Orienteering is an adventure sport which is taken pretty darn seriously by a lot of the athletes who attended the Summer Series orienteering event in Delta Park, Johannesburg on the 12th of Feb! The Action Gear Team rocked up not really knowing the rules and just looking for a fun mid-week event - which is certainly what we were in for.
At the briefing we were each handed an envelope containing a map which you were 100% not allowed to open (whoops!). At the go signal you had to open your map and decide on a route to find and mark off as many markers as possible within the one hour allowed. The start was a bit frantic as people shot off in different directions but after studying the map Camilla and I realized that we had a pretty big advantage over our Action Gear colleagues as well as most of the serious "orienteerers" because we know Delta Park backwards from our trail running and mountain biking training in that area! We set our route and off we went but it was harder than we thought as the organizers seemed to take pride in hiding the markers (officially called controls) behind bushes or in a ditch.
As we found our stride we realized we were actually having a ball as we ran around like little kids on an Easter Egg hunt! The fact that we had our Jack Russel, Callie with us made it even more enjoyable as she believes that Delta is an extension of our backyard and she too knows it inside out.
Without really knowing the rules we weren't sure (and still haven't found out) if it is okay to split up but we tried to get clever by dividing up to get to different controls before meeting up again to update our score card. This strategy however fell apart when we miscommunicated one of our meeting points and lost each other! A full ten minutes of our precious hour of time was wasted as we walked around aimlessly trying to find each other again but thankfully we did (must to Callie's relief!).
This ten minutes cost us towards the end as we calculated that we needed to skip one of the corners of the map in order to make sure we could get back to the start/finish area before the end of the hour. What we figured out from this event is that this sport is first off a runner's race as the guys who won did incredible times around the park and marked off every single control which is pretty impressive. Regardless of skipping out a few controls at the end we were still pleased with the result as we placed 16th overall with about 90% of the controls found.
Well done to our Action Gear colleagues who also all had a good time out there regardless of points scored (or not scored) and some of us trying to take "short cuts" which saw them nearly ending up in Greenside!! :)
This really was a lot of fun and we highly recommend getting onto the mailing list for the Adventure Racing Club so that they can update you on the Winter Series events and next year's Summer Series. We'll certainly be there again with the aim of achieving a full house of controls within the given time! We hope to see you there!