Orienteering is racing. So the fastest wins - right? Well, yes and no. Yes - it is true that elite orienteers are super-fit. But no - fast young runners are frequently beaten by older wiser navigators. Why?
The best orienteers are strong runners, but they are also fast navigators - able to quickly memorise the map and make rapid route choices. It's the fact that you have to be good at both that gives our sport its unique appeal.
Clearly there is no point charging ahead until you have a good idea where you are going. Running fast in the wrong direction does not win. I fit into the category of someone who is reasonably good at running, but I'm weaker at navigating.
When the courses are easy, for example lots of path running, I can get an advantage. When it gets more difficult, for example with complex contouring then I do less well.
The first forest league this year was at Buckland Wood and featured short courses requiring expert navigation. I made a complete Horlicks of it - losing time on five controls and getting worse towards the end. Part of my problem was that I tried to go too fast. I was finding the navigation difficult and my reaction was to speed up when I should have made myself slow down.
As my mistakes mounted up I tried to compensate by running even faster. Idiot! I was just making it worse and worse for myself. So my advice to you is: don't rush - only run as fast as you can navigate.
- Skilling Up- Hints and tips for Improvement #19, QuOnicle 160, March 2015