Orienteering is an internationally recognized sport that requires navigational skills using a map and a compass to move through series of check points in a diverse environment, usually in unfamiliar terrain. The sport can be enjoyed as a walk in the woods or as a more competitive activity. Last year, the event attracted about 80 participants.
“You can treat it like a treasure hunt, or like a cross-country race for those that want to compete at it. You choose your own route. You have a series of destination points that you are trying to visit,” Minium said.
Beginners will receive instructions and pointers from the event leaders. Those that have never participated before can expect to cover the distance of about a mile, all on the park’s main trails. For more advanced courses, the navigation moves off trail, and the distance becomes longer.
“You are constantly making choices. Is it better to go through or around? Is it faster to take a short, hilly trail, or maybe a longer, flatter one that goes around the hill?”
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With the course, participants use a detailed topographic map of the park to find a series of checkpoints. A standard course generally consists of a start, a series of control sites, or checkpoints that are marked by circles, connected by lines and numbered in the order they are to be visited, and a finish. There are typically eight to 10 checkpoints per course. The map is the main tool participants use. However, some participants may choose to use a compass.
“This is a great way to get outdoors. It’s a beautiful time of year to be out in the woods, even though it’s a little colder. You have to dress for the weather conditions, but you can see so much farther than in the summer with the leaves down. There are many interesting things to see, like animals and other things in the forest,” Minium said.
It’s also a great opportunity for physical fitness. Participants can do everything from light exercise with a stroll through the park to racing or running, achieving a strong cardiovascular workout.
HOW TO GO
What: New Year's Day Orienteering
Where: Camp Timberhill, 3976 Hamilton-Middletown Road, just north of Hamilton. (The camp entrance is on the west side of Ohio 4 between By-Pass 4 and Liberty-Fairfield Road.) From Interstate 75, take Ohio 129 West toward Hamilton, and exit at Ohio Bypass 4 North. Where Bypass 4 joins Ohio 4, turn right on Ohio 4 for about 1 mile. Watch for narrow gravel drive on left with MetroParks "Timberhill" sign, immediately before Innovative Labeling Solutions.
When: Monday, Jan. 1, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., approximate one-hour course.
Event fees: $10 for non-members (includes a map and a timing chip), OCIN members will receive a discount. MetroParks of Butler County vehicle permit required and may be purchased at the event. $5 daily, $10 annually, park permit is free for Butler County residents with an ID.
More info: www.OCIN.org and the special events page at www.yourmetroparks.net. (More details are available at www.OCIN.org, or by emailing Mike Minium at firstname.lastname@example.org.)