Encyclopedia > Orienteering

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Orienteering is a recreational activity based on navigational ability with map and compass. Participants are given a map, usually of an area with which they are unfamiliar, and a compass. They attempt to visit, in sequence, checkpoints[?] that are indicated on the map. Competitive orienteering is a race to visit all checkpoints shown on the map in order and return to the start as quickly as possible. Usually orienteering is done on foot, but there are versions for skiers and mountain bike riders.

Another common type of orienteering competition is a score event in which competitors aim to visit as many checkpoints as possible within a time limit, often approximately one hour. Checkpoints may have different points value depending on difficulty and there is a points penalty for every minute late. The competitor with the highest points value is the winner.

A form of the sport for disabled competitors has been developed whereby the object is accuracy in interpreting the position on a map of a checkpoint viewed from a set point 30-40 metres away. There is no timing in this form of orienteering which has been termed "Trail-O".

High levels of fitness and foot speed are usually required to compete successfully in elite-level foot orienteering, but success is also heavily dependent on choosing the fastest route between checkpoints (while checkpoints are always the same for the competitors in a particular category, the route they choose to reach the points may be very different). Competitors are often required to cross rough undeveloped terrain.

World championships are held anually (bi-anually until 2002), and orienteering is a sport in the World Games.

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