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Ten Elements of Orienteering - Route Choice (Part 2)

posted 28 Jun 2014, 05:54 by Elaine Sheridan
We hope the additional information in last weeks video on Reading the Map helped you navigate your way around the course in Moanbaun Wood on Tuesday evening. This week's video is the second part of the Ten elements of orienteering video which focuses on - Route Choice (Part 2).

This is the sixth in a series of short training videos produced by the Irish Orienteering Association to help you learn the skills needed to orienteer. This video explains a bit more about Route Choice. We hope you enjoy the video and if you ever have any questions regarding understanding the map just ask any of our experienced club members at our event in Ballyannon Wood, Midleton on Tuesday evening. You will find them at registration and at the start.

Planning your route is the key to successful orienteering. Although on the map it looks as if you have to go as the crow flies nothing could be further from the truth. It is important to get from control to control in the manner that best suits you and try to pick out obvious features as stepping stone to help guide you to the control.

Navigation in orienteering can be reduced to two factors:
  • Choosing one of the many possible routes to the control
  • Finding your way along that route

Once you have learned some basic techniques and rules of navigation, it should always be possible to find the control - given that the map is accurate. Therefore, much of the variation among individuals' times may come from their choice of routes. This is particularly true when speed through the terrain varies dramatically in different places, which can occur for any number of reasons:
  • A path is faster than the woods
  • Vegetation mapped as green may be very slow-going
  • Going uphill and then down may be slower than going the long way around
  • A potentially faster route may offer no navigational aids, while a longer/slower route may provide a navigationally easier approach to the control site
Another factor is that each individual may have particular strengths; one may run very fast on a track, but slow down dramatically in the forest; another may have no great turn of speed, but chug away steadily uphill; still another may have no confidence in her ability to follow a compass bearing, but may be able to read contours very well. Hence the choice of a route on a given leg between controls may have many possible "best" solutions. This also means that the best route for a beginner may not be the best route for an advanced orienteer. 

The picture below illustrates the varied routes taken by three competitors on the leg from 5 to 6 on this course. While one competitor opted for the straight line approach the two others used different locations on the lake on their approach to control 6.