteering in Chile was made with the aim to spread out the sport to a wider audience:

– Our goal with the changes was to produce a breakthrough and move from the previous understanding of the sport as a military and school sport to an established outdoor activity that could become a part of the lifestyle in the Chilean society, event director of SAOC 2016 Kai Ostermann says.

Some of the key points in the changes from 2014 were starting the work on the acquisition and implementation of an electronic punching system, the establishment of the National Event Advisors Committee and the process towards becoming a full member of the IOF. Furthermore, a national ranking system based on at least five yearly ranking competitions was made. A very important part was also to strengthen the collaboration with the other South American federations, especially the Brazilian federation, which is the biggest in the region.


Seven became twenty-two

The 13 federations awarded full membership of the IOF at the 2016 General Assembly:

-FYR Macedonia

Together with the new strategy in 2014, the Chilean Orienteering Federation volunteered to host the SAOC coming up October this year. The steps in the right direction for Chilean orienteering were recognized by the IOF General Assembly in Strömstad this year and, together with 12 other federations, Chile became a full member of the IOF.

Other South American federations awarded full membership in Strömstad were Argentina, Ecuador and Uruguay.

The biggest orienteering event Chile has ever held was a national event with 240 participants. 400 have already entered for SAOC 2016 and the organizers expect the number to be 500 when the entry period closes. With the size of the event in mind, the organizers are happy they have had two years to plan:

– Having two years for the preparations has given us the chance to fulfil the necessary learning steps to achieve a high-level standard for the competition. In the last two years, different Chilean orienteers have visited several international events like the WMOC in 2014, Istanbul5days and WOC2016 Clinic. Every time they have come back and shared their experiences with rest of the organization, Kai Ostermann says, also mentioning the IOF SEA Sergio Brito whose experience is very valuable for the SAOC 2016.penuelas4

Since it was decided to have the SAOC in Chile, the group of organizers has grown steadily:

– The staff is growing as the event date comes closer. We started with a group of seven, now we are 22 and together with all volunteers we will be around 60 staff members for the event, Kai Ostermann says.


Orienteering in a World Heritage Site

One of the goals in the strategy plan from 2014 for Chilean orienteering was to make the sport more recognized in the public. The SAOC are a perfect opportunity to show orienteering at its best. Therefore, the Chilean Orienteering Federation is working together with a Media Agency in order to put the SAOC into press and television:

– We want to show orienteering and make it known to the Chilean people. We hope that this visibility will motivate people to participate in future competitions and we are sure it will help us to promote orienteering, Kai Ostermann says.

Inside orienteering circles, the SAOC have already been noticed, and 400 competitors have entered so far, representing nine different countries and rumors of at least four more countries to come.

The competitors can look forward to three high-class events. The Sprint takes place in the streets of the amazing hills of Valparaíso, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where spectacular scenery awaits the participants.

The city of Valparaíso

The colonial city of Valparaíso presents an excellent example of late 19th-century urban and architectural development in Latin America. With its natural amphitheatre-like setting, the city is characterized by a vernacular urban fabric adapted to the hillsides that are dotted with a great variety of church spires. It contrasts with the geometrical layout utilized in the plain. The city has well preserved its interesting early industrial infrastructures, such as the numerous ‘elevators’ on the steep hillsides. Source:

The Long and Middle distances will be held in the national park Lago Peñuelas, a little outside Valparaíso. The terrain is made up of moderate hills, depressions and gorges with dense forest of pine and eucalyptus.

Simultaneously with the South American Orienteering Championships, the South American Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships in W/M20 elite and W/M18 elite will be held. In other classes, there will be open championships as well.

During the weekend the runners collect points for their respective countries in the Latin Countries Cup, which is an overall cup between the South American countries.

The South American Championships take place from 28-30 October in Valparaíso, 100 km west of the Chilean capital Santiago. For more information, check the SAOC webpage (only in Spanish) or the English bulletin.

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