For a cool, different New Year’s event, grab your map and compass

Orienteering offers participants an opportunity to get outdoors for an activity on New Year’s Day. The annual outing will be held at Camp Timberhill on Monday, Jan. 1 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We started a tradition by offering New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day events. We felt like it was a family-friendly activity for people to do,” said Mike Minium, event director of Orienteering Cincinnati.

Minium said the event is designed for everyone, from beginners to those with more advanced training. It will feature a range of different courses for various ages and skill levels.

For those more experienced, there will be a New Year’s Eve night course on Sunday, Dec. 31 at Camp Timberhill, starting at 8 p.m. Pre-registration by email is encouraged.

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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.

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